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2007 November Archive at Lightspeed Blog
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Monthly Archive for November, 2007

Intermission

I know what you’re all thinking: man creates blog; posts a few times, gets bored; blog fades into obscurity. Yes, many a valiant internet wordsmith and his digital narrative have suffered this wicked fate - but not I! Or my blog, for that matter. The skinny is thus: I’m extremely busy. However, with the aid of <h3> tags, I will bring you quickly up to speed with minimal verbosity.

NWERC

we didn’t do very well, but it was still a great trip. Plus I saw the sunrise for probably the first time ever:
Sunset

Computer Science Karaoke

was heaps of fun.

Karaoke

Expect further update shortages…

Better Late Than Never

I’m writing this entry on a bus on the way to UCD - if I can manage to find an unsecured network and post it while the bus is at traffic lights I’ll be rather pleased with myself :D

I meant to write about this sooner, but anyway: this weekend I’m off to Utrecht, Holland to compete in NWERC 2007. It’s a regional qualifier for the ACM ICPC. This is the first year any university in Ireland has entered a team (or so I’m told), so it’s “kind of a big deal”.

Why me, you ask? Well, it’s party because I competed in a programming competition in UCD last summer, but also partly because the whole thing was sort of under the radar. Only six people expressed an interest in being part of the team, of which three were finally chosen. The entire school of Computer Science got an email about us last week though, so maybe I’ll have some stiffer competition to qualify next year :P

We’re staying in a hotel with the charming name of “Van der Valk Biltsche Hoek”, which looks quite nice; the website was all in Dutch though, so we may have reserved 4 car parking spaces for 3 months for all we know. Half way though the booking process we were presented with the following choice:

More Person Room!

We managed to figure out that “kamer” means “room”, but were stunned to discover that “meerpersoon” means… “more person”. What the hell is a ““more person room”?! We booked them since they were the same price as standard, and I assume if it turns out we don’t like the “more people” provided we can tell them to take a hike.

We’re going over on Friday at about 3pm, and arriving at 6ish. Those are local times; seems it doesn’t take 3 hours to fly a few hundred kilometers. Even more strangely we’re leaving at 7 on Sunday and getting in to Dublin at 7:30! Holland is ahead, or behind, or something. My brain isn’t designed to process time zones; just thinking about the International Date Line makes me nauseous.

I realise this is all of questionable interest to anyone else… I’ll make it up with some funny youtube videos soon, I promise. In fact, here are some dudes trying to act like ninjas when they are quite clearly not ninjas:

I can only hope that video gives the above article clarity and context :)

Hair Dye III - The Last One, Wherein I Dye My Hair Its Final Colour

Anything I could have subtitled this post wouldn’t have been funny enough; so I just decided screw it, I’ll make it painfully straighforward. That way I’m still being clever. By not being clever.

Ahem.

Stage 3

Hair technician: Oisin (again)
Positives: It’s red!
Negatives: It’s a bit too red.

There’ll be oodles of noodles photos on flickr, once I’m bothered to sort them out. At a rough count we took almost 300 pictures over the three days - far more than any normal man should take of himself in a year :o

Hair Dye II - Dye Harder

Donal already sort of spoiled the pun in the title (which I was saving up for two days), but I still feel my version adds a certain something. Donal, you may have beat me to the punch here; but in a battle of puns, I always have the last laugh :D

Sorry the first post about this process was a bit sparse, but that was because I had the most intense headache I’ve had in years… who know putting corrosive substances on your head for an extended period of time could have negative side effects? Shocking!

Stage 2

Hair technician: Oisin
Positives: Actually blonde now, instead of blondish/orange/undefined. My hair still didn’t fall out.
Negatives: My scalp feels tingly all the time.

The next step is the last, but since Oisin is my self-declared stylist from now on I have to wait until he’s free next. Not to mention that if I put more dye in my hair anytime soon there could be… problems.

Hair Dye I - The Blondening

Part 1 in a 3-part series.

Stage 0

More of a prologue than an actual chapter in this adventure, this was my hair before anything happened to it.

Hair before

Hair technician: Genetics/Evolution/God
Positives: Ol’ reliable. Has worked reasonably well in the past.
Negatives: Boring. Not Aryan enough. If I stick with it I won’t have anything to blog about.

Clearly, black’s gotta go…

Stage 1

Hair after first blonde dye

Hair technician: Angry Gill
Positives: Not that horrible orange colour. My hair didn’t fall out.
Negatives: Used the wrong kind of bleach (apparently). Still a bit uneven, and not light enough. Tony O’Gara got mad at us.

Tomorrow I’m putting in more bleach.

There are more photos than you could possibly want to see over on flickr.

My House Is Full Of Useless Tools

After spending almost half an hour searching for a bike pump in my family’s “toolbox” (actually a three-tiered set of plastic drawers, filled with more random miscelania than tools) I decided to take on the task of sorting it out. Instead of trying to put my experience into words, I’ve just compiled a list of some of the things I found:

  • over 30 Allen keys
  • 15 screwdrivers, mostly broken
  • 3 broken hammers
  • An entire unraveled roll of masking tape
  • The wheel from a long-dead computer desk
  • lots of painting equipment (not technically tools)
  • knitting needles, children’s toys and stationary (definately not tools)
  • mountains of mixed screws, nails, washers and nuts
  • an unpleasant sticky residue at the bottom of each drawer.

What sort of family needs more than 30 Allen keys? No family, that’s who. There’s only about 12 types. Any more than that is just showing off.

Toolbox

That picture is about half way through the sort - I’m trying to compress everything into the small toolbox on the far left. Yes, I’m sifting through piles of filthy old tools on my family’s kitchen table.

I was almost done when I came across this supposed “tool”. Far from being a handy DIY utensil, it looks like its only use is to kill another man in prison:

Prison Shiv

Well at least now when I want to shiv someone for using the last of the milk, I won’t have to waste time looking for a suitable weapon…

Everybody Wants To Be Internet Famous

If you’re not familiar with the concept of egosurfing, it involves typing your own name into Google and checking if any of the results relate to you. It seems vain and self-centred, but almost everyone I’ve asked about it admits to it openly so I’m going to just come out and say it - I’m an avid egosurfer. I’ve googled myself on many occasions, although most attempts were pretty unremarkable until the first result for “Eugene Kenny” became my bebo page. I realise it’s not exactly ranking first for John Smith, but it sure rubs my ego the right way.

I also quite like this.

Anyway, that was all just a lead up to telling you the following story. A few days ago, Donal Troddyn googled Donal Troddynand came across something odd: it seems he had published a book, A Treatise on Language Volume Two, without being aware of it. That he managed to write an entire volume, consider there to be still more in the field worth discussing and pen a second tome, all without any aspect of the task leaving his subconscious seemed slightly implausible; but the fact that brainyencyclopedia.com clearly cited him as a reference on their page on ambiguity is pretty strong evidence.

The truth, as it turned out, was slightly more convoluted; Donal had mischievously edited the wikipedia entry on ambiguity years ago, and it was promptly deleted. (Here’s the original edit. It stayed on there for 5 months!) Then brainyencyclopedia.com, despite their implicit abundance of brains, had decided to shamelessly pilfer their content from wikipedia; and they just so happened to do so while the fictional quote was in place. To add to the bedlam even further, several other websites then in turn copied brainyencyclopedia, including one translation into Czech (which I can’t seem to find right now :( ).

Donal blogged about the incident here, albeit with slightly more brevity.

Aside from being unfathomably hilarious, this does actually highlight the weakness of wikipedia as a serious source of information; while most vandalism is immediately noticeable, some could easily slip into your presumed collection of facts or a hastily prepared arts essay. I think Tycho of Penny Arcade may have said it best:

“What you’ve proposed is a kind of quantum encyclopedia, where genuine data both exists and doesn’t exist depending on the precise moment I rely upon your discordant f**king mob for my information.”

While I don’t endorse the vandalism of wikipedia, this website seems to make a bizarre sort of sense.