Monday, October 31, 2005

flats going away even more quickly

All flats that I'm interested in are gone within 3 days after I viewed them. Or before I view them. Except one that no one takes. So I'm trying my luck on this rather insecure flat - everyone can freely walk to the front door, and that's the only door you have to break to get in... even worse than public housing estates in Hong Kong which have 鐵閘. And in a place with this crime rate...

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Monday, October 24, 2005

weather, buildings, and toys

(1) I've all heard about it. These days I have a chance of really seeing how bad the weather in UK could be... strong winds, raining all out of sudden, ...

(2) 英國D樓係咪紙紥的... D 牆除了薄至可聽見隔離講嘢外, 仲滲水的...

(3) I like Argos! They are having a sale on (one item of) my favorite toy! Saves me quite a lot of money even comparing with the price at HK... So, finally, this huge box is sitting in front of me...

Sunday, October 23, 2005

flats are going away quickly

Tuesday: there is a flat for renting that seems too good to be true.
Thursday: after viewing it I think it is just so-so.
Friday: it's gone!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Italy trip (3)

Visiting Siena and Pisa.
I should have been leaving early on the day after my talk. For some reason difficult to explain here, I'm forced to stay one more night. I stayed in Siena for a night. The hotel again want to get hold of my passport, at least for 10 minutes, the reason being that they need it for registration. This time my face must look real bad (on top of the usual bad, that is) and they make a photocopyinstead.

In the next day, before going to the Pisa airport, I managed to squeeze just enough time to go to the leaning tower of Pisa, only to discover later that - yes, again - the flight is delayed.

[to be continued]

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Italy trip (2)

The talks.
My talk does not attract a lot of people, as expected (within there I'm considered very "practical"). I was told that in the last session of the first day there are only 7 people in the room. Obviously there are more people than that in my talk.

Some of the talks I understand describe results that seem too good to appear in this conference...

Questions in Dinners.
Pretty much the same set of people are in my table every meal, and they discuss these questions.

(1) 100 ants are placed at different positions along a 1-metre-long rod. At time 0 they all move, in either left or right direction, with a speed of 1 meter per minute. An ant reaching either ends of the rod simply falls off, while if two ants meet, they immediately reverse direction and continue moving with the same speed. When will all ants fall off (with the adversarial, i.e. worst starting configuration)?

I haven't heard about this before, and the solution is so trivial that makes anyone needing to think about it appear so stupid. I barely manage to figure it out while the solution is being spoken out...

[to be continued]

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Italy trip (1)

I fly from Gatwick to Pisa, and I change trains at King's Cross again, this time walking along those streets where you see on TV several months ago.

I could have saved the department some money since Ryanair had offered free flight tickets from Stansted to Pisa, but perhaps I'm a few days late and it's all sold out. Well actually there were some left at awkward times which you have to sleep in airport, etc...

Looking out of the plane window and watch a sea of bubble clouds is always fun. And I can look at the Alps, this time the real thing rather than on Google Earth.

I need a train from Pisa to Siena, with a change in Empoli. The trains are such that it doesn't have any announcement of what is the current/next station, and even you look out of the window it is not always easy to see which station this is.

ICTCS this year is held in Siena, Italy. Or more precisely, somewhere near Siena. My department head's description is probably the most accurate: "fancy ex-monastery in Tuscany". Basically, it is in a "certosa", some university accommodation for conference by the Universita di Siena, converted from a several-hundred-year-old ex-monastery. It is in a mountain area where you don't see anything other than grass within visible distance, and it takes at least a 20 minute drive to somewhere else that is a bit more interesting.

The conference organizers are well aware of this trouble, and someone (that is, one of the organizers himself) drive people from the train station to the certosa.

I don't appreciate old buildings. In particular, it looks rather like a ghost house at night.
The worst thing they do is to keep my passport while I stay there. I don't see any reason they want to do this, and I don't feel safe without my passport. (OK, I have another one...) The reason that they keep it will become clear when you read on...

Obviously, at such places you can't expect people to find food themselves. The conference therefore arrange all meals for you. I have to say the food quality is reasonably good... And we have wine made by Universita di Siena. So we know what universities in Italy do. Hmm...

[to be continued]

Saturday, October 15, 2005

I'm back

I mean, I come back from Italy. That's certainly not a very nice trip - perhaps its only purpose is to give me a home feeling to Leicester. There are dozens of important stuff waiting me to be done so I will only write about the trip later.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

accommodation, and where to buy things

I am currently living in a student hall called Opal Court. I am in the better rooms where basically it is like a hotel room with a shared kitchen.

While I was checking in for that I met a student from Hong Kong - we stared at each other for quite a while before she finally whispered "香港黎架?". She said she's from HKU software engineering and she recognises me. I suppose that means she's not my student. I didn't recognize her, though. We ended the conversation with the very "hong for" sentence "let's contact later" when we don't really have contacts of each other. So, 尋人啓事: if anyone knows how to contact her please tell me.

In Tuesday afternoon I got out to walk around. I've heard about Queen's Road which is not far away from the university, and there are some cheap stores. There are also some lettings agencies, but I didn't go inside them yet. I don't really know when I should start finding accommodation... I don't have much time, they booked Opal Court for 2 months for me, and next week I will be out to Italy for a conference...

In Wednesday after school Shengxiang got me to a Chinese grocery store, not far away from where I'm currently living. Actually I heard about it and know where it is, but didn't have the time to really go there. My only worry about it was removed when I know that the shop owners speak Cantonese... I bought some rice, 出前一丁 and other things...

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The first few days

My arrival date collide with the start of the term, with tons of students doing their registration. And as a result things didn't work out very smoothly for me.

Office. Supposingly I have an office, but they have problems with replacing furnitures and such. I am therefore working in an RA office with some other people.

Computers. Machines here are always Win/Linux dual boot and have severe restrictions on what you can do on the machines. Some people here probably use a lot of Linux, their Windows partitions are not working properly without being noticed. For example, my PC in the RA office misses some DLLs (?) and you have to use a trick (?) of executing arbitrary programs out of a blank blue screen, in order to do something useful. It is not stable anyway.

Networks. It's probably the machine problem, but the network is extremely slow for doing things like logging in. They forces everyone to use Outlook, and syncronizing things to the network hangs up those problematic PCs for some time. Now that they give me a new PC (in an office without a table, that is) things are getting better. Getting my laptop onto the Internet should be simple, but the person responsible for this is too busy dealing with student registrations, so I only get this done in the second day. Now I have the buggy PC and my laptop in the RA room, and there are two network sockets, but only one of them works, so only one of the machines can be online at one time...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

still alive

Just to say that I'm still alive.

As you can expect, I don't have much time to write things here. I'll update some bits whenever possible, probably in some random order; so don't just read the newest blog entry.

Saturday, October 01, 2005




予吾師:劣徒過往研究馬虎苟且,不求甚解,且資質愚魯,致無甚所出。"very proud of you" 云云,愧不敢當。今後當改此等陋習,以求不負所望。另城大ck,養余數月,無 paper 以報,實使吾無地自容。


「今夕吾驅淪異土 他朝君體也相同 」

眾靚女 (請自行對號入座),吾本應追之逐之,但我始終未盡全力;可惜即將在各一方,於今有心無力矣。