Mothers Day

My mother was very understanding about me forgetting Mothers day again. It’s not true that I always forget, but it’s not the first time. I even saw the scrum last night in the supermarket, with people buying flowers. This morning? Not a memory of it. Originally published on my old blog site.

The Falklands

I just listened to the archive hour on radio 4. It’s an odd programme: sometimes it’s dreadful ("in 1950 there was some obscure entertainer on the radio who was dull then and is worse now"); sometimes it’s excellent. Today it was about the Falklands invasion with recordings of the Island radio. The Falklands conflict was as enormous political event of my childhood, and I have many conflicting feelings about it. But the invasion itself involves a civilian population, with a few soldiers, at the end of military invasion they could not hope to stop. The archive hour described the events in a simple and straightforward manner, leaving the drama of the recordings to tell the story. The broadcaster showed extraordinary bravery, speaking to his children, then hoping…


In the shop today, I noticed that they had some frozen soy beans. So, I thought I would give them a go. I’ve always been a fan of edamame that you get in Japanese food shops, so I decided to try and replicate it. Sort of. The beans were not in pods and I don’t have a steamer. In the end, I boiled them with some fresh garlic that I had, strained, the water of, tossed them with chilli olive oil and soy sauce (heat and salt), strained the excess and eat them. Nice actually. Needed a bit more than the 4 minutes simmer the packet said, so I ended up giving them a quick microwave. Not bad, although not exactly refined. I need to work on this one. The rest of the mean was dry, curried tofu and chickpeas, a spinach curry and rice. Done this many times before. I need to do it more of…

Everything Up

Took rather a lot of messing around, but I should have an "Everything" page now. The problem was that people kept saying I never posted anything. In reality, it’s because the posts were split among four feeds. So, now, there are five! As it happens, this is was a good thing. I use muse to generate these pages, but I’ve had to hack it a bit to split the files up — I want to maintain a single source file but then generate out a one per month chunk of HTML. Muse is quite clever; it works out whether output files are out of date, but assumes that there is only a single file. I’d hacked the code so that it checked all the output files. This never worked well, so I’ve removed it. Things seem to work better now and there are less changes between the publ…


Part of the infrastructure at Newcastle moved over to the Shibboleth provided by SDSS, at least as far I can tell from the login screen. It’s fabulous. The idea is to provide a federated login so that, at least as far as I can tell, login information is managed at a single point, and allows authorisation at multiple institutions. All of this sounds like a good thing, but they’ve actually managed to achieve the notable success of making logins harder than it was before. In the past, I would go to a URL like, which is our coursework system, be presented with a login screen, which would login me into the system. Nowadays, I get take to a screen like this: The purpose of this form is to let me tell the browser to go back to the system that I asked it to…

Foundational Ontology

Prompted by Matt Pocock, I’ve just had a look at the basic foundational ontology. I have to admit to have been left feeling very confused. SpatialRegion have to be either a Zero, One, Two or ThreeDimensionalRegion which seems to preclude other dimensions. They are suggested to be immobile, but I can’t see that this has any meaning. Also, SpatiotemporalRegion is a sibling of TemporalRegion, but not SpatialRegion (they share a common grandparent) and all three are disjoint from each other. More reading is required, I guess. Unforunately, the documentation seems a bit long. The BFO in a nutshell document is 37 pages in total. Originally published on my old blog site.

Firefox irritations

When it first came out, session management was put forward as a feature, but I am starting to think that the inability to turn the damn thing off is actually a bug. If you turn the OS off, with firefox still running, then it thinks there has been a crash, and offers to open all your pages again which I never want — if I have turned the machine off I am unlikely to remember which pages I had open. If there has been a crash, then having Firefox open all the pages again, one of which made it crash last time, seems like insanity. Originally published on my old blog site.

More pandora obsessive behaviour

Jolie Holland’s latest recording has been hitting pandora recently. When she was in the Be Good Tanyas, I used to find her strange, wandering phrasing curious, but on Springtime Can Kill You, it’s compulsive listening. She seems to wander through her lyrics, producing music which is melancholic and lazy. Mexican Blue stands out for me; the lyric is elegant and personal, and melody simple, and the orchestration minimal. It’s unclear what makes this song so compelling but it’s there no the less. It’s turning my into an obsessive. I must have listened to it 20 times in the last two days — more if I include the times when I was working the chords out. Pandora is bad for your health. Originally published on my old blog site.

Installing Acrobat

Acrobat is a highly irritating application. It always tryies to be smart-ass and does far too much. Today, just trying to download it failed. The adobe site insists on using a download manager, which was just crashing. Eventually, I managed to get the metadata file that the download manger uses — embedded in this was a URL. 10 seconds later, download complete. Adobe, sort your life out. I just want to read a document. How hard can that be? Originally published on my old blog site.

Jess Klein and Chris Knight

This was the first time I have been to the Cluny. It’s a good venue, being a converted warehouse. The main pub section is open, but warm in feel, although having so much brick around is a bit noisy. The food was good, although as I’d already eaten well at lunch it was overly large. As I’ve said previously, I first heard of Jess Klein on pandora, and was lucky enough to see her tonight just a few weeks later. Dressed in black, set against the light, she seems small and vulnerable on stage; the effect accenutated by her guitar, a Gibson J200 I think, which is huge; the soundbox dwarfing it’s owner. Her music, however, belies this image. Although, some of her songs are quiet and gentle, quite a most of them are belted out, her vocals strong and clear, the guitar str…