November 25th, 2003


(2^33299459)-1 in "not prime" shock

1. Feeling less hysterical today, but the facts still all remain true. One of the things I have done today is read (the 1999) What Color Is Your Parachute?; opinions solicited, please, from those who have read it and found it helpful and also from those who have negative criticism of it. I've seen some negative criticism on the reviews page at Amazon, but they never strike me as hugely authoritative. Very easy reading - but easy reading doesn't get you a job, only hard work. If there isn't a What Color...? jobsearch support group on LJ yet, perhaps there should be one.

2. Today I have mostly been shopping at Asda, the proud British member of the Wal-Mart family. I mean this literally; I have been shopping in five establishments, of which three were different branches of Asda. The fourth was a hairdresser's, not before time; the fifth was a fancy dress hire shop for fruufoo's party on Saturday. I am scared of fancy dress parties because they rely on a particular sort of aesthetic imagination which I don't enjoy, but fancy dress hire shops don't half make things easy... for a price. Still, the proprietor of the one I visited today really seemed to enjoy her job, which made things slightly less scary.

3. The subject line refers to the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, which has been testing numbers to see whether they were prime or not. I can measure small chunks of life by my computer's progress in this:
  • November 18th - December 7th 2001, double-checking 26423367-1 (not prime)
  • December 7th 2001 - March 22nd 2002, testing 212877243-1 (not prime)
  • March 22nd 2002 - November 24th 2003, testing 233299459-1 (not prime)
  • September 27th - December 8th 2002, The Possible Hardware Error Fest Of Dire Peril, resolved by upgrading this PC from a P-III 500 to a Celeron 1200. The PC has been working wonderfully for the past year and I thoroughly recommend the Stockton(-on-Tees) Computer Centre where I got it.
There was only an estimated 1-in-278,000 chance that my pet number would have turned out to be prime, but if it had then (a) I would have got into the Guinness Book of Records for it and (b) triggered $100,000 of prize money, of which I'd have got about half. Ah well. Back to the weeny numbers for now, simply because 20 months is so long; I may have 210559411-1 double-checked by the end of the year. One of the many nice things about the project is that it gives you the (falsely?) reassuring feeling that at least your computer is doing something productive even when you're not; another is that you join the global league table of top testers. The recent exciting non-news of composition is likely to send me shooting up from #16,305 in the world to something like #6,479. (Out of over 20,000, so that's not bad.)

4. I asked you what was the missing item in this sequence:


Your clue was the [...] markers, denoting it's only part of a series. Collapse )

5. It's a good job that Collapse ) otherwise it would be a very poor line-up for Sports Personality Of The Year, bordering on the BBC having to say "Sorry, folks, fiftieth award and everything, but quite frankly Britain has been crap at everything this year. Nobody wins. The End." Look at the contenders the BBC identified:
  • Paula Radcliffe, bidding to win an unprecedented two-in-a-row seemingly on a rollover basis;
  • David Beckham, more "just because" than due to a great year;
  • Tim Henman, definitely more "just because" than due to a great year;
  • Andrew Flintoff, the one highlight in a very ropey international cricket season;
  • two token rugby boys (see J. Wilkinson fourth place last year);
  • the others some of whom had barely registered on my radar and I like to think I keep abreast of these things.
We argued about this last year, but I maintain this is at long last Bob Nudd's year. Or Justin Fashanu's. (Do look at the #3 pick in het Graun's alternative 2001 awards, though; how a year can change things, eh, lads?)

6. While we're talking BBC sport, to save me having to do another PhonePost, you can always listen to the audio of Derek "Robbo" Robson (here arguing with token "Aussie" "Davo") to get a fairly representative sample of a comedy Teesside accent.

7. Still on the BBC, I do like the latest series of adverts for Freeview with the two chimpanzees on the jungle branch, one of whom keeps revealing new heads. However, I keep feeling that the last head is going to be Johnny Vegas who proceeds to go "MONKEH! THERE Y'ARE, MONKEH, THOUGHT I'D LOST YEH!". Too close to home for the BBC? If they're going to reuse ad campaign ideas, they might as well do it properly.

8. This ten-points-in-one-posting idea is positively bad for useability and interesting discussions when there are interesting ideas which deserve their own post and their own discussion. I can tell you just why I do it - it's in the hope that there'll be something that catches people's attention. While it's nice to see entries getting lots of replies, I really should not panic over my comments-received-to-replies-made ratio like I do. Reminder to self: it's absolutely OK if one of your entries, or even several in a row, get no replies. Trying to balance "people still love you" and "no, perhaps you really should learn from this" is tricky, though. Damn LJ as performance art again.

9. Therefore I'm only going to do eight points in this posting rather than ten and then stop.

10. Bugger.
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