28 November, 2005


The Open Rights Group

The Open Rights Group is an organisation recently created to fill roughly the same role in the UK as the Electronic Frontier Foundation does in America.

That is, trying to look after our digital rights.

Why? Because we can't all be experts. We can't all watch the processes of the world in enough detail to see where our rights are being eroded. They're there to try and make sure that there is someone to balance the influence of businesses, to make sure that there is someone the press can talk to that isn't giving a company line calculated to increase profits or market share. They want to keep us all informed and generally be "the good guys".

But they need money.

Earlier in the year, they asked for people to pledge 5 quid a month, to be paid only if 1000 other people also made the pledge.

If you can spare a fiver a month, go and make the pledge. Think of it as a Christmas present to the whole country.

Of course, even though I think it's a good idea, I'll be watching them carefully once they start having my money.

27 November, 2005


More music

Get "Rid" as an ogg or and mp3.

23 November, 2005


Pay attention!

Pay attention!Another book from my friends Anne and Nova.
This one is called "pay attention to Daniel's prophecy!"

View the file information

Moblog from my mobile phone

22 November, 2005


More music, more guitar, less giggles

After having so much fun creating Howler, I decided to have a bash at writing something a little more serious with my guitar.

My playing hasn't improved at all since last time, so it's still a matter of sampling individual notes and chords and then putting them back together in Cheesetracker . And when I say I'm a bad guitarist, I'm giving myself more credit than I deserve. I couldn't tell you what notes or chords I'm playing - it's all done with trial and error, sticking my fingers in places a contortionist might wince at and strumming wildly. It certainly looks like I'm a guitarist, and that's good enough for now.

Anyway, the final result is available as coastal.ogg or coastal.mp3.

I get asked quite a lot about the names I give to my tracks. There really isn't much of a relationship between name and content. The names are really just there to differentiate one track from another.

I think I'm going to write a little app to generate track names by randomly picking words from a dictionary. I don't have much free time, so if anyone feels like doing this for me (nudge nudge - 110/159/171?) I'd be very happy. Let's see, we'll need to open text files, read strings, maybe take a number as a command-line argument for the length of the name, use regular expressions to pick words that make up this length...

In case I'm being too subtle: for Coventry's first-year programmers, this could be an alternative way to meet the learning outcomes for some of the IO chapter.

20 November, 2005


Telewest's Teleport

Well, the service went live.

I have mixed feelings about it, to be honest. It's nice to be able to watch things whenever I feel like it, but the choice is limited.

Not only is it only selected programs, they seem to be selected from only a few channels and by someone who I wouldn't like to share a TV with.

There's Eastenders a plenty, and lots of other drivel (When Games Attack, or whatever it is), but not the things I'd actually want to watch.

Little Britain was on there, which was good. And an episode of Ideal, but since the law of repeats says that if you only catch a few episodes the first time around, those are the few you'll catch the second time around, I only watched a few minutes.

The films look OK - there's plenty to choose from now (around 250) and not having to watch them at scheduled times is good. Oh, and the pause and rewind functions mean I can use the loo without missing key plot developments, so that's good too.

For an extra five quid a month, I can watch old series as well. But since the list of things available at the moment is a little short and a lot uninteresting, I'll keep my fiver for now.

Maybe I'm just expecting to much. I've wanted on-demand television for a long time and now it's here, I'm already bored and dissatisfied with it.


18 November, 2005



In a few days time, my cable provider is switching on an 'on-demand' service.
I don't get much time to watch TV, and when I can, there's usually nothing that I want to watch.
With the new service, they claim that I'll be able to watch anything from the last 7 days when I feel like it and be able to pause or rewind. And there will be 250 films available.
I know sky people have had this for a while, but it's all new to me.

15 November, 2005


Google Earth

I know it's old news, but Google Earth is amazing.

Steph recently bought a laptop and now that there's a Windows machine in the house, I've been able to play superman and fly around the globe with Google Earth.

Google earth cartoon

13 November, 2005


Linux audio documentation

Emmanuel Saracco has started putting together his Free document "How to create music with GNU/Linux".

This is a work in progress, but looks to be a very nice introduction to Linux audio. It begins with system configuration, including tweaks like using hdparm and adding real-time capabilities to the kernel, and moves through installing the most common audio software before giving guidance on using it and finally deals with recording and encoding.

If you've been thinking of trying out linux audio, this is a good place to get started.

09 November, 2005



Wired are running an article on software bugs.

They seem to have been quite careful not to say that Grace Hopper first used the term "bug" to mean a software flaw, yet they still managed to sound like that's what they meant.

Assuming we can trust Wikipedia, and on this topic I assure you we can, this is a common mistaken attribution.

Anyway, the article has two nice animations explaining common bugs: overflows and race conditions.

It would be nice to have somewhere in our courses to put material on common bugs, especially the interesting explotable ones, but I can't see space for it at the moment.

01 November, 2005


Not taking things seriously

I was fiddling around with my guitar a few days ago, and ended up with a little tune that made me laugh.

I'm not sure why, but then I laugh at a lot of things.

Anyway, I recorded it, chopped it up to fix my terrible timing and turned it into a complete little track.

You can download it as an ogg file or an mp3 file.

See if you find it as funny as I did.

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