Obligatory puerile Oscar-related crap pun

"Did you hear who won the award for Best Actress?"
"Hilary Swank"
"Oh, I'm sure she's not that bad".


Return of the lolly sticks

I finally bought some new lollys, and after sucking one off last week, confirmed that they do indeed carry "jokes" on them, so at some point I might get around to the long overdue lolly stick joke update. But not yet.

I am currently too busy shepharding a couple of papers into something that from a distance will resemble finished state. Meantime, I am beset by emails from my credit card company, who inform me that my statement is available online, and I can do all sorts of things on their website. They finish with the sentence "We look forward to servicing you online." Which is very nice, but I think I would much prefer it if they limited themselves to merely serving me online.


The queries pour in

In addition to receiving mysterious messages via bizarre search queries, other people have started to more directly harass me by emailing mysterious questions directly to me. Perhaps this is normal, but I was rather confused by this message. Mostly because I still can't find any reference to $25 million dollars US, which I have come to expect in my unsolicited email.

Firstly I would like to intorduce myself. I am a fourth year student in
Electrical and Electronics. I am currently carrying out a research on
raw data classification.

I was just wondering if you have any knowledge regarding entropy (in
the context of computer data). Furthermore I would like to find out
about the following:

If I have a stream of bytes and I want the following statistical
measures: variance, mean, entropy, auto-correlation, fourier transform,
skewness and bicoherence. In other words can I just treat the stream of
bytes like a discrete time signal and carryout the above manipulations
on it. Or are there any specialized softwares for this purpose? What
would you suggest as the best method of going about this?

My immediate reaction is to tell the question to get lost and read a textbook instead of bothering me, but I can't help wondering if there is some kind of hidden message or similar in this. Any one?

I don't like ebay, I like marketplace

I don't get ebay. Everyone seems to think that it's the best thing ever, but it's weirdly organized, and so haphazard with these auctions that go on for a few days. So if you manage to catch something on there that you think you want, then you don't know if you'll get it or not. And, chances are, you'll what it is you're looking for.

I've never bought anything from ebay. Too confusing.

On the other hand, I like Amazon's marketplace. There's a whole bunch of rare and obscure stuff on there, the price is given to you up front, and it's easy to search. Last week, I bought a book about how to buy a car for $4. Tonight, I bought a comicbook about a photo developer for $8. I feel quite satisfied with the whole arrangement. I understand the principle. It works -- things tend to show up within a week. Perhaps the only thing to complain about is that the postage is at least $3.50, meaning that you can't really buy anything super cheap -- but that's hardly a great complaint.

Final thought: it still took me 1/2 an hour to find the car buying book that I wanted at a price that I liked. If it takes me this long to spend $4 on a book, how long will it take me to actually buy a car?


And now for something completely different. This was one of the highlights from my time in Vancouver. I was hanging around after the conference in a bookshop, when I looked out of the window to a bus stop across the street. Waiting there was your standard issue goth (size: large), but this one was carrying a mysterious cage. Something that looked like a tail was hanging out of one end. Was it a cat, or a dog? A little while later, my question was answered: she opened the cage, and took out what looked like... a stoat. Or maybe a pole cat. Of course, I snapped a sureptitious picture from inside the store. To add to the air of mystery, you can just about make out the strange animal shape in her arms, but not well enough to make out what it is, exactly. Any photoshop wizards able to better make out what it is? More image manipulation challenges will follow, a consequence of my cheap little digital camera.  Posted by Hello

Orange you glad I didn't say banana? 

For more orange than you could possibly want, try flickr

Posted by Hello

Banana Posted by Hello

Banana Posted by Hello

The Gates. And everyone was talking about The Bill. Posted by Hello


Mining the Data

I am, amongst other things, a data miner. I know this because I get invitations to be on the PC of various data mining conferences. And data mining begins at home. So I've spent half the morning collating all my expenses for 2004 to look for patterns. I won't bore you with the details or leak private information by divulging too many figures, but it was fascinating (to me, and no one else) to compare against the results for 2003, and observe that, year on year, things are pretty consistent. Indeed, the bulk of the difference between the two years' spending is down to a change in the amount of rent that I am paying. Of course, I'm just about to mess everything up by trying to buy a car, if I ever get round to that, but I suppose I can carefully try to adjust for all the expenses that will bring.

Gosh, this is frightfully dull if you aren't me, isn't it? Well, try being me then. I recommend it. Anyway, if I get round to it, we'll be back on the lolly stick jokes any time soon.


Guess the movie

A new game for all the family. Guess the movie from the description of its rating from the NYTimes review. The following are from recent horror/scary movie releases:

"The film contains scenes of bloody violence, including an incident involving a pet, and intense family dynamics."

"Some scenes may be too intense for nervous children, suggestible adults and small animals."

"It includes vague sexual references, partial nudity, some creepy shadows, a scary nail gun and sudden movement that might frighten small children."


Novus ordo seclorum!

Oh look -- mysterious illuminati symbology in popular films. This subtle cross/fade gives this tantalizing image of "the eye in the pyramid".

Yes, OK, so the film in question is the rather weak "National Treasure" the plot of which is that masons/illuminati/knights tempplar hid treasure and put clues to the treasure on the back of "the" declaration of independence, but that's not the point. Oh, wait a moment. That is the point. Oh well, never mind.  Posted by Hello


What's that you say?

Somehow someone arrives here with the search query "Kobe Bryant Clerihew". Always happy to oblige, here are a couple composed in about ten seconds:

Kobe Bryant
is defiant
Says he didn't rape her
That's not what I read in the paper.

or, on a more upbeat tone:

Kobe Bryant
is a giant
He stands tall
When he plays ball.

Feel free to add your own in the comments section.

Am also puzzled who in India is googling for "GoogleFlavoredPeanutButter", which appears as a rather artificial GoogleWhack elsewhere on this page. Probably a reader, but still... is it really possible that someone read that here, and was so excited by the idea that they had to run a search to see where they could get some? I wonder.



I pay all my bills online. However, I recently noticed that I pay all my bills online differently.

DSL is automatically billed to my credit card.
Phone is automatically billed to my bank.
Electricity I pay by logging on to the company web site and pulling the money from my bank account.
Gas I pay by using the "make payment" facility from my electronic banking service.
My credit card is paid when an "e-bill" is delivered to my bank and I log in to pay it.

This is reasonably convenient, since I only need to actually take any action on about half of these, but it's a bit weird that I have five different ways to pay five different bills. If everything worked properly, then I would just get everything to be billed to my credit card automatically, and then pay that off once a month. But that seems too complicated, and not everyone supports that yet. Oh well. I'll just have to wait a bit longer for the future to arrive.