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Monday, January 11th, 2010
2:01 pm - Nippy, innit?
It's starting to warm up a bit round here- something I'm quite grateful for because it might actually be clear enough to cycle to work again soon. They've only cleared some of the footpaths in the very centre of Oxford and I'm getting really tired of sliding my way in exery morning- sideroads are going to be nasty for a while yet but it looks like the main routes are fairly free of snow & ice now (at least till it snows again tomorrow night).
Anyhow, managed to take some photos on the way in on Friday, go marvel at ice-covered plants, the canal freezing over, a 4ft icycle dangling from my guttering, and snow everywhere here.

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Thursday, November 5th, 2009
7:02 pm - Also...
UK company sells £60,000 dowsing rods to Iraq for use as 'Explosives detectors'. Really, WTF?

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6:59 pm - Thought for the day
For four centuries Guy Fawkes has been remembered as the country's most infamous traitor, with effigies of him being burnt every year, nursery rhymes reminding everyone how terrible the plot was, etc. Only now he's turning into a bit of folk hero and a symbol of resistance to an oppressive government (helped considerably by a certain film, admittedly).
It doesn't matter that you might think about the current lot, the fact that his reputation is changing like this after nearly half a millennium of vilification has got to be a pretty worrying thing.

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Monday, August 10th, 2009
9:58 pm - No an update
I said I'd update on nights I was at home playing computer games- weekends don't count and tonight I've been tasting vodka (42 Below, various shades of nummy, avoided being dragged to Rokeoke at the Gloc after). Cat's got the night off tomorrow so your're not going to get anything significant till wednesday.

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Saturday, August 8th, 2009
12:44 am - Je suis slack
Ok, I've failed a bit on the getting stuff posted/ done over the last couple of days. In my defense yesterday was mostly sorting out photos and today is friday so I was forced to celebrate the end of the week. Normal service will be resumed shortly.
In the meantime, I like the way they're setting the cricket up for a thrilling last test finale- that's the reason we're letting the Aussies win this one, isn't it?

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Wednesday, August 5th, 2009
10:24 pm - Tonight I have been mostly...
...starting to sort out the photos from when we went to the U.S. earlier in the year, consequently I've run out of time to say anything about them tonight, but I'll try to do better tomorrow. In the meantime if you want to have a gander at the first lot to be uploaded (covering some of the incredible strangeness that is Las Vegas) head over to my Flickr account here.
In other news, every ant in Oxford sprouted wings this afternoon, cycling home was not terribly pleasant.

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Monday, August 3rd, 2009
9:24 pm - Hi there!
Right, so I've decided that I spend way to much time defaulting to sitting around playing games when there's nothing else on and Cat's not around, so from now on 9-10pm (at least) is going to be 'do something that's not playing a game' time. I'm not implying that games aren't a valid use of one's time or anything, but there's lots of other stuff I want to do and I'm terrible for getting sucked in and putting stuff off if I don't set myself deadlines.
So, quick recap- still living in my little flat (it's been over a year since I got the mortgage now) with Cat and the three mittens (Kit, Frog and Mistle). Still working at the same place- fortunately we don't seem to too affected by the continuing fun 'n games in the economy- actually it's closer to the opposite, there are plans floating around to redevelop the back end of the office and put a mezzanine floor in for another 100-odd people.
Erm, so, what has changed then? For a start we went to the U.S. again earlier in the year, met my nephew Jack, saw a lot more of S.F., went to Vegas, and a lot of other fun stuff. I have many, many photos...

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Friday, February 20th, 2009
10:13 pm - Cat update
Mistle, one of our cats, eascaped over the 6ft wall surrounding our patio while I was cleaning their litter try earlier. I've just spent the last hour following him though at least four people's back gardens trying to persuade him to come home. Am now slightly grazed, but rather relieved he's back inside nomming his food because I'm not sure how I'd explain it to Cat if I hadn't found him...

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Saturday, January 31st, 2009
10:00 pm - Sporadic Update #something
Firstly, and sadly, Bearders marks his last dot ball and trundles off to the great pavilion(probably in search of a good scone).
Secondly, "We have abolished boom and bust". Riiight...
Thirdly, seeing as Stephen Fry likes it, and anything he likes can't be too bad (erm, thinking about that there are a couple of exceptions I'd rather avoid myself), I've set myself up with a twitter account, mainly on the grounds that I'm, very bad at actually settling down long enough to write an LJ update, but 140 characters I might be able to manage with a greater degree of regularity. It's here. I'll still be keeping this account up with at least the same regularity as I have done, but that's there too now- anyone else have one?
Fourthly, I wrote to my MP this week for the first time ever (about this. Got a response on proper Commons headed paper too. I have no idea whether it'll actually be taken any notice of, but at least I tried.

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Wednesday, November 26th, 2008
9:50 pm - Here goes
Right then. Swift roundup of things that've happened in the last few months, in vague order..

  • Get pay rise. yay!

  • Cat's Gran (who's been in hospital for a while now) officially determined to be too frail to go home for the forseeable and needs a place in a nursing home. Boo.

  • Cat moves into the flat, bringing with her the itty bitty kitty committee! Yay!

  • Siouxie,Toyah, and Bowie proceed to play with stuff, sleep, eat stuff, sleep some more, investigate, nap, climb, snooze, and generally take over the place. Yay!

  • Got burgled by very stupid people who failed to take anything really valuable and didn't bother with the power supplies for other stuff. Bloody annoying all the same, police say that unless they get lucky there's not a lot of chance of catching anyone. Boo.

  • Take time off to go on holiday. Completely fail to go anywhere, but spend the week productively rearranging and sorting out the flat so there's space for all Cat's stuff. Yay!

  • Found homes for kittens, boo cos they go, yay! cos...

  • Shortly afterwards we move Kit, Mistle, and Froggie in. With no-one living there permanently Cat's Gran's house was being invaded by strays and they weren't enjoying living by themselves with no human contact apart from being fed.

  • Frog spends the next week demanding laps and strokes, while Mistle hides behind the sofa and only emerges for food, and Kit just knocks everything he can find off shelves.

  • Things normalise somewhat. Frog's fur goes from matted to fluffy again after intensive stroking, Mistle emerges, Kit continues to find new shelves to investigate. Yay! (aside from crashes at 4am when Kit finds something new to destroy).

  • In a very cunning move, we give our old sofa to a friend from work in exchange for him and his hired minivan helping us move Cat's leather sofa with pop-out footrests in. Yay!

  • The telly dies. Boo.

  • It's my birthday, Cat gives me a Wii. Yay!

  • Bedroom telly can't cope with the Wii. Boo.

  • Use insurance money from the burglary to get new telly. Yay!

  • <ul] In the meantime the world goes completely to pot- I actually caught myself wondering whether it wouldn't be such a bad plan to stockpile a few tins of food a few days ago, erm, and then calculated that if we took up half the living room we could store 48,800 tins of baked beans.

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Friday, October 24th, 2008
12:28 am - Update brewing
Gosh, have I really not said anything since the end of the cricket season? Lots of stuff has happened and I'm starting to feel an urge to write it down before I forget it, there might even be photos...

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Sunday, July 13th, 2008
1:00 am - Sporadic update
Yes, it's been ages again but enough about that.
So, things that've happened- well, life has been carrying on- the big event recently (as more astute readers will already know- thanks for the card Rosie!) is that after months of not much happening things suddenly came together and I now own my flat. It's been held up for ages by the fact that the land the flats were built on was used as a garage in the '70's and the property search company that my solicitors happened to use couldn't quite prove that the land wasn't contaminated (despite us pointing out that it was over 30 years ago and no-one else has found any problems, including everyone who's bought the flat since it was first built, or anyone else in the building finding anything).Just as everyone involved was thinking it was all going to fall apart (ie- a few weeks before the expiration of my mortgage offer, which given the current state of the world I had no chance of getting again) I had a phone call saying it was all going ahead.
The actual sale was a bit of an anticlimax as I've been living there for the last year and a half- all that happened was that my current account looked very happy for a couple of hours while deposits went in and out, followed by a phone call a few days later from my solicitors saying 'It's all done, we'll send you the docs in a few weeks'.
So, I'm now back to being 2/3 grown up again (reminder- according to Ed's laws to be grown up you have to have a pension, a mortgage and a car- anything less and you can still claim youth), and I feel I should be getting some sort of grant for single-handedly keeping the housing market alive given the way that everything is going at the moment. Even so, it's good to be paying every month and actually getting something at the end of it rather than just giving cash to someone else (even if the someone else is you, boblink and tsdt), and one of the good things about the flat is that it's in walking distance of the centre of Oxford- unless things get so broken that everything falls apart it'll always be sellable/ rentable.
Aside from that things have been fairly quiet recently, due partly to the fact that Cat has to work a lot of weekend nights and partly because staying in is so much cheaper than going out and I've been needing to save all the cash I can. The thing I seem to be doing the most that's worth reporting is picking slugs off my precious pepper plants.
Quick catch-up here- a few months ago Cat got me some pepper seeds, and she's probably regretted it ever since- In hindsight I probably shouldn't have planted them all, but I was worried that they wouldn't germinate. They started out in a trough on my windowsill, and then they all came up and ever since I've been moving them to bigger pots- currently my patio is pretty much full of plants, with just enough space for me to get out and inspect them/ remove rampaging molluscs, but aside from the 6 I've given to my parents I can't bear to get rid of any of them. This may become a problem when they get close to full size, need a foot-wide pot each, and have to come inside for the winter, but I'm not thinking about that.
Especially for Bob- garden update: Roses having black spot issues- yours still has leaves, but mine (which I think I got after you left) is looking very sad. Mr Yukka is doing well, the spider plant is attempting to plant offshoots in any pot within reach, and the Jasmine is flowering and making everything smell good. Stephen and his Dad are both fine, discovered some wild strawberry a while back, and I keep on finding things that I thought were weeds have suddenly gone and flowered on me.
On to important matters- today is the first day that I thought maybe we have a chance in the Ashes next year, and also the day I wondered whether I should be worried that I'm looking forward to it already. According to the county news Harmy's doing well, but I'm not sure I trust him not to go wrong again in an England side, and it seems like Freddie'll be making an appearance in the England side again soon, but from the way things stand right now I think if they came back they'd both really need to prove themselves again- it's only the first test but we seem to be walloping South Africa at the moment, and they're not a side to be sniffed at. While we're here- how gutted would you be to be caught out on 199? According to TMS Bell yesterday was only the 7th person ever to manage that.
Anyhow, that's enough for now, as I'm in the mood I'm going to go watch the highlights of Edgebaston in 2005...

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Monday, June 23rd, 2008
2:26 pm - Epic FAIL
PETA forget that doing the teeniest bit of checking once in a while might be a plan.
Edit: May be slightly NSFW....

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Friday, June 20th, 2008
12:16 am - Shock of the night...
Ok, not said anything in ages. Probably should, but I seem to have got busy doing real life stuff and playing Medieval 2. Anyhow:

I seem to have a mortgage, so I must now declare I'm 2/3 of an adult again (for reference- to be grown up according to my rules you have to own a pension, a mortgage, and a car).

Anyhow- main thing that prompted me to post something- was reluctantly watching something footbally while waiting for This Week to start just now, and was struck by the end of the show, where it was announced that it was [commentator/ pundit whose name I didn't get]'s last show because he was moving to Canada to study full time to join the Ministry. In terms of career changes, football guy on telly to Priest has got to be a pretty big one- you've got to respect him for giving up what I'd guess'd be a pretty good life to do what he really believes in.

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Tuesday, May 13th, 2008
11:19 pm - Soo...
... Newsnight could be interesting tonight (on the chancellor cutting the income tax threshold). I can't help thinking that there's a lot of cash being thrown away here- an extra tenner a month is hardly a life-changing event for people on middle incomes (although nice), and they're borrowing a hell of a lot of cash to fund it.

In other news, Fold It is a really cunning idea (although the site's heavily loaded at the moment so likely to be slow). It's a puzzle game in which the puzzle is protein folding, and it's really quite fun- you're given a chunk of protein and you shove it around (with various tools to help out), score points for coming up with a compact structure with lots of hydrogen bonds and side chains that aren't sticking into each other, and compete with other people to come up with the highest scores.
It'll be interesting to see how the best results stack up against reality and the results people're getting from things like Folding@Home (which I've also downloaded- might as well do something useful with my spare CPU cycles)- I'd imagine that protein folding is the sort of complex patterny problem that brains are quite good at, and if they get people interested in it and turn it into a game then that's a lot of computing power they've getting hold of (and computing power of the sort it's really tricky to do electronically).
Just noticed that Folding@Home can't use my second CPU, so I've got climateprediction.net burbling away now too. I wonder if all these electons bouncing around my processor'll wear it out faster?

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Monday, May 12th, 2008
10:28 pm - Photos 'n Stuff
Tonight's Despatches (on beauty creams that claimed to make you look younger) seemed like an exercise in stating the obvious. Of course all the companies who's products they tested claimed their trial wasn't accurate and they had scientific tests showing they worked, but if any cosmetics company actually could ever get something into a proper peer-reviewed journal that showed it worked they'd be shouting it from the rooftops, not claiming they had evidence that no-one could see.
Best lines would have to be:
a) About something that claimed to increase Vitamin A- "If it really significantly increased the amount of Vitamin A you have, it'd need to be on prescription because Vitamin A can have nasty side effects if you take it when pregnant".
b) Something that claimed to increase cell regeneration, of which a dermatologist said 'If it actually did this to any degree I'd be very worried because lots of localised cell division is pretty much cancer'.
I think it's a total failure of regulation- if companies want to use science to sell stuff it ought to be a requirement that it's real, verified science and not something they just made up because it sounds good.
Enough about that, I'm sure most of you are intelligent people who know about the sort of stuff Ben Gouldacre's always going on about at Bad Science anyway.
I was goign to say that I'd finally managed to upload a bunch of photos from when Cat & I went to London Zoo at the end of last summer (such as it was), but it turns out that Flickr's having issues so only one of them loaded properly, so there's just a lonesome Meercat to see.

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Friday, May 9th, 2008
12:03 am - Sigh...
It's Thursday night, it's politics night, but really can't be bothered to make fun of the Labour party any more. Around the '97 election I remember promising myself that I'd never vote Conservative thanks in part to the original Criminal Justice Act (anyone else remember the inside cover of Jilted Generation?). On election night we had a party and the whole house shook with laughter when Portillo lost his seat, and afterwards we thought we'd kicked out a bunch of authoritarian amoral crooks and actually had a government that'll do things properly.
Ten years later, and what have we got? Not only have they been merrily throwing through bill after bill that's slowly criminalising everything and everyone, but they're so massively incompetent that everything they do is not only wrong, but badly done. The thing that baffles me most is the thought that there must be a fair few bright people hanging around the government, but the mistakes are so blindingly obvious and frequent it seems that the proverbial infinite monkeys would do better.

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Tuesday, April 8th, 2008
8:27 pm - Gaah.
Ever since I started the process of buying the flat the news has been babbling about how wrong the housing market is going, topping it off with the news today saying 'The housing ladder is currently a snake, don't touch it with a bargepole'. Bloody typical. On the good side, I got my mortgage offer just before the good deals finished and my financial situation hasn't actually deteriorated in the last few months (and hopefully isn't going to- according to the company grapevine things are going quite well for us).
It's still a little bit scary when I'm doing precisely what every economic commentator is saying I really shouldn't be though...

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Wednesday, March 26th, 2008
12:49 am - Dang...
Aggers has just announced that was the end of the all-night cricket until next winter- I'm going to miss curling up in bed listening to them burble away, daytime tests just aren't quite the same (people seem to expect me to be doing things). Still, it was a good little series, and hopefully when the Kiwis come our way they'll crowbar Blowers back in front of the microphone for those all-important bus and pigeon updates...

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Tuesday, March 25th, 2008
10:04 pm - Bathtime reading, and other things
After reading the appropriate article in the Sunday Times in the bath, twice, I'm feeling very clever because I think I've worked out what derivatives are and how they work. This is of pretty much zero practical use to me, but will induce a feeling of smugness next time someone on Newsnight says 'they're really complicated'.
What else has been going on? Our long-awaited office move looks like it's finally going to go ahead this weekend, only a year after the moving date when we started looking at it. The litany of delays has included:

  • The glacial speed of the university when you're negotiating leasing property, which eventually led us to just buy the place next door- the office we originally planned to rent is still standing empty.

  • Having to kick travellers off the site (they moved in the day we bought the property).

  • Floods

  • Complete gutting and renovation of the office (conversion from a brewery warehouse to a hi-tech office, the only surviving parts of the old structure are the exterior walls).

  • Storms, which stopped us moving in a fortnight ago as the electricity company suddenly had to send all their engineers to extract trees from power lines rather than powering up our shiny new substation (yup, we've got a dinky little substation just for us, which is kind of necessary as some of the major power lines in our old office double as radiators thanks to the amount of juice we go through).


Last week we shifted some of our kit down to the new building, including our beautiful new Cisco switch (over 100 ports of lovely redundant hot-swappable blinkenlights), and got the security cameras going (10 cameras total, including 3 turret mounted jobs with impressive zoom, all of which are monitorable/ controllable from tha intarwebs if you can get to them- a feature our directors are in love with and seem to use most of the day).
There was a bit of a hitch with one of the webservers, a linux box that runs our internal documentation wiki- we shut it down remotely and rapidly realised that we had no clue where the box actually was. On the first attempt we moved the box we thought it had to be (it was in the server room, but wasn't turned on and wasn't obviously something else) and realised we'd got something completely different when we installed it at the new site. After an hour of frantic searching round the office we eventually found it round the back of the desk that I'd moved from about a year ago behind someone else's PC- it'd been so long since we actually needed to get to it that we'd utterly forgotten it was still sat down there.
Lessons learnt, I've spent most of today going round the server room verifying and labelling everything. The big move comes over the weekend- Friday afternoon/ evening is going to be turning everything off, de-racking all the servers, moving the racks, then moving the servers and getting everything re-racked. The aircon system'll be moved on Saturday, hopefully after that it'll just be a case of turning it all on and everything'll come back to life again- if not and it looks like it's going to be a long weekend of restoring and re-imaging, we've got rooms booked at the local pub so we can crash somewhere.
I would say more, but NZ are on their last wicket before we finally win an overseas series, so I'm going to go listen to the end of the match...

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