From May 2005

Softglow

Durham Cathedral

The weather in Durham has been pretty good recently. I took the above photo last week on a short break from revision (one of many!). Whilst it’s a fairly stereotypical shot of the Cathedral I quite like the composition with the tree leaves silhouetted in the foreground. I’ve desaturated the shot from the colour original and used a ‘softglow’ filter to make the whole thing stand out more – you can see this better on the higher-res version.

At 11am tomorrow the exam nightmare will be over and I’ll be free forever from formal education (in theory at least!) so a small moment to mark in the history books! Expect more soon, very soon…

Crack-Down

Shut Down

Looks like the FBI are having a crack down on the operators of the high-profile BitTorrent sharing sites at the moment. In the last few months many of them have been shut down and polite notices (like the one above) posted in stead of their usual content (quite what the U.S. Immigration authority have to do with it I don’t know!). My favorite line on one of the take-down notices from the MPAA was “You can click but you can’t hide” – really catchy that one! (lol)

What makes me laugh about all this is that ever since these sites came into existence cinema and DVD sales have been climbing year on year – whilst any link between the two would be tentative it’s not outside the realms of possibility that people consciously operate on a try-before-you-buy basis when it comes to music and film – i.e. I’m not going to buy a film I don’t like etc.

The real way to reduce internet piracy is to make more content available digitally at a reasonable price and without DMR restrictions which just annoy. Apple are doing a fairly good job of this with iTunes but it’s still to expensive and limited to make the impact it could.

Out of interest the creator of the BitTorrent protocol has just launched a Google-like torrent searching site. It’s supposed to only track legal torrents but my first search brought up illegal content so I doubt it will last long either. Looks cool all the same.

Re-engineer?

World Trade Center

Apparently if you thought the debacle over the designs for the new World Trade Center were over you’d be wrong. Donald Trump, a notorious American real-estate executive, has been openly critical of the Libeskind ‘Freedom Tower’ design (photo left) and has put forward his own design (right) which is basically an exact copy of the original but one story taller, dubbed the ‘Twin Towers II‘. Seems like good intentions have become wrapped up in politics and money which I guess was inevitable. Everyone involved was bound to have differing opinions of what a fitting memorial/replacement was but isn’t it about time, 4 years later, that they get on with it and actually built something instead of leaving the site as an open tomb?

To see what the current WTC site looks like see Google Maps.

For more (better) commentary see [A Daily Dose of Architecture].

Coming Soon…

Yoda

Vader

So busy… No time to post… Must not get distracted by Star Wars
Must. Revise.

Actually my next exam is nearly two weeks away but thats no reason to be complacent especially when it comes to the intricacies of the 3D graphics pipeline and distributed computation algorithms! Probably best not to mention the first exam – half good, half awful :-S

Del.icio.us

I wasn’t so keen on del.icio.us, the social bookmarks manager, to begin with but after browsing through it last night properly for the first time I’ve found it to be a mine of cool links and other miscellanea organised by tags and descriptions. The more people who link to a certain page the more ‘popular’ it becomes. The only downside to this being that it can seriously eat your time so possibly not a good thing to be looking at right now for me!

Even the BBC are interested in the idea and have a prototype site which allow del.icio.us tags to be added to any article thus allowing your to find stories based on these. This can give a good overview of whats popular and what related. It’s good to see the BBC allowing people use their back-end content to innovate, I hope they keep up the good work.

(See here for a cool example of how your del.icio.us bookmarks can be visualised)

  • For those revising for exams right now: 50 Strategies For Making Yourself Work. I might find this useful if I actually get round to reading it!!

Revised Thoughts

Sorry again for the low frequency of posts these last few weeks – revision, revision… I H A T E R E V I S I O N. Got the message?! To be honest during these periods of *intensive* work there isn’t usually a lot to talk about but sufficed to say I’ve dragged something out of myself today! Yesterday saw the conclusion of my major project (worth 1/3 of this years marks) with a live demonstration – this seemed to go quite well and luckily the examiner didn’t ask any horrible questions contrary to what I had been expecting. Whilst some of it has been quite interesting it’s good to put a lid on it finally 🙂

So here’s what the Software Engineering component of my course looks like on Q-cards:

Revision
(Fascinating huh?!)

  • Google’s Singularity machine – are Google building ‘AI that transcends humanity’? Perhaps.
  • Time Traveler Convention – Nice idea which unfortunately didn’t work. Dr. Who fans may be disappointed!
  • Edsinger Domo – Be warned the robots are on the rise (again)! Not quite at Schwarzenegger terminator level yet.
  • Culture Jamming – Some guy walks into famous museums and puts his own work up. Old news but still cool!

Beaucoup Fish

Global Map

An amazing project is going on at the ESA (European Space Agency) to create the most detailed surface map of the world every created, with a resolution three times sharper than any created before. Envisat’s Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) instrument will be used to capture the images which are estimated to take up to 20 terabytes of disk space! “The completed GLOBCOVER map will have numerous uses, including plotting worldwide land use trends, studying natural and managed ecosystems and modeling climate change extent and impacts“. When you look at these images the world looks a whole lot smaller. It is expected to take two years to complete.

Invisible

Any ‘Ghost in the Shell‘ fans out there will be familiar with the concept of “thermoptic camouflage” where you trick the eye into thinking an object is invisible by projecting an image of what’s behind it onto its masked surface. Now some crazy Japanese scientists have taken another step forward in turning science-fiction into science-fact with their proof-of-concept demonstrations of just that! Whilst it’s still heavily in development the videos on the site show that it’s definitely progressing. It’s kind of scary when reality actually starts to mirror fiction but it’s a fitting testiment to Masamune Shirows futuristic vision (if a somewhat nightmarish one!).

R.E. My last post – Election night was boring and predictable as expected. British politics is dead in terms of true democracy, it needs a serious shot of life injected back into it.

What’s with the fish? I hear you shout! Think about 1999. Cool 🙂

Election Night

So it’s election night here in the UK – whist’s the outcome is pretty much certain there have been unexpected upsets before so you never quite know what will happen in the next few hours. I went to vote at about 1pm and was a bit surprised to find the poling station unexpectedly quite considering it was lunchtime and you might have imagined that people would have come to vote on the lunch break but who knows…!

I have to give a presentation for my Project Management course today. I did it on the topic of “Conflict Management” – it went OK I think, I didn’t much enjoy doing it but it seemed fairly well received!

Talk about dumbing down – a classic case of “re-branding” has taken place with the ‘University of Durham’ metamorphosing into ‘Durham University – confused? So you should be! The rather absurd reasoning behind it is modernisation or perhaps more of an Americanisation? To be honest the new logo looks far less professional than the old one but that’s progress for you!

A few links worth a click: