Thursday, 28 January 2010

Why The iPad Is A Waste Of Money

So yesterday Apple unveiled the much anticipated tablet thing they have in development. The hype seems to largely be split into people who have seen it for what it actually is, and people who are stupid and have simply lapped up all the awesome Apple iHype without any real thought. The thing is, this isn't even a rant out of hatred for Apple. I'm not going to go through easy but cheap arguments of how it sounds like some sort of computerised menstrual aid. It's just actually a pretty useless and dire piece of kit for the price.

To start, I'll let Hitler present the majority of my argument:

The fact is that the iPad really isn't anything special. For starters, it's already been done before. More commercially, you have the Arcos 9, and a little more niche you've got the equivalent from Freescale Semiconductor, which runs Android, both announced before the iPad. What both of these also offer is better functionality and stats, and at a lower cost. They're not quite as sleek or shiny as the iPad, but looks aside they offer far better value for money.

The thing about the iPad is that I can't see what sort of market niche it's trying to fill. It's too useless to be a proper replacement for any sort of laptop or netbook - it'd need a proper keyboard and the ability to multitask. All it really does is offer a way to watch video and browse the internet portably. Except it's not really that portable. It's basically just a smartphone but with a massive screen and the inability to make calls. It loses all the benefits of a smartphone's portability without actually adding anything except for a bigger screen and larger cost.

If you already own an iPhone, I don't see why the fuck you'd ever consider buying an iPad. You'll already be carrying the iPhone around everywhere with you anyway, is the larger screen really worth $400+? Fact is that if you're going to go to the bother of carrying around something that big and paying for it, you might as well get a proper tablet or something. Something that still gives you the same touch screen, but with the functionality of a proper computer.

Basically, Apple have released something that for the most part combines the negative aspects of a lot of different products. It's as bulky as a netbook or tablet PC, and as unfunctional as an iPhone when compared to a proper computer. It's got a really long battery life, the touch screen will probably work pretty nicely, and it looks damn sexy, but it doesn't do anything to remotely justify the cost, because it is fucking expensive. The 16GB version without 3G is $499 (and 16GB is a laughably shit storage capacity when I can buy a 16GB SD card for less than £20), and the 64GB version is $699. On top of that, 3G adds another $120. And the prices in the UK aren't going to be anything like a proper exchange rate either.

I mean, comparing the 64GB version with the HP Touchsmart TX2, the iPad falls horribly short. The Touchsmart has a proper OS, proper keyboard, it has a 320GB hard drive, it has 12 hours battery life (even longer than the iPad's pretty good 10 hours), it has a 2.3GHz processor (versus 1GHz for the iMac), 4GB RAM, proper USB/VGA/Ethernet ports, and it doesn't look bad either. It's bigger than the iPad, but that's because it's got a bigger screen, and frankly the iPad isn't small enough to fit into anyone's pocket, so once you're at that size and you're putting it in a bag, it stops really mattering if it's a couple of inches bigger. The HP costs a few hundred dollars more than the iPad, but the increase in functionality is phenomenal, and I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be hard to find a similar tablet PC that costs the same as the iPad and still has far better technical specs.

The fact is, Apple seem to have crippled this thing for the sake of making it as sleek as possible. It's meant to be a piece of technology, a gadget, not a fucking work of art. Sure, make it look nice, but don't hack out things that would be useful just to make it look nice. If I wanted something that looked awesome but didn't do anything, I'd buy a painting. The fact that it has no USB port, no card slot is just fucking stupid. Not only is the 16GB internal drive pitifully small, but you're stuck with it. You can't even double or triple the size by whacking a USB flash drive or SD card in there. You're stuck with what you have, even ignoring the other plentiful benefits of having a USB port.

Basically, in buying an iPad you're wasting quite a lot of money buying what is actually a massively restricted portable computer. Restricted to the point where it doesn't really merit the status of being a computer, and is essentially a relatively un-portable smartphone. Most tablet PCs might not have quite as good a touch screen interface, but they'll by far be a smarter purchase for what they can do for the same sort of cost. The iPad is to tablet PCs what the iMac Air was to conventional laptops - using shiny qualities and marketing to gloss over the fact that you'll actually be paying more for vastly reduced functionality.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Eats, Shoots & Leaves

For those who haven't read Eats, Shoots & Leaves, go read it. It'll improve your own grammar and writing no end, and for what's basically a book written by someone being a grammar nazi, it's surprisingly enjoyable to read. Brought up by this discussion, while QC'ing Durarara!!

[Rosti_LFC]  - Totally the dream man of girls into "dandy daddies."
[Rosti_LFC] should be "dandy daddies".
[Ayanami-] what?
[Ayanami-] the period after the quotes?
[Ayanami-] I thought only question marks do that
[Nanne]     * Periods and commas: inside the quotation marks
[Nanne]     * Colons and semicolons: outside the quotation marks
[Nanne]     * Question marks and exclamation points: (a) inside if the question or exclamation is part of the quotation, and (b) outside if the question or exclamation is not part of the quotation
[Rosti_LFC] wat?
[Rosti_LFC] I swear all punctuation that isn't in the quote should be outside
[Rosti_LFC] oh
[Rosti_LFC] American system
[Rosti_LFC] well that's fucking retarded
[Rosti_LFC] both for the fact that it's different, and the actual fact that they apparently go inside
(Pasting IRC logs is a bitch on here because it keeps thinking all the nicks are fucking HTML tags)

So apparently American English has an extra-fucktarded aspect I wasn't aware of (on top of their incorrect spellings and the like), which is that all full stops and commas at the end of quotation marks should go inside the quotation.


The sign said "stop here". (British)
The sign said "stop here." (American)

Sorry, but that's so ridiculously fucking stupid. There was no . on the sign. That is not what the sign said, that is not what should be inside the quote. The whole fucking point of quotation marks is that it signifies that the contents are an ad verbatim quote. Which they're not when you start fucking sticking random punctuation in there. Funny how small things can rile me up so much, and it's weird that I'm annoyed over shitty grammar, but I'm more annoyed over the fact that somebody, somewhere in the US, has decided that this is how English should be. That always putting stuff inside somehow makes more sense.

Punctuation goes inside if it should go inside - i.e. if it's part of the quote. If not, it should go outside. Why are Americans apparently too retarded to make that observation, and just need some bullshitty rule that it always goes inside the quotation marks? You can't write a blanket rule, because it depends entirely on what you're quoting, and what punctuation it requires. It's just fucking stupid and wrong that they've even tried.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Rivalries in Football

The BBC Sport website the last week or so has been pretty well populated by stories of the aftermath of Manchester City's 2-1 victory in the League Cup over Manchester United. Tevez's celebration towards Gary Neville after scoring the winner, and the middle finger gesture that it got in return sparked quite a few stories, and the subsequent bitching in the press has furthered it.

It's now gotten to the point where the FA are apparently stepping in to try and diffuse the situation. Personally, I don't agree with that sort of action. I think that to an extent at least it should be encouraged.

A small tribute to Feyenoord, the team I follow in the Eredivisie

Now I'm in no means here saying that violence should be encouraged, or that things should get out of control. I think that cases of fans throwing things at the players on the pitch is utterly wrong, and that outside of the ground things should be amicable. Things definitely shouldn't escalate into riots and violence, as happened earlier in the year when West Ham played Millwall. Fans should get on, and violence just shouldn't come into it.

However, I don't think that any sort of tension or aggravation should be instantly diffused. If there's one thing that can be said about modern football, it's that it quite often lacks the sort of tenacity and passion that it used to have. I don't care how much the players are being paid, or how many of them are English. All I care is that the players care for the club they represent, and go into each and every game with the desire to win and nothing else. They should be going for every ball, chasing everything, putting in the effort that merits their huge salary. I want them to feel how the fans do, elated after every victory, bitterly disappointed after every defeat, regardless of the huge house, trophy wife and various comforts they go home to.

The fact is that the players should care, and I don't see how Manchester United and Manchester City players having a go at each other is anything other than a good thing. The tension should be there. The players should be wanting to win. They should be as passionate and as bitterly involved in the rivalry as the fans are. It's just how football should be. You only have to look at players like Robinho and Berbatov who, talented as they are, come under huge amounts of stick because they basically don't appear to give a shit about the club and fans who pay their wages. In contrast there are players like Dirk Kuyt and Craig Bellamy, who can be forgiven for various poor performances on the ball, because they at least put their heart and soul into the game and worked hard for as long as they were on the pitch.

The fact is that rivalries and derby games are the ones that get the fans stoked up, and they should affect the players in the exact same way. There is absolutely no game in the season (aside from maybe finals) that I care about as much as the match against Manchester United. The rivalry is absolutely massive, and bitter as hell. The Merseyside derby against Everton is also pretty huge, but it's a bit more friendly and there's usually not as much riding on it (sorry Evertonians, but it's true). Sure, not winning the league title last season was gutting for me as a Liverpool fan, but doing the double over the Manc shite and beating them 4-1 at Old Trafford especially was a pretty sweet result.

The rivalries are what football's about. The Old Firm is the only reason anyone still gives a shit about Scottish football, the rivalries between Real Madrid and Barcelona, Inter and AC Milan and the like are some of the most exciting games in football, and the result means a massive amount to the fans involved. I'd take any trophy over beating Manchester United, but the margin isn't that great, and it's important for me that we win derby games like that, because victories like the 4-1 one last season seriously put me in a good mood for like two whole weeks.

Which is why it's important that the players in the game have passion, why they understand the significance of the huge derbies and do everything they can to win it for the fans, rather than turning up for the match just to collect their paycheck. It's why, as much as I think he's an absolute arrogant fuckfaced cocksucker, I can at least like Gary Neville in the respect that he gets into the derby atmosphere and cares as much as most of the fans do. And it's why the FA should just leave the situation alone and not do their best to suck some of the remaining passion out of the game.

"Unable To Open Outlook Window"

Turn on my computer today, got the message in the title of the blog. Really not a great thing, given that Outlook is basically what I revolve my life around. It tells me when to be places, it gives me emails. I can't have it just not work.

I restart my computer, load Outlook, same message. Fuck.

OK, first port of call for anyone who has a problem with computers and isn't a complete retard: Google. Searched for the error message, the autocomplete finds it as the first result at "Unable to o...", search, get taken to Microsoft's support page for the problem. All is good until I notice that the page only shows two solutions. One is to put outlook.exe back out of compatibility mode, which it isn't in for the first place because I'm not fucktarded. I don't know why anyone would even do that in the first place, and if you change the compatibility mode of something and it stops working, surely changing it back would be the first fucking thing you'd do.

The second is to delete all the profiles stuff in the registry. I don't know why the fuck they even have you do it that way, because by deleting the profiles stuff you're basically just wiping Outlook. You might as well just reinstall it. I renamed the "Profiles" folder to "lol" and opened Outlook, and as I expected I had completely vanilla Outlook. It worked, sure, which was an improvement, but it was still completely and utterly blank.

So I'm faced with three options. Either I keep looking for a way to solve it without erasing everything, I just suck it up and reconfigure Outlook, or I switch to Thunderbird or some other program while I'm at it. I figured that for the moment I might as well go for the first option, so I searched through Google a bit more.

It didn't take me long to find this alternative solution. What's more, this solution not only worked, but it didn't require me to erase my entire fucking Outlook profile in the process. Typing a single line into the Run prompt and I'm suddenly back to a fully functioning version of Outlook and my life is happy again.

So fuck you Microsoft for not including what is actually the best solution to the problem in that page. Or any of the other ones that give the same error. And thank you for providing it instead.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Saving Haiti With Bibles?!

Reading Gizmodo this afternoon, I came across a frankly disturbing article on how a Christian group is sending audio Bibles to victims of the earthquake in Haiti. Now, I'd like to firstly say that I'm sure there are plenty of Christian organisations out there which have donated real money and provided real aid for the people suffering out there. However, this still doesn't detract from the fact that this idea is completely and utterly fucking ridiculous. The Scientology one linked in the article is as well, but we've come to expect that from Scientology anyway so nobody really gives a shit.

When people are still coming to terms with such a massive disaster, when they are still trying to figure out how to get back on their feet when they have no house and no possessions, when there are people who are starving because they have no money for food, people badly injured, dying... you send them fucking solar powered Bibles?

Today there was another aftershock, of magnitude 6.1. It's crazy and alarming that it's even referred to as "another aftershock", because in most places it'd be referred to as "a fucking big earthquake". Fact is that there are 200,000 people dead (at least) and over 1,500,000 homeless. That's a lot of people. That's slightly more than one for every twenty seconds remaining in 2010. A lot of people who are in desperate need of proper help, not preaching.

The best case scenario here is that these Christians are trying to raise morale. Haiti is primarily a Christian country, so I wouldn't say these Bibles are an entirely shitty idea, but it's still completely retarded. If you're going to the trouble of making these things, of shipping them out there... why the fuck would you? Why the fuck wouldn't you send something which is a little more desperately required? If I was dying of starvation and a man told me that God loved me, then if I was a Christian at least I'd probably take some hope from that. But if he told me that he'd just gone to the high-street and bought me a Bible I'd be pretty pissed off and would want to know why the fuck he didn't think of getting me some food.

The website of the group responsible for this has a picture advertising them giving out the audio Bibles. It's a picture of people crowding round, reaching out for bottles of presumably some sort of nutrient water stuff being handed out. Notice that they're not clamouring for the audio Bibles. These aren't people who said "fuck that food and water shit, what I really need right now is to hear the Bible from a solar powered radio". They're people wanting real aid.

What's really extra fucking stupid is that these guys have just gone through one of the worst natural disasters of recent times. I'm pretty sure right now that they're not best pleased with God. To send them Bibles and messages saying he loves them just seems almost to be taking the piss a little bit. Sure, God may have just destroyed your entire house, caused you to lose all of your possessions and left you struggling to survive, but remember: He loves you. It's fucking bullshit. Does God really show his love for an almost exclusively Catholic nation by sending it a magnitude 7.0 earthquake and a fuckload of aftershocks?

The most cynical view would be that they're doing this to stop people thinking that way. To make sure people stay Christian and don't abandon their religion. Which, if it's the case (and I hope it isn't) then that's just utterly wrong. To prioritise people staying to the religion you believe to be right rather than staying alive is just slightly sick.

I'll stress again that I know plenty of Christians will find this audio Bible stuff similarly horrific, and that this isn't how all Christians think, or administer aid. But I still think that whoever suggested the idea of sending them Bibles instead of proper, useful aid, needs a slap. Regardless of morale, people are dying out there, and you can't save a starving person with words of God.

Onto The Good Times

Hard bit of the week is over now, and I can give myself a bit of time to relax and recuperate a bit.

Laundry is done (for those who were concerned, I did have a final set of clean underwear for today), supervision work is pretty much done, no rowing outing early tomorrow morning (fuck yeah, 8am lie-in).

I thought the Fitz Barbershop guys in the bar tonight were pretty awesome. I don't really know what it is about it, but I really quite enjoy Barbershop and A Capella music. I don't think I could listen to it all the time, but I definitely quite like it when I hear it.

Bit pissed off with the failed attempt to fix my rear bike tyre today. Really annoying to spend the time repairing the inner tube and replacing the outer tyre, and for it to still be deflated a few hours after it's supposedly fixed. I'll either just buy a new inner tube tomorrow, or maybe take it somewhere and have them fix it. Or maybe just get a new bike. Three punctures in the same tyre in the space of a term is a little bit ridiculous, even if two of them were related.

Proper posts (ie ones on more interesting topics than my general life) coming at the end of the week. Time to sleep.

Monday, 18 January 2010


So damn busy with work. Everything fucking bunches itself up into one little corner of the week. Damn IDP project stuff and supervision work and rowing and Frostii stuff all ends up leaving me with very little time for important things like sleep and personal hygiene and the like (don't worry, still showering).

And fuck I had to do my laundry today, and I've forgotten, so I'm not sure if I actually have clean underwear for tomorrow. I think I do, or at least I hope I do... maybe shouldn't be putting this in a public blog.

So yeah, too much work and shit to do today, instead I'll just cop out of writing a proper post and replace real blog content with things like news of a Swedish Weight Watchers group who collapsed the floor of their clubroom (sorry tada, no pics of members). And also this video of a cat in a box:

This is the main reason why I can't ever get a cat. I could just spend my entire time playing with it (read: teasing it) and not ever get anything productive done. Judging by the number of videos that guy has of his cat (I can't even count them) that's all he does too.

There'll be some real blog posting at the back end of the week, when stuff clears up and I almost certainly find myself bored and with nothing to do.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

New Sonic Potentially Good

Feeling tired, and today has been shamelessly unproductive, so what better to piss me off more than news of yet another Sonic game. Except actually, not the case, because Sega seem to finally have realised what the fuck they've been doing wrong the last ten years.

It's only taken them a decade or so of screwing it up, but finally they're taking console Sonic games back into 2D, and they're also removing all the annoying, shitty extra characters. What I find even better is that they set up the whole thing as a sort of "OK guys guess what utterly retarded characters we'll be having in the new game!", and have finally revealed that the correct answer is actually none. It's some weird act of self-mocking the shitty development and direction they've been taking for the majority of the series.

Really though, it's the 2D that holds the potential for me. There are plenty of games that don't work remotely as well in 3D as they do in 2D. Games like Worms, Asteroids, Pac-Man, shmups as a genre, and various other old classics that basically have their gameplay reliant on a 2D plane, and any attempt to switch to 3D loses the majority of what makes the game good. Sonic is also one of these games. The whole "crap I'm moving so fast I can't see where I'm going" thing doesn't work if you're looking in front of you in this magical 3D world. Pretty much all the appeal of the game gets lost and it basically feels like a cheap Mario 64 knock-off with Sonic stuck into it. And it's taken Sega fucking ages to realise this, mostly because retards keep buying the 3D Sonic games without realising they're definitely going to be shit. All the while there have been games like Sonic Rush on the DS that retain the 2D gameplay and are pretty fun, and taunt us at how good the main console releases could be.

Mostly the idea is that people don't play 2D games. Unless it's 3D the graphics have to be shit and nobody will love it. Which is totally not true. There are some excellent games out there which are popular and 2D. The likes of Braid, the new Mario game for the Wii, and plenty of arcade games in Japan. You can make a 2D game look as nice as most 3D ones just by going for "2.5D", where you have essentially 3D rendering and graphics but the game is played in a 2D field. It's not difficult to make massively shiny and sexy animated backgrounds to please the eye, while keeping the core gameplay in two dimensions, as it should be for the likes of Sonic.

Sega could yet balls it up, but when GT5 comes out I'll probably pick up a PS3 (not so expensive any more, and a cheap Blu-ray player), and unless they do fuck it up spectacularly, I'll probably buy the new Sonic game too.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Horoscopes & Psychics

This one is somewhat inspired by the plot of the newest episode of The Big Bang Theory (man, how I've missed that show during it's winter break).

The really short argument is that if you believe in what horoscopes and psychics say, then you're an idiot. If you check your horoscope just out of interest, then fair enough, but if you actually believe in what it says, or start to live your life by them, or pay money for them in any way, then you're stupid. Same goes for psychics. Paying money for their services is just utterly stupid, though watching the odd TV show isn't too bad. I'll sometimes watch Derek Acorah just for the lulz:

The thing is, I completely don't feel like I'm being narrow-minded here, or disrespectful of other people's beliefs. Religion is still open to debate, but astrology and the power of psychics is pretty much a closed case. It's extremely well-documented on the techniques used, and how the tricks are done. There's nothing wrong with taking some sort of enjoyment, but the line between enjoyment and stupidity is whether you believe it or not. I'll watch magic shows for enjoyment, but there's not one second where I actually believe that it's anything more than just complex illusion. Psychics do nothing but con people and prey on people's ability to be naïve and gullible if they're being told what they want to here.

For example, have you ever read a shitty horoscope? For all the general crap that I get in my life, they always seem to be remarkably upbeat and positive. I've never seen a horoscope saying I'll have relationship troubles, will struggle to keep up with my workload and daily life, and that I'll catch the flu halfway through the month. They're always stupidly optimistic about the coming week just because people are more willing to believe stuff if it's beneficial to them for it to be true.

[Amusingly, I just randomly went on and got my horoscope for the week. Funnily enough, it does actually say that I'm going to be ill this week, or at least have a sore throat. Which means fuck-all frankly. It's January, of course people are going to be getting sore throats. It's got nothing to do with the fucking Sun Sign of the Bull, or Saturn. It is caused by celestial bodies, but that's just because the Earth's orbit gives us seasons and it's currently the middle of fucking winter. As long as it's consistently sleeting and raining outside, my well-being is going to be a bit insecure.]

I've actually studied a fair bit about the science behind horoscopes and psychic techniques like cold reading. Not because I want to be able to explain to people why they're dumb if they believe that sort of stuff, but because I find that sort of psychological trick and manipulation to be deeply interesting.

Horoscopes primarily use what is known as the Forer Effect, and use Barnum statements. The Forer effect is named after Bertram Forer, who conducted an experiment on his students. He gave them a personality test, and on the basis on that test gave them a rather detailed analysis of their personality, and in the interest of improving the test, asked them to rate the analysis between 0 and 5, with 0 being totally unlike them, and 5 being a perfect match. What actually happened was that all the students were given the exact same personality description, and shockingly the average score was 4.26.

Forer didn't put a great deal of effort into his magical personality description either. He mostly just assembled it using excerpts from horoscopes. It consisted of several Barnum statements, which are statements that seem reasonably specific to you, but could actually be applied to pretty much everyone. They strike common themes in the human persona, and quite often are actually just pairings of contradicting terms, which means you can usually at least identify with half of the sentence. For example, "you can be outgoing and talkative around friends, but at the same time you enjoy having time to yourself occasionally.", which basically applies to anyone who has friends but doesn't need to spend every waking moment socialising. That last one I just made up, and it's really not difficult if you just portray a common positive quality or a pair of opposing qualities, because it's hard for people to reject it.

It's why I'm usually not that fussed about personality tests, unless they give proper break-downs at the end of my psychology as percentages of certain qualities. For example, the BBC's Big Personality Test is pretty good, and being used in a study. Fact is, unless you're giving me some proper detail about whether I'm introverted or not, and that sort of thing, it could easily just be a string of statements I'm inclined to agree with whether it's truthful or not. It's easy to dress up negative qualities as positive ones as well. Being rude can easily just be "not afraid to speak your mind" or "telling things how they are". It's not hard.

It'd be interested to go through horoscopes for a daily newspaper and see how often phrases are repeated. It wouldn't surprise me if they were just computer-generated from a load of pre-set sentences. Either way, it's ludicrous to think that the pre-set movements of massive objects, millions of kilometres away, has any effect on your trivial day-to-day matters and your fortunes, just because of the time of the year you were born in. Japan and the rest of Asia (I think?) uses blood type instead of starsigns, which is still utterly baseless and stupid, but at least there's a physical difference in the person. You can find out someone's blood type, but there's no fucking way you can test someone's starsign.

Fuck yeah Dinosaur Comics - this strip will be funnier for people who follow it

On the other hand, I actually have some vague respect for psychics. Not the bullshitty ones like Derek Acorah - anyone can pretend to be in contact with the dead with some fucking awful acting. I mean the ones that are actually good. Sure, it's still a load of nonsense, and they're not really talking to the dead, but some of it is actually really quite clever. Cold reading is by no means an easy thing to do convincingly, and some of them are pretty impressive.

Still, I think it's a bit of a con to charge people. You're basically preying on their naïvety and profiting as a result. A lot of it is just deceptively simple, and it's just another example of the Forer effect. In a room full of a reasonable number of people, it's quite likely that there'll be someone who can find a strong association with a common name like "John" or "David". The better psychics can do better and tailor questions to the audience. If the average age is pretty old (say over 30), then asking if anyone has had a male relative die with a cause related to the head or torso, then it seems specific enough. But not really. Chances are people that old will have had male relatives die (uncles, grandfathers, etc), just because it's a fact of life. It also becomes far less impressive when you realise that "related to head or torse" covers a fair range of fatal diseases (cancer of the brain/lung/most organs, heart disease, etc). In a group of thirty to forty people, it's really not pushing the odds too much.

With one-on-one psychic meetings it takes a bit more skill to be believable, or at least you need the skill to be able to make your wrong guesses appear like you're actually on the right lines. You don't really need much more than just good perception though, being able to spot key features like how the client dresses, whether they have a wedding ring on their finger, stuff like that. And really, I think if you're telling people the sorts of things they want to hear, then you can't do much wrong. Tell them they'll get into money soon, find romance, live long and prosper, etc.

Really the crux is that psychics can't ever tell you something specific. They won't answer any question you throw at them about the future, especially if it's something that is precise or easily tested. They'll palm it away saying that they can only gather the information that the spirits are willing to divulge, or something.

Or just don't really say anything at all. One of the things in the world that pisses me off most is Nostradamus and his so called predictions. They're all utter bullshit, and I don't get why anyone bothers to make a fuss about them, let alone use them for things like arguing against the Large Hadron Collider. If you make a fuckload of predictions, which are all extremely vague and unspecific, then it's not going to be difficult to have people apply them retrospectively to past events. The Bible does a similar sort of thing - so many of it's predictions are just interpretations of cryptic sentences, reverse-engineering them so they fit the desired meaning.

I could make ten Nostradamus-esque predictions right now, just say some random shit and then in a month or so decide what I was actually predicting. I won't now, because I'm tired and can't be arsed, but maybe I will sometime for a laugh.

Really, if anything, it just scares me a little how out of touch some people are with the real world and the laws that govern it, to think that things like psychics and astrology are actually 100% genuine and accurate. That people are so easily fooled, and question so little what is presented in front of them. I mean, for fuck's sake, these people who think that Venus's position relative to Jupiter will mean they will have success in their job this week... these people have a vote in our general elections. These people can sit on jury service. Do these people really have the ability to make decisions and judge facts well enough to wield the power they have in society? I find it pretty unsettling.

I mean sure, psychics impress me sometimes, but that doesn't mean I don't hold a dim view of people who completely fall for the act. I go back the magic analogy - I have respect for illusionists, but I have far less respect for people who think that what these guys are doing is somehow actual magic. Adults should really be able to tell the difference between what is reality, and what is just quite a clever and well-presented trick.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Rowing and Suicides

Back to the joys of pre-8am outings. They probably won't be that bad when my sleep cycle resets a little bit, but when I'm used to post-10am starts my body does not fucking like them. Hopefully after a week or so I'll be a little more switched on and less dozy because I'm not quite as tired.

Speaking of tired, I did club circuits this evening. Usually I don't because it clashes pretty much completely with Thursday CUAMS meetings, which take priority (at least considering I'm a cox and fitness is less important for me). No CUAMS today, so I figured I might as well go. Which in hindsight was a bit of a retarded move. The main problem I have with exercise is that I don't do it regularly. What I do is let my body ferment for a few weeks, and then kill myself doing a crapload of exercise at once. All it really does is cause me to ache for a few days and not really achieve anything. If I'm not still sore by Sunday I'll be surprised.

On the topic of sports and pain, video of the day:

Seen it a shitload of times, still wince-worthy.

KIT IS FINALLY COMING. About fucking time too, seriously. It was ordered at the start of November, was mean to arrive by December, and come the middle of January it still isn't here. That's like... over 100% late. Apparently there's a free DCBC embroidered beanie for everyone to apologise for the lateness of the order. I'm not usually one to be swayed by bribes, but fuck it. A free hat is a free hat.

Fuck Liverpool. Last night was so fucking bad I can't even bring myself to write anything about it. Made even worse by Torres being out for six weeks.

* * * * *

Something interesting I read today was BBC Magazine page one railway suicides. Personally I think I'm insensitive enough to say that if people want to kill themselves, they can at least not be a fucking pain in the arse for the rest of society and do it some way that doesn't inconvenience hundreds of people while the trains all get stopped. If you're going to go, you should at least do your best to go quietly, or if you need to make the headlines then be more creative and find a less irritating way to do it.

I think suicide is still viewed a little bit too strongly by society. We've gotten past attempted suicide being illegal, but I think we still care too much about things like assisted suicide. Ultimately we are all different people, we're all entitled to our own choices. It's a bit harsh to say that we're all overpopulated and people are doing the rest of us a favour by taking themselves out of the world, but really I don't see why this isn't how people see things.

Fact is, especially with the likes of terminal illness, that it's economically beneficial for the rest of us if the person involves dies earlier. I wouldn't force people to die earlier than they have to if they don't want to - I think that's a massive violation of human rights, but if they want to die then really, where's the issue? I can understand that things get more complicated than that, with people saying they want to die when perhaps they don't really want to, or old people feeling they should just get themselves out the way, but I question the extent to which that actually happens. If you genuinely want to live, then is it really that easy to bring yourself to death? Maybe it's my mindset, but I don't see how people could possibly accept death if it wasn't completely what they wanted.

Personally, I'm massively against the taking of life when it's not desired by the person involved. I think the death penalty is horrific, and I question how America can really call itself civilised when it still uses it in many states. I think it's massively wrong to deny someone their choice to live, and at the same time I feel that it's a similar issue to deny someone their choice to die. To be able to do so in a reasonably painless way, with their family around them. It was brought up in a recent episode of House, and I don't think it's really too uncommon for doctors to use euthanasia in a discreet way that goes unnoticed, especially if the patient is terminally ill and in a lot of pain.

Would be interested to hear opinions from people on euthanasia and assisted suicide. Personally, I think that at least in certain cases it should definitely be illegal in the UK. I think we place far too much emphasis on people staying alive, and I don't understand it, especially if they spend their days in extreme depression or pain. If they're of sound mind, then they should be able to make the decision to die, and they should be able to do it in as pleasant a way as practical, rather than jumping in front of a moving train.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

DCBC Training Camp 2010

So yeah, as I'm sure pretty much everyone reading this knows, I was in France last week. It was for the Downing College Boat Club training camp, which was in Soustons, sort of vaguely in between Toulouse and Bordeaux. Overall, I had a pretty awesome time, and considering a fair bit of the expenses were subsidised, it was a really decent holiday for the cost.

We left the college at around 3am on Monday morning. I'd come down on the Sunday, dropped all my stuff off in Alex's room and basically just hung around for 15 hours or so waiting for us to leave. We tried getting some sleep, but it was a pretty futile effort, and my sleep cycle wasn't geared towards my going to sleep before 3am anyway. Slept most of the way to the airport and got a bit of sleep here and there.

I've never really understood the crap about electronic devices on an aeroplane. I really can't see how me playing Ketsui on my DS, not even using wireless, could possibly have any real effect on the aircraft systems. As Eoin or Goodchild said, if all you need to do is turn on an electronic device during take-off to take an aircraft down, then the terrorists have been vastly overcomplicating things for the last couple of decades.

We flew to Toulouse, which is like a three hour coach journey from where we were actually staying, but it was the only airport where the flights worked out without being hideously expensive, so can't really complain too much about that. Where we were staying was OK. The rooms were pretty decent for the cost, though the food we were given was pretty shitty. I'd expect that from being in France though. The stuff about French food being amazing only remotely applies if you're paying through your nose for it. Anything else is just processed shit, and usually only has any taste because they've put a fuckload of salt in it. That said, I didn't have that much problem with the food, or at least not as much as some people seemed to. Some of it was fucking weird, granted, but on the most part it tasted all right.

My only proper complaint of the trip was that there was no fucking nightlife in the time whatsoever. It was ridiculous. There'd only ever be like one bar open on any one night. I think they actually had some sort of cartel thing going where all the local bars had arranged it so only one of them would be open on a single evening. There was so little business I doubt it'd be worth them all being open every night because there only seemed to be like four or five other people out in the evenings aside from the DCBC peeps. Even when the bars were open, they were expensive as fuck. I don't feel I'm being odd in thinking that €4.50 for a pint of lager is fucking ridiculous. It doesn't surprise me that the bars were pretty quiet when the drinks were that pricey, especially given the stuff in the local 8 à Huit was pretty decent value.

The rowing itself was pretty good fun. Some entertaining races, and generally the whole squad atmosphere was really nice. On the last day there were some fun-races, where basically the coxes and some of the rowers swapped around. I had my first go rowing ever, and to be thrown straight into a IV to race with about two minutes to warm up and get used to stuff was fucking scary. We got through the quarter-finals, with a joke crew and Craig Sawyer coxing (funny because he's absolutely huge) and then we got serious for the semi-finals and the final and put Craig in the crew and had Sarah MP coxing. Things were going OK for me until the final, when I crabbed massively (much to the continued amusement of various people), took a while to recover it, and then when I did I was so out of time that Kat crabbed in front of me due to laughing.
So we lost the final, but all good fun. Don't think I'm going to give up coxing to try and row though.

Despite the total utter lack of nightlife in the town, it was generally pretty fun outside rowing. We bought a crapload of beer and went in the jacuzzi (or "jaboozy" as it got nicknames) a couple of times, which was decent fun. Plenty of loud singing and abuse aimed at Jesus College (who were also there while we were). Also some decent indoor 7-a-side matches in the afternoons.

The main faff was over getting home. What with there being insane snow over pretty much everywhere in Europe besides Soustons (which was pretty nice most of the time) flights were getting cancelled all over the place, and it was a bit nervous for the last 48 hours or so of the trip because we didn't know if our flight would be cancelled or not, and a fair few people didn't have travel insurance either. Luckily everything was all right, but I felt pretty sorry for Craig for being in charge of the trip and have to fret and come up with alternative plans if things didn't work out.

Overall, really a great time. It was nice to be out in boats on such a huge lake, where you could literally row for four or five kilometres before having to spin, and to not have all the ridiculous congestion that you get on the Cam. Less interesting from a coxing perspective, considering there weren't really any corners (and buoys are a fucking pain in the arse to follow because they're really difficult to see), but still pretty good. I felt I learned a fair bit as well being on the camp, and I'll definitely go again next year.

High And Dry

So today (now technically yesterday) was actually a pretty decent day. Sure, I had an exam I've done pretty badly on, but at the same time I've not completely failed it, and I think I've done OK given the amount of preparation. I reckon I could have fucked it up a lot more.

Really, my main issue right now is just time management. I still badly need to face a shopping trip and buy some food, as well as various other little jobs that I sort of have to do, but are also a bit tedious and they all add up in terms of finding time to do stuff. I've still got a few examples papers outstanding too. Plus I'd like to write up a Biarritz blog post thing while I can actually remember most of the shit that went on.

Just got through some of the work I had backlogged for Frostii. Ookami Kakushi, Omamori Himari and Durarara! are the three shows that I'm currently working on, which is going to be a bit of a step up from just having the workload of one show last season. I have no fucking clue what any of them are like yet because I've yet to watch the first episode of any of them.
Hanamaru Kindergarten fell through because CrunchyRoll licensed it and our translator backed out as a result. It's a bit disappointing because I've watched the first episode and it seems pretty good so far, and I reckon I'd have enjoyed working on it, but oh well.

While I was in France I got a fair bit of reading done, primarily finishing the second Seikai novel and I've also read a fair bit of The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins. Personally I'm actually not a fan of The God Delusion. I agree with most of the points that it gets across, but in writing it I think that Dawkins has basically placed himself out there to the common person as a heathen atheist God-basher. In some ways I guess he is, but primarily he's an excellent scientist and writer on evolution and biology, yet now some of the people who most need to read his scientific works won't touch them because of his atheist association. The God Delusion, for me at least, was basically preaching to the converted. It was interesting, it made some good points, but I didn't gain a huge amount from it. The Greatest Show on Earth, on the other hand, I have found massively educational and informative. It really does offer not only a good explanation of some of the basic principles of evolution, but presents hard evidence and some seriously good arguments for why the theory of evolution is correct.

I really would recommend everyone read it, because I don't think there are many who wouldn't at least learn from it. Evolution sceptics should read it just to educate themselves, but others should read it because it'll still be very educational, and I at least have found it very interesting so far. At the very least I plan on using it as a source of inspiration for a few blog posts, which will basically paraphrase excerpts in response to specific arguments against creationism. If nothing else, I find that the book has filled in the gaps in my knowledge for when I get shoved into an argument with a creationist. Hopefully even the non-retarded readers of the posts will also learn and benefit from it, because the evidence, theories and mechanisms behind evolution are largely glossed over in education and media and misunderstood by the majority of people.

Those posts won't be for a bit though, because I currently don't have the time to give them the attention I'd want to, and I'm trying to avoid any confrontations with creationists while I've got better things to do. I'll try and at least make a start on writing about the last week tomorrow, once I've got other, more important things sorted out.

Here's to me hopefully being able to use this week to make up for all the shitty procrastination I did over the break.

Monday, 11 January 2010

"Approach Your Target And Attack. Your Mission Starts Now..."

Am I ready?

Am I fuck.

Saving how the Biarritz/Soustons trip was for another blog entry when I have more time. Right now I'm utterly fucked. I've got to revise for an exam tomorrow, I've got examples papers to finish, I've got lecture notes to copy up, I've got questions to ask James because I have no fucking clue how to do them, I've got shopping to do, I've got Frostii subbing work to do, whine whine bitch bitch

I do feel I have a genuine fucking complaint over the exam though. I mean, we were told about it on like Thursday, and it's tomorrow at 2:30pm. For starters, less than a week's notice is somewhat inadequate to begin with, but it really wasn't helped by the fact I wasn't in the fucking country. I knew we were really likely to have an exam, but I didn't know when it would be, and I didn't have enough fucking space in my luggage to take an entire term's worth of lecture notes just on the off-chance it was one of the first few days back.

To be honest, this exam is just going to be a bit of a waste of time for me. I'm going to do shit, pretty much everyone is anyway, but I'll do especially shit given that I've had no time to prepare. I've got my excuse ready. I was in France all last week, I got back at 3am the day before the exam, and I've had to unpack all my shit and settle in before I can even bother revising. Slops is in just under an hour, so I've got about enough time to write this and unpack the rest of my stuff, then go eat, then hopefully crack on and do at least some revision this evening.

I can't really complain too much. I was going to revise anyway in the holidays and was just too lazy to get around to it. I should really have my examples papers wrapped up by now, and any outstanding work is really down to me. I could have copied up lecture notes before I left, and I could have at least finished all the questions I can do so that all I've got left is ones to ask other people.

I'll do shit in this exam, I'll explain I didn't have enough time to prepare, I'll move on and it won't make any difference in the long run. 

But yeah, back in England now, back to the grind, back to figuring out how the hell I'm going to do all the shit I need to do over the next couple of days. Hopefully I can kill some procrastination and actually get on with stuff this term. I'm tempted to completely schedule my entire day, to the point of scheduling when I sleep, when I socialise, when I watch TV, but that seems a little bit too autistic for my liking.

I'll try and at least write fairly regularly for this. I've got a list of things to write about, and the next few days aside, it shouldn't be too difficult to take half an hour out of my day to write stuff. Still looking for creative suggestions and input on a banner, and also open to people writing guest posts if they want to, especially if I don't have time to write stuff myself and they're ranty sorts of posts.

Things That Piss Me The Fuck Off, Part 3

The third instalment of TTPMTFO (see 24). Posted on here now because it's my blog, it's a bloggy sort of thing, and it's easier to screw with the formatting than it is on Facebook. It's also more public. I'll cross-post it across at some point for people who don't visit this site for some reason, but for now it's exclusively on here.

Off we go...

21. FOX

My hate for the American TV corporation FOX is twofold. The first point, the one that has directly caused me the most grief, is their attitude towards shows that they air. They basically have these shitty attitude and think that if a show isn't an instant ratings success then it should be scrapped immediately. Don't fucking bother with "well we've already paid for the series, so let's see how things pan out", they just kill it. Screw it if the show is actually amazing, screw it if the show has quite a loyal following who love it. Screw it if the show is actually just building up to being epic and the first couple aren't as amazing as they could be.

Family Guy got cancelled by FOX in 2001, the re-runs were sold by FOX for basically nothing to Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, where it became the most watched show, was released on DVD and became one of the best-selling television series on DVD. Seeing that it was actually making a shitload of cash, FOX brought the show back in 2004, and at the start of the first episode, North by North Quahog, Peter tells the family the show is cancelled, and lists a bunch of shows that they have to make room for, saying maybe if they all get cancelled the show might be brought back. This list actually consists of 29 shows that were cancelled by FOX in the three years family guy was off the air.

Now I have no idea how good most of the shows were and I've not heard of the majority, but one of them is the more obvious Firefly. Not only one of the greatest TV shows ever, but one which FOX completely and utterly fucked over and then cancelled. The network execs decided it would be best to show the first episode halfway through the series, the first episode being the one where most of the character development is done. It then got slated by critics initially, saying that the characters seemed under-developed and weren't really introduced. Which is completely FOX's fault, not Joss Whedon's, because the first episode would have fixed all of that. It was actually insulting of FOX to their viewers, because their reason for fucking around with the order was that apparently the first episode didn't have enough action, and we're all fucking morons who don't enjoy a series unless there's explosions all over the place.

So because FOX wouldn't pay attention to Joss Whedon, who after producing massively successful shows like Buffy and Angel, probably knew what he was doing, Firefly, one of the best TV shows I've ever seen got cancelled before it even finished the first series. It probably remains the best series to be cancelled ever.

FOX have also announced now that they've cancelled Dollhouse, which I've yet to see, but I've also yet to hear from anyone that it isn't very good. My main point there would be that Joss Whedon is a bit stupid to choose FOX as the network to broadcast another series, given what happened to Firefly, but it's possible no other network was interested. To be honest, I can't be too pissed off about Dollhouse. The ratings aren't great and I haven't seen it yet, and FOX at least did it the favour of giving it a second series. They might have cancelled a good series, there but I don't think they've committed as large a sin as they did cancelling Firefly.

My second rant at FOX comes from their fucking so called "news" coverage. Most people in the UK don't watch it, but imagine, say, The Sun or The Star but marketed up to look like a broadsheet newspaper, and then put it as a TV channel. It's a fucking disgrace. I've yet to watch it and not just see ridiculously blatant sensationalist right-wing fucking propaganda the whole fucking time. They have some of the most idiotic retarded cunts on television (Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly to name two) and I have no fucking idea how these guys manage to get on TV, let alone given their own fucking shows. I could have a whole fucking rant on Bill O'Reilly, but it's easier to link to this video of him talking to Richard Dawkins and let people see for themselves what a dumbass he is. As for Glenn Beck... The Onion do that fine.

The thing is, I could accept it if they were just a bit more honest about it. Yet they're not. They continually go on about how fucking neutral and un-biased they are, when they're clearly not. Yet every single fucktarded individual who watches FOX News seems to believe that they are actually getting unbiased news coverage rather than right-wing republican drivel. Some of their US pre-election coverage was just a fucking joke, and they continue to spout bullshit about Obama's regime. Yet the tagline on their website is "Fair & Balanced" which is just completely fucking bullshit unless you're an utter moron when it comes to world news and politics. You only have to check like one other news source to see FOX News is anything other than fair and balanced.

They present real facts but under a huge veil of one-sided sensationalism. Holy fuck Obama sends 30,000 troops into Afganistan? Why was he awarded a Nobel peace prize when he's doing this?! Maybe it's because he's having to send reinforcements to the troops that Bush sent in. They'll most likely be giving a ton of bullshit on how Obama isn't going to fulfil his promises on healthcare. Obama would have fulfilled his promises, had it not been for FOX News and other republicans stirring up a shitstorm over it, and forcing him into a massive compromise in congress over the healthcare reform bill.

And it's not just their political coverage is shit. Their coverage of the possibility of na water fuelled car is complete and utter nonsense (that actually uses boron as the fuel). So are a lot of their other non-political pieces. They're just sensationalist tabloid garbage dressed up as something else, so people take it far more seriously than they ever should.

I swear to god that things wouldn't be so fucked up in America with regards to their politics, gun issues, homophobia and other general idiocy if FOX News was taken off the air, or at least made to admit that it's right-wing bullshit propaganda rather than proper news. Their whole "patriotic American" shite is annoying as fuck too, but that's for another rant.

22. Wires

Not the Athlete song, I actually quite like that, but actual wires. Shit that connects one thing to another. Shit that I swear to god has a fucking unnatural ability to get tangled to hell all by itself. I don't fucking get how it does it. It's an utter pain in the arse, that I put my headphones into my pocket, with the wire straight and untangled, and when I pull it out I get this shitty mess of wire that takes five minutes to sort out. I don't get how wires fucking knot themselves in my pocket when I don't even do anything to them.

Going round the back of any TV that has various consoles and DVD players and shit plugged into it is a nightmare. If there aren't any cable-ties, just trying to remove the DVD player is a fucking endeavour because it takes ages to try and figure out which wire goes to the TV, which wire goes to which plug, and then somehow liberate them from the entire fucking mess at the back. How the fuck do they even get like that? I swear that when I plugged the shit in, I just plugged it in. I didn't think "oh yeah, this'll be fun, lets pull the wire in and out of all the other wires and tie knots and wrap it around stuff". I just plugged the shit in.

And all wires are black. You get the occasional light-grey one, but the most part they're black, and it's a fucking pain because they all look the same. It might look a bit funky to have wires round the back of the TV all colours of the rainbow, but it'd be nice to at least be able figure out which wire goes where without having to spend the time to follow it the whole fucking time.

The day everything becomes wireless, sure it'll waste a fuckton of electricity, but damn it'll be easier.

23. Shit facial hair

I don't need to name names for this one. These people should know who they are, and if they don't, other people at least will.

Piece of advice guys. If you can't grow a fucking moustache like this then don't fucking bother. If you don't shave for a week and you still end up with only twenty or so visible hairs on your top lip, then don't fucking bother. Now I'll admit there's a period between a full-fledged moustache and being clean shaved where it's going to look shit, and that's OK. What's not OK is when people are unable to actually move past that point, but still persist. Give it up, and come back to attempting to get a moustache when your balls have dropped a bit more.

I know some people might view this as being a bit hypocritical on my part, because I'm hardly the best one when it comes to shaving regularly, but at least that's just laziness on my part. I'm not going to conscious effort to grow a shitty moustache or beard, it's just that I can't be arsed shaving. Maybe I'm being naïve, but I think for the most part it doesn't look that bad unless I've really let it go. But I would like to at least set myself apart from the likes of Dangerous (I said I wouldn't name names, but fuck it, it's that bad) and people who purposefully and carefully develop and maintain utterly shitty facial hair.

24. Weird abbreviations and acronyms

Hard for me to get massively ranty about this one, but it does annoy me. There are certain acronyms that get used on the internet a lot, and are acceptable (LOL, ROFL, LMAO, AFK, WTF, FFS, IIRC, AFAIK, JFGI, BIAB, TTYL, etc). Most people who have been on the internet for any stretch of time generally know them. If not, they're not usually that difficult to figure out. What annoys me is when people use some really fucking obscure acronyms in conversation. It's like they've just fucking made them up on the spot for whatever reason, and they have to explain them anyway so it just takes more time than it would have done to just say the full thing in the first place.

There are two I use that I would say aren't standard. One is PSE, which stands for Post Shit Euphoria, a condition of immense good-feeling after taking a particularly huge dump. The difference is I don't ever use PSE with people who aren't extremely familiar with the term. I don't just throw in shitty acronyms left right and centre because the chances are nobody is ever going to figure that out. The other is BYTYAN, for Because You Touch Yourself At Night, which again only gets used around certain people who I know will instantly understand the acronym. I've abbreviated the title of these posts a couple of times in here, but it's pretty obvious what I mean.

The acronym shit is pretty bad too outside of IM conversations. At my work experience they caused absolute hell, because it seems the entire fucking British Nuclear Industry (BNI) revolves around them. I had BNFL, SL, SDP, ALARP, NDA, NIA, BTF, SBTC, NBTC and fuckloads more, and these were ones I was seeing on a daily basis. Some of the documents I was given, which were maybe thirty or forty pages long, and a glossary at the front defining the acronyms which ran on sometimes to three or four pages, which was fucking ridiculous. Acronyms can be useful, but FFS there's a limit to them.

25. Facebook birthdays

By this I mean how Facebook has managed to reduce birthday greetings to a mere "Happy Birthday" comment on someone's wall. Which in my opinion is pretty shitty. Facebook is useful for reminding you of when people's birthdays are, but for fucks sake guys, most of us are living in college within 200m of each other, just take ten minutes out of your day to say hi personally.

Facebook is starting in some areas to reduce interactions to the lowest possible denomination. I swear there are some people I used to chat to, and now my only fucking form of contact with them is that they occasionally like my shit on Facebook. Not even writing something basic like "lol". Just clicking a button. Is it going to be that long before we don't even get lame "Happy Birthday" wall posts, but just a status of "it's my birthday!" which people can then Like instead.

I don't care too much for cards, as I've ranted before I think they're a shitty waste of money and a pain to buy, but some sort of personal touch and effort should at least be made. If you're a lazy fucker or can't see people personally, then at least make an effort. You're fucking writing a comment on someone's wall, how fucking hard is it to try and think of something a little more personal and original than just "Happy Birthday" or "Have a great birthday". Spend fucking thirty seconds instead of five and write more than one line, make a proper fucking effort and show that you give a shit, or don't bother. If you're only doing it out of some sort of sense of obligation and you don't actually care enough to write more than four words, then just don't do anything. It's not like they'd notice your absence amongst the dozens of other messages.

I'll give credit in this department to Nick Owen and Alex O'Leary, for sending New Year's text messages that were actually personalised for me, rather than just writing Happy New Years and sending it to everyone. I didn't actually send any (except replying to people who sent me one), because I'm on pay as you go, and I'm a tight bastard, and I guess I should appreciate people who even bother to send the impersonal ones, but considering I know they're most likely on contract and have free texts and it's really not much trouble for them at all, it's hard to appreciate the gesture. Only exception to that is Muf because I wasn't expecting to get one from him and it was a nice surprise.

But yeah, I don't feel warmed by getting a message that has just been sent to everyone in their phonebook. I do feel warmed by a message that's clearly been written personally to me, it's a nice touch and it shows they care. Same applies to Facebook birthday messages. It's their fucking birthday, and you're not making a proper human effort or there wouldn't be a need to write on their wall on Facebook, so at least put some thought in it and add something more original and personal.

26. Glory Football Supporters

People who support the likes of Man Utd or Arsenal, but don't actually live fucking anywhere near the team. I know people who support Man Utd who have never even fucking been to Manchester, which is a joke.

Now in principle I don't have a huge amount against this. There is the unwritten law that you should support a local football team, but there's no reason why this has to be the case. However, it is fucking annoying when you get people supporting United who have lived in London all their lives. You have Chelsea and Arsenal, among other Premiership teams, go support one of those instead. If you live in Cumbria, fine, because there's no fucking team up there so you're free to support who you like, but fuck off if you live in London, because there's loads.

The whole fucking reason that the MLS in America sucks so much is not so much that most Americans don't care about "soccer", but as much down to the fact that the ones that do don't follow the MLS. They whore out instead and support one of the big European teams. Which I guess they're entitled to do, but it's still a shitty thing for their own sport. The only exception I shall make to this is for Terdish, who probably won't read this, but she supports Bolton. Which is damn commendable for someone living across the Atlantic because a lot of the cheap Americans who support the likes of Barcelona and Chelsea won't even know who Bolton are.

Anyway, if you support a team that isn't local to you, then fine. You're allowed to, I'm not going to hate you for it. What you're not fucking allowed to do though, is gloat. Unless you've supported that team since before they were good (eg someone who has supported Man City for the last 10 years but comes from Wales) then you forfeit any right to gloat to me when your team wins. If you're going to be a glory supporter, you shouldn't be allowed to rub that glory in other people's faces, because it's a fucking dick move. You only support them because they were good when you chose to pick a team, and they happen to still be good now.

I could arbitrarily change my team to Barcelona if I wanted to, and rub that in the face of every stinking Man Utd fan who isn't from Manchester. I won't, but the point is I could if I wanted to, and I'd only be basically doing the same thing they've done. It's like gloating that you beat someone at something when you only won because you cheated. You're just being a complete and utter cock.

27. In-Jokes With People Who Aren't 'In'

It's so annoyingly frequent that people make in-jokes about shit, when nobody present is actually in on the joke. It should be a slappable offence, because it really shouldn't ever happen. In-jokes are a bit annoying to start with, because it sucks for everyone else if two people piss themselves laughing and the rest of the group doesn't get it. What's just dumb though is making the joke when nobody is around to get it. To be in a one-to-one conversation with me, to make an in-joke and then when I'm like "what?" to be like "oh, it's just an in-joke I have with so and so". There's no fucking reason that should happen, ever. I don't get why the hell people even fucking do it.

Am I meant to figure out the random obscure joke myself? Am I meant to find the shitty humour it's based on funny? Because in-jokes almost always suck. 99% of the time they're a "You had to be there" moment and even when explained they're not that funny except to those involved. "You had to be there" being the most-used excuse for people telling anecdotes that didn't quite result in the raucous laughter that the person was hoping for, so basically that the anecdote is a bit shit. The are some good in-jokes that are funny to outsiders too, but most are shit.

28. The Supermarket Situation In Cambridge

I hate shopping in general, but above all food shopping in Cambridge drives me insane. In the town I live in, Ormskirk, we have a decent-sized M&S Food, a decent-sized Tesco Express, and a huge Morrisons. And another supermarket that changes all the time and I forget what it is now. My town is not that big, but it has three sizeable supermarkets and one huge one, all comfortably within walking distance of my house. Cambridge on the other hand has maybe one decent-sized one. Just the one in the centre. One supermarket, and it's tiny and it's cramped and it's a fucking Sainsbury's.

There is the ASDA and Tescos, but they're both fucking miles out of town, so walking to them takes ages, meaning you only go if you need to buy a lot of stuff, meaning you definitely need to take a taxi back because you can't carry it all. Or cycle, but trying to cycle back on massively busy roads while laden with shopping bags is suidice. I've tried. The Tesco is pretty good for the trek, but it is miles away. The ASDA is closer, but still miles, and I don't shop at ASDA on the principle that they're a subsidiary of WalMart, one of the most evil companies in the world.

So really the only proper option is the Sainsbury's. Maybe the Co-op but they're pretty shitty supermarkets and it doesn't have everything I want. Oh yeah, and the M&S Food, but it's not that great for choice (as everything is M&S's own), and I'm a fucking student and can't afford to spend a small fortune on individual meals. So Sainsbury's it is, because it's the only one within walking distance with proper selection and in my price range. It's cramped to fuck. The design of the actual layout is just broken. If you want to change aisles you can only do it on one side, because there's checkouts on the other side, and unless the store is completely empty there are too many people in the way to actually get through.

Because it's like the only real accessible supermarket, it's almost always fucking busy. To a ridiculous extent. Even the Morrisons in Ormskirk on Christmas Eve wasn't as busy as Sainsbury's in Cambridge is like all the time. And people have those damn baskets that you pull behind you, which are fucking awesome at blocking up aisles and just generally being in the fucking way the whole damn time.

I've been to Sainsbury's a few times when it's quiet, and it's awesome. I can do my shopping and pay for stuff and don't have to queue for ages and wait for people to get out of the fucking way when they're being slow and dense. The dumb thing is, that it's impossible to predict when it's not busy aside from early in the morning and while I'm at lectures. I've been there at 4pm on a Friday, when I expected it to be packed, and it was pretty quiet. By the same margin I've been at 10pm on a Tuesday and it's been busy as fuck and I have no fucking idea why.

Hopefully some supermarket chain (Tescos plx) can buy what used to be Borders, because that place is huge and you might actually be able to get a proper fucking supermarket in there, instead of a shitty cramped one.

29. People Who Bum Their iPhones

This got touched in the comments with the iPhone shit last time, but to quote Marcus Brigstock: "You just bought one. You didn't invent it."

Fact is people can buy iPhones no problem. I don't care. I just care when they continually get them out, mess with them, and point out all of these shitty apps and games for them that are utterly useless and unoriginal. Am I the only one that has acknowledged the existence of tilt sensors since before the iPhone? All of these fucking tilt games on the iPhone are pretty much identical to half of the stuff in WarioWare: Twisted, which came out for the GBA in 2004. It's by no means new, and I completely don't give a shit.

People should stop being so fucking retarded and utterly besotted by gimmicky features like a touch screen and a tilt sensor. Especially tilt sensors, because for the most part they're not that fucking useful. My phone has the same sort of tilt stuff as an iPhone, and all it uses for is detecting how I'm holding it to change the screen orientation, which could just as easily be replaced by a button function somewhere.

In short people who have iPhones and iTouches should fucking realise that yeah, they're shiny, and yeah, they can do stuff, but also that nobody else fucking cares because they're not actually that fucking good.

30. Error Reports

Whoever invented the whole "DO YOU WANT TO SUBMIT AN ERROR REPORT?!?!" bullshit should be incarcerated. Someone who had the idea that the best thing to do when people are already pissed off that something has crashed, is to just add extra shit to piss them off.

Who the fuck actually ever bothers submitting error reports, seriously? And who, out of the people that do, has ever actually had whatever issue it was fixed. What poor fuckers have to go through all the error reports and hex code to fix these shit? Does anyone ever even do anything with them?

They're such a fucking waste of time, and they're utterly annoying when shit crashes and just something rubbing it in your face and wasting extra time. I've even had to force-close programs I've coded myself in C++ and it still asks me if I want to submit a fucking error report.

There should be something you can do, like you can for most things, of a "don't ask me again". I mean, aside from the faff of submitting one, why the fuck would I want to submit an error report sometimes and not other times? Why the hell can't I just set it to always submit them or never submit them? Would it be that fucking hard to get it to never ask me?

Fuck you Microsoft and leave me alone with your damn pestering when stuff crashes on me. Not the right time for it.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Things That Piss Me The Fuck Off, Part 2

(Crossposted from Facebook)

Just before the start of last term, I wrote Things That Piss Me The Fuck Off, Part 1, which was a list of 10 things that annoy the hell out of me, with accompanying rants. It seemed to go down pretty well, so I figure that I might as well do another one, considering there are still plenty of other things that piss me the fuck off. So here goes:

11. Telemarketing

In my house, picking up the phone is almost always a pain in the arse. If I'm in the back room, the phone is at the other side of the conservatory, which has a floor that's slippy as fuck. Most of the time I won't hear it straight away, and by the time I do and walk over it's rung out. Or I run, slip over halfway to the phone, and by the time I get there it's rung out. We have three cordless phones, and three docking stations. And they all fucking ring. So even if I'm in the main part of the house it's still far from easy to track down which source of ringing is actually a phone. The obvious thing would be to go to a docking station, what with it being a known location for a phone, but with them being cordless and people wandering around while talking on the phone (I do that myself admittedly - it's hard to be on the phone and just stand motionless), is usually a bad idea because the phone won't be docked.

So, after all the bullshit of just trying to answer the phone in the fucking first place, it's insanely irritating to find it's actually just someone trying to sell me something. I always get caught in a weird rage that I can't really express. Every part of me wants to tell the person on the phone to fuck off and go bug someone else, except for the part that knows that the person on the other end is really just doing what must be an extremely shitty job. So I'll bottle it up and be polite and leave the anger for when I've hung up.

What's even worse are the recorded messages. Then there's absolutely fuck-all I can do. I don't shout to the real people trying to sell me stuff, but at least I have the option if I want to. At least if I'm feeling quirky I can have something of a conversation. With the recorded messages I have just wasted my time getting up to answer the phone only to put it straight back down again.

There was a really shit recorded phone call that would call our house roughly twice a week over the summer. Always in the fucking morning, when I was either still asleep or in bed with my laptop. Always when I was the only fucking person in the house. And always the same bullshit recorded message about how I've won a holiday or some bollocks.
The real pain in the arse is that I couldn't just let it ring out. It could be someone calling for some vaguely important reason (or one of my grandparents), so I'd feel like I had to answer it, even if it had just woken me up. Which made it so much more irritating when it wasn't important.

I should have to be rung to be offered stuff. If I wanted to fucking buy it I would. Companies should use proper advertising instead of annoying people in their own homes. Even if I like what they're trying to sell me, I always feel suspicious, especially if it's a foreign voice on the other end, because it could be a scam anyway. Mitchell & Webb have already done the joke, but I genuinely win a holiday or a yacht or something, I'm fucked if they try and inform me about it over the phone.

12. Doomsday Nutjobs

I guess this currently applies to the retards who think that 2012 is the day the world will end, but it extends past that. People who think the LHC is going to end the world. People who think the H1N1 flu shot is a government conspiracy to poison us all. (Creationists are on a similar level of stupidity, but they can get their own rant)

The internet is a great thing. It brings the likes of Facebook, Wikipedia, Youtube and, most importantly, porn to our fingertips at lightning speed. However, the internet also gives people the ability to spread utter bullshit about how and why the world is going to end. It gives retards the ability to read these reasons and come to believe them. And, worst of all, it gives these retards the ability to come into contact with me. If it weren't for the internet, I would be oblivious to these crazy people. I could live my life happily. Instead I get brought a few clicks away from all these utter fucktards who would otherwise be several hours on a plane away from me (in Southern USA, usually).

The fact is that the Mayans just happened to develop a calendar system that isn't infinite. Out of all the ancient civilisations, it's probably just probability that one of them would lack the foresight to realise time might actually go on forever. If they were still around right now, they'd probably think of something to keep the calendar going on the spot. But they're not still around, which for one is a good argument that world probably isn't going to end in 2012. If they could see far enough into the future to know the world will end in 2012, then they could probably see that their civilisation would end and their calendar would become obsolete and unused, and really would have been better off just making their calendar end at that point, rather than centuries later.

Or maybe they knew something we don't, and just worked it out. Something that mankind of today, with all our combustion engines and quantum theory and space flight and aforementioned internets has failed to do. Which would be impressive, because they've given us the date and you'd think we'd at least be able to figure it out from that if we're so clever.

It's the exact same fucking thing as the Y2K glitch, which was the exact same lack of foresight but by people designing computers instead of an ancient civilisation. And unless I'm very much mistaken, the world didn't end then either.

As for the HLC bullshit, it's basically people who nothing about particle physics saying that it will destroy the world, compared to the people who know shit about particle physics saying it won't. Which really, is a fucking stupid debate. The media don't help either, with their articles saying that "experts" and "scientists" claim it could create the black hole that will engulf us all. What the headlines don't say is that these people are experts in history, and the scientists have PhDs in the likes of microbiology. Their opinions ultimately don't mean shit.

But retards are retards, and believe all the garbage, and I am me, and I can't just let the opinions of the retards be left voiced but unanswered. And so begin forum threads spanning pages of idiocy arguing with reason.

13. Web Adverts That Make Noise

There are two types of these ads. There are the noisy ones (usually for emoticons) that are on the page and are loud as fuck and usually scare the absolute shit out of me when my laptop randomly screams "HELLO!!?" when I'm surfing the web. The other kind are the ones that autoplay videos. They're not as loud, but they create a weird constant background noise that usually just makes whatever music I'm playing at the time sound strange. They quite often are placed in pop-ups that actually pop up behind the main window of my browser so I don't notice and wonder where the fuck the extra noise is coming from.

Fact is that I believe that any web-page that contains sound or music that I do not have to initiate is a shitty page. This also applies to myspace and forum profile pages where people stick fucking audio players in them which automatically start playing music (usually shite) when I open the page. No song is good enough that every single fucking person who visits the page should hear it every single fucking time they do. Unless I'm watching some sort of video on RedYouTube, I want my internet to be a silent experience.

14. xkcd

I figure this is going to be a reasonably controversial one, because I know a shitload of people who adore xkcd. Which is actually what pisses me off.

xkcd is a standard webcomic. It has a name that deliberately doesn't stand for anything, or is something that can be pronounced (how witty!). It has some quite funny moments, and a fair bit of stuff that isn't that funny. It is, again, a standard webcomic, and yet it gets a ridiculous amount of attention, mostly from people who really shouldn't find it all that funny.

The fact is that xkcd does not consistently have outstanding humour. It does not display any real artistic talent for the eye. There's really nothing special about it, and most the comics could be made in MS Paint by most people studying a science subject at University.

You do not need to post an xkcd comic in every single fucking blog entry you write. You do not need to link to a comic if the situation vaguely relates to it. This is the fucking internet, most discussion is going to be nerdy and therefore most discussion is going to have an appropriate xkcd comic. And if that comic is funny and worth the link, the chances are I've already seen it anyway. The real source of the irritation is that I'm pretty sure that most people who wax lyrical about xkcd and link to it constantly have never seen any other webcomics, except for maybe Penny Arcade or Cyanide & Happiness.

To fans of xkcd, I tell you that xkcd is not the only webcomic on the internet that contains humour, or even nerdy humour. There's an absolute fuckload of webcomics out there to be read. Some of them are shite, admittedly, but there are a fair few out there which are as funny if not funnier than xkcd, and a lot better drawn. Or, like Questionable Content, are maybe not consistently funny but have quite a nice story to them.

My point is that to me, xkcd is to webcomics what, I don't know, The Killers is to rock music. It's not necessarily bad, but it's definitely not the best you can do. It just happens to be stupidly popular and mainstream and most people don't bother looking at anything else. Webcomic polygamy is not frowned upon, and people should play the field a little more before they settle down with xkcd, because it's really not that good overall.

15. People Who Think Cambridge Should Have 10-Week Terms

You guys are fucking idiots. Stop getting Cambridge confused with some other University that isn't Cambridge. I mean, how fucking naïve can you be? How the hell can anyone genuinely think that they could possibly extend the length of terms from 8 weeks to 10 weeks and yet keep the same total amount of work? It's fucking Cambridge. If we get 10 weeks of term, we'll be getting 10 weeks of work, and you're a fucking idiot if you think that it would somehow stay at 8 weeks of work.

If terms get extended to 10 weeks, we're getting the same level of workload but with the duration extended by an extra 25%. People would end up committing suicide. If you want 10 week terms, then just fucking stay in Cambridge a bit longer before and after lectures. It's not that fucking difficult.

16. iPods

I could really extend this to just Apple in general, but it's 2am and I want to go to bed at some point in the next few days.

From one perspective, I sort of have to tip my hat to Apple. They've basically proven what's wrong with modern society in that if you make something pretty enough, and market it right, then that's all that really affects sales. It doesn't matter if it's shit, or massively overpriced compared to it's market rivals. Tell people they should want one, and they want one. It's genius really.

At the time when they suddenly became popular, before the ads, before all non-Apple mp3 players also started being referred to as "iPods", iPods were actually shit compared to the rest of the market. Creative Labs had a range of mp3 players that were superior technically, were cheaper, but were a bit bulky. Sony had their HD range which completely and utterly kicked ass compared to everything else at the time, and even Panasonic and Phillips had their own mp3 players that were at least on a par with iPods. And yet iPods were the ones that became popular, which annoys the shit out of me (mostly because I really hate Apple).

Popular because they were fashionable, not because they were good. Because the general public is retarded and will pay anything for something if they're told they really need to have it, and that the better models cost more. I even knew a girl who had an iPod with the largest hard-drive available at the time, despite the fact that she didn't even have more than like 100 songs. Despite the fact that she could have gotten by with a cheap CD player (good times, eh Taff?), let alone a £300 iPod. But expensive is better, right? I've heard they're apparently more intuitive or something, but I really don't buy that. I could work my mp3 player completely without a manual. I'd have no fucking clue how to turn an iPod off without someone telling me, or me just randomly pressing shit. And I fail to see how a touch wheel is any more intuitive for navigating a menu than a click wheel or up/down buttons.

So now my sister and mother both have iPods, because they're the trendy things to get, and they don't have the technological mind to try and get something better. If it's fashionable and they've heard of it, and it roughly works, then what's the problem. Price doesn't mean shit. And my mother is a bit of a technophobe when it's anything past MS Word, Excel or a web browser, so I'm the one that has to put the music on.

Which is where Apple are especially evil and cunning. They make everyone get iPods, and they make iPods fucking require iTunes to actually do anything. Then they make iTunes utterly shite on Windows, so that all Windows users have to go through hell to put music on their iPods. And then they all have to buy Macs so that they can use non-shit iTunes (plus Macs are also really, really shiny). I'm onto you Apple, you tricksy bastards.

Seriously though, would it be that hard for Apple to not be dicks and to let me use Windows Explorer to drag-drop music files onto it like every other non-shit mp3 player has done ever? My phone comes with software to put music on it, but at least I'm not forced to use it (and I usually don't). I'd overlook them being stupidly overpriced if I didn't have to fucking use iTunes every time my mum gets a new CD.

Or, I guess I could just make my mum do it herself, which brings me to my next thing that pisses me the fuck off:

17. People Who Won't Work Technology


It does represent what I'm talking about though. I'm not really referring to grandparents and pensioners here. They have problems operating doors sometimes (though so do I - STOP PUTTING HANDLES ON DOORS YOU HAVE TO PUSH) so I feel it's a bit harsh to expect them to work out how to use the VCR. This is more people who still have enough of their IQ left to be able to do shit like that. It's so fucking annoying when supposedly full-grown adults assume they can't use something electronic just because you have to go through more than a single menu screen to actually use it.

It's so annoying that there's this notion that just because I'm a teenager I have inherent knowledge of all things electronical. I mean, they're completely right to think that, but it's not because I'm a teenager. It's because I'm not a fucking retard and I don't assume that the fucking thing is going to implode or do something else similarly awful if I press the wrong button. I've yet to come across anything that has a "completely delete/break everything" button (this isn't actually true, the web-based file manager on my webserver has one, but it at least has a confirmation screen first).

It really pisses me off to get assigned things to do which the adult could basically do themselves if they actually fucking tried. You don't need to read the entire manual, and you don't need to know what you're doing. I don't fucking know what I'm doing - how the fuck would I know in advance when it's a piece of technology I've never seen before? I'm just figuring it out as I go, and there's no reason why any non-senile adult can't do that as well. Companies have people who are fucking paid to make these things user-friendly. Sometimes they fail, admittedly, but most of the time it's pretty self-explanatory.

I've even been given a pill dispenser by my mum once, from her boss, for me to program it so that her boss's dad can have his pills dispensed however. For one, this woman is the head of a company, so really should be a little more qualified to do stuff than myself, a 17 year old at the time. For two, what the FUCK do I know about fucking pill dispensers? I basically read through the manual, poked some buttons, and set it up in about two minutes. And I have no fucking clue why a middle-aged woman who is presumably pretty intelligent couldn't have done that herself.

Aside from the fact she didn't fucking try to. That's the really annoying bit (aside from me having to waste my time doing shit I don't want to for no benefit). Teenagers of the world should refuse to do things like that for parents, relatives and family friends. If they spent five minutes figuring it out themselves instead of already assuming that they can't do it without even trying. I mean, who is meant to be the adult here?

18. People Who Take Forever To Get To The Point

There's a rough equation for anecdotes. Something along the lines of:

Enjoyment = Quality/Length

Basically, keep stuff as short as possible and get to the punchline. I find it so annoying when people spend ten minutes telling me stuff I don't care about to tell me a few seconds worth listening to. People who go off on a tangent at any opportunity to explain something irrelevant to the main point.

This is something that tends to be specific to certain people. Certain people who tell me all the details about the day, from what they had to breakfast, just to get to the point at which someone said something mildly amusing. Usually not even that funny, or it's taken so long I've lost interest anyway. Usually it'll be followed with a "oh, you had to be there", which is the standard excuse for an anecdote that hasn't quite hit home with the laughter in the way that you were hoping it might.

19. People Who Make People Take Forever To Get To The Point

Not going to lie, they're usually women. Or other nosey people. My mum does it all the fucking time when someone is trying to tell a story of something that happened earlier in the day. Whenever any name gets mentioned, she feels obliged to probe and ask questions until we know all the possible details about whoever's name it was. It's annoying when listening to a story, it's annoying when telling a story.

If it's important to know who a person is for the story to make sense, then whoever is telling it will probably clarify that it's so-and-so's brother or whatever. Otherwise people should be content to leave it just as a name, because they're basically a bit-part extra to the tale, and don't need an extensive backstory.

They've usually never met the person anyway, which sort of makes the whole thing pointless to start with. It doesn't matter who the fuck "Mark" is, or what subject he does, or what his surname is, or where he lives, or how I know him, or how much he weighed when he was born, or if he has a fucking AGA (ahh, Matt the twat). You've never met him, it's not relevant to the story, I wish I'd never fucking mentioned him now, and the story has gotten so long that it's length is going to overwhelm the quality and reduce the ultimate enjoyment of the anecdote.

20. Christmas Cards

This one is relevant right now, because today I bought a Christmas card for my sister, my mum, and my dad. That's three cards. Three fancy pieces of paper and three envelopes in which to put them. And it cost me fucking £8.65, which is fucking utterly ridiculous. I so nearly just stopped at the till and said "actually, I think I'd rather keep the money and just live with having not given my family cards". It's fucking ridiculous how much they cost for what they actually are.

They're bastards in the shops as well, because most of the cards have a code on instead of a price. Usually these codes are displayed somewhere to convert them to prices, but half the time it's hard to find where, so you really have no fucking idea how much you're paying until you get to the till and find you're being ripped off. I don't really care much for the whole commercial aspect of Christmas, but fuck you society for making me feel obliged to pay obscene amounts for pieces of paper to give to people.

Because who really gives a shit about cards anyway? It's nice to get cards from people you don't expect, and I understand that, but I really don't care that much about my family giving me cards. They're meant to love me unconditionally, so the purchased piece of fancy paper reinforcing that isn't really required. And it's the cards for family members that are the expensive ones as well. The ones that you buy individually instead of a pack of 20, and that get selectively hand picked in a shop. Plus it takes forever because all the designs are all shit and sappy and you don't like any of them.

Next year, people getting me a card, take the amount you would have spent on a card, halve it, then just give it to me in cash. I'll probably get more appreciation from it, and you'll save some money, so happy all round.

Merry Christmas