Long time, No Write

Regular readers of this blog, of which there are none, will no doubt have noticed the long gap since I last posted. I’ve generally been a fairly frequent poster, but it’s been nearly two months since my last. Well, I’ve been busy. So, what has happened? Northern Rock Cyclone: So, after a reasonable amount of training, I managed to do the middle distance race which was 62 miles long. If you add in the distance from my house to the start and back, this was 68 miles in one go. Okay, at 12 mph, it’s a bit of a trundle, but I felt good about doing it. If I can speed things up a bit, then I might try for the 100 next year. Brewery Demolition: I saw explosive demolition of the old Brewery. Had a great view from from over the road at St James’ Park. On film, buildi…

Bob Brozman

It’s been over 10 years since I last saw Bob Brozman; in this time, he’s lost none of his prowess, and learnt a fair few new tunes. I think he’s got more rhythmic as well. He’s a difficult musician in many ways; he changes rhythm a lot, his sense of humour is continual and a little strange; his musical tastes are getting to define the word eclectic. But, he’s also engaging, entertaining and exciting to watch. It was a superb gig; I would be a fool if I left it 10 years again. It was a strange gig also; I was faced with a difficult choice: Bob Brozman, a house party or a combined barbeque and eurovision night. In the end, I know that I made the right choice. What was interesting though, is that this is the first gig that I have been to for ages on my own; si…

Bill Bug

I’ve just found out the terrible news that Bill Bug has died unexpectedly; this has come as a shock to the community. Bill was a phenomenon and the sort of person that you need in science; he was interested in everything, had ideas and opinions about it all, topped with an almost childlike pleasure in it all. He was a good scientist, a motivation and a reminder why most of us got into science in the first place. His emails and their length were legendary. He was hard-work — you had to fight through the morass of ideas — but well worth it. I only had the pleasure of meeting him once; I was looking forward to meeting him again, something that now will never be. Originally published on my old blog site.

NTFS Encryption

I decided that the time had finally come for me to encrypt the home space on my hard drive of my laptop in case it gets nicked; I’ve been encrypting high-value information for years, but I thought the time to just do the whole home space had come. So last night, I set it going. It started off suggesting it would take 12 hours. Okay, no worries, I’d rather not leave the laptop overnight but needs must. By the time I left work it had dropped to 6 hours, all going swimmingly. Get in this morning, look at the progress bar; 92 days remaining. Oh dear; I mean I know I have a lot of files, but there’s only 10G of stuff there. Next stop, true crypt I guess. Originally published on my old blog site.

Doing research

Yesterday was the board of studies. Day before was the board of examiners. Conclusion: today is the first day of summer, an opportunity to apply myself, mostly fulltime, to research. So, what have I done today. Erm, teaching. Almost all day. Life can be hard at times. Originally published on my old blog site.

Toumani Diabate and Rachael Unthank

Last week, I saw Toumani Diabate at the Royal Northern College of Music. My experience of the Kora is a busker who plays in Manchester at times; he’s pretty good actually. In concert, though it becomes a different instrument. The music is actually fairly repetitive, but the pieces generally play in cycles, flowing rather than jumping following one theme, then moving to another a note at time. As a result, it’s hypnotic rather than exciting and lulls the audience. He only played four numbers (before the encore); I think that like many people, I was surprised to find that this had taken well clear of an hour. The one negative part of the night was the accompanying blurb; this suggested that the audience should stiffle any sneezes or coughs and not open sweets during the perfor…

Friends Re-United

Struck, no doubt, by the facebook phenomena, I noticed today that Friends Reunited has gone free. So I wrote to a couple of old friends whom mailed me 2 or 3 years ago, but who I was too tight-fisted to pay to reply to. The first has replied; turns out he’s now a published author (I mean real books, in bookshops, rather than technical books), writing about murderers, werewolves and general ghost stories. He was always a talented bloke. I’m pleased he’s now been unleashed on the world at large. Originally published on my old blog site.

Hardy upgrade

Moved my desktop to Hardy today. Had a few errors but it all went smoothy, right up to the point that I tried to use it, when I was getting lots of wierd stuff with the mouse. Basically, left click was giving double click events. Took about an hour to work out; I’d configured xorg.conf a while back to enable mouse wheel emulation on my trackball. As a result, the upgrade didn’t add the vital new line (Option: Core Pointer) without which it doesn’t work. X still sucks; the configuration is bizarre, unfriendly, inconsistent and impossible to debug. One day this will all get fixed. I hope it’s soon. Actually, thinking about it, the install balked have way through and asked me something, which was irritating as I was at lunch; unintended installs are good! Originally…

Dolls House and Battle of the Planets

Saw the Doll’s house at the Northern Stage this week; it was well done, had some nice gags in it. But basically, it was dreary, long-winded and rather dull. I didn’t like any of the characters, the central plot device was silly and I just wanted it to end. Right at the end, it perked up a bit, with the patronized woman, spreading her wings and starting anew; but, this felt unbelievable, and it makes no sense spending two and a half setting the scene for 5 minutes of excitement. I can see that the play must have been revolutionary at the time, but it now is only of historical interest. Battle of the Planets, on the other hand, has little plot, doesn’t really make sense, and is generally daft. But it’s full of 70’s haircuts, the animation is exciting and the …


Today is the kick-off meeting for ONDEX. This is a new project which is doing something that I’ve wanted to do for ages; in a nutshell, it’s a large, graph-based datawarehouse. It’s rather similar to a proposal that I wrote with Mark Wilkinson from BioMOBY a few years back, with one important difference — the system actually exists, produced at Rothamstead over the last few years. The new project involves integrating some other bits of technology — taverna, text mining and so on, and a couple of specific biological examples. I think it’s going to be a pretty cool project, and we should get some useful biology out of it. Two things that I have learnt today: firstly, what "Ondex" actually stands for is not actually sure and, secondly, some var…