I just got an email from Virgin Media. The first part I noticed was:
it'll cost 25p per minute to call from a Virgin home phone, plus 10p to connect.
I immediately thought, "What on earth? Surely they don't expect customers to stick around with such extortionate call charges." Then I noticed the context, and realised that it possibly should have read:
it'll cost 25p per minute to call it from a Virgin home phone, plus 10p to connect.
The actual wording was fine, but the way I started parsing it made me interpret it in completely the wrong way. "It" in the actual wording means "our broadband helpline number"; but initially I parsed it as the dummy subject of an impersonal sentence, so I thought it was saying all calls from a Virgin home phone would have those charges. The altered wording adds an "it" referring to this helpline as the object of the embedded verb phrase, making my interpretation the only sensible one.
In the real world, I did two interesting things today. First, I went to the CS office to pick up my degree results: I was awarded a 2:1. I then went to talk to Dr Berger about applying for an MRes; this I have now finally done, as well as an EST bursary which would require going to Munich for a few months (no downsides there!). I mentioned the result, and he said it was disappointing, because the overall score was about 67%, only a couple of points off a first. Annoyingly, I won't know for certain what pulled me down for some time because I was only told the overall classification, not marks for each module. Even the average I only know informally, because Uli told me. But the bad marks are apparently on the German side, so as a CS student I'm better than I look on paper.
— Paul Graham. Microsoft is dead, apparently. It certainly no longer taints my computer — I wiped Windows in favour of Ubuntu Feisty last week. The change affected my life so little that I never got round to blogging about it.
I found an HTML e-book version of it, which is apparently more or less identical to the version published in book form. Right down to the copyright notices. Yup, it even says "Copyright © Lawrence Lessig, 2004. All rights reserved." It is of course his copyright, but the second part is incorrect, because the book is licensed under CC-BY-NC, which allows noncommercial distribution provided you give the author credit. So his right to restrict distribution is not entirely reserved. It gives the other boilerplate copyright messages as well: "no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored ... or transmitted ... without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book" (of course the CC license constitutes permission, so this clause has little effect and is rather misleading) and most laughable:
The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author's rights is appreciated.
I've not read the book yet, but I gather it criticises the lack of creativity caused by the current draconian copyright regime and talks about alternatives, including CC. So the fact that it has a copyright notice of this sort strikes me as very, very bizarre.
I'm writing this from Munich Airport's internet room, and being forced to use IE. Gah.
Stupidly it doesn't even have Java, so I can't log into Milliways :( Internet my arse, what you really mean is Web, and not even much of that.
Anyway... as you might have guessed, I'm finally coming home today, after over 3 months in Germany. Woot. My flight leaves at 21:15 local time (20:15 UK time iirc), so I have lots of time to kill. I'm not going to do it here though - the internet time costs far too much (€2.50 for 30 minutes).
I'm going to be spending at least some of that time reading an Asterix comic I bought yesterday. This is a special edition (I think it's called Asterix and the Roman Agent in English) where the Gauls speak in Bavarian dialect and pretty much everyone else (at least the Romans and the pirates) in standard German. Just the contrast between the two is amusing. But of course you have to carefully figure out what exactly they're saying, because the spelling is totally different.
Can you say sour grapes? Good grief...
I was on the train to Reading as he posted that.
Another horse show is coming this weekend, and this is the big one of the season, three times as big and nine times as hectic as the last one. Ted (an old school friend, now a CSE student at Brunel, whose mother runs the whole shebang) and I were going to write a (idiot-proof, notwithstanding Murphy's Law) database system to make being show secretary nine times easier, making event cards automatically (printing them off just as the runners came to get them, including all the late entries), but today is Thursday, the show is on Sunday and we probably won't get it done in time even for the fun show in two weeks. Sigh.
Of course, making paperwork easier doesn't make it any more fun to deal with the legion of idiots that is the public hundreds of times before lunch, with the sun burning your skin like it inevitably does despite there being a tent in the way. Oh for a bit of rain... but that would make the ground boggy and cause injuries and more paperwork, sigh.
But at least I'm not responsible for that sort of paperwork :)
I seem to have been promoted...
For last year's horse shows I spent all day in the tent, frantically trying to get on top of paperwork that should have been done the previous week. This Sunday I'll be running the tent all by myself :| Which means dealing with the public, not exactly my forte.
Fortunately we've been more diligent with the event cards this year so with any luck the usual last minute scrabble won't happen. Sunburn is still quite possibly on the cards though :)
Blogging seems to be all the rage atm, so I've decided to write my own.
This is all done using Python (see the nifty "Python Powered" logo at the bottom :) using a custom library that represents arbitrary XML elements including content and attributes as Python objects. Each element has a show() method which calls the show() method of every object it contains (and prints any free strings, usually).
In the Real World (whatever that is): I had my oral exam on Tuesday. I thought it went pretty well, although you can never really be sure of that in advance.