Robert Hampton

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August 2007

3rd August 2007

Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport (and then put him in a sesame seed bun)

The phrase “piss-up in a brewery” springs to mind.

There was a stall in Lord Street yesterday offering Kangaroo Burgers for three quid. If I wasn’t calorie counting, I’d be tempted… if only to see the expressions on people’s faces when I told them what I’d just eaten.

Who is it that decides which animals are acceptable to eat anyway? Not long ago, a newspaper (or possibly the Daily Mail) printed pictures of cats squashed into tiny cages in the Far East, waiting to be slaughtered. I was horrified, as I’m sure most other people were.

But animal rights activists in this country have made a big deal about battery farming, yet the general public at large don’t seem to care, as long as their chicken nuggets are available at affordable prices. Because CATS ARE CUTE, and chickens aren’t.

It’s an immense double standard, and if I wasn’t so apathetic, I’d do something about it. But now you’ve read it on this blog, so it’s YOUR fault if nothing gets done! I’m going to report you to the RSPCA, or something.

6th August 2007

So you like a bit of Chess, do you?
Posted by at 9.38pm | It's My Life | No responses

I’ve just installed WinBoard and have challenged my computer to a game of Chess. I subsequently remembered that I am extremely bad at chess. I think Connect 4 is more my level.

7th August 2007

Murdering Adolf Hitler as a baby
Posted by at 7.48pm | In the News | No responses

Time travel is a concept that has fired the imaginations of sci-fi writers for years — The Jetsons meet The Flintstones, The Girl from Tomorrow and almost every episode of Star Trek: Voyager are just a few of the best-known examples.

I think the reason for that is the wealth of possibilities that are opened up when time travel is thrown into the mix. Just think about the things you could do: you could go back to warn yourself about some calamity that befalls you, or perhaps gain insider knowledge of future sporting events for gambling purposes. How about witnessing the destruction of Pompeii first-hand, or going back to the Jurassic era to hitch a ride on a passing brachiosaurus? Bush says history will be his judge? Travel forward 50 years or so and judge for yourself!

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8th August 2007

The System is Down

My internet connection is down, and has been since yesterday morning (last night’s blog post was able to sneak through as I wrote it on the computer at work, and used the “scheduled post” feature to date it for the evening).

It hasn’t really affected me yet, as I was out for most of yesterday evening, but if it’s still off tonight I might have to resort to desperate measures, such as reading a book, or talking to another human — face-to-face; no Windows Messenger involved!

12th August 2007

The Crimebusters of the Sea

I managed to spill a freshly-made, very hot cup of coffee all over my hand. Subsequently a nasty blister has appeared on my middle finger. Unfortunately the only plasters I could find at short notice were children’s waterproof band-aids, so my finger is now adorned by blue cartoon fish. Sadly not Sharky and George — if it had been Sharky and George it would have been good.

(does anyone else remember Sharky and George? They should show that again)

13th August 2007

Gymkhana, only without the khana

The gym is open again! With fixed air conditioning! Television screens that actually work (just in time for the premiere of That Antony Cotton Show… on second thoughts, never mind)! And decent showers that emit a proper powerful spray that gets into every nook and cranny, if you know what I mean.

While you’re getting that image out of your head, I’ll tell you all about the alarming failure rate for electrical appliances in our household. Last week the dishwasher packed in, with a smell of burning rubber and an electrical overload that tripped the circuit breaker — the same circuit breaker that controls the socket wherein was plugged my computer and MY IMPORTANT UNSAVED DATA.

Now my laser printer has died. It was working fine until I opened up the front cover and saw the accumulated dust and debris inside — including, for some reason, a large amount of hair which appeared to have come from my own head. I unplugged it (the printer, not my head) to clean out the gunk, but when reconnected… nothing! No whirring noise, no little green light, nothing. I don’t know what’s wrong, the warranty period has long since elapsed, and I need a printer to… y’know, print stuff.

This being a throwaway society, I’m going to chuck the old printer and get a cheap Lexmark inkjet from Argos. It costs just 25 quid! This will surely end well!

15th August 2007

Don’t be a <div>

Technical webby stuff alert! The HTML5 draft specification is up on the W3C web site, and looks interesting.

The really good stuff from my point of view is the introduction of loads of new tags to mark up sections, so I could, for example, wrap my navigation bar within a <nav> tag instead of something like <div class="navigation">. Other similar tags include <section>, <article>, <aside>, <header> and <footer>.

It’s all very much in keeping with the original spirit of HTML, which always intended that text should be marked up for meaning rather than appearance. It will also be helpful to anyone who codes their web pages by hand, as well-crafted HTML5 code should be easier to understand than HTML4. This will hopefully mean fewer long evenings for me trying to untangle a sea of nested <div> tags.

The important question is: how good will the support be in the various browsers for this new standard?

16th August 2007

# Let’s Get Metaphysical, Physical #

A philosopher at Oxford University reckons there’s a “20% chance” that our entire world — universe, even — is nothing more than a virtual reality being created by an incredibly advanced computer simulation — The Sims ∞, if you will. It’s a bit like The Matrix, only without the comforting thought that Keanu Reeves can save us all. Because we don’t exist. And neither does Keanu Reeves.

If the above is true, as the article points out, we’ve finally found the answer to the old question about why God allows war and death to happen: it’s the equivalent of getting bored while playing Sim City and going into the Disasters menu to start an earthquake.

The thought occurs to me that we shouldn’t look into this too thoroughly, because if we knew for sure we were living in a simulation, the person running it could decide that there’s no point continuing with it and shut it down. I bet he wouldn’t even bother to save the game before turning the computer off.

Anyway, on the off-chance that the article is correct, can I put in a request for the random number generator to be reseeded? It’s just that the simulation algorithm seems to be going quite badly for me at the moment. Come on, God, do a x%=RND(-TIME) just for me!

(link found via WWdN)

19th August 2007

A maze of twisty passages, all alike

I’ve been tinkering with Inform 7. It’s a programming language specifically designed for writing Interactive Fiction (aka text adventure games). You know the sort:

You are in the Enchanted Forest. Under your bare feet you can feel the dampness of the verdant grass. There are lots of trees because, y’know, it’s a forest.

You can see a pixie here. As you do.

>Ask Pixie about McFly

“Oh, my god! McFly are so cool! I have all their albums! Look, I’ll let you have this bootleg CD!”


You are carrying: A bootleg McFly CD, a magic wand and an Area C Saveaway ticket.

>Give Saveaway to Pixie

The pixie looks at the Saveaway. “Hmmm,” he says, “really you shouldn’t do this. Look, it says ‘Not Transferable’ on the back. Well, I do need to get some shopping done, so this’ll be handy for the bus. Thanks!”

Obviously any actual adventure game would be less stupid than the one I just made up above.

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20th August 2007

Posted by at 7.43pm | In the News | 1 response

Shouldn’t be funny, but…

A woman in Australia has been killed by her pet camel after the animal may have tried to have sex with her.

The woman had been given the camel as a 60th birthday present earlier this year because of her love of exotic pets.

Maybe she should have asked for jewellery instead.

22nd August 2007

Less than just a journey
Posted by at 11.04pm | Trains | 1 response

I have a fairly high tolerance for piss-poor train service, but I might have reached my limit:-

Over the last few weeks Merseyrail have been experiencing unusual levels of wear on train wheels. Unfortunately this has caused a maintenance backlog resulting in fewer trains available for passenger service. Until further notice, all Northern and Wirral line trains will run as half hourly services and will be three cars only. All Wirral line services will terminate at James Street. We will, wherever possible, run additional services during the peak hours. We are working hard to resolve this problem and would like to apologise to our passengers for any inconvenience this may cause.

23rd August 2007

Another “Isolated Incident”

He was in the wrong place (Britain) at the wrong time (the 21st century):-

“The little lad was lying there and a woman was trying to help him.

“She was covered in blood from him and trying her best to stop the bleeding.

“Then his mum came over and obviously she was a mess. I know the family and they’re good people.

“This is a young lad who just lives to play football. He had been training for the Fir Tree’s kids team on the Shop fields behind the pub.

“I still can’t get that image of him lying there out of my head. He was in his footy kit and his shin pads.

“His little kit bag was still on the grass for hours afterwards.”

24th August 2007

I’m going to ask myself a very personal question
Posted by at 7.49pm | Television | No responses

Something good on Channel 4? Surely not? No, it’s true: The IT Crowd is back! I’m sure you’re all eagerly awaiting tonight at 9.30, but in the meantime, here’s a great bit from the first series — Roy and Moss at the stress seminar:

26th August 2007

Paxo (not the stuffing)
Posted by at 1.54pm | Television | No responses

Jeremy Paxman gave this year’s James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture — a stunning speech where he expresses his fears (shared by a lot of people, I’m sure) for the future of television, and current affairs programming in particular. Well worth a read.

27th August 2007

Sam sung a song about Samsung

My broken laser printer has now decided to start working again. I didn’t do anything to it, I simply switched it on and it happily spat out a demo page. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s unpredictable electronic devices. Clearly it is haunted — it’s the only logical explanation!

Spooky Printer

30th August 2007

Hi! ‘S cool Music, Al!

HMV in Oxford Street (that’s in London, don’tcha know), was apparently beseiged by High School Musical fans the other day.

What I want to know: what if I wanted to go in just to buy a non-High School Musical related item? Would I have to fight my way through throngs of screaming tweenagers to get to the Album Chart section? Would I have to politely ask Zac Efron to pass me a copy of that Ben’s Brother album I want (it’s just behind him to the left). What’s the etiquette in this situation?

The HSM cast were being interviewed by Richard & Judy on Wednesday afternoon, and Richard Madeley, ever the reliable warhorse for foot-in-mouth moments, delivered once again by telling Lucas Grabeel he had a weird-sounding name. Bless.