Thursday, March 30, 2006

Ode to The Mushroom of Excitedness

A poem by David Hulbert

The mushrooms lie together
Waiting for tomorrow
They know not whether
To expect happiness or sorrow

Every year it's the same
At midnight the picker comes
Carefully he takes aim
With a pinch from his thumbs

The mushroom is so excited
Its life is now complete
Into the stocking it is invited
There satsumas it shall meet

Random thoughts while shaving

I often have random thoughts while (or sometime while not) shaving. Today I had 2 (update: it's no longer "today" any more). Here's some of them. Post your own too!

  • Why isn't there such ting as a Jelly plant? What would it be like if it existed? Could "jelly plant" be a verb? E.g. "Did you see when Jack jelly planted Bob?" That would be a cool sentence to say.
  • Why don't icecream vans get fitted with GPS devices? Kids could then use Google Maps to have a live display of when there are vans in their area. Savvy kids could even subscribe to a geographically expressed RSS feed.
  • Will I ever get all my work done?
  • Instead of having all the confusion about Dalight Savings Time, British Summer Time, etc., why not have one of the following options:
    1. The simple option: don't bother with DST. It seems to create more confusion than it's worth.
    2. The technical option: have DST but get every time device to pull the latest DST information from the 'net. This means that it doesn't matter if DST is slightly different every year or in different places.
    3. My favourite: have the same time everywhere. Does it really matter that we get up before 12pm, have lunch at about 1pm and go to bed around 12am? I think not. If everyone used UTC (or CST, EST, GMT) then things would be a lot simpler. Instead of it being dalight from (for example) 8am to 8pm everywhere, it'd be daylight 8am-8pm somewhere and 4pm-4am somewhere else. The only problem I can see with this is that with the curent system we have Australia as an early waring of World destruction. E.g. if aliens were going to destroy the World tomorrow then we'd already know about it as it's tomorrow in Australia.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Blondes to die out?

There's a BBC news article (not April fools) published a few years ago that says that blodes may die out. Hmmm. The article states:

The researchers also believe that so-called bottle blondes may be to blame for the demise of their natural rivals. They suggest that dyed-blondes are more attractive to men who choose them as partners over true blondes.
It then has a photo of Ann Widdecombe and says:
Bottle-blondes like Ann Widdecombe may be to blame
Hmmm... Firstly, I can't think of anyone that Ann Widdecombe is more attravtive than. Secondly, never trust news / articles from unreliable sources like the BBC (they still havent corrected it) or The Sunday Times. Luckily I found it was a myth from Wikipedia.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Some people in the department of comupter science at St Andrews have made a really cool Java applet which modifies photos of faces you give it. You can have ago here. I uploaded a photo of me and it's done some marvelous and some scary things. I'm glad I'm not a woman but I'd quite like to be (more of a) monkey.

Monday, March 27, 2006

GMail down?

It seems as though GMail is not working (at least where I am in the UK):

Server Error

We're sorry, but Google Mail is temporarily unavailable. We're currently working to fix the problem -- please try logging in to your account in a few minutes.

I wonder why. Does anyone have any details? There doesn't seem to be any news anywhere about it. POP access also doesn't seem to be working.

Update: Now it's not responding. How can I check my email???

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Official Best Films in the World List

Tom tried, Mike tried too, even the IMDb tried. This is the only list you'll ever need* and it's even in order! (Not from best to worst, just from top to bottom.) This list is a list of films I like, have enjoyed or would recommend. As Tony the tiger would undoubtedly say: "They're Grrrrrreat!"

  • The Matrix trilogy
  • Butterfly Effect
  • Memento
  • Fight Club
  • Batman Begins
  • Sin City
  • Kill Bill 1 & 2
  • Back To The Future trilogy
  • Love Actually
  • V for Vendetta
  • X-men 1, 2 (and 3)
  • Blade trilogy
  • Die Hard trilogy
  • Terminator trilogy
  • Minority Report
  • The Shawshank Redemption
  • The Usual Suspects
  • American Beauty
  • Se7en
  • Lucky Number Slevin
  • Requiem for a Dream
  • The Princess Bride
  • The Notebook
  • The Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Lawnmower man
  • Police Academy
  • Naked Gun trilogy
*Except for shopping lists, they're really useful.

There's probably lots more too.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Random funny things I may need to remember

I don't want to forget these so I'll post them here. They're from the web and random emails. I appologise for the formatting and spelling.

An interesting 'fact': "Although the Earth is larger, the moon is farther away."

An email forward
Dear Friends :

At this tim
e of year, I want to thank all of you who have taken the time
and trouble to send me your chain letters over the past 12 months. Thank
you for making me feel safe, secure, blessed, and wealthy. Because of
your concern I no longer drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet
stains. I no longer drink Pepsi or Dr Pepper since the people who make
these products are atheists who refuse to put "Under God" on their cans.

I no longer drink anything out of a can because I will get sick from the
rat feces and urine. I no longer use Saran wrap in the microwave because
it causes cancer. I no longer check the coin return on pay phones
because I could be pricked with a needle infected with AIDS.

I no longer use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a
water buffalo on a hot day. I no longer go to shopping malls because
someone will drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.

I no longer receive packages from UPS or FedEx since they are actually
Al Qaeda in disguise. I no longer shop at Target since they are French
and don't support our American troops. I no longer answer the phone
because someone will ask me to dial a number for which I will get a
phone bill with calls to Jamaica, Uganda, Singapore, and Uzbekistan.

I no longer eat pre-packaged foods because the estrogens they contain
will turn me gay.

I no longer eat KFC because their chickens are actually horrible mutant
freaks with no eyes or feathers. I no longer date the opposite sex
because they will take my kidneys and leave me taking a nap in a bathtub
full of ice. I no longer have any sneakers -- but that will change once
I receive my free replacement pair from Nike.

I no longer buy expensive cookies from Neiman Marcus since I now have
their recipe. I no longer worry about my soul because I have 363,214
angels looking out for me and St. Theresa's novena has granted my every
wish. Thanks to you, I have learned that God only answers my prayers if
I forward an email to seven of my friends and make a wish within five
minutes. (I don't remember that in the Bible.)

I no longer have any savings because I gave it to a sick girl who is
about to die in the hospital (for the 1,387,258th time). I no longer
have any money at all, but that will change once I receive the $15,000
that Microsoft and AOL are sending me for participating in their special
e-mail program. Yes, I want to thank all of you soooo much for looking
out for me that I will now return the favor!

If you don't send this e-mail to at least 144,000 people in the next 70
minutes, a large dove with diarrhea will land on your head at 5:00 PM
(CST) this afternoon and the fleas from 12 camels will infest your back,
causing you to grow a hairy hump. I know this will occur because it
actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbor's
ex-mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's beautician.

The Rules

We always hear "the rules" from the female side. Now here arethe rulesfrom the male side. These are our rules:-Please note these are allnumbered "1" ON PURPOSE!

Breasts are for looking at and that is why we do it. Don't try to change that.

Learn to work the toilet seat. You're a big girl. If it'sup, put itdown. We need it up, you need it down. You don't hear uscomplainingaboutyou leaving it down.

Saturday = sports. It's like the full moon or the changingof the tides.Let it be.

Shopping is NOT a sport. And no, we are never going to think of it thatway.

Crying is blackmail.

Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one: Subtlehints donotwork! Strong hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work!Just say it!
Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost everyquestion.Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it.That's whatwe do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

A headache that lasts for 17 months is a problem. See adoctor.Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument.In fact,all comments become null and void after 7 days.

If you think you're fat, you probably are. Don't ask us.

If something we said can be interpreted two ways, and one ofthe waysmakes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.

You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you wantit done.Not both. If you already know best how to do it, just do ityourself.

Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say duringcommercials.

Christopher Columbus did not need directions and neither dowe.

ALL men see in only 16 colours, like Windows defaultsettings. Peach,for example, is a fruit, not a colour. Lilac is a flower. Wehave noideawhat mauve is.

If it itches, it will be scratched. We do that.

If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing," we will actlikenothing'swrong. We know you are lying, but it is just not worth thehassle.

If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, expect ananswer youdon't want to hear.

When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear isfine.Really.

Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you areprepared todiscusssuch topics as Sex, Sport, or Cars.

You have enough clothes.

You have too many shoes.

I am in shape. Round is a shape.

Thank you for reading this. Yes, I know, I have to sleep onthe settee tonight, but did you know men really don't mind that, it's like camping.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A brief history of the past.

I've just been reading through my really old blog from the first year. Some highlights (if you can call them that):

  • Currnet blood - alcohol level: slightly more blood than alcohol, unless I stand on my head, then I get shoe prints on my face.
  • Next year Nick is thinking of getting a bouncy castle.
  • "Without farmers, we wouldn't have farmer's wives" is a fairly sexist quote I think.
  • In one lecture, the lecturer passed round different types of phone and network cable round so we could look at them. It was very exciting! We also played on space hoppers for a while, but not in lectures.
  • To make it more interesting, get different coloured celophane and wave it in frount of your computer monitor.
  • Im now eating crisps. I got them free with lunch. Ive finished them now.
  • The sports center (note American spelling, just for added amusement) is further up the hill...
In conclusion, I was very weird. I think I still am...

DRM music

Engadget recently had a post about French law and DRM. I wrote a seriously long comment about DRM whoch I posted here. For those of you who don't know, DRM stands for Digital Rights Management. It means that when you buy (most) music online you cannot play it on an incompatable player. Here's my post:

OK, you buy a legal DVD of some film. You play it in your living room, then get tired and finish watching it in your bedroom on your DVD player up there. This is perfectly legal in (hopefully) just about any country in the world. If you think this isn't fair use then I think you may have a problem.

What if you're listening to an album you bought from Yahoo music, iTunes or whatever on your computer. You then realise you have to go out for a bit so you put the music on your MP3 player. With DRM'd music you cannot do this (unless you choose to let 1 company rule your life until you never want to listen to that album again).

Here DRM is stopping fair use. It is pretty good at it too. I could break the DRM, which isn't difficult to do but does take time. The legality of breaking DRM isn't too great under the DMCA or EUCD either.

I choose not to buy DRM'd music, burn to a (virtual) CD (which some DRM doesn't let you do anyway), then rip back.

Instead of buying the DRM'd music I have 4 options. Firstly I can buy the CD. This means going into town and paying for some of the tracks on the album I don't want. I do this sometimes but not very much.

Secondly I can choose not to listen to music at all. I don't like that option.

Another option is only buying music online in MP3 from sites like magnatune or emusic, or listening to free CC music. This is what I would do but it is not possible for me to listen to many popular artists this way (even if I want to pay). This would become very popular if DRM didn't exist. I'd definitely buy a lot more music.

The only way I can get MP3s of the music I want without having to encode a CD (bought or burnt from DRM) is currently illegally. That means piracy. That means they lost a sale. That means artists like Britney Spears and Eminem get no money and starve. To be honest (no offence to you Britney or Eminem if you're reading this) I don't care.

I have quick searches in Firefox for the pirate bay and isohunt. I can get virtually any album I want in a few minutes.

DRM has stopped me from paying many artists. I do sometimes buy CDs of music I've downloaded if I want to support the artist.

What I'd like to see is artists offering MP3s for sale. They could also have a donate button on their websites for people who got the MP3s illegally but want to support the artist.

To summarise: DRM doesn't stop piracy, it just stops fair use. It is a tool used by distributors to deny ownership to the consumer after they have paid for a product.
Update: Mike has put a post about DRM on his blog. Add a comment to it saying why DRM is bad for the consumer!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The name "Hulbert"

OK, my name's David Hulbert but I don't really know anything about my name.

There were 2 Hulbert actors called Claude and Jack from the 1930s.

There's also 2 towns in the USA called Hulbert, in OK and MI. There's under a thousand people in them both together. Let me know if you're one of those people!

As far as genealogy goes, I have no idea. There's a site here with links to lots of sites like this one which seems to say the Hulbert changed to Hurlbut on going from the UK to US. The name is most comon in the UK but also common in Bohemia and Germany. We're mostly in Wiltshite, Gloucestershite and Lancashire in the UK.

You can also stay in Hulbert House in Queensland, New Zealand, get a Hulbert credit card or go to Hulbert school.

Please add a comment if you are a Hulbert or know anything interesting.