Friday, March 18, 2005

Synergy

Synergy is quite simply a marvelous app. As the site explains,



Synergy lets you easily share a single mouse and keyboard between
multiple computers with different operating systems, each with its
own display, without special hardware. It's intended for users
with multiple computers on their desk since each system uses its
own monitor(s).




The thing is, it is so simple, yet very useful for me.  I use it
at work when I have my laptop and my computer on the desk. 
Setting up my desktop as the server and the laptop as the client, it means that I can use my use my desktop mouse and keyboard on the laptop simply by moving the mouse pointer off the left hand edge of my desktop monitor onto my laptop screen. This is surprisingly useful, more so than I can describe here.



Other features that are particularly neat are that it works on different operating systems and between them (Linux, MS Windows and Mac OS X). I must admit that I have only tried it between two Macs, but it works very well even though the OS X version is the least developed. Additionally, you can copy text from one computer, move onto the screen of another and paste the text. Handy. Apparently you can also copy and paste with files and images on the Windows and Linux versions but this is not currently possible with OS X. Finally, it is a opensource program, what more could you want.



No special privileges are required, so I simply run synergys on my desktop, create a ssh tunnel forwarding the relevant port and then run synergyc on the client. This is all without becoming a root user.



Monkey dust!

Star Wars - the final twist

Check out this beauty (link).

How is that the star wars trailers always look so juicy and brilliant but the end results are, to put it mildly, a bit of a disappointment. The thing is, I have to give the makers the benefit of the doubt until I see it. It has got to be pretty dark this one so hopefully it will be more intelligent and impressive.

Actually, even George Lucas himself has said that this last Star Wars is not suitable for children. The BBC has a good summary of this. This has got to be a good thing. Roll on 19 May!

Spring

Well spring looks like it has finally arrived. It is joyous to get the windows open and enjoy a bit of sun and fresh air. Makes me even less inclined to do work though!
Man!
I really need to sort myself out. Another Friday of wasted time, bah! Spent quite a bit of it trying to get geant4 to work on OS X for Lewis. Geant4 is a high energy physics modelling thingy. What a pain these things are. In the end I had to resort to fink, which has only got an older version, but hopefully will work. It is chugging away at the moment. Why, oh why, do these scientists not use the standard tools like autoconf, I don't know. Anyway lets hope it will work.

It was to play on a nice new powerbook though, even though Lewis seems to have managed to get a big dent on the corner already.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Just to say that I helped atomicyoghurt set up her blog a few days ago over at blogger. Here is the link. I have still not decided whether or not to stick with livejournal or head over to blogger. I put a poll about it over at Gentoo forums (http://forums.gentoo.org). At the moment 11 out of 13 prefer blogger. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The dilemma about my sea monkeys

Last year I got some sea monkeys that were great fun to have. Fast forward to the present day and there are unfortunately only two sea monkeys left. Not only that the brilliant spherical bottle is infested with slime (the bottle is from Alice's work!). The sea monkeys are in a zombified state. I keep feeding them but I was wondering whether it would be more humane to kill them. Not sure.
In a book review in the "New Statesman" this week there was some interesting quotes. The review was of a book called "Happiness: lessons from a new science" by Richard Layard. Apparently a major source of discontent is the habit of comparing ourselves with others. Layard urges us to give it up by telling the following joke,

A Russian peasant has no cow but his neighbour does. "How can I help?" asks God, and the peasant replies: "Kill the cow."

Gore Vidal expresses the idea more succinctly,

Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies.

Sounds pretty pessimistic of human nature to me, but there is some truth in it.
On Friday, in the metro there was a small piece on a website called nethouseprices.com. Basically, it is a database that is based on the Land Registry of England and Wales and Registers of Scotland. It allows you to search the price that houses were sold on any street on the country since 2000, and best of all it is free of charge!

I tried it out on Monday and it was great. It managed to successfully find my flat and it was interesting to check out the prices elsewhere. Apparently no-one has sold a flat since we brought ours in 2001 which maybe because we live on a council estate and most people are council tenants. I did think though, that our next door neighbours had brought there flat off the council in the last year, but that did not appear.

The only negative thing I have to say about this site is that every time you want to see a price or more details about a record you have to type in this code that is shown in a picture. This is to stop bots harvesting the information but it is a bit annoying. I think you might be able to get round this by registering. Good free resource though.
Here is an interesting fact that I read in the "New Statesman" last week in an article titled "The New Statesman Bling Bling List",

Taking into account council tax (which is graded but not in line with wealth) and VAT and other indirect taxes paid at a flat rate, the top fifth in the income scale pay a smaller proportion in tax (34 per cent) than the bottom fifth (42 per cent).

I think that is disgusting and makes me think that the Liberal Democrats plan to have a 50% income tax on income over £100,000 seem an even better idea than I originally thought. Shame they are unlikely to get into power.