Hear Ye! Since 1998.

Archived Posts for November 1998

Please note: The posts on this page are at least 3 years old. Links may be broken, information may be out of date, and the views expressed in the posts may no longer be held.
28
Nov 98
Sat

Saving Private Ryan

I watched this film for the second time. You pick up quite a few missed details when you see a movie for the second time. Anyway, this has replaced Starship Troopers as the best movie I’ve seen this year. I won’t say too much else about the movie, except that during the first half hour of the movie – you won’t speak, or even eat – it’s that graphic and gripping.

When you watch it for the second time, you also have a chance to observe the difference in reactions of the audience. The first time I saw it at Hoyts at Broadway where the theatre was half full, and the second time at Greater Union in Liverpool (that complex is just awesome) in a totally packed cinema. In an answer to clapping after movies (see the entry I made a few days back), this was the first movie I watched where people clapped afterwards (albeit it was a half-hearted attempt – soft, and didn’t last very long). It’s also interesting to note the bits where people either gasp, and where people laugh in each of the viewings. The number of people in the cinema (half-full or completely filled) makes a big differences in the atmosphere.

I don’t think anyone got the joke where they are talking about Edith Piaf’s song. They are talking about why she sounds so sad and one guy says something along the lines of, “She’s sad because she’s lost her lover, but everywhere she goes, she sees his face.” The reply comes from a soldier standing in front of a backdrop of a totally ruined French town, “Yeah,” he says gazing out at the city, “that’d do it.” Now do you get it? No? Ah forget it… it’s not that funny :).

Headphones

Got a great pair of Koss headphones for the computer. Helluva lot better than the crappy speakers I have. Headphones sound heaps better than any speaker you can get at the same price.

26
Nov 98
Thu

Bureaucracy

For the last 2 to 3 weeks I’ve been working on a redesign of the State’s National Party Page. The National Party is the 3rd largest political party in the nation and currently is in government as one half of the coalition (that’s for all those non-Aussies out there). Anyway, I’m beginning to realise that the hard part probably is not designing the page, but attempting to get it viewed, approved, and uploaded to the “official location”. Here is the new site (at my web space), here is the current site.

It doesn’t help when the whole National Party network runs on a bunch of 486s (“we’re getting a new system this Christmas! Thank God for that! Oops… sorry.” one woman told me) running Netscape 2 (and you wonder why they get Javascript errors – I even catered for the soon-to-be obsolete Netscape 3, and they still undercut me). To make matters worse, the person in charge of managing the web site is on holidays… at the other side of the country (in Perth). So I had my first taste of bureaucracy – being referred to all these different phone numbers of computer illiterate people to semi-illiterate people. It also causes anxiety when you’re fresh out of school and talking to politicians (and those involved in politics). I don’t think I have had a phone conversation with anyone as important, even though I’ve “met” all these really important people through Economics at school (you won’t know what I’m talking about if you don’t go to Trinity, but feel free to ask). Finally I agreed to upload the page to their site. I think they are going to try and change their password, and once I have uploaded the files, they will change the password back. We’ll see what happens. No I’m not accepting and suggestions to put “questionable unapproved material” their site. I’ll keep you informed, of course :).

Link

This page is a cack. It’s a listing of pranks that have been pulled off in the past.

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25
Nov 98
Wed

Altavista

You know how Altavista accepts real questions, and how they give examples of questions you can ask it? Well one example came up as, “Am I in love?” Now I was wondering how the hell Altavista could answer that so I checked it out and it gave me discographies and other irrelevant stuff. Oh well :)

HSC Results Online URL

This site is not online yet. However, when it does come online, everyone who sat the HSC (which finished about 7 hours ago) will be able to grab their UAI starting from 6am, January 2. http://www.hsc.aust.com. Sourced from the Board of Studies website, so this is 100% reliable.

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

They said it’s just like Pulp Fiction, and it is. It’s one of those movies where its really confusing at the beginning, but it ties up all the loose ends by the conclusion (well, sorta – you’ll see if you see the movie). Quite an enjoyable film – even its soundtrack is reminiscent of Pulp Fiction. I’d recommend it.

24
Nov 98
Tue

Web Site Design

Why do I write web sites as a hobby? Writing a web site can be an artform, and from time to time you stumble across a site that just captures your attention. Colours is such a site. The design of this site is exquisite. It’s an archive of stories (fixated, so it seems upon the sexual, but that’s not the point). The integration of music with the stories, the colour scheme, design elements in full screen mode are nothing short of exquisite. It’s something to aspire too. At least, it makes me go,”I want to design a pretentious [well, it is!] site like that one day.” And it’s just one of the web site “styles” I want to try.

Like it or not, web site design is an artform. When textual content, graphical elements, layout, motion, interactivity and sound are all integrated masterly, that site is destined to be acclaimed. I must be scaring you now :). I guess most don’t appreciate good web site design until they try their hand at making a good site. It’s time-consuming, stressful, technical, but the end result can be as satisfying as finishing any other work of art (a painting or a novel or a poem, for instance). And most of it is self-taught. I’m not talking about the people who make casual “here are pictures of my family, pets and friends” personal pages. Those are stuck on the web and remain there static. I’m talking about people who design sites. Those that experiment with new facets of design; who undergo layout changes every month (or week); who bother to read up about browser compatibility issues and catering for differing screen resolutions (except 640×480 – screw them :). Hmm… this post ended up saying something totally different from what I intended. Well, if you made it this far, you might appreciate that site I linked above a bit more.

If you don’t know anything about web sites, click “view source” at an appropriate site and see the stuff people had to write to create that site.

Something New

Learned a new word today. Exoteric. It’s the antonym of an occasionally used word, but I’ve never seen this one. Here it is in a sentence, “Why is the word exoteric, not exoteric?” (Hint : It’s like, “Why is the word abbreviation so long?” Except that I thought of the above saying myself. So don’t rip me off. Please.) Still wondering what exoteric means? Its antonym features in this sentece, “Why is the word esoteric, so esoteric?” Admittedly, that’s not gonna help if you don’t know what esoteric means, but esoteric is way more commonplace than exoteric (I wonder why?).

If you still have no idea, look it up in a dictionary! Too lazy? (I can hear you yelling “Gimme the damn definiton and stop being a dick!”) Yeah I thought so. Well bud, you’re on the Net. The largest informational resource base in the solar system. Um, you could try www.dictionary.com. Just a thought. Sometimes you forget.

“esotericism?????”
“Funny how the word esoteric is esoteric, huh?”
“no, i don’t know what it means!!!”

(The bewildered participant in this conversation shall not be named. Otherwise she’d kill me.)

Black Tie

Confirmed the definition finally. Two sample responses. The last one is the correct one. Other responses varied heaps.


“yeah like for a dinner it means you wear a suit doesn’t it? or something like that”
[does it mean specifically a tuxedo or suit?]
“I am not sure, you ask your parents”
[They don’t know either :)]
“my mum and her receptionist reckon it means a dinner suit, ie just a normal suit or a tux”
[ah so it doesn’t mean tux and only tux, but also dinner suit?]
“apparently”


Hey, Inferno…

Black tie is ultra-formal. In other words, a tuxedo with a bow tie, cumberbund, and cufflinks are a must. Classical music is normally played in the background and people wander around quoting Oscar Wilde and thinking they’re the be all, end all, and laughing politely at inane remarks.

It’s all really rather boring and pretentious. But, my definition is accurate.

KillKrazy


Heh.. I dunno what the hell a cumberbund is. But basically it’s a black coat and black pants, white shirt, bowtie and any other, I guess, “accessories”. My guess is that the definition may be a little tighter, but that’ll do.

Link

• Overheard – Now this is a funny site. It shows snippets of (I assume real) conversations that people have overheard… y’know, not unlike when you walk past a couple of people and heard things totally out of context. Problem is I just don’t think its updating anymore.

Wrong Numbers

Okay, while we’re on the topic of wrong phone numbers (see here), I was reminded of this. Actually, I’m not sure if I wrote about this before, but screw that, I’ll tell it again.

I was speaking to my cousin on the phone when the call waiting beep starts to sound. The regulatory “who’s side is that call waiting on?” question was asked, and then that music came on. A little while later, my cousin comes back with a story, “Well I got rang up by someone looking for a Sarah,” noting that Sarah is the name of his girlfriend, “so I told them she was at the hospital catching babies,” noting that this means she’s a med student at uni, and was delivering babies, “to which they replied, ‘What??’. So I said to her, ‘Who is this?’ because it was a little weird that they should be calling my house, instead of her’s. The reply was, ‘This is her sister’. Sarah doesn’t have a sister, at least not one that I know of, heh. Wrong number. Different Sarah.” So he sent her on her way.

That’s not all, though. About a week later, I gave a call to my cousin, and I got greeted by an answering machine: “Hi, this is Sarah, leave you name, number and message after the beep.” I rerang and got my cousin. I didn’t know he had an answering machine, and why would Sarah’s voice be on it? “Do you have an answering machine?” “No.” “Ah. I must’ve got a wrong number.

Answering machines… the worst thing to hear when you’ve only got a payphone and 40 cents left to make a call. Even worse when, as with that same cousin above, you buy a block of time (30 minutes I think) for a single overseas call, and end up having a 60 second conversation with an answering machine.

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22
Nov 98
Sun

KillKrazy’s Layout Overhauled

Well normally I’d let you find that out for yourself, but his new layout reminds me of something. It’s like those computer magazines at the newagency with some almost-naked chick on the front cover, or with a picture of Lara Croft emphasising her tits… It’s a perfectly good magazine, but you sorta cringe when you pick it up, expecting people to stare at you like you’re some pervert (like PC Format). It’s even worse when you move to the counter to pay for it (hell, it might as well be a porno mag with that kind of cover). Well, KillKrazy’s site elicits the same response, when you visit it in the presence of someone else. The picture overrides the content. It’s bound to attract attention nonetheless :).

Star Wars

What I’m most interested in is how they are going to make a story out of the prequels. I mean, Return of the Jedi ended the trilogy with a triumphant whooping of the Empire’s ass, but how is this trilogy going to end, or progress? Well I guess now we’ll know how it felt back in the 70s/80s when they were waiting for Return of the Jedi to come out after the Empire Strikes Back. This will definitely test George Lucas’ ability to weave a movie that will rival the original trilogy in terms of continuity, but also finality. Uh… yeah.

Quick Update

The Australian release date for SW1 is apparently May 29, 1999, one week after the US release. Sit tight :).

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21
Nov 98
Sat

Hearsay (Daily Quote link)

While it looks like I’m being lazy, the daily quote is being updated everyday. However, if you keep getting an old quote, it is because your browser is pulling out the page from its cache. I don’t know why this happens (I think maybe it has something to do with being loaded up into a popup window. Anyway, just clear your cache or refresh the window (refreshing window doesn’t work in IE4, though) to see the current day’s quote.

Star Wars

Episode 1 : The Phantom Menace (does anyone else think this sounds a little cheesy?) now has a trailer available for download at http://countingdown.com/mirrorlist.htm – there are three versions (and about 20 to 30 mirrors of each version). There’s the official version (apparently they released the official version with a low sound volume, so there’s a fixed version with louder sound, and there’s the bootleg version, where it seems someone taped it in-cinema, so you can see the cheers of the crowd etc.). Lately, they seemed to have removed those two versions and stuck up an ET version link. Another thing, have you ever watched a movie where everyone has clapped at its conclusion? I’ve never heard of it happening in Australia (except for when they took that shot of Sydney in ID4), but it’s seems to happen in the US often enough.

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18
Nov 98
Wed

Tomorrow

No updates for tomorrow – going to be out for the next couple days. Got an interview at UTS (a university), so I’m feeling pretty nervous right now. It also seems that no one knows the complete meaning of “black tie” (as in dress or attire). I kept getting half-replies, unsure replies and differing replies. What does the term mean exactly??

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17
Nov 98
Tue

Weeeirrrrd

I was checking my page referrals and I came across some weird search requests. Piss funny, though:
“Keanu Reeves is gay”, “+fish +chip +bitch +pauline”, “boris yeltsin vodka” and “Yeltsin+vodka”.

Trek

BRING BACK DEEP SPACE NINE (or Voyager) YOU CHANNEL NINE SHITS! Ahem. Sorry about that. It’s just that the nine network dogs its viewers so much…

Cranial Disorder (sonic’s site)

Well sonic’s gone off to Boot Camp, so we wish him well (everyone has – he’s almost sick of it by now :). If you haven’t seen his site, pop over there now (link at the top of the side bar on the left) and check it out (even though it won’t be updated for some time now). Read his final post there.

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Site Updates

• Took off Car Odometer. Irrelevant and useless.
• Added “Hearsay” – a daily quote

Movies

Saw a couple movies in the past week. Here’s a few quick synopses :

A Perfect Murder – Pretty good plot (few flaws, but anyway) I enjoyed it… but it would’ve been better to borrow it on video rather than see at the cinema :)

Antz – Behind the cute animations this is a distinctly pro-Commie movie. It smacks of socialist ideals and also warns of the vileness of Fascism. Confused? Well it’s a story about Ants, who are roughly divided into Worker and Soldier class, all strictly controlled by the Queen and the General Ant. [Warning – semi-spoiler here] It turns out that the General (General Mandible, he’s called) Ant has a distaste for the Worker class (he thinks they are lazy and so on), and wants to create a new colony based on the much stronger, apparently “better”, Soldier class. So General Mandible sets out to exterminate the Jew… er… Worker Ants. Now all they needed was the cry of “Heil Mandible!” and the parallels would have been complete. They do promote individuality, though (something not fitting with socialism) but I reckon this was just socialist propaganda :) hehe. Enough cynicism – the movie was enjoyable and the animation just awesome. Vocal characterisation was extremely well done, with lotsa big names doing the voices! However, just watch the movie and you won’t even have to search for the politics in it – they will jump straight out at you at the bit where the Workers attempt to stage a revolution, only to be swayed by Mandible’s propaganda. Hmmm now Z (the protagonist ant, played by Woody Allen) reminds me of Trotsky (except that Z returns to the colony :).

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FREEEEEDOM!!! Well I’m back with this big-ass update on what’s happened over the past month or so. It hasn’t been awfully exciting, but still it’s been, probably, one of the most important periods in my life (and for everyone else doing the damn HSC). Anyway, I’ll divide up this update into sections and if one starts to bore you, skip to the next.

The Higher School Ceritificate (HSC)
If you’re not from NSW, Australia, you just won’t understand how big a set of examinations this is. For most, this is the be all and end all of future career paths (despite what those feel-good people who say “you can still get where you want to get in life without getting a university degree” – yeah you can but honestly, how much harder is it gonna be?). It’s basically the culmination of 2 years of work (or 13 years of work for Maths and English) condensed into a set of exams that run for a month. Then, making it even worse, your performance is then turned into a single number (from 0.00 to 100.00 in 0.05 increments), which determines what university courses you’re eligible for. Apparently 65,667 people are taking the HSC this year, and that single number is your ranking – it measures the percentage of people you beat in the State.

Anyway, no doubt you’ll realise this was a particularly stressful time. I’m sure you’ve heard about the urban myth of the girl who sat a paper and realised she was stuffed, so she stuck two pencils, sharp end first, up her nostrils and slammed her head down on the desk (sorry for that gory image there, but we were joking about it before the exams just to try to relax – “Damnit girl! You got all this blood over my exam paper!”). When it all finished for me, midway through last week, the high I experienced when I came out of the Chemistry exam was … not drug induced :) Now here’s what I have to say about each exam.

2 Unit General English (Paper 1 – Reading/Writing/Topic Area)
“Anything that resembles the scrotum of the Jolly Green Giant is not meant for the dinner table.”

This is the famous “choko” paper. After the day this exam was held, the Sydney Morning Herald put on the front page “HSC Furore Over the Humble Choko”. What happened was that the comprehension section of this paper was a passage about a choko. However, it turns out that no one knows what a choko is and there were quite a few complaints that were lodged about people of “ethnic origin” (like me) not being exposed to food such as the choko, and thus how they were at a disadvantage. One guy even was reported to have come out of the exam saying “I still don’t know what a choko is.” This is total and utter pathetic bullshit. Here are a few quotations from the passage, and you tell me if you can figure out what a choko is :

“Under the alias of some rather exotic names, the common choko is rising to culinary heights.”
“‘They’re for dinner … I’m doing them with a bechamel sauce.” [bechamel defined in footnote]
“[The choko] is the dullard and the wimp of the vegetable world.”
“An irregularly-ridged, pear-shaped squash … growing on a trailing vine…”

Now they were just four references to what a choko is – there were tons more, and people are trying to say they don’t know what a choko was and therefore can’t answer the passage? Come on! Perhaps that’s why they call it “comprehension”. The rest of the paper was not fantastic, but okay – the writing task was a bit dodgy, however, because it constricted you to writing a letter. The Crossing Boundaries topic area question was a bit limiting, though.

2 Unit General English (Paper 2 – Drama, Poetry, Novel)
“What is the point of poetry?”

Nothing really exciting about this paper. Your ordinary English paper, but the poetry question (above) was quite an open ended one – initially hard for me to plan – but ultimately not a bad one. The novel (Life and Crimes of Harry Lavender – yeah I’m meant to underline titles, but screw that) and the Drama (Diving for Pearls) were pretty standard questions. I didn’t write brilliant essays, but I hope I went well, still.

2 Unit Economics
Quite a tough paper, actually. A friend of mine got a quote in the paper about it – something about the paper being like South Park, and how it required “analytical interpretation” (that is, thought :). Well, the whole state found it hard, so that’s a good thing.

4 Unit Maths
To copy a 4 Unit maths question onto an html page without scanning a picture of the question would be madness, so I won’t bother.

This was the paper of the hardest subject available in the whole HSC, and I had to sit it. Strangely, this year’s paper was, well I won’t say easy, but comparatively easy with regards to past years. So I felt quite good coming out of the exam (been stuffing up maths all year). It wasn’t as traumatic as it could have been. However, it still holds that an average person doing 2 unit maths could not score more than 10 / 120 in this paper :).

3 Unit Economics
Slightly harder than past years, but else, was ok. I neglected one part of a question, so I hope I don’t get penalised too much for it. Damn, eh? It was only a 1.5 hour paper where we had to write two essays.

3 Unit Maths
This paper, apparently wasn’t too tough. However, on this exam and on the day I took it… I just died. Nothing was working out for me and the whole thing turned out to be disastrous for me. But, as the saying that is normally reserved for 4-Unit maths exams goes, “I don’t need luck… I just need scaling!” I hope my 4-Unit will help my overall maths mark.

2 Unit Physics
“It is possible for someone on the ground to see lightning but not hear thunder.”

Stock-standard, but interesting paper. The quotation above is from a question in which they lead you to show how that is true (it’s got to do with refraction of sound), so I guess I learnt something new that day :). I felt I went quite well in it, which was a relief after the big maths stuffup.

2 Unit Chemistry
“Define the term fuel.”

Chemistry was my best subject, and it was quite amusing that just before I went into the exam I asked a few friends “What is a fuel?” Lo and behold, the question appeared! In another coincidence, we have an elderly Chem teacher from Egypt who was telling us about childhood experiences. He told us about how when he was a child, these Egyptian camel drivers (or something) used these special lamps. Inside the lamp case was a rock, and they used to drip water onto the rock, and it produced some sort of gas which could be lit to give a light source. Later, he found out that it was Calcium Carbide they were dripping water on, and it reacted with water to give ethyne gas which could be lit. This question then appeared in the paper :

Ethyne lamps were once used by cavers. The lamps worked by dripping water onto a supply of calcium carbide (CaC2), thereby generating a constant supply of ethyne gas. Light was obtained by igniting the ethyne gas.

I couldn’t believe that when I saw it :). It didn’t help that I knew the story beforehand, but it was a coincidence, nonetheless.

So, that was my HSC. Exciting, stressful and downright torturous. Results come out January 2, but I’ll worry about them later :).

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