“Life is like an onion: You peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep.” (Carl Sandburg)

A lot has happened to me recently, so this is going to be a long post mostly about my miserable life – hence the quote.

The third year project report was completed and handed in on time (after much blood, sweat and tears) as was the neural computing coursework.

During the holiday three members of my family ended up in hospital with various ailments, and I am still receiving ongoing treatment for my missing teeth. One of the implants I had failed quite soon after it was inserted, however when the consultant came to fit the false teeth on the other one it too came loose. It has now been removed and the consultant has decided that I am to have bridgework done instead (I was offered the alternative of being refered elsewhere for a more substantial bone graft than was done the first time around followed by a repeat attempt at the implants).

My grandfather ended up in hospital after coughing up blood, has been diagnosed with lung cancer and is shortly to begin radiotherapy. My father has been in hospital to investigate if he has bowel cancer (fortunately the samples which were taked showed he did not) and my sister is in a secure mental unit after attempting suicide at home.

On Tuesday, during the evening, I was returning home (from hospital) when my car was hit from behind by a 4×4 whilst I was waiting to pull onto a round-a-bout. At the time the damage seemed minimal, just a broken tail light (the 4×4 got off without a single scratch to the paintwork!). Further examination at home revealed a dent to the corner of the boot, multiple broken bulbs and a significant bulge to the inside of the boot where, presumably, the bumper on my car has been pushed in. Life’s a bitch. The driver of said 4×4 has admitted liability for the accident so his insurance is paying and Endsleigh (who my car is insured with) have been fantastic. I’m going to be sorry when I have to return the 07-reg courtesy car and get my little P-reg Peugeot 106 back.

On the plus side, I had a phone call at 17:20 on Tuesday asking if I could be in Birmingham the following day for a job interview. I quickly changed my plans and made the necessary arrangements to attend. Following an unexpected test (all programming related questions – what does this code do, what’s the output of this, etc.) I was invited to another room for the interview. At the beginning of the interview the panel of three explained their normal recruitment process, with a first inverview followed by a second interview for candidates they think are suitable possibly followed by a job offer. I proceded to have the interview, in which I discussed the system I have been developing for my holiday job as well as explaining the concept of ‘LAN Parties’. Following the interview I was led to another room whilst the panel chatted among themselves and was then led upstairs to a side room where they proceded to offer me a job on the spot! :)

I am yet to see any paperwork for this job, but it is entirely possible that I may be working straight after my exams. Yay!

People suck…

About two months ago a coworker of mine suggested that I implement a Palm-based data entry program for our stock database system (which I wrote). As I had no experience at all of writing applications for anything more (physically) portable than a laptop I was not overly keen on the idea, and a few hours of me being less than enthusiastic seemed to have kept him quiet. At least until a few weeks later when I was presented with a brand new palm (the company’s (of course!), and now in the less than safe hands of one of my other coworkers) and told to write said application.

Last week I had finished implementing a storage and retrieval system and was just starting work on the facility to edit stored data (a fairly trivial task once it was possible to save a new record and view existing ones). The coworker who initially requested the system duely demanded a progress report, which I gave. I was promptly told that editing existing data was not needed, so I deployed the application. Fast forward to yesterday, when another coworker (the one who actually uses the shiney new palm, and my app) says, “You know what’d be really useful? The facility to store part of the data and to come back and edit it and fill in the blanks later, without returning to the office to use the PC-based frontend.” (or words to that effect). People suck, in this case because they don’t know what they want (or, rather, they think they know what they want and then demand that you provide what you thought they wanted after they told you they did not want that (still with me?)).

On a completely unrelated topic, Vista is still going strong on my laptop with only 2 major gripes at the moment. The first is that it uses well over 1.5GB of memory (of which less than half seems to be accounted for by Task Manager’s process list – and yes that is running with administrator rights, my user alone seems to only be using ~200MB although IE7 doubles that when running) which means doing anything (from loading an application to compiling a test build of a program) involves waiting about 3 minutes for Vista to swap enough stuff to disk(the laptop has 1GB physical RAM) to perform the task it was asked to do. The second is that I can not seem to lay my hands on a decent free archiver which works with Vista, my usual choice (IZarc) has major issues, as does 7Zip and several other ones I’ve never heard of before but tried. At the moment I’m using the WinRAR trial and hopefully IZarc’s issues will be resolved before the trial expires. I have not yet had chance to play about with getting WMP11 or MPC to play my music collection due to work, coursework, a sister in hospital and other bits and pieces I have to do to survive and pass my degree. I will probably have to activate Vista soon too, hopefully it will require less effort than the 5 calls to Microsoft it took to activate (pre-installed!) XP on my old laptop.

Doom, gloom and failure.

Since it is now 3 to 6 months since the implants were placed in my jaw, I went yesterday for them to cut open a portion of my gum again (albeit a significantly smaller bit than last time) to expose the implants. Unfortunately when the consultant came to unscrew the cap which covers the top it became apparent that one of the implants had not “taken” and was just spinning in the socket they had drilled for it. As a result the implant had to be removed, and I’m now left with a hole which has been packed by some crazy medical material.

The other implant is fine and exposing that one went to plan. I’m now left considering whether to re-try the implant route (which will now involve referal to yet another hospital and a bone-graft operation) or to have a “reversible bridge” (which can be removed if I later decide to retry the implants). Having spent the best part of 5 years undergoing this treatment I am very disappointed it failed like this. I am now leaning to the bridge option as it will most likely take a month rather than another year, or more, of treatment although it will probably be less robust and may fall off in years to come.

I saw my third year project tutor this morning and had a productive discussion with him about the likely technical difficulties which may arise giving my presentation. As a result I went to see one of the system programmers who suggested that I e-mail the unix help address and requested a project account which can be allocate a small port range I can use to run my projects listening server on the undergraduate server and connect to it from both my Laptop (which will be running Windows, for the purposes of the presentation) and the provided Red Hat system. This sounds really promissing.

Development as always is progressing, but perhaps not quite as quickly as I would like. As I am now pouring almost all of my free time into the project there is not much I can do to speed things up. That said, I am more-or-less on my (revised) schedule for implimentation and am confident about having it complete in time for the presentation.

Life, The Universe, CompSoc and third year projects

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written anything on my blog. To a great extent I’ve just been far too busy (this hasn’t changed, but being back at Uni there is noone watching me from behind to see if I’m not working) and during the holidays I do not get the oportunity to use a computer much outside of work due to a lack of time.

Three important things have happened since my last blog entry;

Firstly, I’ve had surgery on my mouth to remove two of my existing teeth and have implants placed into my jaw which will, when healed in 3 to 6months time will support four false teeth in their place. I am missing a significant number of teeth (which I’ve never had) and the problem seems to be genetic – my mother has a large number of teeth missing as did her father. The ongoing appointments for this are proving quite disruptive and I an ending up missing lectures quite regularly at the moment (co-incidentally the lectures always seem to be for the ‘Compiler Design’ course, dispite me missing them on different days and at different times.

Secondly, The deadline for handing in my third year project specification was last Thurday. While I managed to hand in the required work before the deadline, the work I handed in contained a number of errors which I should have spotted. The main reason for this was that I made a mistake and overwrote the latest version of the specification with an older version which ment I then had to waste a lot of time recovering the newer copy. Had this not happened I would probably have had an extra 3-4hours to spend on getting it right and would not have rushed and handed in an erroneous version.

Finally, Over the holiday I have reached the conclusion that CompSoc, as a group of people, suck. The ideas on which CompSoc is founded, as an academic society who provide support, guest lectures and tutorials for people who like computers are great and like a number of people in CompSoc I simply love computers, however CompSoc is increasingly being taken over by two types of people. One of these is the gaming types, whose sole interest is playing games at every opportunity and are of the opinion that anyone who doesn’t want to play games all the time is not worthy of being in the society. The other group are the type who simply moan all the time about everything. They seem to complain for the sake of complaining and are completely unwilling to do anything productive to fix the problems they moan about.

I for one am sick to the back teeth(well, sick to what back teeth I have) of people moaning and bitching at people needlessly. This is the reason I have left, and do not intend to return to, the #compsoc irc channel on their irc network which is where all of the active members tend to spend their time. Since leaving #compsoc I have noticed no unjustified moaning occuring in any of the other 13 channels I am in on CompSoc’s IRC network. The thing that really gets to me is people bitching non-stop about things which other members have put a significant amount of their time and effort into and get nothing in return. Members have no obligation to take part and do stuff for CompSoc, like the website, the IRC bot, helping manage the servers and setup LANs the least they could expect is not to be bitched at constantly for something they have given time and effort for, entirely volunterially.

There was a suggestion that the Warwick Linux User’s Group could part from CompSoc and form its own society. This idea was quickly shouted down as, among other things, it might spell the end for CompSoc. I’m not sure that this would have been a bad idea. If the LUG had left, at least CompSoc might have been forced to get its arse in gear and stop being the ‘gamers and bitchers’ society.

If it weren’t for my multiple obligations to the society and the fact that I know a grand total of about 0 people outside of CompSoc I would seriously consider having nothing more to do with them. Thankfully the LUG, which has not had any of these issues, is continuing to move in the direction it was 2 years ago with semi-regular tutorials planned and maintaining the social atmosphere of their meetings. Had the LUG left CompSoc, it would have been a much better society than that which CompSoc has become.