Little Things

Sometimes I feel that new technology is designed by perverse people, strictly for the purpose of raising negative emotions from the rest of us mortals. For example, I have a cordless phone in my house. My parents bought it for me a few years ago. It has worked flawlessly since, if I exclude losing the handset when the battery was already low; next time I needed it, the battery had totally gone so I couldn’t use the "make it ring" function. Was 2 weeks before I found it—the laundry bin if you are interested. The address book, however, seems designed for mockery. There’s only space for 15 contacts. So this is what the designers think of me, that my social life is so miniscule that I only phone up 15 people? Worse, is the reality of the situation that I only hav…

More on laces

My last attempt to get a pair of shoe laces were met with some difficulties. It was, therefore, a source of distress to find that both of them broke, one after the other, in the same shoe, in a little more than a week; Timpson’s have fallen of my Christmas card list as a result. So I then tried a second set. Four shoe shops before I finally found a set. These have now broken also. So, today, I went out again. Schuh had only one pair for boots (thick as a phone cable, long enough to garotte an elephant) and one pair for formal wear (2 individual strands of polyester, topped with a bit of plastic). Clarks had only brown laces. The guy in John Lewis’ shoe department said "well, I’d expect them to be around here". An older and wiser member of staff directed me do…

Hugh Cornwell

Never seen him live, so thought, why not. Basically, he was okay. He has a substantial back catalogue, and is a powerful songwriter. But ultimately, he’s not a great performer. He’s witty and engaging, but neither his singing or guitar-playing is particularly fantastic. I found myself waiting for one of the big hits, and then being slightly disappointed by it; Golden Brown is needs more than a strummed acoustic. Originally published on my old blog site.

For a friend

I’ve known Ade Wolfson for about 16 years now. In that time, he has been a good friend, a good colleague and a source of endless humour. Last week, he died. The facts of his death are a matter of public record: he killed himself, shortly after being charged with committing a sex act in front of a child. As I think about these facts again, that I have turned over in my mind many times, they still seem as strange and bizarre as the first time. I met Ade while at University (or just shortly after). We worked together for a small charity, looking after children, providing them with a holiday, when they were unlikely to get another. Neither of us did this work out a sense of do-gooderism. For myself, I never really liked children that much, but I enjoyed the domesticity of running a h…


I’ve been an avid user of fusesmb for a while. I found it to be very good, but a little hard to set up. For no readily apparent reason, it has stopped working for me. So, now I am trying out sshfs instead. This worked better than fusesmb anyway — in particular directory listing was much quicker which was a real problem with fusesmb. However, I had a major problem which was that rsync did not work to a sshfs mounted directory. I got a wierd error about file renaming. This was a hassle — I use rsync quite a lot. In particular the —delete option is great for websites which I develop in one place, and publish to another. Anyway, I found the solution today. Delightfully, it is this. Instead of mounting with sshfs, you add a new option to get sshfs -o workaround=rename…


I’ve been looking through the stats created by workrave. I’m slightly surprised to find that I make between 16 and 45,000 keystrokes per day (on my desktop at work — more if I include home). And around half a kilometre of mouse movement. That’s a lot. Originally published on my old blog site.

Out of this world

I’d been saddended earlier by the closure of my local hippie-veggie shop, "OutOfThisWorld". I was rather surprised therefore to walk into one in Beeston, Nottigham at the weekend. It turns out that the both this branch and the one in Leeds were bought by their managers from the parent company. Good stuff! Hope that they do well. With any luck, they might expand. Newcastke might be a good place to go, as they are in need of a new hippie-veggie shop I hear. Originally published on my old blog site.


I was most entertained my Lord Falconers technically illiterate idea: that online news resources should remove prejudicial information about individuals during trials. Pretty stupid idea. Apart from the technically difficult task of working out when a web page is about a particular individual, it seems to ignore the reality of the internet — that’s is a global resource and British law does not affect it all. Asides from aggregator and archiving sites like, which would have to remove, and then reinstate potentially thousands of websites per day. Suggesting that we pass new rules, attempting to put the genie back in the bottle, lacks any sense at all. Perhaps not a surprise from a judge. Originally published on my old blog site.


I’ve been getting some needling recently for my grammar, spelling and composition, at least on these pages. There is clearly some justification for it. I normally have a relatively high standard for these things and, yet, these blog pages do fall below these standards. Ultimately, the means of communication do affect how we behave; the blog feels more conversational, less formal. I tend to write this stuff out once, and rarely even proof-read it. I shall think on this; my worry is that if I spend time improving the presentation, I might just not write anything at all. But then, if a jobs worth doing… Originally published on my old blog site.

Data Sharing in Neurosciences

There was much amusement in the CARMEN project today. The journal Neuroinformatics published what looked like an interesting article on data sharing. Sadly, however, no one has been able to read it; it’s a Springer article and none of us can read it because it’s closed access and $32 to look at. A strange and ironic reflection on the state of data sharing. Perhaps, is what the paper says. Data is Mine! Addendum Immediately after posting this, I started writing some lecture notes. I have so far copied images of Northerns, Westerns and several kinds of immunofluorescence straight of the web, all legal, all thanks to the wonders of PLoS. It’s even easy to attribute them because they have given all of the figures individual DOIs. Working in neuroinformatics is interesting …