Archive for December, 2005


Dec 31st, 2005

One of my cats, Peppy, died about 45 minutes ago. My brother heard him making ‘whiny’ sounds and found him on the landing, almost immediately realising something wasn’t quite right. I arrived to hear a faint whine/meow with the last breath.
None of use realy suspected it. We knew he had a bad heart, he was on asprin, and he was also overweight, and although attempts at putting on a diet were working it was difficult when you have two cats. Still, he hadn’t given any sign of particulalry ill health recently, and wasn’t very old.
So the new year is even more subdued than I expected. My parents have come home and the few of my brother’s friends that had arrived have moved off elsewhere.
But to the rest of you, hope your new year is better than mine

A slow new year

Dec 31st, 2005

It appears that 2006 is going to crawl in fairly quietly for me this year as new years plans came to rather little. Way back in September I had intended to be in Edinburgh for new year, but within a few weeks of moving up plans had to be made, stress levels were faily high and at that stage I had only just met everyone. Plus the increased travel costs and rapid turn arround required meant that it threw that extra spanner in an already entangled works. So instead I resolved to spend two weeks at home, give me a chance to kick back, relax, catch up with people and spend new year among familiar faces.

Unfortunately it hasn’t quite worked this way. Many of my friends are off, either with family or back in there respective homes at university or elsewhere. The few that are around are either opting for quite nights in or else are out in Malmesbury with no formal plans. Unfortunately, with my inability to drive and parents who are out I shan’t be able to make this.

Thus I’m spending new years at home. I’m not the only one, it seems a common affliction for a number of people I know. My brothers have some friends arround so I needn’t spend the actual transition in silence (or cheering by myself) but it does seem that things will b a little slow and the whole anti-climax that is so often new-year will be even more apparent than usual.

On Recipies

Dec 26th, 2005

On going home I decided to bring my recipe book, a small hard backed notebook which I use to collect recipes from different sources. On copying down various family favourites I was struck by the similarities between recipe distribution and the attitudes of the ‘copyleft’ movement.

My mums collection of recipes from various sources: friends, relatives, magazines, books and supermarket recipe cards. In some cases the source was recorded in others it had been lost to time. In the corners of pages were written notes, mushrooms may be left out, a bit stodgy if you leave it in too long, use honey if you lack brown sugar. These changes are passed on as the recipe changes.

Yet recipe books still sell, and there haven’t been lawsuits cracking down on recipe sharing, although whether this would still be the case if they were distributed over file share networks I don’t know. As an example of free flow of information recipes have been around for years and demonstrate that the process is workable and can still be profitable.

Yet undoubtedly the situation is different for film and music, both of which are far more static than recipes. You don’t find the same kind of variations a track with the guitar solo removed for instance, but when these changes do occur they annoy the original artist. Unlike a recipe where the method may be simplified in copying it down music sounds almost identical. So where does this difference in attitude actually lie, why don’t we treat music the same as recipes? Does the difference lie in the fact that music is a finish product whereas recipes are not; the finished product is the dish they instruct you to produce. Perhaps its a difference in ease, while you will probably only copy a single recipe from a book at a time, it is fairly easy to download an entire album. If I published the entirety of one of Jamie Oliver’s cookbooks here then it is unlikely that the publishers would sit idly by, indeed, I expect I’d get a complaint if I copied a recipe out word for word, easily identifiable. So perhaps it is just an issue of scale.

Either way, the distribution of recipes demonstrate that ‘copyleft’ attitudes are nothing new, but they also suggest that the system can work, and has interesting implications if we are able to shift our attitudes with regard to recipes to other media.

Merry Christmas

Dec 21st, 2005

I finished in the lab yesterday, and managed to be completely rubbish when it came to actually getting packed, I still have to stuff phones/cameras/MP3 players etc. in my bag.

Unfortunately I have a long five and a half hour train journey ahead of me before I reach Cheltneham. I’ve got myself a book to read and ensured my iRiver is up-to date but its still a lot of time to fill. Its times like this I wish I had brought a laptop instead of a desktop.

In phoning home yesterday to arrange picking up at the station I discovered that we no longer have a bathroom floor or a kitchen celling. It appears that the bathroom tap was left dripping with the plug in, and the overflow couldn’t cope. You see, the tap is a little odd, in that it still flows when turned off fully and actually has to be turned on again slightly to stop it. (Something to do with ceramic washers) As a result my Dad floorded the bathroom and the water dripped through the celling to the kitchen.

The electricians and builders have already been, with the result that we now have a huge hole in our floor. (I’ll post photos after the new year.) Blowers have been installed to help dry the celling out, with the side effect that the water was blown across to above the dining room, shorting the downstairs lighting circuit.

To add insult to injury, just after the kitchen had been cleaned up the dishwasher packed up, flooding the kitchen once more. (The dish washer is over fifteen years old, so its done fairly impressively.)

However as always Christmas will proceed as normal. Which means some exceedingly last minute shopping on the part of my brothers and myself. We realy need to co-ordinate this whole gift buying thing now that I live away from home for most the year. (Two weeks at home over Christmas, and I’ll try and swing for a month over the summer, August 12th to Sep 12th or arround then.)

I’ll try and get some Christmas themed ponderings going soon.

Tim Berners-Lee Has a Blog

Dec 18th, 2005

To those of you who know not of Sir Tim Berners-Lee then I can truthfully say that without him you wouldn’t be reading this at the moment, this blog wouldn’t be here, Amazon wouldn’t be here, you wouldn’t have just sold that old teapot on eBay and Sony BGM would not have angered the geek community over the past month.

You see, Tim invented the web, without which the net would unlikely have become quite what it is today. It was only with the appearance of the web that everyday users sat up and paid notice. Indeed for many people the web and the net are almost synonymous. This is why I insist that the web was important even in the formation of P2P networks, or rather their importance. While true that things like E-mail, instant messaging and ftp would have existed independently of the web’s invention, I doubt their uptake would have been quite so rapid.