magfish: (scrubbed up)
[personal profile] magfish
last night's interesting piece of pointless trivia, which i'm sure at least [livejournal.com profile] minusbat will appreciate: the guns of hms belfast are trained on london gateway services (which to most of us will forever be scratchwood services)! this is by far my least favourite services (it's pointless! only on one side of the road!! dirty!!! full of oaps from shearings coaches!!!!), so bomb away, i say.

anyway, i'm probably the only person in the country who didn't already know this bit of info, but i'll still be adding it to my treasure trove of Useless Stuff. and as i'm prone to shedding such tidbits almost as quickly as i pick them up, all further donations are also welcome. so, what useless bits of information do you want to share with the class today?

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Date: 2005-08-31 10:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sarcaustik.livejournal.com
How far away is Gateway Services fromn HMS Belfast?

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Date: 2005-08-31 10:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sarcaustik.livejournal.com
Yes... I didn't actually know that guns could fire that far. I thought my geography must be pretty screwed up somewhere! Is there some unknown threat lurking at the bottom of the M1 that we didn't previously know about?

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Date: 2005-08-31 10:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] drdoug.livejournal.com
I didn't actually know that guns could fire that far.

The shape of a number of West African countries is legendarily defined by the firing range of gunboats on the rivers during the C19th - and even the skinny ones are fairly wide.

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From: [identity profile] blue-condition.livejournal.com - Date: 2005-08-31 12:06 pm (UTC) - Expand

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Date: 2005-08-31 11:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] drdoug.livejournal.com
Here's a really pretty useless piece of information that I found out by myself in about 1982/3. It wasn't particularly useful then, and it's even less so now.

It is this: if you have a Sinclair ZX Spectrum, turn it on, and type in the command, "RANDOMIZE USR 1331", it will make a buzzing/screeching noise while purple-and-black stripes flash round the edges of the screen, and it won't stop until you unplug it.

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Date: 2005-08-31 12:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] drdoug.livejournal.com
The complete answer is long and deeply sad, but the summary version is that I was investigating the contents of the Spectrum's ROM in a methodical but scattergun way.

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Date: 2005-08-31 01:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] blue-condition.livejournal.com
Let me guess - looking for things that looked like RET instructions and then calling anything that came *after* them in the hope that it was a useful routine? ;)

I think it was the Apple ][ that had some of the most cunning ROM code ever. Back in the days when ROM was dear, you wanted to try every trick possible to get the code as small as possible, and Apple's hackers decided that the best way to save space was to exploit the representation of the instructions and data.

If you consider a typical sort of code sequence:


xx yy zz ; DO_SOMETHING yyzz
aa bb ; FIDDLE bb
cc dd ee ; FRIG ddee
ff gg ; COMPARE gg
hh ii ; IFBLAH ii
jj ; RETURN


Well, what happens if you jump in a byte further on?
You might be lucky and get something...


yy zz ; MURDER zz
aa bb cc ; FLOBBLE bbcc
dd ; FRIG_ACCUMULATOR
ee ff ; FLANGE ff
gg hh ii ; JUMP hhii
jj ; RETURN


So a lot of time and effort went into calculating instruction sequences that would mean something different and useful if you jumped in one byte further on!

A lot of frigging with position-independent code, choice of instructions etc. went on, apparently! - mindbending!

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From: [identity profile] rich-r.livejournal.com - Date: 2005-08-31 01:24 pm (UTC) - Expand

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Date: 2005-08-31 11:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] minusbat.livejournal.com
Wow! How diid you find that out ? Was it deliberate ?

Scratchwood: hell with pumps

[have you noticed the name is being erased from the map? Scratchwood Open Space is gone too!]

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Date: 2005-08-31 12:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] blue-condition.livejournal.com
I remember Pete once giving me a late night lecture on the pies of the M1. Rothersthorpe won, partly because of a good pork pie and partly because it had a Slap Fight machine.

I like Woolley Edge (m1) and Gordano (m5) for their names, Hartshead Moor (M62) for its bleakness.

The epic sliproad that takes you off to Donington services is quite amusing, you think you're never going to get there -- and then if you arrive there after 9pm you wish you hadn't because there's no hot food!

But the best is Tebay Services on the M6, it's independently run and is sort of a hippy take on the motorway service area with organic farm shop, very nice cafe, etc.

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Date: 2005-08-31 12:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] blue-condition.livejournal.com
Now does anyone know where the bloody big 15" guns outside the Imperial War Museum are pointed, and how far the shells would go? (I think those buggers have a range of about 20 miles, and I think they point roughly NW, so I'd guess at it being somewhere out in Herts.... ;)

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Date: 2005-08-31 01:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] blue-condition.livejournal.com
I'm cursed by this interest in pathological cases - weird bits of road, disused tube stations, anomalies from normal patterns. ;)

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Date: 2005-08-31 01:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kissmeforlonger.livejournal.com
God, I've hitched from Scratchwood before now, by walking through a muddy field, fighting through thick brambles and sprinting over the train line...

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Date: 2005-08-31 01:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] minusbat.livejournal.com
Which train station did you use to get there ? And how come you didnt just do the Brent Cross junction ? Startint from Scratchy just seems deliberately perverse :-)

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Date: 2005-08-31 05:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kissmeforlonger.livejournal.com
Can't remember now, but I didn't hitch on my own ever except for that time, so there was nobody to talk any sense into me!

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Date: 2005-08-31 01:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] blue-condition.livejournal.com
Oh Christing Christ: http://www.msatrivia.co.uk/default.htm -- a site dedicated to motorway service area trivia!

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Date: 2005-08-31 02:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] minusbat.livejournal.com
band goes my productive work for the rest of the afternoon!