All entries for October 2005

October 27, 2005

The two o'clock mooos

Writing about web page

Everyone's had the email which uses the metaphor of cow ownership to explain various systems of government. A typical email might include examples like:

Feudalism – You have two cows. Your lord takes some of the milk.
Pure Democracy – You have two cows. Your neighbours decide who gets the milk.
Representative Democracy – You have two cows. Your neighbours pick someone to tell you who gets the milk.
Communism – You share two cows with your neighbours. You and your neighbours bicker about who has the most "ability" and who has the most "need". Meanwhile, no one works, no one gets any milk, and the cows drop dead of starvation.
Cambodian Communism – You have two cows. The government takes both and shoots you.
Bureaucracy – You have two cows. At first the government regulates what you can feed them and when you can milk them. Then it pays you not to milk them. Then it takes both, shoots one, milks the other and pours the milk down the drain. Then it requires you to fill out forms accounting for the missing cows.

But stumbling across Uncyclopedia (an awesome waste of time - it's like Wikipedia but... not. Go look.), I happened upon a page called You_have_two_cows. It's by far the longest list of variations on a single joke I've ever seen. Including (but by no means limited to):

England – You have two cows. They go mad.
Wales – You hyve two cwws.
Romania – You have two cows. You must bribe them first if you want to milk them.
Zimbabwe – You have two cows, they do not vote for you but you still win. You kill your cows.
Google – Results 1 – 2 of 2 for cows. (0.27 seconds)
MSNBC – You have two (CLICK HERE TO BUY VIAGRA!) cows.
Flamer – yor mom has sex with 2 cows
Shakespeare – Two cows or not two cows? That is the question.
Dickens – It was the best of cows, it was the worst of cows.
Golding – You have two cows. The nerdy one falls off a giant rock and dies.
Tom Clancy – You have two cows. They go to war with each other. It takes 1,300 pages.
Catholicism – If you have two cows, you deserve them.
Islam – If you have two cows, it is the will of Allah.
Pragmatism – There are cows.
Atheism – What cows?
Rammstein – Du… Du hast … Du hast zwei Kühe…
Eddie Izzard – Er… yeah… so… COWS!
Yoda – Two cows you have.
Tetris – You have two L-shaped cows, but you really need two I-shaped cows.
Monty Python's Life of Brian – Apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the two cows ever done for us?
Keynesian Economics – You have two cows. Both of them are concrete.
Unimaginative people – You have two cows.
Binary – You have 10 cows.
Floating-Point – You have 1.999999999 cows.
Scientific notation - You have 2.0 × 10 0 cows.


(__) (oo)
/-------\/ ||
/ | ||----||
* ||----|| ~~
~~ ~~
div.cows {
text-decoration: none;
cows: 2;
border-left: 1px solid #000000;
20 GOTO 10

October 24, 2005

New F1 proposals

Writing about web page

Just so I can say "you heard it here first": this is what a Formula One car may look like from 2008, or even – optimistically – 2007 if every team agrees. (OK, 2008 it is then).

The big change is the design of the rear wing, to let cars follow one another much more closely and hence, hopefully, get a lot more overtaking. Slick tyres should make a comeback too!

The principle is to massively improve the ratio of mechanical grip (from the tyres) to aerodynamic grip (from the wings) – at the moment, aerodynamics disrupt the airflow so much that a car loses loads of front grip if it gets anywhere near a car in front. CFD simulations (see pic below) show the centreline air-pressure profile of the new rear-wing regulations – bottom – as much better than the current – top – one. If you're not technically-minded, trust me, it does.

With these regs, F1 should actually stand a chance of seeing some more overtaking again!

October 23, 2005

The end of an ear

(or 'era' if you prefer)
It's over! The last Christian O'Connell Breakfast show on Xfm has been and gone. Always the highlight of any uni holiday, daytrip down south (like early morning starts for uni championship karting) and more recently commutes to work, it was a brilliant show for 5 years.

There are a couple of mp3s available online, not great quality but well worth having a listen to if you're an Xfm fan:

The latter includes all the classics, just a few of these being the culmination of the Hasselhof campaign, Brian Blessed, Damon from Oval and a reminder of earlier in the week when Stephen Fry phoned the show to hear the Fry vs. Blessed mash-up. The funniest moment on the compilation is when Christian encourages a listener to propose to his girlfriend on air to win tickets to the Reading Festival – the listener goes off to do it and Christian is left floundering "I'm not ready! No! What've I done?!"

Lauren Laverne takes over Breakfast soon and Christian is starting at Virgin (booo) in late January. Luckily Lauren is completely nuts too, so getting up in the mornings should be no less pleasant despite the dark and the rain and the traffic and the…

Giving advice

Apparently this is not the best way to do it:

her: (exasperated) Ugh! No! That's exactly what my sister said!
me: (smugly) Well she's probably right then.

Does not yield optimal results.

October 19, 2005

Sorry and sorry again

Future entries must be shorter, less boring and more pictureful.

…it cert'nly is now

Follow-up to Nerves for the weekend from Syncspeed

Wednesday already? I meant to update this a while ago! I spent Sunday at Silverstone for the Young Driver of the Year national final and got through the day without my birdflu/sniffles being a major detriment. It's great how setting mental targets and barriers can deal with most minor illnesses – I honestly believe I was never significantly ill in four years of uni (despite perpetual tiredness and exposure to freshers and their flu) purely because "I don't have time to be ill" was both a mantra and the truth. The target of being well enough to drive for Sunday proved to be sufficient motivation to recover. I did come away with a little prize, although it was only the geek prize (hmm, perhaps fittingly) but it was a pretty good day.

I found when I got there that pretty much everybody had been at a previous Young Driver final, so competition was pretty stiff. My group of five (competitors were split up for rotation around the activities) was particluarly good – four of us ended up winning pretty major prizes. I won't go into lots of detail, but here's a quick summary of the day.

  • The theory was the first bit: a tricky multiple-choice test. The first 100 questions were roadsigns on a Powerpoint presentation (7 seconds per question); the second half of the test was another 100 multiple-choice questions on other aspects of motoring. That was the geek prize I won – best Theory score. Woo and indeed hoo!
  • Manoeuvring was next – low speed manoeuvres demonstrating car control on a tight course against the clock. I did OK but didn't like the Mini Cooper automatics they had us driving for this event. Throttle lag was measured in seconds, and never having driven an auto before threw me a bit when trying to switch between forward and back all the time. And yes, I'll admit that I twice went for the (non-existent) clutch with my left foot and slammed the brakes on very hard. D'oh.
  • The skid control event was fun, using a new Audi A4 on a hydraulically controlled cradle set up to make the car oversteer. I should have been a lot quicker with my karting experience but I think tiredness and a slightly illness-impaired sense of balance worked against me.
  • The drive was the last bit, and by far the most important points-wise. I drew the short straw and ended up with a Mini One Cabriolet – not much power and a huge blind spot where the drop top wraps around the rear three-quarter panel. Despite that, it was quite a fun car to drive, quiet for a cabrio, good steering and I got on well with the clutch and gearbox. I made about four mistakes I spotted in my hour on the road: I was still braking slightly through a corner once, I didn't quite have the clutch up as I turned at a junction (twice!) and once near the start of the drive I put a bit too much faith in 5th gear up a hill and had to change to 4th where the engine was happier. In the words of the police examiner, "a nice, tidy drive" – I was quite chuffed.

Congratulations to James, the overall winner (a lucky guy – his father told me he's driven well over 250 different vehicles in his life, and he's still a teenager!). He won £500 off car insurance, training for a racing licence and the chance of a race in the Uniroyal Fun Cup, a one-make VW Beetle silhouette series (a spaceframe chassis with a 1.8 litre Audi mid-mounted engine). The runner-up, who will get to race if James can't next year, is called Dan and is an Electronics Engineering fresher at Warwick. Well done chap!

Everybody went away with a goodie bag from sponsors including BMW (among their gifts the offer of a tour of the Mini factory for me and my family), and my prize winnings included a fleece, a year's Green Flag breakdown cover and, er, some book vouchers (because it was the geek prize). If the rules allow it, I'm definitely going back next year (when I think they'll be running regional heats again) to win that race drive! Best get practising.

October 15, 2005

I think it's all over

Follow-up to Nerves for the weekend from Syncspeed

…bugger. Struck down by cold, in danger of becoming manflu. Hence will not win tomorrow. However, will just go for the fun of it. This is called getting my excuses in early. Oh well, I get to drive a MINIIIII! (Unless they've been lying to me…)

This may be my shortest entry ever.

October 14, 2005

Nerves for the weekend

adj. not giving attention to what is happening around you because you are thinking about something else.
Cambridge online dictionary

This weekend holds a pretty big event for me: the national final of RoSPA's Young Driver of the Year competition! I got to the final last year by winning the Midlands regional event, with a handy prize of £250 off car insurance. This year there were no regional events (presumably for lack of money or time) and entry was via random selection (out of not too many candidates, I suspect) after completing an online "driver attitudes" survey – but I heard about it through an email to all last year's finalists, so competition will still be stiff.

As last year, the format of the event is both exciting and tough: competitors (up to 40 of us) will be subjected at some point during the day to a difficult, hour-long theory test on all aspects of the Highway Code, road signs and general driving theory. One question which stumped me last year was about the notation of tyre sizes (must revise that!). The fun part of the day, which still carries significant marks, takes place in a large car park at Silverstone circuit (where the event is based). Competitors are judged on fine car control through a timed course, with heavy cone penalties, in a skid-pan car and then on a different course, manoeuvering into and out of tight spaces against the clock.

The most important part of the day, points-wise, is an hour-long drive on public roads – taking in congested villages, country roads, motorways and pretty much everything they can throw at you in that time – assessed by a qualified police instructor/examiner. You're encouraged to provide a running commentary of everything you do and consider while you drive along. It's not fast "emergency response" driving – indeed, doing 31 mph in a 30 will be noticed and held against you, as will doing 28 if it's safe to do 30 – but it's a massive step up from what's expected when you take your driving test.

Just to make it more interesting, more fair and more fun, the organisers hire a fleet of 10 identical small cars. Last year it was Corsas – a solid car, but not particularly fun to drive. I did OK but the clutch biting point was a lot lower than on both the cars I've driven significant distances in (my 306 and a newish Clio). That caught me out a couple of times, and not reading Roadcraft (the police driving manual) before the event meant that I didn't use a couple of advanced techniques the instructor was looking for. This year, it's been hinted we'll be driving either the MINI or a BMW 1-Series (perhaps I should have tried to have a test drive for practice; too late now). Either way it should be fun.

I'm hoping to do well, despite the manflu I'm having to try very hard not to come down with. My memory/understanding should be enough to get through the theory exam, I impressed a few people on the skidpan course last year (karting skills were very useful in drifting around the corners quickly and coping with slides) and, apart from my mistakes in the Corsa, I did well on the assessed drive. I just need to stay unhurried on the manoeuvering test, unlike last year. I'm trying not to get worked up about it, but let's just say the prizes are pretty special. Wish me luck!

October 10, 2005

I've got a joke too

Writing about I've got a joke… from The randomness of tomorrow, today!

Today at work I've been amused to come across a sheaf of engineering works contract documents, in which the Project Management Team has been referred to by acronym. Highlights include "Plans shall be submitted to the PMT for acceptance". Sounds like being in a relationship.

Then I had a little look at the blogs (in my lunch hour, of course) and saw Richard's painful but amusing post. This reminded me of an engineering joke I blogged some time ago, about the firing order of a single-cylinder engine. Trust me, it was comedy gold.

What jokes related to your subject do you know and/or secretly chuckle at? Don't worry if most people won't get it, that's kinda the point.

October 06, 2005


Ross Noble is now sold out for Friday night (despite the Arts Centre website's protestations)... just as I was finalising a very cool weekend in Leam. D'oh; maybe I'll get sorted earlier next time. I'll just have to focus my enjoyment even more on seeing lots of long-lost friends!

To anyone who is going tomorrow: enjoy it! (and do you have a spare ticket?)!

October 2005

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  • hmmm optimal results not shown?? actually i dont get what exactly you want to know, put the string o… by Kittu Kitz on this entry
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