Meewella | Fragments

The Life of P

Month: January 2006 (page 1 of 3)

Globalist: Issue 2 release

The Cambridge Globalist Issue #2 release
see below for nearest location
available all day

The Cambridge Globalist will be available in the following places:

  • Law Faculty reception
  • SPS Faculty reception (New Museums Site)
  • Babbage Theatre Foyer (New Museums Site)
  • Economics Faculty reception
  • Engineering Department reception
  • Geography Faculty reception
  • Language Centre (Downing Site)
  • Department of Land Economy reception (Mill Lane)
  • Lensfield
  • William Gates Building
  • Mill Lane lecture rooms
  • Chemistry Faculty
  • Maths Faculty
  • History Faculty

Mission Globalist: Objective Achieved

Apologies for the delay in updating, and a belated gong xi fa cai to you all. It all started a few days ago when my MP3 player started misbehaving. I wiped it, reinstalled the firmware and it’s been shiny and responsive ever since. Unfortunately soon after, it clearly being a technologically inauspicious time, my laptop pulled the same trick. Fortunately a set of backups and 2 full formats later (after a comment from Ravi reminded me that quick erasing leaves various residual system files behind), everything’s looking fine once more with a pretty new Vista-inspired appearance.

It seems to have been a particularly inopportune week from a health perspective too. Theresia’s eye affliction worsened to the point that she’s been forced to return to Germany, degrading this year to return once she’s recovered. Meanwhile Ackers has broken his ankle in an overzealous football game and I’ve heard that Sarah L managed to split open her head in an over-exuberant pub crawl. A collective get-well-soon to you all.

Globalist: old and newThe last few days have been pretty active Globalist-wise. The swanky new issue was released yesterday, so you should be able to find a copy in a nearby faculty. The AGM was held on Sunday with the election of the new editorial board. Although it’s hard to give away such a personal project, they’re a keen bunch and having worked with Dexter already, he has my utmost faith. I have agreed to continue helping on the production side in an auxiliary capacity. To round off the handover was the Annual Dinner yesterday evening. Vanessa truly outdid herself in arranging the event which tasted fantastic and pleased the remaining four senses admirably.

Kirsten got me to see Sophie Scholl along with her friend Fran on Friday, although its alliterative propriety evaded me at the time. For those who don’t recognise the name, Sophie Scholl was a member of The White Rose, an Anti-Nazi German student resistence group who operated during the war, and was executed for actions.

P.S. A cookie for anyone who spots the small, recent change to the site design. Speaking of cookies, I just opened my last pack of Oreos from the States. If I’m looking a little shaky in a week, chances are I’ve finished them and am suffering from the resultant withdrawal symptoms. Please be sensitive.

Globalist Annual Dinner

The Cambridge Globalist Annual Dinner
Mong Hall, Sydney Sussex
7:00pm, pre-dinner drinks @ Knox Shaw Room
7:30pm, dinner @ Mong Hall

Harvard Debate

Harvard Debate
Christ’s College

Ads by Goooooogle

You will probably have noticed the appearance of some Google ads over the last few days. No, it’s not a sign of the apocalypse, I did in fact put them there myself. The truth is that it’s not really about generating revenue (the site isn’t yet that expensive to run) but more an intriguing social experiment. I have always supported the Google ads scheme on the basis they’re pure text so not intrusive, and they are targetted to the content of the page in an attempt to be relevant to its readers. My interest was piqued after I found Google thought the readers of one site I regularly visit must be gay on the basis of one pro-civil parnership entry. So I’m intrigued to see what they think about you given that you’re here reading P-2006. Currently they seem to think you’re all chocoholics — which is probably rather accurate. The ads tend to correlate to the latest entry, so you’ll see them change in style on a daily basis. It should be interesting to watch and hey, if you feel like clicking on a couple of interesting ones to help me out, so much the better!*

Although customisable in terms of colour, Google ads only allow you to choose from a selection of pre-defined sizes, which causes some problems with integrating them into a website without compromising on design. I don’t think they interfere with the menu at their current location, but if people find them too intrusive I may move them to the bottom of the page. In this case you’ll rarely even see them unless you’re commenting on a specific entry.

I was also amused to find myself in the shortlist for the “Most Likely To Go To Prison” award at our college Midway Dinner. However, Chima is also on the list so competition is pretty stiff. I have a pretty good idea who nominated me, but I’m curious as to exactly what my expected future crime is to be. I deplore mere fraud because — well — it’s just dull. I think it’s about time we had another Great Train Robbery(TM). Perhaps stealing an entire maglev train along with several miles of track. Would that be Great enough? Of course if a routine Vegas heist does arise in the near future, I’m always available. Just speak to my agent and it will all be arranged.

* If you’re using Adblock and not seeing them, I’d humbly ask that you whitelist the site unless you seriously object: just add to your list of sites.

Munich theatrical release

Munich theatrical release
UK general release
dir: Steven Spielberg
starring: Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Geoffrey Rush

Windows Live Messenger

Windows Live MessengerI’ve been trialling a beta version of Microsoft’s latest messaging client to replace MSN Messenger. Bearing the slightly unwieldly new moniker of Windows Live Messenger, it will feel familiar but is a significant jump up from the current version. For those who like to mod their MSN, the constant stream of updates has actually been something of an annoyance. Nevertheless this looks like one that might actually be worth it.

The interface is much cleaner and, although the change (particularly to your contacts list) is jarring at first, you will find yourself adapting to it shortly. Amongst new features include integrated free PC-to-PC VoIP calls, a new “shared folders” system for photos and other files which allows you to share files from a single folder with drag-and-drop ease, and at last offline messaging which allows you to leave a message to be viewed by your contact when they next log on. Perhaps chief amongst the changes is the death of the butterfly. As it is no longer an MSN product, instead part of the new Live series, the familiar butterfly logo is no more.

I am actually running it concurrently with 7.5, which remains my primary chat client, since this beta is not quite powerful enough to replace it. Admittedly this is rather more to do with the fact that I use the Messenger Plus! add-on, and a new version for Live (which includes XHTML chat logging) is not due out until the program’s official release.

SpleakIn related releases, the populat Spleak chatbot has now been officially recognised by Microsoft and rather than downloading it, you can chat to her directly by simply adding spleak[at] to your contacts list. She’s hooked up to various websites so while chatting to her she’ll act as a digital assistant of sorts, providing spell checks and encyclopedia entries, as well as telling you the time or weather anywhere in the world, converting between units, and even keeping a personalised event calendar for you. See the future of antisocial socialising now.

Global Expansion

TCG Issue #2The second issue of The Globalist arrived in Cambridge a few days ago and at this moment scores of nondescript brown packages are being shifted around the town like a giant game of Risk in preparation for the invasion of a faculty near you. As you’ll see from the calendar, in addition to the magazine’s release at the end of the month, there is also an AGM for those who are interested in getting involved. The editorial board will be handing stewardship of the magazine over to a new committee, and being the co-founders I think it’ll quite hard to actually let go. Although I’m passing on the production reins I will remain involved either in a direct or advisory capacity. There are some financial issues for the new team though, so if you know anyone who may be interested in sponsoring or advertising in the magazine I’m sure they’d love to hear from you.

I’ve been saying it should be done for months and finally it has happened. Most of you scoffed at the arrogant tenacity required in attempting to correct the infallible GMail team but it appears they eventually realised the folly of their ways and took some steps in improving the user interface with the addition of a real live delete button. Eric Schmidt, you may email that job offer to me at your convenience.

Hotel ChocolatIrina has been pushing me to visit the new Hotel Chocolat near the Lion Yard for some time. Having now sampled some of their unearthly delights, all I have to say is that if the celestial beings deign to dine on chocolate, this would be it. It’s certainly not cheap (the best method being to select 3 packs of 6 truffles for £6), but it’s chocolate the way I prefer: tasting easily as rich as its price tag, each mouthwatering truffle should be savoured alone. If you’re the sort of person who tears through a couple of dairy milk slabs a day, perhaps this isn’t for you. The founders’ dedication to chocolate is evidenced by the fact they avoid things like hydrogenated vegetable fats: this the real deal. I have yet to acquaint myself with their full range, of course, but I’ve been trying to hide the existenece of the vanilla truffles from Kirsten lest she discover that men have now become obsolete. Unfortunately she spotted them. I guess we just have to hope the chocolates don’t learn how to lift sofas and open jars.

N.B. This is not to say I have rescinded my relationship with Thorntons, whose new winter range of truffles is itself particularly good.

A Night With The Opera

With Firefox‘s 1.5 release, many people were disgruntled to see that its coding was still somewhat bloated in comparison to its rival rebel browser, the long-established but now free Opera. Famed for its sprightly speed and light footprint (in non tech-speak that just means it chews up less of your computer’s memory) I finally decided to give it a go for comparison’s sake.

OperaYou will instantly notice that it certainly is damn fast. It takes very little time to adapt to its intelligently designed user interface which places things much where you’d expect (and want) them. I particularly liked the fact that unlike Firefox, it’s fullscreen browsing actually uses the entire screen, although with some sites (including this one) it seems to cause some major CSS issues. However, whilst it features power browsing features like mouse gestures, it falls far short of Firefox in terms of customisation. This is by design, of course, but it’s a significant drawback if that’s the sort of thing you’re in to. With the amount of time I spend online, I need to be able to browse exactly the way I want. The simplicity of Opera, combined with the same general advantages over Internet Explorer mean that I’d almost be tempted to recommend it to less advanced users ahead of Firefox. However, this does ignore a corollary drawback which is that Firefox’s customisability makes it a favourite amongst professionals and web designers, so chances are most websites are still not being tested in Opera. As such, I’d foresee continued compatibility issues for some time. That said, I think I’ll keep Opera installed so that at least P-2006 can aim to fully support it.

And it wouldn’t be a fully rounded browser article without a sneak peak at IE7 now, would it?

Pandora’s Music Box

I recently came across Pandora from the Music Genome Project. Rejecting the idea that you could classify music by questionable genre titles or even by artist, they’ve attempted to break it down to the individual song level. Exploring things like melody, harmony, rhythm, instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics and more, they’ve created a massive database that creates a “genome” for each song and uses that calculate similarities. Fire up the website and enter a song title for it to produce a dedicated station, often songs by artists you’ll recognise and also some you won’t, but all bearing a strong musical resemblance to your chosen track. There are some limitations due to their license from the record companies, like the inability to go backwards and the restricted number of tracks you can skip in an hour. It’s certainly a very ambitious project, well worth checking out.


Someone pointed me towards The Piracy Calculator which produces a rough estimate of the value of your dubiously acquired P2P stash. Although amusing to see, it’s not purely facetious. Scroll down to read the moral and you’ll discover he’s making a very valid point. Piracy is piracy, not theft. The rest of the site, which I’d not come across before, actually has quite a few interesting reads. It’s a bit like a subdued Maddox on tranquilisers and anger-management therapy.

In a similar vein is a shift in gaming journalism that may be described as the Dan Hsu phenomenon. At first his Peter Moore interview seems just like ever other propaganda interview you’ve read on the 360. I mean seriously, the industry can’t pay for better publicity than the usual brand of arse-kissing interviews they’re treated to by most magazines. By the second page, however, it becomes evident that Hsu has some sort of personal vendetta, and he’s asking all those real questions that have been floating around message boards for the past month. It’s not that the answers have changed, but at least the questions are, if not probing, at least blunt.

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"You shouldn't trust the storyteller; only trust the story."

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