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Men and Cartoons log - Wed, 07/03/2012 - 6:04pm

I'd been curious about Jonathan Lethem ever since Cory Doctorow blogged a riveting review of 'Chronic City' on boingboing, but it was this short fictionalisation of Phil K Dick's early writing life that really made me curious to sample more of his work. It was then that I discovered that virtually no (physical) bookshop anywhere in my vicinity, first or second hand, had a single book by him in stock.

Budgeting log - Tue, 28/02/2012 - 5:52pm

I'm seeking advice on budgeting.

Historically, I've been crap at managing money. Things have improved in recent years. My main tool is Martin Lewis' Money Saving Expert budget planner.

It's simply a spreadsheet, into which you feed your income and outgoings. You can supply each line item as either a daily, monthly or annual income or expense. The sheet works out both a monthly and an annual total for each and the difference (be it positive or negative).

goodreads log - Tue, 28/02/2012 - 1:36pm

I started trying to maintain a "to read" list on my website, but instead I've signed up for goodreads and started to feed my lists into there. Feel free to recommend me things!

American Psycho log - Mon, 27/02/2012 - 8:39am

American Psycho is a novel by Bret Easton Ellis. It's a first person stream-of-consciousness novel about a mid-to-late twenties Wall Street banker during the late-eighties-early-nineties.

Rip it Up and Start Again log - Mon, 06/02/2012 - 9:19pm

I've just — finally — finished reading Simon Reynold's dense "Rip it Up and Start Again": a history of post-punk music from 1978-1984.

I often think of music journalism in the terms that Zappa famously phrased as (roughly) "people who can't write, writing for people who can't read". This book sometimes suffers from that syndrome, of attempting to describe audio in terms of other senses, which sometimes wanders deep into synesthesia territory, but for the most part the book is coherent and enjoyable.

I Shall Wear Midnight log - Sun, 05/02/2012 - 2:48pm

I Shall Wear Midnight is the 38th Discworld novel and the fourth following the story of Tiffany Aching, young witch of the Chalk.

Reading modern Pratchett, I'm sadly, acutely (and morbidly) aware that, as he succumbs to Alzheimer's disease, these are the likely to be some of the last Discworld novels written. With the last few, this observation has been entirely external to the novel. With Midnight, however, I got the impression that the awful disease has finally started to effect the prose itself.

Music for Our Future log - Wed, 25/01/2012 - 10:28am

In 2010, a collaboration between the SyFy channel, Create Digital Music, XLR8R and Pitchfork created "Music for our Future": a compilation album of free music inspired by the TV show "Caprica".

The Crying Tree log - Sun, 22/01/2012 - 3:45pm

Somebody bought The Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha for Sarah as a present and she asked me to read it so we could talk about it, so I did.

It's a novel about a family tragedy, Southern-state U.S.A. and the death penalty. A little boy is shot dead, a man is arrested for the crime and faces the death penalty. The book chronicles what happens to the family and to the killer during the 19 years or so that passes before the execution takes place.

bugs log - Sun, 22/01/2012 - 10:22am

Bugs I've hit in GNOME 3, in the last 5 minutes:

  • gnome-shell's "run" pop-up lost focus and I couldn't get rid of it. Nor could I launch another "run" dialogue, which is my normal route for starting software.

vi log - Fri, 13/01/2012 - 5:22pm

As seen on reddit: an old Bill Joy quote often banded about as part of the (largely synthetic) vi-vs.-emacs holy war starts as follows:

vi was written for a world that doesn't exist anymore

The context of that quote is:

I was trying to make it usable over a 300 baud modem. That's also the reason you have all these funny commands. It just barely worked to use a screen editor over a modem. It was just barely fast enough.

The Silent Land log - Wed, 11/01/2012 - 10:15pm

I've just finished reading Graham Joyce's haunting The Silent Land: an atmospheric and moving love story set in an Alpine ski resort.

Husband and Wife Jake and Zoe head out to the slopes early one morning and are caught in an avalanche. They survive, narrowly, but upon returning to the resort, everything has changed…

Robert Smith in for John Peel log - Wed, 11/01/2012 - 5:09pm

On 21st October 2004, Robert Smith of the Cure sat in for John Peel whilst he was on holiday and presented his show. This was part of a sequence of people covering for Peel. Off the top of my head Siouxie of the Banshees sat in on another night, but I forget who else.

Anyway, sadly, John died a few days later on the 25th.

Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said log - Sat, 07/01/2012 - 10:22am
The Philip K. Dick Collection

The Philip K. Dick Collection

I've just finished reading "Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said" by Philip K Dick, one of 13 novels collected in the Library of America's wonderful "The Philip K. Dick Collection" boxed set.

Ready Player One log - Wed, 04/01/2012 - 5:17pm

I recently completed "Ready Player One", Ernest Cline's debut novel. It's a Sci-Fi fan-service novel that explores a dystopian future (yes, another one) where the majority of the populace hide inside a VR environment to escape their "real" lives.

The sole-genius who authored the VR software hid a series of easter eggs inside, in the form of challenges relating to pop-culture and video game trivia circa the 80s. He constructs his will such that whoever first completes the challenges inherits the mega-bucks company who control the VR simulation.

My new record player unit log - Tue, 03/01/2012 - 9:19am

A mildly hacked Ikea "Expedit" shelving unit is a surprisingly snug home for my Hi-fi and my vinyl collection (even the 7" records).

backup log - Thu, 29/12/2011 - 10:18am

Backups are something I don't do well. I hope to write a more thorough article about them at some point. For now, here are some tips.

Like most home users, I don't have access to a tape drive or jukebox for backups. I'm therefore looking for a solution that backs up to a local block device. I haven't ruled out a solution that backs up to DVD-Rs, but I haven't found a suitable one.

mail archiving script log - Tue, 13/12/2011 - 9:52am

Here's the mail archiving script I was talking about: Sorry about the name-pun.

wadc log - Sun, 04/12/2011 - 8:21pm

I'm happy to announce the release of wadc version 1.2.

A WadC session

A WadC session

WadC is a functional programming language for the composition of Doom-format maps. Originally created by Wouter "Aardappel" van Oortmerssen, I was granted permission to take over the project over a year ago, but didn't get around to releasing anything until now.

Flowers for Algernon — Daniel Keyes log - Fri, 02/12/2011 - 3:38pm

A melancholic look at intellectual disability and how it was regarded and treated by the society of the time (1960s). Despite an inevitable conclusion, it was enjoyable and thought provoking.

mail archiving log - Tue, 29/11/2011 - 7:17pm

I wrote a quick proof-of-concept script that can traverse my email (in local Maildir format) and detach all attachments: saving them to another location and replacing them with a text attachment which documents where they've gone.

In response to Andrew Cowie log - Mon, 21/11/2011 - 2:46pm

Andrew Cowie blogs about 'A good GNOME 3 Experience'. He writes

I think it’s a bit odd not to expect that something that was widely advertised as being such a different user experience is … different.


Retiring from the Debian games team log - Fri, 11/11/2011 - 10:25am

After over five years, I've decided to retire from the Debian Games Team.

The games team has been a fun group to work within Debian: packaging doom-related programs was my route into Debian and I've really enjoyed it.

Spare time is very tight at the moment, and I'm not dedicating much at all to Debian work. Within that, I'd quite like to try and focus on some other areas.

Good luck to the team going forward!

Minecraft log - Wed, 09/11/2011 - 5:15pm
The Archipelago

The Archipelago

Bird's eye view

Bird's eye view


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