And it's not even New Year's Eve yet.
Thursday, December 30
Wednesday, December 29
Nicholas Cage In Good Film Shocker! Yeh, I thought that this was pretty good actually... Kinda like a modern day Indiana Jones, but of the intellectual sort. If you like conspiracies and history (especially that concerning Templar Knights and Freemasons) then you'll like this too.
One minor moan was that it didn't make full use of the 130 mins it lasted, but other than that it's worth a look.
Monday, December 27
It's the time of the year where I go and brave the crowds in order to fulfill the chore that is my annual clothes shop. Today it was at Lakeside and curiously I ended up under budget. £95 got me the following:
- A pair of brown/red jeany boot cut trousers from River Island
- A thin chocolate top from RI
- A pair of Golas from Eisenegger ("Who's a....")
- An orange top from Gap ("Risk of the day")
- A brown cardigan from Gap
- A pair of olive low ride boot cuts from Gap.
Nothing from Next this year. I'd blame the one and a half hour queue to get out, but in reality they didn't actually have anything I wanted. So no, not a fantastic range (which explains the total), but I did snag a pair of shoes which is nice. What isn't is the fact that I'm going to return both pairs of trousers since I found that they've actually been designed for guys without balls. That brings me down to a pathetic £65, and further means I'll have to venture out again for at least one other pair. Gah. If anyone is out and about, let me know if you see something 30W32L and nice.
Oh, and I also bought Boggle for a tenner. Hooray!
Friday, December 24
Aj Kal - Rishi Rich Project Ft Juggy D & Veronica
Who'd have thought I'd ever have Veronica in my playlist? Still, I think Rishi Rich comes out with pretty good stuff, and in my opinion the only real thing wrong with this track is that it's too short.
Thursday, December 23
Was googling for a topic which came on the radio this morning and found this:
Been a while since I last checked this site and it's much improved with a bigger list, more content (they even have the Battle of the Planets intro!)... And even links to buy complete series on DVD.
Worth checking out if you're my age.
Wednesday, December 22
If my Messenger is anything to go by, you'd have thought my Shaadi.com profile is more eagerly anticipated than the next Harry Potter book. Which in itself didn't really help in getting it up.
Yes, that's right. After a few days of toing and froing, I've finally got Shaadi.com to accept a profile that I'm happy with. Yes I may have been a tad stubborn standing my ground, but I thought it was a bit crap of them to keep on editing it on my behalf.
Anyway, I'm waffling. You know where to look. And much like The Half-Blood Prince, I hope it doesn't disappoint.
The BBC Asian Network has a lot to answer for:
Yeh Zamana - Wajahh
I didn't realise that this was from the Wajahh OST. Zubu may want to check out the video currently playing on B4U.
Don't Be Shy - Rouge
Gah. Another Dr. Zeus tune force-fed to me via the aforementioned radio show. A bit conventional but worth a listen. Gets me shakin' anyway.
Tuesday, December 21
Sunday, December 19
And that by a website no less. Turns out that my profile currently does at least one of the following:
(i) You give sufficient information about yourself to other members
(ii) You do not give out any false or misleading information about yourself
(iii) You do not use abusive or sexually explicit language; and finally
(iv) You do not reveal any contact information - email, phone number, postal address, website URL, etc - anywhere in your profile.
Shrug, beats me. Seems like I'll only get listed if I bend to their rules and portray myself as someone I'm not. Fascists.
Anyone know? Am I wheatish? And does "Computer Professional" sound as dodgy to you as it does to me?
Anyway in case haven't yet figured it out, yes, I've finally bitten that particular bullet. Now give me a moment while I go shoot myself. Bang.
Those wishing to take the piss can easily figure out my Profile ID. Please be kind, and remember: Serious enquiries only please.
Why now? Let's just say that a few things happened this weekend.
Me at home, alone, watching Nanhe Sitare and playing along with the quiz (50 points so far).
Anyway, Tahira (well, I think that's her name anyway) is great and has become my favourite Vectone presenter so far. She even says "Compu'er", y'know.
Thursday, December 16
Wednesday, December 15
I am of course talking about Blunkett. Now I don't give a poo about affairs and fast tracked visas (although I agree that he should go for these things alone). I'm glad he's gone after the contempt he showed for the electorate while asking them their opinion on his policies. It was kinda like:
DB: "Blah blah blah. So what do you think of that?"
Us: "Erm, you're wrong. See the thing is-"
DB (with fingers in ears): "La la la la. I can't hear you. And it doesn't matter anyway 'cos I'm a politician and so right by default."
In fact the only regret I have is that he didn't go directly because of his arrogance. Which kinda implies that the rest of the Government won't change in this respect either.
Oh well, I guess they still don't get my vote then. The thing is that, if Blair turned around and said: "Crap. What a mistake. I didn't realise he was scum. Good riddance to the tosser", I'd so vote for Labour in the next general election.
Tuesday, December 14
I'm being "introduced" to someone today. The quotes are there 'cos the person doing the introducing has piled a ton of context on both of us (or perhaps on just me) by being explicit about what they're doing. BUT IT'S OK: "There's no pressure", apparently.
They'll be more detail off-blog. But only for some of you.
Monday, December 13
Sunday, December 12
Not as bad as some are describing it, but disappointing addition to what was a good series. Quite amusingly it seems like a string of perfume ads to me, and flowed as such. Ryan Reynolds was funny at times, but other than that pretty standard fare.
This morning was my first jog since the beginning of Ramadhan (so that's around 2 months or so). It always amazes me how quickly our bodies adapt (or in this case fail) - I managed around 3 miles before I started losing breath and had to stop. That took me around 27 mins, so I'm at the 10 minute/mile mark which I'm happy with, but the distance is kinda bad considering I was doing around that every other day and twice that on Sundays this time last year for training.
Saturday, December 11
Today was our deadline for reapplying to Arabic - but I've (intentionally) missed it. So after 70 weekly classes or 140 hours or two and a bit years, I have actually decided to stop attending. Hopefully this will not imply the end of Arabic and me though, and I intend on carrying on watching, listening to and studying the language, but hopefully in a more effective way.
I'm definitely used to studying in this extra curricular way though, and I'm on the look out for something new to take up. We'll see.
Yesterday, I bought my first property. Well ok, not quite - it's a share (with my father) in a flat leasehold.
I've been holding off buying in UK since it's so scary (what with prices being all over the shop). I think I've reached that stage where I'll only buy here if a) prices/the market become sensible or more likely b) I have to for practical reasons.
Sharjah seems like a good opportunity though, since prices aren't nuts (yet) and it will hopefully take a smaller amount of time to get a return on investment there. I wasn't actually looking in the UAE though - it's only 'cos my dad asked that I'm investing. Still, it's all a bit weird making such a big and important purchase without even having a look...
Friday, December 10
Some of you might know that I'm a regular Loot user - mainly to sell. What you may not know is that I've had at least one ad posted in it every issue since I started university. A quick ball park estimate reckons that I've sold around 25 items since then, and generated total revenue of about a thousand quid. Which isn't too shabby, I think, even though it implies that I'm overly frugal.
Anyway, the reason why I'm blogging today is 'cos that after a long, long time I'm down to renewing a single ad each Friday. Could I finally exhaust the list completely?
Well the final item is my Al-Muhaffiz electronic Quran which I bought during Hajj - an impulse buy really. In fact, I so want to empty my list I'm thinking of just donating it to the local mosque - they'll make better use of it and it may even count as Lillah anyway. The main incentive, however, would be to finally (after seven years or so) not have to regularly log in weekly to the Loot website to renew any outstanding ads.
Well, until I find something else to sell, of course.
Scary stuff. So those that know me on and offline - Am I any different? Cripes. I can't imagine IM'ing my missus from another room! Although seeing as I'm gonna meet my wife on Shaadi.com anyway I may as well accept it as an inevitability... Hah.
I guess it's all about moderation. I've mentioned here about how an Internet personality isn't necessarily less genuine than an "offline" one, so maybe there is room for Internet communication between two people in a relationship? Maybe it's even healthy?
Easier to read than I had initially anticipated (although I still zoned out at times), A New History provided me with the fill in info on the place where I come from. I've been looking for exactly this for a while now.
It starts with the Aryan Invasions ("Wot? We're all White then?") at around 2000BC and ending during the recent reign of the BJP (although newer editions do contain updates apparently). The bits that I noted included the introduction of Islam to the region as well as the more recent political activity including that of Ghandi and Jinnah. The parts regarding Partition and the various Indo-Pak wars were also poignant.
One fault (and it's not that of Wolpert's) is that the detail progressively gets worse as you go back in time. Understandable I suppose, and it's not like recent history isn't interesting so it's ok. It also at times takes an "Orientalist" view while discussing things like the Aryan roots of the Hindu religion and its Holy Books and Personalities. But still that can be seen as proof of the book's objectivity I suppose.
A brilliant book and much recommended if you want to know more about India. It's a shame that I may lose access to the SOAS Library (from where I borrowed this book), 'cos there's so much more I want to read... Oh, and if you've been wondering why I've been busting out the Indian history tid bits over the last few weeks, then now you know!
It's great because I get to come in late on a Friday 'cos I know the rest of the team will too (y'know, glug glug), except I don't have to wrestle with a hangover.
Yesterday Risk (whom I work for) were taken to Quaglinos (a Conran joint, apparently). It wasn't too shabby actually and is probably one of the more fancy restaurants I've been too. The food was ok, although I was a bit miffed at not being able to order the Fish and Chips (it was dipped in butter beer or something, for heavens sake).
It worked out at around 50 quid a head (Steve and I are guessing), although of course I was cheaper seeing as I didn't drink. I did spill Steve's glass of champers though, so I guess I had my quota really.
Yeh, it was pretty fun. It's amazing how different people are out of the environment in which you've gotten to know them...
The proper company-wide Xmas Party isn't till next Tuesday, but I'm not going to that. I can't wait for the photos/gossip/late Wednesday start though...
Thursday, December 9
Ok, I think I'm jumping on the bandwagon a bit late here. See, I've always thought that it would be a wonderful idea (if a bit expensive) to be able to take piccies with my phone and upload them to an online album or something.
Now, I know that there have been services which allow this, but they seem to be filled with dodgy piccies that I wouldn't want mine to be associated with. Flickr is another similar service but with one main difference - it allows me to link to photos externally (including from this blog). It also has pretty good upload tools - pictures can be sent via a right click in Explorer, emails (and as a result, mobile phones) or even straight from a third party website. Emailed piccies can even be automatically sent to Blogger, comments and all. Great stuff.
Anyway, check it out at www.flickr.com. You might like to get a free account while you're there too - eventually all my piccies will be upped to that and depending on their sensitivity you may need a particular degree of permission to see 'em: My profile name is sshaikh.
Monday, December 6
Otherwise known as this year's Miss World. I didn't see her before the contest, but looking now she's quite nice, especially in her hat and stuff:
Man. There's gonna be some lucky High School Students in Peru.
Did anyone watch the contest this year? I remember the days when we would sit as a family and watch it together (Ashy winning in 1994 is especially memorable. Wow ten years!). Now I don't even know where or when it's on. I wonder what's changed?
So yeh, I had this dentist appointment I mentioned below. I usually just need a clean, but today Mr Dentist Guy decided that I have been brushing too hard (yeh yeh, how ironic), and that the gums of two teeth were receding and so he had to cover them with some kind of enamel cement otherwise they'll remain sensitive (not that I've noticed that they have been myself).
The treatment was rough (moreso than usual), but what surprised me was the cost for this treatment: A shade under 40 quid. I know it involves looking into people's smelly mouths, but when I hear that a dentist friend just bought a brand new SL (for which he traded in his brand new Z4), I start to wonder if that's as bad as it sounds.
I realised after that he had asked if I was still on JSA before beginning the examination. More worryingly, he always makes me sign for any treatment before he performs it. Time for a new dentist I think.
I had a dentist appointment today, and since we haven't had a chance to move dentists I had to travel back to the place I've spent most of my life for it - Leyton. I mean I regularly see friends who live there, but this time it was the actual streets I was visiting.
It was pretty poignant traveling back along the ol' route 69. Not much has changed, including the expressions on the faces of the locals. Mannerisms were also the same - it seems like people still don't know how to queue for a bus in these parts.
It's funny how some things never change. The new Walthamstow bus station is well impressive though, and it was nice catching the Victoria Line from there like I used to when traveling back and forth from uni.
Interestingly however, I don't miss the place. Maybe I'm not so averse to change as I once thought I was. Hmm.
Sunday, December 5
I'm not an expert on babies. Since Idris is the first one we've had in my extended family since the 80s, we're not really clued up on what they're supposed to be able to do, and at what age. But frankly, Idris is scaring me. Things to note are:
- He's starting to talk. He has his Ps and Qs sorted, and can ask to open cupboards, go outside, say salaams and Allahhafizs.
- He's able to copy others in reading salaat.
- He's able to spot things (aeroplanes, birds and butterflies for instance) before we are.
- Yesterday he was half controlling Mario on the Gamecube. And he knows to use the Sky remote to change channels.
- Today he was rolling roti.
- Not sure about this one. By when are kids supposed to have been potty trained?
Are these things normal for a 19 month old? I mean imitation is one thing, and I guess a lot of this is just that. Am I just cooing over him like a proud uncle?
Saturday, December 4
So yeh, it's 4pm on Saturday and I'm watching Nanhe Sitare on Vectone Urdu again. Seeing as I'm currently out of serials to watch, Vectone Bolly (and to a lesser extent Urdu) are both being well used in this house. They're something everyone in the house can watch, and for me it also provides lots of pretty hosts.
I'm sure many of you will complain that, yet again, I'm going for the Plain Janes, but whoever picks the talent at Vectone is clearly on the same wavelength as I am. Well done to Vectone for appealing to such a wide audience.
Cripes. This blog is quickly becoming overrun with posts regarding women.
No man. I'm not gonna screen capture her. That's just sick, dude.
Friday, December 3
I saw the prettiest girl I have for a while at Oxford Street Station this morning. Bottom to top: Light blue khussa (moshi?) slipper things, blue Evisu jeans (hmm, I guess I can look past that though), some equally fashionable top that I didn't recognise, a pair of pink Winnie the Pooh gloves and a denim handbag. She was Asian (of course), petite and with dark straight hair and minimal makeup. And she was fit.
She was possibly a student though, and it's a shame that she went on to use the Bakerloo Line instead of the Victoria Line like I do.
Still, I think I'll be on a high for a few hours at least. So if you need any favours, now is probably the time to ask...
Thursday, December 2
Who is that girl who hosts Vectone Bolly's (ch 831) Take One show (730-830pm, daily)? I think she's great:
Helloooo what's your lovely name me darlin'? Big up representin' West Yorkshire, I can feel your confidence ooozing over the phone. Aww bless you got it wrong, but call back and give it another go darlin'. Oh, my bad, you got it right! Woo woo. Oh-kay. Faantastic.
And she's definitely a Londoner, possibly even an Ilford girl. I think that I can watch her for ages. But no (before you suggest it), I'm not gonna pay 50p a minute to speak to her.
Shame she fancies Salman Khan though.
Amazingly I still seem to be the only one I know who watches this regularly and when its episodes premiere. Don't worry, there'll be no spoilers here.
So yes, it was another fantastically crafted episode of my currently favourite programme delivered at a time when I was losing faith in the series. A perfect number of twists, surprises, obvious leads and drama made it one of the best episodes of this initial season. In fact it was so good I had to finish watching the episode this morning on the Southbound platform on Oxford Street Station before getting into work.
Yeh, there were flaws too, but I can't remember the specifics of those. Those that are currently catching up: Make sure you earmark this ep. Hopefully you'll all catch up by the time season two begins next year.
Wednesday, December 1
Some of you may know that I'm currently working on a pet project which will eventually enable me to control my PDA from my mobile phone over a Bluetooth link. I've hit a bit of a dead end, so I thought now might be good time to blog my current progress.
The project was originally split into three parts:
1. Bluetooth Communications
The two options here were either to use the BT stack natively, or just use its COM port profile transparently. The former was more flexible, neater and potentially more functional (like being able to receive a call via your headphones), but unfortunately you have to pay to use the Widcomm Stack SDK. The latter would be easier to program around, easier to get working, and most importantly free. And so I picked that to use. It was a trivial exercise in the end.
2. Creating an "AT Engine"
SonyEricsson are great. Most people consider Nokia to be the innovators in the mobile phone industry, but I've always disagreed with that. But I digress. SE have, since the T68, provided a way for external devices to create relatively rich user interfaces on their phones by posting of AT commands over a serial link. The first innovative use of this feature was seen in Christersson's PCControl application for Windows, which effectively allowed you to run applications on and move the mouse of your desktop via your mobile phone. Actually it was this software which inspired me to create a similar application for the Pocket PC.
There isn't much information on the web on how to create these UIs though. The main source of information was via a reference PDF published by SE outlining the 100+ AT commands that you can use. Since PCControl was pretty much what I wanted to emulate I decided that it would be easier to snoop on the COM port that it used and just regurgitate what I found there. Another problem I faced was that, since the phone was effectively stateless, any UI would need to be synchronised with whatever was controlling it.
What I've ended up with is a fully event driven state machine which a host can use to create a stateful UI on an SE phone. Handset key presses (and releases) are raised as windows events, as are the state changes themselves. The engine is also platform independent so will also work on a desktop platform.
3. Interacting with client applications, specifically Windows Media Player Mobile
So now that I had a way of displaying a UI on the phone and being notified of button presses, what I needed was a way to map these to the relevant application functions (play, stop rewind etc). This is the bit that I'm currently stuck on.
I heard that Windows Media Player 9 Mobile has no real automation facility, but that WMP10M did in the form of a control. Luckily (or so I thought) Dell had released a firmware update that gave me WMP10M, which was great seeing as many other manufacturers were not doing the same.
After installing the update and completing the previous parts of the project, I discovered that there weren't actually any examples or tutorials on how to use this control in the Pocket PC (in C++ let alone C#!). What I did find was that someone had actually written a usable .NETCF automation class for WMP9M! So ironically if I had stuck with the previous version I would be finished by now. Hurmph.
So now I'm spending a great deal of time figuring out which Windows Messages that I can send to manipulate WMP10M (with little luck so far), or waiting for someone to figure out how to use the WMP10M control via .NETCF. Till then, I have a pretty good sample app (for both PPC and Windows XP) which demonstrates the AT Engine if anyone wants to give it a bash.