July 10, 2008

End of University

The last 3 weeks of university were exam-free and apart from results day, carefree. I have no more exams ahead of me. We filled up the first week well with our flat-bonding trip to Dublin and a quick trip to the WTA Birmingham Classic. After that we just mainly chilled out watching many Rocky movies and playing a fair bit of tennis, making the most of the facilities whilst we were at uni. The same could be said about going to the last few union events of our uni lives (and of the current union).

It was not particularly sad leaving university (it was in the 3rd year when the Bachelor degree'd friends left). After 4 years you just get the feeling that the time is right to leave and I will see most people after uni anyway. Try as I might on the train journey to London to play the most sad songs I couldn't induce any tears - it turns out that I am an emotionless robot. On the contrary, I was actually very happy with a smile on my face when I thought about my time at Warwick. Fortunately no one else was in my end of the coach to see a ridiculous idiot grinning from ear to ear. Another reason is that it is easier for me because I'll be working in Coventry come September anyway. Everyone else seems to be moving to London. Absolutely EVERYONE. Seems like I'm the only one left behind!

So I'm supposed to say university has been rewarding and I have made a lot of good friendships. Both of those are true. It has certainly been fun. I wish everyone the best of luck with their futures!


This blog stays alive...



June 23, 2008

Dublin 2008

(C) Nathaniel Ho 2008

Its the afternoon of Friday 6th of June, every other Warwick engineer has already finished and is sitting on the piazza, enjoying the sun and freedom. I'm sitting in my last undergraduate exam along with the other last few MEng students left inside Westwood games hall waiting for the clock to hit 5pm. After reflecting back on 18 years of education about 500 times in my head, all I want to do is to get out of that room as soon as possible!

Tuesday morning arrives and the hive is up at 5am buzzing around the flat, packing and making sure they have their passports. The whole journey was quite painless and we arrived at Dublin at 9.30ish. At the airport, we found it quite strange that about 3 buses refused to pick us up and take us to the city centre. The Metro showed us why...

(C) Nathaniel Ho 2008(C) Nathaniel Ho 2008


When we finally made it to O'Connell Street we decided to walk along the riverside towards Phoenix Park and the Zoo. Dublin Zoo is very good and very well maintained (though I may just be comparing it to London Zoo).  It was a very hot day so in order to cool down we popped to the Guiness Storehouse. The tour was strenuous and they make you go through 6 floors before you can reach the roof top bar for your reward! The roof top bar gives the best view of Dublin, which isn't really that exciting from the top because all the buildings are consistently 5 storeys high.

That evening we went out to the usual touristy stops: Gallagher's Boxty house for dinner and Temple Bar. I managed to catch up with an old school friend studying out here whom I had not seen for 4 years.

(C) Nathaniel Ho 2008 (C) Nathaniel Ho 2008

Our second and last day was spent in the South again, walking around Trinity College and the nearby Museum of Ireland. Rain interrupted our picnic in the park and a good Irish pub lunch became a great alternative. After lunch, we made a quick trip to Dublin Castle before returning to Temple Bar to pick up the kids from the creche.

It was simply a great trip with the whole flat!

(C) Nathaniel Ho



March 23, 2008

Imagine: being always on

I came across an interesting prediction whilst researching for a presentation: according to the Nokia Siemens Networks, by 2015 there should be 5 billion people 'always on'. This is a pretty amazing feat that will happen. Simply put, 5 billion people will have permenant access to the communications infrastructures (telephone and internet). This will be achieved by manufacturers selling low-entry mobile phones for $10 and networks expanding to the remotest of places, making it affordable and available to a wider audience and communities that used to be cut off from civilisation.

Along with the relentless move to 'always on' mobile connectivity, the greeting my phone (shown below) gave me a few weeks ago might become a common occurance! :S

Leave Me Alone

You have a missed call, Unread SMS, MMS and email... argh!


Imagine: life with just a pen

This is the time of the year where everyone moans about essays, dissertations and exams. But can you imagine things 10-15 years ago where the average student probably didn't have a laptop or maybe didn't even have their own computer to use. Essays written by hand and not on a word processor. Research done exclusively on books without the aid of search engines and stuff like google books. Must have been tough! And yet we still moan...

Le Travail


February 11, 2008

I. want. one.

Sony Ericsson Xperia X1

Just when I thought deciding between the Asus EEEEEEEEE PC and the HTC TyTN II (aka O2 xDA Stellar aka T-Mobile mDA Vario III) was difficult enough, there's now another one to add to the mix. I want that shiny thing pictured above. Looks like SEM have done the wise thing and dumped the rubbish Symbian OS and are installing Windows Mobile instead. Copying the HTC angle-sliding screen design, should be a hit. The only problem is its only got HSDPA but no wi-fi (according to the spec sheet) (update: it does have wifi!). It will probably out at the end of the year - hopefully when I'll have some money to afford one!

More Info on the Sony Ericsson Xperia X1


No Service is normal service

Its now been 2 weeks that my Resnet internet connection to my campus room has been inactive. Its basically some duff CAT5 wire with poor SNR. The response time needless to say is slow - primarily because the network guys wouldn't believe the problem wasn't to do with my computer until I carried my desktop down to the service point to prove it was fine. Still the nice guys down at service point gave my system a full valet interior cleanout with the compressed air, so it wasn't a total wasted excercise. And now networks are too busy moving offices to deal with calls.

Due to some guy trying to sue IT Services to claim some money back for ridiculously poor service in 2005-2006, ITS have changed their T&Cs to basically look like a charity who offer free internet at no obligation to the end user. So refunds won't happen. Still the nice people at the service desk do their best. But I what I really need is authorisation to use a switch and a very long piece of cable!

Fortunately before coming back to campus I got a data tariff on my phone, knowing that one day I would need it. Unfortunately I've hit the upper end of the data limit! Got to slug it out for a bit longer...


February 10, 2008

Dave Channel

The Dave Channel is simply the best thing that has happened to the UK in the past 6 months. In the holidays I would wake up at 11am on a cold December morning and you start the day with healthy dose of a Top Gear episode. It has brought back the funniest show ever: Whose Line Is It Anyway? a show I have not seen since I was about 11 years old!

Since ITV killed off the World Rally Championship coverage (in every way), it seemed as if it would not return to terrestrial TV. But thanks to Dave's excellent advertising to create awareness and to bring in new fans, their well made WRC show looks to be a success in my view. Quite frankly, the layman terms and easiness of watching it will surely make more people interested in it. The Dave channel is simply awesome.


February 07, 2008

Internet first, voice second

I have notice a huge flaw with my phone. Supposedly, the best thing about 3G is that you can be on the internet and have a phone call at the same time. Unlike 2.5G GPRS which is like a V.92 dial-up in terms of low bandwidth and (lack of) connection permenancy - you can't receive calls when you're actively on the internet.

On my SEM K800i I find that even with 3G good reception, I get awful call quality, because it can't handle a switch-circuit voice call and data at the same time. It keeps dropping a lot of downstream switched-circuit voice data - and I can't hear a damn thing. This means I have had to stop using push email (which maintains a permenant internet connection to the email server). I have no idea whether this limitation is due to the phone itself or UMTS technology. Has anyone else experienced this problem?


February 06, 2008

Crumpets Saves Lives

A few weeks ago Chris was warming up some crumpets for tea on his grill. Little did he know that cooker had a wiring fault and wanted to murder him!

Time for some GCSE Physics again: A wiring fault had basically caused the live terminal to reach the whole metal outer case. Normally in this circumstance, the power would be pulled down to earth, large currents would be drawn and a fuse would have blown, all within a split second of turning the grill on. Unfortunately and shockingly... the cooker did not have an earth wire and nor do most other cookers in question! (If you live in Claycroft, I recommend you eat out - always). 

So the cooker case was nicely floating at 240V AC. Touching this alone would have been fine, but the nice stainless steel metal kitchen work surfaces are earthed. This gave Chris an electric shock when he touched the two potential differences! Fortunately, he had two series resistors to limit the current - these came in the form of two crumpets, one in each hand. 

The problem averted thanks to the crumpets, but Chris is a scientist and he had to make sure it was a fair test which is explained in the cartoon below:

The Difference between a Normal Person and a Scientist

Source: http://xkcd.com/242/

The second one threw him back :S


December 20, 2007

Race of Champions 2007

The Race of Champions always sounded like an awesome concept. Put the best drivers of different motorsport disciplines in one stadium and pitch them against each other in equal machinery to find out who is the best! The past few years it has been in the Stadt de France, and this year it came to Wembley. So naturally we had to go (plus a few of us were getting the shakes from motorsport withdrawal symptoms during the off season period).

(C) Nathaniel Ho 2007

One of the great things about it was the return of the legendary Michael Schumacher to "competitive racing." Historically I have always not liked him. I was always supporting the "other" person: Damon Hill, Mika Hakkinen, Juan Pablo Montoya, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso. But now with the legend absent, I started to appreciate him more - the dude's a hero. 

Most of us were the old Warwick Motorsport gang: JJ, AJ, Rich, John, Jen and I. We sat at the top tier on a crisp 3degC Sunday. My gosh was it cold all day. It was hovering about zero all day. I also thought Wembley was quite empty, but when you consider this is a motorsport event and it has filled up half the capacity, its not that bad.
(C) Nathaniel Ho 2007

In the Nations cup, we saw some great races.  I was rooting for Norway (Solberg brothers) but I was pretty sure Finland (Gronholm and Kovalainen) was going to win - especially when Gronholm seemed to be only driving his own Ford Focus WRC in almost every round! In the final Schumacher raced Kovalainen in the Punto S2000 Abarth. Schumacher stalled and lost a lot of time. Kovy managed to get up to the back of Schumacher to lap him. But Schumacher decided to drive flamboyantly sideways to stop him, but he got through. But eventually overall, the Finns were pipped to the title by Team Germany (Vettel and Schumacher). 

In the mid interval, we got some cups of warmth from the cafe whilst some very good stunts were being shown. The legendary Stig Blomqvist made an appearance in the original Audi Quattro, Priaulx drove his WTCC BMW 320i, Kristensen drove his Le Mans Audi R10 TDI, Coulthard drove his Red Bull Racing F1 car, Vettel drove his STR F1 car and Matthias Ekstrom made the most smoke in this Audi A4 DTM.

(C) Nathaniel Ho 2007

In the Champions of Champions races that followed we saw some fantastic races. The closest finish was Andy Priaulx vs. Heikki Kovalainen in the Aston Martin V8 Vantage N24's. They were neck and neck but Kovy over cooked it coming out of the last corner and overcorrected a slide and got into a tankslapper which made him cross the finishing line sideways before colliding backwards with the barrier. "Heikki you're a lunatic!" I shouted whilst the crowds cheered. By 6.45pm it was so cold we had square ice cubes around all our toes, and Mattias Ekstrom beat Schumacher 2-1. Schumacher was still amazingly setting all the fast laps in the day. It was great watching him slide the RoC buggy into the first corner on the inside track. After the podium presentation we all ran home to defrost!


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