Archive | July 2005

Midlands… tornado lane?

Well maybe not quite but it there has been a few recently. Nothing really big though the one today injured 12 people and took out a curry house! “why oh why” the wicked witch cried as her chances of a narn bread and a vegetable balti for

Tube Station Sign…

Interesting, oddly funny, not politically correct, probably a good thing to do and probably fake. Take a look at this sign:


This came from: [RRBBS]

Fantastic Four

I went to see this today, I hadn’t been impressed with the trailers but we all decided it would be entertaining. I would say it was, though it wasn’t fantastic I know it wasn’t ever gonna be scientifically understandable, but it really annoys me when they use terms incorrectly. The guy heated up to 4000K and the scientist said “that’s as hot as a supernova”…umm yeah right. Its as hot as the chromosphere of the Sun and the interior is in the millions of K. Argh. Come on graphite’s melting point is about 3948 K. Apart from that and some other guy mentioning that the machine didn’t have enough critical mass (are they just putting scientific terms in at random here?) it was good. It was fun, humorous and overall enjoyable – just gotta forget any science you know… hard to do that when you are about to start a PhD!

Who ‘s Your Inner Sexy Cartoon Chick ?

I’m not sure how I got this, but I did…must have been my confused answers:

You're Tinkerbell!

Who ‘s Your Inner Sexy Cartoon Chick ?
brought to you by Quizilla

ASCII Generator

Another generator, my posts are a bit 1-D at the moment. This one is truly text though. It takes an image and outputs ASCII. I came across this when I was looking at some source code (that if I am honest I don’t have much of a clue about since I don’t know much about ASP.NET) on [The Code Project].

For an example I took an image of my mate Tom (looking like a gangster) and converted it (there are loads of options):


Tom as a gangster

The output ASCII as dots (ok they are small and I guess not far off pixel sizes – well probably quite a bit but give the same effect only on a large scale), it is an image because the ASCII was very large and this was the faster option for displaying on my site (it also didn’t display correctly due to my style sheet, if you don’t believe me just give it a go):

tom as dots

Oh and here is the site: [ASCII-Generator]

Write like an Egyptian

The second “text” generator of the day. Now you don’t have to pay out when you go to Egypt to get your name wrote out for ya.

samuel in egyptian

[Write Like an Egyptian]

Church Sign Generator

Now this is worth playing around with.

Church Sign

[Church Sign Generator]

Blog In Space

I just signed up to My website is now, supposedly, being transmitted into outer space, groovy. 🙂 I’m not sure if I should be pleased with this or not. As an astronomer I should be against “junk” E/M signals but as a human being I want the Alien’s to read my mind as I write it – it sound much better than being probed for the information.

SQL and distance modulus

This actually does something rather useful (maybe a first for my blog!), well to me anyway. It returns the distance modulus (the logarithm of the ratios of apparent to absolute brightnesses, equal to the difference of absolute magnitude to apparent magnitude) using an approximate method for calculating the luminosity distance (the distance at which an astronomical body would lie based on its observed luminosity in the absence of any unanticipated attenuation) so that numerical integration is avoided. The approximate method essentially is to use a CDM Universe. Since I don’t need this to be the most accurate this method should be fine however if I find this isn’t suitable I will have to go back to the lambda CDM and do the numerical integration. Anyway here is the SQL code I have used for this task (the useful line begins with a CAST):

objID AS objID, plate AS plate, mjd AS mjd, fiberid AS fiberid, z AS Z,
CAST ( -5.0000000 * LOG10(8450700000 * ((1 + z) – (SQRT(1 + z))) / 10 ) as float) as D_MOd

INTO mydb.z_2

FROM mydb.z_1

Terms confusing?? Take a look at these links for more:

Distance Modulus – [Wolfram]
Luminosity Distance – [Wolfram]
Numerical Integration – [Wikipedia]
Dark Matter – [Martin White]

Laptop Repaired, well done PC ServiceCall

I finally got my laptop repaired. It was under warranty from PC World, well their PC ServiceCall Customer Support. I have to say that on both occasions I have had to deal with them they have been great. The first time was a bit crap since the guy on the phone wasn’t the best and even sent the person to collect it to the wrong address after I explicitly checked that he had my student address as collection. This was over a year ago – turns out that what I thought was wrong was (it was a cylinder in the hard drive).

This time was a different story. I decided to use a different tactic when I called up and I explained exactly what I had done, how I diagnosed it and the steps I’d taken to repair it. So quite quickly the guy agreed with me that it was a faulty DVD-ROM drive. He organised for an engineer to pop by today. I was expecting him not too turn up till late and not to have a phone call off him telling me his ETA (this is what I was promised). I got what I was promised the engineer called me to tell me he would be around just before 11. He was. In ten minutes he had swapped the drive and reset the BIOS and it now works. It is actually working much better than it has for a while so I reckon the drive was causing a secondary problem – not entirely sure what though. I think it is now time for it to be wiped though and a fresh install of Windows will only do it good, though I will have all the random crap that PC World like to put on it.

Oh and they even emailed me to confirm all the details once I had called them, not bad. Overall I am very pleased with their customer service and the call centre wasn’t an expensive number either – that’s another job done.