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---ARCHIVE--- April 2001
May 2001 (#1)

May 29th 2001
First real figures with the foam encoder: book1 crunches down to 222935 bytes, which is pretty good (but a long way from definitive).

Though this seems to be crunching all the long run-lengths effectively, one of the features of BWT-reordered data is that there are large numbers of very short run-lengths: which is why RLE-0 is so effective on MTF data.

So: the next stage is to integrate a simplistic RLE-0 packer into the block subdivision process. However, this is likely to end up more than a little hair-raising.

Revision evening for the WSET Higher Certificate wine course last night. It showed up a ton of stuff that I didn't know (which is good, of course). Got home, climbed into bed, and walked straight into a massive hay-fever attack. It's still going on (I'm typing slowly). :-(

Also: as well as being swollen and sore, my jaw feels kind of calcified on the left side. Tried to click it to release the tension, but (I swear) I started to feel my top left wisdom tooth being levered out... so I stopped, pronto.

Some sleep would be nice... but it seems quite remote ATM - bah. :-(

May 28th 2001
In observance of the national holiday, this entry is left intentionally blank Yeah, right.

Fixed a few (ummm, stupid) bugs in my foam encoder: it now gets book1 down to about 220200 bytes, which is OK. I think there's about 10K of slack to be squeezed out... which would make it just about state-of-the-art. Fingers crossed...

Did a load of in-depth revision for the WSET Higher Certificate exam... I think I'm covering the area too thoroughly, though. Wanted to try out NLP anchors, but didn't make enough notes to get that far. Hopefuly tomorrow...

May 27th 2001
In my mind, Opportunity sounds like the child of Alanis Morissette and Robbie Williams. I'm not sure whether that's good or bad. :-/

Idea: open out the music composition side by:-
(1) posting a quick'n'dirty demo as an MP3
(2) asking Net musicians to submit proper versions of it as MP3s
(3) getting Napster users (say) to vote on the best version
(4) giving 50% music authorship to the best version
(5) publishing the song

It's certainly an idea... I'll have to think some more about it...

May 26th 2001
My foam encoder v2 is looking pretty good! I moved the underlying bubble encoder from Huffman to an arithmetic encoder driven by my new model: and, with only a few hours' tweaking, it's approaching state-of-the-art performance levels.

Though I don't know where it's going from here, I'm sure to have some good ideas along the way... fingers crossed...

Yet more of the lyrics...
Opportunity (V2) (continued) (c) 2001 Nick Pelling
Smart kid with a heart of gold
How you gonna die when you grow old?
At the hands of a psychopath?
Or a rockstar death? Or a Sylvia Plath?
Easy money in easy street
Hands full of cash, and blood on your feet
Slipped away, slipped slipped away
You couldn't find the wound till it dripped dripped dripped away...
You're not LISTENING
To this message from the future
You're not LISTENING
You're not LISTENING at all, at all, at all.
I'll shut my mouth now

25th May 2001
Update to the lyrics (I've been singing them all day):-

Opportunity (V2) (c) 2001 Nick Pelling
Oh no, what's that in your hand?
Right there, in the palm of your hand?
It slipped away, slipped slipped away,
You thought you had it but it dripped away
Had your chances but you took too few
When you were young, and I was you
They slipped away, slipped slipped away,
Thought you had it all, but they dripped dripped dripped away
You're not LISTENING
To this message from the future
You're not LISTENING
You're not LISTENING at all, at all, at all.
I'll shut my mouth now

May 25th 2001
All of a sudden, my script is starting to touch very personal areas - I'm identifying strongly with one of the characters who I know has to die at the end... and I'm not sure, when it comes down to it, if I'll have the guts to pull the trigger (metaphorically). Tricky.

"Perfect Strangers" last night, flawed and underedited in places though it was, flew over some of the same ground I've been digging up (albeit in a completely different way).

The worst bit was that whole Daniel-Rebecca thing... yuk. Poliakoff gave those poor actors nothing to work from: all those scenes told us nothing about their characters' development - dead screen time. *sigh*. Ah well.

Beer festival in Newark - the trains look OK (only 2.5 hours from Surbiton)... but can I get myself sufficiently enthusiastic to spend 5+ hours travelling? Not really. :-|

May 24th 2001
Seeing as how most pitas pages have poems and stream-of-consciousness ramblings, why should I buck the trend? Here's my last night's walking-back-from-Surbiton-chess-club lyrics:-

Opportunity (c) 2001 Nick Pelling
Oh no, what's that in your hand?
Right there, in the palm of your hand?
It slipped away, slipped slipped away,
You thought you had it but it dripped away
(Opportunity / youth / love)
(Opportunity / time / space)
You're not LISTENING
You're not LISTENING (but that's the pattern)
You're not LISTENING
You're not LISTENING at all.

May 23rd 2001
That's the first few games gone off for review this morning... I don't know how they're going to be received, though. I'm trying a mix of mainstream (Guardian, Digitiser, Edge, Telegraph), specialist (CueSport, and kids (Kids Domain uk, BBC online gameskids)... more as I think of them. I'm probably trying too hard - but once it's done, it'll stay done. :-/

Agents seem like a real chicken-and-egg thing - you can't get a deal going unless you've got an agent, and you can't get an agent interested unless you've got a deal. Bah!

I'm OK with finding deals, and negotiating the terms/contracts, so I'd like to think I'd be a low-bandwidth client... but maybe my level of competence and 'hands-on'-ness is too intimidating. :-(

Sometimes I get scared that I've advanced beyond the point where I'm employable - who's going to bring in a CTO to work as a tea-boy? I don't even drink tea... Tricky... :-|

22nd May 2001
Decided not to buy a cheapy colour printer for 3dpp, but instead to post the press release on the Web. It's here. Much more sensible.

Had a reply from Chris Almerico at Threshold re DNTM - he's in charge of the website there. I'll need to get back to him later today - decisions, decisions...

21st May 2001
Ouch - I misread the AGB manual, so my nice simple 2d sprite decoder actually needs to be a nasty dark complex 4d char decoder. Yuk. Not 100% sure how to fix it.

Double ouch - our pool game failed Nintendo submission in the US... the mono GameBoy screen still had the European title's name on it. Bah! :-(((( Fixed it and resubbed.

Also: received ScreenWriter2000 CD in the post: the install crashed a couple of times (both times to do with my firewall), but it got there in the end.

Debating whether to buy a supercheap colour printer to print the colour pages of the press release out on or not... I ought to put it all up on the web as well. Hohum...

Cool links of the day...
Search Bastard

May 20th 2001, PS...
In case I'm giving the impression of being a raging alcoholic, I should say that I'm normally very sober... but it's been a very eventful week.

Reminder to self: phone Jeff about seeing 2001 in 70mm tonight... as if I haven't done enough for one weekend...

May 20th 2001
Oooooooh me 'ead 'urts.

Yesterday morning - Japan 2001 Matsuri festival in Hyde Park. Hand-made Japanese paper was cool - and I got to try Pocari Sweat (two quid a can is enough to make anyone break into a cold sweat. Coolest thing - the Mini Muji delivery truck with the outsize stationary. Excellent!

Then on to the Great Australian Wine Tasting. I decided to try every Chardonnay on show - the very best one (at any price) was the Willow Bridge... highly recommended (I ordered six).

Then, having met up with Rhonda, Rachel, Catherine and co somewhere along the line, they jumped into a cab and told me they were going to the "Crusting Pipe" in Covent Garden. Three taxi drivers didn't know where it was (directory enquiries didn't help, nor did Scoot), so I systematically walked down every road in the area looking for pubs and wine bars beginning with the letter "C", in case I'd misheard the name.

Finally, by elimination the only place it could be was right in the centre of Covent Garden itself... and it was. We then went on to The Financier And Firkin in Kingston, which was a lot of fun... and then were turned away from The Works nightclub because of my Nikes (good job I was wearing them - I'd been walking all day). So: back to Dean and Rachels, for a bit of Mount Gay and a dance in the living room.

More days like that would be nice. :-) Me 'ead still 'urts, though. :-/

May 18th 2001, PS...
I've settled on a combination of all the plans (except D). Just so you know that I can be decisive when needed. :-)

May 18th 2001
Ohhhhhh me 'ead. Drank too much at the Back In Time "party", got a lift back from Gaz, did some work, then got drunk with nephew Marcus back here in Surbiton. New beer on at the Wetherspoons: "Pure Gold" from the Itchen Brewery. Beautiful smell, with a delightful warm body balanced by a nice citrus acidity. Reminded me of the Belgian strawberry beer that was on special recently at the Bierodrome (only not *that* fruity).

I get the feeling that Pure Gold is going to be *the* taste of Summer 2001, just like Old Tom was *the* taste of Winter 2000. We shall see...

May 16th, 2001
Cheque on the doormat (always a good start to the day).

Stayed up late crunching away on my screenplay: 14 pages in, and we're mid-funeral, to be followed by the surprises in the will (plot point #1, o' course). It's all on rails... except for resolving that pesky romance. Do they get it on? Plan A was "yes in the middle, no at the end" - but it doesn't quite feel fresh enough (it's a bit mid-90s).

So what's Plan B? Well... there's always the "Umbrellas Of Cherbourg" line (she gets married to someone else halfway through), which would actually make sense within this world.

Or there's Plan C, where she kills herself because she's in love and can't reconcile that with her deep-rooted neuroses. Everyone loves a weepy funeral.

Or there's Plan D, where she fakes her own death to get away from her past, then reappears to him after her own funeral offering to run away together, but he has to refuse.

Or there's Plan E, where a jealous suitor kills her rather than let her marry someone the main character: and everyone cries at the funeral.

I don't know - at least the characters are strong enough that they allow me to generate plenty of different story lines around their relationship quickly. Realistically, if you like the characters, just about any of the above would be quite compelling. I'll have to write some more, keep an open mind, and see where the characters lead me...