Sitsofe's diary for December 2002
Back to Swansea with as much stuff as I could fit sensibly into the car. I couldn't do my usual of falling asleep for most of the journey because I wasn't really tired enough and the wind screen wipers kept squeaking.
Towards the end of the journey my Mum pointed out that the clutch in the car was catching which is rather disturbing when you speeding down the motorway. Still that did go a long way to explaining the juddering that the car had been exhibiting.
After unpacking all my stuff in Swansea I went to check on Dan, Dave and Jase to try and prove to my Mum that I hadn't mistreated them over the past few months but none of them were in (but the ever lovely Katie answered the door instead so I wasn't too disappointed). Katie informed me that the New Year's party would be happening from 8pm onwards so I went back home and waved my Mum goodbye and unpacked a bit more...
New Year's Party
So around 8pm I packed Dan's sleeping bag, various crisps and biscuits into my rucksack and headed off to the DDJ household. It wasn't a bad gathering and I have to say I'm am most impressed by Jason's choice of friends. Sam turned out to be a computer person (as one of my friend's Simon would term it) after my own heart (I'm not to sure about the 3.11 dedication though). A few people did manage to drift away before the end but it was fun to see in the new year with friends round a TV set showing Jools Holland. Snuck off half an hour later to get some rest (it's rare that I even make it past eleven normally).
I was supposed to head off back to Swansea today but it looks like things have travel has been postponed until tomorrow.
Popped over to Dave's and learned that Ad had finally bought a Playstation 2 (despite my protestations that everyone he knew had one). He redeemed by bringing over Grand Theft Auto 3 — Vice City. The violence carnage and fun of the first one are now set in an 80s backdrop with authentic music from the period (so authentic I don't know what half of it is. I did recognise 99 balloons though). All in all the whole thing fits together nicely with a nice new touch being the ability to ride mopeds and go inside buildings. This is also the first game that I've seen that features glare — yes the sun really can get in your eyes in this one.
While idly looking for information about 3D Labs (the company that Dr Winter, the man formerly known as postgrad Andy, now works for) I found that John Carmack mentioned the P10 card in his .plan on June 27, 2002. I'm not completely clear on whether 3D Labs will be producing consumer cards to go in PCs — presumably they will if they are interested in Doom 3 compatibility...
Bloomberg (un)digital radio
Well I have failed to get my Mum the Christmas present I wanted to due to digital radios being sold out everywhere. Today it turned out there was an extra twist in the tale.
My Mum has been telling me that the Internet Bloomberg radio broadcast she normally listens to has become exceptionally quiet of late. After lots of twiddling, checking the speakers were plugged in the right socket and the volume turned up I had to agree with her. I peruse on the website turned up a small notice saying that they had ceased transmission on DAB radio (some time in November) but you could still pick them up on satellite. So if I had bought her the radio she wouldn't have been able to use it for the purpose I had bought for. I think I'll steer clear of cutting edge gadgets next year...
I hate shopping in high street stores and matters are always worse around the Christmas holidays. I object to having to swim through crowds. I object to bashing and crushing delivered by my fellow human beings. I object to excessive temperature within shops. I object to stupid shop layouts that try to coerce me into buying things rather than letting me move quickly and easily through the store. I object to the lack of chairs to sit on. I object to the queues. I object to the shops being sold out (or even worse not even stocking) the goods I actually want to buy. I object to having to try yet another article of clothing on. I object to the way that shopping makes me feel. I object being dragged from shop to shop to have my "opinion" asked only to be told what I like looks shabby. The whole shopping experience leaves me feeling sick and tired year after year. I only hope I find a better way...
At the movies
Went off to Bristol with Jon and met up with Kim. Discussed (without actually playing a single one) videogames for maybe an hour and a half before we phoned up Nathan and shuffled off to the cinema. After winning a game of roshambo (remember kids rock always wins!) to decide which cinema we were going to it transpired that the films on at the winning cinema were showing to early or late for us to see. So after looping back round on ourselves we ended up going to the Showcase cinema.
Bristol's Showcase cinema have lousy customer service
Yeah the heading says it all really. The first film we saw was Bloodwork (no IMDB link until I get an Internet connection) starring Clint Eastwood. In many respects it's something of a Dirty Harry Lite but the whole thing was marred by shoddy projection work. The projection was too far up so you could see the top of the film at the bottom. It took a full 20 minutes into the movie for this to be fixed with massive interruption to the film.
After driving out down the flyroad and 360 degrees round the roundabout we ended up back at the Showcase to see Death Watch which is best described as a British art house horror film set during the Second World war. I'm not going to say any more about the film because the whole feeling of atmosphere was ruined my the projection being in the wrong aspect ratio. Heads and bodies were elongated and thin and taps on the projectionist screen seemed to indicate that there was in fact no one up there. Shoddy.
Attempts to get some sort of reimbursement were met with a "Well if you had come out during the middle of the film we would have fixed it". I'm sorry but for me that is not nearly good enough. I have never read any instructions indicating that I have to go to the front desk in order to "complain" to have a problem that should clearly not be there in the first place fixed. Coupled with the intimidation of a security guard the entire experience was somewhat frustrating. A letter of complaint is surely deserved if they cannot treat paying customers with the respect due.
Every three months or so a story about employment in the computer industry pops up on Slashdot. The latest discussion was fuelled by a Christian Science Monitor article talking about how [computer] engineers are dropping out of the discipline.
I'm not surprised that engineers tend to retire at a similar age to basket ball players. I have said it before but I'll repeat it — though it may seem to the contrary I don't want to huge numbers of hours and do huge amounts of overtime. I haven't been too successful yet but I am trying to structure a workload that lets me achieve the aim of working from 9-5 and no more. After reading a number of articles on videogame development (and its legendary "crunch period") I purposely chose to steer clear of it.
CS graduate seeks job in videogame industry
Speaking of the videogame industry, my friend Kim has been looking for employment within it and hasn't been turning up much. This is both surprising and shocking since he is clearly a bright chap (he graduated with a first in Computer Science and Maths from Imperial College) and more importantly has very good knowledge of videogames, is still an active hardcore gamer (guess who introduced me to Death Tank) and is enthusiastic about videogaming. His current applications seem to have gone by without answer and those that he has had have led to throughly unprofessional outcomes (perhaps not so surprising given how some of these companies are run). Anyhow, if you happen to work for a videogames company that requires a knowledgeable employee with a Maths background and a passion for games then let me know and I'll pass the message on.
Harry Potter and the chamber of secrets
I went off to Weston with my Mum to exchange a few Christmas gifts but thankfully most of the shops were shut. After browsing WHSmith's we went off to the Odeon to see Harry Potter and the chamber of secrets. While darker than the first, this is still family entertainment and reasonable entertainment without being truly frightening. Just as with the first one I once again again I incorrectly guessed the perpetrator of the sinister evil.
Merry Christmas! (and a Happy New Year)
This goes double to all the people who failed to get a card before the 25th even though I wanted to send them one:
- Paul Roberts
- Victoria Reizopoulou
- Jon Hyde
- Dwight Wallbridge
- Guy Whitby-Smith
- Simon and David and the rest of the Little family
- Kim Randell
- Everyone else I've forgotten
I'll be more organised next year, honest.
Well updates really were sparse over the past month and a bit weren't they? For those wondering what happened I haven't had access to my computer (this diary is run using tools I developed on it). I'd like to take a moment to thank Dan, DaveB and Jason to whom I'm eternally grateful for giving me a place to stay and a couch to sleep on for a month and a half (quite a while longer than the original one week) down in Swansea while I found a place to stay. Well after looking for something suitable for several weeks I finally moved into a room with a good view on Monday 16th.
Now that I'm back home I had a chance to peruse my latest copy of Edge that had a feature on Digitiser — the Channel 4 Teletext videogames, umm, magazine/collection of pages. I've only been a viewer for about a year or so (we only got a TV that could do Teletext around 2 years ago) and it provided an easy way to keep pace with the latest changes in videogames industry. However, when I tried to jump to page 481 (the Digitiser news page) there was nothing to be found. In fact all trace of Digitiser on 480-490 had completely disappeared. I noticed that Paul Rose (the main person behind Digi these days) said he was finally finishing with it because he now had a large amount of work writing TV Soap scripts (Eastenders and such like). After scouring the net and turning up a link to the offline Edge Forums I turned to the alt.digitiser newsgroup which like all good newsgroups talks about everything but the topic you would think it would. However I did manage to find an off topic post about Paul Rose leaving Digitiser. There was also a handy link to a UK Gameboy Advance FAQ.
After yet more scouring of Google Groups and can reveal that Digitiser has moved to P175 complete with redrawn graphics.