Monday, February 18, 2008

It's official - I'm a robot

I just spent the last few seconds in sheer terror, not knowing whether to believe my own eyes. Staring at me from my computer screen was this:

Google encountering a server error? Could it really be true? Stunned, I fumbled around in the dark (and that's not just a metaphor - the light bulb in my room is shot) for a while, frantically typing search terms into my Google toolbar on Firefox, my pulse quickening. What had I done? I tried praying, I tried smashing my keyboard repeatedly, but nothing worked. Then, just as quickly as it happened, everything went back to normal. Google was back online. Like a lost child at a supermarket, I had found my mother again.

Only one thought got me through the 20 second ordeal - as bad as the situation was, I knew it could have been worse. It could have been Wikipedia.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Misleading headline redux

Scientists give birth to a blackbuck, claims the Deccan Herald. Now, either they're handing out degrees to endangered species, or Mommy's been upto some mischief.

Monday, August 20, 2007

That burning sensation...

Is it just me, or are we on fire?

Not exactly what you want to see at an airport, but thankfully no one was injured. China Airlines even found a way to put a positive spin on it:

"Everything was normal, including take-off and landing, until the pilots were told the airplane was on fire," China Airlines spokesman Johnson Sun said.

Right, so the takeoff and landing went great - the only hitch was the raging inferno in the back. I guess if no one had told the pilots about the fire the flight would have been a resounding success.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Long time no see

.....and we're back. Hope you enjoyed the commercials. The world has changed a bit since I last posted - Manchester United are the champions of England again (come on you Reds!), the iPhone has been released (finally, a $600 touchscreen!), Paris Hilton got herself in and out of jail, the Simpsons made their big screen debut (and it was a huge disappointment), and I finally moved out of Christchurch.

Why move to Klanville, I hear you ask? Some time in 2005 I'd had enough of engineering, so I decided to become a pilot. Here I am, two years later, in Christchurch - a city deader than Auckland. On the bright side, I'm not going to get too distracted by anything other than breathing for the next year.

The school itself is excellent - it's a well-maintained facility with a large fleet of training aircraft, and it's based at Christchurch International Airport, so we get the opportunity to train in controlled airspace, which is actually a little daunting at first. The course started in April, and I've been flying since May, but I don't have too many pictures. The first month was spent in ground school, passing our PPL (Private Pilot Licence) theory papers and counting down the days till our first flight. When it finally did happen, it was awesome:

The above picture is me taking off for the first time. I was so nervous that I pulled back a little too far on the controls and almost stalled the plane on takeoff. Lucky for me my instructor took control and we climbed out pretty easily. I've since given her more than a few scary moments, but I think it's good life experience for her. By the end of this course I'm aiming to age my instructors at least 5 years.

Apart from the recent exodus of instructors, the school's been pretty good so far - one of this city's few redeeming qualities. Then again, I might be a bit blinkered. Having lived in Auckland for eleven years, I kind of started to settle in. Christchurch is a whole new story. Different climate, different people, different attitudes. It might take a while to get used to some things, but I hope not to get used to everything, like the subtle racism one encounters here every once in a while. Overall, the city hasn't been too shabby to me, but it's hard not to think about what's been left behind.

Anyway that's my personal rant for the day. I'll try to post something interesting later. That is, if anyone still reads this blog.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Return of the Hoff

Is there anything this man can't do? Give him a green screen and the world's worst special effects and he gives you gold.

Germany salutes you, Mr. Hasselhoff. The rest of us are too busy rolling around laughing.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The PS3 song

Concluding the trilogy of nerd-themed posts, here's some guy's ode to the PS3:

Dell cares about lazy consumers

Dell's decision to consult their customers on how they could improve their products has thrown up some interesting results. Top of the wishlist at Idea Storm are pre-installed Linux, OpenOffice and Firefox, which leads me to only one conclusion - Dell users are the laziest people on Earth. With the exception of installing Linux, most of their wishes could be fulfilled by taking an hour out of their DotA-filled day to download OpenOffice and Firefox and mod them as they liked. But then again, why bother when Uncle Dell is offering to pre-install all those little goodies for a niche market?

I have nothing against Linux, but so far it hasn't proven that it is ready for a mass-market release. Sure, once you've installed all the packages and got it set up it's pretty adequate, but any computer manufacturer looking to sell it as a pre-installed OS has a mammoth task ensuring it'll be compatible with popular hardware. Moreover, Linux can be daunting for the casual user, a demographic I'm not certain has been fairly represented on Idea Storm. Dell's expected profits from this move must reflect the limitations of the as yet nascent Linux market.

At first glance, it may look as if the company is making progress towards recapturing the market share it lost to Hewlett Packard and doing so in a fresh and innovative, almost Apple-esque fashion. Unfortunately, of all the ideas they could have chosen to implement first, they chose the easiest and least effective one. Improving customer service, making their laptops more energy-efficient, more memory for the same price, continued support for Windows XP - these are the issues Dell should be looking at. Like it or not, Windows users far outnumber Linux and Mac OSX users, and not everyone is currently ready to take the plunge into the unknown world of Windows Vista. Rather than forcing consumers who buy their high-performance PCs to switch to Vista, Dell should offer the option of installing Windows XP Home/Professional at reduced cost.

Perhaps there is more to come from Dell, but one can't help feeling they are only paying lip service to the actual needs of their customers.