DIARY 2001















Thu, Nov 29

<22:42> The penultimate supervision of this term. Work still to be done for Monday on particles which I usually like.. or perhaps it's more of a second nature after last year's grilling on several courses, followed by the summer at The Lab. Now planning what to do over the weekend - so many pardeys, so little phase-space.

Two nice surprises with software. Firstly, w3m had this problem of not parsing a "//hostname/whatever.html" URL correctly. With the new version of /. I had to commit the heresy of graphical browsing. So I went to their page to download the source and see if I could tweak it a bit. It turns out they're back to devel after a long pause, and the latest version (CVS, not release) works like charm. It even supports gzipped documents. Well, they still use b for Byte and I emailed them to fix the cosmetic glitch. :-)

The other nicety was MPlayer's where I noticed a VESA driver support. It's faster than other methods I've tried, as it simply dumps stuff on the graphics card without any overhead from X or whatever. Even Cube seems to run smoothly enough. Now if I had time, and a decent monitor, to watch all these DivXs :-)

Mon, Nov 26

<01:06> It was an interesting coincidende that Antti (of Lyseo/Queens) and I were discussing watch-wearing, yoga and their implications on the notion of time, as we waited for the film Memento to start. As the film sliced through spacetime, I occasionally felt deep sadness, mottled with burst of absurd comedy, which crystallized into the cynicism of the ending scenes, and I must admit C-A Moss (Trinity of Matrix) was pretty, in a sly way as ever. And now I'm ambiguous whether the condition of crippled short term memory is a depressant, or a blissful passport to moral freedom. And wonder if primeval man had it that way, just living the moment for survival. Whether the cyclic loops of spacetime predicted by General Relativity infer the logical abolition of principles of causality. And if it's legitimate to say 'Spacetime is'.

Sun, Nov 25

<14:59> The three joys of perspiration:

  1. Sauna
  2. Vegetable Jalfrezi at Standard Tandoori
  3. Clubbing
Another nice day/evening with a couple of Finns which also involved lots of whisky tasting :-). The clubbing was again at Wolfson, fortunately R & B instead of cheese this time.

Noticed funny things with Willow. In the end I realized that the freeze occurs when trying to set the CPU multiplier while in the BIOS's low power mode. It's no wonder that the two hardware power management systems can clash, as the BIOS is unaware of the new processor's 'PowerNow' (i.e. changing the multiplier on the fly) which can be done by software.

<15:58> In this mild euphoria of the morning after of a blast night, I should mention that the world is a better place, which is kind of funny. Reminds me of when James told me of his experiences with opium in the far east. He'd experiences the universal love. Yet this society of ours is against those products. A stiff-arsed industrial society where profits are more important than pleasure, no matter what the information age prophets predict.

At least women are allowed some freedom of expression with their looks, but the symmetry doesn't quite extend to men, which is what I wondered while gathering looks in my kilt last night. Some ideas behind this is put excellently by these two posts at a men's fashion freedom forum. Think about it. And wear something fancy now and then to make others think too.

Thu, Nov 22

<18:00> After a tough week of coursework - today's vacation work viva was the ultimate roast - I entertained myself by upgrading Willow's processor to the K6-III+ I'd acquired recently. Too bad the laptop mobo didn't have options to change FSB speed so it's 400MHz only, but the improved cache and dsp means I can watch the Cube DivX :-). Of course the multiplier could be changed softly using k6mult. Try doing that under Windoze :-/

Wed, Nov 21

<23:52> Back from the SciSoc formal hall. Surprisingly good & deep conversations with James W. The decision not to drink during the dinner turned out wise - felt so much better than usually. Did have a Hoegaarden afterwards at the Bath though :-). Oh, and I wore the kilt 'formally' with shirt, tie, jacket & white hose.

Tue, Nov 20

<23:22> Lecture by David Mackay on Dasher. This is very kewl tech to replace keyboard e.g. for PDAs and handicapped people. During the post-lecture discussion in the pub, I tried it on his iPAQ and it was very intuitive. Try it on your machine, it's GPL'd :-)

Mon, Nov 19

<00:00> Saturday's expectations were low. I'd planned another sauna, dinner and drinking night. But Antti (of Queens') had notified he was ill, and Lauri told he had a formal hall that night. Fortunately, Antti (of Wolfson) turned up promptly, and Jaakko slightly later. Sauna was good as usual, in fact better as there were so few other people there.

Positive change continued as Jaakko suggested we head towards Mill Road for some Indian cuisine and the post-sauna drinks. So that was a whole list of new pubs and a restaurant: Salisbury Arms, Live and Let Live, Kingston Arms, and Standard Tandoori. None of those places has things to complain about.

I'm not going to mention what we chatted about over the drinks. Basically we were taking the piss out of so many things, as we were all men, and we could talk Finnish so no one else would understand :-). Then at the closing time, I joined Antti for some cheesish bopping at Wolfson, which was not bad at all. Then we chilled out, sipping some Talisker. Sometimes it's just refreshing to get drunk, though it could have been a lot worse :-)

Thu, Nov 15

<23:27> Tonight's evening lecture was at the Engineering Department, by Ivor Catt on the 'Catt Question' of electromagnetism. What he calls an anomaly, is a basic question about transmission lines: when a pulse is sent down a simple cable (e.g. coaxial), the edge of the electric field is moving at c. Because field lines start and end on charges, there must be charges accumulating on the conductors as the field moves on. Where do the charges come from? The essential problem is that the charges, which are massive, must be moving at c as well, which violates special relativity.

He's been careful not to show off with his personal theories. Two Cavendish professors who replied to him, gave mutually exclusive answers and refuse further investigation. The current situation is quite sad, because there seem to be different camps of physicists (Catt's being one of them) who refuse to cooperate, and the question of physics has turned out more of a political one.

Interesting discussion followed, as one of my coursemates asked about the Fourier resolution of the problem. Catt and his crew insisted that Fourier cannot be applied, because of causality problems (inherent in any Fourier issue, so how could anyone ever use it? :-/ ) - and more importantly, because Maxwell's equations cannot be assumed true, neither can linearity.

This was a big shock to me, but I personally believe a simple explanation can be found. Perhaps the charges are not there - nobody has measured them directly, only fields and potentials. Or maybe there's an Anderson-Higgs style mechanism that turns off the electron masses temporarily.

I was lucky my mother phoned me at one point, so that I could leave, as I thought my discussion with Catt might go on forever, and he was not easy to chat with. I realized the academic community - from which Catt has been rejected to some extent - has a rather intense social component, and people can end up pretty weird if they're left alone with their controversial theories. As if physicists weren't weird enough already... Bottom line is, though, that you should not take things for granted. In the end, Maxwell's equations and the like are just celebrated traditions. Funnily enough, this seems like conspiracy of the academia to preserve these traditions in favour of real science.

Fri, Nov 9

<02:45> Magnolia. Gotta see that again some time on a decent system. DivX on Willow is what I just saw. In fact it's not so much the slow processing (MPlayer on Linux kicks rhinos butt) but the passive matrix screen.. an excellent film anyways. Someone once told me (think it was Kalle from Kuopio/the Hog Feast Gang) "OK, you've seen American Beauty. Well, Magnolia is the _real_ american beauty." I can't exactly agree, this was a bit different in style and technique but equally ingenious.

Today I also got The Illuminatus 3logy, found on for £4. Now if there was time to read it. At least the local spacetime blob is creeping towards Xmas holiday.

Guess now I finally have to find a copy of Episode I to see what Darth Maul looks like. And why do so many people think I look like a Buddhist? I mean, how does it show? This is a bad case of stasis and needs to be done something. An epsilon of Delta could be handy. Or maybe it means it's become an ingrained part of me I can't help showing. Not that I'm ashamed or anything. :-)

Thu, Nov 8

<17:29> Then there are these moments when you feel you can't step through doorways in fear of you ego getting stuck. The Cambridge Student mentioned, in its review of the recent DnB night at Queens, people "staring on in bemusement at the guy dressed as a Buddhist Darth Maul bouncing around like a Morris dancer on a bonfire." 8-]

Tue, Nov 6

<22:43> Tonight's SciSoc lecture by the parapsychology Prof. Wiseman was excellent. Nice to see people with open minds to tackle issues we're not even sure they exist. He's also a magician and he gave interesting explanations to illusions that hold a clue to many 'paranormal' experiences. The best thing he noted, that even when we conclude something paranormal has known physical or psychological causes, we can still learn a lot about how those work.

BTW, I wore my kilt with appropriate, greenish kilt socks and a simple belt pouch. Some people chatted about the tartan and so on, and one guy thought it looked really good. No evil gazes or derogatory comments. Why was I ever afraid of skirting in public?

Sun, Nov 4

<01:41> ||[][]|"Siis nyt oli ihan oikeasti BILEET!". Some things you just can't express properly in English, it was one heck of a Drum n' Bass night at Queens?!?! The college of Cheese managed it well. Once I'd seen the ||[][]| A Bass Odyssey poster, I knew I had to go there just for the sake of that cunning design. The music surpassed my expectations, and at times it felt like the best of Orbital. And nice people as well.. *ticks a mark at /etc/exports* ;-)

Also, you could say I pushed the fashion boundary a little, wearing a dress. An excellent combination of comfort and kewlitude. With the nice comments I got I'm sure to wear that again ;-)

<02:54> gr8. Back from the shower after locking myself out. I always take the keys with me, but I'd taken the main key off for clubbing (not enough pockets so keep it in the wallet). Fortunately there were people around and Apostolo went in through the window to open it. Lucky, yes, but the idea of easily going through the window (if a part of it is open) is kind of disturbing. Well at least it's been a memorable night!

Fri, Nov 2

<23:51> The brightness of midnight sky is disturbing. It is blue. It's been totally clear for several nights, and it was full moon on Halloween so you can see things clearly, things having shadows like in broad daylight. In fact on Halloween it was 'blue moon' which is just a fancy name for a second full moon within a calendar month.

Just back from the Foundation dinner at Queens'. It's neat, being admitted to Foundation Scholarship you retain the status forever, and if you're @cam you're basically invited to the dinner every year.

Wine was good. Maybe degraded the conversations a bit. But you can't just spit in the glass if there's 1963 port availabe. Can you.

Today was another drawback with project allocations, and it's starting to look rather absurd. With this and many other things (like willow's hard drive) I'm starting to see the importance of backups. Talking about absurdity, the backup (plan to bypass hardware quirks) with the hard drive has nothing to do with backups (copies). Or maybe it should. It's one of these 'only amateurs wait for the green light' things.

Risto A. Paju