Last week I arrived back at uni, and tried to connect to IRC in the evening to talk to Kevin. The only response I received was "Connection timed out". I didn't really think much of it at the time; just picked up the phone instead as a (relatively expensive) alternative.
When I couldn't get a connection the following night, I began to wonder whether the university had blocked the relevant ports. So I ventured online to their IT services department, found a Help and Assistance form, and filled it out. Their nice little Perl script promised me a response within a day, so I sat back and waited.
Once it was fairly clear an answer wouldn't be forthcoming I fired up another browser tab to do their form again — thinking that perhaps they placed higher priority on people with university email addresses or some such thing. When I was there I actually noticed the little warning in the middle of the form:
Do not use any of the following characters in the form fields as they will cause your information to be lost when you submit the form: | ' < > * ;
I tell you, it really gave me confidence that they'd be able to help me out once I got through to them. Since there was probably a 50-50 chance of my having used a semi-colon the day before, I figured that was the reason I hadn't received even a confirmatory email telling me they'd got my request.
Not so. My next step was to email them directly, with the email they provided (helpdesk@). Before I went to bed I found that it had bounced with "permanent fatal errors", including the following useful line of information:
procmail: Couldn't create "/var/spool/mail/helpdesk"
Create? As in, that email account doesn't actually exist? Wonderful. With nothing left but my
dignity pride irritation, I went with the last resort — a phone call.
- Hi, I'm in halls of residence and since I returned on Tuesday I've not been able to connect to IRC at all. Do you know—
- Yeah, that's right, we've blocked the IRC ports.
- I wondered if it might have been that.
- Yeah, you see, we were getting viruses through those ports, so we blocked them.
- So... can you tell me any way I can connect to IRC now?
- No, I'm afraid I don't know anything about that, all I know is we've blocked those ports.
- Yeah, we can't support individual software, you see, so I can't tell you what you can do.
- Right... Um. Is there anyone there who I could talk to who might know what to do?
- No, 'cause you see, we can't support all the software. All we know is that we've had to block the ports 6660-7000 because of viruses coming through, no one here will be able to tell you anything different.
- Oh. Right. *gritted teeth* Thank you.
- Thanks, byyyye
So far I've had a couple of suggestions of alternative ports to try (from other, helpful, people who aren't Warwick's IT helpdesk), but nada. In the meantime — and what is looking like it will be the permanent solution — Kevin and I have had to resort to the dreaded Yahoo! Messenger. The horror! (Although I have in the long-distant past used MSN Messenger, I actually hacked Windows on this machine (with Google's aid, naturally) in order to uninstall MSN.)
Yahoo! Messenger is a bit of a shock when you're used to plain ol' mIRC. It has, like, user-adjustable fonts. It makes sparkly noises when someone says something to you! You can play games with people you're chatting to! It's just Sick and wrong.
Oh, the user-defined fonts? I hunted through until I found FixedSys, the fixed-width font that mIRC uses. Some things just cannot change.
Like many people, I did a fair bit of shopping in the January sales. I also took advantage of online shopping ("look! You don't even have to move from your chair!") at, amongst others, Marks & Spencer. I picked out a few items, and things went fine until I got to the delivery stage and the form asked for my address.
To cut a really long story short (and to rewrite this post, which was becoming terribly dull), nothing on earth would make that form let me enter my address. The problem was that, based on either the postcode or address details you provided, it would present you with a list of addresses in its database and ask you to choose which one was yours. Due to the fact that I'm living in halls of residence at uni (and therefore have an address that starts with room number and residence, and isn't listed in their database) there was absolutely no way to enter my actual address.
Luckily such problems are as naught when you have a loving boyfriend whose address is on their database, and who visits me every weekend :-)
Moving on to the slightly more pleasant part of the tedious story (I'll be done in a minute, honestly), one of the items in the sale was a rather nice coat. Now, I know many women have a Thing for shoes. Not me. I have a bit of a Thing for coats and jackets. Now, luckily enough, most coats and jackets — at least, the ones that I (unfortunately) like — are prohibitively expensive enough that I in my cheapskateness won't buy them often at all. In fact, I've just astoundingly worked out that the last time I bought a coat or jacket was two years ago. Shocking.
This one, though, was a snip at £19, and the website said it was reduced from £45. When the coat arrived up here, though, the label told a different story:
That's a big 80% discount. That's my kind of coat.
On the subject of my computer hardware coursework:
- I have just made a 4-bit adder/subtractor
- surprisingly, it works :-)
- a 4 bit adder? Did it run out of venom?
- yeah, it doesn't byte anymore, it can only nibble ;-)
Please forgive me.
I don't usually (read: ever) post song lyrics, but I recently discovered Tom Lehrer's "Send The Marines" — written 40 years ago and still (not so shockingly) rather relevant today, so I thought I'd share:
Send The Marines!
When someone makes a move
Of which we don't approve,
Who is it that always intervenes?
U.N. and O.A.S.,
They have their place, I guess,
But first — send the Marines!
We'll send them all we've got,
John Wayne and Randolph Scott;
Remember those exciting fighting scenes?
To the shores of Tripoli,
But not to Mississippoli,
What do we do? We send the Marines!
For might makes right,
And till they've seen the light,
They've got to be protected,
All their rights respected,
Till somebody we like can be elected.
Members of the corps
All hate the thought of war;
They'd rather kill them off by peaceful means.
Stop calling it aggression,
Ooh, we hate that expression!
We only want the world to know
That we support the status quo.
They love us everywhere we go,
So when in doubt,
Send the Marines!