Archive for May, 2004

Another Update

Monday, May 17th, 2004

[ from the have-you-updated-your... dept. ]

Photos (from left to right): James Brindley (Gas Street Basin on the canal in Birmingham), Nottingham Canal, Brindley Place (near to The Mailbox in Birmingham), Birmingham Canal.

It has again been a while since I last updated this online blog of mine. However I do have some things to note – chiefly involving a newfound interest in exercise and doing real world stuff outdoors on occasion. I have taken up cycling again and have been on a number of long walks. On the technology front, I went to the recent BCS Lovelace lecture from Adobe co-founder John Warnock (dfb and gang were there obviously, and I met John Oates from The Register and the guys from TopQuark (yes as in particles, we did actually spend a while discussing the different types…) – John Warnock discussed the original Postscript Hinting techniques for the first time officially and had great slides). I have also been doing quite a bit of reading of late – both on physics (waves, resonance, et al.) and mathematics (exponential forms of complex numbers and similar related stuff), and also recently some fiction too. I am half way through reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (very interesting so far).

I have been to visit Hannah and Joe Wrigley on a few occasions of late – once for a trip, once accompanying a younger relative visiting, and once to help out with some stuff. On two occasions I ended up visiting Coventry also – I have various rather bias reasons for enjoying visiting, but also find Warwick campus rather enthralling. Unfortunately the campus is rather outside of town, though pleasant. Journeying up to Coventry, I encountered a woman on the train who was rather distressed and probably suffering from a psychiatric disorder – some other passengers were typically offensive and distastefully untactful (they would feel quite differently if one of their drinking friends had an accident or was otherwise suffering from a similar condition. Essentially though, this is representative of the public as a whole and that is a sorry situation). Actually I was sitting opposite a woman called (I would approximate as) Liv. She had recently graduated from studying nursing and physcology at Warwick and shared a taxi with me to the campus.

When I have been in Birmingham I have had a number of walks along the Worcester and Birmingham Canal for exercise and for inspiration. On one occasion recently, I walked from Selly Oak in to Birmingham the equivalent of three times in one day, and went strolling around the town for a while too. I met my friend Dan when I was in the town [on the previous visit on the weekend before last - updated: 17/06/2004] and we had a very pleasant walk along the the Canal, some food and then saw the Jim Carey Eternal sunshine of a spotless mind film which has just recently come out. I had already seen Kill Bill vol. 2 for a second time on a previous visit, with Hannah and Joe and some of their friends who were around. I enjoy visiting Birmingham.

I seem to enjoy walking quite a lot now. Not only did I cycle 30 miles one day last week on my way to and from work one day, but then walked 12 miles on Saturday and cycled around London this evening with Paul Sladen. I hope that the narrowboat canal trip is happening – I spoke to some friends about it but have yet to mention it to some more, and in any case it should be fun.

I have been reading mostly mathematical and physics related stuff, but have also brushed up on some operating system theory and plan to resurrect the work that I was doing for my project on Genesis. At some point in the next few weeks I hope to get an Apple iPod so that I can get Linux up and running on it for the column, but I also need to get a writeup done on the EmDebian Stag Framework as well as Gamecube Linux – actually I need to do a few things for both of these projects. I have allowed my plan for fixing some PowerPC platform independence stuff to stagnate far too much and will do something about that.

This room needs cleaning up and I need to work at maintaining accurate mental records of what I want to do and when – I have a great tendency for persuing tangents, and this is a good thing, but I need to ensure that I also come back to what I was looking at before that. I have to examine electronics stuff that I have been meaning to look at, and I need to purchase a violin part for Bach’s Concerto for Violin, Oboe and Piano (a friend plays the Oboe and a friend of his plays the piano…as does obviously Hannah but I do not know any other Oboe players).

On Saturday morning, I went in to Birmingham and visited a number of bookshops in a quest for enlightening material to read (as well as a book on Embedded Systems which is on sale in the Warwick University Bookshop but which I have not seen in the flesh since, and I would rather buy from a real bookstore even if it is in my recommendations from that American online bookstore). I felt compelled to inform the management of Borders as to the decline of their Computing Section (it is now quite desperate in comparison to the state it was in when they first opened – and they have moved it downstairs from being in a sensible location next to the Engineering and Mathematical sciences, as a consequence of wishing to improve flow and their American mangement visiting) – it is not always about stocking books that sell, try stocking just one or two that are interesting so that people like myself will want to buy more.

Primark have a weird store layout in Birmingham and due to the nature of the fire shutters, I imagine certainly a number of issues in the event of an actual emergency – the shutters effectively isolate the escalators, but people will head for those in the first instance and become trapped. The engineer who designed that system needs to seriously consider when they last went shopping on a busy afternoon in the town. Zizzi also annoyed us on Saturday night because they refused to allow us to have “drinks only” because that is not their policy (I pointed out how often I go to that restaurant but to no avail, so I am less so inclined now). On a positive note, I bought The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time on Saturday and have read to around halfway now. A woman representing British Waterways asked me some survey questions at Gas Street Basin and I discussed maintainance, safety and accessibility issues.

On Saturday night I went to Symphony Hall in Birmingham and saw Carina Burana being performed by the Birmingham City Choir and Orchestra. Essentially a fantastic performance and I would certainly recommend a visit to anyone so inclined – especially as there was a good under 25 discount. Hannah and I spent some time commenting upon the performance afterwards and then we had some tea by the canal, before walking along it to Selly Oak and retiring for the evening.

This evening I went in to London for around 19:00 and met up with Paul Sladen. Meeting at Kings Cross, we went for a cycle around the City and along the Thames. Stopping off for Noodles, we eventually got back to Paddington and I caught a late train home. I enjoyed this evening very much indeed although my hayfever is starting to cause me some discomfort.


Photos (from left to right): Cycling 30 miles to and from the office, Walking around London after the BCS Lovelace Lecture, John Warnock from Adobe, Symphony Hall, Jon Masters at Westminster.

A new phase emerging

Saturday, May 1st, 2004

[ from the doing-more-normal-stuff dept. ]

Photographs (from left to right): Philippe and Justin on the emDebian stand at Linux Expo Olympia 2004, Wookey cleaning up after the second day of the show, a walk along the River Cherwell in Oxford, a walk around London.

I have not updated this blog in a couple of weeks, and a few things have happened since the last update, so here we go. As I write this, I am in Birmingham with Hannah and Joe Wrigley, about to eat supper after a nice walk through a park in Selly Oak. I have been trying to get more regular exercise by taking longer walks whenever possible – either for the sake of a walk, or in place of a bus or taxi whenever.

I went to the Linux Expo Olympia 2004, and met what I would imagine was between 100-200 people that I know through some means or other. The show was interesting because of the sheer number of interesting conversations and people, and I enjoyed hanging out on the emDebian stand to talk to people about Embedded Linux. Various companies had offerings on show and the BBC especially were interesting because of their Open Source video and audio codec and interoperability software stack.

After the show ended on the Tuesday, we went to a dinner at Pizza Express (I am not as fond of them as I was, because I now prefer Zizzi), where I talked to Wookey, John Southern, and a few others. On the Wednesday evening there was a Debian pub meet, followed by a meeting of printk people (sladen managed to wonder off with a few people and was later to be heard on LUG Radio commenting about his plans, along with various revelations concerning the nature of products on sale on the Debian stand). I met Jono Bacon and some of the LUG Radio people again as well.

My column this month covers some general recent developments and touches upon GPL issues with embedded systems. I produced a piece on LIRC interfacing using a Sky Digital remote, and also finally got the CeBIT 2004 writeup in to a digital form which could actually be printed :-) . Also did a bit of hacking on some block device code and spent a lot of time brushing up on my calculus, and getting up to speed with my understanding of NMR theory. I roughly understand how systems are built now, and how things like gradients work to add spacial information for determining the position of parts of an image or the movement of molecules within a sample for sizing.

Last weekend, we had a family outing along the River Cherwell in Oxford. We were going to hire a punt, but the queue was more than an hour long. I have recently made a number of trips along the Thames and wish to explore more of the Oxford area in general. On the Friday beforehand, I had located the Botanic Gardens and heard of a pub called “The Head Of The River” where I can apparently hire a punt for the Thames also. contains many more photos from these random events in the Random section.

This week, I had a driving test on Monday lunchtime. I managed to fail this first test because I performed a Parallel Park which resulted in the car being positioned too far from the curb, and subsequently decided that I had failed, so was not bothered when I picked up a couple of other faults on the way back to the test centre. The DSA waiting list in Oxford is currently absolutley ludicrous – September 2004. The surrounding areas are not much improved upon that and I have had to settle for a June test in Reading. This means I have to ask my instructor to drive from Oxford however.

I decided to follow the test with a little walk along the Thames, and then travelled from the Trout Inn back in to Oxford. I went in to London and walked around Regents Park, before meeting sladen and walking around bits of central London for a few hours. We saw some people setting up rigging in Trafalgar Square for Freedom Day and had some good Chinese food when we actually arrived in Leicester Square. I spent some time tracking down hardwareisms over the rest of the week and then went for a trip to Coventry.

Yesterday afternoon featured a visit to Warwick to see an old friend. Aftering eating some Pizza at Pizza Express we saw Kill Bill 2 at the Showcase Cinema. This morning, I walked in to Coventry and took a train to Birmingham in order to visit Hannah and Joe Wrigley. We went for a walk and I did a little reading on random Wave type physics.

I am hopefully speaking at the UKUUG Summer Conference 2004 and am spending much of my time learning stuff. Yesterday, I visited a bookshop next to the Rootes Social facility in Warwick, and saw a copy of the Embedded System Design book. This book definately requires a reservation on my bookshelf – there were a few others which I might need to add to my wishlist.

I recently saw a fantastic piece being performed on Classic FM TV, and I discovered the track on a compilation album in Borders on an evening of this week. Ludovico Einaudi performed Le Onde in a truly beautiful performace which had to be heard. I located a CD by the artist in preference to purchasing an entire compilation disc for a single track I wanted. Perhaps worth noting is that the Borders previewing system had incorrect details which resulted in the wrong previews being played for these tracks. Go buy his CD.