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Chris Branch
13 October 2009 @ 12:25 am
I'm at cookingcoder now. No more posts here.
Chris Branch
17 September 2009 @ 02:23 pm
Having installed Windows 7 and finally having a modern comparison point between that and Leopard, I think Microsoft wins big on several-ways-to-do-things. I always had a slightly hard time with OSX - to me, it felt like a bullet train. Works beautifully if you keep it on the rails, but try and do anything just slightly off the beaten track and it derails into a confusing mess. Ugh. Give me enough time and I can learn to live with it, but even compared to XP, it seemed to be missing just a little bit of horsepower, like the difference between a Fiat 500 and an old Jag. And that's not just because of the enormous legacy of Windows software, either.

So, the latest Windows... I never used Vista very much, but heard a lot about the pains of UAC. It's not very painful here, and I'm struggling to think of a time where a prompt came up when you wouldn't reasonably expect it, like installing something. Even if it came up more often, I wouldn't mind - do you know how awful it is trying to run under limited privileges in XP? If the UAC prompt stabbed you in the face each time it appeared it'd still be less painful than the equivalent security measures in XP. ughhhhh!

Everything seems broadly consistent in 7, and more intelligent - for example, you can continue to drag a file while you Alt+Tab to show another window, and while you're dragging it will tell you exactly what will happen in a little box below the icon. The taskbar has been redesigned and looks far neater, you can drag around the icons if it makes you feel better, and like the OSX dock, when you run a program pinned to the taskbar, you can switch to it by clicking that program. Or you can right-click (or left-hold and drag upwards...) and get a popup menu of tasks, like recent files or changing your Messenger status. Drag a window to the side of the screen and it offers to resize it to take up that half of the screen - perfect for widescreen monitors!

All of this appeals hugely to the neat freak in me, and for that, I am ever so grateful that all these features exist. Add to that the fun little effects Aero gives you, including Win+Tab for full-screen switching, and it's actually a pleasure to work with, something I didn't expect from Microsoft. Good job. Finally.

It's not worth £150, though! (Hooray for MSDN Academic Alliance!)
Chris Branch
27 June 2009 @ 02:12 am
A little experience enriches us. Too bad the cereal I had this morning didn't.

After finally dragging myself from under the sheets, I thought I'd investigate the parents' cupboards and see what delectable treats are in store for us. One of the first things I saw was a popular muesli manufacturer's "Luxury Nut Crunch" cereal. Considering my own budget stretches as far as Sainsbury's own "Clusters With A Hint of Maple and the Occasional Pecan (Maybe)", and certainly not to anything graced with the adjective 'Luxury' (synonymous with expensive and high-quality, at least according to my thesaurus). Reading the contents of this heavenly mixture, I couldn't contain my excitement at the thought of experiencing more nuts than my mouth can handle; I grabbed the package with both hands. Milk poured out a few moments later.

The cereal was as disappointing as that innuendo would be if played out for real. I tipped the box into the bowl and ffffwwwwwoooom - out poured some sawdust. Er, wait, what? I thought this was luxury nut crunch, which requires presence of both nuts and something to crunch on. No wonder it wasn't even called muesli - muesli would turn sentient before swiftly filing an defamation lawsuit against this abomination for sullying its respectable name. OK, it's not like this cereal is actually any of the three words that describe it, but it's not slander if no reasonable person could ever believe it's true.

Oh well, it's out now, I might as well eat it - something that looks that crappy must be nutritious, at least. Now, perhaps I went wrong by using skimmed milk, but pouring it over the fine bitty mess just resulted in something that looked like fine bitty semen. Oh joy of joys! I always wanted experience the aftermath of blowing a tree branch without all the splinters, and now my wish has been granted. After taking a mouthful, I reckoned that having a bleeding splintered mouth would've been far tastier, at least. This stuff is dry and horrid. Really. What's one to do when you have nothing to chew but the stodgy liquid is too thick to swallow? The best I could do was swill it around a couple of times and hope it disintegrates enough to disappear down one end of your mouth (by this point, either would be a blessing).

In desperation to make such a meal palatable, (and with plenty of foolishness not to just go and bin it already,) I sought honey to smother the whole thing with. I knew we had some, but could I find any? Nooooo. Let's see if mum knew.

"HONEY? Why would WE have HONEY?" came the nasal, cold-ravaged reply. "We've never had honey, we don't eat the stuff." I think several hot honey and lemon drinks I made for her last year would have disagreed at this point, and despite my varied protests, the mere thought of us ever possessing bee shit was far beyond her comprehension. Time to give up and dredge the thing with sugar instead. I thought about putting enough on to induce diabetes, but it would be a terrible waste of sugar if I contaminated it with trace amounts of this cereal.

Anyway, I managed to eat it all up and didn't even spit once. With a performance like that I bet a lot of gay guys will be devastated to find out that I'm straight, although even if I was, I certainly wouldn't want to repeat the experience. I think I'll have toast next time, thank you.
Chris Branch
18 June 2009 @ 11:40 pm
Here's some fresh poetry. It comes from the heart, via the brain. Have fun!

As I worked my body conspired
to make me feel increasingly tired.
My mind was fogging up inside.
Break time. On my bed I lied,
wondering "should I take a nap?
"Nah, I'll wake up feeling crap."
I stared at the ceiling, eyes open
doing my best to think, and hoping
soon my brain would work once more.
I wonder what it stopped for.
But stopped it has; I have to suffer
feeling useless; a right old duffer.

Demotivated, I stare blankly,
steering my thoughts away from me,
I know there is no greater folly
than dwelling on my melancholy.
But who expects, when you're elated,
to feel a pop! - swiftly deflated?
You're in no doubt; your bubble's burst.
Depression never warns you first.

I stare at my citalopram;
till now, it helped me give a damn.
But sometimes it just ain't enough;
nothing can make me feel less rough.
Pills aren't totally effective
to cure a mind slightly defective.
They may help loads, still I lament
I'll never be free of this torment.
Current Mood: refreshedreflective
Current Music: The Beatles - Hello Goodbye | Powered by Last.fm
Chris Branch
26 April 2009 @ 03:00 am
I have written verses and a bridge but I am keeping them to myself for now, until I have the energy to finish this one. Hopefully.

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Chris Branch
This is a reaction to all 'haiku' out there, the ones that think meter is the only thing that defines it.

Keep the haiku pure

Amateurs, add seasoning

Salt preserves its form~~

This is LiveJournal, so the squiggles were mandatory, right?
Current Music: Midnight Juggernauts - Road To Recovery | Powered by Last.fm
Chris Branch
08 March 2009 @ 04:17 pm
Why are so many web developers incapable of understanding email validation? Why do so few websites accept me putting a + in my address for the purposes of spam tracking? Nobody would stand for a URL parser that doesn't accept you putting in a %20 to represent a space, so why are we so careless with email?

Whenever somebody writes their own validator that doesn't match the RFC exactly, they are inventing their own standard, and in every case I've seen they're doing so out of ignorance or brain-dead stupidity that will have to be updated as soon as ICANN introduce customised TLDs. That is, of course, if anyone's around to fix them. Hint: they won't. This attitude is why developing for the web is still such a painful process; nobody cares about mistakes until they're slighted by them, so the rest of us have to work around them further discouraging any change.

All because people insist on writing a validator that nannies the user as much as possible while causing problems further down the line and making the web an awkward place for anyone who's even slightly technically-savvy, living in Anguilla or with any other kind of unusual address.

Anyone who thinks that they can cut down on user errors by requiring they enter a @ and a . somewhere in their address clearly has no clue how real users actually operate. The @ is the least of your worries - people generally know what an email address is and know it has a @ in it, so they remember it. What they actually do is make far, far more typos in the regular parts of your address that will never get caught by any regex! And the really clueless people who think an email address is a website will work out some way to mutilate whatever they typed to pass your validator. They will do it and don't be so naïve to think otherwise, or you'll get quite the surprise when you look through a database dump someday.

The sanest thing you can ever do with email validation, short of sending an email to that address as verification, is to ask the user to type the address in a second time. If you actually care that you're getting the right data, any look at a dataset will indicate the problem is not "how do we make Bob type in a syntactically-valid email address?" but "how do we stop Bob typing his address as bob@hotmali.com?".

But not even this will help people who just forgot their email address and enter any old crap. I was among the first subscribers to a national ISP which had 400k users in 2000, and even then I got far too many emails from other people putting their email address as "bob@btinternet.com". Even people buying stuff online! I abandoned that account not long after because of all the spam, although I'm sure it could be very useful for somebody far more crooked than I.

In short, there is nothing you can do. You will never win the battle against human stupidity. The best you can do is not to screw over people who are actually doing things right. Validating imperfectly is worse than not validating at all.
Chris Branch
15 February 2009 @ 12:59 am
Lower than this, but you wouldn't want it any other way.

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Current Music: Madonna - American Life | Powered by Last.fm
Chris Branch
14 February 2009 @ 07:23 pm
A recent flurry of inspiration will work its way here soon. Who knew chord progressions were so hard? Especially to the line "Ask her out, you silly twat".
Current Mood: artisticartistic
Current Music: Justice - Tthhee Ppaarrttyy
Chris Branch
04 February 2009 @ 09:54 am
An idea came to me, fully formed. Here is that idea. I call it 'Disarray'. Mind your ears on the vocal near the end, will you? (I did use a compressor, but that's about all. Sorry about that.)

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