Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Eve Of Destruction

It's New Year's Eve, 2006. Do you know who's in your boxen?

In an incredible break from tradition, I actually received an invitation to a social occasion! The invitation was to spend New Year's Eve with Sebastian, a German computer science student who Richard and I had met at the 23C3. Richard was not keen on the idea because he had his heart set on seeing the fireworks at the Brandenburg Gate, not sitting inside with a bunch of geeks. Also, as Sebastian observed shortly after meeting Richard his "life follows a sad pattern". I persuaded Richard that we should go to Sebastian's apartment, assuming he would leave at some point to go to the Brandenburg Gate. Sebastian's apartment was wonderful. The interior was very modern and it was quite spacious. I was surprised when he told us how low the rent was. It made me think about the standard of living here in Berlin compared to that in Rip-Off Britain, and how much I hate the UK.

Sebastian's brother and some of his friends came over. Everyone was friendly and interesting. And clever. Guess which one is most important to me:)

Somebody cooked great pizza at some point. Richard and the others drank B52's, a three-layer cocktail consisting of Bailey's, Grand Marnier and Kahlua. For reasons that were never made clear, it was decided that the drinks should be set on fire and then drunk through a straw. This proved to be quite a dangerous course of action as the straws caught fire and molten plastic dripped everywhere.

Throughout the night I spent quite a bit of time playing Street Fighter 2 on MAME. I've always considered SF2 to be a console game as most of my friends played it on the SNES. I felt it was very inferior to Final Fight, a side scrolling beat 'em up that Dr Edward Bearskin and I used to play for hours on end. I was never into console games as a teenager, being an owner of an Amiga.(A REAL computer) It was still good to see the game and all the characters I had forgotten: Guile, Chun-Li, Dhalsim, Ken, Ryu, Blanka etc.

It was somehow decided that we should all go to the Brandenburg Gate for the countdown to midnight. We traveled by bus and arrived to find what appeared to be a small war. Fireworks were being set off in the street and were flying around just a few feet from people's heads. The ground was covered with broken glass. At midnight champagne and wine glasses were produced. Despite some minor peer pressure from Richard, I didn't drink any.

When we got back to Sebastian's apartment we ate more pizza and discussed various issues relating to cryptography, steganography and anonymity for many, many hours. Eventually it was past 4 am and time to go home. All in all, probably the best New Year's Eve I've ever had.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

CCC: Day 4 Of The 23C3

The last day of the 23rd Chaos Computer Congress.
I walked into the second half of a talk on unusual security bugs. From what I could gather it was mostly ANSI C Standard stuff and poor coding practices. Towards the end of the talk I fell asleep. This wouldn't have been a problem except that I had forgotten to turn off my mobile, and I received a call from Richard. Mobiles are dumb.

This talk on podcasting started out poorly, largely because it was not funny enough, despite a dumb girl in the front row laughing continuously, presumably she was a friend/enemy of the speaker. It improved a lot towards the end. A Frenchman was involved.

I missed Mitch Altman's talk about his invention TV-Be-Gone at HOPE this year, so it was good to have a chance to see it at the CCC. TV-B-Gone is a simple device but Mitch's talk was mainly about the role television played in his childhood and about how this had led him to building a device for turning off TV's. Great stuff.

While checking me email, I spotted what appeared to be a Japanese hacker. I asked her to sit down so I could question her. She obliged, so we sat down and discussed various topics related to Japan, Web 2.0 and technology in general. Although she wasn't really a hacker, Fumi Yamazaki was very cool. She works for Technorati, a blog search engine. Fumi said it would be ok to interview her sometime using Skype, I'll try to get it done next month sometime.

Culture Jamming & Discordianism
Fumi and I watched this rather weak talk given by Autumn Tyr-Salvia, an American girl. It had all be said before, and in far more eloquent ways.

The 23 Chaos Computer Congress Closing Ceremony
The 23C3 has passed more quickly than any conference I have attended in the past. Tim Pritlove reviewed the congress and shared some insights into various things that had gone on. Lots of people were thanked. Photos were taken. Sadness mixed with pride. I said goodbye to Fumi and I resolved to return to Japan next year, even if it's just for a couple of months. Many of us here will be getting together in the summer next year for a hacker camp, and of course it's only 12 months until the next mother-fucking Chaos Communication Congress.

During this last day of the 23C3 I grew older in a short space of time. When I draw my final breath on this vile planet will I say "Shit, I thought we'd only just got started..."

Friday, December 29, 2006

CCC: Day 3 Of The 23C3

Got to the CCC at 10:30 am, I would have preferred to stay in bed for another couple of hours, but I wanted to watch Jacob Appelbaum's talk, which was in the first session of the day.

Unlocking FileVault
A talk on security of Apple FileVault, an encryption system built into Mac OS X. Like many good hacker talks, it started with a song. Jacob Appelbaum and Ralf-Philipp Weinmann then discussed their investigation into FileVault security and a tool they had built. Special guest Hikari (David Hulton) then demonstrated a high speed password cracking method using an FPGA on a Compact Flash card.

Fuzzing In The Corporate World
Talk on the use of fuzzing in software testing by an Israli security consultant. He began his talk by asking the audience how many of them had sold out and were now working for big corporations. He was quite embarrassed when nobody put their hand up. European hackers don't sell out as easily as hackers in the US and other countries do. The talk was basic but so is my knowledge of fuzzing, so things worked out well. I was sitting at the back of the room and couldn't really see the speaker. There was, however, a good wireless signal so I was able to watch the speaker on my laptop using the IP streaming that had been set up.

Nintendo DS
This was a nice talk on reverse engineering the Nintendo DS handheld games console. I don't like games consoles, but reverse engineering interests me greatly. A good talk overall, although my low opinion of consoles still stands.

"An Introduction To Traffic Analysis"
Most of the examples in the beginning of the talk were covert channel attacks, not traffic analysis. The speaker tried to emphasise the importance of traffic analyis but didn't have any strong examples in his talk. Afterwards, someone asked for a concrete example and the speaker showed a map of Indymedia nodes. From the map a list of the top 100 nodes was made. Killing the top 100 nodes would probably destroy Indymedia.

"Security In Cardholder Data Processing"
This talk didn't contain any information on credit cards, instead it detailed standard security auditing of companies which run credit card systems. I found it to be both interesting and useful, although the delivery was poor.

"On Free, And The Differences Between Culture And Code"
A silly American saying a lot of silly stuff about copyright. The presentation was well done, but ultimately, the guy had nothing to say. Talks like this bring out the worst in the hacker community. Speakers know that if they talk about free software, open source, hackers being clever etc., they will get a good response. Stupid people talking to stupid people.

"Automated Exploit Detection In Binaries"
Luis Miras gave this presentation on a software project of his which uses automated reverse engineering techniques to look through compiled programs and find possible buffer overflows in them. Even with my limited knowledge of C and assembly, I was still able to follow it without difficulty. The software is designed to be multi-platform and therefore uses a virtual machine. Simply coding the VM itself is a difficult task, so the whole project is a serious undertaking. For reasons that weren't made clear, the code was being written in Objective C.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

CCC: Day 2 Of The 23C3

Slept for a few hours and then was woken by the voice of a girl telling me that breakfast was ready. I intended to get some work done while eating, but it was not to be.

Sleep deprivation has impaired my ability to think coherently, I sat at the breakfast table with my notepad, failing to write anything of value. The food in my hostel is really good and eating breakfast is already having a positive effect on me. In 2007 I'll aim to eat breakfast more often...

Annoyingly I didn't arrive at the CCC in time for the talk on infrastructure hacking. It discussed weaknesses in backbone routing protocols and sounded very interesting. Yesterday I met Raven, the woman who was giving the talk. She said she had been investigating insecurities in routing protocols in the US and had found some massive security holes. She contacted the Internet Service Providers concerned and got some pretty stupid responses including "Please don't publicise that weak password you found because we're not going to change it". All talks at the CCC will be available for download at some point in the near future, so I'll download it then.

"Detecting Temperature Through Clock Skew"
This talk was on identifying computers remotely across a network by using a side channel attack. It was given by a Scottish(?) guy called Steven J. Murdoch who works at the Cambridge University computer lab. He was an excellent speaker, and that talk was full of deep hacker magic. The basic idea is that the various clocks used in computers tend to drift due to the temperature inside the computer case. This drifting(clock skew) can be measured using TCP timestamps and is unique enough to be useful as a fingerprint for the specific make, model and even individual PC.

"Tor And China"
This talk was mainly about Tor, an Electronic Frontier Foundation project for anonymous communication which uses a series of tunnels. It was all quite silly. I'm starting to think that the EFF are fighting battles which have already been lost and that they lack understanding the big picture. The talk began with a series of very questionable assumptions upon which Tor is based. People think Tor is important because it is fun and it sounds cool. Currently, for whatever reasons, the people involved with developing it are not people with a good understanding of the nature of the world or the nature of security. This may change in the future, but it's likely that Tor is fundamentally broken, and unless the project is seen as nothing more than a way to learn about some interesting topics, its value is limited.

Quick break for food and coffee, followed by talk on RFID:

"A Hacker's Toolkit For RFID"
The talk covered RFID jamming and spoofing as well as auditing RFID systems. The speaker was a young American woman, and she was quite good, all things considered. One of the problems she suffered from was common to many hackers: she talked about how to make bad stuff slightly better instead of talking about how to destroy the bad stuff. This is wrong.

The Apple Powerbook's crap wireless is really starting to piss me off. Everyone around me seems to be using the wifi here with ease, but due to the crummy Apple wifi card and the poor built-in aerial, I get nothing.

"RFID Hacking"
Another talk on RFID, this one given in three parts by three different people, Karsten Nohl, z0ccor and Henry Plotz. The first part was about making a fake ticket for a World Cup game. It wasn't very detailed but was still interesting. One of the most interesting things was a photo of a ticket that had been placed in a microwave for 2 seconds. You could see the charred paper around aerial and battery of the RFID tag. This suggests that although microwave ovens can be used to destroy RFID tags, it's not a useful method if you then had to present a document containing the tag at a checkpoint etc. Part two covered privacy issues with RFID. The concept presented was that tracking people by RFID is easier than one would imagine. This is a very important point, because most previous studies had always assumed the person would have a single tag. In fact, over the next few years most new clothing will be tagged, so it won't be unusual for people to be wearing 6-10 tags. Part 3 gave a practical blueprint of how to reverse engineer an RFID card system. The speaker lived in university accommodation which used RFID cards as keys. He was able to successfully spoof the key to his room using an Ipod and a homemade transmitter. He went step-by-step through the whole process, using tools such as GNUradio and USRP.

"Stealth Malware"
This talk covered rootkits, trojans, viruses, worms and other nice things. It was given by Joanna Rutkowska. At the first CCC I went to(21C3) I saw her give a talk on passive covert channels in Linux. Although is was basic, and she had got a few things wrong, the talk was still very good and it got me very interested in the stegonographic use of TCP/IP. Her talk on malware was interesting, but nothing special. A bit like Rutowska herself.

"Homegrown Interactive Tables"
This talk was in German, but was still very cool. It was given by a team who built their own version of Multitouch, a giant touch screen which can recognise multiple points instead of just a single point. The touch screen they built is in the lounge area of the CCC, I played around with it a bit and thought it had a lot of potential. I'm going to look into building one.

Black Ops of TCP/IP
Although Dan Kaminsky is selling more of his soul each day, his talks are still very interesting and very entertaining. This year his talk covered graphical tools for analysing bineries, various SSH issues and fuzzing. Kaminsky's style is great, and he has a knack for looking at old tech in new and interesting ways.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

CCC: Day 1 Of The 23C3

A very poor keynote speaker from the EFF. He claimed that hackers are a serious threat to the public and must be dealt with by the hacker community. He talked about hackers working for mafia in eastern Europe etc. Very lame.

The Grim Meathook Future
I was planning to go to a talk on a CCC RFID project, but the room was completely packed so Richard and I ended up in a talk called the Grim Meathook Future. It was a complete surprise to find that the speaker was eloquent, funny and had some very serious stuff to say. The talk focussed on false assumptions made about the future summed up by the phrase "In the future everything will work". This is the reason I come to hacker cons, not the tech stuff, but the few talks which hit very hard, and tell you things that you knew were true but that you don't allow to affect the way you live your life. I didn't agree with much of what he said, but the general thrust of the first part of the talk was that many hackers are in love with their toys and run around telling everyone how such tools will change the world.

Privacy In Web 2.0
Web 2.0 is a bunch of crap. This fact should be reflected on deeply. Regardless of this, I still attended the talk. Although I've often said that the European hacker scene is more advanced than that of the US, one of the negative aspects of the advanced nature of the hacker scene here is that people here seem to talk more about things in a theoretical and abstract way.

Got stuck in a talk in German. Fortunately the talk contained some videos, some pictures and a demonstration. Although I couldn't understand what was being said, it seemed to me that a lot of it was just talk about toy helicopters with mounted cameras and video senders. Certainly not drones, but still quite cool.

We Don't Trust Voting Computers
I have no interest in voting and voting computers. I attended this 2-hour talk simply because the speaker rocks. The speaker, Rop Gonggrijp, headed a campaign against voting computers in The Netherlands. Being 31337 haxors, Rop and his team were able to obtain some voting computers, find some insecurities in them and publicise them widely.

Riding On The Rocket

Arriving at the Berliner Conference Centre and seeing The Heart Of Gold, the Chaos Computer Club's rocket affected me more than I could have imagined. It means that, at least for the next few days, I have a chance at living my life in a better, deeper way.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Boxing Day In Berlin

Slept for the whole of the flight. Got from the airport to Alexanderplatz without difficulty. Found my hostel. Waited an hour for a member of staff to turn up. My room is clean and warm but there's little else to say about it. Slept for a couple of hours then walked back to Alexanderplatz.

Arriving at the Chaos Communication Congress feels wonderful. It's 19:46, there are already a couple of hundred people milling around, sitting on the many sofas, setting up projects, infrastructure and generally making magic.

Ate some pizza and soaked up the atmosphere of the lounge area. There are lots of projects set up around the lounge, and there's a dj as well, so it's a good place to spend time.

Queued for an hour at registration, somehow 500+ people had arrived without me noticing. The CCC is using wrist bands this year instead of the usual lanyards. Also, we weren't given a programme. Change is inevitable.

Met Glen, a guy I had met at What The Hack in The Netherlands last year. He always gets involved in running hacker cons, which seems to be a very sensible thing to do.

Richard arrived. We wondered around a bit, then went to our hostels, Richard using the train, myself on foot.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Xmas day

Woke up late. Ate some pasta. Did my packing. My aunt had kindly offered to drive me to the airport. We left home at about 3:30 pm. My aunt is an excellent driver, and the roads were almost empty so it was a very pleasant drive. We listened to some great music: Half Man, Half Biscuit, The Pretenders and Squeeze.

Got to the airport around 6 pm. Said goodbye to my aunt and followed the signs to Departures.

There was a sign on the door to the terminal building. It read "We are fucking stupid cunts. We don't give a fuck about anything or anyone so we've decided to close the terminal building until 2 am tomorrow. You can go sit in the chapel, or fuck off, the choice is yours." I decided to walk into Luton town centre, and find somewhere comfortable to kill some time. At this point I had my Christmas dinner. It consisted of a 500 ml bottle of tap water.

People and roads don't mix. Everything around the airport was designed for cars, not people. I walked along endless roads, most of which were without pavements. I eventually found a footpath, the sign next to it claimed that that the town centre was a mere 1.25 miles away. I had been walking for 25 minutes so this was a welcome relief. A few metres down the path I found my way blocked by a temporary fence. Attached to the fence was a sign saying that the path was being closed for vegetation clearing, and that it would be open again 4 months ago. I climbed around the fence, and continued walking. After 10 minutes I came to a huge pile of earth which looked too difficult to get around. I turned back.

Almost 2 hours after I had left the airport, I was in the town centre, standing outside a junk food place. I went in and ordered a set meal. There was a constant stream of customers, mainly taxi drivers and Indian teenagers. My order took ages but it was cheap and filling so I wasn't too annoyed.

It seemed much colder when I went outside again. Nothing was open so I took a taxi to the airport and looked for the chapel.

I got to the chapel shortly before 10 p.m. All airports have chapels, so that if there is a plane crash people have somewhere to chill out. This was my first time to visit one. Like most things, it was very silly.

Bigm000 called me up. He arrives in Berlin in the evening, so I'll probably meet up with him in Alexanderplatz.

There were quite a few people in the lobby of the chapel, some sitting, but most lying huddled against the walls. In the chapel itself, there were another 10 or so people, sleeping in the darkness.

Slept on and off until midnight. Sleeping on the floor was surprisingly painful. I had my fleece as a pillow and my raincoat as a blanket but it was still uncomfortable and cold.

Only in England can things be so utterly pathetic.

By 12:45 there were 20 people in the lobby. It was far too noisy to sleep. There are no toilets here so I'm avoiding drinking the water I have left.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

XMAS eve

Didn't get to bed until 5:30 am this morning. Got up at 9:30 to go to London.

Struck by the cultural diversity while we drove through London high streets. Huge variety of ethnic shops etc. In Norwich we have neither culture nor diversity, let alone cultural diversity itself.

Spent a couple of hours in London, talking to some family members.

Came home on a coach at 6:30. Tried to sleep but was kept awake by screaming kids and their mother.

Stayed up until around 2 am reading.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Chance Meeting, Curry Eating

I had to get up early in order to get to the bank to pay in a cheque. I got my currency for my trip to Berlin. It's sad I have to use Euros and not Deutsche Marks.

I met Keiko by chance in the city centre. We went to my house and ate delicious Japanese curry.

Met a friend in the afternoon to borrow a copy of "The Book Of Strangers" from him. Looks like it's going to be an interesting read.

Listened to a couple of episodes of Brain Damage from the late 1980's. They can be downloaded from

Friday, December 22, 2006

Eat. Buy. Consume. Then Die.

Takako and Keiko came to my house for an English lesson. We talked about the Japanese economy, the pension crisis that will hit Japan in a few years and also about the changing nature of company culture. The lesson went very well, the best one so far. One possible reason that it went well is that we hadn't eaten a large lunch before starting the lesson.

In the evening I watched the film THX-1138 with some friends. After the film we discussed many of the issues that it raised. I didn't leave until past midnight. I should have gone straight home to bed but instead I spent some time in a phonebox, enjoying freefone numbers while they still last.

Got back home around 1:30 am. Read about the UK phone system for an hour before falling asleep, text file in hand. I dreamt of crossbar, SS7, routing, switching and multiplexing.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

It's A New Find

Met a couple of friends for tea at a very expensive hotel run by the Russian Mafia.(Supposedly...) It was an ideal setting for tea: peaceful, clean and comfortable. While drinking my tea, it occurred to me that more houses should have courtyards and that we should spend our time sitting in the courtyards drinking tea.

Being the third Thursday of the month, I attended the usual poor lecture on Japanese history and culture. It was some bollocks about the Jomon era of Japan, 10,000 BC to 300 BC.

After I went to dinner as usual at the Thai Dragon. My friends and I were joined by Hiroko, a Master's student studying translation. I don't know much about translation so I very much look forward to learning about it from her next year.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tokyo Fucking Robotnik

There's still loads of work to be done on Tokyo Robotnik but now that I've got it a bit more organised, it's worth taking a look.

The following is used without permission. Anyway, the BBC are a bunch of cunts, so I don't give a fuck...

'Paris Syndrome' strikes Japanese
By Caroline Wyatt
BBC News, Paris

Sacre Coeur church in Montmartre, Paris
The reality of Paris does not always live up to the dream
A dozen or so Japanese tourists a year have to be repatriated from the French capital, after falling prey to what's become known as 'Paris syndrome'.

That is what some polite Japanese tourists suffer when they discover that Parisians can be rude or the city does not meet their expectations.

The experience can apparently be too stressful for some and they suffer a psychiatric breakdown.

Around a million Japanese travel to France every year.

Many of the visitors come with a deeply romantic vision of Paris - the cobbled streets, as seen in the film Amelie, the beauty of French women or the high culture and art at the Louvre.

The reality can come as a shock.

An encounter with a rude taxi driver, or a Parisian waiter who shouts at customers who cannot speak fluent French, might be laughed off by those from other Western cultures.

But for the Japanese - used to a more polite and helpful society in which voices are rarely raised in anger - the experience of their dream city turning into a nightmare can simply be too much.

This year alone, the Japanese embassy in Paris has had to repatriate four people with a doctor or nurse on board the plane to help them get over the shock.

An encounter with a rude Parisian can be a shocking experience
They were suffering from "Paris syndrome".

It was a Japanese psychiatrist working in France, Professor Hiroaki Ota, who first identified the syndrome some 20 years ago.

On average, up to 12 Japanese tourists a year fall victim to it, mainly women in their 30s with high expectations of what may be their first trip abroad.

The Japanese embassy has a 24-hour hotline for those suffering from severe culture shock, and can help find hospital treatment for anyone in need.

However, the only permanent cure is to go back to Japan - never to return to Paris.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Lunch Of Doom

Had a crap lunch with my colleagues. The food was bad, the restaurant was empty, and it was fucking freezing because the air conditioning was on. Why do people live like this?

My boss has decided to decorate our computer school himself. Today he painted one of the walls blue. Once all six walls(L-shaped room) are painted, it will probably look quite good. Currently, with one blue wall and five white walls, it looks rather silly.

Went to a pub in the evening for a meal with my family. The food was great, although some of the combinations on the menu were a bit strange. The service was very good and the atmosphere was reasonable.

Not much to report on the Ipswich serial killer. Nothing at all, really.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Tears Of A Klown

I don't make a habit of crying at work, but today I couldn't help myself:

As regular readers of this blog will be aware, a serial killer is currently operating in Ipswich, a crap town near here. While I was reading a news update on the BBC website which stated that a suspect had been arrested, I thought it would be a good idea to save a copy of the news page onto my laptop, and edit it to make the news a bit more interesting.

I made a few edits, implicating a colleague of mine in the murders. The colleague in question teaches maths, and used to be in a detective in London. I wrote that the suspect had been released, and that the police were now looking for a retired cop in connection with the killings.

One piece I added read "The police believe the suspect may be using his knowledge of forensics and trigonometry to evade capture". It was quite a struggle to edit the page without laughing too much, especially as Chris, a guy I work with, was sitting just a couple of feet away.

I showed Chris my handy work. He realised almost straight away that it was a local copy of the website that had been edited. He told my boss to have a read of it, without pointing out that it was fake. My boss was amazed by what he read. It was at this point that my laughter caused me to cry. My boss got Christine, the office manager to have a look as well.

Just when I thought I couldn't laugh harder, Christine's husband called her, and mentioned that someone had been arrested for the murders in Ipswich. Christine then read my spoof news update to her husband, saying that it must be breaking news. I escaped into the office where I found Chris, doubled-up over a desk, laughing as hard as I was. Eventually my boss came in to see if we were ok. Gasping for air, I explained that I had edited the page a little....

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Double-Fucking Sleepy Sunday

Didn't get to bed until 4:30 am this morning. If I had stayed up late learning useful things I would feel better about it, instead I just fucked about on the Net.

Sometime in the afternoon I went to see Edward Pacman with Richard. Ed is now the proud owner of a house, and a very nice house it is. I borrowed some Woody Allen videos from Ed, I'll probably watch them at the weekend.

Spent some time redesigning the Tokyo Robotnik website. I haven't uploaded the new pages yet, but it will be soon. I've been looking for other websites on Tokyo and Japan, so far all of them have been crap. When I eventually sort Tokyo Robotnik out, it will cause the owners of other Japan-related websites to weep with shame.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Hiroshima Mon Amour

A good way to start the day is to receive a Christmas card from a friend in Hiroshima. That's exactly what happened to me today. Thanks Megumi-san!

In the afternoon I went to "China World", a very small Chinese shop in the city centre. I was going to buy some Japanese curry roux, but it was over 3 quid. Instead I bought some instant ramen. I suddenly felt the need to support the Chinese community here so I bought some cheap Chinese batteries and some chopstick rests. I still spent less that 3 pounds.

I ventured into the main library in the city centre in order to borrow a DVD. I was shocked by what I saw. There were about 50 emo kids sitting on the floor, giving the place a refugee-camp atmosphere. My friend Spoon, an employee of the library, was dealing with a technical problem on one of the PC's so we had a chat while he worked.

My friend Anwar and I went to Wagamama for some very poor food. We followed this by taking average tea at a bad cafe. After a walk in a quiet part of the city centre to look at the cathedral, we went to Take 5, a reasonable cafe/bistro. At one point Anwar suggested that we start hanging around in saunas.

After all was said and done, once the war was lost and won, I went home and watched the Woody Allen film "Sleeper" which I had borrowed from the library

At this point you have a good idea of how I spent my day. Happy now?

Friday, December 15, 2006

City At Night

Woke up shortly before 6 am. Had lost all my confidence. Went back to sleep and slept until around 9 am. Fell asleep again and woke at 11:30 am. Fuck.

Had to drop a repeat prescription off for a family member. When I got to the doctors' surgery I found that it had closed for lunch and would reopen in 30 minutes. I headed into a nearby park to kill some time. Hanging around in parks on grey days is my idea of fun.

Keiko came over to get some help in an art history essay. She spent some time watching me improving my CSS, and then we watched music videos from the 1980's. Then she left. Art history is crap anyway:)

Hung around beside a road for part of the night. I took a photo of it for the enjoyment of everyone out there in Internet Land.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Un-Fucking Believable

UK gov has told the Serious Fraud Office to stop investigating illegal arms deals between the UK company BAE Systems and Saudi Arabia. This is on the grounds that the UK's (financial) relationship with Saudi Arabia is more important that the truth.

BAE Systems is a corrupt UK arms manufacturer. Saudi Arabia is a jolly unpleasant country, located in the Middle East. It was a match made in heaven.

I hate this fucking country.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Ten Years Asleep

Met the office manager while walking in to work this morning. I didn't recognise her at first because I was still 80% asleep.

I decided that today was the day that I ought to learn about the flag of Mauritius. It has four stripes: red, blue, yellow and green. According to wikipedia "The red stripe represents the struggle for independence. The blue stripe represents the ocean around the island. The yellow stripe represents the sun and golden light of independence. The green stripe represents fruitful soil and vegetation."

Started reading "Smiley's People", A Cold War thriller by John le Carré that I've read several times before.

Discovered a great music video site: There are plenty of great videos from The Doors, Soft Cell, Kraftwerk, Radiohead, Davo, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Daft Punk. If you find something there you like, please post a comment on this post.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dead Man's Tuesday

Downloaded some choice Talking Heads tracks at work: Psycho Killer, Life During Wartime, Heaven and Give Me Back My Name.

When I got home I watched part of Annie Hall, the part in which Annie, Max and Alvy go to LA. I'll watch it again tomorrow night.

Chatted on SDF until 3 am. I hadn't chatted online for ages and was pleasantly surprised to find that a lot of my old friends were still hanging out in the SDF chatroom.

Monday, December 11, 2006

His Brain Is Squirmin' Like A Toad

Woke up at 7:30 am. Got out of bed at 8:10. Left house 20 minutes later, feeling very crap.

My boss designed a Christmas card for us to send to some of our more important customers. When I say "designed", I mean he just found some stock photos and stuck then in a Word file. The resulting card sucks, but not as much as Christmas itself.

There's a serial killer operating in Ipswich, a town near here, murdering prostitutes. Three bodies have been found, two more young women have gone missing. Welcome to the cheap seats.

Spent the night correcting Keiko's essay on Christian art and reading my new book on CSS.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Murder In The First

Gemma walked to the train station with me around midday. We took a scenic route through Ipswich, although some would consider that to be somewhat oxymoronic.

Near the station, outside a nightclub, there was a massive crime scene. 5 cop cars, 2 unmarked cars with cops in, police vans, mobile office/lab etc. There must have been a terrorist incident or some kind of massacre.

Read Phrack on the train. Due to engineering works(read: transport in the UK is run by stupid cunts) I had to make part of the journey by bus.

When I finally got home I checked some local news websites to see what had happened in Ipswich: Triple Shooting, Fatal Stabbing, Non-fatal Stabbing.

Several prostitutes have been killed in Ipswich recently. Another was found today. Could be the start of something big, something to put Ipswich on the map.

Some stuff I had ordered from Amazon had arrived: "CSS: The Missing Manual" and "How To Draw Anything" and the CD "Dengue Fever" by Dengue Fever. For a few seconds I almost felt happy.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

It Had to Be Jew

There was no breakfast to speak of, just a cup of tea and a firm handshake.

We spent most of the day working on a couple of websites. When the hunger became unbearable, I made some poor pizzas, using ready-made pizza bases from a supermarket. It was not a meal, it was a cry for help.

We watched the Woody Allen film "Annie Hall" in the evening. One of the titles possible for the film was "It Had To Be Jew", it was considered unmarketable though. The film is insightful, and very funny. It's packed with great one-liners, my favourite being "He gives great meeting". I've watched Annie Hall many times but it is still warrants being watched many more times.

We watched the short film "Electronic Labyrinth THX-1138 4 EB". Gemma didn't get it, Simon was very impressed by the cinematography.

At around midnight we watched Threads. Although I had brought Threads with me on DVD and we had use of a video projector, we watched Threads on Google Video on my laptop.

Friday, December 08, 2006


Gemma and I headed over to Simon's house in the morning. Nobody else came until after 11 am, although we were due to start at 9:30 am.

When some other people arrived, I started the workshop on web design. I talked for many hours and answered lots of questions. Simon has a video projector so I was able to demonstrate a lot of HTML and CSS stuff.

Teaching people to build and maintain real websites is surprisingly difficult. People want to know all about formatting and positioning without understanding protocols, standards, inheritance, usability, accessibility and all the other stuff that makes up 80% of real web design.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Ipswich Calling

This week we had the English lesson at Takako's house. Takako lives in a modern apartment near the train station. Although the area is a bit grim, the view over Norwich is very pleasant. We ate a great lunch which Takako prepared, with interference from Keiko.

In the evening I took the train to Ipswich, the town which would be my home for the next few days. My friend Gemma met me at the station. She showed me some of the sights of Ipswich. I did a very good job of not laughing. Ipswich is silly.

When we got to her house, Gemma cooked some butternut squash soup for us. It was very good, but very late. I've come to think of cooking as being something that happens very quickly. I think this is due to the fact that I mainly cook Asian food. We watched the film "Le Jetee" on my laptop. Although the screen is only 12 inches, the picture on the Apple Powerbook is great.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Whiskey In The Jar

My friend Richard passed the last of seven exams for an IT certification today. I still don't respect him. Takako also passsed an exam, scoring 94%.

I downloaded the Thin Lizzy track "Whiskey In The Jar" and found the lyrics.

As I was going over the Cork and Kerry mountains
I saw Captain Farrell and his money he was countin'
I first produced my pistol and then produced my rapier
I said "stand and deliver or the devil, he may take ya"

Musha ring dum-a-do-dum-a-da
Whack for my daddy-o
Whack for my daddy-o
There's whiskey in the jar-o

I took all of his money and it was a pretty penny
I took all of his money and I brought it home to Molly
She swore that she'd love me, never would she leave me
But the devil take that woman, for you know she tricked me easy

Being drunk and weary, I went to Molly's chamber
Taking Molly with me but I never knew the danger
For about six or maybe seven, in walked Captain Farrell
I jumped up, fired my pistols, and I shot him with both barrels,

Now some men like the fishin', and some men like the fowlin'
And some men like to hear, to hear the cannonballs a-roarin'
Me: I like sleepin', especially in my Molly's chamber
But here I am in prison, here I am with a ball and chain, yeah

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Os Mutantes

Transferred a bunch of MP3s to my watch. Highlights include "Godspeed Girl" by Daylight Basement, "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" by Iron Butterfly, "And I Was A Boy From School" by Hot Chip and a live cover of "A Minha Menina", originally by Os Mutantes, performed by Belle And Sebastian.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Funeral In Berlin

Random day at work. I don't think much happened, but I can't be sure. I remember reading at some point. This is a reasonable description of most of my days spent at work.

Finished reading Funeral In Berlin. A strong ending to a strange book.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

London Calling

Woke up at 7 am. Spent thirty minutes deciding whether to go to London or not. I decided against going and went back to sleep. Woke up again around 11 am.

Uploaded some photos from my camera. Here is one of my favourites:

Spent most of the day reading. I've almost finished "Funeral In Berlin". It will be the last novel I read for a long time.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Cambridge EASF

Took the train to Cambridge with Richard and Rebecca. At the third stop a vicar got onto the train and sat behind Rebecca. The sky darkened.

We arrived in Cambridge early, and it was quite pleasant to kill some time on Mill Road, a vibrant street with some interesting independent shops. I bought a refreshing can of lycee juice at the Post Office/Arab supermarket.

Cambridge EASF was certainly the worst EASF there's been for a long time. It was good that only a few people attended; if a large number of people had come it would have mattered more. We started with a workshop on email encryption, which confused everybody, followed be a talk the Plane Stupid campaign by two girls who weren't sure what they were doing. There was a screen printing demonstration which was quite good and a talk on ID cards which was great.

I doubt I'll go to the Japanese exam tomorrow because I don't feel very well and the journey is going to be a nightmare. There are engineering works taking place so part of the journey has to be made by bus.

Spent a long time looking for some documentation for the Japanese exam. I couldn't find it, so if I decide to go to the exam tomorrow I have to arrive early to obtain an exam voucher. Fun.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Noodle Doodle

Cooked fried noodles with Chinese five spice and pork for lunch at Keiko's house. There was very little interference from Keiko, so the food turned out well.
Not sure why I took so many photos of the noodles. Keiko's laptop had a built-in card reader, so I could upload the photos even though I didn't have the camera's USB cable with me.

Takako joined us after lunch for the English lesson. We had to have the lesson in Keiko's bedroom instead of the kitchen, which is where we usually have it. It was a bit strange but we were still able to get through quite a lot of material.

Richard, Keiko and I had tea with Anwar. Richard zoned out quite a bit. It may be because he's vegetarian. Richard stayed the night at my house so we could go to Cambridge together tomorrow for EASF.