Your typical CTI student.

OK, I do have something else to post before my trip…. anyway, found this on voyager42’s blog. Reminded me of some of the students we have.

“You have to open Passkey Login. Double-click the icon. That one there. The one that says ‘Passkey Login’ under it. That one. The icon, not the word. Okay, press Escape to get out of this. At the top left of the keyboard. Now try again. Click on the picture. No, double-click with the left button. No, double click. No, you have to click it twice fast. Faster. No, only use the left button. No, faster. Okay, wait a second. Try right-clicking it. With the right button. With the right button. Okay, now left-click on Open. The top one. Not the top of the screen, the top of the menu. No, the top one. Not that one. Okay, close this. Click on Cancel. Cancel. The one that says ‘Cancel’ on it. I’m pointing at it. Click on it. Now click on yes. Okay, right click the icon. The one that says ‘Passkey Login’ under it. Now move the mouse pointer over the top word on the list, ‘Open’. Now click with the left button. Okay. You have to log in. Do you know your password? Okay, good. Type your name in the first box here. Click in it first. Okay. Type your first name. Okay, click in the second box. Now type your password. Yes, it comes up as stars so I can’t see it. No, the computer knows it’s not all stars. Yes. Yes. Press Enter. Okay, did you type your password correctly? No, it’s not because it turned into stars. I’m sure. …You know what? I have to go, I’m on break.”

It’s so true…

It’s so bloody boring…

All the students are on holiday this week, which means that I have absolutely nothing to do. I don’t know why I have to come in to work in the first place, but work I must. Actually make that “get paid to mindlessly surf the Internet all day”. You may think I’m crazy, but I’d far rather be doing something constructive than do nothing all day.

And, yes, playing Oblivion is classified as something constructive. I’ve only just started playing the game, and I’m totally hooked. It started like this: after jerith suggested to me that I join his Neverwinter Nights posse, I decided to see what role-playing games were like (having never played one before). I managed to borrow the Oblivion DVD from one of my students. The rest, as they say, is history…

(I suppose I’ll have to return the disc sooner or later. Time to head off to BT Games again.)

All this is detracting from my rAge preparations. I’m supposed to be working on my non-existent Camper-Strike and DotA skills. Hopefully we’ll play less of that and more of Flatout 2 (which is the best fun that I’ve had for a long, long time). It’s this weekend, so I’ve got two more evenings to practise games, organise my music collection, backup said music collection, find where I’ve hidden my LAN power cable, yadda yadda. Or maybe I’ll just play Oblivion again.

As I’ve already mentioned, I’m leaving first thing on Friday morning. What fun, driving 600km up to Johannesburg and 600km back when you’re all buggered on Sunday evening. (Which means, rooijan, that I won’t be around this weekend. But I’ve already told you that. (I think.)) I won’t be posting any more on here before then (unless something important and life-threatening comes up), so my next post will be a rAge review on Tuesday (Monday’s pushing it). See you all again then.

Mixing madness.

Every now and then, I take it upon myself to mix a rave CD, which I do just for the fun of it. It’s quite a bit of work; the procedure goes as follows:

  1. Spend the weekend figuring out what we’re going to play – finding a decent tracklist that fits onto a CD and sounds nice is a challenge in itself.
  2. Find 80 minutes of your time when your little sister is unlikely to disturb you and record the mix, only to discover that it comes to 81 minutes and 32 seconds. As you can only fit 80 minutes of audio onto a CD, this is a little bit of a problem.
  3. Spend the next two hours re-recording sections of your mix, trying to make it shorter. Eventually you get it down to 79 minutes and 56 seconds. Good enough.
  4. Use your CD burning software to split the mix into tracks. The trick here is accuracy; I can get my track changes accurate to within thousandths of a second by now.
  5. Search the house for a CD to burn your mix to, only to discover that aforementioned little sister has used the last of your own private CD stockpile to burn her own stuff on. Throttle sister.
  6. Make mental note to self to buy more CDs.
  7. Make mental note to hide away CDs once you’ve bought them.

I won’t post a tracklist because most of you don’t share my taste for music and the friends of mine that do don’t read this.

Last minute practice sessions.

For those loyal (*COUGH*) readers going to rAge, there’s two practice opportunities. The first is the next CTI LAN happening this weekend – same details as last time, I’m too lazy to retype. Then, on the 23rd, there’s a LAN at IT Intellect in Musgrave Centre; head on off to for details and to register. I may not be able to make the latter though, as I’m booked for a wedding on that day… (yes rooijan, I actually remembered about it, for a change).

Why Santa doesn’t exist

I received this in my e-mail. It’s worth posting.

I. There are approximately two billion children (persons under 18) in the world. However, since Santa does not visit children of Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or Buddhist religions, this reduces the workload for Christmas night to 15% of the total, or 378 million (according to the Population Reference Bureau).

At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per house hold, that comes to 108 million homes, presuming that there is at least one good child in each.

II. Santa has about 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 967.7 visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian household with a good child, Santa has around 1/1000th of a second to park the sleigh, hop out, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left for him, get back up the chimney, jump into the sleigh and get on to the next house.

Assuming that each of these 108 million stops is evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false, but will accept for the purposes of our calculations), we are now talking about 0.78 miles per household; a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting bathroom stops or breaks. This means Santa’s sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second — 3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man-made vehicle, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second, and a conventional reindeer can run (at best) 15 miles per hour.

III. The payload of the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium sized Lego set (two pounds), the sleigh is carrying over 500 thousand tons, not counting Santa himself. On land, a conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that the “flying” reindeer could pull ten times the normal amount, the job can’t be done with eight or even nine of them— Santa would need 360,000 of them. This increases the payload, not counting the weight of the sleigh, another 54,000 tons, or roughly seven times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth (the ship, not the monarch).

IV. 600,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance — this would heat up the reindeer in the same fashion as a spacecraft re-entering the earth’s atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer would absorb 14.3 quintillion joules of energy per second each. In short, they would burst into flames almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them and creating deafening sonic booms in their wake.

The entire reindeer team would be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second, or right about the time Santa reached the fifth house on his trip.

Not that it matters, however, since Santa, as a result of accellerating from a dead stop to 650 m.p.s. in .001 seconds, would be subjected to centrifugal forces of 17,500 g’s. A 250 pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of the sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force, instantly crushing his bones and organs and reducing him to a quivering blob of pink goo.

Therefore, if Santa did exist, he’s dead now.

All quiet on the Western Front

There’s not much going on at my end, the only remotely interesting bit of news being that I got hit by the Dreaded Lurgi for the second time this year last week, and that it’s really nice being able to play computer games with hardware that doesn’t let you down. It’s also quiet at work at the moment, with not much going on. That gives me a bit more free time, something that’s been really lacking over the past few months. With the rAge expo just under a month away, it gives me the opportunity to become really good at certain games.

For those of you reading this that are going (which I know is quite a few of you), take note that your power cord needs to have those red plugs with the flattened earth pin; without it you won’t be able to connect to the power grid. I’m not too sure of the reasons; I read somewhere that it’s some sort of standard that has to be conformed to, but I can’t confirm this.

I popped in to Harvey Travel in Westville the other day to get my Aussie visa application forms (they’re the ones in Durban that take care of that sort of thing). The supporting documentation is really something: I have to include financial status, a letter from my employer confirming that I’m taking leave, letters from my relatives to say that I’m staying with them – and that’s just what I can remember at the moment. Unfortunately, I don’t think that the Real Programmer approach (that of leaving everything to the last minute so you can get away without doing the documentation) is going to work in this scenario. Oh well, I suppose it’s easier than trying to get into the USA…

(By the way, I strongly recommend that you read that Real Programmer article if you haven’t seen it already. I would have really liked to be able to program like that in that era.)

The only other thing that’s worth mentioning is that we had a visit from Head Office, and they seem to be keen to one day move me up to Johannesburg to work in the “Courseware Development Division”. All because of a “How To Program” article that I compiled from various excellent sources, including Peter Norvig’s “Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years” (another brilliant article), some of Eric Raymond’s writings, and some stuff on jerith’s website. (I had to strongly resist the temptation to put in “How Not To Cheat”.) I haven’t actually gotten around to distributing it yet; I’ll save that for next year’s students. But, getting back to the topic, Johannesburg is pretty much the last place that I would like to move to. Give me Cape Town any day. That being said, if the opportunity is good enough, I wouldn’t hesitate to take it. But it does need to be good enough.

I think I’m going to read that Real Programmers thingie again now…