Archive for January, 2004

Tidying Tidying

Friday, January 30th, 2004

[ from the I-have-a-workbench dept. ]

I did some more tidying and set myself a better working environment at home in which to get some stuff done properly. I have a workbench.

I went to Guildford today and did some reading. Tomorrow is the G2K4.


Tidying Stuff

Friday, January 30th, 2004

[ from the cleaning-up-the-room dept. ]

Well I finally did tidy up this stuff which I have been putting off sorting properly since about 1998 (although some of the material dates back to 1995 and 1996 to 1997. Mostly that is old Brookes stuff and associated very old Train Timetables which I probably knew about but did not tidy up earlier). I figured it was about ready to be fixed.

8 black bags and a folded removal box later and a large chunk of this room has been reclaimed for some space. I now have room to setup an electronics corner for random experimentation. Later today I need to pick up some bits and pieces from Maplin but I finally started to sort this crud out.

I now have too many remixes of Alphaville – Forever Young – but if you know of extremely rare live recordings suitably techno remixed please pipe up!


[TV] “Days that changed the world”

Thursday, January 29th, 2004

[ from the manhatten-project dept. ]

I just watched a programme on BBC2 about the Manhatten Project and have decided to buy the book by the man who directed the project – Leslie M. Groves: Now It Can Be Told.

“ If after this war a situation is allowed to develop in the world which permits rival powers to be in uncontrolled possession of these new means of destruction, the cities of the United States as well as the cities of other nations will be in continuous danger of sudden annihilation. All the resources of the United States, moral and material, may have to be mobilized to prevent the advent of such a world situation. Its prevention is at present the solemn responsibility of the United States–singled out by virtue of her lead in the field of atomic power.” — Petition to the President of the United States by Scientists at the Chicago Metallurgical Laborartory (in which they ask for no bomb to be dropped on Japan). Quote taken from

unobtainable_women = add_timer(&boyfriend_mention);

Tuesday, January 27th, 2004

[ from the always-the-way-again dept. ]

Yesterday I met a female Computer Scientist and got on fantastically…so I set the boyfriend timeout running to see how long it would be until that got mentioned and surprisingly 25 minutes or so ellapsed before it was indeed confirmed that there was a bf. There always is dammit.

Let me quite clear – I am not looking to date a Computer Scientist or someone who does exactly what I do but anyone I meet who seems to be my type is always taken or unobtainable. Whether they be Mathematicians, Artists or whatever else.

Back to being single.


Title maybe goes here

Sunday, January 25th, 2004

[ from the may-or-may-not dept. ]

Driving Update

I passed my driving theory test having done entirely too little preparation. This makes me wonder if a complete monkey could pass the theory exam – of course I absolutely expect to fail my first practical test at the end of April because driving and I are weird bedfellows but still, that was quite interesting. I am now learning various manoeuvres such as turning in the road and parallel parking while my stalling rate has fallen again to the point that I could drive around normally without having that embarassment last lesson. I still do suck but apparently not as much as I could do.

I think on the car front that I will probably end up buying something cheapish – if I spend a couple of grand on a used car for the first couple of years then it will help me to get used to driving without spending a lot on a new car that I will then smash up and break in variously intruiging ways. The main benefit is that I will be able to drive to places like work, G2K4, and when seeing certain friends although I still like travelling by train because someone else worries about how we get where we are going. On the plus side, on the Friday before last I went to Birmingham and Nottingham as I had mentioned – and on the way through Birmingham I happened upon a Meet The Management session with Virgin. I had altogether too much fun ranting for 20 minutes to senior Virgin Trains management about their appauling service, and on the fly generating a list of the major problems I have encountered with them over the past few months of bitter experience. Yes that was fun. You would have too.

Linux In The UK

I am writing a piece on Linux In The UK (yes Sex Pistols indeed) and will be talking to people who work in Linux Services and support for quotes as was a general assistance in introducing newcomers to this fantastic Free Software Linux world in which we live.

I finished reading the book I mentioned previously – Linux Kernel Development by Robert Love. I will tidy up my list of corrections and points of note. My number one criticism was the lack of Network coverage and the general lightweight nature of some parts of the book – but a good introduction. I would like to understand the block layer in 2.6. Well at least properly. Also need to fix my understanding of some other bits since 2.4.

Travelling Man

I went to Manchester on Friday in order to visit Tom in hospital. I enjoyed my trip and once again was very impressed with the City. They have a little reminder of London in bits of the City centre as well as great communications and a reasonable set des entertainments. I went to The Rice Bowl (which is located off King Street) on the recommendation of the brother of a guy at work and I enjoyed the food and atmosphere – they do allow smoking however so the experience could vary. I do not like smoking, but I hate it when eating. Fortunately on this occasion there were only two death sticks within range of my seat and both were used briefly and the smoke extracted I believe.

Hope hospital is near a Metro station but interestingly not right at a Metro station and so one has to figure out where the big obvious hospital might be without the aid of any signs to assist visitors – cunningly we are supposed to just know where the hospital is without such frivelous signage. I was impressed with the hygiene provision in the form of hand washing stations and the only dissappointment was being greated with a giant collections of pamphlets covering many conceivably bad things which might happen rather than a welcome sign at the ward entrance point.

Manchester is a nice place indeed. I know where the Wagamama is roughly, but we did not go this time because sometimes it is good to vary life a little. I also enjoyed popping in to Nottingham on Friday evening and having (yes indeed) coffee and Wagamama on Saturday at lunchtime. I went through Birmingham and had a quick coffee with Dan last night, before stopping off in Oxford for a late Christmas party and missing the last train home to Reading. Fortunately there were several of us to share a Taxi to Didcot and then a train to Tilehurst. Shared a Taxi from Tilehurst too.


I went to London last Thursday and after attending to other matters, had some coffee in Leicester Square and then met up with, and had some chinese with agk. I know where the Leicester Square Wagamama is now too so that can go on the todo.

I saw The Mousetrap at St. Martins Theatre (no website found quickly in google but their booking office is at – 020 7836144 according to This was an ING promotion which meant Alasdair had two free tickets, so we endured a little marketting and PR rubbish while pondering whether the ING slogan “It’s your money we’re saving” is really what it is when they have fortune cookies made with that printed on the paper inside, or bottled water with that printed on the label. Anyway the play was indeed interesting and very reminiscent of an old Miss Marpel episode for those who remember watching those on TV.

Thawte Notory

I am now a Web Of Trust Notary and can notorise other people if this is deemed useful for signing x509 certificates and so on. There was a signing session in Oxford last Monday evening in The Lamb and Flag and afterward I discovered Wok23 thanks to the recommendation Ganesh offered for somewhere worth a try. Good food and reasonable.

Playing Go

I decided to take Go a little bit more seriously than I was, because it really is an interesting game and there is plenty of opportunity around for me to learn from interesting players. Take Harry from the Oxford Go club as an example of someone who has been playing for 45 years and is very amenable towards the likes of a newcomer to the game such as myself. I went to London last week to get Tom a board so that jok and I could give it to him in hospital when we went up on Friday. I found The London Chess Centre to be a useful resource for acquiring boards, bits, and books as well as having friendly staff.


Driving theory test today

Friday, January 16th, 2004

[ from the did-you-update-your... dept. ]

Today is driving theory test number one, followed by a trip to Birmingham and Nottingham. A friend of mine has apparently come out of his operation and I will be visiting him in Manchester next week also. Doing various work stuff and been reading a few more books – will write a longer update soonish.

I finished Reading “Dude, Where’s My Country?” and bought “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” on my trip to Bournemouth last weekend, in which I visited Ben and saw Last Samuri (a good film but it will not make me like Tom Cruise – the guy is still a Scientologist and weird cults do not do it for me). We played mini golf and I picked up some SCSI drives from someone on the Dorset LUG mailing list. It was fun to visit again.

I am reading “Linux Kernel Development” by Robert Love and have found a number of corrections which I have forwarded to the author and publisher. If anyone really wants to have a copy then they can drop me a line – however do buy this book because it is a good read.

My driving lessons are still going and I finally drove from Witney to Abingdon and then in to Oxford the other night. I still stall on occasion and am not confident enough in the car while also having a slight tendency to drive too slowly or fail to maintain 30 rather than 32 or 35 mph.
My driving instructor turns out to be an Apple user which is pretty cool and he is a very cool person generally too so I enjoy my driving lessons.

Look at the 20 years of the Macintosh video on the Apple website and enjoy how they refilmed this so the running woman is wearing ipod headphones… note that once again marketting has struck. But hey Apple are hip again even more than they were 20 years ago…now all that is needed is more QA.

Last night as in Thursday evening, we had another OxLUG food session and three of us turned up for it but still had fun. Went to a nice coffee shop and decided that the idea of writing a proper coffee guide as suggested by James is not such a bad idea after all. I am now on 16 LUG mailing lists and track as much as I can of the UK LUG scene because it is fun – I plan to go to a Hants meeting at some point perhaps next month.

Looking at cars and the potential to move sometime this year in to Oxford or a similar location. A friend at work is designing a Spartan 2e development board which several of us will get and play with at home – hopefully I can get microblaze-uclinux up and running on mine.

Booked tickets for FOSDEM. 10:42 train from Waterloo to Brussels on 20/02/3004 returning on Monday afternoon. Drop me a line if you are going.

Trying to get more regular nighttime patterns…


Another Year

Saturday, January 3rd, 2004

[ from the another-update dept. ]


So another year is upon us as we move towards self annihilation or the improvement of mankind perhaps. I think we know which is likely.

New Year’s Eve

I went to Nottingham for New Year’s Eve and then travelled accross to Birmingham before midnight for some time with Hannah and Joe. On New Year’s Day itself I was in Birmingham and went to the Bullring – where I started the year with a visit to Borders and Starbucks. Yes I know this is not necessarily something to shout about — indeed they had no Gingerbread Latte for sale :-) .

On New Year’s Eve, I went to the Bell Inn in Nottingham with tom and jok, where I tried one of the fine beers on sale. I am not really much of a drinker by any means but I enjoyed the company. A short while previously I had been in Cambridge and hopefully I will catch up with many more friends around the country over the coming months. I plan to be in Oxford as usual, Nottingham, Birmingham and
Manchester during the next 6 to 8 weeks. Also I am going to be at FOSDEM, CEBIT and hopefully the Bournemouth UKUUG conference.
See some of you there then.

Random Trivia

This year I hope to do more reading, music and learn more about the world in which I live while exploring bits of it some more. I have been reading some more non-fiction books and have various plans to read humour books such as “Eats, Shoots and Leaves”. I also want to touch upon mathematics and religion as part of some kind of enlightenment process. You can love or leave Amazon but their recommendations are generally pretty cool. I have been feeding it more information to provide interesting book recommendations. You can always go to my wishlist and buy me something if you want…

Pure Ranting

Twenty years on from Orwell’s 1984 and perhaps we are getting closer to the world which he imagined. A world in which we have daily reminders that terrorists and evildoers are everywhere and ready to strike at any time. A world in which the Commander In Thief is a man who I would not trust to open a tin of baked beans — let alone run America. Yes I have been reading more Michael Moore and again find his words truly inspiring. Whether you take him with a pinch of salt or believe everything he writes in “Dude, Where’s My Country?”, one has to admit that Moore uncovers a lot of dirty laundry connecting the many evils in our modern day world. 60% of 300 million Americans today cannot locate the UK on a map.

So we are making progress then. Pop Idol and cheese like it abound, while real journalism is becomming more confined worldwide. Take a look at Fox News for a disturbing view of the world in which we live today — I spent several hours watching bits of news earlier and was shocked at the general dumbed-down nature of the major television network Americans use as a point of world reference, in which presenters cannot complete a sentence without someone interrupting them or some silly animation informing us of the current orange terror status.

One thing I am not is Anti American. I do not agree with the actions of extremists and in fact correspond with a number of intelligent people from the States on a regular basis. But in a country where 80 million people are illiterate, some really dumb decisions take place on a daily basis without due care and consideration and which both really piss off the rest of the world and hold us in awe. How can one man spew so much shite as George W. Bush on a regular basis? This is an election year but I am not optimistic about that.