Sunday, 31 October 2010

I've been trying Fedora 13 Gnome on the main 'puter'.

Installed it yesterday, updated, installed various updates, codecs, DigiKam, VLC etc. I like the desktop icons better than KDE's, but screen fonts are less crisp and there's noticeably less control through the GUI (unless I've not found the right apps yet). The jury is out on whether it'll stick around, but they're releasing Fedora 14 on Tuesday next week with a KDE 4.5 option that might swing it.

The Fedora/Gnome mix has more of the clean of combining Opera and Windows XP classic desktop (i.e. NOT the toys R us icons that appear as standard) but lacks all the crispness of XP. That's compared to openSUSE 11.3 which has the slightly muddlier but softer firefox-style appearance. I like the Fedora look, but so far it's not crisp enough to make me want to keep it, and the lack of easy GUI control is disappointing. Getting the libdvdcss libraries to install was also quite a hassle, as Fedora is determinedly 'free' and eschews all non-public software.

Fedora also refused to open the folders containing my email and browser data because of permissions issues, so I've had to boot off my old Samsung HDD into SUSE (what I'm using now) to download my emails etc onto a memory stick for transfer to the new OS.

I think that if SUSE 11.3 had been completely stable and bug-free I'd have stuck with it, and I may yet go back to it. We'll have to see.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

You drive me round the bend!

In this case, the bend in the blocked drain outside our house this morning.

Why is it that drains seem to always block when the weather is cold? The only solution is to plunge one's bare arm into chilly, foul and smelly water, digging out lumps of congealed greasy material (almost certainly hair conditioner). Success was had within a reasonable time frame, but there's a very large amount of YEUCH attached to the process.

I'm sure a little hardship and discomfort is good for the soul.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Replacement MoBo arrived today

And it's a better one than expected (Gigabyte durable series, compatible with AM2 and AM3 processors). Looks a really nice board.

Guess that's this evening spoken for then.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

It may be a few days before I get the home PC up again.

So contact me through facebook or by telephone if you need me - email won't be up for a while.

The upside and the downside of the Macbook rebuild

An unexpected benefit of the rebuild has been that my keyboard now seems to work properly.


Yup. Both the built in keyboard and (especially) the external USB apple keyboard repeatedly missed letters when I was typing. It still happens a little, but it had got to the point where I thought it would be necessary to replace it, and this certainly added to my frustration with the machine. It is nice to have that aspect working again.

However not *all* is rosy in the garden.

Firstly, just a minor issue, but iStat - the hardware monitoring software I used - no longer works. No idea why, but it simply cannot be enabled. The developer's website has no warning messages about incompatibility with snow leper, so it remains a mystery.

Now, much more serious, the wretched mini display port no longer works. This gave problems from the beginning, only really being fixed around April or May of that first year with a flashed firmware update, but even so, image quality was lacking compared to a Windows machine using the same monitor and it frequently crashed on startup. Now, after the update, it simply refuses to connect to an external display properly, repeatedly powering up and shutting off the adapter. When the adapter alone is plugged in the display switches to an extended desktop view, just as if there were another display connected. It also does not recognise the presence of the adapter, despite the display switching when asked to update it.

I did try the 'full-fat' update today. The Snow Leper disc version was 10.6.3, and to migrate to the current 10.6.4 I had to first download 876Mb followed by a further 270Mb directly afterward. I'd say that 10.6.4 has slowed the machine noticeably, but not intrusively - it's lost the snappy feel it first had but it's not enough to be a problem.

I've been out of the Windows loop for so long that I'm not sure how well 7 works, but I wonder if it really could be worse. Very tempted to downgrade to 10.5 and stick with it right now.

Ho and indeed hum.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Not happy

My main PC motherboard appears to have croaked.


Swapped HDDs around this morning, Installed Sabayon Linux first go (KDE 4.5 looks clean, if a little dark. Fonts are great). Uploaded data from the old drive and half way through the system crashed unrecoverably. Went to reinstall and had repeated failures, including trying XP (always works, whenever Linux can't hack it). Disc now no longer recognised.

Swapped HDDs back, and when trying to remove the SATA cable from a socket on the MoBo, the socket pulled off the board. The old drive was briefly recognised, but isn't now it's back in the case.

If ebuyer had a good bundle offer I'd be seriously tempted, but don't want to buy yet MORE PC bits for the moment.

Well by this time.....

Randall and Lauralea should be pretty much by Victoria, if the traffic's not been too bad. A short walk back up Buckingham Palace road & round the corner will find them at their hotel. The house isn't empty, as Chris has a card workshop happening this afternoon, but it's certainly lacking something we've enjoyed the last few days.

The sunshine looks good, and the fire is burning away. I'll eventually try to get some images up, as a reminder.

Have I done the right thing?

If Moore's law applies to computer development, so do the natural laws of entropy.

Last week I ordered a Western Digital Scorpio black hard drive for the Macbook, and tonight actually did the transplant and install: took a couple of hours. Lets just say that I'd forgotten that an Apple computer can actually feel crisp and responsive instead of dull and difficult to use. I'm sure some of the improved functionality was a result of the new HDD being much faster, but most of it, I'm sure, was down to the fresh install.

Then came the step about which I still have questions: upgrading to Snow Leper.

Well, for one thing it was darn time consuming, and actually took longer than the original install. There's a new appearance to certain file types and the dock seems to move more crisply than before. However also quite worrying was the way the system fans started within a couple of minutes, and were then on and off every couple of minutes. I'd read about this issue, but though it had been sorted: apparently not so in 10.6.3 (the version on the install disc).

It was backing up a few minutes ago, but I'm hoping that upgrading to 10.6.4 and a restart will solve these issues. Maybe I'm being foolish.

FWIW the drive is clearly running all the time by the vibration through the case: the old slow drive could not be felt in normal use. There does not seem to be a difference in noise level that I can detect.

I also received a 1TB Western Digital HDD to go in this Linux box and replace the 1.5Tb Samsung drive (which will become my general backup drive once all the data has been copied from it). Why replace and rebuild already? Because SUSE isn't stable and several OSs have struggled with the Samsung 1.5TB drive unit to create a working install. It's a big (not necessarily fast) drive and ideal for backup use in a USB caddy.

Night for now.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

I'd better go turn the heating on


I've no idea why I wrote this last night, except that I was both tired and in a hurry. Sometimes I worry about the stuff my head comes up with.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Ever read Ecclesiastes

......and wondered if Solomon was the first blogger? It reads for all the world like someone who's watched life and learned by seeing what happens, rather than by faith.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Am I becoming what I've despised?

It's a good question.

On Facebook my profile describes me as Christian, conservative, orthodox, fundamentalist and charismatic and so I am.



Saturday Mornings we have a men's bible study with breakfast afterward. This morning I described the account of creation as more of a cartoon than a photograph, which caused a certain amount of consternation, although I'd stand by that description.

The thing is, I've been reading the bible seriously for nearly 35 years, more than that if you take the pre-christian phase of my life, where it was all just a collection of words without a particular meaning. I've had some teaching on hermeneutics and exegesis, but have carefully stayed away from books and characters that try to tell me how to think and view reality.

What's all this about?

Maybe it's the legalistic child in me, but I want to take the easy way out and just 'follow the rules so everything will be all right'. The fundamentalist in me recognises that the bible is The Word Of God but it also recognises that people wrote it, with their own views and outlook. So you read about storehouses full of snow and lightning bolts, recognising pictorial language. Are the windows of heaven sash opening or uPVC double glazed etc. An interesting take is when the bible talks about angels appearing with swords (that MUST be for the benefit of the humans viewing the situation - how is a sword an effective weapon in a spiritual realm? Paul talks about not using the 'weapons of this world' when dealing with spiritual issues).

The thing is, I want to understand. I want to know what's real, what's made up.

When I was a new Christian I despised the attitudes of theologians who carefully put all of what the bible said - all the outrageous bits - into carefully constructed boxes of interpretation so that they didn't have to worry about the lack of God moving in the church (and their own lives?). So I'm asking the question of myself "am I doing this over stuff like healings, miracles, God breaking in tangibly". Because when it does apparently happen, it's happening with other people, in other countries - yet here we pray, fast, seek and all apparently in line with the words in the bible, and nada.

Yet I know God IS there.

Chris and I have talked about some of this, and for her, even in the worst times, she's never been able to walk away, deny the truth. For me, it's been the same and we have even been able to accept God at work during some of the worst things that can happen. But it's those 'if-then' passages. If God is real (check) but doing the 'if-then' stuff doesn't work (check) what does the 'if-then' stuff (and a whole lot of other, much less clear passages) really mean?

My observation is that theology can just become a system for explaining how great our God is and then providing reasons why He doesn't actually do all that 'great' stuff here and now. I have now done some of this from a public platform.

And I think I despise it.

There's a great truth that I'm grappling for and not finding. It has to be here somewhere, and no amount of books or clever teaching are going to uncover it. If it doesn't turn up then I guess there's always mediocrity to sink into - maybe we moved church streams at the right time?

Wonder if Ian reads this stuff still?

Batman alive and well

A living in Japan.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Looks Like Luminous Lion Looming

In a shock move today, Apple Computer* announced a deal with Canonical, the software house supplying the Ubuntu linux operating system, to jointly develop the new Apple OS. The new software will be named Luminous Lion, merging both Apple and Ubuntu naming conventions. There were subtle hints with the last release of Ubuntu 10.04, when window controls swapped from the 'Windows' side to the 'Macintosh' side. A spokesman said this would create exciting opportunities for both companies, enabling Apple to charge people for open source software and Canonical to actually make some money. A release date has been scheduled for early April 2011.

*Not really. It seems 10.7 Lion won't be released for some time. I was disappointed and made up the above story because now I will have to buy Snow Leper. As far as I know Canonical and Apple Computer have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

About that new copy of OSX

I hadn't ordered yesterday, and was going to in the next couple of days.

Until I saw this.

It's only another week. If they're releasing something shortly then it may be worth the wait. If not, then I'll buy Snow Leper.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Just bitten the bullet

And ordered a (suprisingly) cheap Western Digital Black 320Gb drive for the Macbook, rather than SSD. The WD has a reputation for still being the fastest conventional drive available in real world productivity tests, and because it has a long history I know it's well sorted (and cheap!).

The bullet will also be bitten and Snow Leopard acquired. This is less risky than it might be because having 2 drives (and a conventional backup) I can quickly ditch SN if it proves to be the beach-ball inducing pile of cack that it's been for some people (and sell it on the 'bay). Though I seriously hope it won't come to that, and that it will provide both an increase in performance and an increase in usefulness and productivity.

If not, there's a darn strong chance that the MB really will get dual-booted and run on a flavour of Linux instead of OSX. It's amazing how much it's like a Linux flavour, with some aspects extremely well thought through, while others are astonishingly poor.

We'll see.

Monday, 11 October 2010



I've been using - and mostly enjoying, it has to be said - openSUSE 11.3 since August, and as my main OS for the last 6 weeks or so. To begin with there was the excitement and novelty one experiences, discovering new ways of doing stuff and new stuff that can be done. Speed was excellent to begin with, and every application I tried just worked like this was a windows install (i.e. everything worked just like it should).

So what's wrong then?

It's lost its sparkle, pzazz, speed and reliability a little. I was reading on a forum about which OSs people had switched from before using Sabayon, and he most common comment from SUSE users was it lacked stability.

Well, I'm starting to think my experience backs that up. Gone is the amazing speed, but worse, recently everything sometimes apparently hangs before recovering a few minutes later when I'm using Firefox. having spent a LOT of time in DigiKam recently, that would sometimes suddenly become terribly slow, before recovering after a bit. I'd treated it like a windows PC running Lotus notes and restarting it when things got really bad a couple of weeks back before I realised it would speed back up spontaneously, but neither solution is really satisfactory.

So here I am, fickle as anything, seriously considering the pain of switching OS yet again. I don't really want to, but I'm concerned that this will go belly-up at some stage and lock me out of my system. Maybe I should just suck it up for a bit longer and see how we do. The macbook wasn't exactly perfect in it's behaviour in the beginning either, and it's survived 21 months now, albeit with increasingly turgid performance so maybe I'm worrying about nothing.

Or maybe it's just that slightly suicidal itch that I want to scratch where I just like trying new things. Seeing that there's a new version of Ubuntu available prompted this post, although I would not choose that OS anyway (but Sabayon 5.4 is rather lovely).

Internet branding.

I've been contacted recently by 'Bob' from an internet company in Hong Kong about the 'internet brand' of my company, and how a client of theirs wants to register a bunch of web domains (.asia, .cn, .eu, with the same name as my .com. Knowing that my company brand name is a much longer name than my .com - and already having the .com anyway I politely declined and said that his client was welcome to them. This produced another email and another declination, then a 3rd email.

OK, this guy's persistent to the point where he's trying to make money from me.

A little searching and it turns out that companies from Hong Kong have been trying to do this for the last 3 years or so, with enough plausibility and success to encourage them to continue. Basically there is no such thing as an internet brand - just as there's no such thing as 'cyberspace'. Trademarks and company names are just what they are in the real world, covered by all the same laws and regulations. It's easy to forget that sometimes, and think of the internet as being somewhere 'else', when it's really just a bunch of computers all connected to each other.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

We went out picking sloes.

So of course I ended up taking pictures.

If there are still berries around when our next lot of guests arrive then we really should pick some more so they can take the liqueur home (if they want to).

Friday, 8 October 2010

The doctrine of the trinity - have we misunderstood something? (amended)

*Penny - we've got a long one for you!

This is not a rant, nor am I emotionally motivated: this is a rather clumsy way of trying to describe a complex piece of theology where my thoughts seem to differ from mainstream custom.

Linea posted recently about the doctrine of the Trinity, and it's got me thinking a bit more.

An issue that was raised was that of authority and hierarchy: if the 3 persons of God are all equal then how can there be a hierarchy, and if that's the case, then surely the 'traditional' order of patriarchy must be wrong, since in Christ there is no male or female (etc).

As Linea described it, the doctrine of the trinity was developed in an extra-biblical context, to combat certain heresies, and it is a natural extension of scripture, even if it doesn't appear anywhere. Sofa so good, but for me it's become a piece of extrapolated theology over the centuries, and I think, built on in the way that some institutions like to, until it's become a little bloated and wobbly.

In Genesis 1 God is recorded as saying 26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

So the question one has to then ask is: does God have arms and legs, head (bald) torso, nipples, and knobbly knees?


To make us in His image, I would suggest that he made us like Himself: with a mind to understand and direct, with a physical form to interact with the world and with a spirit that would be a part of us, and yet unbounded by our physical selves.

In a sense, talking of God in three persons is understandable, but I would suggest it's carrying a concept too far. We can refer to the person of the Holy Spirit because that's God. We can talk of Jesus because He's God in a physical, tangible sense. We can consider the Father because He's God. But as far as I can see, God isn't 3 equal persons, all separate, but instead is ONE God whose attributes (like those he gave us) have different aspects.

What's this got to do with authority?

Our bodies should be in perfect unity, and when they aren't, things go bad VERY fast. So when we stand up our mind instructs our bodies to move and it happens. The body doesn't say "I'm equal to you, and have a choice about this". It just does it because it's in union with, yet subservient to, the mind. We have seemingly little control over our spirits (some wouldn't even recognise a spirit if it passed a hand rapidly through their face!) but Paul talks about the spirits of prophets being subject to their will, so we must assume that our spirits are under some measure of our own control.

So it is with God. There IS a natural order of direction with God, but because He is one there is no issue of either obedience or equality. By separating God into 3 persons we've given Him a slightly schizophrenic appearance, when in fact that couldn't be further from the truth. There is no issue of equality over submission because He is one God.

I wonder if we've actually missed the mark, by focussing on the trinity. This is not heresy, because it wouldn't cause us to lose our salvation, but is bad theology made acceptable by countless generations all reciting the teaching until it's 'true'. When you talk to me in the street and look into my face, I know you're not talking to my body or my spirit, but you're talking to me. I know that sometimes we men talk to women's breasts, but really we do mean to talk to the person too, and not just their bodies.

So it is with God.

Worshipping Jesus WAS worshipping God. Jesus even said that 'he who has seen me has seen the Father' and that was true in a more literal sense than we really think so very often.

Some years back we were entreated to engage in trinitarian worship. I do quite seriously wonder now if this was actually a mistake in the sense of worshiping God as 3 separate individuals. A 'good idea' but not one founded on truth or reality.

It's a little off topic, but while on the subject of authority and unity I'm tempted to compare the state of Man, pre and post fall, for the light it sheds on the unity and oneness of God. I have a little reluctance because, while creationist in outlook, I suspect the creation story in Genesis to be more like a drawing - an artist's impression - than a photograph. Right at the beginning of when Adam was created he was alone, and it was his task to rule, to name the animals and birds and to work in the land. God recognises the size of the task and Adam's weakness, who being like God in form, was not like God in power, and so created a helper to work with him in the task.

Would she have been equal to him in value? I'm sure the answer is yes - she came from his own body and was truly one with him.

Did she have the same role as Adam? From his reaction on meeting God after the fall, I don't think so because there was a hierarchy of blame formed.

What was the result of the fall? That amazing unity, which we sometimes experience in our marriages, was broken. A part of the curse of sin was that, instead of there being a perfect harmony and order between equals, the man would rule over his wife. It's also interesting that in verse 16 of Genesis 3 in the NLT version the woman's desire would be to control her husband. And so we see men and women today, one wishing to rule, while the other seeks to control.

And maybe this is at the root of our failure to understand the true nature of the trinity. We see God in our image, as 3 separate persons, divided. Yet we must make them all equal and no-one in charge, because to have an authority structure would make them fallen and broken like us, because we cannot see the image of perfect unity, working together as a single being.

Comments/discussion/disagreement is very welcome provided it's not wrapped up in long words I don't understand or obscure references I can't check. If I don't answer it may just be that I simply haven't got the spare time and energy to research and write back - this has taken more than 90min to type, even though it (and more) was swimming around in my head this evening.

*Name that puppet series.

OK, here's one that didn't make it.

I still like this, but it wasn't quite good enough to make it into my competition entry* (closing date was officially today, but I've heard it may get extended).

Typically, today when walking around at lunchtime, in the gentle hazy sunlight I saw some wonderful images just waiting to be seized. Alas I had no camera, and in any case I need to stop thinking about picture now. I've been far too absorbed by the need to create images, and would like a chance for the head to relax and forget about such things for a bit.

One of the curious things has been how much we take image quality and size for granted. The original of this image, when re-processed onto lossless .tif format, weighs in at around 23Mb. I submitted a total of 28 main entry images and 32 supporting pictures: the original plan had been to burn them on CD, until I found that they came to 1.7Gb in total.

That's a big old bucketload of space for a few snaps.

Many serious photographers would only recommend shooting in RAW format (un-compressed, without loss of detail and without processing), but that's a lot of space for *almost* the same image quality.having said that, as I've been using DigiKam for processing I started wishing for higher quality images to work with, and doing a bit more processing in GIMP today (to resize downward for easy viewing - pulling 23Mb images from a DVD is slow) I again started wishing for higher quality tools.

Overall I've been really pleased with this camera. 500 shots (without flash) on a single set of rechargables isn't to be sniffed at either.

* These hydrants are everywhere around Heyford Park. They were made originally by Kennedy Valve in New York, and are one of the common threads throughout Heyford Park, reminding you that this isn't just another 60s council estate or industrial site.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Well 2010 IS the year of the Canadians.

In August we had very great pleasure in seeing Leo and Linea and then Marc and Dixie.

Well last week we also had an old friend visit. Phil lives in Montreal with his wife, Helen, and 2 children. The 'children' are grown up now, and Helen was staying with her parents in Hastings, but it was really good to see Phil again for the first time in 23 years. We last visited them in Huntingdon when we still had the Triumph Spitfire, the year before Chris conceived Ben!

Phil hasn't changed a bit, combining amazingly insightful clear thinking and utter zaniness. It's good when you meet friends and it feels like no time has passed.

And talking of which, in just 2 1/2 weeks we should see our final set of Canadians* this year, with Randall and Lauralea, and I have to say, we're really looking forward to seeing them again too. No plans for the visit - just ideas to see how things pan out at the time.

* Unless Hilary drops by or Johanna wants to see a wet London at Christmas again.

Good work Ben*

My son apparently managed to get his car noticed by fast car magazine.

*title of the thread linked on

Friday, 1 October 2010

It would be rude not to.

The people that run Heyford park are offering a photo competition. It's fairly unlikely that I'd actually win anything, but nothing ventured etc. There's no limits etc on the size of the portfolio entered, with the sole requirement that it's of 'interesting' bits of the base.