Grace Jones, Richard Thompson and Arlo Gutherie

Grace Jones wasn’t my choice but I thought “what the hell” and went anyway. We were sitting up in the Gods close to the stage but vertically way above it; odd, but I quite like these seats; they are quirky and strange in the otherwise antiseptic, boring Sage hall one. She put on an amazing performance; the musicians were wonderful, accurate and precise, totally co-ordinated. Watching the choreography of the show was incredible. The stage had been marked up and organised with gaffa tape, everything in it’s place; even the exit route for the “spontaneous” stage invasion was carefully marked out and free of wires. At the end of ever song, she rushed off stage to the dying chords, changed costumes, while keeping up some off-stage audience banter. And the …

Farewell, John Martyn

Just read the news that John Martyn has died, so soon after I last saw him. Not a surprise, as he hasn’t been well for years. I’ve seen him so many times over, though, and will miss his music immensely; recorded he was great, live he was incredible. Posted by hand from my old blog site

Daft Error Message of the Day

"Dr Watson Postmortem Debugger has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience" The pulseaudio problem described earlier wasn’t. I managed to uninstall pulseaudio and Ubuntu is still crashing. Eech, this is not good. Originally published on my old blog site.

Rant

Why the hell do people insist on sending "please remove me" mail messages to mailing lists? I mean, if they are on a mailing list that they don’t want to be on, have they considered the possibility that other people are in the same boat. This has happened to me twice today, once on a local UCU mailing list and, once, on a conference mailing list. Roll on universal identifiers for scientists. We can use them for blacklisting. Anyone sending a "please remove me" mail message will be right up my list, I can tell you. Ah, that feels better. Originally published on my old blog site.

Pulseaudio

The maddness of Linux sound continues to plaque me. Pulseaudio is crashing Gnome on an hourly basis. It get an obscure message like this in my /var/log/messages. pulseaudio[14900]: pid.c: Stale PID file, overwriting. pulseaudio[14900]: main.c: setrlimit(RLIMIT_NICE, (31, 31)) failed: Operation not permitted pulseaudio[14900]: main.c: setrlimit(RLIMIT_RTPRIO, (9, 9)) failed: Operation not permitted I’ve tried adding myself to the pulse-rt group on the basis of a 2 year old message about Hardy, and setting ALSA manually in the sound options. Eeech, this is not good. Haven’t had this level of instability since, erm, RedHat 5. I tried removing pulseaudio entirely. Sadly, Ubuntu-desktop depends on it. So, removing it would fix the crashes but in a way which, I feel, rather def…

Where Pedro has gone

Previously, I asked where Pedro had gone. Well, I’m delighted (although mystified) to find that he seems to have actually read my blog, because he’s left a comment on it. I’m not quite sure why I had such troubles finding him on Google — possibly a bad day; I think mostly it was just that his website doesn’t mention Pedro’s tools anymore. He’s been building CAZy, which I know of, although I don’t think I’ve used it. Poking through his bibliography, he’s published on semantic similarity, one of my pet topics. It’s amazing to me how much traction Pedro’s tools has got with bioinformaticians/biologists; during the Ontogenesis at which I was present last night, I mentioned the website and the three who were old enough a…

Diamond Songs

Finally watched Blood Diamond this weekend. It was good actually, kind of an adventure flick but with an attempt to show some of the reality of the blood diamond trade. Of course, along side the brutal killing, child soldiers and arm chopping, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Connelly added some standard holywood magic to the whole affair; three stylists between then, made sure that hair was never out-of-place. The black African lead managed to achieve his apotheosis in the end by wearing a suit and talking to Americans (who could ask for more?). And, of course, there was a dramatic love interest to set it off. Still, it wasn’t anywhere as bad as it could have been. It did help to raise child soldiers up the agenda, it did describe how the diamond market works (or worked as it’…

Lua

So, I’ve been using Lua for a couple of months now; I thought that I would learn it because it’s been ages since I learned a new language, and it’s got a reputation for being small, clean and fast. On the whole I think it’s lives up to it’s reputation. It’s a nice langauge, leaning more toward the functional than OO, at least in the way that I write it. Syntactically, it’s very simple and regular which is a good thing; there are a very places where I would have simplified it still further. For example, both of these are legal: print( "hello" ) print "hello" which is a nice syntactic short-cut, but then it only works with a single argument, print( "hello", "goodbye" ) print "hello", "goodb…

Connections

It’s been said alluded to before that I am, occasionally, an obsessive, with a tendency to think about totally unimportant rubbish and that I should get out more. Clearly, a post on video connectors is necessary here, for me to clear the air. See, I just got myself a big new monitor at work; no doubt some people will impune that this is a method for making up in my lack of prowess in other areas; probably they are right. But it’s left me wondering. For years, monitors all had that strange 15 pin thing, always blue. Everything plugged into everything. Then, a short while back came out the DVI connectors; these are slight offwhite, with a novel combination of flat and round pins. My new monitor has an HMDI connector. But the other end of the cable is a DVI; my old monitor used…

Home from Workshop

Well, it was a good meeting. I enjoyed listening to the talks, although I frequently found myself a little out of my depth; perhaps both a sign of how much biology I have forgotten and how much maths I never knew. Also, I think that the conference was not ideally weighted. Some multi-track, shorter talks, I think. It felt rather like the early eScience All Hands meetings. On the way, down almost all the Newcastle people travelled together; for some reason, on the way back, we all scattered and went different routes. I thought I was on my own, going through Sheffield, but bumped into a fellow Newcastle academic on the platform, in the shape of Tom Kirkwood: Professor of Gerontology, former Reith Lecturer, and all rather clever chap. What brilliant and incisive obervation on the state of …