Archive for Musings

Breaking phones

I just had to blog about this now as I’ve just had a text message from a friend of mine saying that she has a new phone and new number because she managed to put her old one through the washing machine. While this is funny in it’s self (if not a little unfortunate), its not the first time I have had news of phones being broken in the most bizare ways.

So far I have seen or heard about phones going through the following traumas; owner being thrown into a swimming pool (along with phone, resulting in complete ruination), having your bag (complete with phone) run over by a car, sitting on it (causing the screen to crack), plugging it into the wrong kind of car charger and it melting (I was as amazed to hear about this one as I’m sure you are to read it!) and last but not least flipping the flip clean off the phone (complete with screen, rendering it completely useless).

So remember folks, when out and about, or even at home, take care of your phone – you never know when you might be putting it in grave danger!

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Crime & Morality

Sparked by a large amount of alcohol the usual descent into political and general debate discussion that goes round in circles occured the other night before we all went along to Sarann’s house.

Without going into comment about *how* the discussion started it essentially revolved around debating if the same crime (stealing), but committed for different reasons should carry any different penalties or negative opinion from society as a whole, and indeed if certain crime committed for certain reasons was even wrong at all.

There were some pretty strong views floating around, and while one can never take these things too seriously, especially in the spirit of debate and the fact drink was a factor, some of the them were some of the strongest ones I have heard to date. To set the scene it essentially ended up that Matt and Kat took one side with Chris and myself taking the other.

Matt’s view was essentially that if it was helping the little people or was selfless, then it didn’t matter if it was against the law becuse it wasn’t as bad as if someone had committed the crime for purely selfish reasons. While one can see his point, there is a flaw in the argument. In order to have a society of laws that works, each law must be upheld as much as any other. Society does indeed grade the severity of breaking laws by the sentance that each one carries, but to suggest that a motive should have a serious bearing on the sentence that a crime carries when the actual law that has been broken is the same would be to seriously devalue the law as a whole. Chris went on to say that there is always a loser in any incident of law-breaking and it is for this reason that every law should be upheld in the same way.

No one can deny the moral factors though, and to give Matt and Kat credit, they seemed to have the moral end of things right. From a purely moral standpoint then yes, it is better to steal for someone else (giving to charity etc.) than for your own selfish ends. I think where the wires got crossed was that when looking at it from a legal standpoint. From a legal angle, you must treat the crimes the same. The bottom line is that as an individual you have stolen from someone else. Regardless of your reasoning, the crime is the same. A judge may look at the motive and pass an appropriate sentance, with the selfish one carrying a slightly harsher penalty, but as to if you should have the same criminal record and if both instances of the crime are “wrong”, then hell yeah. I could kill someone because they were about to shoot my friend, but would I still be a murderer? Yes, I would. Would I get the same sentance as if I had killed him in cold blood, no. And that is the only distinction we can make.

I feel sure that after this blog the debate will be far from over and not only do I expect comments from Matt and the others involved but also from members of the public – bring it on I say – I love a good debate 🙂

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So small

Its hard to believe that a lion starts out by being this small and kitten like, and ends up being able to chomp and mawl its way through anything. My real reason for posting this is the cute-ness factor though! Isn’t it just so “pick up and cuddle” worthy?

Cute little lion cub

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Statistics are pointless

One of the main reasons we want statistics is to save us time; after all if we know whats effective, useful and likewise what isn’t then we can better use our time for that given task in the future. Or so we think. See lately I have realised that in the majority of cases the actual gathering of statistics related to tasks takes longer than the tasks themselves, and that doesn’t include analysing the things afterwards. Then there is the cost involved; not only are you being less productive and so not making as much money, but you are also paying out additional sums for the purposes of statistical analysis and the gathering of information. This basically spells bad news for the world in general.

Almost routinely I am stopped in the street to be asked to answer a survey taking 20 minutes or so of my time, many of them these days offer to pay you! Now while this might sound like a good deal for the average person in the street, its a big waste of our time and I almost always give them the brush off. But lets think for a minute what its costing the people who are gathering the stats. First, theres paying the people to ask questions, and paying the people who answer them if applicable. Then there is the production of the questionaires, both the printing and the research used to make sure they are the most effective they could be (they usually pay a group of people to do this). Gathering the information comes next; collating, indexing and analysing it. This takes time and money of course. Afterwards you then have to review the compiled stats wasting more time and then publish them because after all, you’ve spent so much on them you may as well let the world know. You then find that half the people who find the stats coming their way ignore them, the other half dispute them saying that they are flawed.

So what does this mean? In essence, stats are pointless and a huge waste of our time, money and quite frankly our lives. I’m not prepared to spend my life filling out forms rather than working on something productive, especially if the results of such efforts are ignored for the most part. Call me a cynic if you like, but if you were self-employed I think you would soon find that you’d rather be doing things that earnt you money than things that wasted your time, made you just as tired and didn’t earn you a penny.

Having said all of that, the next question is where do we point the finger of blame; who spends the most time on stats, who spends the most money, what do we have to do to change the statistics culture? It may surprise you to learn that the areas of society that gather, collate, analyse and ignore the most stats are none other than our own government. If this doesn’t bother you it should; what it means in real terms is that your tax is being spent on things that don’t benefit society at all, and that the time of people who work in the public sector, who’s jobs exist to make the life of the general public better, is being used for the generation of statistics rather than the job they were hired to undertake. Has anyone ever thought that rising crime figures are actually the fault of the fact we have crime figures at all? If police spent the 40% of the time they spend behind a desk filling in forms and generating statistics out on the street fighting crime, perhaps the figures would be so low we wouldn’t have to record them. It’s certainly food for thought.

So next time you get stopped in the street and offered a fiver for 20 minutes of your time, just think where the information is going to end up. More likely than not you would be better off just ripping the top sheet off the clipboard and placing it in the nearest bin, after all when its gone through the whole system it doesn’t really end up anywhere different.

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New Scientist Jobs

Got my copy of New Scientist in the post today, and was interested to see a comprehensive pull-out on applying for jobs for people doing sciency type degrees (Physics, Chemistry, Computing etc. etc.) Its got some good advice on tweaking your CV, covering letters and other such handy bits. Theres also some intersting ideas for what to ask of your university careers service; I always wondered if they could be asked for any info that was actually helpful, and now I know.

Amazingly they actually suggest quite a few things that I had already begun to set in motion; things like applying for multiple positions at once, circulating your CV, keeping it updated even if you don’t need/intend to submit it anywhere, and keep a copy on your personal website – I knew that empty CV page would have a use one day!

Its also got some rather interesting stats as to where people who study science type degrees end up. Happily for me there seems to be plenty of opertunities to get into IT, but the number of people who head into finance type things really astounded me – its well over 20%. Still I guess that means that one day banks will open longer if we’ve got all those graduates going into the business 😉

Good luck to all currently in the process of taking finals and applying for positions and congratualtions to those who have landed jobs already.

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What a load of rubbish

I was walking along the tow path of the Leeds canal today on my way to uni and I saw a rather worrying sight and took a photo of it (below). In case its a little too blury for you to see (I took the photo on my phone), its a load of rubbish piled up in front of the wier unable to go down the canal, because of the buoys. Whats worrying about it is its not just wood or something like that, but its all sorts of horrible rubbish you really don’t want in the water; bottles, cans, bags, chemical containers, gunge etc. etc. – rather nasty. What I want to know is what the hell do the people who let it get into the canel think they are doing? They’ve caused enough canal polution for a whole year and created a clean-up job that will probably take a few days and most definitely require a boat. I just feel sorry for the people living right next to it all (note flats in the background) and of course the birds that are often seen in the water. People just have no sense of responsibility these days thats all I can say.

Load of Rubbish

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I arrived home this evening from a trip to the Wardrobe and saw a rather amazing sight outside one of the blocks in Clarence Dock. A group of people who had obviously been enjoying the warmer weather earlier on in the day were now huddled under duvets on the same picnic blanket in the freezing night air, watching movies on a portable TV set, the cable for which was snaking from a ground floor window. Looking for tell-tale signs of alcohol consumption or indeed beaviour which would indicate consumption of other sense numbing substances and finding none, I could only conclude one thing; That they are completely and utterly stark raving mad.

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Suggestions for singles

Odd title you might say, but as some may have guessed, my poll in the sidebar of late wasn’t just an idle interest thing, in fact, its what I’m going to base this blog on!

When I go to jazz gigs, I often see a couple of girls I wouldn’t mind at least talking to, but most of them seem to be engrossed in conversation with friend(s). While this would be fine if you got a chance to chat later or *some other time*, you just don’t. Thats right, the whole night chatting. Now fair do’s if you are not single and all that, but I refuse to believe, given the number of couples at these kind of things, that every girl who is there just with friends just happens not to have brought their boyfriend along. So, if you are single and want any chance of someone coming up and talking to you, don’t spend the whole night chatting to your friend; sit back, talk less and look around. This makes others think you *might* be available for the smallest of chats at somepoint and immediately makes you more approachable. I’m glad to see that while this was my view all along, the voters seem to agree with me – the majority indicating that someone chatting with their friend would put them off asking them to dance – the kind of thing its nice to do at a jazz club. If you are a single someone who spends their nights out talking to friends, just think, not only will taking some time off from doing so make it easier for someone to speak to you, but you might notice someone you want to speak to as well.

So, onto my second related, but not poll based point. If you are not single and find yourself chatting to a member of the opposite sex you have just met at a venue, *please* drop in that you have a boyfriend/girlfriend. It doesn’t take much, and immediately lets the person know that if they are chatting to you for *that* reason that they won’t get anywhere. There is nothing I hate more than it to take an hour or so of talking to a girl before finding out that she is not single. It’s annoying and a waste of time. I admit that I could ask directly, but this is a bit up front if you have just met someone and makes you look like you are not interested in them as a person, but dropping it into the conversation is far easier. If you are in a relationship,then when talking about yourself just *happen* to drop in something you did with your partner, and mention they are your partner in the process. There, job done. Not too hard and really helps the singletons. You might say its harsh to say speaking to a non-single person is a waste of time, but I don’t mean that in the direct sense. While if they are single and you are interested in them you might want to talk for an hour, if they are in a relationship you might like to just speak for say 15 mins or so and then find someone else to talk to. If you drop in if you are single or not within the first 5 minutes it means you can still have a nice conversation, and also help people out a bit. In my humble opinion its just common courtesy.

I’m sure the flames and counterpoints are going to roll my way now, but I just had to blog about this one as its been really getting to me, lol

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Summer time and the living is… NOISY

I arrived home today to find a large number of students sitting on the grass area outside my block chatting, drinking and listening to music very loudly. It would seem that not only does the summer time bring on easy living for some students, but also noisy living. What they clearly don’t consider is that some students when they come home from a 9am – 7pm revision stint, still have work to do and may have exams soon enough so as not to permit being disturbed by such activity, let alone partaking in it. Is there no consideration? Surely students must accept that others have to study, after all didn’t they have said work/exams all but 5 minutes ago? *sigh* I guess I’m going to have to invest in a camp bed and find a secluded spot in the library, although the 24 hour computer lab might be a better bet; can’t be missing out on my internet fix now can I 🙂

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Calling online friends

I got a call on skype the other night from someone I have been on the same forum as for 3 or so years now. Its almost strange to put a voice to an online alias, but it is something that is quite refreshing; after all it doesn’t happen all that often. I have always operated the policy of keeping my contact details on my website for all who want to use them, and have the same “life” online as off, but not everyone is like that, and you usually end up building very different kinds of relationships with people online to how you would with the same people face to face.

Sadly this can mean that the first time you speak to or meet up with someone you have known for some time online signals the beginning of the end in terms of your friendship.

I know a large number of people through the internet line, and for anyone of those people reading this, you are all great people and you’ve always been there when I’ve needed you and I value your online company a lot. I have been very lucky with respect to taking online friendships further though; lately I have seen pictures of and spoken to people I know online more and more. One of the most notable additions to my “speak to online” list has been the team I am a part of on RouterTech. Chatting on MSN with these guys has been great, and I hope it will continue – it has really added something to the feeling of community on the forums. Not only that but I haven’t had any of the negative experiences that I know can happen from trying to get to know people more that you only know at present through text on a screen.

Although I didn’t intend this post to be a shout out to online friends, I would like to thank all the folks I know online for being really great friends and I hope to continue talking to / working with you all for some time to come 🙂

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