Monday, December 04, 2006

Chatham house antics

Here are some youtube videos from the "other" state grammar school where I grew up. Apparently it all revolves around a class that was taught the wrong syllabus for their A-levels by a teacher called Mr. Hunt.



OK GO - Treadmills

Came across this a few months ago.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Indian railways booking website

We are off to India in a few weeks for a wedding and then some travelling. The trains are meant to be very good and cheap in India so I was pleased to hear that you could book tickets online. It has though been an extremely traumatic experience and I can easily declare the the website is the worse I have ever come across. It was difficult to register and there are multiple errors which could only be overcome by sweet talking and tricks. Worse though was that it disconnected repeatedly, was very slow to load and refused to move on. It was also intolerant of reloading the page and heaven forbid pressing the back button. Worse of all it crashed quite a few times when making a payment through the bank gateway which meant that I got charged but did not get the ticket!

After three days of effort I eventually managed to book 8 tickets and reserve one more, but I feel I lost part of my soul in the process. Also the wrong charges are also being refunded slowly. So it looks like it has sorted itself out in the end but I wouldn't wish this process on anyone.

Just want to mention the websites Indiamike which has great handy tips and seat61.

Last.fm streams

As I might have mentioned previously, I have been using audioscrobbler to record what I have been listening to and matching me up with people with similar tastes. Recently though I have got into last.fm streams, which basically pays music based on your "neighbours" taste. Great stuff, try it.

Cycling to work

Well you will be amazed to hear that through a combination that through cycling to work and cutting down on some carbohydrates I have managed to lose rather a large amount of weight. This is great and I want to lose a bit more, but unfortunately tragedy has struck and I have been slowly putting on a bit. The reason is simple, my bike got stolen the end of September.

Rather surprisingly it got stolen from Epsom railway station, behind the barriers underneath a CCTV camera. Even worse was that it was not a great bike at all being my old Raleigh bike which I have had since I was about 12 and too be honest was really not appreciating getting pounded every day. The only reason that I can understand that it was hit was because it had a very wimpy chain. Boo hiss.

What is amazing though that I reported the matter to the police and they have actually done something about it. Not only did they take a statement from me, but they have arressted two people and have warrants for two more. Unfortunately they did not recover my bike but it sounds like they have busted a bike stealing gang and my evidence was only part of the picture. So the police are no where near as useless as you are led to believe. Will be interesting to see whether it gets to court or not.

Modded xbox

Xbox 360? Paaaahhhh ... past generation consoles that is the way forward for cheap expandable fun. Recently I brought an brand spanking new xbox from Game for £70 and included three rather good games (IGN rating):
Splinter Cell - Chaos Theory (9.6)
Unreal Championship 2 - The liandri conflict (9.3)
Need for speed underground 2 (9.1)

Even though my primary reason for buying it was for the things you can do once it is modded, I have been getting into the gaming too. Alice is also having fun on it too, especially with unreal tournament and splinter cell. I have already brought another game off ebay called Pro Evolution Soccer 5 which fills the niche of a football game. The other things I wouldn't mind getting in the future is a football manager game, a fighting game and The Sims. To go along with this I have brought an xbox controller from Hong Kong and ... a dance mat (I haven't used that yet but it should be fitness fun)

As mentioned above the reason I brought the xbox was to mod it. What this involves is fitting another chip to the motherboard, so that Microsoft's restrictions on what code can be run is lifted. Following the information from xbox-scene and command-tab I brought an Xecuter 2.6LE chip and Xapt3r 16 solderless adaptor from Mr modchips. I didn't have the courage to do soldering! Fitting the chip wasn't too bad, but there was some nail biting moments trying to fit these tiny wires into the right holes. After that and flashing the chip with the X2 Bios from bitorrent we were ... freeeeeeee.

There are two main reasons why modding the xbox is so marvellous:
1) Xbox media centre. This bit of software turns the xbox into a media centre PC capable of playing all kinds of media (mp3s, divx, last.fm streamns etc.) over the local network or internet. This is simple amazing stuff and is extremely well done. At the moment I have it streaming stuff off my Mac box upstairs. I also brought a good quality xbox component cable to make full use of my HDTV.
2) Emulators. There are a wide range of emulators available for the xbox which expands the games you play to all the old classics. Of particular note is the N64 emulator which is quite simple beautiful. Current favourite game is the almighty Mario Kart 64. Other emulators I have got installed are for the SNES, NES, Amiga, C64, Megadrive and Scumm (Monkey Island etc.).

My brother got so inspired by the idea of the media centre that he wanted one too and so I have sorted him out one too. Handily he had an old harddrive lying around that was bigger than the 10GB one that comes as standard so he won't have to stram everything.

Bring on the old school.

Gameboy color

Recently I found my Gameboy color that my brother had given to Alice and I for our wedding present and I must say it is marvellous. It is a great little thing with long battery life and great games. The only downside is that the screen does not have a backlight, which means that you have decent background light. What is most amazing though is that the games are so cheap on ebay and in fact I have got a bit addicted to buying the beasts. Here is a list of games I've got:

Bust-a-move millenium
Cannon fodder
Donkey kong country
Kirby tilt 'n' tumble
Warioland 4
Mario golf
Micro machines v3
Woody woodpecker racing
Zelda oracle of ages
Pokemon pinball

Marvellous. My particular favourite I would say is Kirby tilt 'n' tumble, which has a motion sensor in the cartridge and you have to roll a ball around the place. Old games consoles are definitely the way forward for cheap cheap fun! In fact it has inspired me to get a further console (see next post).

I am now on the look out for a cheap Gameboy Advance SP that can play gameboy color games and a whole lot more.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Paper, cycling and ripping

Cooorrrr ... I haven't updated this for ages, how slack. I have no excuse!

All weekend I have been writing a paper on my PhD stuff which has been very hard work, but I am glad I have finally finished a first draft at least. It has been really hanging over my head in a major way, so hopefully I will be able to get submitted soon and feel a bit more free to follow some other intresting stuff.

About a month a go I started cycling to work, which is really great but pretty tiring. It has the double advantage of getting me fitter and saving me a bit of money. Also despite having to have a shower it still takes me about the same amount of time as going by train. What is great about the route that it is mainly off road, going across a few fields and down alley ways. The only bad thing is the hills at the end on the way into work ... man ... talk about destroying my knees, but I definitely am improving. At least I am not getting saddle sore anymore!

Talking about exercise etc., I have been basically on a diet and tracking it with a great site called calorie count, which is by far the best one I have come across ... shame it is american but hey you can't have everything. Amazingly, over the last few months I have lost a stone and a half which is maverllous.

So now that I have finally got an ipod, I have started re-ripping all my CDs into high quality mp3 (LAME --preset standard if you were wondering). As much as I like oggs, it is just not practical to use as a standard format across platforms.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The end of my PhD

So my PhD is finally at an end. Yesterday I received the bound versions of my PhD. I used a binders called mythesis.co.uk who did everything including printing and binding for a quite reasonable price - well reasonable considering the hassle that I avoided. The quality was pretty good, with thick paper and high resolution printing. It did though have a few pages with black scuff marks, but I do not think that will matter (well I hope not anyway).

At considerable expense I sent two copies to the research degress examination office via registered mail, so I know it as arrived. Lets just hope everything is ok.

Now all I have to do is find a way to distribute it to my supervisors!

Paper published

After more than a years worth of work one of my PhD group's papers is out. It is titled "Ranked prediction of p53 targets using hidden variable dynamic modeling" and can be found here. I would just like to congratulate Martino and Mike for getting it dnoe, I know it nearly killed them.. I did not contricute that much to the paper, but was involved in a lot of the discussion and the protein measurements. It is also very
connected to my work.

Internet supermarket shopping

One of the pains of living in Epsom and not having a car is that there is not really a big supermarket that close. The best there is, is a Waitrose which is a bit pricey or a small co-op. The nearest big one is a Sainbury's which is more than 30 mins walk away.

For this reason we have started to experiment with internet grocery shopping, with the idea being that we do monthly shops using the internet, get fruit and veg from the market and other bits and bobs from co-op or Waitrose. So far we have tried two: Asda and Tesco. Asda was a right pain in the butt - the internet site did not work on anything apart from Windows internet explorer and even then the navigation and update were slow slow slow. In actual fact we even managed to lose the whole shopping list and had to repeat the hours of work. Also, the delivery did not arrive in the designated slot and some of the replacement items were dodgy.

Tescos was a considerable improvement. The main point is that the web interface was so much better and it worked on firefox which is always a plus. In actual fact the food did not arrive in the first designated slot, but early on in that slot I received a phone call to inform me that a van had broken down and to arrange another time. From then on it was plain sailing, even though they did manage to place a £5 choclate egg in that we did not want. I quick call from Alice though and we got the money back. SO the customer service was very good.

The question is, do we stick with Tesco or try Sainsburys.

Thomas Arthur Hunter

A bit late I know, but I just wanted to big up the arrival of Thomas Arthur Hunter - the Son of some good mates of mine. He was born on Monday 27th February 2006 at 22:33pm.



More details can be found here.

Back in the land of the living

We have finally back in the land of the living ... that's right broadband has finally been installed at our new place in Epsom. I must say that is a relief, because dialup not only sucks, but I think cost us a fair wack too.

The reason it took so long is that I was waiting until the exchange got upgraded to 8 MBit/s. The broadband company we are using are freedom2surf - as recommended by my bro. All seems fair and well so far although it is typical that on the very day that I get broadband talktalk announce that they are giving it away for free. Surely there must be some catch. Luckily I can always change to it after 3 months as that is the length of time I am bound to f2s.

The speed I am getting seems very good with a top speed of about 400kb/s, but it took a bit of trouble getting it that fast. I brought some buffalo airstations and with one of them came with a free ADSL2 modem, but the speed I got off that was way down. Must be cheap or maybe I just haven't worked out how to use it yet. Anyway I just reverted to my old router/modem combo and that seems to work fine.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

In Epsom.

I am now a happy resident in Epsom. Whoop whoop.

New futurama episodes are coming!

Looks like a new season of futurama is in the works (http://www.gotfuturama.com/Futurama/News/1142752670,92129,). Simply marvellous.

Friday, February 17, 2006

My Viva

Well it looks like I have done it ... whoop! I had my viva for my phD yesterday and I have passed. This is a great relief as you might expect!

The viva only started at 2pm so I had the morning to deal with the nerves. I wasn't a complete wreck and a bit of PE got the blood pumping (yeah booooooy). I had a bad spell around 1pm where I become completely hysterical, which was an interesting feeling. This was calmed down by a large portion of spiced mixed rice from the "Bree Louise". Still Alice and I had to walk around a park a couple of times, to waste enough time before I could go in.

After a bit of a jittery start where I gave an informal talk providing a summary of my thesis it went really well and felt relaxed. The examiners were very friendly about it all and actually seemed to be interested in my work which was great. After an initial discussion we just went through the thesis stopped at any point where either examiner had an issue or a comment. There were some difficult questions to answer, but some of the points they come up were pretty interesting too. The viva lasted about 3 hours 15 mins which is quite long but not too bad. I think it was worse for Alice who was waiting nervously in a pub nearby from 4pm. So they have recommended that I pass (which basically means I have passed) and have signed off the forms and written the summary report already which means that they do not have to see the thesis again (I do not know if they could bear reading the weighty tome again!). Unsurprisingly, I have to make some corrections. They are on the level of changing or adding some sentences and fixing typos rather than anything major - so that is great. The external examiner commented that the thesis had the broadest range of techniques that he had ever seen in a thesis (I think that is a great compliment) whereas the internal examiner retorted that it was the longest one he had read!

So after some champagne with my examiners, Mike Hubank (one of my supervisors), Alice and some random institute of child health people that were hanging around we headed off to the "Fitzroy Tavern" where we had hired a room downstairs. Loads of people turned up covering the bases of school, university and PhD uni. The place was pretty much full. I had a great time and felt very high - even got a pressie from the CoMPLEX first year PhD guys. It was all rounded off by a kebab from "El Turkistan" on the Old Kent Road - marvellous.

Move to Horsham

Last Saturday (11th Feb) we moved to Horsham into temporary rented accommodation. This is while the house we are buying in Epsom sorts itself out (hopefully we will be able to move there in March). It is a 2 bedroom, 2 floor flat that has a student-house feel about it (with only us two in it rather than the multitudes). It is right in the middle of town and is above a hairdressers. This is excellent for Alice's journey to work, just 20 minutes walking rather than the normal 2 hour trek! Not too bad for me either, the flat is close to the station and so the journey takes about the same time as it did from the London pad (about 1 hour 20 mins).

We still have our flat in London so it is a bit like being posh with a flat in town and out in the country!

The worse thing by far about the move is the lack of internet. I hadn't realised quite how dependent we are on it. There is definitely the sense of having lost the power to do stuff - it is such a pain to pre-plan stuff. We have also cut the phone and broadband at the London flat so today I have been forced to go to an internet cafe on the Old Kent Road - how very sad.