Andy's starting a new venture involving various preserves. It hasn't officially been launched yet, but here are a couple of preview photos:

Room for rent

I've posted an ad for a room to rent in my house. Here are a couple of the pictures I took for the advert:

Really I need to take some photos of the room itself!

Patent encumbered codecs in the UK

In Ubuntu I installed the H.264 and MPEG-4AAC decoders in the belief that this is legal since the UK doesn't recognize software patents. Despite searching, I couldn't confirm this, so I've decided not to use them. It's difficult to uninstall the codecs so I'm simply going to not install them when I install Ubuntu from scratch next month. If you know the legal position on using patent encumbered codecs in the UK, please let me know.


Another vine mess!

The latest news in the vine saga is that I've planted all three vines against the wall:

The two on the left (Alastair Reynolds and Iain Banks) are a black grape (vitis cabernet sauvignon bp), and the one on the right (Peter Watts) is a white grape (vitis chardonnay g p). I know there's not much to see, but crane forwards and you can make out three canes with the vines at the bottom. Hopefully we'll see some green shoots in the spring.


The Severn Estuary

The other Saturday there was off-road karting for a stag day. I got a lift to the karting with two geo-caching devotees, and they stopped off by the Severn Estuary to find a cache.

I took a photo of the karting track just as we were about to leave. I know, I should have got some photos of the actual racing :-)

Helping dad clear out his garage

I helped my dad clear out his garage before he moved house. We found a pentagonal box that I'd made for him and my mother when I was about 13. We used it as the family's laundry box for years.

Father has recently shaved his beard off. He's growing it back again now.

Here my father holds up a tile. A long time ago, he made a table with those tiles forming the table-top. It was a good table, and when the family needed some money, he sold it. I can just about remember the table.


3 microseconds?

Ben sent me a BBC article that contained the following paragraph:
Spread Networks has been building one such fibre-optic connection, shaving three microseconds off the 825-mile (1327km) trading journey between Chicago and New York.
I thought it's got to be 3 milliseconds, not microseconds. Doing some searching seemed to confirm this. I'd have contacted the author about it, but these days I'm reluctant to contribute to anything that has a proprietary licence, as opposed to an open content licence. The reason is that if a digital thing is of value, then there shouldn't be an artificial monopoly on it, anybody should be able to use it for any purpose. Society as whole benefits, not particular monopolists. That's why I'm in favour of Wikipedia, Open Streetmap, Wiktionary etc.

This only applies to things that are digital and can be copied at near zero cost, ie. non-rivalrous goods. It does not apply to rivalrous goods such as food, cars, one to one guitar lessons and electricity, for which the conventional exchange of money for the good or service is the best solution.

Chasm City

I'm reading Alastair Reynolds Revelation Space series in a bit of a random order. I've just finished Chasm City. As I read, I find myself thinking that the characters are humans in an unusual setting. Whereas I think that our future is that we'll become less human. Our brains haven't changed dramatically for thousands of years. That's going to change, and change rapidly.

In sci-fi books, people tend to have bodies and brains and move around. Why do people move? A person's brain doesn't leave its skull (unless something horrible has happened). People move around so that their sensors can gather certain information, in other words, to experience things. If those sensations can be transmitted, then there's no need to move.

Some people will want to augment their evolved capabilities. At the moment such people use laptops and mobile phones and enormous data centres run by Google etc. A future person may choose to extend their intelligence and emotional intelligence by perhaps inhabiting several data centres around the world. This takes up a lot of resources, space and energy. This mode of life would only be available to the rich. Who would become rich? Why, those who have extended their intelligence and emotional intelligence of course!