Monday, May 24, 2010

On Towel Day


In memory of the death of Douglas Adam’s on the 11th of May 2001, and in celebration of the premier of the Star Wars episode IV on the 25th of May 1977, I’d like to remind every geek and nerd out there to remember to carry their towels with them tomorrow.

For does the Guide itself not say:
      "A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value - you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to- hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you - daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

      "More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with."


Even if you never read the Guide and don’t understand the significance of Towel Day do it for the sake of Geek Pride Day tomorrow.
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On Dead Things...


There is a rat (or something) that died (or something) in the roof (or somewhere) of our house. We have assumed almost everything based on a disgusting smell that has been seeping through the ceiling of the main bedroom for over two weeks now. In order to solve the mystery, I was the one who had to go up into the roof. They claimed that it was because I was small and flexible, but I disagree. I am certainly flexible from my martial arts training over the last three and a half years, but I am the second biggest in the family. Anyway, there was no way my mother was going to go up there, and my brother hid himself in his bedroom for the day (the little coward), so I was stuck with it.

Armed with a spray of air freshener and with Vick’s Vaporub spread thickly over my nostril’s, I went up to see what I could find. Needless to say, I found spiders – big ones and very much alive – but no rats. Plenty of rat droppings and half eaten rat poison, but no sign of any actual rats. Rats supposedly remove their dead, don’t they? So I left a tub of fabric softener in the hopes that it would absorb the odour (whatever had made it) and made my way down again.

What’s the point in that story? I wish I knew...
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On the Blue Screen of Death


I used to get frustrated when my computer crashed and gave the legendary “Blue Screen of Death”. Not angry – I hardly ever actually get angry, but I do sometimes get frustrated. Over the past couple of years, I have instead started to sympathise with my poor computer in these moments.

I’ve always had those weird moments where I walk all the way across the house to fetch something, and then stand there like an idiot when I realise that I’ve forgotten what I walked all that way for. It’s exactly the same as when you stand at the ATM and realise you’ve forgotten your bank PIN – the same number you use several times a month. And those times you try to remember a word or a person’s name that you use regularly. I seem to be getting these moments far too often these days, and it has shown me how the computer must feel. They are just memory faults, and that’s exactly what causes the blue screen. It’s just the computers way of suddenly stopping and saying “Uh, what was I doing?”

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

On Associated Concepts


In advertising. And not only advertising, but also in product branding. Think about puppies... Anyone who’s known a puppy quite well will understand what I mean when I say that they are very messy animals. Once you get over the cuteness, you realise that these are animals that are designed to make a mess. Which is why I’ve always wondered why a company would want to print puppies all over toilet paper, when the thing you least want the toilet paper to do is to leave a mess.
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Monday, May 10, 2010

On Suspicious Interests


The university library website has a button which reads “My Reading History”. I did go onto the site to search for a book, but I'm easily distracted by things like that. Reading through the list of books I've taken out was fascinating, but I couldn't help wondering what people who didn’t know me would think about the combination of topics I read... I'll give you a selection of books I've taken out in the past three years.

  • Torenbeek’s Synthesis of Subsonic Airplane Design
  • Blakelock’s Automatic Control of Aircraft and Missiles
  • Hemsch and Nielsen’s Tactical Missile Aerodynamics
  • Coppin’s Artificial Intelligence Illuminated
  • Fleeman’s Tactical Missile Design
  • Niu’s Airframe Structural Design: Practical Design Information
  • Buckland’s Programming Game AI by Example
  • Oates’ Aerothermodynamics of Gas Turbine and Rocket Propulsion
  • Fryling’s Combustion Engineering
  • Kuo and Summerfield’s Fundamentals of Solid Propellant Combustion
  • Glushko’s Thermodynamic and Thermophysical Properties of Combustion Products
  • Nise’s Control Systems Engineering
  • Malone’s Analysis of Rocket Propellants
  • Sutton’s Rocket Propulsion Elements
  • Baker’s Explosions in Air
  • Mataric’s The Robotics Primer
  • Anderson’s Modern Compressible Flow
  • Glass and Sislian’s Nonstationary Flows and Shock Waves

No wonder people think I’m a dangerous person.

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