These guys have awesome skills.
A very interesting article about airports and runway capacity.
Hilarious weblog, added to blogroll.
So Microsoft liked the Firefox logo, huh?
Month: January 2008
How To Leave Pipex: Part 4
Of course, it’s never that simple. The Pipex business model, like that of most letting agents, revolves around *surprising* you out of a few quid at the tail end of your contract.
Here’s how it works. When you sign the Pipex contract, you agree to give 30 days notice. Those 30 days begin on the day when you **receive** the MAC code. So when I received my MAC code on the 26th November, they scheduled my account to close on the 26th December.
So even though they ceased to provide me with a service on the 13th December (when the changeover took place) they were going to keep charging me for the next two weeks. Okay, I’m not entirely happy about it, but it’s what’s in the contract, so other than appealing to their good nature, there’s not much I can do.
But Pipex have one last trick up their sleeve. When my billing date came around (19th December) they weren’t going to just take payment for the remaining week of my contract. Oh no. They were going to take a month’s payment, and I was then permitted to request a pro-rata refund for the unused period (ie 26th December to 19th January). Unsurprisingly, this refund has not yet materialised, despite my best efforts.
So the one piece of advice that I would offer to anyone planning to leave Pipex is to request your MAC code 5 working days ((Pipex are obliged, by law, to give you the MAC code within 5 working days)) before your billing date (rather than a week after) and then, if you wish to minimise “overlap”, set the changeover date to be as late as possible. In my case, I should have requested the MAC code around the 12th of the month so that my contract came to an end just before my billing date, rather than a week after.
Pipex are ruthless bastards, and will use all the tricks at their disposal to wring every last penny out of you. Don’t expect any mercy from them.
Thoughts on computer games
On more than one occasion, I’ve found myself struggling to proceed past a certain point in a computer game. The situation arises where a particularly intricate puzzle or sequence of jumps exists, with no save point to break things up.
Take my present example: I’m playing Tomb Raider Anniversary at the moment, and I am currently at the Damocles room. From the save point, I have to drop off a ledge, run through a doorway, through a room (avoiding falling swords), jump onto a small broken pillar, across to a crevice in the wall, up to the next crevice, around a corner, up onto a ledge, then climb up and around a pole, jump off towards a tall pillar (where I hang by my fingertips briefly before climbing up), across to another pillar, then over to an alcove in the wall. I drop from this alcove, hanging from a ledge. I scooch to the end of this ledge, and jump across to a crevice in an adjacent wall. I jump up to a slightly higher crevice, scooch along to the end of this, and then jump towards a metal ring set in the wall. I fire off a grappling hook while in mid-air, which catches onto the ring. While hanging from the rope, I run along the face of the wall until I reach a particular spot where I can jump outwards from the wall, towards a pillar that is behind me. I catch onto this pillar, pull up, and then jump to the top of another pillar. And then another. And then another.
I don’t know what happens next, because that’s as far as I’ve got. Failing to position any of these jumps correctly means a long fall. If the fall kills me, then I have to reload from the save point. Even if it doesn’t, I’m all the way back to running through the room avoiding fallen swords.
Here’s another example – I bought GTA: Vice City Stories a while ago. I got as far as a rather long, multi-part mission. But at every attempt, I was getting killed at the third part of the mission. Having to reload and replay the first part of the mission was taking at least five minutes each time. But it’s not so much the time that is annoying, it’s the boredom factor – it’s having to repeatedly perform the same actions that you have already proven yourself capable of, to the point at which you start making mistakes because the game is pissing you off.
Some people play games for the challenge. Me, I play for entertainment. When starting a game, I want to be able to select a “plentiful checkpoints” mode. Or a “anti-boredom mode”, where the game senses when you’ve hit a metaphorical brick wall, and pops up a little message saying *Hey, would you like to just skip this bit? Would it help if I put a little bridge just here, so you don’t have to make all those dull jumps yet again? What about if I gave you the ability to fly for ten seconds?*
I know that different people expect different things from computer games, which is why these settings should be optional. But for me, they would greatly enhance my enjoyment, which is basically, as far as I’m concerned, the whole point.
I’m very excited about this. Fingers crossed that it meets expectations.
It’s been a busy week, which is why things have been quiet round here. Here’s what’s been going down.
Karen and I have spent a lot of time on the allotment. Whereas it did look like this, it now looks like this:
We’ve cleared a lot of brambles, dismantled the rotted cold frame, had a big bonfire, and put some carpet down to suppress weeds. We also found some rhubarb of the variety *Hey, Free Rhubarb!* and planted it in an appropriate location. It’s progress, definitely.
My first MP3 player
On Wednesday I got my first ever MP3 player. As you can see, I’m right on the cutting edge here.
It’s not even a state-of-the-art device. It’s a Creative Zen Stone, a little thing with 2 GB of storage and no LCD display. For Â£30, you can’t go far wrong. I also got a little FM transmitter so that I can play it through my car stereo, which is now over 5 years old.
While investigating a faulty kitchen light, I think that I may have accidentally electrocuted myself. I have a small blister on my thumb, and one on my forefinger, where I pinched a screw. As far as I can see, it’s not radiating heat, so electrocution seems the likely candidate. In hindsight, it should have been obvious that said screw would be live.
Playing Tomb Raider
I rented Tomb Raider Anniversary for a week. I played the original, many years ago, and it’s interesting to see what has been added and what has been taken away. I’ve bought a second hand copy so that I can complete it at my leisure.
Teaching Bernard to spell his name
Not putting too much pressure on him at this early stage, obviously, but it does yield such gems as this one:
Me: “No, that’s not an ‘r’, it’s an ‘n’.”
Bernard: “Buck, buck.”
Me: “Heh, not ‘hen’. ‘N’.”
Hahaha. The early adopters are, once again, fucked. And don’t forget the name of the company who did this to you: Sony. Sony. Sony.
Music industry: “I’M MEEEELLLLTTTTIIIINNNGGGG…”
A byproduct of installing my new SATA hard drive was that my script for copying photos off my camera no longer worked – specifically, umount would fail. The solution – use pumount instead.
“Please leave any parcel under the matt and remove this note.”
These are tears of laughter.
“Sony has announced a deal to put its entire catalogue of tracks on the Amazon MP3 store by the end of January.” – Not that I’d put money into Sony’s pockets anyway, but this is good news. But when will the Amazon MP3 store be available outside the US?
“She told him it was Stella, and he grinned his crooked white grin and told her that that had to be the prettiest name he had ever heard. Smooth bastard. And what was worse was that he said it like he meant it.”
“A pair of twins who were adopted by separate families as babies got married without knowing they were brother and sister, a peer told the House of Lords.”
Artists are pretentious
Nearly three years ago, I was sat in the pub with a friend and they went to the toilet. I was fiddling with my camera, taking photos of this, that and the other. The candle looked pretty cool, so I took a quick shot of it.
You can imagine my surprise when I was looking at an artist’s website, reached the bottom of the page, and saw my own photo staring back at me.
Joel Robert Harris calls this piece “Entering The Light”. He says:
> “Am I living in the light? Or are there fears, trauma, addictions, emotional scars, unhealed wounds ….hiding in the shadows? When the light of my awareness, or my consciousness, enters the darkness, everything hiding in the shadows comes into the light. It is with the light of my presence that I am able to dissolve fear, heal, and move beyond pain….As Mankind moves into the light, we heal ourselves, the world, and we create a reality based on love and compassion..”
I think that what he *meant* to say was:
> “I found a photo on the web and thought it looked quite nice, so I loaded it into photoshop, applied a few filters to make it look like I painted it, and then claimed it as my own.”
(Also worth a chuckle: on his homepage he has the tagline “art is creation”. Riiiiight.)