Wednesday, January 28, 2004

I did actually get everything done that I should have yesterday. I also talked to Lisa on the phone until waaay too late at night. I hadn't spoken to her in ages - it was pretty cool to catch up with her again. Work on W.'s soundtrack is going well! I think I've nearly finished: I've just got to prepare a couple more mixes, and then burn them to CD. I hope he'll like what I've done with it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

I spent far too much time yesterday helping W. record vocals for his A-Level art project. I didn't get some things done that I should have got done. Whoops. Then again, I'm sitting here blogging now. *Runs*

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Well, that wasn't too great a weekend. Saturday was a bit depressing: despite all my practise recently, CMS went really badly for me. Then Lizzie, J. and myself went out for lunch, but Lizzie didn't feel like eating and went home early... I'm quite worried about her, actually. Anyway, after lunch I went shopping, and ordered a new suit! The one I'm using for schoolwear at the moment is seriously wearing out, and I've got job interviews coming up (hopefully), so I've decided I need a new one. I went all over Oxford looking for something: I'm quite a difficult size to fit (38" short jacket, 30" waist). As usual, I ended up in Alders, and not only did they have something in a cut I liked, but the customer service was very impressive. Unfortunately they didn't have it in the material I wanted, so they've ordered one for me: hopefully they'll have got it in by next weekend... Other than that, we've been running around like mad trying to pack the house up... but more about that sometime soon. G. had an anaphylactic shock on Saturday night, just to make matters worse. Sigh.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

I was watching 8 Mile on my computer last night (using WinXP) and suddenly three things happened at once; my taskbar and clipboard recovered, my virus scanner picked something up and my computer crashed. Once I'd rebooted and run my virus scanner, everything was back to normal. Bizarre.

Friday, January 23, 2004

I found a very interesting industrial sponsorship scheme today, thanks to my contact at Year in Industry. She pointed me towards MBDA Missile Systems, which offer £12000 pa during a gap year, then pay university tuition fees and give you vacation employment, and then employ you for three years post-grad. It's everything I've been looking for for a year out between school and uni, so I've applied. Hopefully I'll hear back from them in the next couple of weeks... In other news, Windows XP installation has decided to become broken. Not only has power management disappeared - it can't turn itself off anymore - but the taskbar has stopped showing me my running applications, and the clipboard is broken. I can't copy or move files without using the command line, and I can't copy and paste text. I feel a lengthy archiving and reinstallation process coming on...

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Designing a successful FPS level is difficult. It's hard to strike the right balance between finding the perfect design, matching up the textures precisely and making your buildings architecturally believable, and getting the level finished and playable. One aspect where the Unreal engines have the upper hand on the Quake-based engines is in the way levels are constructed. Rather than putting objects into an empty space (a la Quake), in the Unreal system you subtract brushes from a space which is initially solid. Oh yes, and the instantaneous build in UnrealEd is handy, rather than having to wait for god knows how long for hlrad to run. One sideeffect of this, IMHO, is the disparity of map quality: Half-Life maps in particular tend to be either extremely good or appallingly bad, with very few in the middle ground.
I am now officially fed up with Argand diagrams and the manipulation of complex numbers. It is mind-numbingly dull.
It's depressing when an old friend talks about your religion in a negative and bigotted manner. It's even sadder when someone is so cynical about something that the aspects of it they perceive as negative grow and grow until they don't see any good it about it at all. Sure, no religion is perfect. The Catholic Church itself knows that it isn't perfect, because we're all people, and people make mistakes. But it's not that bad, and it means no harm to anyone. On a side topic, I've had the discussion with several people recently about the UK's discrimination laws, and how if you're black, or asian, or disabled, or a Muslim or a Jew, or from a poor background, or aged, or female, then you'll almost always have recourse to complain about someone discriminating against you, especially in terms of employment. But if you're a 30-year old Christian man of white origin, you don't have a chance in court, even if you have been discriminated against for religious, racial or sexual reasons.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Not keeping up with the blog, am I? After having avoided doing work as much as possible for the last week, it's all caught up with me over the last couple of days. It's not too bad though: I'm still on top of things. I've spent a bit of time having a go at creating levels for Half-Life again using QuArK. Having had problems with the program being a bit unstable in the past, I've been suprised by just how stable the current version is. I haven't actually had any crashes, and only a couple of lock-ups in the 3D views, and I definitely haven't lost any work to failures in QuArK. I've been having a lot of trouble with the func_tracktrain entity and its associated bits and pieces. I've been trying to emulate the look and feel of the the Half-Life level "On a Rail" (c2a2) but I just can't get it to look right... I think I'm going to have to consign the map to my collection of failed maps. And of course I've been practising the horn and shooting. I shot a 96, possibly a 97 yesterday evening!

Sunday, January 18, 2004

QuArK 6.4.0 alpha 3 is out! Get it here.

I've been busy this weekend. On Friday, the Central Music School (CMS) Sinfonia (of which I am principal horn) played two concerts at the Sheldonian Theatre for primary school children, so I got to miss school.

On Friday night, Lizzie and I went into Oxford with some friends of ours: L. (a rower friend of Lizzie's) and A. (her boyfriend). I was amused to discover that L. had recently got an offer (of 3 As) to study History of Art at Pembroke College (Cambridge), and that A. was on a gap year before going to read Bio. Sci. at Selwyn College (also Cambridge). That made Lizzie the only non-Cambridge-associated person there... talk about putting the pressure on. Teehee.

I was annoyed to discover that the cocktail bar we were hanging out in did not have any cinnamon.

I stayed over at Lizzie's on Friday night, and on Saturday we went to CMS together. Now that the Sheldonian concerts are out of the way, we're starting some new repertoire with the Sinfonia, including Liszt's 2nd Piano Concerto, for which our friend M. is the soloist. Unfortunately, the orchestra parts are very difficult, not aided by the fact that the piano he's playing it on is very quiet.

I had my weekly horn lesson this morning, and the ridiculous amount of practise I've been doing this week had paid off: I managed to convince my teacher that I could hack the Schumann, and so he's set my large amounts of exceptionally strenuous exercises and studies, which I'm unlikely to be able to do in the near future. Ah well, lots more lip-torturing practise, here I come. But it'll help my horn playing in general, I hope, so it'll probably be a good thing if I persevere...

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Last week slightcrazed wrote an excellent tutorial on how to use QuArK on Linux. Even though I'm updating the Infobase with the instructions, I haven't tried them out yet... oh well, something to do tonight I suppose.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

I'm feeling rather... depressed at the moment. I think I might have bitten off more than I can chew as far as music is concerned, Mathematics is going badly, and what we're doing in Chemistry just doesn't make any sense. The only good thing happening is that I'm missing the whole of Friday as well as Saturday morning this week. Four day week! Yay!
The wind howled, and clouds scudded across the moon. Streetlights reflected brightly from the ground and people walked well wrapped up and taciturn. My morning run was very Goethe.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Well, that was Mechanics 3. And it went marginally better than I was expecting it to - I only failed to answer 10 marks worth of questions. Anyway, so now I'm off to the shop to buy some chocolate (I always suffer from a craving for chocolate after exams) and then I'm going to do some horn practise.
I went to bed at half past eleven last night... how stupid is that, when I've got an exam today? Fortunately it was raining at quarter past six this morning, so I had a good excuse to go back to bed rather than going for a run.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

I've got some music competitions coming up, and I've decided to play the Schumann Adagio and Allegro. Which means I've got to do a bit more horn practise. An awful lot more horn practise, in fact. Like, two hours a day at least. Hmmm. Hyojun and I are very worried about Mechanics 3 tomorrow. Because we can't do it. BTW, you may have noticed the new comments feature on my blog, powered by Enetation. I have yet to find the time to set it up so that it looks nice, however. Just another thing to do...

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Deep in the throes of revision for Mechanics 3. Here's an example of the sort of fun question I'm having to deal with:

"Using integration, show that the centre of mass of a uniform thin hemispherical bowl of radius a is at a distance a/2 from the centre C of the circular rim of the bowl.

"A lid is attached to the bowl to form a closed composite body B. The lid is a thin circular disc of radius a and centre C. The lid is made of the same uniform material as the bowl. Show that the centre of mass of B is at a distance a/3 from C.

"The body B has mass M. A particle P, also of mass M, is attached at a point on the circumference of the plane circular face of B. The body is placed with a point of its curved surface in contact with a horizontal plane and rests in equilibrium. Find, to the nearest half degree, the angle made by the line PC with the horizontal."

Fun, huh?

Friday, January 09, 2004

I've been drooling over PlanetSide a lot recently. It's the best massively multiplayer game I've ever seen by a large margin. What more can I say? If I had a broadband connection I'd have it already. Unfortunately, I don't have one at home and it's unlikely that we'll ever be able to get one in our area. In the meantime I've been playing Ground Control, a real-time strategy game. For me, the thing that really stands out about this game is the fact that there is no base building or resource management involved. Before you play each mission, you choose what units you want to take, and you're then stuck with those squads for the whole of the mission. This is great for when you just want to have a quick multiplayer game: if you turn off reinforcements then you can play a CTF game in a quarter of an hour, which seems much more reasonable than the interminable amount of time C&C multiplayer games seem to take. Of course, GC was an unfortunately underrated game, and didn't sell half as many units as it should have - just like two of my other favourite games, Sacrifice and Startopia, but that's another story.
Going for a run this morning was wonderful. Once I (eventually) plucked up the courage to head outside at about twenty-five past six, I found that the sky was clear, the moon was bright, the stars were twinkly, and it wasn't windy at all so there was no wind chill. Lovely. I had a great time. I found myself singing "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" by The Clash all the way round the village: Should I stay or should I go now? Should I stay or should I go now? If I go there will be trouble An' if I stay it will be double No doubt inspired by my initial lack of enthusiasm...

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Gosh, it's a long time since I last got round to updating this, isn't it? I hope you had a good Christmas and New Year.

My New Year's Resolutions were as follows:

  1. Work Harder
  2. Play Harder
  3. Blog more often
So as you can tell, I'm a bit slow getting started.

I had an interview at Cambridge just before Christmas, and on the 2nd of January I got a letter from them saying that I've got an offer! I'll need to get A grades in Maths, Physics and Further Maths (!) to get in, so I suppose I'll really need to pull all the stops out this term to learn all the stuff I need to.

Speaking of learning all the stuff I need to, I had my Pure Mathematics 3 modular exam today. Even though I'd been working almost non-stop since Monday morning at my revision, I still messed it up - I got hopelessly tangled up on question 5, which was a question on the integration of parametric equations. The next exam I've got is Mechanics 3 on Monday. When that one's done, I'll stick a couple of choice questions from both papers on to here so you have some idea of what I was up against...