Saturday, 21 January 2006

Exams (almost) over!

Woohoo! Today was the last computer science exam for this January. The last four days (one exam each day) have been really hard and tiring and I'm immensely glad to be able to chill out for a day or two before starting work on my business exam, which is on Thursday. Unfortunately, I know very little about that and I know it will be hard work.

I'm literally itching to get out and take some photos. It's been ages since I last picked my camera up and it feels wrong in every way. Depending on how early I get up tomorrow (hey, I'm allowed a lie-in on a Saturday morning!) I'll spend some time around Manchester. There are a few "new" places I've seen that I'd quite like to have a go at. Also, the light has been brilliant these last two days, both in quality and quantity -- a very Good Thing(TM).

I've been getting on well with TrekEarth for the past few days too. Despite the fact I've had exams and been doing revision, I've managed to find a little time each day to nip on over to Manchester Computing and upload a new shot. I've totalled quite a few in the last week or two.

I'm currently doing a series on Tiananmen Square; it includes shots of the different characters that can be found. I've also had quite a bit of success with my other shots. I'm actually really proud of my latest postings (more so than some of my earlier ones, although I'm not convinced that these are "better" shots... definitely better post-processed and cropped). If you've got some time head over to and view a few of the more recent ones at full size. Let me know what you think too :)

I've come up with a new way of becoming a better photographer. I don't know how well it works but in theory it seems sound (at least to me). It basically involves using a crop tool in your image editor. I've been going through my summer shots and coupled with some heavy use of the crop tool (don't limit yourself to the original aspect ratio, either) I've eked out usable shots from badly composed frames. So... the originals weren't brilliant but with some ruthless cropping I've got photos I'm happy to show people. I think if I were to give advice to anybody it would be to do what I'm doing. The benefits are twofold: you get useful shots to show people from existing "poor" photos, but, more importantly, you learn more about composition and how you should have done it in the first place. In a way it is just a form of self-critique, I suppose, but it feels a lot more constructive than saying "well, I could have done x, y, or z" (where those variables are all a bit vague and you can only see them in your head, not for real). I'll let you know if it works later on (i.e. if I stop cropping so much away).

This evening I fixed a big problem at CompSoc. User accounts (usernames, passwords, details, etc.) are stored in an LDAP database, which is replicated across two machines. Connections are encrypted via SSL (like secure online banking pages). Unfortunately the master server was not playing nice and hadn't been since January 6. I only realised this today when I really started to investigate the problem. In the end it turned out that the SSL certificate (that allows a client to verify the authenticity of the server) had expired some weeks earlier. The fix was quick, of course. It was interesting just how well the replication worked though -- the secondary server handled the load so well that hardly anybody noticed anything was wrong (including myself and I know the ins and outs of our servers pretty well). If you want to give me a big pat on the back, please do so. I'll enjoy it.

This new year has been pretty different, really. It didn't start off so well for me, then it seemed to get a bit worse, then a bit better, worse again but now I actually feel quite happy that things are getting better. I can't really be bothered to say any more than that, and I'll probably evade answering it if anybody does ask me, so just don't bother ;)

I'm absolutely shattered now. My eyes have been ready to close for ages, but I've had a little trouble sleeping recently. The odd-even exam times have really messed up my sleeping pattern, which was already pretty bad to begin with. I feel I should stay up a bit longer and then get to bed.

chaa buri buri everybody!

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