Fun with driving


I drove back to Leamington today, to pick up a bookcase from Argos (since they weren't in stock here in Stratford). On the way back I got to quite a busy crossroads with traffic lights on it, and was pleased to see they were on green. I was also slightly surprised to see a car go across the junction. Then another, and another. In fact, traffic was flowing freely in the direction that should have been on red. Due to some strange and highly dangerous glitch the traffic lights were showing green in both directions! People going across the junction didn't really have any way of knowing this so just carried on driving. Eventually someone realised what was wrong and let me cross his path - only to be beeped by the guy behind him, who wasn't aware of what was going on.

A highly unnerving experience.


Hello all

Another academic year over, and a fine time to start this old thing going again. I'll be leaving this place (Leamington) in a few days to spend the summer at Mum's (which is now in Stratford). I managed to get a first again this year, but by not nearly as great a margin as I did in the first year (1st year ~87%, 2nd year ~75%), and I almost failed one of my modules :S. It looks like I'm going to have to actually start working next year, though the second year is supposed to be the hardest (due to the sheer quantity of material we covered). Given that I can apparently do Mathematics and Physics, I intend to spend this summer trying to find out what I can't do - I hope to fail. I will be exploring various literary and musical pursuits, hopefully at least some of them will be fruitful.

How are you all? Hope everyone's well, and anyone else getting results got what they wanted.

- Signing off (but not for long).

I 0wn eBay.

If only I actually did own eBay, I would be very rich indeed. However I did do a nice bit of trading. I bought a huge Dreamcast lot on a £40.00 starting bid with £2 delivery, sold all the stuff I didn't want for £39, and kept a load of stuff that would have cost around £35 individually.

I'm revising now for the four Physics modules I have examined after Easter, because I found out on Saturday that Dan had done a fair bit of revision and I got worried... I'm doing a past paper now and it doesn't seem *too* bad.
  • Current Mood
    working working


OE and IE are both making my computer lock up (OE more so) and I don't know why! So it's Opera for now I guess...


Just searching users by interest for 'Warwick uni' and 'Warwick university' looking for fellow students and trying to leave out-of-the-blue hello messages that don't make me sound like some sort of stalker, I'd say more but I quite like the idea of getting an entire post in one very long sentence and I also think it's time to go to bed as I need to get up early tomorrow.
  • Current Mood
    tired tired

Ow! My wrist....

There's an attention grabbing subject line for you. The actual cause of my discomfort is a particularly ambitious project on my guitar - an eight-finger tapping arrangement of Flight of the Bumblebee. I've been working on it for about a month since I finished the arrangement and have been practicing all afternoon but still can't quite get it right.

Wholly Krapp!

I knew I'd forgotten something. You might remember that two of my friends from school (Dan and Warren) we're with me on my course at Warwick. After our exam on the first day back, I realized I had yet to see Warren, I asked Dan about it and he hadn't seen him either. Each of us had thought Warren had been sitting near the other (as we were in quite different places in the hall - Warren was actually supposed to be sitting near Dan). Worrying that he might have missed the exam, I texted Warren to see if he was all right, and if he had actually been there. I got a reply saying he hated the course, had dropped out and wasn't coming back! This obviously came as a bit of a surprise as he hadn't said anything to me or Dan over the holidays (I suppose because each time I saw him it was with a lot of other people and he didn't want to 'announce' it). Dan thought I was joking when I told him and was pretty annoyed about the whole thing, I think because he felt we all found the course hard and we were 'in it together'. Warren is re-applying to universities closer to home next year.

... Eight weeks on

I have been inspired to post again thanks to around a dozen replies to my own comment on the first post due to it being linked to from news. If I ever catch up with myself it will make this a lot easier, I just have so much to write each time I come to update it makes it quite off putting. The matter is not as bad this time though due to a relatively uneventful period since the last post due to a phenomena I was previously unaware but which is apparently quite widely known as 'second term syndrome'.

That's not to say nothing has happened, in fact there are more than enough events worthy of mention to keep me typing for a while.

First things first, the rather nasty exam I had on the first day back went reasonably well. I raced through Foundations (note: doing an exam fast is not necessarily a good thing) then tackled Analysis very competently I thought until the final question where I was stumped for quite some time. I eventually managed to prove the thing I was trying to through only the very slightest of dodgy steps but since the question said 'show that' rather than 'prove that' I felt it was acceptable. Evidently it was as I received a very acceptable 91% for the Analysis exam, but my marks were not entirely unrelated to the time spent on each section as for Foundations I got a perfectly respectable but not-as-good-as-it-should-have been (by which I mean not as good as most of my friends, who are generally pretty clever) 76%.

That nastiness out of the way brings me to the much more protracted background unpleasantness of the Accommodation Situation - which I can assure you is more than horrible enough to merit that capitalization. The problem is that we have to sort out who we want to live with after only knowing each other for only ten weeks. Between the two corridors there are many social circles all interlinked in a convoluted many leading you to decide you either want to live with two other people or with twenty as the inclusion of one person leads to the inclusion of another etc... I won't go into the gory details because frankly I don't want to relive them, but after many meetings and conversations in which people disagreed about what was said in other meetings, got angry or offended or upset we ended up with two groups of seven. Pleased to find any solution that no-one was unhappy with (not that everyone was entirely happy with it, but that would have been impossible) we neglected the minor detail that we would now be competing in a fairly limited market for houses of the same size. There are very few seven bedroom student houses in the Coventry-Leamington area. However (and once again I won't bore you with the details), after just missing out on a couple of nice places, going to look at some not-so-nice places, and doing actually surprising little work - a perfect house dropped into our lap. One of our group had subscribed to an estate agent's mailing list and a house appeared which we reserved (after much panicking and a poorly constructed web site leading us to believe for about an hour that we'd lost the opportunity to reserve the house).
I cannot explain to you how good this house is, and unfortunately the photos cannot do it justice but it is amazing. It's recently renovated (the kitchen is better than mine at home!) and we'll be the first students to occupy it. Unfortunately photos don't do the inside justice (all the rooms look small and dark), but I do have some good ones of the outside (one here). The only drawback of the house (apart from a lengthy bus ride into uni) is that, as with many student homes, one of the rooms is significantly smaller than the others. It is not an unreasonably tiny box-room and is in fact perfectly acceptable but all the other rooms are much bigger. We'll either be offering to reduce the rent (to be absorbed by the other six occupants) until someone is tempted to take it or drawing lots :-S, but we have yet to tackle this potentially sticky situation.
Oh, the other group of seven ended up having to split up into two houses and are living in Coventry, 10 miles from us. On the plus side another group of our friends (four people who decided to live together very early on thus saving themselves a whole lot of hassle) are living about a minute and a half's walk down the road from us.

The only other things that spring to mind to mention (and I know I'm forgetting some stuff) are table football and eBay.

I briefly mentioned our football table last term, and how it was in need of repair. After buying new rods for it, it became something of a full time hobby for myself and Phil this term. We also joined the Warwick Table Football Society (which only came into existence last term) and after much more practice (sometimes at stupid hours of the morning when we should have been sleeping or at least working) we entered the society's doubles tournament which sponsored by the unimaginatively (or maybe just pretentiously) named 'the bar' in which it took place had a grand prize of a PlayStation 2. Fully intending to sell the PS2 on eBay to fund the purchase of a 'proper' football table of our own and not even slightly expecting to win it we amazed ourselves (and indeed, others) by raising our game immensely in the semi-final to beat the team of our resident table football expert (a post grad from Oxford, where there is a huge table football 'scene'). Fate only carried us so far that day though as we finally bowed out after a nail-biting final which came down to an intense decider game (it was best of five). Nevertheless, we we're very proud of how we did and as we lifted our somewhat random runners-up prize of an large pink box of a pink vodka drink.
Oh, one final thing, by a slightly bewildering series of events I am now secretary of the Table Football Society, and Phil is the new Events Co-ordinator.

So eBay then. Thanks to the wondrous tool we are now the proud owners of this football table. Well nearly, purchasign it without thinking how we we're going to get it down to us, it has reached as far as Liverpool where my sister (who was kind enough to take delivery of it) lives. It is apparently larger than she imagined (or rather - than I let on) and she is saying we may have to hire a van to get it as far as Warwick.

My love affair with eBay goes further though, I am now the proud owner of a Dreamcast and am building what I believe to be the ultimate collection of games for this console. I also have quite an industry going being charged with the task of emptying our loft, as well as selling a lot of my own stuff I don't want/need anymore. (Please feel free to see my eBay auction history, my userID is at the top of the page for the football table linked to above).

Ah, one other thing to mention. I took part in setting the record for the world's largest pillow fight... twice. As well as being thoroughly good fun (and thoroughly good excercise) it also turned out to be a patriotic act. Our impressive total 967 smashed the existing record by a few hundred, though some posh private-college in America spent $1700 (ours cost 15 quid) to edge ahead of us. We got them back though, reaching an amazing 1308. Duke are now well out of the running (we simply outnumber them student-wise) though if other universities join the competition we could be in trouble (if the Manchester unis get involved we're in trouble). Note: Pillow fighting is great fun but being hit in the face or other vital areas is not - both of these happened to me a few times but not enough to dampen my enthusiasm for what I confidently predict will be the sport of choice in the new century!

On that note of foolishness I leave you for hopefully a much shorter time than the last break.


Before I embark on the events of this term I thought I'd go through a bit of information on more day-to-day general stuff about my uni life.

There are over a hundred rooms in my block, so I couldn't possibly get to know all of them during one term. Most of the people I see regularly and go out with are on my corridor (kitchen 5) or the one around the corner from me (kitchen 4). Most late night silliness (including 'Cabbage catch' and 2AM fry-ups) takes case in Kitchen 4, though I have spent many a night sitting in one or other of the rooms on corridor 5 talking. Any of the rock or indie music nights, I tend to go to with people off kitchen 4. Kitchen five (my own kitchen) are perhaps a slightly quieter lot (with exception of some of the girls who are distinctly loud) but this has not stopped some good nights out (at our union's cheese night Top Banana) and a couple of kitchen parties. Then there are people off my course, of other corridors in my hall and a few other random people. I'll do my best to give some idea of who each person is when I first mention them.

Warwick is a campus university which you would think meant I didn't have to do much walking, but last term this assumption would have been wrong. Warwick actually consists of three campuses (campi?) and until the completion of the new maths/stats building on Main Campus at Christmas, getting to maths lectures entailed a 10-15 minute walk up a hill to the Gibbet Hill Campus. Since some of our maths lectures went on until six last term, coming home in the dark and the wind and the rain was not fun.
As well as the new maths/stats building, Main campus also has the enourmous sciences building (the building being enourmous, not necessarily the science) and huge library, the Arts Centre (where we saw Dave Gorman's Googlewhack adventure last term - which was absolutely brilliant), the Union (a building of terribly confusing architecture which though I now know how to find my way around inside, I have no clue how the interior geometry relates to the outside of the building), Rootes social (including a large bar with lots of tables to do work at during the day, and a restaurant which is becoming a favourite place to get breakfast at *after* the morning's lectures). In the opposite direction to Gibbet hill off main campus lies Varsity (the nearest non-uni place to go, a club or chain pub depending at what time of day you go) and further on the Westwood Campus (where there is another sports centre and more accommodation - meaning some students used to have to do Westwood to Gibbet Hill for nine in the morning). Then of course, there are Coventry and Leamington Spa. Coventry, as I'm sure many of you know was bombed rather a lot during the war. However, this gave the surviving people of Coventry the opportunity to rebuild the city during the 50s and 60s as a modern, stylish place. Thus the decision was made (or so it appears, from walking around the place) to use 'this wonderful new material called concrete' which - as everyone who lives near any mid 20th-century building know - looks completely shitty after about five years of weathering. To be fair to the place, it has a pretty good range of shops and a very nice new shiny shopping centre, plus a good cinema and a few decent night clubs. Leamington I haven't really explored much but apparently has a
fair few shops and some nice pubs (and is where I'm living next year - see next post).

As I said before, my work consists largely of lectures and other timetabled sessions. This varies between 14 and 25 hours a week during the first two terms, the vast majority of which I attend (with the exception of Examples Classes and my Mechanics A lectures - which I missed because the lecturer was useless and I'd already done most of the material at A-level). I have a worksheet each week for each module and most of these are marked by either a supervisor (for maths) or an examples class tutor (for physics). We have contact time with both of these people (groups of 3-5 with supervisors and of about 20 with examples class tutors) but I never go to examples classes as they only help you with the work you've already done and physics is generally pretty easy (I've only got less than 7/10 once - 70% being the boundary for a first). Foundations last term was assessed by fortnightly multiple choice tests which were *not* easy. Evil questions and negative marking for wrong answers made them pretty daunting (a lot of people got 0 or 3 out of 25 at least once), I managed to get on top of them eventually, averaging 80% (mercifully they ignore your worst test when taking this average). We also have a tutorial once a week (with a member of staff from the physics department). These are in groups of four or five and get given fairly difficult maths worksheets from time to time (these generally cover maths we need for our physics course but haven't yet covered in our maths course).

This is so great it deserves a section of its own. I imagine anyone reading this knows what Direct Connect is but if not click here. Its essentially a set of programs allowing anyone with a decent computer to run their own P2P file sharing and chat server. Warwick (unofficially, and run by a few students somewhere) has one of these servers (Warwick Underground), which means as we are all on 100Mb network can download files at over 10MB/s. This means it's possible to get a film in about a minute and a half. Since almost everyone uses the client program DC++ to connect to the server, the file-sharing network itself is commonly referred to on campus as simply 'DC++'. The other great thing about this is that there are a few people on the network who download new episodes of the Simpsons, ER, Friends etc... as they appear on American TV. What this means is that we can watch episodes from season 3 of 24 the *day after* they are shown on Fox (they will not appear on terrestrial for at least 18 months). So now not only do a group of us sit and watch the new episode in my room every Wednesday, but I am also burning each episode onto CD and sending it to Joe - one of my friends at the University of Wales, Bangor.