Friday, May 28, 2010

Everybody, have you heard?

I think everybody probably has, but I was listening to the radio tonight when they played this completely awesome song that I've never heard before. A bit of internet research reveals that it's been covered by everybody in the universe and featured in no end of films and TV shows that I've heard of but not seen. But now I've officially added it to my mental list of great songs that I'm aware of the existence of. I wonder how many other classics there are out there that are still avoiding me?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bank hol

Okay, this upcoming three-day weekend is officially, scientifically, the make-or-break moment for the 2010 world memory championship, in so far as it involves me. If I can do a proper weekend's hard work at memorising things for long periods of time, I can still possibly get back into championship-winning form. If I can't, I might as well give up on the idea and find another way to spend my summer. We'll just have to see.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It seems I'm too nerdy to wear a nerdy shirt

During all the excitement of Pac-Man's birthday last week, I spent some time looking for interesting Pac-Man themed websites. One of the coolest things was this shirt on the Errorwear website - it's a picture of level 256, when the program's level counter (having only been allocated two digits of hexadecimal to keep track of how many levels you've played) resets to zero and causes the game to get horribly confused and (by an interesting chain reaction of confusion) replace the right-hand half of the screen with colourful gibberish symbols. "Ooh, groovy!" I thought to myself. "I might have to buy one of those!" And then I looked more closely and read the little description... There is no level 256 in Pac Man. Upon reaching this summit, the game simply breaks, and this is how it looks. For that added touch, we've also set the displayed score to be 3,333,360 which is the highest possible score. If you eat every dot, every ghost, and every fruit for 255 levels, this screen and this score are your rewards.

But, but, but... that's not right! Actually, the game doesn't completely break as soon as you get to level 256 - Pac-Man and the ghosts can still move about what remains of the maze, and move freely around the garbled right-hand side (except for a few bits of wall here and there), you can eat all the dots on the left and the nine dots (some of which are invisible) that appear on the right, and keep scoring points. Once you've eaten them all, you just have to sit around and wait for the ghosts to kill you, because the game doesn't register that the level is over until 244 dots have been eaten and there aren't that many dots on the screen, but the game still technically works. The maximum 3,333,360 is the score you get if you score every possible point, including the ones on level 256. So you can't see a score of 3,333,360 on the screen at the start of level 256, like on the T-shirt! (and ANYWAY, the score display only shows six digits, so when you get above a million it just resets to zero again). This shirt is fundamentally inaccurate! I can't wear that!

It's great to be such a pedant, it really is.

On an unrelated note, if you ever get to watch the Japanese memory documentary, pay attention to one particularly exciting bit - they use a 'walking' sequence! Every documentary that has ever been made about me, the director has got me to walk along some pavement somewhere, with the idea that they could use it to link two other sequences together. It's usually raining, I'm generally fed up with filming at this point, and the walking footage always, without exception, ends up on the cutting-room floor. But in this one, check it out, there's me and Boris, carrying umbrellas and walking towards the university in Tokyo. You can't hear the dialogue, but I'm saying something along the lines of "Every documentary that has ever been made about me, the director has got me to walk along some pavement somewhere..."

And on another unrelated note, has it ever occurred to you, as it did to me and one of my reading kids today, that Sally and her brother from The Cat In The Hat must be about sixty years old by now? I wonder what they're doing now.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Backwards house

I mentioned last year that when it's hot, the living room and kitchen in my flat get all the sun and heat in the mornings, and the bedrooms in the afternoon. This might be a good thing for weekend memory training - forced out of the room with the TV and internet connection, I can spend the mornings in my spare-room-cum-study, memorising cards and things, and then when the sun creeps round to the back windows, escape it back in front of the telly when Doctor Who comes on.

I've only seen three episodes of the new series, for one reason or another. I always seem to be out on Saturday nights nowadays. So I still haven't made my mind up about Matt Smith...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

It's like the end of an era

My trusty chess clock (which has never in its life timed a game of chess, but is very useful for othello) started saying "bat" at me yesterday, which is chess-clock-ese for "I need a new battery or four, or else I'm going to stop timing things for you." On opening it up, I found that two of the batteries in it are Woolworth's own brand ones. How deeply disturbing it is that I won't be able to buy any identical ones to replace them!

Actually, I can't remember how I got them in the first place - I've never in my life bought cheap batteries, I'm a sucker for advertising and I buy whatever the pink bunnies tell me to buy (obeying the pink bunnies causes me a lot of problems in life). They must have either come with the clock (I don't think they did) or been in some other appliance I stole the batteries from. Anyway, I'll have to throw them out and symbolically close the chapter of British life that was Woolworth's (or, as one blog-commenter once ordered me to write it, Woolworths). Unless anyone else in the world has still got some Woolworth's batteries on the go, which they almost certainly have.

And by the way, I don't mean 'throw them out', I mean 'put them in the battery recycling bin in my local Boots, obviously'.