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Sagely advice given the last time I had to clean up...

If you want to preserve it intact, the simplest way is to edit the page (you can still edit old revisions from the "[View other revisions]" link) and CopyPaste? the Wiki source onto this page.  Alternately, since it's old, and particularly since it's off your homepage, it'd probably be fine to just delete it.  --AlexChurchill
(reads page) Daaah! Mental note - don't edit homepage at 2am after free-wine evening. (cleans page up) I reckon I'll keep the funny bits.

The Christmas Awards fron Candle, in their entirety with votes and a humorous IC flame war:

1. Most Popular NPC (Alive or Dead)

Moriko: 3
Shoat: 1
Xarak's cat: 1

And leading the others by a furlong, it's Moriko the Water aspect. She stands, smiles to the adoring crowd, and takes a graceful bow, a lock of her blue hair falling out of place.

2. Most Hated NPC (Alive or Dead)

Shoat of the Mire: 2
Syrtis: 1
Whoever killed Rishomen: 1 (I believe the player in question meant 'Irae', but I'm not sure. Feel free to edit this if that's what you meant.)
Xarak's cat: 1

Nobody hate's Xarak's cat and lives! I'll chop yer into cat food! --Xarak

You mean the cat isnt the emergency rations? Odd. - NellensArtan
I'd eat a Dragon-Blooded before my cat. - Xarak
You could try but i have never known 6' of jade being good for one's digestive processes - NellensArtan
Well, you're about to find out, unless you give proper respect to my cat. --Xarak
I am giving proper respect to the cat, it is a very nice cat and supposedly a powerful one so it has my respect, there are other things i respect less though - NellensArtan
Well that's all right then. --Xarak

And by a nose it's the little dead girl with the warstrider. Accepting the award on her behalf - a nine-foot-tall woman with untamed raven hair and a bestial face.

3. Least Trusted NPC

Xarak's cat: 1
Nobody: 1
Rishomen: 2
The Sidereals: 1

Everybody not the Ravens: 1
Someone tried to vote for the Storyteller. ^_^

Here, narrowly, it's the party's secret master. The shade of Rishomen glows bluely as he tries to pick up the trophy and fails. He says something trite in the manner of Alec Guinness.

4. Least Trusted PC

Tulas: 2 1/2 (and a death threat)
Xarak: 1
Requiem: 1 1/2
Everybody: 1

Tulas by a mile. I'm sure she can come and accept her own award.
Tulas can't be with us tonight, however in her place please accept a small pale girl with long blond hair from another campaign "mummy says thankyou" And then she's gone

5. Most Trusted NPC

Rishomen: 2
Moriko: 1
Syrtis: 1
Xarak's cat: 1
Sebeal: 1

Rishomen steps back onto the stage to accept his second award of the evening. He smiles beatifically down at the well-wishers among the audience.

6. Most Trusted PC

Snow: 2
Kurm: 1
Xarak: 2
Oberon: 1

This one is a dead heat, between Snow and Xarak! The crowd goes wild as they both attempt to grab the award at the same time. Tonight's host, Jupiter herself, has to step in and break it up. "Jupiter! Jupiter! Jupiter!" shout the hillbillies in the audience.

7. PC Most Likely To Survive The Campaign

Seric: 1
Tulas: 2
Artan: 2 (1 down already)
Xarak: 1

And another dead heat. I think that I'm going to have to use my casting vote here, and award this one to Artan. Because he's already half-inched the actual statuette.

8. PC Least Likely To Survive The Campaign

Oberon: 1
Xarak: 4
Tulas: 1

Xarak wins this one by a staggering three votes! Come up again, Xarak, and collect your prize!

Totally wrong, shows what we know-King DJ

9. NPC Most Likely To Survive The Campaign

Moriko: 2
Walker in Darkness: 1
Syrtis: 1
Xarak's cat: 1
That old guy sidereal (his name is Tirtel): 1

And Moriko wins her second award of the evening. "I'd just like to thank all the little people who made this possible - my plastic surgeon, my make-up team, and above all the Storyteller. Thank you thank you!" She blows a kiss to the audience, to rapturous applause.

When I'm finished with you, you'll wish you hadn't survived the campaign! And your plastic surgeon will be working harder than Michael Jackson's defence lawyer! - Xarak

10. PC Most Dangerous To The Party

Xarak: 5
Requiem: 1

And Xarak achieves his third award of the night. This man is on fire! No, really. I think somebody set him on fire when he was here a minute ago. It doesn't seem to bother him. Xarak, everybody!

11. NPC Most Dangerous To The Party

Syrtis: 2
The Sidereals in general: 1
Walker in Darkness: 3

The shadows deepen around the stage, as a man looking vaguely like Cats from ZeroWing limps up to the stage. A deathly hush falls as Walker collects the award. He turns and shakes his fist at the other award winners, before disappearing into a puff of shadow and smoke.

12. NPC Most Likely To Die Next

Walker in Darkness: 1
Moriko: 2
A random mortal extra: 3

A man comes up to the stage in a very cautious fashion. He's wearing a red shirt. He looks around nervously before lifting the statue and scurrying off. But wait! It seems the statue was poisoned! He clutches theatrically at his throat before collapsing in a sad little heap.

Then Xarak runs over and decapitates him. He did this noble deed to put the poor man out of the agony of slow death by poison. He deserves the Nobel Peace Prize too!

13. NPC (or PC) Most Likely To Have Killed Rishomen

Oberon: 1
Requiem: 1
Tulas: 1
Irae: 1
The Sidereals in general: 1
No vote: 1

A man in blue steps up to the microphone. "I'm afraid all I can say at this time is that inquiries are continuing. No further questions. Thank you." He walks off.

14. PC Likely To Have Highest Kill Count By End Of Campaign (clarification - ALL kills count, not just innocents)

Xarak: 2 1/2
Tulas: 1
Se'ric: 1/2
Undecided: 1
Artan: 1 (now where did i put my plasma cannon)

And for the FOURTH time this evening - may I present Xarak with the award for psychopathy. [ducks under wild axe swing]

''

15. PC Likely To Have Lowest Kill Count By End Of Campaign

Tulas: 6 (and another death threat to Tulas)
*Sigh* Some girls come home to find piles of love letters waiting for them. At least death threats are slightly more interesting --Tulas

Death threats? Not on my watch! Just let me take up position here...with my axe here...right above your head...to parry any incoming arrows...now sleep tight. Heh heh heh. She doesn't suspect a thing. --Xarak
Hmm, lets not tell him that he's not fooling Tulas at all.... Senji/GreatNellensConspiracy

Death threats, really whats the point there only purpose is to serve as a distraction to remove guards from the true target, besides you can sit there like a fool with your axe safe in the knowledge that you shall perform the most shoddy killing in creation. - NellensArtan
When I'm finished with you, you'll have the most shoddy face in creation! --Xarak
Really who did teach you language skills (or a lack of them) do you only have one insult and quite a poor and childish  one at that, at one time I wondered why we should kill all Anathema now i know it's to avoid lowering our intellect sufficently to talk to them. - NellensArtan
It's not an insult, it's a threat. Actually, make that...a promise! --Xarak
Not one i havent heard or lived through before however the guy on the other end of the promise had an unfortunate accident later that involved a large glowing object and resulted in a most tearful memorial service.'' - NellensArtan
My axe is a larger, more glowing object than your daiklaive! --Xarak
What is it about men and their large glowing objects? If either of you wish to learn about true death threats, speak with me. - CherryBlossomSmilePrincess

I don't think this one needs elaboration, folks.

16. Most Likely Ending For Campaign
a)      PCs All Die, World Destroyed: 2
b)      Some PCs Die, World Destroyed: 1
c)      PCs All Die, World Saved
d)      Some PCs Die, World Saved: 2
e)      Something else (please specify if you feel like it)

So far I have had a suggestion that everyone gives up on the violence and becomes salt merchants. And another one that Xarak achieves his goal of world domination.
f)      All PCs other than Tulas die saving the world. Tulas becomes Empress.
Again?!
Please, an Empress with a flipchart no no no no no [runs of screaming]

"And currently the suggestions run mostly to the side of the world's destruction! I, of course, know the answer - but I'm not telling." Jupiter smiles enigmatically. Saturn, squeezed into a pretty little purple number, comes up to accept the award as Oblivion couldn't make it this evening.

17. If you answered that the world was destroyed, above - who did it?

Oberon: 1
Xarak: 2
The entire Circle, manipulated into it by the Sidereals: 1
No answer: 1

And tonight's final award goes to: oh, this can't be right. Okay, okay - stick it on the pile on Xarak's table. What's left of Xarak's table, that is.

I am the world's mightiest man, what do ya expect? Now for my acceptance speech. Ahem. Yeah, I got in a fight with a dyslexic Exhalt the other day, and he got out a plastic bag full of water and set fire to it! I said "What are you doing?" and he said "I'm flaring my enema!". Boom boom! It's the way I tell 'em! But seriously, I'd like to thank everyone that made my awards possible. Sadly, none of them could be here tonight...'cos I murdered them all really bloodily! Boom boom! Hey wait a minute, that's the ghost of one of them over there! And there! You're all ghosts! Must lay to rest with axe! <smash> <scream> <chop>... - Xarak

Well, that's the end of the Christmas Awards programme - see you all again at Easter!

A Yu-Shan production, in association with the Bureau of Heaven. Sponsored by Lytek Elevation Services - the most auspicious Exaltation choice.


From /MtG

I kind of lost touch about the time of 5th Edition. I've got a fairly old stockpile of cards (will be sorted when I get a RoundTuit) and a bunch of 5 to 7 year old decks. Advice on local houserules, places/times people play etc. would be appreciated if anyone feels like it. I used to tend to like rather odd blue decks, it appears.
Makes your collection older than either StuartFraser's or AlexChurchill's (both mostly start at Tempest; although we have Ice Age and Mirage block cards, just not many), then. MagicTheGathering is played at GamesEvening (normally towards the end of the evening); whenever else two or more Cambridge magic players feel like it, and at occasional [Events]; either our own or WizardsOfTheCoast sponsored events (generally new set prereleases).
Since you kind of lost touch, the sets Tempest, Stronghold, Exodus, Urza's Saga, Urza's Legacy, Urza's Destiny, Mercadian Masques, Nemesis, Prophecy, Invasion, Planeshift, Apocalypse, Odyssey, Torment, Judgement, Onslaught, Legions, Scourge and Mirrodin have been released, the basic set is now up to 8th edition, the card face has been changed (at 8th, which followed Scourge), and the timing rules have been altered (everything that was previously a "fast effect" is now an instant and you can respond to an instant with an instant; and a strange and mystical new zone called the "stack" now exists where spells go to resolve) And about five bazillion new keywords have been introduced (as you'd expect, given that the card pool has doubled).


Heehee.  EditConflict.  Here's what AlexChurchill wrote to Requiem:
Wow.  Fabulous! :)  Well, you'd be very very welcome to come along to GamesEvening, which has a number of MtG players regularly attending, and some Magic gets played more evenings than not, usually starting around 10pm.  The next GamesEvenings will be on 6th and 13th January, and on Tuesdays from then on, in TheShrubbery as far as we currently know.
The game still plays pretty similarly to 5th edition and before: there are a few major rule changes to do with interrupts, the Stack, and several other minor changes related to things like tapping things in combat.  I've not found an online reference for the 5->6 rules changes - perhaps the Wiki should acquire one?  I'd be happy to attempt to talk thru the changes, anyway, although I won't be there on 6th Jan.  But the GamesEvening MtG crowd are a friendly bunch, a number of whom are relatively new players and would love to see your 5-7 years old decks :)  --AlexChurchill
Somehow the EditConflict does not suprise me at all (I actually thought whilst writing "best not go on any more else I'll get an EditConflict with Alex). Other things that ought to possibly be said are that the [Magic Website] is potentially worth a look; as are our pages on MagicTheGathering/ConstructedFormats and MagicTheGathering/LimitedFormats for an idea of the way the game currently behaves, and for what we do to it at GamesEvenings? occasionally...

Fair enough. I'm sure I'll get to something around the start of Lent term (or possibly earlier; close enough to .cam that driving is a possibility). Note - I wasn't old enough when last I played to be anything like a serious player. But I'll turn up anyway; haven't been to a Games Evening, and it all sounds fun.
Oh, I wouldn't worry about not being a serious player. No-one else is...

I should be turning up to GamesEvening on the 13th with three old decks of varying usefulness and colour, and a deck containing some Mirrodin cards I was given. Oh, and I'll probably bring my Go set as well, as I haven't played that in a while.
FWIW, we have a Go set here at TheShrubbery :) --AlexChurchill


MS WinXP SP2.
<rant>
[More evil]. What is up with Microsoft? Is it even worth trying to get hold of SP2, given that: (1) it's a limited download from their site, which requires my finding and blowing the dust off Explorer to download, (2) it is no longer available via helpful mirror sites, because MS have desided that infringes their IP rights, (3) my computer is already secure, seeing as I've had to find my own security solutions, and (4) the update apparently causes as many problems as it solves anyway? Gah. >_<
</rant>
Most of the problems it causes are due to it turning on the FireWall, and thus 'breaking' most internet applications.  Not all, however.  The 'no mirroring this' is, however, truly BrainDead?.  I can see why they are telling people 'wait for the machine specific patches' - but since it's not their bandwidth they are wasting...  I guess they just want to be able to say "Look how many people patched".  --Vitenka (They could run their own torret tracker though...)
Actually since most MS users are not smart enough to use checksums, preventing people from mirroring it is just being security concious. Of course this doesn't stop them running a torrent seed, but that would involve trusting the evil open source bittorrent. --Gwyntar
It also interferes with ones own FireWall, according to their site - which gives no technical information as to why, so I won't be able to fix whatever it is trivially. I shall have to research this before thinking about downloading the damn thing. Apparently, they have made the assumption that no WinXP user has looked to their own security. --Requiem
Hadn't thought of that one Gwyntar, but [I don't think it matters] ;)  As for interfering with other friewalls, that's just good MicroSoft? practice, isn't it?  --Vitenka

WindowsUpdate? has told me it's available. Did anyone eventually decide if it was worth it or not? --CH
My jury is still out. It's arguably easier than installing Linux, which is my other option ^^;; - but I believe that 90% of the software I use day-to-day (i.e. everything bar Notepad and Word) would have to be individually exempted from MS' firewall of stupidity. There's supposed to be an option to do this automatically - but then, that kind of misses the point of having a firewall. But then, I don't have to decide until Michaelmas because it would take approximately a week to download at my present bandwidth. In short - I'm still thinking about it, but will probably eventually go for it. But I'm not qualified to give coherent advice, either. --Requiem




So. I now work in an environment containing five software engineers, and am feeling inadequate because my coding experience is limited to Fortran 90. I wish to learn a programming language as some sort of long-term project. I know what's marketable, cause I recruit software bods all day. I'm not too fussed what *sort* of language I learn, really, because although I do know the difference I just want to know how to code in general rather than in order to do something specific (yet). What I want to know is where I should start.
Hello World is traditional :) Beyond that, personally I find I learn a lot better if I have a project to work on, rather than just trying to learn a language or a principle in the abstract; it doesn't matter if the project is not actually for anything in the end. Maybe implement a game such as Set or one of the solitaire card games, or a calculator, or something that manipulates text, like maybe a BNF generator... --Rachael
Can you be a bit more specific, do you want suggestions of books to read, tutorials, languages, examples of the kinds of programs you could write? What you'd like to do in the end with this knowledge does matter a lot, some languages and approaches are only useful for certain domains. --RobHu
Suggestions of books to read or tutorials to do sounds good. This is for my own amusement really, as mostly I'm interested in learning this knowledge 'because it's there', but I'm interested in picking up something that is actually *used* in this day and age, to replace in my head the museum piece that is FORTRAN. --Requiem
I would recommend: Academic type stuff {[Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs] (also available as [video lectures]), [The Art of Computer Programming], [Introduction to Algorithms] (which I've not read but hear is excellent)}, Programming practical stuff {[The Pragmatic Programmer], [The Practice of Programming]}. 'Software development' / engineering / management type stuff {[Rapid Development], [The Mythical Man Month], [Code Complete], [Rapid Development]}. Also - FORTRAN is still around, here at EBI our core stuff is built on FORTRAN. You could always learn FORTRAN.NET :-) --RobHu
Thanks! Currently reading the lisp book, as it fulfils what I'm looking for. I'm a theoretical type, so starting with 'what is a language, what does it do, here's this odd language' and then moving on to books that assume you know or just don't tell you the inherent limitations of what you are doing, seems like a good idea. Also... fortran.net? *quails* --Requiem
Hurrah! The SICP course is the cornerstone of many a CompSci degree around the world, so you're in good hands with that book. Fortran.NET... yeah, it is evil, but then Fortran is evil. A problem we have is that we only have one person with Fortran knowledge, so when they leave we're all screwed. The plan would be to move all the Fortran code to Fortran.NET, then we can inherit from it and do stuff with it in languages we actually have skills in (like C#). --RobHu
I'm sure I'll be laughed at for suggesting this, but since Everything I Knew About C (before I got a job) was learned from the C++ instalment of the series, the Foo For Dummies books are actually quite good. --CH
Actually - yes.  If you're already able to program in something then all you really need is "Oh, this is the new syntax" and "Here are the things this language does really well" (and, maybe, depending on age of book ModelViewController/Objects?/Databases?/Aspects?/DataOriented?/Whatever? is really good.)  --Vitenka

Implementing Set sounds fun, I think. I could then generalise it or something.

Oh hey!  Come help me on EvilScript.  ([this project]) - JavaScript is easy to learn, has the major advantage of being able to instantly see some results and has some (not many, but some) of the features of a real programming language.  --Vitenka (and the syntax is quite like real java, making learning that later a breeze.)
Or combine both. I've implemented Set in JavaScript. --Rachael
Yes, but then I don't get the help ;)  --Vitenka

Current project is rewriting my third year FORTRAN computing project in lisp, first using the method I used then to solve the problem and then using this other one I thought of. The problem is the percolation problem - model a forest fire, what's the smallest density of trees in your forest such that the fire progresses through the forest?
It depends on the aspect ratio of the trees. If you can get them to fall over when they set on fire, you need a much lower density... --SF
It is in fact all about how you represent a tree. I remember implementing the trivial case (a forest consisting of one tree) in my writeup to illustrate this point. --Requiem
Personally I prefer a brown approximately rectangle shape with a blobby green bit on the top, but I can see how there are arguments for more accurate representations --Androidkiller
That's far more accurate than what I was using. --Requiem
I'm familiar with the problem because it is functionally equivalent to "what concentration of conductive material do you need randomly arrayed in an insulating matrix in order for there to be a current path through the composite", and percolation threshold is a generally measured parameter in composite science. The gentlemen one and four desks round from me are doing interesting things in this regard. --SF

OK. Technical question. I've been asked to analyse using Excel some data with a really Evil set of filenames.

I have a series of text files, containing tab delimited data. When imported into Excel they end up putting text both above and below the numerical data so selecting an entire column does not work. Their naming convention is as follows:

[stuff that's always the same]\SampleID?\Test_x\Transistor i (s, g)\[SampleID 1 TodaysDate]? Test Number t Cycle Number 1 Output.txt

x and SampleID? are input by the user. s and g are defined by the user for each i. i = 1 to 100. t = 2 to 4.

I know how to import a file with a filename that I define, and I can define that filename from variables.

So basically my problem is that I can't generate s and g as s(i) g(i). s and g are x and y coordinates for an array of arbitrary shape (usually a right angled triangle). Can I use wildcard characters in a filename? Should I resign myself to supplying a list of (s,g) versus i and reading that in at the start? Am I missing something?

Also, I'm not 100% sure how to get Excel to concatenate multiple text files into the same sheet (they're only two columns wide).

The reason for using Excel rather than, say, Matlab is that I'm really, really not a CompSci and I want to be able to play around with the finished article the next time The Management wants me to change all the naming conventions.


You say That you can't calculate (s,g) - in which case all you can do is read it in from somewhere.  --Vitenka (Am I misunderstanding something?)

I was wondering whether it would be possible to say '(s,g) don't matter, ignore this part of the filename'. --Requiem

Oh, then it's up to excel.  Many file input thingies will let you insert '?' or '*' and cope if the result is unique.  Alternately, could you spawn something off to do a directory listing with the wildcarded name and then read the result back in?  --Vitenka


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