End of an era

Well, haven’t the last three years flown by! I am now officially a graduate of Durham University, having gained myself a 2:2 in Software Engineering. Matthew Dyson BSc (Hons) (Dunelm) does look rather good 😛 It was quite sad to wave goodbye to Durham for the last ever time (as a student, no doubt I’ll be back soon, having witnessed the carnage at the alumni weekend this time around!), and I’m starting to get a bit nervous about going off into the real world! I’m not ready to finish with the student lifestyle yet!

After a rather mad few days of interviews a month or so ago, I have been offered a job as a Technical Account Manager at OpenMarket Inc, and have since accepted – I’ll be starting with them in early September, and have now got the unenviable task of finding myself an affordable place to live in Chiswick, London. Eeek. I’m hoping to head down there next week to have a browse around some houses, we will see what happens…

Before all that, however, I’ve got to get myself sorted for the Jamboree in Sweden. I’ll be travelling out a week on Tuesday (that crept up fast!), and spending a couple of days as a tourist before turning up on site early to be part of the ‘build team’, and then spending my time during the Jamboree itself as part of the International Service Team – not got a clue what I’ll be doing yet!

Might actually get time to breathe after all that is sorted out… The nice relaxing summer I’d imagined isn’t really working out!


Well – it’s all done and handed in! Now the dust has settled a bit, I’ve decided to write a page on this site about my project “Can a distributed architecture be applied to profile-based e-learning”, giving details of why I started research in this field, what I discovered, and how I think it’s going to progress in future. All of the documents are available to view if anyone is bored interested enough to have a read!

You can view all the details on the new page – Dissertation

Now, that’s enough procrastinating – back to exam revision! 🙁

Skittles Vodka

Cross-posted with I’m glad it burnt

As a poor student, I’m always on the lookout for ways of making cheap alcohol more appealing to the palate. With a house party approaching, and wallets thin as usual, my housemates and myself decided to experiment with Tesco Value Vodka and Skittles. The recipe (as one would imagine) is ridiculously simple – you stick a load of Skittles into the vodka, let them dissolve, and then drink it.

Skittles Vodka Manufacturing

To get the best flavour, we found that there were enough of each colour Skittles in 5 large bags. To begin with, simply separate the Skittles into the different colours (trying not to eat too many!), and drop them into a bottle of vodka (we used the 90cl Tesco Value). Shake vigorously, and then leave overnight to dissolve – the result should look something like this:

Skittles Vodka Manufacturing

Filtering the sediment from the bottom of the bottle is a rather tedious process, made much easier if you have spare bottles and funnels lying around the house. I have it on good authority that a folded piece of kitchen paper makes a good filter, however we splashed out and a used a mixture of coffee filters, and proper chemical filters ‘acquired’ from the university chemistry labs.

Skittles Vodka Manufacturing

The filtering process took us several hours, since each funnel would only hold a small amount of the mixture at a time. It’s important not to rush this stage, as getting sediment into the final drink does not look particularly attractive! That said, the end product will never be completely clear, however it is worth filtering 2 or 3 times until the worst has been removed.

Your Skittles vodka is ready to consume! Be warned – it is very easy to drink this stuff neat without tasting the vodka. Enjoy at your own peril, or mix with lemonade to save on the hangover.

My life

Well, its been a very long time since I posted here! Don’t believe I’ve written anything since I got back from Hungary even… that was a long time ago!

Upon getting back from Hungary, I’d heard from Durham that I’d been accepted into Van Mildert College, which has been my home for the last term. I moved in on October 4th, was consistently drunk for 10 weeks, and then moved back home in mid-December, having learnt not a lot – but having had a bloody good time! You can see why I’ve not had time for blogging!

Hungary was awesome if you were wondering, as was Summer Camp the week after – a good preparation for the ensuing mayhem at university!

I’ll try to post more on here as and when I remember, including some updates from Durham!

P.S. – Happy belated Christmas and New Year!

Back from Kent – alive!

I made it back from Kent in one piece!

Journey went as follows… 18 hour day 😐

Up at 5.30 am, breakfast and then out to catch 6.23 train from Macclesfield. Train was on time (for a change), but it was cold 🙁

Underground from London Euston to Victoria at 8.50am, crammed onto the tube like a sardine, and I’m sure I had a businessman feeling me up!

Victoria to Canterbury West at 9.19am, arriving at 11.07. Taxi to the university, ripped me off! Cost about £7 for a 5 min journey!

Had a very nice day looking around the university – absolutely excellent facilities!

Bus + Walk back to Canterbury East, train to Victoria at 16.02. Victoria to Euston on the tube, crammed in even tighter this time. Had to throw myself out of the tube at Euston, wasn’t going to get out otherwise!

Caught an earlier train than expected, 18.35 to Macclesfield, supposed to be arriving at 20.20. Bad idea.

Firstly, couldn’t get a seat because the train was that packed. Ended up sat on the jumpseat outside the toilet, although I was well off – most people were sat on the floor! Anyway, I tucked into my Sausage Roll and Apple Pastry, bought from Euston station for £3.95 – what a freaking rip off! They both tasted the same as well, and I think I caught a disease off the Sausage!

Here’s where the fun really began… train suddenly stopped, and stayed stopped for about 20 minutes. No word from driver, and none of the "Train Managers" were about, they’d gone into hiding/bailed out. We finally start moving (slowly) when the driver comes on the intercom:

"Errrr, we’ve been diverted off the West Coast Mainline, due to errrmmm. We’ll be about 1 hour late into Stoke-on-trent"

Brilliant, thought I.

Then managed to find a member of staff…

"We’ve been diverted through Birmingham, but we’re last priority now, so we could be here for a while, probably 90 mins late"

Bloody brilliant, thought I.

Anyway, arrived at Stoke late, and then Macclesfield at 21.20, an hour late. No compensation either, not allowed to claim unless I’m more than 2 hours delayed. Its a freaking joke.

Moral of this story:

  • Don’t go to Kent on the train
  • If you must go to Kent on the train – don’t go with Virgin

Bed at 10.30 – 18 hour day. I’m still recovering!

Durham Interview

Note: Had written this on Thursday, but forgot to post it! Haha!

Durham interview went well today! Apparently will be receiving an offer of AAB within the next few weeks, which isn’t too bad! Also heard back from York, they want AAB including Maths!

Josephine Butler college at Durham is extremely nice, en-suite rooms, lovely bar (:P), free gym… loads! The kitchens for the flats were actually nice as well!

Sadly, the choice isn’t too clear cut between York and Durham, since Durham’s Computer Science facilities didn’t really impress me much (no reference to the song!), whereas at York the CS department is awesome!!!

I’m off to see Nottingham next Wednesday – that still looks like my first choice, with York/Durham forming the back-up offer (I know it sounds stupid, having a first place offer lower than the reserve!). I did learn, however, that Nottingham has the highest rate of student crime in England… may leave my phone at home!!!

Really enjoyed looking round Durham campus though, since it was a week-day I got to see more of the uni at its busiest – and I liked what I saw!

York Interview

Just got back in from a fun day at York University, just had my interview for Computer Programming & Software Engineering!

The day was quite enlightening, they have brilliant facilities within the CS building, and they’re moving to the new site in 2010, when I’d be away on a sandwich year, but means I’d get my BEng and MEng years in brand new facilities! I wasn’t sure about the hardware part of the course before I went, but I’m fairly taken with it now!

Can’t say much for the other candidates, the ones I met were either over-the-top nerds, or drunks. The other CS students I met were nice though, Campus tour of all the bars went down well – even though they were closed!

Interview went quite well, I was able to get into some detail about my CP5 project for A2 Computing, which the guy seemed fairly interested at, so we shall wait and see!

Next up: Durham on Wednesday!

Lack of blogging

Well, you can all imagine why I’ve not been blogging much recently… I’ve got an iPhone!

Yes, almost 1 year to the day of it being announced at Macworld – I hold in my hand the epitome of cool.

The adverts really can’t show it at all, its an awesome bit of kit, only got a few complaints:

  • No multiple texts
  • No MMS
  • Headphone jack
  • Home button
  • Applications "crash" to the home screen quite often

Most problems should be fixed with the 1.1.3 update, however, which hopefully is out next week, being announced at MacWorld!

Anyway, back to life…

Got exams this week, had Maths C2 yesterday (went okay, thought of an answer as soon as I left the hall though 🙁 there goes 5 marks). Got Physics resit and Maths C3 tomorrow – fun. I intend to have a fun time at Nic’s party tomorrow evening though – I may not make it home!

Handed in my Physics coursework, a month before I had to :o! I’ll wait and see if it comes back though, teacher’s still had my last piece for 3 months without marking it -.-

I’m rather depressed about going back to school, would much rather be off to Uni tomorrow!

On the subject of Uni – I’ve had offers from Kent, Nottingham and Edinburgh so far, and have interviews at York and Durham! Kent want me to visit though, which means a 6 hour journey on the train just to get there 🙁 May have to drive… somehow!

UCAS Update

Heard back from Kent yesterday, they want 300 points from at least 3.5 A-levels!

I’m hoping that won’t be too difficult, since that is my backup offer 😐

Got an interview for York and Durham, Nottingham and Edinburgh have confirmed my application but not said anything about interview yet.

We shall wait and see o_O