Pandora's Box

Did my taxes this evening. Turns out not to be that hard as it happens, although I was ably assisted by Mike Aird — I mention him, because the last time I put him up a friend of his got in contact as a result. Tax forms in the UK are a right bugger, although easier than many places I believe. I’ve realised that doing the work was a mistake though; filling in the forms costs more than what you gain. Spent the rest of the time waffling on about the power of the internet. I heard Erin McKeown’s "Fast as I can" the other day, randomly, and was struck by the beautiful use of inverted word order, leaving the whole thing with a real spacy feal. I heard it at work, then forgot who did it, but 20 minutes of determined work with the internet got me the artist, a short …

Annoyingly Visible

Just listening to Radio 4 and getting a bit annoyed. A few weeks ago, there was a daft story about invisibility cloaks. Look, I am sure that it works really well, and potentially it’s going to have major technological applications. But it only works with one wave length. In what sense is this invisibility? Have we really reached the stage, where scientific reporting is based purely on how many inappropriate cultural references we can throw in? I like Harry Potter, but this is really starting to put me off. Originally published on my old blog site.

Schizophrenia as a use case

At a workshop in NESC, looking at data integration in the Neurosciences. Very interesting talk from Maryann Martone. She showed a slightly depressing slide describing the aims of the various eScience projects which is basically interchangable between all projects — data heterogeneity, distribution, autonomy. Like other medical research projects that I have heard off, they spent nearly three years getting the data through the various ethical approval committees before they could even think about hosting the data. The requirement for anonymity is important, of course, but the cost is enormous. It’s a pity that this effort can’t be shared for different projects. Neurobase presented an interesting architecture which looks very like ComparaGRID — they have a set of wr…

Casino Royale

A new James Bond has happened. Hard to have avoided this with vast amounts of plugging going on; the BBC News appeared to turn into the advertising wing of the Bond machine for a week. Went to see the film in the Vue cinema in Worcester. Fairly horrible place, lets be frank. When you come in through the door, you are assaulted by a wave of fat smells from the popcorn and ice cream. The foyer is actually quite tatty now, despite the fact that it’s relatively new. An initial feeling of relief, sitting comfortably in the cinema seats (the Vue has got this bit right), is soon blown away by the assault of the 30 minute pre-film advertising and "Copyright is theft" propaganda. Finally, the film starts. Sadly the advertising doesn’t. James Bond driving his Form, using his…

Crash on the A1

I drove passed a crash on the A1 yesterday. One car was facing in the wrong direction along side the central reservation. It’s pretty depressing really. Everyone was very measured about it, with all the traffic slowing down and moving passed in an organised way; this was before the police had got there. But no one stopped. Once one person has done it, we all follow along, without any though of even offering help to those in distress. It’s a sad reflection on the isolation of modern life, sitting in steal boxes. Still, the road afterwards was really clear for quite a few miles, so it’s not all bad. Originally published on my old blog site.

Fat Men Dancing, Goodbye Lenin

What a weekend of culture! Simon and Rina came up from Friday, with the plan of going to see something called "Cairo Nights" or the Farha Tour (I was quite sure of the relationship between the two names). Basically, an evening of belly dancing. Rina’s idea and I’m game for anything. There were some delays on the way (Simon and Rina got stuck on the road, and I walked round in circles for a bit, as I’d not been to Northumbria Students Union before), so we got there a bit late. Rather disappointingly, instead of belly dancing when we arrived, there was a fat guy with a belt-line over his belly button and finger cymbals on stage; clearly, Newcastle is the place for middle-aged, post-op, transexual belly-dancers, I thought. The rest of the evening was pretty goo…

Spicy Tofu in Pitta

Did a Spicy Tofu in Pitta as Simon and Rina were coming up. I thought they might be late, and we’d be in a hurry (they were, we were), so I wanted something easy to eat of the move. This is incredible simple. I cut the tofu into blocks about 1cm x 1cm x 2cm. This goes into a frying pan with some rice vinegar, soy, and chilli sauce. This is all fried in, on a low heat for, well as long as you can be bothered to wait. Within reason, the longer the better, but an hour is a reasonable time. This is then served in pitta with salad. I added some felalal as wel, as I had it in the freezer. We only had time for a quick bite each. However, we left the gig at 11 and the curse of Newcastle hit us, with all the food places closed and we scoffed the rest when we got back. Originally published …


Been watching season two of teachers. Entertaining, funny, slightly bizarre and with lots of jokes about sex. Hardly a surprise it was such a success, although I never even heard about it at the time it came out. Not sure watching a programme about a bunch of malcontent, alcholic obsessives worried about the pointlessness of their own lifes was such a great idea though, not at the weekend anyway. Originally published on my old blog site.

Calendar move

For the life of me, I can’t get google calendar to use the correct reply-to address when sending calendar events. This is a pain. Once you let an alternative email out there, people will start using it whether you want them to or not. Nothing ever works exactly as planned. Originally published on my old blog site.

Calendar move

Well, the calendar move seems to have gone okay. I have a slightly baroque mechanism set up. Pulling down the ical files from google every night should give me offline access, in a read-only way using sunbird. I’ve then got an export caledar in sunbird which, by hook or crook, will eventually work it’s way back to my website, from where google can pick it up. Then I can copy it to my main calendar and, finally, delete it when it works it way back to sunbird. I was going to give Calgoo a go, but I didn’t like the look of their license. Originally published on my old blog site.