Driving – wanting a new(ish) car

August 10, 2009

Something I find weird listening to americans is how they buy cars – they seem to buy cars new. I’ve never really got this – what sort of crazy nutjob buys a car brand new???

I live in the UK. Cars are expensive. Not as expensive as they are in surrounding countries, but still pretty darn expensive. New cars especially so. I don’t get this buying a new car thing. I did it once. It was expensive. Never again.

That said, I go through phases of craving various cars. I’ve (thankfully) come out of a period of really, really wanting a Nissan Pathfinder. (I know – what was I thinking???) Currently, a Volvo XC70 or V70 seems really desirable (provided it has seven seats, and the regular back seats have fold-up bum cushions for wee folk.)

I seem to spend a lot of time in the car these days. Over an hour a day maybe. And an inevitable consequence of this is that I find myself looking at other cars thinking “Yeah, that’s a sensible car – I should get one of those.” (If I had infinite money, etc)

Hopefully my financial ability to actually buy another car to replace my current one (a 1.4 petrol Fiat Stilo, since you ask) will coincide with a period of lust for a not-totally-fucking-dipshit-stupid car. In particular, I really, really hope I don’t at some point go through a phase of wanting a vw touareg or (god help me) an audi q7 at the same time as actually being able to afford one of them.

If I can get a nice sensible v70 or toyota verso, that’ll be just grand.


coding standards – function name in column 0

August 10, 2009

My life seems to be a study in coding standards. I love coding standards. I like to try new ones every few days. (That sounds facetious, but seriously – the less I have to think about formatting, the more brainpower I have to think about algorithms. And coffee.)

One I’m particularly fond of is (in C mostly, but C++ kinda) making the function name start in column zero:

function_name(void *arg1, char arg2)
return 42;

It just allows for easy grep’ping if you’re consistent.

vi/vim tips – # and * (hash and star)

August 10, 2009

I find # and * (hash and star) very useful commands in vi. They mean “find the next instance of the word under the cursor” (respectively “previous”). Coupled with ‘n’ and ‘N’ (do it again – respectively forwards and backwards), they’re a good way to find references to a function name.

The Sandbaggers

August 10, 2009

I’ve been watching The Sandbaggers recently – it’s an old TV show (nearly as old as me) about MI6. It’s flippin’ wonderful tv; like Smiley, only possibly better. (Aye, I know!!!)

I’m watching a torrent, but I’m likely going to actually buy it.

Nomadic programmers

August 6, 2009

Beautiful blog entry about nomadic, restless programmers vs settled, nation-state programmers:


Setting up a bridge in vmware…

August 4, 2009

If you want to set up a virtual machine to be a bridge in vmware… that is, if you want to be able to configure that virtual machine as a bridge, you’ll need:

  • two NICs on the VM (obviously)
  • not to plug into the same switch or virtual switch
  • probably to create a new virtual switch and plug one of them into it
  • to enable promiscuous mode and mac spoofing

Key takeaway #1: if you plug both ports a bridging vm into a network, you’ll probably kill that network. You can even kill your work LAN. Seriously.

Key takeaway #2: if you don’t enable both promiscuous mode and mac spoofing, your bridge won’t be able to bridge. Promiscuous mode allows it to see traffic that isn’t for itself and mac spoofing allows it to send out packets that it didn’t originate.

Nokia N95 – how do I hate thee, let me count the ways…

July 16, 2009

I have a Nokia N95. I absolutely fucking hate it. I still use it. But I hate it. Why? Why do I hate it?

It’s slow. You press a button, it has to think about what to do. This problem is common to a lot of modern phones. I call them “java phones”. I hate its slowness. I’m getting used to it, but I hate it.

Battery life. Has to be charged every day. Always has.

Size. Bulky as fuck. Can’t keep it in my pocket comfortably. Often leave it at home and have to drive back and get it.

Its web browser. Oh. My. God. Worst. Web. Browser. Ever. Ever!!! This is going to have to wait for another web post. Opera on it is just as bad, unfortunately.

Non-standard charger. Why did Nokia go and change their charger? Why??? The world had billions of old-style Nokia chargers. That was a big reason to stay with Nokia. I’m done with Nokias now.

I wouldn’t mind, but there’s no phone I actually want. The iphone is probably the least shit phone out there, but it’s still shit. Too bloody big, for starters.

On my old Nokia phone (6230i – I hated that too!) I could easily set an alarm for (say) fifteen minutes from now. “Take bread out of oven.” “Take beer out of freezer.” “Take body out of boot.” Not with this phone. I have to know what time it is now first. And it’s really hard to find out precisely what time this phone thinks it is. Especially when you’re in the “set a todo” menu.

Architecturitis. The OS on this phone has been (pause to express disgust) architectized. It’s been designed to make C++ applications moderately clean to write. Design Patterns. Negative regard has been given to the user experience. Fuck the user.

The phone book is a separate application. If you left it open, next time you go to it, it’ll be on the last person’s page you looked at. If you didn’t leave it open, it won’t be.

Oh, and the phone book, if you type in R…E, it’ll find anybody with an R and an E in their names. Not people whose first name entry begins with RE, like what I want. Breaking a core part of the phone out into a separate “application” is a sure sign of architecturitis.

Breakage. I’ve just slid the screen up to unlock it. (This usually works … not always. Jeez.) But the phone seems to have mysteriously died. WTF? It’s not like it was short of battery or anything.

Camera. I have lots of pictures of the inside of my pocket. Sob.

GPS. Completely pointless.

Boot time. WTF does a phone need to take a whole minute to “Boot” up for? It’s a fucking phone for fuck’s sake.

Keyboard. Shite. Horrid, nasty little keys.

Menus. I’ve had it nearly a year, and I still can’t find configuration menus. How is that possible?

Bluetooth. It sometimes works.

And many other grievances. I’m just finished with Nokias now. It’s time to find something less creatively awful.

iplayer volume control goes up to 11

June 28, 2009

The volume control in iplayer goes up to 11. LOL!

Waking the dead – the best thing on TV

June 28, 2009

Waking The Dead has to be the best thing on TV these days. Not only is it the only thing on TV worth watching, it’s absolutely bloody fantastic.

Just watched the first two episodes of “series 7” on iplayer – “sins part 1” and “sins part 2”. O.M.G. Totally didn’t expect those twists and turns.

Newspapers – savouring them

June 27, 2009

Whenever I go into one of the two shops in Dromara nowadays, I savour the incredible range of newspapers on offer. I know that before my boys are grown up, all the newspapers’ll be gone.

There are all the English newspapers, all the Irish ones, and all the local ones – and there are a staggering number of local ones – and then there are all the farming ones, not to mention the racing ones.

It’s bloody amazing, actually.

But based on the theory that all trends in the US make their way over here sooner or later, usually sooner, they’re all doomed. It’s a crying shame.

Sure, many of them will linger on. Partly because the people who work in them all don’t know what else to do; partly because folk hereabouts are a bit … luddite … and don’t really get this whole internet thing, and won’t for a while. (This isn’t a criticism!) And partly because they still really do fill a need more than they’re a business – especially the local ones.

Anyway, it almost brings a tear to my eye. At least it would if a random newspaper didn’t cost £2. Two quid? Feck off. I can read it on the internet for nowt. I’ll buy the times occasionally for the crossword, and the irish times occasionally for its weirdness. (And its crossword.) And the local newspapers out of curiosity, and the irish news just because it actually does journalism. But that’s it.