From April 2005

Mostly Harmless

As predicted it’s been a pretty mad week with more going on that I can even remember at this stage. Good news is that the project is done and dusted, bad news is that exams are two weeks away!

Hitchhikers

Got a chance to catch the new incarnation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Put simply it’s got its good and bad points. By no means is it awful but at the same time its not great. Unfortunately a lot of what was great in the book/radio series has been sacrificed to squeeze everything into two hours, hence the story line somewhat looses its story! Added to this the acting is patchy in places although there is still a lot to laugh at. If you’re a fan it’s worth a watch but to anyone else I imagine it’s just going to seem a bit strange. (6/10)


Lockpicking with computer parts? – Genius!

He is the embodiment of everything petty in our lives. Every grievance, every envy, every mephitic ideology finds expression in Tony Blair. He says that antipluralism is the only alternative to fogyism. That is the most despicable lie I have ever heard in my entire life. You should not ask, “Why is Blair so compelled to complain about situations over which he has no control?”, but rather, “What in perdition does Blair think he’s doing?”.

(for goodness sake read on!)

Automatic Complaint-letter Generator – So cool, here’s one about a certain friend of ours 🙂

Rusting Ruins

Back in Durham once again – the sun is shining and everything is looking pretty picturesque at this time of year. I wont go on about my impending departure as I think I’ve already said enough about that! The next few weeks are likely to be pretty hectic so I might have to cut down on the posting a bit but have no fear, I will be back with a vengeance this summer (it’s closer than you think)!

Things (perhaps) of note

Stealing a lecturers laptop is never a good idea, especially when this happens. Even if the professor in question was bluffing he sure sounds serious about exacting revenge on the thief who I imagine must have been more than a little worried when he heard this!

As with any issue there are always two sides to a story. So it seems in the current tensions between China and Japan. Whilst it appears Japan are to blame for their lack of a proper public appology (although one was kind of given the other day) China are far from flawless. Will people never learn just to get along?

A General election is looming next week in the UK. It’ll be the first time I am eligible to vote and will definitely do so. What troubles me is the apathy with which people view politics today – most just don’t seem to care. People have heard all the rhetoric before and simply don’t trust politicians any more. You can hardly blame them. Tony Blair looks set to win again unless there is some major swing in the next few days but even though I detest him is there a viable alternative? One thing is certain though, he wont get my vote!

Dead Themepark

Last but not least – check out these photos from an abandoned theme park in the Japan – they have a certain sense of a nightmare about them as if some sort of disaster has just happened. Spooky. [via Hippoblog]

The Tiger Within

Next Friday (29th) sees the release of Apples next generation operating system, Max OS X 10.4 ‘Tiger’. I’ve been having a play with it today and must say I’m deeply impressed. If you though OS X was cool before just wait till you see the tricks the new version has up its sleeve! At a glance you’d be forgiven for thinking that not much has changed but dig a little deeper and you’ll see a whole world of new functionality. Below I’ve highlighted what I feel to be the most significant, of course the official site lists over 200 enhancements:

Tiger Desktop

Spotlight – Probably the biggest single reason to upgrade. Spotlight indexes all your files and associated meta-data, making them instantly searchable; Files, emails, contacts, images, calendars and applications can be found in a flash tasking the hassle out of looking for stuff. Seriously useful if like me you have hundreds of gigabytes of stuff.

Tiger Spotlight

Dashboard – Creates a handy extra ‘dashboard’ over your existing desktop which is accessible at a click of a button. You can then add widgets to your dashboard including useful things like a dictionary, stock ticker, weather forcast, translator, etc. Really neat and exceedingly flashy!

Tiger Dashboard

Safari RSS – Now you can manage all your news feeds within one of the best web browsers going. Its stupidly easy to do and presents all your feeds in a neat interface within the browser window. An even cooler extension allows you to present your feeds within a system screensaver which shows all the news posts flying around making them instantly available.

Of course with all this comes in a graphic designers dream interface good enough to make Windows bow its head and stand in the corner – there simply can be no comparison. A lot of whats new in this version boils down to more efficient handling of information and the ways we access it – whilst it’s still early days this is the future of computing.

If you’ve got a mac I’d strongly suggest upgrading. If not I’d think about getting one!

Traveling Times

Google has recently announced UK support for Google Maps and Google Local – about time! Unfortunately they don’t have satalite imagery coverage yet but I guess that will come with time. Meanwhile I plotted the trip I’ll be taking on Sunday back up to Durham – sadly for the last time probably:

Google Maps

While I may miss the place I certainly wont miss the trip!

Some more linkage!:

Effectual Longevity

Neo

Maybe its just me but as an avid Matrix fan I’ve been amazed how, since the release of the sequels almost two years ago now, the visual effects used have still to be bettered by anyone else. First came Bullet Time photography in the origional film and then progressed into Virtual Cinematography for the aformentioned sequels both of which blew people away with their beautiful depiction of conventionally impossible slow-motion movements throught psychotic action scenes. A big part of me craves more of this sort of action but anything else seems to be just a poor imitation in comparrison! For some interesting acticles on the effects work see here and here.

Other cool stuff to waste a minute (or two):

Clean Country

After my week long hiatus to sunny Switzerland I’m back! First off a word about the Swiss transport system – WOW, everything runs on time, is amazingly clean and modern. You can literally set your watch by the trains/buses/trams which all have integrated timetables so you can usually step off one directly onto another. It puts all other transport systems I’ve ever used to shame!

Highlights of the trip included eating some rather tasty fondue and going up the amazing Jungfraujoch mountain as well as some nice walks round some small (and not so small) cities. If you’re looking for affordable accommodation in Switzerland I would have no hesitation recommending Pension Marthahus in Bern and Hotel Rugenpark in Interlaken, both of which provided clean and comfortable rooms as well as a decent breakfast (essential in my book)!

Here are a few of my favourite photos, you can find the rest in the gallery:

Switzerland
Lake Geneva from Ouchy (just below Lausanne)

Switzerland
Fribourg: Place Notre-Dame (Left), Fountain with St. George slaying the dragon (Right)

Switzerland
Jungfraujoch: The top of Europe!

Switzerland
Window in Geneva

Switzerland
Old street in Geneva

Switzerland

Switzerland

In less than two days time I’m off for a bit of a while-wind tour of Switzerland. We’ll be flying from Newcastle to Geneva on Saturday evening and then moving on from there to Bern (via Lausanne) on Sunday. On Monday we’ll travel down to Interlaken and hopefully go up the Jungfrau mountain on Tuesday! On Wednesday we’ll head back to Geneva for the day before flying back to England the same evening (phew!). It’ll make a nice change from the daily work grind which I’ve just about had enough of 🙂

Hopefully I’ll be able to get some nice photos (weather permitting), but probably not as good as these.

I probably wont get a chance to update before next Friday, but watch this space…

Bike Ride

The last couple of days have been fairly mundane (just finishing off stuff for my project) so this afternoon me and my (younger) brother decided to go out for a bike ride. We went down to the UEA which is pretty close to us and had a cycle round the grounds there. All pretty good fun 🙂

Bike Ride

Bike Ride

More cool viz:

  • 10×10 – 100 Words and Pictures that Define the Time
  • Google Maps – Now with Satellite image support, so very cool!
  • Technorati Touchgraph – The integration of the Technorati API and the TouchGraph graphing system
  • WordCount – Tracking the way we use language.

Flower Power

Spent a nice weekend in London with relatives. Luckily the weather held out and we went for a couple of pleasant walks as well as a brief cycle-ride. Took a load of photos but as usual were fairly mediocre. Here’s a montage of a few I like:

Flower Montage
Higher Resolution

This week is going to be a bit hectic as I catch up with a million different things but onwards & upwards etc!