It's been a bit of a hectic time since the last edition of the Post - Shazz's unfortunate illness that led to last week's edition not being published saved my skin, because I don't think I would have been able to write this column last week due simply to pressure of stuff to do. Arriving at University always keeps me busy, but this year was a little different because it's my second year, so there's a different perspective on things. I am also the Treasurer of the Tai Chi Society, which meant that I spent two days (un)happily manning a stand at Freshers' Fayre, where new and returning students wander around trying to find societies and clubs they want to join, and club committees frantically try to sign up as many people as possible in order to boost their finances.
Meanwhile, outside of the University itself settling in to my house for this year has also been somewhat interesting. On Sunday night, after most things seemed to be going well bar a few minor problems, the electric water heater which provides hot water to the kitchen sink decided that the hot plastic smell it had been making (which we had informed the landlord about earlier in the week) wasn't sufficient, and started making sparking noises as well as redoubling its output of unpleasant smells. Obviously this worried my housemates and myself quite considerably, so we immediately began hunting for the power switch.
We found it eventually (behind the washing machine, and reachable without moving anything by sticking a broom handle down the back of the cooker), but unfortunately it was too late and the electrics in the water heater had already exploded with a rather loud bang and a pretty spectacular flash (I know, I happened to be looking at the thing when it blew up). The landlord responsed to Alice's1 rather worried-sounding message on his answering machine at 0710 on Monday morning, and happily was not put off by Ellie's2 half-asleep and rather grumpy answering of the telephone. He arrived only an hour late to come and look at the heater, and by the time we were wanting to cook dinner, a brand new water heater was installed and working, which has so far not given us any problems at all. Here's to decent3 landlords!
In other news, not much has happened that I have any cause to write about here, really. I have simply been too busy to do very much at all. I did of course notice Mark Moxon's friendly e-mail to the volunteers informing us of three new smileys becoming available. Yes, I'm sure we were all desperate for the , weren't we? and are rather appropriate though. And yes, there will be a towel smiley. When is still uncertain, but patience is, as usual, a virtue in this matter. Therefore the following regular sections will be brief.
I've not had the chance to listen to any new music for a while, due to the aforementioned high levels of activity, so I can't really say very much. However, a friend of mine tells me that Kylie Minogue's new album is rather good, and since I rather like the first single from it (Can't Get You Outta My Head or something like that) I'm inclined to believe him. We were talking about this at the house last night, actually, and the notion was aired that Kylie's doing so well because she's like a lesser version of Madonna, capable of reinventing herself yet remaining interesting and fresh. No doubt some of you will disagree, but that's part of what makes the world interesting, isn't it? Provided we don't start arguing over the kind of things that lead to mindless violence of course
Unfortunately I have to go to a lecture soon, so I don't have time to properly recommend a book - although after the last column, you're probably grateful for that! Therefore I will briefly mention a book of interest to programmers - Using C++ by Rob McGregor. It's an excellent book covering the very basics through to advanced and modern features of the language like namespaces, templates and the Standard Template Library. Although it starts from first principles, I wouldn't recommend C++ as a first language, especially if you're planning on teaching yourself how to program in it. However, this is the book which took my C++ skills to a level where I can actually do useful things with them (although perhaps my Computer Science degree course is doing something to help with that), so I can't fail to recommend it to those who wish to take some kind of programming knowledge and turn it into something more useful. And the great thing is, my copy cost me five pounds Sterling from Galloway and Porter in Cambridge, UK, which is on the whole a good place to look for computer books and other academic volumes for little money. Because of the University, Cambridge has a rather good selection of such shops, something I've always appreciated. I may go to the University of Nottingham, but that doesn't mean I can't take advantage of the shops in Cambridge during the holidays!
That's it for this week, see you next time...