Sunday, September 25, 2005

One-line thought provokers or boring trivia

A number of short thoughts or just trivia I felt like writing down here...

Be warned - I've been watching Open University (or -alike) programs about things from the macro (SETI, universe scale) to the micro (cells, mitochondria etc)

  • I never realised cells were so complex inside. I mean, I knew they were complex and amazing and that the GCSE biology I knew was almost nothing but scratching at the surface; but wow! Makes you wonder how anything like it ever evolved - and therefore, that maybe it didn't. Proteins, ribo-whatsits.. I'm not arguing that evolution didn't, and doesn't-still happen (could it be any more obvious now we know it?); just pondering on life's starting point.
  • Then you go to the macro scale and again your mind is blown by just how much is out there in the universe, the sheer volume and mass (sorry, "sheer" just doesn't even begin to cover a fraction of one tiny part of it but what can I say? Tens of billions of light years etc..) and you can begin to believe how, given enough attempts over all the star systems and all the galaxies and all the subgroups of galaxies and ... through the entire life of the universe, almost anything can happen at some place and time.
  • This post is ripe for adding to for a while still by the way, sure I had more I wanted to add.

Nature, eh!

More thoughts... With something so unbelievably unlikely by pure chance, and a metaphorical petri-dish for it all to happen in (the universe) so large, the probably tends towards 1 for it actually happening somewhere, some place, some time. But for the thing that it happens to (us say, to pick a good example :-), what must they think (assuming they can, or let's think for them)? If you're the product of something incredibly unlikely, you must think yourself very special. If you can't find or see any other instances of the situation that brought you into existance, you try to hunt for meaning elsewhere.


Flora Pro-Activ

Do I eat more cos it's got stuff that's good for my heart? Or less 'cos it's fatty and, actually, not all that good......

Ok, silly Q - I know I don't want to downing tonnes of it just cos; bit it does seem rather like trying to plug the collapsing dam with one finger when you're consuming something so full of fat anyway.


Office Joke Culture

I was listening to some of the usual banter at work a while ago, and something made me think about the different joke culture you get in different departments. Geeks have their humour, sales have theirs, and I'm sure other departments have their own topics too. It's not just about the in-jokes for each area of expertise, it's to do with the common interests you get with being someone employed in that capacity. So geeks tend to read (or know of) slashdot (glad it's moved to css now by the way, so much easier for user javascript/custom styles <grin>) and keep up with science, technology, and computer-related news; I guess other departments have their own areas. Not that I know what they are - or is it it all filled with gossip?


Tuesday, September 20, 2005


1Mb ADSL - finally!

I knew it was going to happen sometime, but if only I'd known before the event. Rather than, say, get back late (last-train-ish late) one evening last week (Thursday) and turn my desktop+firewall boxes on only to find they're not connecting. I wonder what's up - it never has any problems connecting on a clean boot. I mean never. Has my ISP got connection problems? BT ADSL problems? So I give their status-phoneline a call. Nothing reported.

I'd been doing stuff around the back of my TV what with my tube going and running a 'small' 21inch non-widescreen (you're supposed to feel pity if you hadn't realised :-) as temporary replacement; so I pondered if I'd disconnected it accidentally. But no, after stretching other cables round to plug it directly into my ADSL filter, it still wouldn't sync up. By this time it was way too late (er... yes..... mutters 4am under breath) so I went to bed and decided to worry about it later.

Going away at the weekend for the wedding meant I didn't really get to try it again til late Sunday, but I got back and it just booted up and worked. To be honest I'd wondered if they had been doing the upgrade, so was watching the system logs and was happy to see it connect at 1100kbps downstream (still only 288kbps upload bandwidth - pah!) and finally to have an explanation for the lack of connectivity (and so not being able to transfer any podcasts for listening to on the 5hr car journey on Friday afternoon/evening), but I do wish they'd let me know somehow before the event. What if I was doing something important requiring a connection, like working?


Subject Tags

You'll have noticed the tags I've started displaying at the bottom of my posts. Thanks to technorati, I can categorise my posts and it'll help you find/search my blog for an article or maybe bring in the odd few extra viewers searching at the technorati site.

I may (or not) start adding some to backdated posts but it sounds like too much effort to me. Each tag links to the technorati search topic for that tag, maybe not quite what you might expect (I'd prefer it to display all posts in my blog with that tag with the option then to go wider to all matching technorati-covered blogs), maybe that's do-able but I only just added them in so be patient!


Monday, September 19, 2005

Wedding Weekend

Not mine, as usual! A cousin's this time. We seem to average about one event per year in our family - there are enough of us around that age, or the odd big anniversary like ruby/gold weddings, etc. Apparently there aren't any more for another four years though so it's been made my task to cover next year. Anyone feel like getting married? No, of course I'm joking (you think!) but potential candidates should let themselves be known well in advance :-)

This one was up in Ripon, miles away at the other end of the country. I didn't get through quite as much camera film as I thought I would - about 3 I think, hopefully they all came out well. We'll see in a few days time.

There was a very cute girl on the catering staff there, mediterranean in appearance and happy to smile back at me but it's an awful long way away and I'll never see her again anyway.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Django is a Python (scripting programming language, non-techies) web framework I hadn't heard of until last night but I just happened to be at a pub where Simon Willison, one of the writers of the core system behind it was doing a presentation to a few people. I'd just felt like catching up with my mate who I hadn't seen for a little while so I gave him a call after work and he said come on over to Smithfields (EC1-ish I think) where it was. I don't know if Jon had gone out to have a look at this, I wasn't so interested in the actual presentation (but I have a mate who loves Python).

Another really weird coincidence was bumping into a demo coding acquaintance from years ago (not seen him in 10yrs or so), "Gasman". If he still calls himself that pseudonym. He recognised me somehow either from what I was saying or from seeing me at one or two of the NSSS shows before but I didn't know who he was til he explained. There was a bewildering moment for a second when he knew who I was but he hadn't told me who he was. Anyway, cool to meet him again. Was out til the last train back, way too late but somehow I'm up early and blogging this before I go to work.

What with all this catching up and watching him show off Django, I didn't even really get to chat to my mate much before he left. Bloody good evening though.

Forks on film

We had a very stormy evening on Sunday, so what did I do? Got my camera out and took a few b&w shots out the way, time exposures (varying from a few seconds to about 30seconds). I've never caught any on film before and I really wanted to get some 'forks on film'.


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Code hacking again

It's been too long since I had a fun programming project for myself. I haven't had a pet project I've been able to start for quite a while (I had ideas, but none motivating enough).

I'm taking a look at writing a little app (or plugin? feasible?) to synchronise/integrate Opera's RSS feed support with fetching the podcasts I listen to. I also (a separate requirement) want the Opera install on my Linux box at work to synchronise with my one at home so it knows which feed articles I've read and which I haven't.

I found some python source code for exporting the list of feeds already. I'll probably just export it for something like iPodder to use for the first part, but there may be a command-line (very very simple) podcatcher on it's way as part of it.

After that, the next part for my no-hassle automatic daily synchronisation involves using a bluetooth connection from my PC (once I get a USB dongle so my PC can talk BT) to send the latest podcasts I care about and any other mp3s/info for the day to my phone (say, a 'note' with the weather for the day? My todo's?).

I currently copy stuff to my phone using my MMC card but:

  • I tend to forget so it only happens every few days
  • It's hassle to remove the card on the Nokia 6230

Notting Hill 05

I was in two minds about whether to go this year, I've been to one before (about 3/4yrs ago?) but now I work in the city and it doesn't cost me anything extra to go up there with my railcard, I thought it would be a good day out.

It's always on the August bank holiday weekend, and I went on the Monday when it was a little quieter. I spent a few hours just walking around, seeing the floats and just milling in the crowd but I did stop and party at the Good Times set which was pretty good and a great atmosphere (like the whole event). Loads of classic tracks and some good mixes.

I have a picture taken of me (mobile phone only unfortunately as my film camera had just used up a film, spur of the moment and all that) with a girl I chatted to a couple of times who had the most gorgeous bright blue eyes. She had a great dancing style (very confident and lots of fun) - I did ask whether she had those special contact lenses in that colour them, but she said not. Not quite sure I believe her but they looked amazing. Very cute. For sake of privacy I won't put them up here but here's the other phone-photos of the day (film ones yet to be developed):

GoodTimes setThe Good Times set.
The crowdsCrowds and dancers around a float
Rocketship FloatA float with rocket-engine exhaust-shape filled rear

Although the DJs stopped spinning their sound systems at about 7pm, I wandered round the rest of the route with the throng, had some food and drink, and finally left about 9.30pm. I tried catching up with my mate Jon a couple of times as he might have been there somewhere but when there's so much music around you can easily miss a phone ringing.