2008-12-31

Own-Id featured on Asus Eee site

Hey, I've just noticed that Own-Id is featured on the Asus Eee site! They're missing a few fields in the directory, so I'll send those in...

2008-12-30

Badminton

Tatiana asked about badminton. Fair enough, I do list it on my profile. I'm not great at badminton, but I love playing. I organize the badminton club at work, every week we play at Bath Uni. It's good for keeping fit because you concentrate so much on playing that you don't realize you're actually getting a lot of exercise.

The shot I'd like to be able to play is a backhand from the back corner of the court that reaches right to the diagonally opposite corner, with the shuttlecock tracing out a high arc!

I usually have at least one game of singles with Paddy. I always used to beat him, but then he asked what he should do to beat me. I foolishly told him to always hit it high to my backhand. He did that and beat me for the first time ever!

Israel, withdraw now!

I'm lying in bed with a temperature. All day I've heard about the latest Israeli onslaught against the Palastinians, and it makes me angry.

Israel should end its occupation of Palastine, and withdraw to within its own borders. Israel should withdraw regardless of what the Palastinians are doing. The Israeli argument is that they are defending themselves against Hamas rocket attacks. But to the Palastinians it looks like Israel is the agressor.

If Israel withdraws, and the rocket attacks still persist, then a UN force should be deployed in Palastine to surpress the rocket attacks. I doubt if the rocket attacks would continue, because there's only public support for Hamas because they are perceived as resisting the Israeli occupation.

2008-12-26

Château Rembault

I well remember Christmas Day 2008. That was the time a gherkin landed in my glass of Château Rembault. At lunch, Doug suggested some amuse-bouches, a large jar of gherkins...

Meg

On Christmas Eve we went to The Canal Tavern. Even on the second busiest night of the year it was fairly empty! It was a nice surprise to see Claire and James's new puppy, Meg.

Meg

Springer spaniels are fantastic dogs. I really miss our Springer, Roger.

A good thing about Christmas Eve is that you see people you haven't seen for ages. Stu turned up, and it was like he'd never been away.

2008-12-17

Barry Lyndon

I've never seen a Stanley Kubrick film I didn't like, so when Matt suggested Barry Lyndon (which I'd never heard of) I tucked it away in my memory.

It was my birthday on Sunday, and I'd intended to visit the excellent On The Video Front, and leave with Dr Strangelove, but someone had beaten me to him, so I made a lunge for Barry Lyndon. It's the work of a perfectionist. Every part of every scene is meticulously composed. I love the huge amount of thought that went into the film. It's the sort of thing one can watch repeatedly. Especially if, like me, you generally find plots hard to follow!

I think my friends found it to be better than they thought they would.

Note to self: Must put cartons of orance juice etc. out on table, and not leave them hidden in 'fridge. Also, must leave bottle opener on table.

When Bill turned up for my previous film, he brought a hat and lots of warm clothes. It wasn't a joke, it's freezing in my house. I know it was the big gap under the front door that did it. On Saturday my dad helped me adjust the step to close the gap. I think it's working! This time the house was nice and toasty.

2008-12-16

This Alien Shore

From the writing style I could have sworn that C. S. Friedman was male. It's possibly a tribute to a writer to be unable to discern their gender.

This Alien Shore had some really good ideas, that were followed up by solid writing. I particularly liked the extracts from writings of that world that interspersed the chapters. The one called Natsiq was particularly good.

One thing bothers me about a lot of sci-fi, and this book is no exception: the structure of society is invariably medieval. In the case of individual books this is fine. What gets me is that nearly all sci-fi is like it. Can't we have a vision of the future set in a stable, liberal democracy? I think that's the book I'm going to write. Nobody will read it of course, but that's never stopped me from writing anything!

2008-12-07

B&Q&Thermal&Conductivity

I've written to B&Q:
Looking at Thermawrap General Purpose Wrap on your website, it says: Thermal resistance 1.455m²k/w in Wall Lining installation. Since its thickness is quoted as 4mm, this would give a thermal conductivity of ~ 0.00275 W/mK. Expanded polystyrene has a thermal conductivity of 0.033 W/mk, so are you saying that Thermawrap is a ~12 times better insulator than polystyrene?
I'll let you know if it's really true!

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

I visited Matt in Oxford last weekend. The day before he said, 'Tony, some friends are going to the cinema in the afternoon, are you up for that?'. It turned out to be his 5 year old god son's birthday party! Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa was actually very good. It's not something I'd have seen normally, but I'm really glad I did.

Comparing incomparable types

The Python 3 changes doc says:
objects of different incomparable types always compare unequal to each other.
I don't think this is the right way to go. If you try to compare incomparable types, a TypeError exception should be thrown. For example, at the moment if you write 9 == 'hello' in Python it'll return false, but I think it should throw a TypeError.

Rewarding imprudence

Willem Buiter has it right again:
The government’s proposal for subsidising those who took out excessive mortgages in the past, is a text-book example of bad economics. It is unfair, distorts incentives and does nothing to stimulate the economy. Zero out of three is bad indeed.

2008-12-02

Caper 2

Caper 1

Meta Math!

I'd approached Gregory Chaitin before, but it was one of his technical books, too difficult for me. I did learn a bit about LISP from it though. I ordered Meta Math!: The Quest for Omega from the library, and it was much more readable, although still difficult.

To use algorithmic information theory to review this book on AIT, the amount of understanding generated per word is very high. The Fabric of Reality is like that too. The problem is that some of the ideas are beyond me. If I could only understand both of these books completely; they're worth thousands of lesser books.

I don't want to sound too pessimistic. I learnt about the different approaches in proving that there are an infinite number of prime numbers. Chaitin also talks about Godel's incompleteness theorem implying that mathematical truth is partly something that is found by experiment. I liked his ideas about real numbers and digital philosophy. It supports my view on a digital universe.

Go and read Meta Math!, the guy brings proper maths to you!