Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Some things I saw on the internet

"Illiterate kids given sealed boxes with tablets figure out how to use, master, and hack them" sounds like something that would happen in a Neal Stephenson novel.

I want to visit these giant ear trumpets in Derbyshire.

Benjamin Dewey's Tragedy series no. 121 is quite good.

Some of these life hacks are great but I'm not at all sure what to make of the bagel caddy. A good idea or just really daft?

This thing exists: a Pet Shop Boys radio station that plays only Pet Shop Boys songs. (In the broad sense, though -- I just got Ian Wright's Do the Right Thing, co-written and produced by Chris Lowe.)

This four-year-old is crying for a specific reason:

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Another woman singing

I do like this remix of Rebecca Ferguson's Backtrack. It really brings out the unusual quality of her voice. (If you prefer a 60s sound to "hi-nrg" dance then you might like the original better.)

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Some short thoughts I had about some things

Here are my thoughts on working for the Met Office:
1) It is clear that from now on all people I meet outside the Met Office will hold me personally responsible for the accuracy or in- of all weather forecasts, and possibly for bad weather in general.
2) I like to talk about the weather -- I don't think it's dull, since it's what we live in -- and that's a big part of my small talk, such as it is. But if I say, "Good morning, isn't it a beautiful day?" to someone when I get into the office, does that count as talking shop?
3) Blimey the systems are complicated! I think I ought to be able to handle them eventually but it's going to take a while to get any sort of grip. My current logic is that they gave me the job, so I can probably do it, and if I can't then that's their fault for misassessing me.
4) I will probably post some Met Office videos here from time to time. They do some cool stuff.

Two thoughts about American politics:
1) Let's try to find it funny instead of deeply deeply depressing! Here are some binder reviews on Amazon. I like the one by the woman who can only fit 53% of herself into the binder.
2) Amanda Palmer started an interesting thing about health insurance. I look forward to reading the results. I could never live in America. I would get cancer, go bankrupt, and die -- having insurance doesn't stop you having to pay. Getting cancer and dying would be bad enough, but the bankruptcy and possible dragging down of family with me would make the whole thing significantly worse.

Here are two thought about the X-Factor:
1) Nicole seems to have joined Louis on whatever substance it is he uses to get through the live shows. But I'm disappointed that she didn't actually say "Two words: Bour-geois" to Rylan because that seemed like an interesting sort of compliment to me. But twitter says she said "Gour-geois" e.g. gorgeous, which is less interesting though maybe a tad more crazy.
2) Some cabaret people, led by Frisky and Mannish, did a riposte to Gary Barlow's pejorative use of the term. It's good but goes on a bit long.

One last thought:
I do like this remix of Taylor Swift's We Are Never Ever Ever Getting Back Together

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Violent chicken death

Any possibility that I was about to get sentimental about the countryside has been effectively prevented by the sight that met my eyes when I opened my curtains this morning: a trail of white feathers across the paddock; dark patches on the grass; and my father walking back from the far end by the trees dragging a spade. A fox got the chickens in the night, the alpacas having been moved into another field. I feel a bit sad about this, though we did know it was likely to happen some day. They were amiable chickens.

We look after my nephew tomorrow. He is very likely to notice that they are gone because checking for eggs is one of his favourite things, and I am interested to see how my mother will handle this. She has a very strong objection to lying of any sort. I don't think I ever did any wrong as a child that wasn't eclipsed many times in her eyes if I lied about it. I told him my rat died when she died peacefully of old age; we told him when the black hen died, also of old age. I think he could cope with the idea that a fox ate the chickens, perhaps better as a nearly-four-year-old than he will as a seven- or eight-year-old. Nonetheless something in me shrinks from the idea of telling him, and I don't know how his parents would react.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Next things

I start my new job at the Met Office a week on Monday, which is an excellent thing. I'm going to be one of their computer programmers. Among a number of minor but pleasant perks is that their on-site cafe is called the Iso Bar. I feel good about this.

(In London even though Masters Super Fish was maybe better I used to buy my pie and chips from the Fishcotheque. If you find yourself at Waterloo station I recommend it. It's very close, it does Pukka Pies (don't compromise!) and when I ask for extra salt and vinegar they give me extra salt and vinegar. And can you argue with a steak and kidney pie and chips for £3.70? No you cannot.)

Although I will probably be a part-time Anglo-Saxonist it also occurred to me the other day that I don't have to at all. I could take up any hobby I want to, like a normal person. And if I do do some Anglo-Saxonning there is no pressure on me to publish it! (I know an excellent scholar who never publishes anything if he can help it, his paid job being something quite different.) So I'll see how that goes. I would like to spend some time learning how to make linocuts/woodcuts, and doing some more writing.

I'll be living with my parents again until I can sort out a move into Exeter. I've had enough of moving recently, and I have unopened boxes which I packed up in November 2007, but hopefully after that move I can settle down for a while. Because I lived with my parents for a bit before the M.Sc. I have been very quick to remember their annoying habits, which are a) squabbling b) not wrapping things they put in the fridge c) saying they're on a diet and not realising that this makes certain foods unwise. My mother was really upset when I told her that pies are unhealthy, and she didn't believe me until she'd checked the side of a box. (She claims never to have heard the expression "Who ate all the pies?".) They seem to consider clotted cream a staple, and the first night I was here my mother told me about the healthy eating plan and then told me that for dinner we were going to eat up all the Tesco's sausage rolls, mini pork pies, and scotch eggs left over from the harvest festival lunch. But these things are endearing really. And I have my beautiful view back, complete with alpacas, chickens, buzzards, housemartins on the telephone wires getting ready to leave for Africa, and in the distance Culmstock beacon just in case someone sights the Spanish Armada.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012


I have just found out about a thing called USB OTG or USB on-the-go. USB connections use the concept of "master" and "slave". Suppose you plug a printer into a computer; the computer is the host and the printer is the attached device, controlled by the computer. Or I might plug my Nexus 7 tablet into my computer, and again the computer is in charge. But with USB OTG something that's usually a "slave", like a phone or my Nexus 7 tablet, can become a "master" or host for another USB device. This would usually be either an input device, like a keyboard, or a storage device, like a USB pen or an SD card in a USB reader.

The upshot of this is that with a USB OTG cable, which cost me about £1.50 off of amazon, I was able yesterday to plug an old USB keyboard into my Nexus tablet and type away merrily with no setup whatsoever. As I understand it the Nexus 7 automatically supports USB OTG for keyboard and mouse. In order to use a USB pen drive I had to download an app. I downloaded this free picture viewer app by Homesoft, and it worked well, so I think I will buy this app which allows you to use other forms of media. You can't write to the USB storage device, only read from it.* Also I haven't tested how well it works with material left in situ on the USB device. Nonetheless this is a very cheap solution to one criticism levelled at the Nexus 7, that it has limited storage and you might not be able to fit onto it all the films you wanted to watch on holiday, for example.** I have all my work ever on a 500Gb portable hard drive, and depending on how easy it is to navigate this could be a much better solution than trying to get it all into the cloud and then relying on having internet access wherever I go. Hurray!

* But you can write to a USB device using an OTG cable from the Nexus 7 if you root it, something I don't really want to do.

** Charlie Stross has a more expensive but more interesting solution.

Monday, 1 October 2012

I like this video for Gangnam Style with all the music taken out. The dancing bits and horsey bits are the best.

If you've seen the original you will probably especially appreciate it.