Archive for April, 2004

A few random updates

Sunday, April 18th, 2004

[ from the memoirs-of-the-week dept. ]

Photographs (from left to right): A peacock at the Trout Inn, a non-talk by an absent esr (John Pinner’s impromptu talk), Paul Sladen and Jonathan Riddell on a Brompton, Victoria Square in Birmingham, and a homebrew LIRC Receiver.

I have been working on fixing an interesting (debugging printk’s reduce execution to a rate that makes things work type of problem) bug in a Compact Flash driver and had another driving lesson in preparation for the inevitable. Reading a bit more of the maths book and looking at harmonic functions and resonance in more depth. Everything in life is probably a waveform in a cunning disguise. I also have just started looking at the Derome NMR book (“Modern NMR Techniques for Chemistry Research” by Andrew E Derome). I have begun the process of connecting dots between information, in the quest for a higher understanding of what I am doing at the moment.
I like to think that I am gaining something from my exploration of the block layer in Linux and that I can use this to do some fairly positive things fairly soon.

I went to the Trout Inn again, and decided to borrow a GPS from a friend at work in order to try out Geocaching soon. Also I am strongly considering whether to run in the London Marathon next year (if you think that I should the please tell me – certainly I need to decide what to raise funds for if I do run). I spoke to a lock keeper at Godstow lock about narrowboats and got a couple of details, and a brochure for one of the companies who hire boats for a weekend. Currently I am contemplating hiring a boat for a long weekend with whichever friends are interested in the idea. At least one of the companies (Anglo Welsh, according to the lock keeper) have multiple locations where you can pick up and set down boats, rather than return to the journey origin.

On Thursday afternoon I was in Oxford following another driving lesson, and after a trip to a certain coffee house (yes I know but I could stop drinking Starbucks coffee whenever I wanted, honestly), and a trip to the Trout Inn for a juice, I headed to the railway station to catch a train I expected esr to be on board, en route to his planned talk in Birmingham for SBLUG. I met a chap with an ACCU badge and asked him if he knew where esr was, and discovered that Eric basically decided at the last minute to cancel and not give a talk which he first agreed to give around two years ago. Eric Reymond left a large number of people in the lurch in Birmingham and should not be invited to future meetings, in my opinion. It is no longer necessary to meet him in order to understand the views that some hold about him and his actions.

The chap with the ACCU badge turned out to be John Pinner. He had personally paid for esr to travel first class to Birmingham but I ended up having the seat myself. I had brought a pizza, some olives, and ciabatta at Oxford Zizzi and ate these on the way, while John and I had a pleasant conversation. John stood in for esr by giving a different talk for the group and Tim managed the meeting well despite the rudeness of the absent speaker (who was instead having a teleconference with Sun). Fortunately most people were quite understanding of the situation and the talk with panel discussion was as enjoyable as the preceeding buffet.

esr should not be invited to speak again.

I enjoyed meeting up with Paul Sladen, jok and Jonathan Riddell. I also met Jono Bacon of LUG Radio and Linux Format fame. Paul, jok, Jonathan and I were given a lift to the station afterwards by John Pinner. At Birmingham New Street, we bought some drinks (thanks to Robin I have discovered that Oasis Summerfruits drink is a little in need of occasional consumption) and a bottle of wine with no opener. I recalled a situation once in Oxford where many of us spent hours trying to open a wine bottle with a biro. We went to Nottingham, and on Friday I met up with Paul and Jonathan. Note the photos of the pointless number of logos at the railway station – perhaps we are going to end up with renationalisation by the backdoor.

On Friday I walked in to Nottingham and bought some grapes and a smoothie before having a coffee with a biscotti. I read a little and subsequently caught a bus to facilitate venturing on to the Jubilee campus in a quest for meeting Paul and Jonathan and various others who we were going to look for. I took some photos of the campus and the wildlife, and spoke to a few people too. I did find a certain Dave and heard that my tickets for the BCS Lovelace award ceremony should arrive at my home soon (in fact they have). I introduced Paul and then we went to get ready for a train to Birmingham. While I went to town and had another coffee in that certain American establishment, Paul and Jonathan returned to Beeston and got themselves ready – we both caught trains from the two stations and met on the train. It randomly decided to hail as I was waiting for the train to turn up.

Paul, Jonathan and I were discussing various randomness on the train, and I saw the Debian logo being prepared for the Debian stand this week. They changed trains and I continued to Birmingham, where I had food at Cafe Rouge before travelling to Reading on the penultimate departing train. Over the past few days I have been syncing my email and built an LIRC receiver. I upgraded perihelion to kernel 2.6.5 and applied the LIRC patches to add the required Serial Driver Character Devices support to the configuration. Trying to make some progress with the UKUUG Embedded Systems stuff and dealing with another related event.


A walk along the Thames Path in Oxford

Monday, April 12th, 2004

[ from the not-a-duplicate-story dept. ]

I went for a walk along the Thames Path in Oxford, Chai Steamer in hand, until I arrived at the Trout Inn in time to read some of my book before some soup refreshment, some juice, and of course tea. I have decided that this walk to Wolvercote is a good way to exercise and then have food.

I sat by the river for a while, after dropping a glass from the end of a bench table that had been left by another customer (which they cleared up straight away), and read about Partial Fractions while drinking a juice. When the air become slightly more fresh, I ventured inside and ordered a chicken cockaleeky soup with some more juice and later some tea.

A pleasant place to watch peacocks and read a book.

When I returned home, I wanted to read more than I did but I settled for a few paragraphs from a book on Fourier Transforms for students. I would prefer to understand Fourier Analysis and Synthesis more than I do, but a hope is that I can over time master these topics.


A walk along the Thames Path in Oxford

Saturday, April 10th, 2004

[ from the random-walking-is-good dept. ]

Photo: Trout Inn at Wolvercote, which is in Oxford (famous from Inspector Morse).

Yesterday I went for a walk with Hannah and Joe and my younger sister, along the Thames Path in Oxford. We arrived in Oxford by train and joined the river at the station in order to give a good 3-4 mile walk to the Trout. We had lunch at the Trout and walked back, stopping at the Perch (where we played chess on a giant board) for soft drink refreshment. Certainly this was an excellent outing, because not only was the weather enjoyable, but also we saw cattle grazing along the route, dogs running randomly in the river, horses running around too, and many other relaxing things of that nature. A good day for a good trip along the Thames. I now need to hire a narrowboat with some friends and journey along the river.

Photo: Jon Masters, in University Parks Oxford.

I went for a walk around University Parks on Thursday evening, and then decided to go to oxgo for a quick game on the way home. I met a couple of guys from Codemasters and had an enjoyable learning experience with a 6 Kyu player, and met a player with a rating of 4 Dan.

I bought the latest issue of the venerable Elektor Electronics only to find that they have restyled the content and tried to do a typical makeover in the aid of helping more people to get in to the magazine (i.e. to push up revenue one would imagine). Fortunately this has not been too determental to content and I actually found a couple of good items in this edition touching upon ATAPI interfacing and other random stuff. AMT now do a new “Chai Steamer” beverage which is quite an enjoyable alternative to a latte.


Nottingham and Birmingham visit

Monday, April 5th, 2004

[ from the sardines-in-a-tin dept. ]

Photo: Jubilee Campus of The University Of Nottingham.

I visited Nottingham twice during the period of Friday and the weekend, and stayed with Hannah and Joe in Birmingham on both occasions also. I arrived in Nottingham on Friday afternoon and visited some friends in the Computer Science department, before having dinner in Birmingham with Hannah and Joe. On Saturday evening I returned to Nottingham to meet with some friends, and encountered pkh randomly while walking through the town on the way to dinner.

I bought a book called “Mathematical Techniques” on Saturday and had a very enjoyable time especially on Sunday lunchtime in a nice pub. Also went for a stroll through Oxford last night and went to OxLUG on the way home.

Another update later on.


Oxford/Cambridge Boat Race 2004

Friday, April 2nd, 2004

[ from the who-should-I-support dept. ]

I visited fumo and Hussein in London last weekend, for a random meet up essentially. We had food in Wagamama and ended up going to Putney for the Oxford/Cambridge boat race of 2004. As the news reported, Cambridge won and I care little about the outcome – it was an experience which was worth doing. Perhaps I should have gone to a BBQ with a friend at one of the markers along the route but there was not time to do everything.

On the way home from the boat race, Hussein and I met Paul (who was with his Brompton as per what now seems the usual situation for meeting him) outside Baker Street underground station and Hussein took a video of the assembly time for the Brompton. Perhaps I could have done something else in London but I felt like going home to read Horrowitz and Hill (hereafter often called H&H) again. I have re-acquainted myself with differential equations over the last week, and I followed through some of the fundamental proofs for RC circuits while on the train to work on occasion this week.

I spoke to BSM in Oxford about the theft of my debit card details and am still unhappy with their cavalier attitude and the time which was allowed before proprogating details to customers who might have been affected quite severely. Apparently my personal details were not compromised and the suggestion that computers were taken was incorrect (apparently the mid level management type I spoke to who is in charge of this farce was not aware that only keyboards had been taken and not whole machines. They also apparently are centralised with only effectively terminals installed in branches, but this was not made clear to me initially). I had already called the DVLA by that point and am going to consider what to do with the information that they chose to leave card receipts in the till machines overnight rather than in the safe which I observed during my protracted conversation with a reluctant manager who proved quite ellusive. I like my instructor but I think the BSM company (part of the RAC) need to really sort out their definition of customer service to some sufficient level.

I considered cycling earlier but the weather was not good and my neck was extremely painful and unable to turn to the right on Thursday. I am currently seeking a violin teacher in the Oxford area and this week am planning to look out for some more sheet music I can play.

Over the last six months, my mail server processed 182759 messages of which approximately 26,000 were manually marked as SPAM and an additional 2239 were filtered by my installation of a popular mail filter which needs upgrading to a version which is not the old one in Woody. I now estimate that I will receive over 400,000 mails this year and that more than 15% is SPAM. Since the bulk of this is from mailing lists which are already SPAM filtered then we are looking at actual signal to noise ratios which are considerably different and closer to 50%. Two mails were in my Impersonal maildir folder too long so please use my official mail addresses whenever possible.