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The Undersea World of OtterChaos
...and sometimes you're the fish
Anyone else see the buzz yesterday about MIT's new "Leaf", which hopes to provide cheap power from water & sunlight?

I wonder if Scott Adams saw it too, or was today's Dilbert just delicious serendipity?

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I tried putting my own estimates into Wolfram Alpha's Drake Equation page. It didn't go well for SETI :



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Noticed this passing Liverpool Street Station this afternoon. Occupants all munching through the McDonalds produce they'd just purchased.

Inference drawn: London has one air ambulance. And it's a car.

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I have to interview two candidates for relatively junior roles today. I've pretty much forgotten what to say to candidates with no practical experience (both are close to completing PhDs).

Worse, I just realised that they're both near my kids' ages than mine, even the 28 year-old. Maybe I should start by asking how they spend their allowance?

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Utterly stealing John Scalzi's work (derived from someone else's idea, but a good one nonetheless) I've taken a selection of reasonably accurate but misleading SF (and related) movie synopses and removed the titles.

You get to figure out what the movies are. Or not. Answers, with more of the same kind of thing, at Scalzi's filmcritic blog.

1. A well-meaning computer's attempt to fulfill its mission runs afoul of a human crew with other plans.

2. A rambunctious alien child invites itself aboard a human cargo ship; a memorable game of hide-and-seek follows.

3. A bewildered teenage boy fends off his mother's disturbing and unnatural attraction to him.

4. Poor product design leads to trouble for a manufacturer and one exasperated policeman.

5. An interloper endangers the life of a small boy in a desperate attempt to get home.

6. A couple tries to have a good day at an amusement park and is thwarted by faulty ride management.

7. A young man seeks to discover if he can ever trust someone over 30.

8. A cop joins the immigration service and loses his sense of identity and his place in the universe.

9. An astronaut shows a civilization the errors of its prejudiced ways but discovers that the ways of his own people aren't always perfect.

10. Lax operating standards in a laboratory lead a scientist to change the way he lives his life.

(Oceans's) 11. A lonely programmer discovers he's spending more time in a massive multiplayer online game than he ever suspected.

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So I got David Foster Wallace's meisterwerk, "Infinite Jest". Blimey. 980 pages, with another 60-odd of "notes and errata". For a novel. Small typeface, not many paragraphs. Going to take a while. And a stronger pair of reading glasses, I shouldn't wonder.

In the same package was Carcassonne which, being very behind on what's been occurring on the board game scene, was new to me, despite being 10 years old and a Spiel des Jahres winner. We're now at a point where games with reasonably simple mechanics suitable for 8  are well within Johnny's reach so I'm starting to add to our portfolio (I should take a look in the attic to see if there's anything there that would be suitable, come to think of it). The inevitable tantrum occurred after the first game, which I won more or less randomly, but he's been back for more, culminating this afternoon in a victory of crushing proportions. Nicely presented and surprisingly subtle, as is often the case with German games.

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I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!



At least, on my worky/techy mostly Excel and ranting about Lotus Notes blog I do, where DFW came up 8/10, with Asimov and Agatha Christie once each.

Here, I appear to have a rather less easily-identifed style: a sample of this year's posts gave the following (one each):
  • J K Rowling
  • H P Lovecraft
  • William Shakespeare (so I can now honestly say that my writing has been compared with Shakespeare1)
  • Raymond Chandler
  • Chuck Palahniuk
  • James Joyce
  • DFW (again)
I have to confess to being entirely unfamiliar with Mr Wallace's work. So I've ordered some. Or perhaps I should just go back and read my own stuff?

(edit: This post takes the Chuck Palahniuk score to 2)



1 It could always be compared thus, I suppose, but not necessarily favourably.

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I guess one upside of the World Cup is that the English players got an extra week of holiday without the Germans grabbing all the best sunbeds.

The family PC has been creaking under a heavy load of photos (over 20K files now, because Pam likes to (a) shoot with the continuous mode and (b) keep everything "just in case"), videos, MP3s and Windows side-by-side greed. The machine only has a 160GB hard disk. "Only" - hah. Worse, it's a small(-ish) form-factor machine and I have yet to figure out a way to get a second drive into the cage without applying a hacksaw. (I'm assuming there's a crucial screw or two somewhere but I have yet to locate them).

Rather than get into Ghosting and whatnot, I decided to go the home server route and invested in an Acer H340 device. So far so good. Easy to set up, it sits in a corner outside the office, cable-connected to the ADSL modem/router. I got the family machine talking to it without incident and this morning it was already happily running a backup on that machine.

I'll start investigating use of the shared folders tonight. Paranoia dictates the taking of an independent external copy of all the media files before I start removing stuff from the clients.

Form factor is acceptable: it's about a 12" cube. Takes up to four drives - I have 2x1TB, which ought to be enough for now.

Good grief. "Ought to". "For now".

My first job in computing was on an IBM 370 with four 330MB (yes, "mega") hard drives; I remember enthusing to people about the monstrous capacity we had available.

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Runner-up from the Vile Puns section of the 2010 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest:

As Jeffrey Hicks, the event safety coordinator for the Renaissance Festival finished posting the revised standards for weaponry, he thought of the day an unleashed dog wandered onto the jousting field, causing the rider from Indianapolis to stop short, impaling himself on the butt of his spear, and the following day’s newspaper headline which read: “Stray Injures Indy Knight, Hicks Changing Lances.”

Elsewhere, a colleague, outraged since February at the (to him) inequitable distribution of promotions (me one, him nil) has finally managed to find himself a job in another area of the Bank. His obsessive attention to the most inconsequential of miniscule minuscule details, to the detriment of the important and relevant, will no doubt be as much of a joy to them as it has been to us. Down-side for me is the end of having looked good by comparison.

Now I'm faced with the problem of deciding whether or not to bid to take over the project he's been screwing up for the last 9 months. One the one hand, there's a potential big win, but it's one of those "if I wanted to get to there, I wouldn't start from here" things. Having examined the code, I'd scrap the whole (meagre) thing, an approach that may be resisted by "invested" management.

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Broadgate Circle, 23-Jun-2010
Broadgate Circle, 23-Jun-2010

A few office workers took a late lunch in the sunshine this afternoon. They had assembled to watch their football team finish second in their qualifying group to the mighty USA. Germany looms in the next round for the plucky Brits, barring a peculiar combination of outcomes in tonight's fun. Given the number of peculiar results seen already, Germany might well loom off again.



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