Well, as promised, here is a rather more substantial entry, consolidating
perhaps on what I've said over the last few brief edits as well as some more
thoughts and other bits and pieces. I will probably try to get into a routine
(hahaha!) of doing a reasonable length edit such as this one about once a week,
with newsflashes as necessary.
Life can be split into four distinct areas: flat, work, car, and
The flat is going interestingly. My flatmate's girlfriend is starting a job
locally very soon (she had been working in Derby up until now) and she's going
to be moving in. Except the place really isn't big enough, so they're going to
be looking for someplace else. This leaves me in a bit of a dilemma, though
thankfully the options are positive in nature. Either I can have the contract
on this flat passed over to me, and I get it to myself, or they could try and
get a three-bedroom house and I move with them. Then again, I never promised
that my residency here was going to be long-term, so I may use it as the
trigger to find a place for myself anyway - I came here basically because it
was offered to me, and I needed somewhere to live. Not that's it's bad at
all, I don't wish to suggest for a moment that it was a last-ditch option
because it wasn't, but it was always on the understanding that it wouldn't
necessarily be permanent.
We now have three phones in the flat, including one answerphone complete with
daft message, of course. This is utterly excessive, I know, but it sure is
nice having a phone on your desk! We've also just upgraded to a faster modem
on the internet-enabled PC, though 75% of the time it still connects at 14,400
- mind you that's 4800 baud faster than the old modem we had, so maybe we
shouldn't grumble! We're shortly going to get a separate Demon account for the
flat, which of course comes with Demon's 5Mb of web space allocation, not to be
sneezed at, even if the performance on their server is dire.
Work is picking up, kind of. I'm still lumbered with this French project,
which would be fine except that it's been decided that it is to be written in
the awful Toolbook language, and we can't even use an up to date version of it,
because we've got to be compatible with legacy versions of Windows - you see
the average Open University student can't be expected to run much more than a
386 with Windows 3.1, and many argue that even that kind of requirement is a
bit of an imposition, and against the university's policy of being open (and,
by inference, cheap) for all. However, I understand that the technology
faculty has finally prioritised its projects they need doing, so it may be that
I can get something else to do for at least some of my time, which might be a
bit more gripping and less frustrating from an authoring-tool viewpoint.
I don't wish to make this an open condemnation of Toolbook, but it really does
strike me as an object-oriented system gone utterly wrong. It has been
designed for non-programmers, but has a horrid scripting language which
although conceptually clever, is, in practice, horrendously difficult to
follow, doubly so when it's someone else's code you're trying to understand.
The O-O model is fundamentally flawed, and is not at all helped by the fact
that object don't really have to have names, and it doesn't matter if you
duplicate the names you do use, wholesale. The syntax-checking is abysmal, and
run-time errors are nearly impossible to trace. I must however make these
grievances to the proper people, otherwise nothing will get done about it and
I'll end up with even less hair than I already have, and probably slit wrists
into the bargain.
The car... Well as those relatively up-to-date with what's been happening will
know, I've now bought my mum's old Metro, and will be running that for the time
being. The settlement with Direct Line for the writing off of my Nova was far
from satisfactory, but I was advised by a dealer to "take the money and run".
With a new home and new job, I consider this to be a bit of a fresh start, so
although I am still furious about the loss of about 300 pounds, I really can't
be bothered with worrying about it any more. Hopefully by next spring or
summer I will have enough cash in the bank that I can go out and get something
much nicer than the Nova with a part exchange on the Metro. I would have a
good look at the Seat range, and I wouldn't rule out a newer Metro. Basically
I would look to avoid anything too desirable to anyone with an ounce of
street-cred. Fiestas, Astras, and, of course, Novas, are apparently the most
popular cars with young people these days, and that's why mine got nicked, I
Meanwhile, my mum's old Metro (and E-reg 1.3) is going strong, though I gather
it will probably need some work to pass its next MOT, which will be a bit of a
downer, hence my wish to get rid of it fairly early next year. It's getting
about a quarter of an hour's use a day on average, plus the odd journey back to
my parents. Petrol is lasting very well; I've only had to fill it up a couple
of times since being here; it's the runs home that use it the most, I think,
though all those short journeys to work can't do the economy much good - mind
you here in Milton Keynes all the grid roads are 60 or 70mph, and traffic is
generally light, even at rush hour, so it's undoubtedly better than the average
"urban cycle" - though stopping for roundabouts every half mile doesn't help.
As for the "miscellaneous" slot... Well I haven't had any opportunity to do
anything musical lately, not helped by the fact that there's insufficient room
here for even a fraction of the gear I have back at my parents. I'll probably
be beta-testing the Res Rocket Surfer DRGN for the PC, but I will do that at
work probably. The DRGN is a system for real-time MIDI jamming over the
internet between many people simultaneously, unlike its competitors which are
strictly two-user. The Mac version has been up and running for a while, but
the PC version is just about ready to be tested, and Willy "London Beat"
Henshall keeps asking if I want to be in on it...
The Obscure Orchard talker (telnet://orchard.imaginary.com:4141) is still going
strong, with a revised set of web pages going on-line real soon, which I've
been helping on. We still want lots more members. Come along, why don't you!
We're a friendly bunch, and if live talk is what you want, there's no faster
system that we know of. People connect from all over the world, including the
USA, Japan, Sweden, and even the UK. It's been developed using the JeamLand
code, written by my good friend Alcides, which now has its very own usenet
discussion group on news:alt.talkers.jeamland, though this has fairly limited
propagation outside Demon at present.
WaveCraft, my 'ground-breaking' sound synthesis system for Windows got a good
boost the other day with a great review in Sound On Sound - maybe not the
biggest UK music technology magazine, but probably the most respected.
Hopefully my old company, Last Unicorn, will get stacks of new orders now -
which will make me happy as I'm on an increased percentage royalty since I
left. There were a lot of people who, despite reading the equally good reviews
in The Mix and Future Music, were still waiting for the 'authoritative'
assessment from Sound On Sound. The only sad thing about the Sound On Sound
review is that it's getting on for a year since the other magazines covered it,
so it's looking a little dated now. I just hope that with this new publicity,
Last Unicorn can finally secure a good distribution deal, and, as they
intended, ultimately sell the product off to a company with the time and
resources to put into making it the massive success it could be in the right
Well I think that's all for today. I expect I'll have had to break this into
manageable chunks to paste into Mono without errors. I doubt future entries
will be quite this long, but I had a fair bit to catch up on really!