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Thursday 18 July 2002

Bap or Butty? [Lurks]

Slim says it's a bap, Dave says it's a bun. Someone says it's a butty, I think. Which is right and more importantly, who gives a fuck?

Pegleg back in World Cup mode [Shedir]

Well it's been 4 months and a day since I broke my ankle, tore both ankle ligaments and something to my achilles. But I made my comeback to 6 a side football and have emerged unscathed. Rejoice!

Friday 12 July 2002

NTFS = SUX0R [Lurks]

Ever since I've been using PCs, I've always formatted my volumes with FAT, in recent years FAT32. Even when using proper OSes like NT, Win2K and XP. My limited early experience with NTFS was that it was insanely slow and I recalled a problem where I had a drive corruption and nothing would fix it. The insanely slow thing was a laptop in fact, formatted with NTFS and yet appeared to have the slowest HD I have used since 20MB on a card in my A2000. There may have been other reasons, I appreciate this isn't a proper scientific analysis of the performance but that's why I've chosen FAT32 ever since.

Now, the other day a HD crashed in my work machine. An almost new Maxtor 540DX drive in fact, how odd! That was a bit of a bugger but shit happens. Fresh install, new HD and so on and I think... hey so many folks have queried my choice of FAT32 (including the EED boys) that I'll choose NTFS. Bish bash bosh.

Yesterday, my machine crashed. I don't know why. It was running fine for a couple of days but up pops a BSOD with 'NTFS' somewhere in the meaningless garbage that MS helpfully provides. Odd, brand new Win2K install and all that but, and I need to make this point now, I didn't and still do not necessarily believe that this crash had anything to do with a weakness or shortcoming in NTFS necessarily.

However, when I tried to reboot, I got that hyper annoying problem of a BSOD on boot complaining about inaccessable boot device. When Win2K boots it loads all of its driver files in 16-bit mode including drivers for accessing the HDs and so on. Then it fires up all the 32-bit drivers and carries on booting etc. So you often see this problem if you move a Win2K volume to another mobo with a different IDE controller and so on. Win2K wont start looking at your hardware until the essential 32-bit drivers (like disk access drivers) are running and if you can't run the 32-bit drivers, because the essential hardware has changed or at least is incompatible, then you get this sort of nonsense. Annoying but understandable to a degree.

Not the sort of thing you'd expect from a simple crash and not changing ANY hardware though, especially on a brand new install on fresh hardware that's been running fine for two days. Even more annoyingly, you can't get to a command prompt on NT based OSes, safe mode or whatever without loading the essential 32-bit drivers. So even safe mode command prompt will BSOD. Of course being an NTFS volume, I can't boot a floppy to get a command prompt to look at my install either.

I'm dragging this out now so I'll cut to the chase. After investigation I had concluded that the implementation of NTFS has a serious flaw where it is not possible to mount and access an NTFS volume in 32-bit mode when there is some form of corruption on the volume. Now of course this corruption shouldn't be there anyway on a journaling file system, it ought to just roll back the changes. That's not happening, the crash in NTFS itself according to my original BSOD if you recall, has resulted in some actual corruption of the NTFS volume which it's (obviously lame) journaling capabilities cannot resolve.

The solution was to take the drive out of that machine, place it in another and boot that machine. Bingo scandisk pops up, does a quick once over and fixes some extremely minor stuff - I mean the sort of shit you see scandisk fix all the time on reboot after a crash when using FAT32. I pop the drive back in my machine, and it boots perfectly and everything is cool.

Oh my lord how lame can you get! I mean what good would NTFS be for a server, even, if it crashed and couldn't reboot so far as to load scandisk to fix minor issues with the FS and restart the remote access services?! The implementation of NTFS assumes that it cannot be corrupted and will refuse to mount if it is. That's not good at all.

So the moral of the story is that I feel vindicated on my choice of FAT32 for small/boot partions all this time. Naturally I expect to get a load of people going 'I've not have that problem' which automatically means it doesn't exist :)

Wednesday 10 July 2002

Potty pot [Slim]

So you'll have all seen the news that pot is to be officially de-classified to C in October. I understand that many police forces have been doing this unofficially for some time, so you've got to wonder a little what the fuss is about. Anyway, I noticed this little stinger in the BBC's coverage: Mr Blunkett raised the maximum sentence for dealers of class B and C drugs from five years to 14 years. So you're not going to be able to buy any of the stuff anyway. Top! I also love the way any stories on the subject are featuring prominent politicians backed with pictures of weed on the beeb, hilarious!

Tuesday 9 July 2002

BBC gets terrestrial digital licence [Lurks]

Following on from failed On Digital/ITV Digital, the licence to broadcast terrestrial digital came up for grabs. The BBC put in their bid in conjunction with Crown Castle, the guys who set up and ran all the terrestrial digital transmission infrastructure for ITV Digital. Well it looks like the BBC have won. This could have been good/bad but after having a look into it, I proclaim it as good.

You see what they're going to do is set up 24 free to air channels, obviously all of the regular terrestrial analog but also some stuff from BSkyb, presumably the Simpsons station Sky 1. I like this since I've been pretty happy with the basic channels I get on my analog cable but, bizarrely, the quality is dreadful. I can't justify lashing out for digital based on my usage and unlike some of the other boob-box fans in EED (eh Suit? :), I'm just not going to shell out for pay stations like the movie channels.

My only reservation was that I thought the quality of the service on terrestrial digital was pretty bad before. More good news there;

At the time the bids were submitted, the BBC said its offer to broadcast 24 channels would allow for better quality reception that the previous 36-channel service provided by ITV Digital.

33% better bit rate will make a noticeable difference to quality. The other operators that were vying for the licence were your typical pay-per-view media giants so you can bet they'd try to cram more stations in and half of them would be pay-per-view so many wouldn't see them anyway. If you're a boob-box fan then you need Sky, terrestrial digital ought to be television for the masses in my opinion.

Of course little of this changes the fact that I live in a valley in North London and can't get analog television. Then again, I was surprised with DAB because I'm full whack on that - so if they're transmitting from Alexandra Palace I should be sorted.

So what's the deal then, you just got to buy a box presumably? Can I buy one that isn't a Nokia? Call me odd but I prefer to have a digital box that doesn't crash because you push the channel forward button too fast.

Monday 8 July 2002

The BBC knows best. Honest! [Pod]

I was just surfing the web today during my lunch hour when I came across this gem from the BBC sport web site.

'Petrescu won 95 caps for Romania and scored the goal which knocked England out of the 1998 World Cup. '

I mean come on. The World cup has just gone by and everyone is talking about the sweet revenge we got when we beat the cheating argies who got Beckham sent off when they knocked us out 4 years ago.

You would think that a BBC football writer might have known that considering the coverage that the BBC themselves gave to it.

Where is our fee going?

Saturday 6 July 2002

Nother dream of an aircrash [Am]

Slightly weird one here - ignore it please if you think it's arse. I seem to have these weird repeat dreams about plane crashes and then of course when they happen in RL shortly after one of these dreams then they shock you a lot. It's not related, I realise, but last week I had a dream that was so vivid I wrote it down. That's what follows - just oddness - no comment intended really. Just one of those things; this is what I wrote after I woke up;

I've been drinking bloody Mary's with the girl in the seat next to me. She's been laughing and there are dry roasted peanuts scattered around my tray, a dusting of brown powder edging the drink-doily shapes I have been making. Every time I have removed one from below my glass, the air hostess has been replacing it with a smile. The ones I'm taking are oregamied into cake and crown shapes and because they must be, dusted down with peanut dust and for the reasons these things always are, this is pretty funny. These things can be so stupid and so vivd. I am asleep and then there's a plane crash. For some unstable reason I have thought (when awake, I'm afraid), that if I was ever in a plane crash, I'd endeavor to at least remove a few seconds of misery for the passenger next to me. Considering the options, as you do if you're strange enough to spend processing time on planning your behavior in the event you should find yourself in a plane crash, I had gone for, but then reluctantly discarded, punching out the passenger next to me. Seeming initially fair enough in terms of reducing the terror, if not in fact a wholeheartedly selfless ideal, somewhere along the way I'd decided everyone should have the choice to face a death they knew was coming. It did of course leave them the option of beating themselves unconscious on the seat back. No, as a humanitarian, I'd settled for a distractor, a curve ball that might be just odd enough to relieve their brains for a few seconds. So the plan was, as far as it went, as soon as the crash was about to happen, when we were on the way down, I was going to shout as loudly as I could Oh no! Not again! And the person next to me might be shaken out of their fright, wondering what on earth I was talking about and there would be ten seconds less terror as we just treadmilled the strangeness of the comment. This was the plan. With luck, if I yelled loud enough, I had anticipated I might sort out a few of them at the same time. This was the plan when I was awake. I'm asleep and then there's a plane crash. Briefly before, I have been continuing to stack up my paper-cakes and brushing peanut dust from my fingers. The girl next to me is still laughing herself silly. The Bloody Mary's on our tray's are brimming with dark circles of Worcester sauce, florescent lemon eighths. The airhostess has been smiling. I think the plane is probably a 747 although with a mirror-reflecting-mirror effect, the aisle extends miles away from me. The plastic of my seat-back tray transmits through my fingernails as I tap rat-tat-tatatata-tat with a one-handed breakbeat. Someone else's hand, in front of me, clutching the closest seat-back slips slightly over the head-rest sheet. The captain is on the end of it, fifty odd although I can't make out a face. His features are obscured by the light of the stewardess button blinking furiously from above. 'You wanted something Sir?' he says 'The stewardess tells me you have been causing a bit of trouble' With intense irritation, the girl in the seat next to me leans right across me and shouts at him to piss off. 'I didn't say you'd been causing trouble madam' says the shape of the captain. She begins to argue with him across my front, her head twisted around so that she is practically looking up the precipice of the seat back at the face I can't see. The back of her hair is too close to my face and now unpleasantly aware of the constriction of the economy seat around my shoulders, I'm trying to lean out into the aisle to get away from her, to get a better look at his face. Down the aisle, all the stewardess lights have begun to be pushed, their light a catwalk runway hanging overhead. The girl next to me finishes a flurry of abuse and without further ado breaks off with a smile at me. We wait for a few seconds and then when the silence has built up, only the faint drumming of the engines in the background interrupting, the shape of the captain turns away defeated, the stewardess light burning away, playing down his receding shape. The girl next to me is beaming with satisfaction and throwing back the contents of her Bloody Mary. My back is aching. I lean out into the aisle again and watch as making his way into the distance, his feet kick up spurs of light from the clear liquid that I now notice has begun to stream down the aisle. I' m still asleep and even I probably know it. Then there's the planned crash. The air is dried out, cool. I'm tattoo drumming with my finger nails, brittle on the plastic, with the rhythm. The liquid that was flowing down the aisle when the captain walked away begins to make itself felt on the soles of my feet, in my socks. It grows damper, then is wet. I'm anxious, damp, wet. Through the thick windows there is an enormous crack from the wing. The girl to my right looks at out of the window and makes a moue. I'm looking at her and then back at my ankles, down the aisle. The silver liquid is flowing around us all, the hostess lights glancing off it, illuminating handfuls of fabric, parts of the ceiling, the side of the face of someone indistinct in front. 'It's fuel' she says with a rueful mouth, her index finger tipping like a metronome from one edge of her glass to the other. 'Fuel?' I'm yelling 'Fucking fuel! That guy in front's smoking!' She looks me in the face and drags my gaze to the wing. It's falling away, bits dropping off it, a sub-sonic leper discarding paint and wiring. The nose of the plane, like a sigh, begins to tip towards the earth. The fuel begins to washes around my ankles. 'Jesus' I'm yelling rather hysterically 'Fuel! Theguyinfront. If he drops it we're dead' The turbines have begun to pitch up, their whine extending. In front of me, legions of hands are reaching in the air, pressing off their stewardess lights and even though the strip lights have failed, they are pressing off their reading lamps . I look at the girl next to me. She fixes me with her lake eyes. 'I don't think it matters' she says. I'm struggling to breath, panicky, flecks of fuel beginning to fly towards my face. The nose of the plane tips forward again and with the click of a lamp in front of me, finally only our seats remains lit. My plastic glass has tipped up, the tomato juice and vodka separating, spreading over the seatback, the crisp packets and paper shapes creeping to the top of the seat. The engine noise is pure metal, a ton's weight just below the speed of sound, friction, air resistance, superheated grease and electricity. There are no lights on, only mine. I feel I have something planned, some phrase to relieve her anxiety, 'Don't worry' she says in my ear 'It's not like it could happen again' The fuel laps around my shirt collar, the engines at the edge of audibility. The girl next to me offers me a cigarette. It hangs freefall as we plummet downwards. My ears are popping and compressing with the noise of the metal and the sheer speed. Droplets then gouts of fuel flick by either side of my head, a smell like vodka, the somehow separate sparks of light from my overhead light fizzing into each particle or ricocheting with added energy into the recesses of the cabin to leave the bereft drops like chromium, moving without the benefit of the speed of light, With the spark of her lighter, somehow we are still intact and I inhale. Where there should be hysteria from the passengers as we begin to approach vertical, there is absolute silence, noticeable against the pressure of a tidal wave of air, the smell of children's vomit, breaking plastic, broken electrics, above it all, fear. I'm falling forward into my seatbelt, the girl next to me is smiling like she's coming over the lip of a rollercoaster's drop. The fuel is in solid flow past my face, I am face first, underwater. She looks at me askance. 'It will ignite if you drop it' she slurs kindly 'You'll kill everyone'. From the darkness, streamers of clothes and duty free are flying past, ruffling cardigans, smashing bottles, silent in the din of the failing mechanics, shooting by for all the resistance of the flying liquid. I want to say to her, Jesus, can't you see what is happening, what's going to happen, the wings are coming off, it doesn't matter what kills us first now, these aren't the sort of things that are going to happen again. 'There's still no reason to drop it' she says 'Or at least, if you do, it will be your fault.' We are almost totally covered by the streaming fuel but I know she's right, if I drop it then with dream logic we will ignite. I won't do it - I have been magnanimous to know that given the chance, we all have the right to face our deaths awake. We are vertical. Somehow an emergency circuit fires through the sound and the pressure and the fuel. One by one, the cabin lamps begin to light up, one by one, hesitant voters, building, then burning against the hammering of the rushing air. A computer voice begins to intone slowly 'Pull up.,..Pull up...Pull up...Pull up,,,' I hang on to that cigarette, the tip streaming coals as we hang vertical. Piped music is playing. The girl next to me is smiling.

Tuesday 2 July 2002

Am i too old for this shit? [Lurks]

Floyd was over last Friday and much of the EED posse (sadly with no-show slackers like Dr Dave and Shinji missing) turned out to Richmond to kick off an end-of-week session sitting on the riverside in the sun. It was great and the Slug and Lettuce was lucky that we were feeling mature enough to avoid forgoing the £5 beer tray deposit for martial discus lob attempts at the odd posh rower.

Of course that was only the beginning. On to another bar, more beers, champagne and so on until last orders. Much of the posse has already vacated, at last orders Spiro decides to cram into one of the late night bars in Richmond with the two birds he's been chatting up all night. With an evil glint in my eye, I set about a plan which I action approximately every one or two months. That involves decamping to the nastiest part of London (Brixton) and a legendary small club called 414. Jay is in tow, he's done this with me before and Floyd - fresh over from the Isle of Man - has no idea what he's in for.

I bundled Floyd in a cab for my gaff (right across town) at around 4. Jay pushed on until 6. Fuelled by marginally sub lethal levels of exotic amphetamines, I have no intention of giving up to the aches and pains of my aging aching carcass. Besides, as usual, I have some new friends also intent on taking the decadence as far as it will go. We're talking one 'after party' beginning at 6 and to another at some other time. Eventually, eyes like dinner plates, I ended up in a cab heading home at 9AM.

OK I've probably lost a couple of kilos, which wont be missed from my tire line, but I also lost at least a couple of hundred quid of cash, my MP3 player (at least it wasn't my £400 PDA!) and much of my weekend in one of those lovely depression hangovers that these pharmaceuticals generally impose. In this state there's ample time to lounge around feeling sorry for oneself and having all kinds of regrets but I like to put the mental slap down on that as hard as possible. It *was* a lot of fun and it was a much needed release from the otherwise monotonous life I lead.

But I can't help thinking that this is a little *too* costly, in money and physical impact. And really Brixton is a tragedy waiting to happen in it's own right, being nice to a crack dealer on Coldharbour Lane at 4AM is not a good career move any which way you look at it. I just haven't got that blind rationalization ability to achieve a good time like I had when I was younger. It's a battle and it's becoming an increasingly uphill one.

So is it time to hang up my club shoes and get me some nice older friends which will sip cabernet sauvignon at a restaurant in the countryside? And where will that end, I still can't quite handle the thought of kids... I've effectively lost too many of my good friends to the joys of fatherhood as it is.

Is it normal to have a mid life crisis at 31? :)