Monday, July 28, 2008

fire at will!

A rather amusing gag for the trekkies out there

Saturday, July 26, 2008


I don't make perfect presentations, but I think I know a few things, especially after spending yesterday watching an endless cycle of presentations.

First of all, while an introduction may help the structure of your talk, do not make the mistake of simply presenting a table of contents. It is not informative, it is not useful, and it is most definitely boring. While in a written report, having a table of contents may not hurt, in a presentation it is utterly pointless to read the titles of the subjects you are just about to cover. I simply do not believe anyone will get anything out of it.

Second of all, avoid writing too much information on your slides. If you end up writing massive amounts, your presentation will consist almost purely of reading the thing, and frankly you could convey the same amount by giving everyone a hand out. To my mind, it's best to summarize what you're saying on the slides, and ideally have graphs/diagrams.

Third of all, practice your talk, and practice it a lot. It's really, really dull to run through a talk multiple times, but if you do not, when you present you will be uncomfortable and stammer.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Doctor Horrible's Sing Along Blog

This is only free until the 20th, so I reccomend seeing it now. Very funny stuff.


Friday, July 11, 2008


So, work continues well, dissertation is well under way, and I am using my mighty mastery of mathematics to vanquish the demons of statistics. Next week I shall be heading to sunny steveanage, which I realise that I apparently cannot spell, where I shall be meeting with Gsk to discuss my PHD, so thats all a bit exciting.

I have also succumbed to the allure of WoW. A lot of my friends, including people somewhat further afield are on, and it's actually a good way to stay in touch. And it's also really fun, damnit! Just one more level indeed.....


Dark Heresy, Lifeblood preserves-Session 3


With the chaplin stealing their prisoners, the party saw no alternative but to head home, which they did, dodging out of the way of police patrols which had been somewhat increased thanks to the loud firefight they had just caused.

Sleeping in the hotel, the morning revealed that the space marine had headed off into the desert. Checking his room, they discovered a data slate implying that another space marine was calling out the Chaplin for battle, giving the co-ordinates.

Deciding to head after this, the party hired a ramshackle vechile and drove into the desert, where after a day of travel they saw a large black building in the distance with three vechiles in front of it. Closer inspection saw 6 gentlemen there, one of whom was laying a large amount of charges around the building. The party decided to lay in wait and see what they were doing. Sadly, Dmitri's abilities of concealment were rather lacking, and combat broke out.

The party defeated their enemies, with the help of the psyker taking the form of a demon.... Investigating the building revealed Tomias standing over the bodies of several people, who were drained of blood. Tomias managed to get control of himself for long enough to tell the party that Raphael had tricked him, the ghostflower triggered "the rage". He insisted that they needed to contact Mariella, who could explain more. Then he shot himself.


I enjoyed running this session, although the combat was a bit silly. I suspect a few extra bits of cover so the party could advance would have been a bit more fun. The fact that the players can only move a maximum of about 12 metres each turn meant that when Nick charged the enemy it was more a charge of the light brigade than an actual attack....

I had trouble working out how this session was going to work. I knew that Raphael was going to trick Tomias into a position where the ghostflower would activate the black rage, but I then needed the party to discover this. Discovering Tomias dead would leave the party relatively clueless, but if he was alive I couldn't work out WHY. After coming up with multiple ways of telling the scene, it finally occured to me that Raphael might want to avoid fighting an insanely strong space marine chaplin, and would instead blow him high sky instead. As Raphael has other business to get sorted, it made sense for him to leave as well, especially as he believed that no-one would be following Tomias.

I think I probably could have put more thought into the anagram for Tomias to make it a proper problem, but never mind- making it purely skill based was a little lame, but eh.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Gospel According to Larry

I have become a member of a very small book group of 4. We haven't really had any form or structure so far, and have been just lending each other books. One of the group members, Ben, leant me the book "The gospel according to larry". I have to say, it is one of the worst books I have ever read.

The Gospel according to larry is a book about anti-consumerism. The main character is a loner genius who creates a website ranting against anti-consumerism which becomes a massive hit. I'm going to spoil it heavily when I write this post, but trust me when I say you really do not want to go through the process of reading this book, which does have the one merit of being remarkably short.

The book begins with a rather juvenile framing where the author claims that this is a real story, and that it was written by the gentleman in question, Josh. Reading the book it very obviously that it isn't true, which makes this lie pointless and rather silly. It doesn't add anything to the story, and ties the author to the first person narrative she decides to stick to.

The portrayal of a child genius loner is a rather cynical attempt to appeal to a certain demographic, and as such came across as extremely tiresome. It was hilarious in it's absurdity (claiming that at the age of 2 Josh was solving equations using fridge magnets). Josh is quickly revealed as a rather unpleasent example of his kind- intolerant of others who do not share his proclivites, he considers his stepfather's new girlfriend as pathetic because she is collecting humpty dumpty related paraphenalia.

His unpleasentness is highlighted in an incident where he played a nasty practical joke on a teacher where he conducted an internet romance with her, playing a 40 year old and then leading her on until setting her up for a date for which no-one arrives. He recounts this anecdote with an almost jovial manner, but has the grace to feel sorry for it. There is no real explanation WHY he did in the first place, however.

He also has a relationship with a girl, Beth, who he decides he is in love with, but she does not know. She is dating someone else, a guy who Josh describes as a Jock, and thus despicable. There is no real reason to despise this other person other than Josh says so.

Eventually Josh does come to realise he might have been wrong about these things, but because the book is utterly from his perspective it does feel like it is supporting him. Certainly his rather juvenile rants about consumerism, which are simple minded and poorly written, should not receive the success they do, cumulating in the absurd "larry-fest" hosted by Bono.

The book also sets up a straw man in Josh's dad, Peter, a man in advertising who is pro-consumerism. Peter is unable to present one cogent argument for the advertising industry because the author isn't interested in even the illusion of balance. Peter becomes almost a bogey man at some points, although the tone varies so dramatically that seconds later she is trying to develop sympathy for him.

There is so little to reccommend about this book. The anti-consumerism message is not utterly awful, but has been made so much more effectively in so many other places. This might appeal to a certain age demographic who have not been exposed to these ideas before, but I am certain there are better ways to portray it.

There is very little to reccommend about this book. It

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Some C of E bishops have ganged together to try and stop, or at least reduce the effect of having female bishops. Irritatingly one of them was interviewed on the radio. Rather than asking them about their reasons for wanting to promote sexism, he was asked purely about the tactical considerations. This annoys me. He was allowed to get off by saying it was a matter of conscience.

A matter of conscience? One can explain being sexist as a matter of conscience! What next? Bishops explaining that their need to stone adulterers is a matter of conscience? Sexism is sexism, no matter how you dress it. It is time for the church to move with time or not exist anymore....