Archive for the ‘Misc.’ Category

Iain M. Banks gave me more than Science Fiction books

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

Iain M. Banks died today, in my mind Iain is one of the few people who was capable of building a world so vast yet so detailed that it would take a life time to understand the ramifications and practicalities of living in this kind of pan-galactic near-post-physical civilization.Excession Cover

Iain masterfully takes you through a single thread introducing ideas and concepts that underpin something much larger than the story itself. He does this again and again, winding threads together to build a book.

Beyond my awe of Banks’ world building and book writing skills, there are some very specific things that he introduced to me that have contributed to me as a person:

  1. Out of Context Problems exist; whether these are the September 11th attacks, the arrival of a new and totally unexpected person in your life or the realization of the value of Graphene in material sciences. These are things that change the world in an unpredicted and unprecedented way.
  2. Interpersonal relationships only get more complex in space; let’s face it interpersonal relationships are complex on one planet with one species. Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Hawking have explored this through fiction and theory Banks addresses it again and again through his books both insightfully and amusingly.
  3. When compared to the speed of light we move slowly; in Surface Detail Bank’s describes an intricate battle involving the complete destruction of many ships only to explain that the entire battle started and ended within a fraction of a second. This is a fact of life for us.

I am glad I discovered Iain M. Banks, and I am grateful to the man who introduced him to me. I believe Iain will live on through the pages of his book long after we have all turned to star dust.

Thanks Iain.

OneNote vs Evernote

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Somewhere in the middle of 2007 I was encouraged to use OneNote to clear my desk and move to a “paperless” system, initially this was a little painful as it seemed a gargantuan task to scan in all of the bits of paper on and around my desk that appeared to contain useful information.

As it turned out I realised that if a bit of paper was covered by another (or in fact covered by anything) it wasn’t that important to the execution of my role and could probably be thrown in the bin.

At the time I was not using Microsoft Office at home, opting to use OpenOffice for the limited needs I had for productivity software. I did however want a better way of organising my paperwork at home, OneNote 2007 came in at about £70 which isn’t unreasonable for what you got. Then I discovered Evernote.

Seemed perfect, I don’t generate so much paperwork that I would bust the 40mb/month limit on the free account. In the end I decided to adopt Evernote at home and continue to use OneNote at work, it proved quite a handy separation of work and life.

Recently I have run into two problems that are pushing me towards using Evernote for everything, and ditching OneNote entirely:

  1. Evernote handles PDFs really well, you drag them in and they are displayed using the Foxit rendering engine. It just works. OneNote on the other hand plain old embeds them into the note, great now how is that different from having them in a folder in My Documents.
  2. Evernote 3.5 has vastly improved the synchronization mechanism meaning that I can safely put something on Evernote on my PC and it will be on my laptop shortly after it is turned on next. Microsoft has tried to get this kind of functionality into OneNote and SharePoint however it just doesn’t work that well, it is too slow and there seems to be a 10 minute refresh cycle hard coded into the product.

I am still not sure that I want to ditch OneNote entirely, the 2010 version has some nice labour saving devices built in such as quick screen clippings and image formatting with the fluid user interface. Nothing in OneNote 2010 screams “don’t leave me” though.

5 Commands I Use Every Day

Monday, September 8th, 2008

For my regular day job I am a Systems Administrator, my team and I manage a network with 7 servers and approximately 600 workstations, 200 laptops and 2500 users. All clients are Windows XP SP2 or SP3 and all servers are Windows 2003 SP2 or Windows 2003 R2 SP2.

I am sure I am not alone in knowing least 5 commands that I use day in and day out to manage workstations or servers on the network. I thought I would take the time to share some of these with you now.

Twitter by SMS is no more

Monday, August 18th, 2008

In Europe at least, Twitter was unable to come to an agreement with mobile phone operators to continue to send incoming Tweets to mobile phones via SMS, at least one person thinks that SMS is a deceptively profitable service for the network operators. Surely services that use SMS are going to generate more revenue as people pass funny Tweets onto non-Twitter users.

After all, all of those jokes that zip round like wildfire whenever something happens in the news aren’t just the creative juices of the masses expressed in a short message, they are written by the networks to encourage people to send more messages (by passing the jokes on).

All is not lost however, I have been using jTwitter for a long time and it does a great job of keeping me up to date on the move. The Twitter API seems good enough to allow anyone too interface with the service without extensive programming knowledge – I suspect we will see more services that allow access to Twitter from a mobile phone.

Call of Duty 4:Modern Warfare

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

Bought the game last week, finished the single player campaign a couple of days ago. It plays more like being in a film than a game, which for me is great, as a cinematic experience it is superb, the game play is better than any other game I have played before (which doesn’t say much really – have been out of touch of the FPS market over the past few years).

The multiplayer is great fun too. I had some initial issues connecting in the first place due to PunkBuster connect issues, resolved them by updating PunkBuster manualy with PBSetup.exe then running the game as Administrator under Vista 64.

All in all, great game – well worth the spend, and brought a lot of enjoyment to my Christmas.

Home Networking

Saturday, September 1st, 2007

Seeing as Catherine and I finally bought our own house and it looks like we might be staying here for much longer than we have ever stayed anywhere else, we are looking at options for home networking, our current solution involves a 802.11b Wireless Network for laptop connectivity and a cable for my PC, that has to be removed each night to close the living room door.

New Computer

Friday, September 2nd, 2005

Looking at getting myself a new computer so I have come up with a setup which looks good, we will have to see if I can afford it however.

1x Abit AN8 SLi nForce4 SLi (Socket 939) £102.17
Reasons: SATAII RAID for future proofing, SLI for future expansion
1x ThermalRight XP-120 £39.89
Reasons: Never faulted previous models
1x Vantec SF12025L Stealth 120mm fan £9.34
Reasons: Quiet yet fairly high (59) CFM
1x AMD Athlon 64 3500+ Venice 90nm (Socket 939) £149.17
Reasons: Good “bang for your buck”
2x Corsair 1GB DDR XMS3200C2PT £187.88
Reasons: 2GB for MMOGs, overclockable
1x Lian-Li PC-60 PLUS Silver Aluminium Midi-Tower Case £93.94
Reasons: Looks Good (dumb reason)
1x Tagan TG430-U15 430W ATX2.01 Easycon SLi Compliant Modular Silent PSU £56.34
Reasons: Pleanty of power for future proofing, detachable cables
1x Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 NCQ 160GB ST3160827AS SATA 8MB Cache £62.22
Reasons: Seagate’s quiet and fast in my experence, NCQ
1x Leadtek WinFast GeForce 6800 256MB DDR TV-Out/DVI £146.82
Reasons: Good “bang for your buck”

Total: £847.77

Any comments appreciated

London Bommings

Wednesday, July 27th, 2005

I am listening to the BBC Radio 5 Live feeds from the house of commons about the London Transport Blasts, it seems very little is known a unknown islamic group seems to of claimed responsability for the blasts however no one is sure if they can be beleived.

Dr Who

Thursday, June 16th, 2005

Excited dosn’t even begin to explain how I am feeling about the climax of the current series of Dr. Who; I am not going to be able to watch it on the night so that is going to get to me even more knowing that I am going to have to wait an extra day to see the end of the series.

The thought that this episode explains how Christopher Eccleston comes to an end as The Doctor? how the Daleks managed to survive the time war? are the time lords still in existance? Aaagh so many questions.