Calendars

I’ve been using Planner mode for the last few months, to keep track of appointments. I like it because it integrates well with Emacs, which is my main environment. But I’ve decided it just doesn’t cut the mustard. It lacks two main things. Firstly, it can’t do ICAL based mail negotiation of meetings. Secondly, it lacks a nice overviewer. I developed something which addresses the latter, but it’s not enough. So I keep on missing early meetings, because I didn’t see them coming up the day before. In the end, I’ve decided to go for Google calendar. It generally integrates nicely with mail, although I’ll have to check my gmail account periodically, which is a pain as I don’t use it for anything else. The AJAX interface of the calendar is…

Ontogensis

Well, I was a little bit worried about my talk, as the last time I tried it, it wasn’t that good. But in the end, it went reasonably well, which was nice. The Ontogenesis meeting was a good meeting — and only partly because I was enjoying doing research so much. There was lots of discussion on the softer aspects of ontology building. What metadata do we store about ontologies, how do we get information about of domain scientists and so on. One slightly embarrasing thing happened — Andy Gibson refered to my talk during his, and then asked me a question about it. But I hadn’t been listening, having written email most of the way through his talk. I have a good excuse: first, I’d trieda to rearrange the timetable and that had gone horribly wrong, as none of the…

Ontogenesis

I’m being let out of teaching for a few days to go to a meeting entitled "Ontogenesis", which is about ontology building as far as I can see. I’m greatly looking forward to it, although being stuffed up in buffet car of an overpacked, overheated London train is not ideal. I’m going to talk about what appear to be the differences between neuroscience and biology in terms of ontology building — I’m basing the talk on ignorance and supposition as I hadn’t been doing this for long enough to know better. I trialled the talk on Friday. It wasn’t very good. I should be working on it now, but the train is too horrible to concentrate on anything serious. Originally published on my old blog site.

Pasta and Friends

Last weekend, I went to Tesco’s. Unusual for me, as it’s some way off, although the food range is better than the local Asda, which is enourmous, but full of rubbish. Supermarket shopping on saturday is strangely relaxing — the environment and general experience is so horrible that they only way I can cope is to let my brain switch off as much as possible and wander around in a meditative daze. I spent 15 minutes trying to find soap — I’d assumed it was with detergent, but actually it was next to the dental floss. I also noticed that the pasta isle has been renamed to "Italian Meal Solutions". Very strange. This weekend, one of my oldest (or should I say longest) friends, Phil, came up. In the end, we watched some vids and drank some beer. Actuall…

Motorcycle Diaries

The motorcycles diaries is the film of Ernesto Che Guevara’s travels through South America. The story moves from it humerous and engaging beginning to its poigniant and moving finale. The film is wonderfully acted, beautifully scored and delicatly directed; it’s filmed against astounding geography and a historical background more stunning still. I’ve spent too long recently re-reading, re-watching. Who could wish for better than the Motorcycle Diaries to break this habit. Originally published on my old blog site.

All Hands 2

Finally got back from All Hands. Could have done without the meeting really, as it’s left me very tight for the beginning of term and a BBSRC grant deadline. Was a good meeting though. There was an interesting talk on a ontology of units of measurement — perhaps not exciting but everyone needs it. Peter Buneman gave a talk on why annotation is hard. His conclusion — that you need a reliable identifier system — seems fair, although problematic; reliable identifers have been discussed before, but they require coordination and probably centralisation. While I don’t hold entirely with the "404 is a feature not a bug" argument, it is true that requiring this form of centralisation brings with it many disadvantages. Ah, term start; bang goes any chance …

Dying for TV

Ironic, really, that two TV presenters should have been seriously injured or killed while filming, namely Steve Irwin and Richard Hammond; one killed by a stringray, the other by driving too fast. The coverage of both has been rather irritating. The media has got increasingly solipsistic these days and likes talking about themselves. Personally, I didn’t like either of them as programme makers, both pushing style over substance, both somewhat puerile. Despite their similarities, however, there are differences. Steve Irwin made his programmes to highlight the animals he appeared to love in face of the risks to their existence, the loss of which would make the world immeasurably poorer. Richard Hammond appears on a programme about driving fast. Originally published on my old blog si…

All Hands

At All Hands Meeting in Nottingham. It’s changed over the years from a very poor conference when no one had anyhthing to talk about to something more reasonable. Already had a couple of interesting discussions, one of which might help with getting a statistical ontology together for CARMEN. The talks have been okay, although of widely different quality from the interesting to the inconsequential. One of the big changes this year is that people are spending much more time talking about their science rather than the technology which was used to achieve this. A very good thing, to my mind. It’s important that this work be kepts grounded and if projects can’t get someone to talk about the science then I think that there are problems. Also, you get to hear about some new ar…

Free as in Rubbish

Read a very bad article on the BBC website about free security software. Very bad because it suggests that people using free security software, may be using software which doesn’t do the job, failing to stop many attacks or even importing trojans. All, of course, entirely true, but providing the entirely false impression that software you paid for is going to do any better. Security software is like insurance — you don’t know if it’s any good, until you get in trouble. Actually, it’s even worse with than insurance; when you crash your car, they might actually pay up. With security software, by the time you find that it’s rubbish your machine has been trashed. However are you to purchase wisely, when you have no ability to judge, and where all the &quo…

Reading Trash Fantasy

Read one of the Thraxas novels at the weekend. I’ll say up front that they are good novels — funny, well-plotted, slightly bizarre — but they are not as good as Martin Millar‘s main novels which he seems to have stopped writing. A great pity. Why was I reading this though? I’ve read them before, so there is nothing new to gain. I think that there are two reasons. Firstly, I seem some of Thraxas in myself. He’s surrounded my amazing happenings, but can only rarely see it. My job is a bit like this. Looking back on the research I have done, and the changes that have happened in my life time is stunning. Like everything, in collapses into mundanity while you are actually doing it. The second reason is that I was fairly tired and hadn’t slept well. …