From June 2004

Apple

If you follow techy type news then you’ll have undoubtedly heard of the latest offering from Apple. Its amazing how they keep managing to churn out beautifully designed products which are true to both form and function. Everything about them just works perfectly together on both the hardware and software sides which seamlessly merge to form something which “just works”. A perfect example of this would be their new “Cinema Display” screens which are so understated yet perfect in just about every way possible. Apple’s main stumbling block from what I can see is their price and user apathy. If their products were a little cheaper and marketed a little heavier then I’m sure they could take a sizable bite out of our friends in Redmond. We’re beginning to see this with iTunes and the iPod which are rulers in their class by a long shot. Now all they need to do is extend this fame to the rest of their products which are just as deserving of praise!

Seeing Double

Today I started work for the summer. All went well and I’m especially pleased not to have to be doing any formal logic/grammar/etc for a long while! After I got home I mowed the lawn (which was looking more like a meadow before hand) and then had tea. After that I had a play with setting up a dual screen system on my Linux box. It was actually surprisingly easy and only simple modifications were needed to the “Screen” section of my xorg.conf file as below:

Option “TwinView” “true”
Option “TwinViewOrientation” “RightOf”
Option “MetaModes” “1024×768,1024×768”

N.B. This will only work for newer Nvidia graphics cards (using the official drivers), different options will be needed for other makes.

Dual Screen

I also picked up my new sunglasses at lunchtime, even though they were only cheap (as far as prescription ones go anyway) I’m pretty pleased with them. Apparently I look like ‘Agent Smith‘ in them, I’m not convinced though, my glasses aren’t nearly as cool as his!

Shades

Remember – “There is no spoon”, not if your a psychotic computer program anyway.

In Tune (?)

Today marked the release of my sisters first choral album. OK, so it isn’t exclusively hers but she’s is the choir! What really sets this little number apart from your general church type music is the title which is just sensationally good – “In Tune with Heaven”. Whoever thought that one up must have graduated from the school of cheese!

In Tune

Its been produced by “Lammas Records” and can be ordered off their website. Go buy it now! If you’re not convinced you can listen to the first track here (Blest Pair of Sirens by Hubert Parry – 9.8mb). There are 17 tracks in all on the CD and overall its not bad.

In Tune

My sister is on the top row of girls right in the middle, I was going to include a bigger picture but I think she might kill me if I did!

Btw… I’m back in Norwich now for the summer. The server move seemed to go OK, please drop me a note if you notice anything astray!

Year Three

2 down, 1 to go – Another year of University draws to a close and yet I barely feel like I’ve started yet, it seems that as you get older time moves faster! Today I registered for the modules which I’ll take next year. I’m actually technically changing from doing a pure ‘Computer Science’ degree to ‘Software Engineering’, mainly because SE is more interesting and involves less formal maths than CS. If you’re interested the modules I’ve chosen are as follows:

  • Advanced Software Engineering (Double)
  • Advanced Software Applications and Methods
  • Project Management
  • Software Engineering Project (Double)

Luckily with these modules there’s a much higher coursework content than in the last two years which to my mind is infinitely preferable!

Registered

For those in the know today marks the final stable release of ‘Slackware 10‘, get ISO bit-torrents here. I’ll probably be installing it either tomorrow or over the weekend time permitting. It a shame it doesn’t come with the newer 2.6 kernel as default but it is included as a test package for those with the inclination. I’ve been running it since the beginning of the year and have found it to be and excellent upgrade, its just as stable and even faster than 2.4 so it hopefully won’t be long until it goes mainstream. Take a look here for an interesting potted history of Slackware.

That’s all for now, I’m off home for the summer on Saturday so the web site may experience a short period of down-time around then but I plan to transfer the whole thing over to the Norwich server as a back-up while that happens.

Ju-On – The Grudge

“JU-ON: a curse born of a grudge held by someone who dies in the grip of powerful anger. It gathers in the places frequented by that person in life, working its spell on those who come into contact with it and thus creating itself anew.”

The Grudge

If you’ve ever had a nightmare where you were trying to run away from something but couldn’t because your whole body seemed to be frozen then you’ll know where I’m coming from on this one. Having just watched the Japanese film ‘Ju-On – The Grudge’ you’re left with an odd sense of calm after the hour-and-a-half of unnerving images which you can’t help but pay attention to.

The Grudge

This ones got everything – scary kids, demonic cats, heavy breathing, things crawling around in the loft, psychotic school-girls, deranged social service workers, traumatized policemen and enough dead bodies to impress Arnold Schwarzenegger! Unfortunately its almost too much and the story has been somewhat sacrificed in the race to squeeze everything in.

The Grudge

The story episodically follows the interconnected tales Rika, Katsuya, Hitomi, Toyama, Izumi and Kayako and as if they weren’t enough there’s about half-a-dozen other supporting actors to contend with. Character development is short-and-sweet but it does the job as you are slowly led deeper and deeper into the manic world in which they find themselves.

The Grudge

You’d probably put this in the ‘haunted-house’ class of horror films but it doesn’t follow the traditional formula and is surprisingly refreshing. Tension is built by the fear of what is caught in the corner of the eye and the sounds coming from around the corner. Its when whats hiding in the corner comes out that the fun really begins! This is truly a creepy and memorable film which doesn’t overdo the gore or special effects and provides a nice balance of scary bits with story exposition.

The Grudge

‘Ju-On – The Grudge’ is really a remake of a former low-budget TV movie (‘Ju-On’) made by the same director. Having not seen the original I can’t comment on which is better, but word has it that the former is by far the better. Once I’ve got my hands on it I’ll let you know! For a more in-depth review take a look here7/10.

24-7 Living

Went into Newcastle yesterday for a couple of things and was struck by – a) the abundance of small shops with ironic names, and b) the rate of urban renewal taking place just about everywhere.

Old Building
Exhibit A. The imprint of an old building juxtaposed against a modern horror.

New buildings are springing up all over the place, mainly being of the expensive penthouse variety. Meanwhile the Starbucks/Subway/O’Brien’s of this world are moving in on their prey to conquer the high-street (N.B. if anyone knows could you tell me what actually delineates an Irish sandwich from any other sandwich?). It’s a sad state of affairs really.

Happy Travel
Exhibit B. Happy Travel – supporting “European Car Free Day”!

There is still room for the local retailer but week-by-week, day-by-day they slowly disappear and are replaced by generics (my new phrase for American-owned chains). I guess if we took it to extremes there would no longer be any need to ever visit different cities etc because they’d all be the same!

Space
Exhibit C. Space. Lots of it.

I guess Newcastle wasn’t ready for the likes of ‘Space’, a rather swish interior design outlet. To my mind the name was a self-fulfilling prophesy as today thats all it is! Perhaps they should have re-located to the new “Baltic Quay” development just down the road, purpose built for trendy young people with too much money. The literature on their web-site cracks me up, e.g.:

“With a trend toward people wanting to live and socialise in the same area, Baltic Quay provides a cosmopolitan approach to 24-7 living with a residential complex complemented by an exclusive mix of bars, cafes, restaurants and a late night multi entertainment venue all within one space.”

Do these people ever sleep? I watched some program on TV a while back where they predicted in the future we won’t have to sleep because we’ll be able to take some pill which does pretty much the same thing. I can’t think of anything worse.

Fan Films

What happens when you take a bunch of hardcore Trek fans and too much spare time? You go and recreate the original series, only with worse acting and some questionable special effects – obvious really! Fans never fail to amaze me with their devotion to a particular film/tv series. For a production studio a cult following is the best they can ever hope for as we’ve seen with the likes of Star Wars, The Matrix, The X Files and so on. Fan films are rife on the net – most are unfortunately pretty terrible but therein lies their entertainment value. Hit the pic below if you feel so inclined!

Star Trek

At heart I’m a bit of a gadget freak. I love cool stuff which looks good and does something useful – my Apple PowerBook G4 12 would be a perfect example of this – how do they manage to pack so much functionality into such a small form factor? When it comes to mobile phones mine is now a little dated (its a Samsung A300) but it still does the basic job it was designed for although it suffered a nasty bang last summer and has a crack down the front screen. I was having a little look at new ones yesterday and am very tempted by the Sony-Ericsson T630 – its got a nice 65,536 colors TFT screen, a camera and bluetooth wireless capabilities (handy for talking to the PB).

Sony Mobile

Maybe I’m a sucker for expensive consumer electronics but the thought of being able to blog on-the-go as it were is appealing? If you’ve had any experience of using this phone please comment! If you’re into gadgets then you may like to check out gizmodo.com.

Overlooked

Its been a fairly quiet day – I got up late this morning and did a bit of work on my project till mid afternoon then went for a short walk over to the other side of Durham.

Tree

I got a couple of nice photos overlooking the city though the sun was in a bit of an awkward position so it was difficult to avoid lens flair.

View

Time for a quick rant – what is it with the current trend for extremely tacky looking England flags hanging off the side of peoples cars right now?? I understand the whole Euro 2004 business but a) we’re in England and hence its fairly safe to assume that the majority of people will be supporting England so what are you trying to prove with them? b) the old ‘patiotism’ argument just doesn’t wash any more because there isn’t much left to be patriotic about (especially not as far as football and it’s supporters are concerned). It all stinks of Chav scum to me! (If you have no idea what a ‘Chav’ is then click the link). If I’m wrong then tell me!

Progression

With the publication of the yearly module pass lists this morning I was preparing myself for the worst, especially when it came to logic/formal grammars. Somehow though I’ve managed to pass! I went back three times to the list just to check that it was true but even now it still hasn’t really sunk in but I’m hugely relieved. Now I don’t have to get stressed this summer and can just get on with work – I’ll be in the Information Systems dept. at Archant again which should be fun.

Just time for a stupid little quizwhich MegaTokyo character are you?

Red Roses

Having predicted only yesterday that we would soon see a release candidate of Slackware 10 today I was vindicated with just that! As ever the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principle has been maintained and it’s a top grade distribution.

Also out today is a new kernel – 2.6.7. A while back I found a cool little shell script called ketchup which automates the process of patching from one version of the Linux kernel to another. It caches the various patches, only downloading what’s required to get you to the version you specify and more importantly saves you a lot of time and hassle! If you’re interested take a look at this article here which explains how to use it.

Having returned to my house in Durham today I was pleased to see that the rose I thought I had killed by over-zealous pruning had blossomed – its a nice addition to all the weeds!

Roses