Archive for March, 2004

Blue Toothing

23 March 2004

“A couple of days later she dared me to meet next to the toilets at the mainline station we were heading to. We met, we fucked and toothing was born.”

This has a look of total and utter bollocks to it (especially the claim that hundreds are doing it), but apparently there’s a new scene called ‘Toothing’, where complete strangers (often commuters on trains) will link up via Bluetooth on their phones for meaningless sex. Nice. So if you have a Bluetooth phone in your pocket which is doing nothing apart from looking like an 80s throwback and ruining the line of your suit, then check out the Toothing FAQ.


“This is not a joke. We are alone and constantly battling for our lives.”

23 March 2004

Not sure what to make of this – a blog of two guys trapped in a house, whilst fighting off zombies. A joke? Viral marketing for some zombie-related product? A new form of blognovel? I can’t figure it out.

(Random related links – Samuel Pepys’ Blog and 253)


Chris tears himself away from a computer screen for more than two seconds…

22 March 2004

What with all the travelling and work recently, I haven’t actually looked at much on the Net, it has to be said. What I have been doing is reacquainting myself with treeware – although slightly disturbingly the two books I have recently been reading are both concerned with high-school massacres, or rather their aftermath.

The first that I read, Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre (which won this year’s Booker Prize), was a bit of a disappointment. Quite frankly I can’t see what all the fuss is about, yes the character is interesting, in a sort of modern Holden Caulfield way, but he lacks the really acidic insights into life that makes the Catcher in the Rye so great. The plot is thin, the ‘twists’ predictable, and the “wrap it up nicely and put a bow on it” ending is just plain irritating. There are good bits, the extreme, to the point of sick, parody of the voyeurism and rapacious greed of modern American life, and some of the characters are amusingly dark and twisted (but none apart from the protagonist are really fleshed out). I’m not convinced, and I’m especially not convinced as to why it got the Booker.

The second book, Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland is much better. The quality of the writing is superb and kept me hooked all the way through, the four principle principal characters are complex and left me asking questions about religion and faith and love that I hadn’t really thought of before. There isn’t much plot, to be honest, (though the detailing of the massacre is done in a much more convincing and chilling way than in VGL), but the characters are much deeper and the subjects touched much more serious, and the ending is suitably open and fitting. Full marks to Coupland, and I’m now keen to go off and read some more of his (the only other work of his I’ve read is the seminal geek tale Microserfs, which I also recommend).


Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow.

21 March 2004

Recovering from a pretty good weekend – was in London for Francis’s stag do. We went go-karting in the afternoon, which was a hell of a lot of fun, although my team came a ignominous last (thanks to Hugh’s comedy spinning off in the pit lane). Then we spent the evening at Bierodrome in Islington, which has an amazing selection of Belgian beers and top-quality food to boot. We consumed large quantities of both, and we all got merry. I can just about remember the evening and I don’t think I did anything that bad…

I got up very late today (for some reason I spent several hours criss-crossing London on various Night Buses and didn’t get home until sunrise) but woke to discover many magnificent bruises on my body – I think these are from being bashed about during the go-karting rather than being random drinking injuries. Luckily for you I don’t have a digital camera or I’d have posted pictures of them – there’s a fucking huge one on my leg that’s the size of the palm of my hand, it’s a beautiful shade of vermillion. Anyway, I think I’ll be snacking on the Ibuprofen for the next few days.

Update: Derek has uploaded his photos of the karting.

Further Update: Chris Gammie has put his online as well.


How to code appallingly badly

19 March 2004

The world’s two worst variable names was an amusing read (via Small Values of Cool), and led me onto spend a lot of time reading Bad Code and Funny Things Seen In Source Code And Documentation in c2.com’s Wiki.

The most obfuscated code I’ve wrote recently is probably this, in Flash Actionscript:

clockwise = (clockwise) ? ++obj._rotation < 10 : --obj._rotation <= -10;

which when repeatedly called would oscillate an object’s rotation between -10 and 10, in one line – basically it’s this:

if (clockwise) {
 ++obj._rotation;
 if (obj._rotation >= 10) clockwise = false;
}
else {
 --obj._rotation;
 if (obj._rotation <= -10) clockwise = true;
}

but a lot more horrible.

The worst code I’ve ever written, as in actually offensively poor and shoddy, I can’t honestly remember, as usually if I’ve discovered something awful then I’ve rewritten it and since forgotten it. My favourite bad code from work was when Andy once wrote:

Properties properties = PackageProperties.getProperties(PROPERTIES);

which I found amusingly confusing.


How much would you like to withdraw today?

19 March 2004

Diebold, amongst other things, make ATM machines. Unfortunately, it seems that when you reboot them, they boot normal Windows and allow you to play around with it as you like.

Still, with a secruity flaw like this, at least it’s only a few banks that get hurt, right? Not as if Diebold do anything else important. Oh yeah, apart from manufacture the electronic voting machines used in the US Elections.

I’ve commented on this before, regrettably have not done much since, but will write an updated version when I have more time, and especially, I’ll try to dig out more on the possibility of electronic voting machines in the UK. In the meantime, Black Box Voting and Rebecca Mercuri are good starting places to find out more.


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