j4: (score)
Forgive me for indulging the pathetic fallacy for a moment here, but I've just spent half the evening in an unheated chapel which reeked of frankincense, watching my fingers gradually turning white from cold and lack of circulation, before cycling home through the dark and the glasses-misting, lung-rotting, half-frozen miasma of leafy autumn wetness, and — to cut a long story short — I'm feeling a little bit sorry for myself. It doesn't help that I've coughed so much that my stomach hurts, and my tonsils seem to have swollen to the size of golf balls. I'm not sure how that would translate into weather; hailstones the size of tonsils, maybe. Let's hope the weather isn't listening.

The unheated chapel was Hertford Orchestra's fault, or rather the fault of the other orchestra which had stolen their usual rehearsal room; actually, I think they were trying to heat it (occasional smells of burning competing with the incense suggested a fan-heater somewhere in a corner), but the attempt at heating was almost as hopeless as the attempt at lighting (a couple of desk-lamps trying to provide enough light for about 10 string players), and the overwhelming impression was of a group of survivors of some nameless horror, huddled around their last candle, trying to play loud music to keep the wild beasts at bay before resorting to burning their instruments to keep warm (sadly there were no violas there tonight so we'd have had to start with 'cellos). The fact that the music was Mussorgsky's "Night on a Bare Mountain" probably helped to complete the picture.

orchestral manoeuvres )
j4: (admin)
For testing purposes, I booted [livejournal.com profile] addedentry's WinXP PC from an Ubuntu live CD. Out of curiosity, I tried to see if I could get Ubuntu to talk to the wireless card (a Broadcom Dell Wireless 1390 WLAN MiniCard). I set it up with ndiswrapper, roughly according to these instructions (same wireless card, different PC) and (unsurprisingly) it didn't work. The fact that it probably requires a reboot for changes to take effect makes it kind of impossible from a live CD.

Back in WinXP, now, wireless doesn't work. That is: the PC says it's connected to our house's wireless network, no problems, all fine; but it can't get to anything else (including our router).

What have I broken? And how can I fix it? Any advice welcome, before I have to get [livejournal.com profile] addedentry a new wireless card. Or a new PC. Or a new girlfriend. :-(

ETA: Believe it or not, one of the first things I suggested before posting to LJ in a panic was "reinstall the driver". Which he said he'd done (and which I therefore believed hadn't worked). And which he hadn't actually done. And which seems to have fixed the problem.

Thank you all for sensible suggestions. And for trying to make me feel like less of a failure when all I seem to have done today is bugger things up in a way which manages to be irritating and stress-making without actually being very much use as a learning experience. :-/
j4: (roads)
"I try not to go through red lights but I'm not the Pope," says one of the ninety-three cyclists caught jumping red lights in three hours in central Oxford.

I've often seen cars and buses creeping slowly through a red light, as if they were cyclists who couldn't take their feet off the pedals, but I've cynically assumed that they were just intent on being a yard or two further ahead of the car behind them when the lights change (or that they didn't know how to brake). Perhaps I misjudged them: perhaps they're actually grappling with their conscience.

I wonder if the cars I photograph parking on double yellow lines and in cycle lanes are also trying really hard not to park illegally. I'm trying really hard not to photograph them, but they just keep slipping into the viewfinder. Imagine how hard it would be to avoid it if I had a camera strapped to my head.
j4: (dodecahedron)
Okay, I think I'm going mad. I put the following into our CMS:
<li> Item 1
<li> SubItem 1</li>
<li> SubItem 2</li>
<li> Item 2</li>
and it (silently, without any notification) 'corrected' it to the following:
<li>Item 1
<li>SubItem 1</li>
<li>SubItem 2</li>
<li>Item 2</li></ul>
I pointed this out to the people who are setting up the new site for us, and they raised it as a support call with the CMS people, and got the following response:
"Could you please use the following schema:

<li>Item 1</li>
<li>SubItem 1</li>
<li>SubItem 2</li>
<li>Item 2</li>

Such syntax is formatted correctly."
If such syntax is formatted correctly, why doesn't it validate? I'm not even trying to be a validation Nazi about this (it's not as if anything that comes out of this CMS is ever going to validate anyway), it's more that I don't really want to have to 'correct' all our existing HTML to prevent it being 'corrected' by the CMS.
j4: (blade)
Too much screengazing over the weekend for various reasons gave me a screaming headache, which has (unsurprisingly) resurfaced at work and is proving resistant to paracetamol. Even the badger on top of my monitor is failing to cheer me up.

Headaches and hyphens )
j4: (dodecahedron)
I asked AQA: "What's the average length of time for which UK jobs at AQA are advertised on the website? i.e. How long does it take for all/any positions to be filled? Thanks!"

AQA replied: "There's no average length of time, it just depends on the number of vacancies and the response. AQA advises applying immediately when they're advertised."

Now, call me a pedant, but I don't believe it's technically true that there's "no average length of time". I can entirely believe that they don't set a maximum or minimum length of time, and/or that they just don't want to tell me, but that's an entirely different kettle of question marks.

Snow joke

Feb. 8th, 2007 10:59 am
j4: (southpark)
Okay, look, it's not that I don't like snow. I like the look of it, I don't mind the cold (I wore my big thick fur coat today, though in retrospect something more waterproof might have been sensible), I'm not even going to attempt to drive in it, and I'm lucky enough to live in an area where the buses are still running (and to have the use of my legs).

However -- and this is where you get to call me a killjoy -- I do not want snowballs thrown at me. It is not "fun"; it is cold, soggy, occasionally painful, and generally quite unpleasant. Yes, I probably didn't mind it so much when I was a small child, when school was cancelled and I could prance about in the snow all morning and then go inside and have a big mug of hot ribena. But I'm not a small child now, I'm a grouchy adult who does not relish the thought of having to sit in work all afternoon wearing clothes which have been soaked with icy water. Also, they don't sell splashsuits in adult sizes. Or if they do, I guess I just don't go to those kind of shops...

So instead I've devised a warmer form of entertainment for other fun-haters. It has the same element of hit-or-miss about it, and all the fun of targetting people who aren't actually playing the game, but none of the cold-and-wet-ness, unless you sit in the freezer and play it, in which case frankly that's not my problem. Fellow curmudgeons, I bring you: snow bingo )

I don't like being tickled, either. I mean, I know everybody says that, because they secretly actually want to be tickled, but I really really don't like it, not in a "don't throw me in that there briar patch" way, but in a "quite likely to punch you, actually" way. Just sayin'.
j4: (BOMB)
You may recall a bit of a debate recently about whether Christians should be forced to let gay people stay in their bed-and-breakfasts, in which people invented various analogous situations (as people are wont to do) as aids to debate. Here's one we didn't need to invent, from The Times' News in Brief on Monday:
Smoker put out

A smoker was denied cigarettes at a store because the assistant, a Muslim, said it was against her religion to sell tobacco. The woman smoker, 31, had tried to buy cigarettes at W. H. Smith in Cambridge. The company said that the customer should have realised the assistant was Muslim and would not sell tobacco.
How did the Times know that the woman was a smoker? She might have just been buying cigarettes for a friend. ... No, wait. Should smokers be allowed to refuse to be served by a Muslim? ... No, that's not it either. Hang on, I've got it: How can you tell if the checkout assistant is a Muslim? There isn't a punchline, but there probably would be if you started making assumptions like that based on, ooh, I don't know, the c*l**r of someone's sk*n, or their h**dg**r.

I would say "it's not just me, is it?" but a friend recently said (in an entirely other context) "I too spend a lot of time in culture shock at what's supposed to be my own culture." I think that sums it up, really.
j4: (BOMB)
"On televisions, for example, we would like to see labels saying 'if you watch it, it will cost x pence per hour, if you leave it on standby, it will cost y pence'. Then you can present the environmental cost in monetary terms"
But that's not actually presenting the environmental cost at all, really, is it? Unless you add "WHICH MEANS that when you sink into drooling oblivion in front of the flickering forms of minor celebrities bonking in a bath of baked beans you are not only wasting the product of several thousand years of human evolution but also SYSTEMATICALLY RAPING THE PLANET and leaving it an UNINHABITABLE WASTE LAND, you selfish cretin." Really. Is it. I mean.

That's before we get to the question of how in the name of -- well, frankly, anything you care to name -- an electric toothbrush can be regarded as "essential".

I think I'm just in a bad mood today.
j4: (BOMB)
I don't blog about the news, but... ) I look forward to hearing Zoroastrian librarians insisting that the Bodleian has no right to prohibit them from kindling therein any fire or flame.


Jan. 10th, 2007 09:26 am
j4: (internets)
But seriously, how am I supposed to develop a future-proof, forward-thinking*, dynamic and synergistic user communications strategy if I don't have access to the latest web browsing technology?

* Interestingly, our house style eschews hyphens. Given the jargon of the sector, this sometimes makes for a less user friendly unreadably technology rich adjectivally overloaded word pile up.
j4: (admin)
So, the boss's son is temping for us.

"Usability? Is that even a word?"
"What, really?"
"Yes, really."
"[pause] What does it mean?"
"How you use things."
"Huh? That's 'usefulness'."
"No, that's whether something's useful to you or not. Usability is about how people use things, how they interact with applications, systems, and so on."
"Look, Google for 'usability'. I'm not making it up, really."
"Nah, I'll defer to your professional judgement."
"No, really, why don't you Google for it. You'll see that I'm not making it up, and you might find out a bit more about it, if you're interested. And if you're not interested, well, never mind."


"Gosh, it is actually a real thing, isn't it?"

Ticked off

Jul. 4th, 2006 12:52 pm
j4: (dodecahedron)
Every time I put an audio CD in my PC's CD drive, I get the following message:

Windows can perform the same action every time you insert a disk or connect a device with this kind of file...

It has taken me several months of annoyance -- firmly selecting the sensible option and ticking the "Always do the selected action" tickybox, and then next time being irritated all over again by the reappearance of the message -- to come to the conclusion that what it means when it says "Windows can perform the same action every time..." is that it can display this dialog box every time, regardless of whether or not I have ticked the tickybox.
j4: (dodecahedron)
Since the Understanding document ['Understanding WCAG 2.0'] is more than double the size of what it purports to explain, this itself may indicate a problem with WCAG 2.

Is it just me, or is an exposition of something often longer than what it's explaining? Particularly (one might even argue necessarily) when you're translating from technical specifications into more generally-accessible language, i.e. from high to low information density?
j4: (southpark)
Awful dreams last night, hidden behind a cut for the vivid of imagining, which you can read at your own risk... ) There was a soundtrack of non-stop bloodcurdling screaming, and eventually I woke up and realised that there really was non-stop screaming from the wailing wean next door. It's clearly got a healthy pair of lungs on it, but I can only wonder what (if anything) is going on in its head -- not to mention the heads of its parents.

By the time I had to get up I could barely move for tiredness; cycling in felt like trying to swim through treacle, and I still can't shake the ache from behind my eyes. I'm supposed to be going up to my parents' on Friday night so we can visit my grandad (who's been ill recently) on Saturday, and at the moment I'm just dreaming of sleeping on the train to Loughborough, and then sleeping in my old bedroom, not really mine any more but still a comfortable bed in a dark, quiet room.

Even this office seems quite peaceful by comparison with the screaming room; even with the constant huffing, thumping, sighing, throwing-things-around, and clicking of executive desk-toys from the chap at the desk behind me. He probably finds me just as annoying, mind you. Yesterday I had an argument with him over a word -- a single word! -- in a consultant's report. Meaning and meanness... )

Why hasn't the screaming in my head stopped yet?
j4: (admin)
Email conversations you don't want to have last thing in the day:
ME: Please circulate the work you've done so far to attendees before the end of tomorrow.
THEM: Unfortunately, the webpages are too large to be sent via my email, so I will have to forward them to you all via UMS.
ME: What format are these pages in? Can you gzip them?
THEM: They are screenshots from Paint in Word so each screenshot takes up more that my email allowance.

Email conversations you don't want to have first thing in the morning:
ME: I notice this [Reporter PDF] says "Orders of Examinations 2005" at the top of each page. Shouldn't it be 2006?
THEM: Whoops! it has been printed like that!

j4: (hair)
Further thoughts, following on from the previous post:

The human condition could, perhaps, be summed up with one phrase: they all die in the end. It's about knowing that it ends, knowing how it ends, and being forced to watch it anyway; no, not even being allowed to merely watch it, but being forced to take centre stage, untutored in acting, unsure of our lines, without a prompt or props, improvising for our lives with little hope of a good reception from a largely indifferent audience.

Given this, I can't decide whether providing spoiler warnings for Beckett's plays is a deliciously dark irony, or simply bloody stupid.

Or whether it matters.

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