Did you enjoy braindead computer game conversion to movie Doom last year?

Then you'll be sure to love the braindead conversion to movie of the computer game Doom 2.

What do you mean, silent h?

To the movies

I ventured out into the cold winter evening to the cinematograph for the viewing of the latest installment of the james bond franchise. A quite jolly outing all told, with a nice freerunning sequence, although surprisingly less impressive than some of the "non-fiction freerunning that can be seen, for example here.

But before all of that I was forced to sit through multiple showings of an execrable trailer for an execrable film with will smith in it (will smith?) callled The pursuit of happyness. At no point is there any explanation for the horrific spelling error in the title. It does contain the unforgettable line "I can't stop; I'm in a competitive internship for Dean-Witter", which surely trumps "Let me through, I'm a doctor".


Belated follow up

About two years ago, I put out a mild plea for help in finding my ideal screensaver (what?). I wanted one that would show my photos on a PC in a nice way, without the kind of hideous transition effects that people who use powerpoint too much seem to think are a good idea. Well, after two years, including starting a job, quitting it and finding another, I finally found what I was looking. The key was the right set of keywords to search with, which, peculiarly, were not anything you might think of like "screensaver" or "photos", which even in combination are far too vague and turn up thousands of tedious low quality pages. Instead, the magic words were "Ken Burns" (I'll leave it up to you to work out why those are the right words). Armed with these, I found the lovely "iSlideshow screensaver", which does pretty much exactly what I want (it has some problems with scaling to my secondary cloned TV/monitor, but so does everyone). Perhaps it didn't help that the software seems to date back only to 2005 when I was looking for something like it in 2004.

Anyway, more later perhaps but must dash now since it's getting on for 9.30pm and the turkey really ought to be done by around now...


I'm crushing your TEX

Question: when you spend about 24 hours working over the weekend, before a 3-day week, are you justified in slacking off for the rest of the week? Somewhat redundant question, I suppose, since it's going to happen whether you want it to or not (I find it rather hard to concentrate the day after working fourteen hours solid up to midnight).

My weekend was spent in an exercise which can principally be summarized as "going against the spirit of LaTeX and trying to crush material down into a suitably small format". Perhaps ironically, by was of a change, today I am preparing a paper for proceedings, which seems to mostly involve trying to fit more material into the available page budget. Ah well...


Comin' straight out of earlsdon...

Another youchoobmoovie. For the warwick missive...

Fun with Brainteasers

YouTube video that won't show up in the RSS feed:

This is what I am like with most brainteasers. Try asking me something new.


I'm not saying that Google is entirely self-obsessed...

...but if you search for "earth" on Google, the first result is google earth...

[I suppose you could say that "if you google earth you get google earth", but the Google thought police wouldn't like me saying that.]


With a soda on the side

Your needless irritant of the day: The Chicken Noodle Soup Song!

Now, compare and contrast:

Chicken Noodle Soup
Chicken Noodle Soup
Chicken Noodle Soup with a Soda on the Side

Peanut Butter Jelly
Peanut Butter Jelly
Peanut Butter Jelly with a baseball bat!

Mmm, bad american food.


Get Out

Today is a very important day, politically. Mid-term elections are happening across the US that can have a major effect on the political climate for years to come. Therefore, I am using this opportunity to deeply, sincerely and urgently insist that you do the right thing, and don't vote.

It is very important that you don't vote for the following reasons:

1. You do not live in America. Although you would not believe it if you read some blogs, these elections are happening in a small corner of the world. Fewer than 5% of people live in America, and most of you don't. So don't vote.

2. You live in America, but are not a US citizen. Many people are like me -- living in the US, but not a US citizen. Therefore, it will be very difficult to vote -- you'd have to lie or cheat your way onto the rolls, and run the risk of a serious prosecution. So keep life simple, and don't vote.

3. You only came to this web page because you were searching for "barbara bush naked" or "dervla kerwin pics" or "kelis milkshake explanation". You are a craven lustful idiot driven by base carnal instincts. You are not to be trusted with a live democracy. Fortunately, you are probably only reading this six months later. But still, today and forever more, please don't vote.

4. You are part of the sinister secret conspiracy of the military-industrial complex that has been trying to monitor my thoughts (despite my fetching tin-foil beanie). Well, honestly, since you control the outcome of all elections electronically from your secret Boulder, Colorado headquarters (well, would you go to Boulder, Colorado? Therefore, perfect hiding place), it doesn't really make a difference. But please don't vote.

Therefore, in conclusion, for all the reasons and many more, it is vital for you-- indeed, more than this, it is your duty-- to not vote today in the US elections. Come on, polls are only open for at most, what, 12 more hours or so? How hard can it be for you to take a few minutes out of your busy schedule and not vote? It's not like your one vote will make a difference anyway. Thankyouverymuch.


Music for the masses

We haven't had a quiz around here in quite some time. So, for want of something better to do, here's a pointless music lyrics quiz.

Now, we all know that there is only one way of listening to music, which is via direct implant into the cerebellum. But in the ancient past of the 20th century, people used all kinds of crazy methods to listen to their music, and then wrote songs about it. Your task is to find (reasonably well known) songs whose lyrics include references to the following devices, and to quote the full line or lines:

1. Transistor Radio

2. 78s

3. 45

4. AM Radio

5. Walkman

6. 8-track

7. CD [player]

8. Reel-to-reel [tape recorder]

9. Gramophone

10. Dansette

For about half of these I have a specific song in mind; for the other half, I'm not entirely sure, but I'm fairly sure you'll be able to find something. If you want to cheat you can probably do all manner of internet searches, but I'd prefer it if you search your brain the old-fashioned way. I mean, it's not like there's going to be a prize or anything... If you prefer you may add your own, such as "LP": 'Sex began in 1963 between the chatterley ban and the beatle's first LP', from Philip Larking.


Bizarre Phishing Antics

Now that the spam filter is up and running, I'm looking more closely at those messages that do evade it. Rather intruigingly, the odd one or two (corresponding to a roughly 98% success rate) that do get through seem to be spam that is not very good at what it intends to do. The latest that fell through the net is from "Kerri" (why doesn't the spam filter also have a trigger for emails sent from a single first name?), although the email address is Chelsea@somewhere, and the message is signed "wbr, Hope" [with best regards?].

The message itself is "I've accidently found your photo at a flickr and i'm very interested in it. Can you tell me what place i can see in the background of it?" That immediately tells me it's rubbish since I don't have an account on flickr (similarly, given the amount of phishing attacks, I am trying to avoid having accounts on ebay, paypal and amazon so as to avoid any doubt). There's a link. In the plain text version, the link is to the implausible address:

which isn't going to work for anyone; in the HTML version, there is a link (which doesn't even bother trying to hide where it goes to) to http://www.9ebeauty.com/flickr.html.

So, fairly sure that I can explore with no danger to myself, I take a look.

9ebeauty.com is a rather odd site that apparently sells massage tables and broken english. The /flickr.html page is an HTML version of a flickr page. And, er, that seems to be mostly it. There's no photo, just some static text saying "photo loading". There are links to login to flickr which lead to the genuine log in pages. At first glance, there seems to be nothing more suspicious than a 1x1 pixel iframe containing a counter hosted on a machine identified only by IP address. That IP address resolves to rbnnetwork, the "Russian Business Network", which apparently is associated with spammers in the past. But still, it doesn't seem to actual be anything more than a counter. Except that actually going to the URL gives an apparent 404 (a closer investigation suggests that it is actually succesfully (200) serving up a page that looks like a 404...)

So, an unconvincing spam email leading to a lame flickr rip off, with a counter. What's the point of that, then? I suppose it looks like a trial run. An attempt to see what new phishing scams are the most enticing. But really, why bother? Why not have some pay off? What would be the point of stealing Flickr log-ins? Or is it an attempt to draw people in and then infect them with spyware or zombies? It makes you wonder sometimes.



Compare and contrast:

Principia Discordia, the sacred book for worshippers of Eris [...] has been reprinted by Ronin press, which is claiming a copyright to the work.

The Principia Discordia, written by Kerry Thornley and Greg Hill, was released into the public domain when it was first published by the authors in 1965.


...the simplistic style in which they are written is partly explained by the fact that the editors, having to meet a publishing deadline, copied the information off the back of a packet of breakfast cereal, hastily embroidering it with a few footnoted in order to avoid prosecution under the incomprehensibly tortuous Galactic Copyright laws.

It is interesting to note that a later and wilier editor sent the book backwards in time through a temporal warp, and then successfully sued the breakfast cereal company for infringement of the same laws.

Oh, the irony linking to a web version of the most definitely still in-copyright RatEotU.