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Category Archive for ‘Stories’ at Lightspeed Blog
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Archive for the 'Stories' Category

Catastrophic Failure

I have something quite important to talk about (namely this) but it’s going to take me a while to collect my thoughts and explain it properly. In the meantime here’s a cautionary tale about the perils of not backing up your data.

A few months ago my ageing external hard drive started making an odd clicking noise whenever it was left on for too long. Puzzlement grew to worry as I realised my precious data may be in jeopardy - and this particular drive was where my mp3 collection resided. Some of those files date back to the era of Napster, and as such I’ve grown quite attached to them. Since I didn’t have anywhere to transfer the files to, I took the safe route and stopped using the drive until I could safely rescue the data.

Cut forward to April, my birthday - friends from college get me a Network Attached Storage device and two 500GB hard drives (thanks, guys!). Now that I had oodles of delicious hard drive space, it was time to rescue those files. I turned on the drive and quickly copied the mp3s to their new location, watching them transfer anxiously. It was a nail-biting few minutes, but fortunately the transfer finished with no problems. Huzzah! I decided to have a celebratory dinner straight away, and salvage what other files I could from the drive later on.

When I returned to my room, belly full and mind at ease, there was an unholy sound coming from the hard drive (I had forgotten to turn it off). I wish I had had the presence of mind to record it so I could show you how badly the drive was mutilating itself, but my first priority was making sure no explosions occurred. After turning off the drive, I took it apart to perform my autopsy.

Melted Hard Drive

Notice the melted plastic.

Hard Drive near the bin

Now, notice the close proximity of the drive to the bin.

Seems it’s dead… which is a shame, but also a wake up call. Stuff physically breaks sometimes! With this abrupt and jarring loss as a catalyst, I finally got around to burning a backup of all my important files (college work, web design projects, etc.) It spanned three DVDs, totalling about 12GB of data - who knew I had so much important stuff!

The Dog Whisperer

Cycling to college today, I noticed a dog circling a car on the road, barking furiously. Before my mind could get carried away with flashbacks from Cujo, I got close enough to see that it was actually barking at another dog in the back seat of the car. The woman in the car was clearly distressed, as she couldn’t drive away in case she accidentally hit the dog. “Wow, what a predicament” I thought to myself, and cycled off.

I actually did cycle by; but I stopped and got off my bike further down the road, and walked back to help. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do; if the dog became unruly, did I wrestle it to the ground until the trapped car could make its escape? As it turned out, all it took was a few shooing motions and a stern “gerroutofit!” to convince the dog to calm down. The woman rolled down her window, thanked me, and drove off.

Why am I mentioning this? Because I would have stopped straight away to help out; but I found myself thinking, as I often do in these situations, that maybe the person has the situation under control. Maybe I’m going to make a massive tit out of myself by offering to help where no help is needed. A good example is from a few weeks ago, also on my cycle to college. I was cycling along the N11 behind a girl, who as it turns out was also cycling to UCD. As we both pulled into the front gate and came to the security kiosk, a car sped by at the junction in front of us, forcing us to brake suddenly. I managed to stop without much trouble, but she pulled too hard on the front brake, performed an impromptu stoppie/endo and landed back on her bike awkwardly, dropping her bag in the process. I was already cycling away when I noticed what had happened, and by the time I had decided I should go back and check if she was ok, she had gathered her things and rushed off.

So I’m making a rather late new years’ resolution - to stop second-guessing myself and offer help to strangers whenever I suspect they need it. And if I end up offering to help an elderly woman cross the road, and she tells me to piss off… well, that’ll just make for an interesting blog entry :)

Hmmmmmmm…

Lately my computer has been making an odd humming noise. It starts and stops in a regular pattern, coming and going sporadically throughout the day. I spend a good chunk of my time sitting at this computer - and as I don’t find the idea of slowly being driven mad particularly attractive, I set out to exorcise the phantom buzz.

The noise sounded distinctly like something resonating with some other thing - since the hard drive is the main moving part in a computer, I started there. I swapped my two drives hoping this would align some obscure computer-chi and magically fix the problem. After reassembling and turning on the computer, I gave it 10 minutes in which to stay quiet - huzzah! Not a peep. Noticing the tower was still on the floor, I slotted it back into the desk… and predictably, almost immediately, the hum returned.

So how do I fix this problem? Get a rubber desk, so any vibrations passing through it are nullified? While it would be quite a talking point, I set about finding a slightly more elegant way to disrupt my computer’s internal grumblings from rubbing my desk the wrong way.

Just minutes later, I hit upon this inspired solution:

Computer sitting on a packet of mints

Who knew a packet of mints had so many uses? Not only that, but:

Computer sitting on a packet of Microsoft mints

Aww, look at it, snuggling up to the “Microsoft Vista Compatible” sticker.

10 Points to the first person who comments about how open source mints would have done the job twice as well and been free to boot. And by “10 Points” I mean, of course, a swift but firm kick to the genitals.

I Can Has LOLs?

I couldn’t allow a whole month to go by without a blog post - not that 29 days isn’t also shocking, but because I happen to know that one month is the precise amount of time it takes for a blog to die of malnutrition; and I’ll be damned if this one is ready to join its brothers and sisters up in blog heaven.

Even though I’m on a strict time limit here, administering vital prose to Lightspeed Blog through an IV drip, I’ve still managed to cook up something of unimaginable mirth for you, my faithful readers, to enjoy. I have a history of making odd facial expressions in photographs, and this Stephen’s Day in Club 92 was no exception.

So, without further ado or pleonasm, I present to you: LOLEugene - The next great internet meme.

Liz Has A Flavour?

Invisible Bitch Slap

I can has internet notoriety?

I was apprehensive at first using the word “drunkennesses” - it’s clearly more than a little made up. A quick googling later though, I was reassured that not only was it in common use… it’s even in the Bible?!

I promise to update more, internet, once my life goes into the adrenaline-fuelled interest explosion I just know it will in oh-eight. And if not, at least there’ll probably be a few more pictures like the above by Tuesday morning…

(If you were puzzled, perplexed or even outraged at the above, I should explain that it’s a homage of sorts to something called LOLCats. But really, if you sincerely don’t know what a LOLCat is by now you’re not very good at the internet. What are you doing on my obscure blog? That’s like hiking up Mount Everest before you learn how to cross the road. Go watch Salad Fingers before you do anything else.)

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.