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Shevek

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[13 Oct 2010|09:20am]
Staying at this Hilton has been a rummy experience. Yesterday at about 7am, there was a knock on my door, and a bellboy handed me a razor and shaving foam, asked-for. I was a little surprised to be spontaneously disturbed at 7am, but not as surprised as when half an hour later, he knocked on the door again and asked for it back. This morning, a screaming match in Spanish started at about half past eight, and it's still going on now, at twenty past nine. I really do mean screaming, not just shouting. What a start to the day.

Edit: I didn't know what my voice sounded like this morning until I answered the phone to my boss. When I did hear myself, I just had to break into "Old Man River".
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[11 Oct 2010|11:25pm]
And the hail came down.

I looked out of the window of the penthouse party and saw Times Square. The bar was free. The waitresses were wearing little black dresses and the music rocked. I spent a more than few moments wondering how I got to be here before I went with the flow.

And the lightning flashed.

The party moved downstairs before the hail came. Two hundred people crammed into a space made for fifty, and the volume got louder. The DJ switched to vinyl and the business conversations started in earnest. The greatest American lie is "let's do lunch." I talk too much.

And the thunder rolled.

Much later, the last of the crowd gather around the bar with the ever-present TV showing baseball. In our search for a quiet space, Bradford and I discovered a whole room which nobody else had found, with an untouched buffet! Never one to be formal, I grabbed a large plate and dragged it over to where we stood, revisiting our earlier disbelief. I'm coding - I don't know why - I just had an idea.

I should take the idea home with me.

I think the hotdog vendors never close here. The over-eager taxi cabs are moving before the light has changed. I suddenly need some ear-bleeding EBM really badly.

This didn't happen. Not even in a movie.

Except it did.
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[11 Oct 2010|11:23pm]
In New York itself on fifth avenue. The quantity of litter is both horrifying and disgusting. I hear French with a Haitian patois as I break into the sunlight on Avenue of the Americas.

The Hilton is another world, and I am suddenly uncomfortable. I preferred the street. The air in here smells as polished as the vast expanse of marble floor. I refuse the key to the mini bar, and the clerk jokingly warns me that I will miss out on the five-dollar water. The TV in the lift tells me about jesus as I find my way to my numbered, artificial-apple scented cubicle. Apples like this, I wouldn't eat.
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[11 Oct 2010|11:21pm]
[notes only, leaving Newark Intl Amtrak] Magnificent large scale architecture. Sense of grandeur. A bridge three stories high. Seven roads in space for twelve, but only two platforms. Abandoned and lost spaces between the water and the concrete. Collapsed and forgotten telegraph lines half-drowned in the swamp. An enormous, rusting swing-bridge entirely superceded by the overhead highway.

Entering New York is a picture of abandonment.
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[11 Oct 2010|07:24am]
(goes to new york) Back wednesday night. Heh.
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[05 Oct 2010|07:13pm]
I might be having some sort of get-together in London on the 17th of October. This will be to commemorate and commiserate over the fact that I am leaving England permanently, probably before Halloween. I'm quite sad about this. It's all a little fuzzy at the moment, it will probably be in the Pembury by default, saving better suggestions. There's some risk of me dressing up a bit for the occasion.

I don't know what else to say really. I'll post a more concrete plan here if one emerges, otherwise that's it.

I would love to see you all.
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[01 Oct 2010|06:41pm]
Some of you may have heard that I answer all ethnic surveys as "Black, African" or similar. It's usually worth it for the look on the face of the official (e.g. policeman), the drawn breath to correct me, the sudden realization that this will only end up in court for racial discrimination, and a slightly uncomfortable pause.

Yesterday, I had to upload a photograph to the US Embassy web site. It rejected it for "brightness/contrast wrong". Now, I'm white (except in official paperwork) and the background must be white by regulation. So (and an embassy official confirmed this unofficially) the web site has "problems".

Easy solution. Photoshop. Asian. Photo accepted.

So what if they challenge me on this? "Well, officer. The photo was taken last week, and last week I was asian."

... pause, drawn breath, ...

What happens next?

I get asked / he says the next line.
2(6.2%)
I get the weird look and the deliberate silence.
8(25.0%)
He doesn't even notice.
7(21.9%)
v& (arrested, for those not on 4chan).
11(34.4%)
Other (please comment).
4(12.5%)


No, I will not be releasing the photograph. I already look like a [insert-criminal] without your photoshop help.
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[01 Oct 2010|04:45pm]
Today, we will consider a worrying version of the future^Wpresent. Two unrelated posts which, while each is a concern, are somewhat more curious in combination, as a view of the world.

Pre-crime, the premise of Minority Report, is now real, in a non-trivial sense.

And it has more personal data than ever to work with.

I suspect some of you know the various data protection acts in your jurisdictions. I would very much like to know how these two proposals should relate to the purpose, the intent, and the actual law of the various acts. My knowledge finishes at "personally identifiable" and I have no idea how that relates to "publicly available" or "personal/behavioural information sufficient to identify a person", rather than the narrow sense of a name and address.

Should we be expecting, or trying to construct something new?

How else might this affect us?
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[29 Sep 2010|05:40pm]
The US nonimmigrant visa has a field for entering country of birth. Two options available are "IN THE AIR" and "AT SEA".

On another note, I wish my country would decide whether it's called England, Great Britain or United Kingdom. This would make it easier to find in drop-downs. I know there's an official answer, and several of you are probably scurrying to look it up - but it doesn't matter if you know or I know. It only matters if the person building the intarnets sites knows.
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[29 Sep 2010|03:47pm]
Once again, I sat at my desk and wiggled the mouse, and waited for the screen to light up. Nothing happened, because the screen and mouse are plugged into a docking station, and the laptop was in my briefcase, downstairs.

I do this more often than I really want to admit.
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[27 Sep 2010|01:31pm]
In the course of clearing out, I have found my first ever business card. I also found a somewhat later letter from my bank informing me that I had a £300 overdraft (in 1996), which I remember thinking I better hadn't use because I'd never be able to afford to repay it. I have a letter detailing my student grant (£1710.00 in 1996, £1755.00 in 1997) and a later loan (about £1600 for the year).

I have a Freshers Week programme containing a "General Lecture by Prof. J. H. Davenport" and many photographs of me looking like a cross between a terrorist and a monkey. I also found blackmail material^W^Wphotographs of several other people from the dim and distant past. I've thrown out all but the juiciest, and anyway of them look quite so much like monkeys as I did.

I still can't find the one piece of paper I was actually looking for.
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[25 Sep 2010|02:15pm]
I'm a passenger. This means I'm called a "guest" and treated like luggage.
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[23 Sep 2010|11:22am]
Dear twitter, i r in sf tlkng @ orcl/java1 ...

Dear LiveJournal. I am in San Francisco... hang on, that's not even how we write LJ posts. It's trite and valueless. So, here goes:

I'm about to present at JavaOne. My thesis, as usual, goes "I assume you've read the boring bits. Here are the interesting bits." I'm doing an impromptu study and random walk in the history of parallel computing, mentioning along the way what each machine or design was meant to do, what it could do and what it could not do. Then, by collecting all the favourable attributes and discarding all the unfavourable ones, we see not only how our current parallel systems have to be designed, but why. Also, the exploration gives us some intuitive understanding of what the systems are capable of, and for which problems we have to use a different design.

West coast means don't wear a tie. VNV Nation t-shirt (and misc. fluff) for the win. Blackberry are giving out what passes for beer, and Google have custom lego. People are offering me trade-show bags and I've eaten far too many Hilton-style blueberry buns.

In other news, apparently the video system I wrote for Leon Paul has appeared on Channel 4. I've been offered a copy of the recording, which will make me *squeee* and *bounce* and probably write more software. And I have a huge amount to write about dwcon and oh so many other events, but I'm up to my neck in it.

I land in England in the afternoon of the 26th. I will then flog the rest of my stuff.
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[17 Sep 2010|12:49am]
I started my day by walking into a wall, and finished it in San Francisco.

It was dark, and the light bulb is broken, and I was trying to sneak out of the house quietly at 3am. I think I failed the quietly - there was at least a thump and something four lettered.

zzz
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[16 Sep 2010|01:12am]
I may have dropped a fishnet minidress at the pub in London during the wedding party. If anybody knows who might have found it, please let me know? It's somewhat hard to find that design. Thank you all!
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[13 Sep 2010|12:47am]
Has Google killed the riddle?

Has the invention of the search engine recreated meme as something which must be presented in one bite, in one direction, without interplay?

When did you last get asked a riddle?

Or for that matter, when did anyone last share a joke with you which required timing, interplay or thought on your part? What was it?
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[04 Sep 2010|07:48pm]
BOUNCEBOUNCEBOUNCEbounce bounce bounce bounce bounce.
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[17 Aug 2010|11:53am]
This morning, I picked up the shower head, but found myself holding the fitting and all, and staring at a slightly raggedy hole in someone else's wall.

I will now leave town.
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[13 Aug 2010|03:17am]
Today, on a teleconference in a private office, I gesticulated so wildly that I smashed the light bulb overhead. I completed the teleconference in the dark, standing very still. Vie de merde.
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[11 Aug 2010|02:24am]
http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/clips/p0096fwm/mongrels_middle_class_is_magical_song/

Anyone who hasn't seen that, needs to. *grin*

If the BBC doesn't allow it in the states, then find it on yoootoooobe - who removed Newport State of Mind, shame on them, even though it was clear parody! It's still available on the Torygraph.

PS. Do not post at 2am while munted.
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