Monthly Archives: April 2009

Games addict creates rap about it all

A STORY in TG Daily has prompted a reformed “games addict” to compose a rap about his dreadful experience.

The rap by Journalrhymn is here, while you can find the original story here. Φ

Butterflies ain’t just for Bangalore

LOYAL READER OF THIS BOG (sic) will remember how much, when I was in Bangalore, I loved the floating flowers called butterflies – they are hard pressed in that city now what with all the demolition going on. And that.

London – described in a Channel Four Despatches documentary a couple of weeks ago as the most polluted city in Western and Eastern Europe – used to have loads of butterflies too.  When I moved there in 1973, there were Commas, Tortoise Shells, Red Admirals, Peacocks, and fritillaries of many a variety.

If you see the occasional Cabbage White these days you will be a fortunate man. But in Oxford, the butterflies still seem to be thriving. The weather has been very nice – I’ve seen Orange Tips, Peacocks, Tortoise Shells, and many of the species called Brimstone. I guess it’s because Oxford is full of green spaces, spaces which are occupied by nettles and the like, weeds to you and me.

While London is full of Borises and Johnsons and people prefer to build rather than plant. λ

Spring time hits Oxford

A BEAUTIFUL SPRING day today, and here’s some pictures of the Cherwell River – the pictures of the flowers above taken just north of the river. The first picture is the high bridge which leads to Old Marston.

oxrivone

oxrivtwo

Steve McQueen never needed to shave

WHAT A BOON! Watching The Great Escape (1963) for the umpteenth time, I noticed that Steve McQueen got periodically put in the cooler in the German POW camp for the umpteenth time and each time came out as clean shaven as he went in.

Plus his chinos needed no attention during his multiple periods of solitary confinement. The film had a heap of other actors too, including Mr Upstairs&Downstairs, Gordon Jackson.

Bullitt (1968) was a good film too with a nice SF chase. Shame McQueen died prematurely, in 1980.  The Thomas Crown Affair was a heap of fun too. I always liked Faye Dunaway. Heck, I must be getting old. At least I still need to shave. Always hated having to do that, but a beard does not suit… ♥

Silkworms could end up busting druggies

NIKKEI NET has an interesting article today on how Japanese boffins are studying insects to create cyborgs (cybugs?) that integrate electronics with bits of their bodies.

Junpei Kanazaki, of the University of Tokyo, thinks that he can use the ability of the silkworm moth to detect pheromes from a female moth over one kilometre away to detect narcotics instead.

His Frankenstein creation integrates the head of a moth with a 30 centimetre robot to detect the pheromones and point to where the source is.

Nissan is studying the bee’s ability to avoid obstacles in a hundredth of a second and hopes those principles can be applied to future motor car designs.

Mammals, according to Kanakazi, have brains that have 100 million neurons, while insect brains are hundreds of thousands of times simpler.

Kanakazi, however, should take note of Intel’s take on the humble bumble bee. According to an Intel executive in 1998, its CPUs would have enough transistors to equal the number of logical circuits of a bee family member by 2010.  The nikkei.net article is here – you will need a subscription.

If all of this comes to pass, it will be most interesting.

Ram Mohun Roy lived here, well near here

WHERE’S HERE? Bedford Square, in Londinium, a short hop from the British Museum and a shorter hop to the Tottenham Court Road, formerly the London haven for dodgy technology shops.

Who he? He was a Bengali founder of the Brahmo Samaj, and died in Bristol. He’s buried there.  He is said to have coined the English word “Hinduism” and some regard him as the “father” of the Indian nation.

Some reckon that he was also partly responsible for the Mahanirvana Tantra, a text that describes a very pale and watered down version of Shaktism.  There’s more about him, here.

Now Google tells newspapers how to do biz

THE EVER-EGREGIOUS Google has been putting its oar into the newspaper business, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Yeah, while all around us newspapers fall – yeah unto the IT Examiner and The News – CEO Eric Schmidt has been advising suits from newspapers how to do their business better.

Schmidt, according to the Journal, told the Newspaper Association of America that publishers need to create a new format for online journalism.

That, Schmidt reckons, means creating personalised content readers want to read.

It’s readers that newspapers should always keep in mind, of course, and  experienced journalists will produce copy and headlines that catch the eye, and taste good too.

Unfortunately, too many publishers think of their journalists as data gatherers, which is why so many journalists are being laid off all around the world, in a bid to reduce costs.

Online journalism is like any other journalism, Mr Schmidt. The overheads are much smaller than those of print journalism, but readers want hard hitting stuff, not regurgitated pap and crap. The Journal article is here – you will need a subscription.  ♦

Jacqui Smith’s ears bent by John Humphreys

BBC’S RADIO 4 programme Today had our Minister of the Interior (Home Office minister) Jacqui Smith up for a grilling earlier on.

Smith has run into a heap of trouble over claiming expenses – her hubbie apparently is to blame for paying for two “Pay per View” pornographic films, which she then claimed on expenses.

Irrespective of the wisdom of  having a dekko at some porn, you really have to question the judgement of watching “Pay Per View” films. Don’t the Smiths realise that the web is awash with pornography, and much of it is free? Mrs Smith should have given Mr Smith a bollocking for wasting money on this drivel, so impacting the family budget and Mrs Smith’s career.

Radio 4’s Today is in many ways an admirable programme, one of the best things about it being that if you have regular bowel movements, you can time them to coincide with the absolutely rubbish Thought for the Day, where various clerics from different faiths attempt to align current events with meaningful references to religion. And 97% of the time, signally fail so to do.   Ψ

Intel recalls the days of Alpha, PA-RISC and Itanium

TO THE CHARLOTTE STREET HOTEL, in Fitzrovia, to listen to what Intel had to say about its Xeon 5500 (Nehalem) launch and to customer testimonials.

I stayed at Myhotel Bloomsbury, next to a pub, and which used to be a cop shop. I bumped into Paul Hales and Sylvie Barak from Register Two, who were there, too.

Gathered in front of an assembly of British hackdom was Tom Kilroy, from Intel Stateside, who described the launch of the 5500 series as the most important launch since the Pentium Pro.

Ah! The Pentium Pro! I still somewhere have a keyring with a Pentium Pro and cache attached. Intel was forced, as I recall, to re-engineer this chip because there was a problem with the cache. Think someone from Compaq tipped me off on that, all those years ago.

This set me thinking quite a lot. Kilroy wheeled in people from the London Stock Exchange, from Thomson Reuters, and naturally its customers such as Dell and HP – curiously not Big Blue – gave their sales pitches too.

Kilroy was here (left)

Kilroy was here (left)

And as I thought of the implications of what Kilroy said – I couldn’t help wondering, of course, about the Itanium, a question formed in my mind, from whence it came, no one knows.

After showing us various benchmarks, which appeared to suggest that this was the best microprocessor Intel had ever fabricated, we had to start wondering about the Alpha chip “good until 2025” – said Richard George when he worked for DEC, and the PA-RISC chip. Because Intel seemed to be suggesting that this truly was a “mission critical CPU”. Why else would Mark Reece from the London Stock Exchange be there, otherwise?

The Hidden Agenda

The Hidden Agenda

After Kilroy told us that this was part of the “tick tock”  Captain Hook style Intel cadence,  we Brithacks sat patiently, waiting for the Q&A which never seemed to come.

The master of ceremonies eventually allowed a brief Q&A and pointed at me, Mikus Interruptus, saying: “Tom, would you now like to answer Mike’s question about the Itanium?”

Unfortunately my mind had moved on by then and I thought that perhaps a better question was how the financial meltdown had affected Intel’s business.

Said Kilroy: “Certainly there’s been an impact on demand”. The MC said: “Mike, we’re in our quiet period right now.”  Too late!

We finally got a chance to ask our question about whether “Nehalem” was a better chip than the Itanium, but phrased it whether it was a better chip than the PA-RISC chip – obviously with the Power 6 from IBM in mind. IBM was not, officially, represented at this gig.

Mr Kilroy said that the question didn’t really compute, because the Itanium offered stuff like RAS and you couldn’t compare a chip like the Nehalem with the Itanium.

Later, we had a chance to speak to a friend close to Hewlett Packard who told us it had told its customers last September the game was over for PA-RISC. But, we asked, it would have to support customers like the US government on both the PA-RISC chip and the DEC Alpha chip?  Yes, he admitted, that was true. The customers had the latest roadmap.

Do not forget, of course, that Carly Fiorina and the then CEO of Compaq, Mike Capellas, transacted an agreement that meant that, er, er, all things federal about microprocessors – apart from IBM – would belong to HP.

We bumped into a guy called Hugh Jenkins, who now works for the Great Satan of Hardware (Dell Inc). He said that of course Dell still uses AMD microprocessors for some of its server business. Er, BT seems to be an Intel only place, as far as we could tell.

Funny old business this, isn’t it? Intel served bucks fizz (mimosa) at the end. We’d already made our excuses and exeunted stage left before that was served.   

* Spotted from  other Magee spawned websites: Sylvie Barak (INQster), Chris Mellor (Rogister).