Steve Jobs' biography

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates (522695099)

I've had norovirus since Saturday night. That first night was the worst, and it got much better after the first 24 hours. Now I feel achy and tired. During my convalescence, I've been reading Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs, which I borrowed from Wayne at work, after I saw him reading it at lunch time. I've always sort of admired Jobs.

Anyway, Wayne said, 'Jobs wasn't a fan of openness, so you won't agree with him on his end-to-end control of the system'. Indeed, there is a running tension in the book between open and closed systems. I wonder if there is indeed a contradiction? The book was a bit loose with its idea of open and closed, citing Microsoft as taking the opposite approach to Apple by licensing Windows to run on any PC hardware. To me, Windows is not open, it is firmly in the proprietary camp. Openness can't be nailed down entirely, but from a legal point of view I'd say that any code should be Open Source, open standards should be used, and any content should come with an open content license such as the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike licence. Ideally the hardware itself should be distributed under an open hardware licence.

So, under this definition of openness, is it possible to give the user the integrated user experience that Apple claim to give their users?

I'd argue that GNU / Linux distributions such as Debian, with it's package management system, give a much more seamless experience that either OSX or Windows when it comes to installing / un-installing software. With Debian you install all software in a standard way, from a standard repository and then the system keeps it up-to-date for you. Everything works together. With Windows and Mac you have to hunt around on the internet for the correct version of the installer for your OS version and then download the file and then run the installer. When an upgrade comes out, how do you know? It's never been clear to me why Windows and Mac users put up with this. Perhaps Macs and Windows have 'app stores' now. Welcome Apple and Microsoft. Seriously.

Okay, I think I got a bit carried away there. Supposed to be reviewing a book.

Jobs' difficult personality, together with his illness later in life, gives a sadness to the book, but his can-do attitude is inspiring, and his passion for design struck a chord with me.


Surface Detail

As you know, I've been a fan of Iain Banks since Karen at Uni lent me The Wasp Factory in maybe 1992. Looking in the library I saw a big fat book with a Culture style cover and so I borrowed it forthwith. I do like the Culture Minds and their dialogue, although I don't like the funny formatting of their exchanges. In fact, that's a general thing. I don't like it when authors deviate from normal prose and format things in a wacky way. For example, I dislike it when authors format an exchange of emails, as emails. Or tweets, letters or texts. Even Trollope does this with letters. I don't like having to parse a letter, noticing the date it was sent and the address etc. Maybe it's laziness, but I think actually it's that I like to know when I've ingested the requisite information. If it's conventional prose, then I know that I've got all the info because the information is digital. It's analogue information that I can't handle! This has turned into a big paragraph of rant, sorry about that.



I realized that with Shutterfly you can't get the originals back online, you have to order a DVD :-o I've now ordered a DVD and will switch to SkyDrive. Here's the first batch on SkyDrive.

From the archives, here's my end of year report from the Head of Sixth Form (must be summer 1989):
A very disappointing report. Anthony has ignored the warnings and is yet again making promises about how he will improve. At the moment three fails at 'A' levels seem to be a likely result of two years' lack of effort. Time is running out for him and unless we see significant improvements very quickly we must question the sense of him continuing next year.
And from my physics teacher:
There are signs that Anthony is getting his act together. He is very good at disarming criticism and he has probably had much practice but I would have thought for his own sense of pride and achievement he will work more consistently. He impresses with cogent arguments on the more mind boggling aspects of physics but this must be allied to steady work in the more mundane areas.


Here be angry farmers...

Went for a walk with Andy and family on Sunday.

A bit further on we encountered an angry farmer :-o

Galactic North

I felt a need for some sci-fi and so I went to the library after work and miraculously it was open. There was a single Alasdair Reynolds that I hadn't read, Galactic North. I snapped it up and enjoyed a collection of novellas and short stories, all set in Revelation Space. Immensely enjoyable. A few days later I borrowed Iain M Banks' Surface Detail which I'm reading at the moment.




More archiving pictures...

And here's an old shirt that I'm throwing out because it's got holes in and people have started making comments about it. I always feel a bit emotional at clothes that were around when my Mum was alive.



Most of this latest batch are from my first year at Uni. Looking over them coincided with the start of the academic year.



Here's the next batch.


Another of Janos's great books. Shine is a collection of 'optimistic near-future' sci-fi short stories. The fantastic Alastair Reynolds has a story in there, which lived up to his high standards. Of the people I hadn't heard of the two that stood out were Kay Kenyon with Castoff World and Madeline Ashby with Ishin.

Castoff World stuck in my mind because of the atmosphere evoked by the pair adrift in the sea with the nano-swarm. Kenyon brilliantly describes their world.

In Ishin we've got an exciting but sensitive tale, which again makes me want to read more of Ashby's work. I didn't like the fact the an otherwise sympathetic character happened to be a patent troll!


Oldfield 20 mph Speed Limit

I've just responded to the consultation on the 20 mph speed limit in Oldfield Park, voting in favour of it. In the comments section I said that I'd like to see more zebra crossings, particularly at the junction between Livingstone Road and Brougham Hayes.



The boxes left to archive:

I remember painting this when I was at St. Laurence. As you might have deduced I was keen on Karate.

Inspired by the Paul Hardcastle hit 19. A bit embarrassing now.

Drawn by my cousin Giles. This was on the door of my bedroom for a long time.



More photos...

The taxpayer should not have to pay to keep Windows free of malware

Here's John Dvorak arguing that the taxpayer should pay to keep Microsoft Windows free of malware. This would be an indirect subsidy of Microsoft, when really the solution is for users to switch to a more secure operating system such as Ubuntu. This switch is more likely to happen if Microsoft has to spend its own money on battling malware, because that puts up the price of its software.


Skipwatch 2012-09-11

Part of the ongoing record of the skip...

Inspiration for the design of Polifesto

I've decided to actually design Polifesto. I'm looking for inspiration at the moment. I took some photos and made some drawings from a café in Oxford. This is the window. Curves are hard to do on web sites. Is that true?

This is the core of the idea.

Table leg drawn on a napkin.

Here's Matt on a bridge in Oxford:

The reason I took it is that the bridge is exactly the same design as the new bridge that's been put up in Linear Park near to me in Bath. I find the design uninspiring. After seeing Victoria Bridge in Bath and the bridges over the canal in Bath, it's depressing that we can't match or exceed their beauty.

Archiving 2012-09-11

This was from a box marked, 'fragile: ornaments from piano'. This is a pentagon section box I made. My Dad a bought a job lot of laminated strips of wood. There were hundreds of them. It was perfect for me to make stuff with.

It was hinged in the middle. I'm impressed with my former self!

I really can't remember why I made this!

A creation of pure whimsy.

This is Doug's.

A whole load of stuff. In the bottom right hand corner is the shell of a firework I made.

The Sound Of A Wild Snail Eating

This is a book that my aunt gave me. The author describes her experience of being confined to her bed for years with an autoimmune disease. She is inspired by watching a snail in a terrarium next to her bed. She muses on the similarities between the life of the snail and the life that has been imposed on her. It's a precise and moving description of her experience. Enriching.



Here's one of the CDT projects I blogged about earlier:

The jaws of the device:

The jaws opened by pushing this forward with one's thumb:

The holes in the barrel are to make the device lighter:

This was one of the first things I did in CDT and I'm still very proud of it. It's an Oxo cube dispenser. It worked like Jethro Tull's seed drill. You rolled the wheel with your hand, and an Oxo cube dropped out. The slit is to see when the dispenser needs refilling.

Another CDT project. This was the one that I entered for the exam. It's a desk light. This is the closed, off position.

This is the switch. It comes on when the shade is put in the 'on' position.

Here it is in the 'on' position. You can see that by putting it in the 'on' position the switch turns the light on. The lamp is a halogen bulb just by the tube.

I made this hideous weapon. Didn't use them much. When swinging them around I was much more of a danger to myself than anyone else.