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Showing posts from 2008

Resolution

I do have resolutions this New Year, but I'm not going to put them all in here for obvious reasons :-) 2008 has been a bit of a funny year. I've changed jobs for the first time in nearly a decade and taken up coaching in a sport for the first time in my life. They're both good things, btw. I've watched the Sydney fireworks online, and they do look rather spectacular and made me wish I were in Sydney this New Year. We were there a few years ago for New Year, and I've just decided here and now that I want to be there again this time next year. That's one resolution I shall put in here... I've also decided I need to read more. There are some beautiful books out there which I've never read, and I intend to change that. I shall try to read 50 books next year, at least! The weather here in London is rather misty today, so I don't think there's much chance of spectacular views of fireworks this evening, but maybe it'll clear up as the even

It's nice to relax

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I am really rather enjoying a nice relaxing Christmas holiday. With the change in job and various other things, it's been quite a year this year, and so it's nice to be sitting at home not doing very much at all... Yesterday, I took this photo from the garden at home of the night sky, which I thought I may share with you... The thing about winter is that it may be cold, but it is rather photogenic!

Enlightenment

Last night, I was fortunate enough to witness an evening of utter enlightenment. And all in the name of atheism. Jarvis Cocker even put an appearance to sing an old Pulp song and a Christmas song :-) For me, though, the true highlight of the evening was the opportunity to hear Richard Dawkins talking. Despite finding "The God Delusion" a little bit hypocritical in being so preachy, some of his other books are well worth reading - for all those who are interested in learning about evolution. I'd never seen Richard Dawkins speak before, and his prose, his language and his voice made listening to him a true pleasure. Another highlight for me was Dara O'Briain shouting out to the audience "what's e to the i pi?" and being genuinely delighted at the number of people who immediately shouted "minus one" back at him. The central theme of the evening was the beauty of the universe and a celebration of the things which make the world so wonderful

Alphabetical friends

If you're anything like me, then in this modern world of email and texting most of your friends will be reduced to single letters when signing (mostly electronic) communications. I tend to sign most of my informal emails with "D." rather than writing "Dan" at the bottom of them. But the problem is, I know too many people whose names begin with the same letter. J and M are particularly troublesome. I've one friend for whom "M" became almost her official name. Even when referring to her in emails, we'd call her "M" rather than typing out her full name. But now I have a couple of other people who sign themselves "M" and it just doesn't feel right. "J" is even more of a problem. My significant other signs things with a "J" but I also have other friends who sign things with a "J" too. When they do it on Christmas cards (for the single letter signing is not always limited to electronic m

Oldy Foldy

There are some typing mistakes I can't help but make. I type fairly quickly, and so my fingers tend to be on auto-pilot most of the time. I think the word, and my hands do the rest without much interference from my brain. However, this can lead to problems. I have a friend called Michaela who I've known for many years. I've typed her name so often - it was her username on a messaging system we used to use at University besides anything else - that M I C H A E L A has become almost reflex when I type it. This causes problems with friends I have called Michael. When I start "M I C ... " the auto-pilot takes over, and before I can stop myself I've typed "Michaela" and headed onto the next word. It's certainly not the most embarrassing example, either. I use the word "bugger" quite a lot. It's one of my favourite expletives. I like it because it sounds a little less extreme than some of the harsher options (which I shalln&#

Inside Out

Over the past week or two, I've been experiencing the "Symbian Signed" process for the first time from outside of Symbian, and the process looks very different from the two sides. There's some interesting stuff about Symbian Signed (and interesting stuff in general) to be found in David Wood's blog at - http://www.dw2-0.com/ I won't go on at length here about the signing process, as David manages to talk about it with much more knowledge and eloquence than I could ever manage. What's been interesting for me is to see how a process can look so different from the inside and from the outside. There's an endless tension between the users of systems ("I wish the system would do this") and the owners of the system ("It can't, because...") and this isn't only true of signing processes, of course - it's true of almost any system you can think of - not just software. Children of a certain age tend to go through a phase of as

It's nice to be in the one place

At risk of turning this blog a bit personal for an evening, I'd like to share a sense of stability I appear to have had overcome me in the past month. In my previous job, I was travelling all the time. I seemed to spend half my life in airports and on planes and in hotels. It sounds glamourous, and I think for a time I actually found it quite exciting. But with the new job, I'm spending a lot of time in London. All of my time in fact. And it's allowed me to settle into rather a nice routine of exercise, work and spending evenings at home. It's amazing, but I'd never realised how unsettling all of that travel was until I stopped doing it. I have my weekly exercise regime worked out, and I can actually play badminton on set days every week (though Christmas is going to get in the way of that - but that I can cope with!) I do actually have a smile on my face more often now that I'm not travelling as much. And I never thought I'd say this - but I don&#

Where not to save money - volume 1

In the current economic climate, everyone seems to be under a barrage of advice to tighten their belts. Whether that's companies announcing redundancies to cut their outgoings or whether it's people being told by the press not to spend any money. But there are some areas of life where you shouldn't cut back. Everyone will have their views on what you shouldn't cut back on - and here are mine. Pens To me, one of the most important things in life is writing with a decent pen. None of this Bic rubbish; a pen should have ink in it and have a nice smooth nib. Ideally the nib should be quite flexible, as I think that adds a nice "flick" to my writing style. Of course, you don't always want to be writing with a pen containing liquid ink (on planes or whilst sitting on your best sofa, for instance) in which case a decent rollerball will do. But no matter how hard the downturn bites, one should never resort to a pack of ten cheap biros from Tesco Beds &am

I still can't bring myself to love the iPhone...

Don't get me wrong. I don't think that the iPhone is the worst phone you could buy with your money - but it may well be the most overrated phone there's ever been. I think my problem with the iPhone is that it's not a very good phone. It's undoubedly a thing of beauty and the UI does indeed look very very sexy. But the word "phone" looms too large in the title for me to let it get away with being as lacking as it is in the phone department. The inability to send picture messages would be seen as a major flaw in a phone from anyone else other than Apple these days. And remember the exclamations of joy when Steve Jobs announced that you could now send a text message to more than one person at once as if it were some great achievement in phone design. Don't get me wrong - I do think that the iPhone is a great "thing" I just don't think it's a great phone. The iPod touch for instance, I absolutely love (except for the fact that yo

It's harder than you'd think...

I'm the kind of person who love writing. I don't really care what it is I'm writing, but I like to be writing something. So, I recently thought "why not have a go at writing a novel". Sounds, easy, doesn't it? I've written songs and short stories before, so I thought it'd be an interesting diversion to fill in my time during the evenings - and give me an excuse to use the fountain pen which I got as a leaving present from my last job. I'm sure to some people, writing comes naturally, and they simply "think of a story and write it down" but I find it harder than that. I wrote a rough draft of what how the plot will progress throughout the novel and last week I started the process of writing it out longhand. It's a really enjoyable process, but it's actually difficult to generate the quantity of good prose required to fill a novel. I don't intend to ever publish the novel, of course. Maybe I will never even finish it.

Brrr!

It's quite cold in London at the moment, and I can't seem to find any gloves which fulfil both the purpose of keeping my hands warm, and that of allowing me to press the buttons on my mp3 player whilst walking to work. I think the cold has gone to the heads of the great British public - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7759215.stm - for those who don't want to follow the link, the story is basically this: the BBC and the man involved have apologised after he exposed himself on live radio. Yes - that's right - he exposed himself on live radio - not TV where you can actually see things - but radio. There's not a lot you can say to that is there? I can't quite believe it's December already. Nor can I believe the number of Christmas Trees which have sprung up in the windows around home. Though having said that, I have already written out all of my Christmas cards. My excuse is that the last posting day for foreign parts is coming up shortly, and

For vs. After

One of the things which irks me the most when reading articles online is the Americanism "named for". For anyone reading this who thinks that "named for" is correct British English - it's not - correct British English is "named after". To my mind "named for" means something else. "Bob couldn't think of what to call his pet hamster, so thanks to his daughter, it was named for him" To me (British) there's no way of telling what the hamster was called from that sentence - but to an American (or to a British person who's got it wrong) the hamster would be called "Bob". Even worse that this is the, slightly rarer, turn of phrase "anagram for". I don't even think this one is correct US English - I think it should be "anagram of" wherever you are. Anyway, rant over for tonight :-)

Snow? Call that snow?

It snowed yesterday – in case you didn’t notice. Well it did in London anyway; I woke up and looked out of the window to find the garden covered in snow. The first time I saw substantial quantities of snow was in Stockholm, quite a few years ago. When I was growing up as a kid there was the odd flurry - even enough to build a snowman once or twice during my childhood – but real deep snow is something I first saw in Stockholm one February day. For those who’ve never been, the weather in Stockholm is beautiful at various points throughout the year. The summer is amazing, and when the city is covered in snow it also looks pretty stunning – although I wouldn’t advise venturing out without a hat. But I hope I don’t offend too much of my Swedish friends when I say that the weather in November in Stockholm is really rather dismal. It’s not cold enough to snow and look picturesque and yet it’s wet enough to be raining almost all the time. If you imagine a grey, wet day with da

The BNP

It's interesting to note that there are 3 people on the BNP membership list with the surname Black - I'm surprised they let them in ;-)

Expanding filler...

A return, today, to the subject of blogging. Well, in part at least. Over the past few days, I’ve drafted a few entries to go in here but decided not to post them because they were far too serious and – maybe more importantly – not actually very interesting. Self-censorship is a very important thing, and it’s one of the hardest things to learn if you’re writing. I have recently started writing songs again – the change work situation for me means that I’m actually getting to spend time in the UK, and hence have the time to sit at the piano late evenings and twiddle – and one of the hardest things involved in that process is learning to cast away things which “don’t quite work”. One of the down-sides to being the sort of person who buys albums rather than singles is that you’re stuck with having the “filler tracks” in your collection. This isn’t a problem when you are sifting through the library to find something to listen to – but when you’ve put a random selection of tracks onto y

I was wrong.

A postscript now that I've had time to think is that it's not possible to construct such a Sudoku. Well, the question itself is logically flawed. I've stated that the puzzle must have a unique solution. But before you make the move and write in the number 1 in the particular location above, the puzzle (by definition thanks to the question) has multiple solutions. Hence the question is flawed itself, and I am stupid. Oops.

I wish I were better at playing chess...

I’m not bad at playing chess. But it’s one of those things I wish I were better at, but for which I don’t have the time (nor the motivation to make time) to work on in more detail. I used to play chess when I was younger, and wasn’t bad then – just as I’m not bad now. But for some reason, I have this notion in my mind that I should be better at playing chess than I am. I like to think as myself as the “kind of person who should be good at chess” so to be rather average when finding my way around the chess board feels rather unrewarding. I feel the same way about Sudoku, as it happens. It’s the sort of thing which you’d think a Cambridge Maths Graduate should be able to do. But I’m not actually very good at them. I understand the logic behind solving a Sudoku but find its application rather boring, usually. When solving Sudoku, there are usually only a few types of logic needed to solve the puzzle. But I’ve never seen the fact that a Sudoku is supposed to have a unique solut

I think my ears may be a funny shape.

I've tried numerous in-ear earphones over the years, and none of them fit. Either they fall out as I'm walking along, or the clips are the wrong size for my ears, or some other such problem. It's very distressing as not only is it hard for me to listen to Terry Wogan on the walk to work of a morning; I'm also starting to think that my ears are somehow irregular.

It's about time someone had the courage...

I'm not usually one to get political about such things, but it's about bloody time that someone had the courage to do this... http://news.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/hi/entertainment/newsid_7724000/7724426.stm

Freude, schöner Götterfunken

So, Barack Obama has won the US presidential election. I really tried to distance myself from the coverage of the campaign; the constant barrage was turning into overload as election day approached. However, I did wake up at around 5am and flicked on the TV just to see if the result was in yet. I turned on just in time to see Obama give his speech live from Chicago. Much as I’d tried to avoid the election I did actually feel quite an emotional sense of relief that he won. Of course, one man can’t change the world. But Barack Obama is just what America, and the world, needs right now. A good friend of mine said at the weekend that Barack Obama gives Americans the chance to be proud of being American again – without the need to add “sorry about our president” as a post-script. There really does seem to be a tangible sense of optimism spreading out from the election result. I think the first benefit of Obama having won is the fact that George W is effectively prevented from

"Led Zep without Robert Plant" - an oxymoron surely?

So I read in the papers today that Led Zep are to go on tour, but without Robert Plant. But without Robert Plant it's not Led Zep is it? Which brings me onto another of my favourite pet hates - Queen and Paul Rogers. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of Brian May, Roger Taylor and even Paul Rogers. But if you put the three of them together, you do not get "Queen plus" anything. You get Brian May, Roger Taylor and Paul Rogers. I've heard Brian May say online many times that he's not really interested in touring for the money. That's cool. And that he enjoys playing the old Queen songs - that is also cool. But if both of those things are true, then why not tour as "Brian May, Roger Taylor with Paul Rogers". You can still play the songs, but may not sell quite as many tickets. But if money isn't the reason, then surely that wouldn't matter to them. In a way, I'm disappointed. At first, the idea of getting Paul Roger

Ring Ring

I read today in the news that a train company here in the UK plans to coat the windows of trains in a special material which stops mobile signals being received inside the carriage. I've never understood the fascination people have with describing mobile phones being used in public as "a nuisance". Why is someone talking into a phone any more annoying than two people talking to each other. If the problem were one of noise levels, I would think it should be only the half problem, surely? I think the problem is more one of frustration at not hearing the other side of the conversation. I don't mean that flippantly; I actually mean it deadly seriously. I think the same thing happens when overhearing the conversation in a language we don't understand ourselves. I'm not sure we necessarily get frustrated at not hearing the conversation; moreso I think we have an internal frustration that what we are hearing is "noise" rather than "human convers

Spellchecker

I really should spellcheck things before I put them online. Although, the typo I can spot in the first line of the previous post would not have been caught by a spellchecker anyway. Maybe I should leave the mistakes in as a way of checking if anyone is copying my work. I know that the phone book in the UK used to have fake numbers and names in, and if those fake numbers and names appeared in another directory, then the publishers of the phone book would know that the other people had copied the list from the phone book. The same thing is often true with sheet music. There are generally a couple of deliberate mistakes per song which don't affect the accuracy of the music in any significant way, but do allow the publishers to uniquely identify their work. So maybe I should do the same thing with this blog. I should inject a few deliberate mistakes into it so that if any of my wonderful and witty words (should I ever write anyone) appear elsewhere, I shall able to sue and make

Blogging...

It's a funny old thing, blogging. Except it's not that told. Nor, generally, are blogs funny - especially those which are meant to be. Anyway, in the past I've tried and failed to maintain a blog. Maybe some of you even read one of them. I doubt it. Noone did. But I guess that's the point with blogs isn't it? I'm not writing it for you to read, nor am I writing it for me to read. I'm writing it because I can. So, as yet I have absolutely no idea what I shall put into my blog, but time will shape that, I'm sure. On the internet, I think there's a choice to be made. You can either put a picture of yourself, some contact details and then write a blog. But if you choose to do this, you accept that anyone who knows you could potentially find your blog and read everything you've written. And "anyone" could include "grandmother" "family of your partner" or "the Queen" so one has to watch one's la

Welcome

Here I go again. Once more, I'm going to try to sustain a blog... Let's see how it goes...