British Neuroscience Meeting

Yeah, this isn’t an April fool. It’s Sunday, and I am working. Today is the kick-off meeting for the CARMEN project, and tomorrow we move into the British Neurosciences Association meeting. I’ve never been to a neurosciences meeting so I am looking forward to it. We’ve spent the last few days getting a demo working for it, which has been fairly stressful — as demos tend to be — but we got it working in the end. One of the recurrent themes, that I’ve heard before within CARMEN, is that people are more than willing to give us their data; if so, it will run counter of many of my expectations. In general, getting anyone to provide data and sane metadata is a hard task; I really hope this works straight-forwardly within CARMEN, and that I am proved w…

Swan Hotel

Staying in the Swan Hotel last night in Harrogate. Temperature was a bit hot but an open windows cooled it down okay. The rooms are really quite small — the bathroom is particularly strange. The loo is hidden at the far end, with a wall in the way which has means that to get to the loo I actually have to walk through the gap sideways. A bigger person might not actually fit. Originally published on my old blog site.

I hate power supplies

Just got home. Tomorrow, I am going to Edinburgh, but I’ve left my laptop power supply at work. I’m not going to pick it up and get the train at 7:30. Pretty pathetic really. Why do laptops all have different power requirements? I can see varying voltage requirements, but all the different shapes and sizes? At the end, this variety is not for any good reason, but for an economic imperative. Vendor lock-in, to the direct deteriment of the user. Going to be interesting doing a workshop laptop-free for the first time in ages. I’m falling back to old technology — pen and paper. Originally published on my old blog site.

Devon Sproule

Went to see the wonderously named Devon Sproule last night at the Cumberland Arms. The venue was wonderful; an old fashioned boozer, comfortable, with an open fire and an equally open view over the post-industrial view of the Tyne, nestled in the less than salubrious surroundings of the Byker Bridge: the pub predates the bridge, it seems. The gig room is small, closed and deeply personal, painted in red and wood. My legs were cramped for the whole time, because if I stretched out I would have kicked the stage mic stand over. It suited Devon Sproule down to the ground. The gig was gentle, intense and personal. Her music is lyrical, her guitar fluent and her voice delicate; there’s a slight tendancy toward being little girlish, but it wasn’t overwhelming. In the second half, s…


Busy weekend! I watched Gattaca last night also. I have to say, that I was unimpressed. The story was contrived, unbelievable and with a cheesy "human nature conquers all" happy ending. The design and direction was quite interesting, lots of angles, single colour-washed shots, with 50s or 60s stylism everywhere, except that it’s all been done before from Brazil onwards. The film has a big message hidden within it — hidden in the sense of crassly stamped over the entire enterprise, with a sense of moral self-importance rarely seen outside of Star Trek. Music’s good though. Originally published on my old blog site.

Life is Beautiful

Finally finished Life is Beautiful last night, which I started last weekend, and have on rent from Amazon for nearly a month. Very strange film; how did anyone come up with a slapstick holocaust film? It was wonderfully acted, funny and adept. The story is compelling, sad and, of course, beautiful. I found the second section rather disquieting. The concentration camp was basically clean, the inmates reasonably well-fed. Just occasionally, the gas chambers and slag heaps were thrown into your face. I didn’t find it exploitative at all, though. So, perhaps, the disquiet comes from the subject matter. I guess, bringing humour to the holocaust allows the audience to think of it afresh. Originally published on my old blog site.

Thea Gilmore and Erin McKeown

Saw Thea Gilmore and Erin McKeown in the Sage, hall 2 on Friday. We were sitting in the seats which seats behind the stage — strange, but I quite like it there, because you are very close and can hear the sound outside of the amps. Apparently these seats are renowned amoung performers, for giving the audience a good view of their backsides; it’s not actually true, as the angle is too acute. The evening was truely excellent. I’ve never seen Erin McKeown before, but she is well worth seeing. She’s a much better guitarist than I had gathered from her recordings, and has a fine pair of lungs also. Thea Gilmore, on the other hand, I have seen before. The last gig, I remember, was wonderfully well but together, with strong, lyrical songs. All this was still present but…


Having a wonderful time at the 2nd Ontogenesis meeting. I’ve just escaped from teaching for the year, and have managed to fill my diary for the next two weeks with research. There’s been a large amount of discussion about ontology building. The practical upshot of this is that the two most important tools are the phone and the plane. It’s all about talking to people. We need more and better tools for allowing collaboration on ontologies; we need easy to use interfaces which encourage people to make small contributions, while remaining formality. We need to make better use of the internet — skype has turned out to be a boon, but it’s telecon capabilities are poor. Best of all, we need to be able to put our feet up, share a coffee, beer and scrap paper withou…

Wild Error messages

Was particularly pleased to get the following error today: I would have been somewhat less pleased if it had happened the next time I rebooted but, fortunately, it all sorted itself out. Originally published on my old blog site.

Silly Ideas

A first for me today. I have had an ongoing Silly Ideas wiki running for sometime, but someone finally tried one of them today, namely by Portable Music idea. Perhaps this will spur me on, as I haven’t written up a silly idea for ages. Originally published on my old blog site.