Showing posts from 2007

Baby name websites

USA names graph
Top 100 UK names
Baby name map
National statistics

The World of DS Homebrew

Guess what I got for Christmas?
This looks like an interesting summary of homebrew stuff available for the Nintendo DS.


GamesTracker - Tracking Gaming Prices, News and Reviews around the web

Looks a good video game price comparison site. I like the idea that it emails you when a game gets below a certain price.

BBC iplayer - flash version

Iplayer is the BBC's tool to watch all the TV programs from the last week. It use to be only available for just windows XP and you had to wait to download the program through p2p. Today they have quietly released a flash version, which means that you can stream any TV program from the last week just like you tube, marvellous. Shame my old iBook isn't up to playing flash!

Daft punk hands

Yeaaahhhh boy!

Stuff string theory

Backreaction: A Theoretically Simple Exception of Everything

This is an interesting new development in the theory of everything saga. Glad to see there might be a simple approach that avoids all this string theory stuff. Must say I am a bit concerned that it is 248 dimensions ... why do these things have to be so high.

6 Simple & Safe Postfix Changes for Over 95% Spam Reduction

6 Simple & Safe Postfix Changes for Over 95% Spam Reduction

Looks interesting.


Apparently, JkDefrag is the best freware windows defragger!

Amiga Magazine Rack - The ultimate Amiga magazines resource

Amiga Magazine Rack - The ultimate Amiga magazines resource

How retro. Happy days.

Running work windows on Linux

This is just a quick note on how I got windows running as a virtual machine within Linux. My situation was a bit peculiar because I could not re-install windows as it had a load of work specific stuff on it that It had set off that I
1) Did not have the rights to install
2) Did not want to hassle IT about (assuming that they would let me do it)

So the easiest and most successful approach was to use VMWARE's free products the key components being:
1) VMWARE converter
2) VMWARE player

It runs really well and I impressed that you can do this with just VMWARE's free stuff. The only thing that would be nice is if they had a free VMWARE player for OS X, but I suppose you can't have everything.

NB This approach is superior to dual booting as
1) I can do stuff on Windows and Linux at the same time
2) It saves me time
3) When I boot into Windows proper it does weird stuff to the boot loader that is a right pain.

Dan the carpenter

We had some bed slates left over from our old bed and a while ago I had decided that I wanted to use them to build a wide bookcase for the bedroom. So on Saturday morning with a bit of sawing, sweat and a lot of drilling/screwdriving Dan's special "bed" bookcase was born. It is a bit rough and ready, but I must say I am pretty proud of the result seeing that I am not the most talented in the DIY/crafty area.


Classic sensible soccer theme tune

Geek To Live: Turn Thunderbird into the Ultimate Gmail IMAP Client

Geek To Live: Turn Thunderbird into the Ultimate Gmail IMAP Client

Includes a useful hint on how to use the Gmail Trash as the trash can in Thunderbird.

GMail now with IMAP

GMail shakes IMAP out of coma | The Register

Google has announced that gmail will now support IMAP. This means that gmail can be used in a normal email client such as Thunderbird rather than just on the web and the changes you make using that client will be reflected on the web version. I have been waiting for this one for a long time and I am very pleased with this news.

I have managed to set it up without a problem, well apart from my work firewall blocking port 993 out for some version.

Running a Windows Partition in VMware - Oopsilon

Running a Windows Partition in VMware - Oopsilon

Nuff said.

A possible alternative is to use this.

Tottenham Hotspur games live audio

Tottenham Hotspur Interviews: "This is where you can listen to BBC LONDON interviews from Spurs for the 2007 and 2008 season. You can hear every Tottenham game online."

Amazing image resizing

This image manipulation stuff looks amazing. The stuff gets better as it goes along.

The paper is available here.

SVG photos

This is a really nice demo of SVG in firefox browsers. Basically you can grab the corners of a photo and rotate and resize it. Better than my description ... honestly.

Seduction @ The Lido - Margate 1992

My mate Jon alerted me to this bit of video on youtube - old skool rave, just close to where I was brought up. Not that I was old enough to go to any of this stuff, but it is interesting to know it was so big. Now the clubs in Thanet are just meat shops like most towns. I do remember the posters being up everywhere though.

Cheap places for phones and routers

Telephones Online - cordless phones, buy discount telephones UK, home phones, bt phones, digital telephones, dect phones, fax machine


6 Keys to Understanding Modern CSS-based Layouts -

Another CSS article.

Post ADSL migration

Well it all went smoothly and speeds are just as high. Brilliant!

Xming - X server on windows

Xming Notes

Apparently this is a lot better than running Cygwin/X. There is an article about it on

On a similar note, I have started using rdesktop through tsclient at work and I must say that Microsoft has finally done something right with their remote desktop protocol. It is much better than running X or VNC.

ADSL result pre-migration

If everything goes smoothly I should be changing broadband provider tomorrow. Here is a speed test result to check that I will get similar speeds. I am moving away from freedom2surf because they have been taken over by the apparently rubbish Tiscali. Here are the BT speedtest results:
Line rating 6000k
DSL connection rate: 448 kbps (Upstream) 7618 kbps (Downstream)
Actual IP throughput: 2837 kbps


This looks like a marvellous bicycle repair site.

The Top 10 Must-Buy Games for GBA

Infendo | Nintendo news, podcast, Wii, DS, and GBA blog � Blog Archive � The Top 10 Must-Buy Games for GBA

A few of these look interesteing.

The Open Source Web Design Toolbox

The Open Source Web Design Toolbox: 100 Tools, Resources, and Template Sources:
"The Best Directories of Free Open Source Design Templates

There are tons of free design template directories on the net, but sorting through all of them can be a very tedious process. Instead, we suggest that you start with these four, which we consider to be the best free open source design template directories online.

1. OSWD: Over 2,000 of the best freebie web design templates. Also allows for search capability by color, contrast, validation, and other categories.
2. OpenWebDesign:A large and active community of individuals who share free web design templates. Includes regular design contests and a sub-category of most popular designs to speed up your search.
3. Open Designs: Headed by a non-profit board, the open design community has almost 600 designs which have been vetted and moderated by the community’s volunteer board. Also includes a relatively active forum where designers can share tips and resources.
4. CSS Tinderbox: CSS Tinderbox prevents you from having to “reinvent the wheel” by providing very basic, yet solid, CSS/XHTML design templates from which you can build off of."

Disturbing flash game

This is a very very strange flash game. I find it rather disturbing!


Why aren’t you using ionice yet??? Fried CPU

ionice seems to be the equivalent of nice but for disk access. This could be useful for things that use a lot of disk IO but you do not want to effect the running of the rest of the system.

sudo ionice -c3 -ppid

Found: the giant lion-eating chimps of the magic forest | Conservation | Guardian Unlimited Environment

Found: the giant lion-eating chimps of the magic forest:
"Deep in the Congolese jungle is a band of apes that, according to local legend, kill lions, catch fish and even howl at the moon. Local hunters speak of massive creatures that seem to be some sort of hybrid between a chimp and a gorilla."

Another article in the strange animal story series.

British blamed for Basra badgers

British blamed for Basra badgers:

"British forces have denied rumours that they released a plague of ferocious badgers into the Iraqi city of Basra. Word spread among the populace that UK troops had introduced strange man-eating, bear-like beasts into the area to sow panic.

But several of the creatures, caught and killed by local farmers, have been identified by experts as honey badgers.

The rumours spread because the animals had appeared near the British base at Basra airport.

UK military spokesman Major Mike Shearer said: 'We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area.'

One housewife, Suad Hassan, 30, claimed she had been attacked by one of the badgers as she slept.
'My husband hurried to shoot it but it was as swift as a deer,' she said. 'It is the size of a dog but his head is like a monkey,' she told AFP."


Fopp music chain falls victim to downloads and supermarkets

Fopp music chain falls victim to downloads and supermarkets: "Intense price competition and falling CD sales have claimed another victim on the high street with the closure of Fopp, Britain's largest independent music retailer."

This is tragic news. My favourite record shop is closing its doors! My relationship with them goes back to when I was working in Edinburgh for a summer (1998 I think) and I spent many a good hour listening to records. The shops were always good for a cheap CD, book or DVD. A mourn for it!

What is most annoying is that they were making a profit, just didn't have the working capital to carry on. Looks like a case of too fast expansion to me. Boo hiss.

Microsoft Surface: Hands-on First Look

This looks super cool. Like a huge iphone. I wonder how much that will cost and weather it will ever reach the main stream.

Glastonbury lineup spreadsheet

This is a really nice spreadsheet which helps you plan and avoid major lineup clashes at Glasto 07. Created by MatBD in the Official Glastonbury Festival Forum.

As you may have guessed I am going. whoop whoop.

Another good site for this sort of thing is Glasto clashfinder

London to Brighton ride

As you may have gathered I survived the London to Brighton ride and to be honest at the moment I do not feel too bad, just a
bit of sun burn from lying on Brighton beach in a comatose state after
finishing. I am sure the second day stiffness will strike soon.

I stayed overnight at friend's house who live a few miles from the start
at Clapham common. I had to get up at 4.30am and after queuing for
about half an hour we crossed the start line at about 6.35am.

There are four mighty hills to get over, with the last being the most
steep and longest, with the ominous name of Ditchling Beacon. This
gopes over the South downs. You will be pleased to hear that I managed
to get up all of them without walking, unlike about half the other
people. That said the last one I was in the lowest gear possible and it
nearly killed me.

We made a few pit stops for food and water. Food wise it was mainly
bananas but I must say I had one of the most marvellous bacon butties at
one stop (not sure how that fits in with the whole heart campaign).

I came in 12.30pm.

Probably the worse experience of it all was taking the coach back to Coulsdon and then having to cycle the 8 miles home. Stunning.

Desperately seeking sponsorship!

Next Sunday I am going to attempt to do the London to Brighton Bike ride. If you have some spare cash lying around I would really appreciate it if you would consider sponsoring me. It is for the British heart foundation, which I think is a pretty good cause.

The link:

Just click on the "Sponsor Me" button.


Cheap flight search websites

This is a good Guardian article on cheap flight search sites. I have found Momondo to be very good.

The complete list:

I should also include this for good measure.

China Mieville's Top 10 weird fiction

This looks like a really interesting list of scifi/fantasy etc. books from China Miéville. I particular like his definition of weird fiction to cover science fiction, fantasy and the like. He has also states that Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë is "the greatest work of horror ever", which seems an interesting perspective.

I haven't read any of his books yet but I have got "Iron Council" on the book pile courtesy of Alice the charity shop expert.

The generosity of google payments

This is a really great deal from google payments at the moment that aims to get you to sign up to their "paypal" like service. What you get is £10 off when you spend £30 or more (excluding p&p) from a range of merchants. The best thing about this is that it is for every transaction that you make! Only google could afford to five you 33% off, that is for sure.

I have been tempted into buying a harddrive and webcam already!

Check out these links:

Not sure when this offer ends, so get it while its hot.

Faulty harddrive and dry ice

Earlier this week, my office mate was unfortunate enough to have his laptop break down. He had backed up most of his important data on it but tragically his wife had all her work on it with no backups. To try and keep the family home in one piece, my boss and I have been trying to rescue the data from it.

Neither windows nor linux could pick it up, but it was intermittently found by the bios. So we had a go with spinrite and left it on overnight. It had some success, in that it could detect the partitions but it seemed to get stuck at 20%. Unfortunately, after we jumped that section it finished, but still could not be detected by anything. The question is why doesn't spinrite allow you to copy the information to another drive.

Anyway, I had read somewhere that leaving a faulty harddrive overnight in a freezer helps it to be used for a few hours, enough to get the data off. Don't ask me why, but there seems to be a body of evidence for this practice and apparently professional data recovery services use it. As I work for a scientific institution, they have a lot of dry ice around and so we thought we would try that. So I was left in the uncomprimising position of having a computer on my left with wires dangling across my legs into a harddrive poisition in a polysteronine box filled with dry ice. A chilling experience, which one does not expect when one goes into work.

Unfotunately even though there were signs of improvements (a nasty metal crunching sound to a humming cycle) it didn't work. The only choice now is a professional data recovery firm. One quote obtained was £450-900 depending on how much trouble it was to get the data!! And that was with 25% off because we work for a company ... what a ripper. The thing is that they basically have you by balls if you want to see your data ever again.

Glastonbury here we come

So after a adrenalin pumping morning and a long wait, we have now got a reference number for tickets to Glastonbury ... whoop whoop! Tickets went on sale at 9am and from that moment our own control centre went into action. That is Alice, Adam and me sitting in our study with various computers and phones trying to get through Glastonbury ticket shops defenses. After a nervy and quite frankly boring hour and a half Alice got through on the internet and got them. Only 15 mins late all the tickets were gone.

The drama didn't end there though. There was the long wait for the confirmation email. There was no guarantee of tickets until we got it and there was no sign of it all day. Thankfully I woke up this morning to the news that it had arrived. The only worry now is whether we put in the right bank card details. Apparently though, even if these are wrong you get a chance to correct them.

I have never been to Glastonbury before and I must say I am really looking forward to the it. Not just for the music but the whole atmosphere.

Bring it on.

EMI have gone DRM free

I have just heard that EMI are going to sell all their music DRM free at higher quality. This will start off at iTunes and move onto other providers later on. The albums will also be priced at the same price as previously which is also good news. The only price rise will be in singles which will go up from £0.79 to £0.99.

Not bad. I might even buy some music from iTunes now rather than ripping.

Find a cheap DVD

Check this out

This site is a great comparison site that finds the cheapest DVDs. It also does CDs, books, games and electrics but I am not sure how good those comparisons are.

Random question

Have you ever pretended to open automatic doors with your jedi powers?

Top 15 Unintentionally Funny Comic Book Panels

This is worth a look:
Top 15 Unintentionally Funny Comic Book Panels

Gameboy advance SP

Just a quicky to say that I have got my mits of a silver gameboy advance SP from ebay. Not bad at £30 including p&p. This included 5 games, two chargers, two cases and a link cable. The only downside is that it has a sticker of "The pirates of the Caribbean 2" on it. Sounds like a job for anti sticky stuff.

Replacing ipod mini battery

Rather than pay the obscene price of £50 to get the battery replaced on Alice's ipod mini, and lose the inscription in the process, we decided to replace it ourselves. For £10 we managed to get a UniRoss version which apparently will last even longer than the the original. So last night I did the dirty deed, and even though it was fiddly, it was fairly straight forward and was completed in about 15 minutes. The key hint that made it a lot easier was to use a hair dryer to heat the top and bottom of the ipod before trying to leaver off the white plastic bits. This has the effect of semi-melting the glue. I picked up this hint from a comment in someone else's blog, but I cannot remember where now.

The worse bit of the whole procedure was sliding the ipod back into its case which required a combination of wiggling, molding and brute force. It was left to charge over night and initial reports from Alice this morning are that it works splendidly. Marvellous.

New bike

So finally after months of laziness, I have finally ordered and picked up a new bike. It is a specialized globe sport 1997 which is a hybrid bike (mountain bike frame but thinner tires and a few other alterations which make it suitable for road, bike paths, bridal ways etc.). The photos are taken just before I took it out for its first ride, so it was as clean as it ever will be. On the first ride I went around the Epsom and Ashtead common, which was great, but unfortunately I chose a wrong path which was super muddy and so it was completely soiled. At least I won't get sentimental about it and I know that it can take pretty much everything I can throw at it.

I must say it is a super smooth ride and very fast compared to my trusty old bike. I rode to work the first couple of days this week which gave me a great sense of freedom despite the freezing weather. Not too great coming back in the dark but I will get a better forward light at some point. Lost a lot of my fitness but I am sure it will not take too long to get back on track. Unfortunately I have done my back in and so I will take the rest of the week off, probably caused by a combination of me having tweaked it at the weekend and the riding.

New Bed

Eventually, we have a new bed! After years of our old creeky bed where I had to place my feet over the footboard we have the ideal beast. We promised ourselves we would buy one as soon as we moved ... so it is only 10 months late! We brought it from Warren Evans and I took the day off so their men could deliver and build it. Marvellous.


Well, I have finally taken the plunge and signed up to a virtual host. I have signed up with dreamhost, mainly because by using the code 9999 I got about $100 dollar off their yearly price ($120) which means that I get a years hosting for about £10 ... a bargain. After a year though I will probably give it up, hopefully to be replaced buy a server here at home. There seems to be a big disagreement whether dreamhost is any good with many people being anti, but quite a lot being pro (maybe because of the generous referal scheme). Anyway I have got a year to find out.

So I have now got a new domain ( even though I plan to still use as my core one, but I will redirect everytyhing to I have got quite a few plans but we will see how far I get. The priority is to get a personal web site setup, which will be slightly more advanced than my old UCL one! More details as I get somewhere.

I have already started to mirror my mail as last week 1and1 completely cocked up my mail and their imap server was so slow it made me want to die. I tried to move over newspipe but the process continuously got killed so it must be using up too much of the CPU, tried "nicing" it without success. Lastly, I have got gallery up and running and I am slowly transferring all our pictures but this is taking its time, both my broadband and dreamhost seem to be slow today. The only issue I have come across apart from the speed is that I cannot delete images! Oh well onto the forums I go.

mysql copy database over an exisiting one

I face a common situation where I have a number of copies of a database that need to be synced to a master copy every so often. For example a live version, a demonstration version and a sandbox version. The easiest way seems to be the following:

mysqldump -uUsername -pPassword --add-drop-table db_name1 | mysql -uUsername -pPassword db_name2

This avoids having to delete and recreate the destination database. To copy it to another host add the "-h" option. If the destination database does not already exist run:

mysqladmin -uUsername -pPassword create db_name2

Unfortunately, there is still a lot of redundancy in this appoach as it wipes all the data and then replaces it even if there are only a few records different.

Amazing Amiga demo from 1992

Came across this blast from the past from 1992. It is simply amazing what you could produce on an 7.5 Mhz Motorola 68000 Amiga. I remember being blown away with it at the time. It even looks a bit like the iTunes commercials.

Back to work

Well back to work today (boo) and I must say that I was in a tired tired state. The weird thing is that I am not sure if I should have been there or not! There were some people there but firstly no-one was in my office and the rest of the site was very empty. Hmmmm that would be annoying if I was not meant to be there. That saying both IT and the post people were working.

I left my work machine in a state of disrepair before the holidays by destroying the boot loader via shifting partitions around! Instead of fixing it via Knoppix, which I initial tried but realised that 32bit would not work with my 64bit OS, I upgraded to opensuse 10.2. Took a fair amount of time, but I think it is up and running now, but I am sure I will manage to waste a fair amount of time on it in the next few days.


Alice and I have been in India for three weeks over the holiday period an I must say that three week holidays are definitely the way forward. We had a great time but it was not the most relaxing time (apart from the week at Av's wedding) due to "walking dollar" syndrome and the vast amount of people in India. India seems to be an interesting mix of rich Indians that are basically Westerners with everything we have, and then the vast majority of others who are scrapping for a living. Interesting country and extremely beautiful in parts (Hampi and Kerala were my favourites) but my advice would be to avoid the cities whenever possible (noisy, dirty and stressful). The worse bit was the harrassment that Alice got now and again but you just have to accept that some Indians have a misguided view of white women (I blame Hollywood!).

I would really like to go back to India to see Rajasthan but it has gone way down my list, just because I found the India experience so much more pressurised than my travels in South-East Asia (maybe its me getting old!). South America seems very tempting.

I have put up photos on picassa web album an my own gallery.

We arrived back On the morning of New Years eve in a completely knackered state, having only 2 hours sleep in the previous two nights (one night on a train and one in an airport/plane). As you can expect we didn't do anything to see in the new year, apart from having a really good sleep! Still knackered but getting back to a more human state.