50 Minutes of Screaming

Thanks to the BBC's quite useful website, I managed to watch tonight's Question Time (video quality was awful, but with a programme like QT, you only really need audio). An entertaining hour, if surprising to discover that the person getting the most cheers was Michael Moore. I think a backlash is slowly beginning to gain some momentum.

My mentor at UNC complimented me on this site today, so I'd just like to say thanks, if he's still reading. I'm a bit more talkative on here than in real life - I apologise for being a bit shy today...

Looking at the date, it seems that I've now been here for a month, which is normally the point where I stop keeping track of such things. And I haven't boarded a plane home yet. So things are going reasonably well. I've also just discovered that the university does in fact have a film society, and I went to the first meeting tonight. It's a little bit more involved than Manchester's 'Let's put a film on every so often' take on things. The CPG produces a short film every semester. They teach you how to light, edit, operate cameras, and create sets. They have a sister screenwriting group that meets twice a month to spitball ideas - plus seminars with people like Chuck Palahniuk. It costs $10 for a year. I left with a big smile.

I've spent the last hour trying to find out whether it's better to order the Dexy's back catalogure from here or the UK. I'm blaming Kieron.

currently playing: Dexy's Midnight Runners - Kevin Rowlands 13th Time

One Year On

To be honest, I was a bit apprehensive about today. While I knew that the university wasn't shutting down, and classes were proceeding as usual, I felt that today was going to be a very subdued affair. Instead, it turned out to be a fairly normal day; yes, the flags were at half-mast, there was a ceremony at noon in the centre of the campus, but for the most part, people were just going about their lives, joking with their friends, talking on mobile phones, or trying to get the shopping done. Slightly different to the day's events in New York, but no less important, I feel.

I decided to take the afternoon off, and finally get around to leaving Chapel Hill for a few hours, even it was only to go to a shopping mall. The pull of the Apple Store was just too great. It's rapidly becoming a question of when, not if...

currently playing: The Smiths - Shakespeare's Sister

DVD Watch

A shorter entry today, I think. It's time for DVDs Ian will be purchasing over the next few months!, the first in an almost inevitable regular series. Anyway, on with the list:

  • We'll get the obligatory Audrey Hepburn films out of the way first. The Children's Hour, War and Peace, and Roman Holiday are all coming out between now and Christmas. Only Roman Holiday has any extras beyond the trailer, but Paramount has gone to the expense of spreading War and Peace over two discs, and I'm impressed that MGM even considered releasing The Children's Hour, so I'll be picking up all three. Now if only Warner Brothers could be persuaded to release Wait Until Dark and The Nun's Story. And Fox has been promising How To Steal A Million for a while now...

  • Singing In The Rain: Special Edition. Warner Bros. has supposedly come up with an entirely new process for restoring old Technicolor films, and this DVD is the first title to undergo the conversion. It looks fabulous, and boasts a commentary featuring Stanley Donen. My order is already in with Amazon.

  • Reservoir Dogs. No, I don't care what colour the box is. I just need to replace the bad taped-from-Channel 4-on-a-bad-VCD copy I have at the moment, and this edition has a load of extras, so I might as well get this one. Jackie Brown and Pulp Fiction are also high up on the video-replacement list.

  • The My So-Called Life box set should finally ship later this month. It's been a long and tortuous ride, but Jason Rosenfield has held fast like a rock, even after he was fired from BMG. Thanks to him, not only are we getting a full collection of the series, but we've shown that their is a big interest in collections of old TV shows, hence the myriad of new box sets coming out this Autumn (I'll start buying Law & Order when it hits the fifth season set)

  • The Back To The Future Trilogy. All three films, with director's commentary, writer's commentary, deleted scenes, and all-new documentaries? Excellent...

  • Sunset Boulevard. God knows why it's taken Paramount so long to release it on DVD, but they make up for the wait with a proper special edition, rather than a bare bones release.

  • This is getting quite long, isn't it? I'll finish with my two upcoming Region 2 purchases; Battle Royale: This Time, Tartan Promises it Won't Release Another Version in Three Month's Time edition, which seems to contain all the features that the Japanese special edition had (hopefully with the addtition of English subtitles), and what's hoped to be the definitvie version of John Woo's The Killer. Maybe it'll send the eBay prices for the Criterion edition down a little.

Why is my wallet screaming in pain?


currently playing: compactdiscjockey - cant get you out of my 24 hour party people

Armageddon Time

I feel somewhat responsible for the position the INS has found itself in. I know that somewhere within the mound of 800,000 change of address cards, there's one written hesitantly in blue ink. I wonder when they stopped caring about the original 1952 law.

The report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies seems to be slightly exaggerated in today's press cycle. Iraq could make nuclear weapons if it had enriched uranium or plutonium? Isn't that like saying if I had a million dollars, I'd be a millionaire? The detail that the report seems to omit is that the technology for the original atom bomb is almost seventy years old; any competent Physics A-Level student can tell you how such a bomb works, and how to make a crude version, equivalent to about 15-20,000 tons of TNT. The hardest part is getting hold of the radioactive material, and the report says that they don't have any, and haven't had much success in finding sources. As a validation of America and Britain's hawkish stance, the report comes up fairly short.
While I accept that, yes, Saddam Hussein is guilty of severe repression and genocide, and I'd love to see him share a cell in The Hague with Slobodan Milosevic, is it worth turning the entire Middle East into a bloodbath to get him? Will the people of Iraq thank the West for deposing Saddam, or will it generate even more resentment? What happens if democratic elections vote Saddam's party back into power? Would the Allies accept that? At the moment, the American and UK governments keep on saying that Saddam must be stopped. But, apart from razing Iraq to the ground, they don't seem to have much of a plan for Iraq's future.

Every now and again, I seem to be afflicted by grand visions of things I could be doing. As some of my friends will testify, most of these come to nothing (although sitting here 3,000 miles from home suggests that not all of them are idle dreams), and I move on to the next daydream. My current obsession is a huge comic epic, a trilogy of stories spanning a hundred years of life in New York. I Am Not Sane. Each story will focus on a specific era; the first is a tale of rigged boxing matches, chloroform attacks, Bowery boys, and a chase across the old Elevated Line. The second story will be set in the 1950s or 60s; political intrigue aginst the backdrop of Robert Moses's ruthless remoulding of the city, and the final story, set in 1971, involves a jail break at Sing-Sing, a jewel heist, and inventive uses for a TV antenna. Look for the advert in Diamond's catalogue in early 2003. I'm being secretly ironic, of course.

Scarily, the John Cusack for President campaign may just have a point. His defence of his new film, which follows the early life of Hitler, is eloquent and forceful. I'll try and catch this film when it goes on general release next year.

73%

Okay, I admit that deciding to recode half of the server this afternoon wasn't the smartest move I've ever made, but I didn't like the way it was transferring files in one big gulp. Four hours later, and it's streaming a 300Mb file with no trouble. Still, I imagine they'll find lots of ways to break it.

I have drunk almost 4 quarts of Kool-Aid this weekend. This scares me a little. At this rate, I'll need to buy more sugar this week.

Finished off this evening by watching Rififi. They weren't joking about the 15-minute silent sequence. Pretty good, although it seemed to cause my DVD player no end of trouble, jerking all over the place. More DVDs to come soon; I'm posting Rififi and Notorious in the post tomorrow.

I did intend to write more today, but I'm feeling tired, and McCoy is about to get going, so I'll leave it for tomorrow.

currently playing: The Stone Roses - Fools Gold

Another fun Saturday

Again, not much to write about. I spent all day working on my web client. Which is now working. Yay for that. I also managed to get mp1e to record some video to the hard disk, so once the gatos people apply the patches that will prevent Linux from crashing every one in ten times I try to capture video, it should be ready for the fall TV schedules.

Stress Testing

There are times when I hate programming. Normally, these times occur when I'm three days away from a deadline, using a primitive language that I've barely touched for three years, and running out of inspiration. Welcome to Hell. It seems I managed to waste eight hours of work today; I spent the morning and afternoon grinding away at the web server, getting more and more desperate as time drew on. Nothing was working. I had no idea what I was doing. I didn't belong here. How on earth did they ever decide I was good enough to be here? Anyway, one two-hour break later, and I solve most of the problems in under an hour. At the moment, I'm stress-testing the server by sending an infinite series of requests. It's been running for about ten minutes, over 10000 connections, and it's still going. Of course, it's killing my computer at the moment, but that's to be expected. Now all I have to figure out is getting the client to work. The chances of me venturing outside this weekend are very remote...
currently playing: Idlewild - American English

The Path From Manchester to Chapel Hill

In a strange twist, I found myself helping my professor design a course for a year at Manchester today. Turns out that they have a Study Abroad student going over there next semester. They've added a few new courses, it seems, and bumped the C course into the second year, which seems rather strange. Everything else seemed the same. I hope the student has fun writing their OpenGL solar system simulator. I also found out that it was probably Roger Hubbold who left the UNC-Chapel Hill cards out on the noticeboard, which eventually brought me to where I'm sitting now. The Applications course seems forgivable now...

Busy day today. Firstly, lots of students wanted to have their grades changed. In most cases, it was because I was an Idiot, and failed to notice that they had done something when I thought they hadn't, for which I apologise. Still, out of fifty or so papers, I don't think I did too badly, and I shall be more attentive next time.

After that, and one of those lecture-things that seem to get in the way (Fourier Transforms are just a matrix operation? Hell, even I can manage that), I finally made it to the comic shop, for this week's delayed comics. They had only received a partial shipment, so I'll have to pick up the rest next week. It's not a bad little shop - it's smaller than Comic Showcase in Oxford, but the staff are much friendlier. They also have a bigger graphic novel section, which is very good news. However, it's still a comic shop; they've infuriatingly arranged the graphic novels by title, rather than author. making it very hard to navigate. And they didn't have a copy of Kill Your Boyfriend, so it looks like eBay is my only hope. I did managed to find one of the out-of-print Quantum & Woody books though, so it wasn't a total waste of a trip.

Finally, I decided to go shopping today rather than tomorrow, to give myself more time to work on the web server project that has to be in by Monday (*shivers*). Throwing caution to the wind, I made it as far as the frozen section this time. I now have little cheese things with bits of meat in them. How exciting. I finally broke down and bought some Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate as well. Begone, foul American chocolate!!

currently playing: Saint Etienne - Stoned To Say The Least

A Hidden Agenda

I'm certain that everytime the BBC Website has a story about George Bush or Donald Rumsfield, they go that extra mile to get a silly picture.

Yes, it's true; my conversion to a full-fledged hermit took a massive step backwards last night. I went out with Ritchie, Sonal, Pylin, and Shelley to Henry's, where the International students all go on Tuesdays. Good fun, although I think I need to take a crash course on how bartender-tipping works before I go back. Do I need to give him/her a dollar everytime I get a drink?

My web server now responds to Mozilla! It sends the requested file back! It also has no idea what it's doing, so it's almsot as insecure as IIS! But the spec doesn't say it has to be secure, does it? It balances out the awful Compilers work I'm going to turn in tomorrow. I found I just couldn't write more than two pages, and that was after spending five or so hours thinking about it. Hmph.

Bonnie - how did your first day back at school go? I hear you're being a slacker this year :-). Hope it went well.

Double Indemnity arrived today, so I now have my first three films from Netflix. I'm planning on watching the first on Friday night. Should be fun....


currently playing: Tori Amos - Do It Again

My first telemarketer!

I feel so honoured...
currently playing: Beth Orton - Thinking About Tomorrow