Wednesday, August 23, 2006

(Still) Waiting for the Siren's Call

What does this ship bring to me
Far across the restless sea
Waiting for the sirens' call
I've never seen it here before

There she plies a lonely trade
Cutting through the breaking waves
Drifting slowly from her course
She is lost forever more

We all want some kind of love
But sometimes it's not enough
To the wall and through the door
With a stranger on the shore

I won't desert you
I don't know what to say
I really hurt you
I nearly gave it all away

I've got it all wrong
Cause you were not the wrong one
And I don't know where... to turn... when you're gone...
When you're gone

Gotta catch the midnight train
First to Paris then to Spain
Travel with a document
All across the continent

City life is flying by
The wheels are turning all the while
Get on board we can't be late
Our destination cannot wait

All the stars and all the worlds
Filling up this universe
Could never be as close as us
Will never shine as bright on us

I won't desert you
I don't know what to say
I really hurt you
I nearly gave it all away

I've got it all wrong
Cause you were not the wrong one
And I don't know where... to turn... when you're gone
When you're gone

How many times must I lose my way, hey
How many words do I have to say, hey
What can I do just to make you see
That you're so good... for a man like,
A man like me...

*sigh*

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Cure for all ills

Those who know my lastfm site would know my love for The Cure., and I'll touch here on what I believe to be their greatest work- 1989's Disintegration.

Over 70 minutes in length, this is without doubt the best album that I own. And now, the play-by-play breakdown:
  1. Plainsong: The soft music that opens this track, the bleak lyrics that go with it, the slow beat and rythym, it just all combines into a track that sums this album up before you've even listened to it... haunting, depressing, yet beautiful in so many ways. "It's so cold, cold like you're dead, and you smiled for a second..." 4 stars.
  2. Pictures of You: One of my favourite Cure songs of all time- indeed, one of my favourite songs of all time. It's so beautiful, so sad, so true of my life that it almost makes me cry. "I've been looking so long at these pictures of you, that I almost believe that they're real..." 5 stars.
  3. Closedown: This song to me conjurs up images of brittle, rusted lives, where a person has reached a point of their lives where they feel no need or desire to continue onwards. As depressing as that is, the song is a thing of beauty and delicate touches. In one of the best lyrics of the album, it ends with a glimmer of hope- "Always the need to feel again, the real belief of something more than mockery... if only i could fill, my heart with love." 4 stars.
  4. Love Song: "Whenever I'm alone with you, you make me feel like I am free again" A more uplifting, poppy sort of song than the previous ones on this album. Yet you'd never know it, the way Smith sings the song. Overplayed, overcovered, but still a great song. 4 stars.
  5. Last Dance: "... and even if we drink i don't think we would kiss in the way that we did when the woman was only a girl". Enough said. Growing older, moving on, past relationships being seen in a new light and past people also. All in one song. 4 stars.
  6. Lullaby: Honestly, could a more chilling and terrifying song be called lullaby? The strings, the soft voice of Smith, the brilliant production all round... "...and the spider man is always hungry" What else could you ask, besides COULD PEOPLE PLEASE STOP SAMPLING THIS SONG? 4 stars.
  7. Fascination Street: A great song, a dancier beat, yet no more uplifting than previous songs. Keeps the album rolling along whilst making people move their feet a bit. "But if you open your mouth, then I can't be responsible, for what quite goes in, or to care what comes out..." 4 stars.
  8. Prayers for Rain: "Your grip on me, your hold on me... so dull it kills- you stifle me..." Down on your knees, waiting for nature to share your mood, waiting to kill time with it, waiting for it to wash everything away... 4 stars.
  9. The Same Deep Water as You: Can a song about love be any more haunting? Dark, brooding, drowning lyrics akin to Pornography and Faith, yet with delicate touches in keeping with this album's general sound... "I will kiss you, I will kiss you, I will kiss you forever, on nights like this..." 4 stars.
  10. Disintegration: My favourite song on the album, the title track. Underrated and forgotten by all best-of compilations, ratings and critics. An unbelievable song that fuses lyrics, music and an overall feel unlike any other. And the TRUTH of it, god... " songs about happiness, murmured in dreams, when both of us knew... how the end always is... how the end always is..." It makes my body run with raw emotion just thinking about it. 5 stars.
  11. Homesick: From the stamping, dancing, crying, yelling, jumping of the title track into this, a downtempo and soft song, it just takes your emotions for a ride beyond anything imaginable. "My eyes are bursting hearts, in a bloodstained sky..." 4 stars.
  12. Untitled: A fine way to round out the album. Soft music to lead into the song for a while, then the lyrics of true regret- " but i never know if it's real... never know how i wanted to feel. Never quite said what i wanted to say to you, never quite managed the words to explain to you... never quite knew how to make them believable... and now the time has gone, another time undone" *shudder, wipe a tear away* And then more soft music to end the album, and make you reflect on a true masterpiece. 5 stars.
Well, that's some thoughts down on paper about this album. Since starting this post I listened to it again, and it got me again... like it does every time. Robert Smith, I thank you.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

This weekend's Hungarian Formula 1 Grand Prix has rekindled my faith in the sport. Jenson Button capturing an emotional first GP win, a successful return for Honda after so many years, and the well-deserved podium finishes for Pedro de la Rosa and Nick Heidfeld. It was, in so many ways, the best race I've seen for years. Yet for all the silver linings from this weekend, it seems they're still attached to a very dark cloud.

Today, I read with dismay that Robert Kubica, finishing a very impressive seventh in his first ever race, had been disqualified. Now, initially I thought "well, he raced light, so that's fair enough punishment." But then I realised the true nature of the situation:
  • Kubica had not raced in a car any lighter than what the regulations stated when he started his race. This is clear, and backed up by BMW data. The problem arose from, quoting the findings, "excessive and unexpected tyre wear (and therefore weight loss) through continued use of wet-weather tyres in comparison to the accustomed and anticipated rate of wear of dry tyres."
  • Kubica's disqualification leaves Michael Schumacher to reap the one point for 8th place. Putting aside my dislike for the man, this would be fair- except for one problem. Schumacher DID NOT FINISH THE RACE.
  • Earlier in the weekend, Jenson Button was given a penalty for an engine change on his Honda. This results in him starting 10 places back on the grid. Jenson couldn't help this of course- just one of those things, a mechanical failure.
  • Schumacher and Fernando Alonso were also given penalties- for dangerous driving and unsportsmanlike behaviour. Their punishments? 2-second penalties. This also put them back on the grid, but with one key advantage over Button- they could fuel up, he was stuck with his qualifying fuel load.
So here we have a few interesting situations. From what I can see:
  1. You may be as unsportsmanlike as you can, swerve in front of people, stop in the middle of corners, etc... but you'll be punished less severely than the poor chap who's engine blows up while racing well within the rules.
  2. Farcically, the way the rules are shaped, you may exit the race through retirements three laps from the finish, yet you will still finish ahead of someone who is three laps behind the leader. Now yes, I realise that technically you may be "ahead" of this person on the road when the race ends... but just think logically about this for a moment. One car is not running- the other still is. Surely the fact that you're ahead on the road doesn't matter when your car can't move to cross an imaginary finish line?
  3. You can drive the race of your life, shred your tyres, and be disqualified on a pure technicality. Come on FIA, who the heck are you kidding. What impression does this give the world when you say "sorry mate, good race and all, but you pushed a little to hard, shredded your tyres a bit, and as a result are too light when you finish". For cryin' out loud, take the weight measures before the race or something. It's ridiculous.
  4. In addition to the above point, while we're on technicalities- Michael Schumacher flouted the rules and blatantly broke them at one point on Sunday night, whereby he went off track whilst battling Heidfeld, cut a corner and rejoined ahead of him... it seemed he was going to actually follow the rules for once as he moved over to let Nick pass- but no, he then swerved back into his path, cutting him off. I mean, COME ON. If you're going to give Robert a disqualification on technical grounds, fine. But don't give 8th place to someone who blantantly disobeyed F1 rules. I hope they grill the arrogant Ferrari man at the next driver's meeting.
So, F1 is back. But as always, the political merry-go-round remains. Congratulations to Jenson, Pedro and Nick, and my deepest empathy to Robert. As for Michael Schumacher, and the stewards involved should they not punish him, well they know where they can stick it as far as I'm concerned.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

1st Iteration of Simcore complete: Distance

Yes, it's still got the crappy name(s).

But, it's complete and working ok for simple scenarios. I of course have to run through more difficult paths and whatnot, but technically it should work fine for those too. Then comes the fun task of actually walking around and predicting stuff correctly.

To do:
  • Advanced walk tests
  • Check whether inf distances will prove a problem at all with the distance core
  • Test importing I/O with latest wifiplot.log file
  • Get architect's drawings of cs ground floor and other buildings
  • Whack it in wifiplot and carry out some observations
  • Use simcore iterations 0 and 1 to predict the strengths at certain points on a walk
  • Test these results by walking the path myself with wifiplot
Another interesting point to consider is the presence of a constant in my code called GAP. Currently set to 0.001, it pretty much provides cover for a margin of error in distance calculations. Ie, if you have a point 1.001 units away from an access point, we should still consider that when looking at points that are 1 unit away from their access points. Which raises an interesting question- how close is close enough?

Clearly, some work to be done.