New Year

Well, back in one piece and in Newcastle. The Claremont Tower is cold and dull. I have 300+ emails. I think I want to go back. Originally published on my old blog site.


I’m travelling today; got to Birmingham airport rather too early. Had the traditional bucket of coffee and slightly stale croissant from Costa coffee (forgot to ask for a small coffee; where do you get a stale croissant from at 6 in the morning?). As soon as I got through security, they decided to evacuate us from the depature lounge, and then let us back in again before we were out of the door. Still, I managed to add to my Silly Ideas wiki for the first time in ages, so all is not lost. Originally published on my old blog site.

Vista and Picasa

Trying to help my dad out with his computer. I’ve come to the conclusion that Vista is a pig. It’s slow as treacle, unless you turn off all the 3D nonsense which frankly doesn’t do much anyway. It’s not very stable. Norton anti-virus refused to identify itself to uninstall; when I finally worked it out, the uninstall took for ever. Eventually I had to reboot; it turned out to be because it was waiting for input from me from a dialog underneath the "uninstalling" progress bar. And I could not get it sharing files despite my best attempts. The only nice thing — it knew the name of my router and opened up a browser to automatically. Picasa is also a pig. The UI is slow, the scrolling uncontrollable. I want to add captions and place…

Pan's Labyrinth

Been a long time since I have written anything here. I have been out since October, but I guess I’ve just been busy. Pan’s Labyrinth is a remarkable film, with the only negative point that I suspect the rest of the Christmas fayre will be downhill from here. The story manages to mix a fairytale with the real world story of life under fascism. The two stories intertwine in a way which is a benefit to both. The imagery of the fantasy part are deft and visually stunning. The violence, pain and bravery of the real-world wonderfully acted and moving. Topped of with a beautiful score, the film couldn’t have been bettered. Originally published on my old blog site.


Just got a new Plantronics Discovery 510 — this is a bluetooth earpiece that I thought would be good for travelling; no wires to get broken and tangled up in my bag. This is the third device I recieved from Plantronics. The first two, Discovery 340 I think, were both broken. I think it was a systemic fault in the manufacture as they both failed in exactly the same way, during pairing. The 510 is a nicer device (sold at three times the price so that’s not surprising). The main advantage, however, is that it actually works which is a relief. The sound quality is not that great though. I guess most people are using this over a mobile where you wouldn’t notice, while the drop from normal skype quality is clear. Still, it will be useful, so long as it doesn’t break. M…

Christmas Parties

Amasingly I have nearly got to Christmas with no parties. I’ve missed everyone, two to being away at the FuGE workshop, or in Nancy. The last I missed because I have spent the last few days culturing bacteria in my throat, a traditional occupation at this time of year. Originally published on my old blog site.


In Manchester for a FuGE workshop. It’s a bit surprising actually, but half of Newcastle seems to have decamped down here. So far the discussions have been deep and intense; we established early on that it’s pronounced "fugue". Everyone has ignored this and carried on pronouncing it how they started off. Personally I am fond of "fug-ee". The University is a building site; I did see a patch of grass on the way from the station, but a guy with a theodolite was eyeing it up. The hideous maths tower is now a distant memory to be replaced by the scan building. This has been lovingly architected to evoke images of a gasometer. It’s hideous. Manchester seems much the same as before with a few shops gone, a few more appeared. Next to the stationary shop in …


I’ve just given my laptop a good clean out, in particular removing services I don’t use. Killing Zone Alarm and VMWare has together had a massive impact. Previously, the boot took about one and a half minutes, and then after login there was another two minutes before I could actually use the system. The boot is about the same time, but I can use the system in 5 seconds now. Makes a big difference at a conference, where you hibernate and wake a lot. Originally published on my old blog site.

Flip side of the Coin

Well, now the flip side of the coin. Eurostar is late; first their excuse was mechanical failure, then security issues. Standard sort of nonsense that travel companies give. The last train for Newcastle leaves in 1 hour and I’m still in France. So, looks like a night in London, and guess the hotel is going to come out of my budget. I was kind of hoping to sleep in my own bed tonight as well. 21:00 Got it in the end, by about 1 minute. The run almost killed me though. Originally published on my old blog site.

Social Events

Last night we had the conference social, which involved a trip to the museum. I grabbed a croissant and apple turnover on the way which was fortunate; I was very hungry by the end. The Musee Lorraine is not huge, but well kept with a nice garden the middle. There were two tours on offer: the permanent collection and a temporary exhibition on glass. The tour guide was using English for the first time on a tour; she lost some words, accented others and was occasionally confusing, but was so enthusiastic, excited and expressive she more than made up for it. The exhibition was small, but good, showing the changes in glass from Roman times to the last century and, in parallel, some of the processes involved in glass manufacture. Stopped off for (more) Italian food on the way home; the starte…