Monday, 21 October 2019

Just let the Macbook update

Dang, that thing is slow.

There was a time it seemed fine because software demands were quite small, whereas now they're relatively huge and getting huger (Yeah, I know that's not a word, but it's more fun than some other choices) and the poor old thing struggles & sweats.

The update download - it's too old to run Mojave, which the app store tried to suggest as an update - was more than 1GB, and the installation time is estimated at 13min. Curiously, I remember the first point update to OSX when I'd only had the machine a couple of months, and THAT was also 1GB, which was a real problem since we only had 2meg broadband, possibly not even that, and it took fully overnight to arrive.

It's presently got 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD, but there's simply no substitute for a fast processor; I can hear the fans whistling away as I type this while it's working.

So now it's done one restart after 6 or 7 minutes whistling and there's now 11 minutes remaining. Where's that rolleyes smilie?

I'd been using it because we wanted to recover a facebook password for an account created in 2016 in order for Chris to follow Ben using an Android tablet. It never happened, but it's the only current facebook account we have now AFAIK, and she will now use it to generate an Instagram account so she can see the stuff he regularly posts there. Using OSX again is a little like laying down in a soft bed where a number of prickly things have been scattered: some of it feels really good, but there are aspects that make the overall experience unpleasant. The app store requiring you agree to updated Ts&Cs before doing the updates, presenting you with an enormously long piece of text and then requiring that you have read and accept them at the bottom when it's obvious that you couldn't reasonably do so was one. The keychain tool presenting hashed passwords instead of plain text was another (I'm sure it used to give plain text).

After I complained out loud about the terms & conditions Chris said I was always like that with the Mac. I'm just not an Apple person, and their complete arrogance sticks in my craw.

Update done eventually.

It's tempting to flog the Macbook, but I'm not sure it's worth it. The machine is a handy spare laptop, and even though the battery isn't up to much now, it's still useful portable computing for light stuff.

We bought Chris a new laptop just a few weeks back - a Lenovo C530 - and it's really nice. Light, fast (faster than this XPS, although that's not a surprise) and with a much better screen than the Mac. It was far from expensive, but feels really nicely made, with a clean, slim aluminium shell that fits together well. Spent a couple of days moving data over, installing applications and migrating accounts. On a Mac it would have been easier/faster using time machine, but OTOH this is a chance to de-clutter & re-organise stuff a bit. I also made sure there's wasn't another nested 'Chris stuff' folder that never got unpacked as has happened in the past, more-or-less putting everything back on the desktop where it had been.

Oh, and Office XP applications start in the blink of an eye. ;)

Eventually I'll need to upgrade the XPS, but for now it's still good.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

I hope this works

Tell me what's wrong with this page.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Is it age or difference?

So last week I signed up to Instagram.

Presumably the site is designed for ordinary people to use easily, but through the phone it's really clunky, awkward, un-intuitive. I feel a need to start using it, partly because Ben posts his pictures there, partly because I need to start using it to promote my pictures too.

Maybe it's better through a browser?

There have been 2 major social media sites that made little sense to me over the last 10 years, Instagram being one, Twitter the other. I hope Instagram gets better, and it should. Twitter feels like punching your self in the face repeatedly, and I cannot imagine why any sane person would use it.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Sometimes it's nice to have a little confirmation.

Probably no-one will remember that I blogged about seeing a 'new Starwars movie' (I think it was The Force Awakens) and was somewhat appalled that how one half of the human race was portrayed.

It seems that I was not alone.

Thanks to Inky, whose blog I still read, I saw this Dilbert cartoon.

According to one source Scott Adams had seen the same film and it produced this response. We no longer expect women to be universally weak, stupid and incapable, so why should we tolerate seeing men in films that way? Misandry is no better than misogyny.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

The more life stays the same, the more it changes

I have 10min before leaving for a meeting off-site, and little concentration for other things.

I have become aware that the aging process - and other quirks of genetics & susceptibility - are affecting those I know of a similar age. A good friend has had prostate cancer and is now developing parkinsons: he is suffering the slings and arrows of hormone therapy for the first and trying to come to terms with the changes the second is making. Another good friend has an inherited respiratory condition that's causing his lungs to get gradually chewed away.

My voice seems to be changing - becoming sometimes husky, sometimes a bit squeaky. It's not a bad deal compared to either of my friends above, but it makes me even more reluctant to speak up at a time when personal confidence is not high.

It feels like I've been living the same way for a long time: same house, same wife, same career, same hobbies, same personal weaknesses and strengths. Yet despite my consistence things are changing gradually, yet irresistably.

Monday, 16 September 2019

What's wrong?

The sky has been a dull and unbroken grey all day, I've drunk little and been weeing loads. At least I'm not sweaty and sticky all the time.


Nice to be back in a country where you can throw paper down the loo, water from the tap is drinkable and the shower works predictably. Looking forward to a good steak and baked potatoes for dinner - tagine is off the menu.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Down to our last couple of days.

Morocco is - not what I expected.

I reminds a lot of Moghul India, but interpreted through European culture. Certainly the culture feels much less different than India did, even though it's extremely different to the UK.

We've had the stink and crowds of the city, torrential rain in the Sahara desert, blistering sunshine while viewing roman ruins and a beautifully cool morning today in Essaouira. People have generally been extremely polite, friendly, kind, but also a little deceptive and today we saw a couple of English tourists with another man who spoke the local language assaulted by a shop keeper and his friends in the street (no idea what that was about). There was also a protest through the streets last night that we think was about local jobs and tourists causing problems, but can't be certain.

It's been a good trip.

I'd like to come back some time to do a photographic trip, but I'm just not sure. There's a tension bubbling away below the surface. Roadblocks with police checks are common, and on a journey of several hours it's not unusual to pass 4 or 5 - reminded us of Zimbabwe. There are some incredibly wealthy individuals and every restaurant and shop had a picture of the king hanging, yet many people are apparently extremely poor, possibly made worse by tourists attracting beggars.


This will also be a lasting memory of Morocco.

In polite circles it's referred to as adobe when used for buildings, but there have been times when buildings and countryside appeared to blend seamlessly. Roads sometimes disappeared under it. Streets were covered in it. Mud seemed to be everywhere. It's made images of villages being swept away by mudslides very real.

There's a lot to absorb and assimilate.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

1 week in.

OK, Morocco is fascinating, blending African and Arab cultures. For a photographer, there's a picture round every corner and the people seem friendly this far (we were given warnings in our welcome meeting about those who are not).

Each area and hotel has its own flaws and idiosyncrasies: in this one the taps drip, last one had no hot water & toilet didn't work in our room etc etc. Also you can't flush loo paper.

Having an interesting time.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Keep taking the tablets

A couple of months back I bought a cheap refurbished windows tablet - about £90 - to use as a digital music storage device for church. 12" HD screen, detachable keyboard/screen cover, SD memory card slot to supplement the 64GB of internal storage. It's not exactly a fast performer, being pretty much on a par with the late 2008 Macbook, but it's about half the weight and the screen is really crisp.

Battery life is brilliant.

When new, the macbook would do 4 hours of word processing, or 2 1/2 hours with wifi on for internet. The Dell XPS was similar, although wifi use made almost no difference, but image processing drops life to 2 hours.

This thing gives me >10 hours of internet use.

Would the passengers of Easy Jet flight XYZ

Please go to Gate 5 for Decontrolling.

The unhappy sound of the airport moving passengers from a secure departure lounge back to the outside world. Gatwick North terminal hall is full of people and there is a queue that runs almost the length of the hall, presumably of cancelled Easy Jet passengers.

I'm grateful that at present our flight only appears to be 3 1/2 hours late.

Normally I would not post 'live' on holiday, but we've got friends living in the cottage while we are away, and it will be as secure as if we were there.

I suppose one of my biggest disappointments is

That there is no answer.

Everyone seems to have lots of answers when you're searching for faith: lots of scriptures that can point you in the right direction, encourage you to believe, re-assure you about how wonderful it all is.

What happens when you start to look a bit harder and become concerned it's a house of cards?

What happens when you start to look at a card and realise it's possibly not standing on anything?

I get that we need to use eyes of faith, I really do, but you need more than a wish to base that faith on. We know that 'reality' will let us down, and as Christians we live on the basis that the world is broken and failing. At the same time, the more I read the bible the more I read things that look like they have been made up, possibly for all the best reasons, but still made up.

And the thing that ticks me off most is that there is no answer.

Someone I knew a little - pastor of a church in Abingdon - had a heart attack and died the day I started writing this post.

A good friend's wife died of cancer a couple of years back, leaving a young family.

We may have some experience of this kind of thing too.

I'm fed up with the thinking that it's more important to reach out than to understand what we're offering.

Yesterday I bumped into the people who I now realise helped start me on this path of thought and theology. They had a thing about the people of Israel and the rock that went through the desert with them as described in 1 Cor 10 v3-4 - they believed that there was a physical rock that followed the Israelites through the desert, and that rock was Jesus in some other form.

I think it was that point that stopped me being a fundamentalist and instead started me searching to know what was true and what was just made up.

People like to make up stuff, not from malicious intent, but because they just want to have something to believe in that helps explain why the world is like it is and provides them something to believe in and bring hope and comfort. I'm NOT saying that Christianity is all a fiction, but that it has absorbed various peoples made up stuff along the way. At one time I would be cross about this corruption, but at the moment I'm just accepting it for the reasons above. Disappointing, frustrating, but nothing to burn someone at the stake over.

How do you know something is a fiction? It's hard to tell, but if people feel the need to defend their god by force of arms, anger and violence then that's a pretty strong clue they know it's not true. If god is really God, why would He need people to fight for him?

I've tried to stay quiet

About the bizarre 'buggers-muddle' to borrow an old English phrase, that has been Brexit.

For those who've not read the blurb that way & I'm an Austrian who has lived in the UK since 1 was 1 year old, so more than 57 years. Although I wish otherwise, my feeling is that Britain as a country will probably be socially stronger separate from EU, although it will likely hit people in their pockets and cause some severe hardship to the poorest. That's not the point though, and it would be much 'easier' for Britain to remain.

What is the point?

It's been a really odd journey to get to the point the british government is at today.

The first bit of stupidity was the referendum (not legally binding) that was set up with a poor set of choices and a failure to create a sensibly high threshold above which a popular vote to leave must reach in order for the vote to be meaningful. At least the PM who was responsible for such a situation 'fell on his sword', though I wonder if he should have been forced to stay in office until the whole mess was sorted out.

Perhaps such an obvious device as a threshold was ignored because the vote wasn't binding, except that it has been made so in political circles. The nature of politics is that those who fight through its mire are seeking any kind of weapon they can use, and this presented such a thing with a good sharp edge and a strong handle to swing it by.

The next bit of stupidity is what happened immediately afterwards.

In time of crisis political parties have often pulled together to work things out, thus I expected the 2 main parties to settle down and try to figure out the best way through. Not a bit of it. Apparently everyone in parliament decided they should do their own thing, and if not part of the presently ruling party then attempt to pull that party down, not helped by the newly selected PM deciding that she should call a general election, neatly losing most of the previous majority her party had.

So 3 years on Theresa May (probably a genuinely well intentioned woman, but apparently slightly inept politician) has been replaced by the less honest and distinctly wily Boris Johnson. He saw what had happened and decided enough silly-buggers had been played in parliament, therefore arranged things so that the UK would almost certainly be able to leave the EU with a no-deal hard Brexit - where we find ourselves now. I don't especially like what he's done, but admire the skill with which he's circumvented the efforts of those who were determined to just keep spinning out the who process with no possible chance of resolution.

I wrote the majority of this post a couple of days back.

We are presently sat in Gatport Airwick waiting for a plane.

Why mention this?

Our flight is delayed due, apparently, to industrial action* on the part of French air traffic control. The airport was relatively quiet when we got here at 9am, but at 11.35 it's full of people whose flights have been delayed. If you want a reason why Britain wants to leave the EU, never mind all the stories about darkies or polish plumbers taking jobs away, this is it. The British are different. The disease that allows people to sod-up the lives of others in arbitrary fashion has infected the UK a little, but it's still not really taken hold. In France it's the national pastime, and has been for generations. The Brits don't do corruption or green stuff like the Germans, graft and anarchy like the Italians and Greeks, laid-back lifestyle like the Spanish. On they whole they just try to mostly follow the rules without putting people out too much.

I can shrug my shoulders gallic style about the strike & delays, but this is the kind of thing that they see their European neighbours doing that hacks them off and makes them back Boris.

Is Brexit a good thing? I REALLY don't know, though I expect everyone will be a bit poorer as a result, at least in the short-medium term. I can see good reasons for both remaining and leaving, both come with a price and simply deciding to remain after all will come with a high price, not necessarily monetary, too.

Hope we don't have ANOTHER war here.

*Correction - apparently it was a computer failure, but my point remains and striking Frenchmen is sufficiently common, even normal, that it doesn't matter they were apparently working as usual on this occasion.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Happy 30th birthday

Hard to believe you could be 30 now, or would have been. Time has flown, I've aged since you've been gone.

What might have been? Would you have children now? A home? A husband? Would you have gone into nursing or discovered another area that drew your interest?

We'll never know now, the things that might have been, the future lost.

Miss you.

Friday, 2 August 2019

Just in case you wondered whether Facebook

was an organisation based on lies and deception, the answer is, as we expected all along.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Change is here to stay

Or if this is done properly then you won't be worrying about getting change. Watch out for crytpocurrencies becoming a big(ger) deal in the next 3-5 years.

Just be careful where you put your money (under the mattress may not be such a bad place - wish that's where I'd put my pension contributions)

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

This is the very last upgrade.... ever.

For my Dell XPS 15.


It started out with a 1TB HDD and a 32GB mSATA cache drive that, thanks to some clever software was able to store all the bits of Windows etc that were needed frequently and present them to the processor at SSD speeds. Performance out of the box was fantastic, making the 6 YO Macbook with SSD it replaced look like it was steam-powered.

Then came the photos, and it began running out of space on the HDD. In search of a little more performance and a little more space, the HDD was replaced with a 1TB Sandisk SSD and the 32GB mSATA card with a 256GB mSATA. This was excellent, with startup in under 20sec and was probably about the fastest it could ever be. It had a bit more space than might have been expected too, because I was able to do a fresh install of W10, ditching some of the cruft & unused applications, data remaining from the upgrade from W8 to W10 etc, and I gained more space than a simple mirroring of drives might have provided.

But as night follows day, so drive space fills up.

First off I ended up literally filling the 1TB drive to the last couple of GB with a combination of images and data, so it was swapped (with some disappointment) to a 2TB HDD, and there was a distinct performance hit, even though all the OS files were on the SSD boot drive. Then I realised that had filled up too, and I ended up deleting quite a lot of data & applications, plus during one of the W10 'upgrades' the drive had been further partitioned, wasting space.

More room was needed.

Now unfortunately mSATA drives are 'old tech', out of fashion and superceded by NVME spec drives. Prices were actually holding up better than newer, more consumer oriented drives. I'd been watching the price of obsolete 1TB mSATA drives for some time, afraid they were going to become unobtainable, unwilling to spend £150 on another drive. Then a few weeks back Amazon Italy (why Italy? who knows?) did a special deal offering Samsung 860 drives (the only remaining 1TB mSATA drives now available) for about £97, and while looking at the offer page clicked what I thought (really did) was the link for translating into GB Pounds, that was actually 'buy this in GB Pounds'.

So as a result of that happy accident I've just finished Doing a clean install of W10 build 1903, and having sorted out the various system framework drivers (Dell's good drivers are older than the generic versions Windows automatically installed that badly throttle the system, so wouldn't install automatically) etc it works really nicely. Finally did that + sort out emails last night.

So, a couple more years use, hopefully, by which time the machine will be 7, 8 years old and still fast and effective.

* If memory prices keep dropping then a 4TB storage SSD would be tempting. ;-)

Friday, 19 July 2019

went out for a walk this lunchtime*

I went out for a walk at lunchtime and found an elderly man sitting on the kerb by the side of the road absolutely crying his eyes out. "What ever is the matter?" I asked.

He sobbed "I'm 96 years old and I live in a lovely old manor house with beautiful landscaped gardens. I have a brand new Range Rover, two Ferraris and a classic Aston Martin; but best of all I have the most beautiful and loving wife... she's only 25, she has a wonderful figure and used to be a fashion model before we got married. She's also a Michelin Star winning chef and cooks me the most delicious and healthy meals every day. She can sing like an angel, she's so kind and funny, and we have the most amazing love life... and in addition to all that, twice a week she drives me to the local pub so I can have a few pints with my photography friends and talk camera kit and techniques all night."

I said "What on earth are you crying for then?" He sobbed "I've forgotten where I live!".

*Not really, it's been raining most of the day.

Friday, 12 July 2019

That's "Not OK Google"

You know all those fears we dismissed as paranoid delusions, that google WAS listening all the time despite assurances to the contrary.

Apparently they were at least partially correct after all.

I remember a time when some people using devices like this monitored packet traffic to be sure nothing was being sent back to base during normal conversations. It seems that just because you think they're out to monitor you, doesn't mean they aren't.

Wonder what GDPR will make of this?

Monday, 8 July 2019

Making asses of u and me.

A little snippet on The Register this morning about a company that assumed its data was backed up 'in the cloud'. Just remember, the backups are there for THEIR data, and not yours, if you're someone who stores all there stuff online for 'free'.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

At last, a film I want to see in the cinema

It seems someone has, in 21st century style, made a documentary of the Apollo 11 mission, editing together & restoring original footage. This might actually be worth paying to view on a big screen - I was almost 8 when it happened, and still remember the sense of excitement and the possibilities we might aspire to.

Later the capsule and some moon rock toured the UK. My grandfather took both my brother and I to the Biggin Hill airshow where, in a hangar, we were able to see them. the capsule seemed enormous, burnt black on the bottom. Much later I saw a re-entry capsule in the space centre at Houston, and was amazed at the incredibly tiny size - hard to imagine getting 3 men to live inside it for a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Would you buy a book from this vendor?

Or would you 'buy' any digital content?

Copyright, DRM and ownership are a 'knotty problem' to say the least, when it comes to stuff online. In the early days I took a fairly hard-line approach personally, trying to treat stuff that was obviously 'owned' as though it were property, even though it was available online without the actual owner suffering any loss if I acquired the digital content.

Then came Youtube, Google prime, music and video streaming, torrents, vodlocker etc. Copyright and ownership of digital content became psychologically blurred, even though the legal framework hadn't really changed.

But the thing that's really blurred the line for me is the issue over digital content that's been paid for.

We have a couple of Kobos - painfully slow digital book readers, the business was acquired by Rakuten a few years back - plus a Nook (Barnes and Noble) and a Kindle. The Nook went first, with the digital rights being sold to Sainsbury, who then lapsed the business completely - I have no idea if we can still read books on that. Around the dsame time we also became aware that Amazon did sometimes actually pull content from Kindles if they decided that you didn't have a right to carry on reading the stuff you'd paid for. Now it seems that Microsoft are removing access to any books bought through their service, giving limited refunds in some cases.

There are lots of reasons why the attitude of the public is changing towards digital content and ownership compared to the way physical goods and services are viewed, but I reckon a big driver is this feeling that you never actually own what you pay for. In some ways the software companies are recognising this too, with SAAS (software as a service) becoming more common, where you rent use of applications on a subscription basis, being locked into repeated payments to the developer. One could discuss the pros and cons of that, but my feeling is that it will reduce the barrier to acquiring digital content regardless of copyright.

Friday, 28 June 2019

What's in a name?

If you've ever been a fan of the iDevice then you'll probably know of Jony Ive, whose departure from Apple has been announced today. He's setting up his own company: LoveFrom.

Or is that LoveForm?

Every article I've read thus far has been written as if the new biz is called LoveFrom, but someone speaking on the radio this morning called it love form, which makes far more sense for a design business.

I wonder if we've just seen a moderate failure of software design from an over-enthusiastic spill chucker?


Not that my own output here couldn't use a bit of decent proof-reading sometimes. :-(

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Friday, 21 June 2019

Just Libra me alone, OK?

It seems that  Facebook project (Libre) to manage finances internationally was announced this week as Calibra. While listening to the wireless during the drive to work I caught Mark Carney, (American) governor of the Bank Of England talking about it with an interviewer, though I'd managed to miss out on the strat of the interview, so only put the information together retrospectively.

Would you trust Facebook with your financial data?


But on the basis 50 billion flies can't be wrong, you KNOW this is going to take off, don't you? Trump is in the White House, Boris (how appropriate his initials are BJ) is likely to become PM here in Blighty. QED.

Y'know, it could be a genuinely useful service. As Mark Carney said in the interview, this is the financial sector, and there are rules that business follows - it's not the wild frontier of internetland. Paypal because a (mostly) reliable, useful entity, though it's conception and birth occurred in the financially oriented operation. Facebook's background is data mining and selling the user as the product, so how might that work out?

Some have suggested the service would be 'free' because your data would be used to pay for the cost.

The worst part about this is, like Western Union and all those other 'helpful' firms, you know some parts of the world will embrace it with open servers arms and not care, making it difficult for the rest of us to completely avoid.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Health has been an odd thing this last couple of weeks

I've not been overtly unwell, but looking at the longer post grumbling about facts and the bible, then considering the sensations of pressure and difficulty in thinking clearly that I've experienced on and off make me wonder what's going on inside. It's not just the head though - joints are also distinctly grumpy (waking me at night) and for some weeks now my chest has been making enough noise with internal gurgles when laying on my left that - once awake - I can't get back to sleep.

Quite a number here at work have been suffering hay fever recently, and I wonder if that's part of the trouble. Imunogenic insult of that type often stimulates all the wrong immune responses, and we get some of the flu-like symptoms without going anywhere near a virus. At the same time it's weird how it comes and goes, head feeling clear one minute, fuzzy the next. Seem to be sneezing and streaming from time to time too, though again it's unpredictable.

Yesterday was also a wipe-out. We had a babyshower for someone, and after eating a couple of smallish cakes at 9am I seemed to be in a daze - that was almost certainly glucose management, but it never settled down until after dinner in the evening. Looks like the days of munch & run have gone.

And I wonder what crazy things I've just written above? Thing is, I won't even be able to spot the non-sensical stuff for a day or 2.

Heads are odd things sometimes.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Keep taking the tablets.

Recently picked up a Linx 12.5" tablet running windows 10 cheaply to use as a sheet music presentation platform instead of the photocopies. It was a refurb, so I don't feel so bad - a new iPad uses resources and energy equivalent to >30,000 sheets of paper, so it's hard to justify such a purchase with the objective of reducing consumption (an argument I've seen used to 'encourage' purchase of such devices) when I'm otherwise computer-rich.

Trouble is, there's a whole tranche of associated paraphernalia: clamps, stands, foot pedals etc etc. This is going to be kept minimal, but will at least create the illusion that I'm following the music.

It's also been interesting setting up a W10 computer from scratch too, having to clean up the start menu, install all the usual apps (at least 1 non-microsoft non-google browser, plus libreoffice and VLC) and then try to remember/guess passwords.

I also installed PowerMusic Essentials (FOC) to organise the music when it finally gets here. Music applications seem to have generally polarised into either Apple-only or Android-only groups, neither of which seem to talk and both of which want to take your money while helping lock you into a system. At least PM works cross-platform, which is definitely a good reason to consider investing a little.

Next thing to try will be some form of photo-editing software. In terms of performance this is significantly less sluggish that my old unibody Macbook, but a long way from the (5 year old) Dell XPS with i7 quad and 16GB RAM + SSD. It does only weigh about half either of those 2, and it fits nicely on my lap at home with the kickstand out and detachable keyboard out in front without producing any significant heat at all. In fact I've been working for more than an hour and it's barely above ambient temperature

The screen is nice too - 1080P at 12.5" makes for crisp detail, and the IPS panel gives a pleasant viewing experience. A few years back I long-term loaned my little Philips 12" laptop running linux and missed it ever since. This may make a pleasing replacement, although having looked into the possibility of running linux on it, I think we'll be sticking with Windows for now.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Deepfakes and the bible.

* it seems I'm going slightly mad, or at least can't write every sentence in decent, clear English.*

Surely there's no connection, is there, other than let your yes be yes and no, no?

Our ability to make people say things they never really said for our own pleasure or benefit is not new, and has probably been around for as long as human communication itself, and knowing where a line may be drawn has always been difficult. The church has had to deal with this pretty much continuously through its history, deciding what was 'true' in terms of historical writings in the 4th century by creating the bible (later revised again when the evangelicals rejected the tales of the arabian nights the apocrypha and various other bits). Stories about the derring do of various 'saints' have peppered church history too (and remember, the winner is usually the one who gets to write history).

There seems to be something in the human character that must make stuff up, sometimes for the 'best' of reasons, like wanting their God/god to appear bigger and better, sometimes for personal satisfaction or gain.

And the ignorant masses apparently lap it all up, and worse, act on it.

I guess we tend naturally to believe the stories that confirm our personal biases or preferences, reject those that do not. Donald Trump romping with porn stars in the oval room of the White House? Sure he did. Key figures in the prosperity gospel movement taking vows of poverty and humility? You must be joking??!

So I go back to look at my bible and read Genesis and Exodus, start asking questions. Well, that was a long time ago, oral tradition and all that. Then I compare Kings and Chronicles, which are both much more 'historical' though created for different reasons. Then I read the gospel of John, and start wondering about the way conversations are portrayed and how the chronology is re-woven to create a theology instead of providing a history. And I consider James (St. James to you) brother of Jesus who ends up running the church in Jerusalem instead of Peter, setting Paul up for the mob (I really do wonder if he actually saw Paul as an enemy to be removed, for uncovering James and Peters' hypocrisy over judaism and the law).

I think I may have commented a few years back about Herodotus blantantly making stuff  up in his writings, and there have been times I wondered if the first century was like the 21st century.

Someone wanted recently to 'discuss' my 'not entirely orthodox' view of the bible with me. The problem is that I'm still trying to understand what's real, what's wishful thinking, what - if anything - is blatantly faked. 'Faith' overcomes a lot of this stuff, because it simply says that the bible is the word of God and I'll believe it whatever. It's a position I once subscribed to, but cannot, in good conscience, any longer.

What stiluated this?
And the legislative 'solution':

Plus the failure of a recent attempt to prosecute a British politician for barefaced lying in a way that would influence the gullible while holding a senior post in government. We are now, apparently, OK for our politicians to lie to us about stuff that brings them personal gain.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

If you have been trying to comment here

and it hasn't worked (thinking of you especially, Marc) then I'm sorry. No idea why comments are broken - nothing has been changed, and I have even removed the requirement for moderation before they appear in the hope that would make it possible.

Blogger seems decreasingly functional, no longer working properly on Android and being temperamental through a browser. Maybe blogging will die out further, not just because people stop wanting to blog, but because this platform is being wound up (lack of profitability?) by google.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

I just lied.

Walking out of the Cotswold Store (outdoor equipment shop) I was accosted by someone on a stand soliciting donations and asked if I were interested in wildlife. My reply "no, but thanks anyway" wasn't true, but I didn't want to get involved or donate.


Friday, 7 June 2019

Is it cheating?

To try, make mistakes, then go back again with new knowledge?

How well do we know someone?

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Iffy hearing can at least be amusing sometimes.

I've worked in the past with Swedish speakers, one of whom would often end a conversation (in Swedish) with what sounded like 'milky bra'.

I can see Leonard Nimmoy raising one eyebrow and intoning a gravelly "curious".

The phrase is actually mycke bra, 'micky' becoming 'milky' through rhythm and lilt.

Very good.

Monday, 3 June 2019

Every so often I get emails from the Oxford University dept of continuing education.

Seeing the range of courses available makes me realise how one could simply sit in further education ones entire life, absorbing more and more information and learning. It also makes me wonder whether I should do one or two coursse a year, just to keep the brain alive and interested in things other than science and photography (and maybe theology).

The difficulty with these things is developing the will to keep going: when a course like this is for pleasure and not necessity there is less drive to push through the dull/difficult/confusing/apparently stupid parts.

Saturday, 1 June 2019

You know you have succumbed to marketing

When you have so much booze in the cupboard at home that you KNOW you don't need any more.

*edited. I need to stop posting from the phone, because a quick visual scan of the text is not enough to find my own mistakes and those of the spill chucker.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

I am both fascinated and deeply frustrated.

By this:

So much knowledge and information available, yet so completely un-readable for me.

Friday, 24 May 2019

The camera can now really tell some porkie pies.

I guess it was inevitable that the stuff of some scifi would become reality - you just simply can't believe what you see anymore, not at all.

Have a look here if you want to see the Mona Lisa smile.

It seems that face changes are now being 'easily' and commonly done, with the results posted on youtube:

It just re-emphasises that you really can't believe video clips any more.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Am I homophobic?

It's a question I don't ask myself too often, partly because it's dumb and partly because there's no ready set of acceptance criteria against which one can gain an accurate measure. Some would suggest that if you can intereact pleasantly with known homosexual people then the answer is no, while others will suggest that if you do not fully and completely approve the homosexual lifestyle or if you call someone else gay as an insult, even in fun, then you're inherently homophobic.

This post was promted by the folloing article on aunty beeb:

And it raises the question, if one doesn't approve of homosexual activity, does that make you homophobic (I suspect the answer is yes) even if you don't distinguish between straight & gay individuals in the way you treat them.

This has been sat as a draft for a couple of weeks - I opened blogger, saw the title and thought "God, I hope so!*".

It feels like the world has gone nuts, in so many ways.

I do genuinely wonder whether, rather like caesarian section delivery which is apparently changing the gene pool (more mothers and children survive the effects of an otherwise lethal variation of physiology, thus passing it on to future generations) if the manner in which society accepts and promotes gender fluidity and a breakdown of gender stereotype is an increasingly lethal social inheritence. It's hard to find the time and enthusiams to write about it now, but from an evolutionary perspective and ignoring religious feelings, it's hard to see how either of those could encourage survival of the race.

To me, this is a far bigger challenge to the survival of the race than global warming. Certainly if large areas of land disappear under water it will result in wide-ranging suffering, death and war, but if society breaks to the point where people aren't interested in breeding and working together then the race is far less likely to bounce back in whatever world remains. I don't think gay and trans people are going to cause the end of the world (or anything stupid like that) but I do wonder if they are the unwilling, unhappy victims of relative wealth, comfort and success.

OTOH I wonder if this undermining of identity and liberalisation is a 'natural' response to overly successful development, and in the presence of comfort and abundance it is normal for humans to become decadent, lose vigour and their society to crumble and fall. When one might think people would thrive and grow, instead they are beset with depression and self-doubt. History is certainly full of events where empires rotted and collapsed because they had decayed from within.

And adversity tends to make both the church and people stronger. History has shown that a comfy church tends to do badly, but a suffering church is vital and powerful. Maybe it will be a pattern for ordinary human beings too? On a purely human level, do we need those less than fit to fail & die in order for humanity as a whole to survive? Are questions like this even allowed to be asked any more?

Maudlin thoughts at the end of a Thursday lunchtime.

*Don't take that too seriously.

Minor spelling/typo corrections added 24.5.2019

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

It's that time again.

Another year, memories a little less sharp, but still there as a dull ache inside.Actually it's quite a sharp ache - memories are much less distant than I thought, and the feelings that hover decided to pounce instead of staying back.
I don't say too much here these days, but everything just seems so futile at times.

Friday, 10 May 2019

Friday, 3 May 2019

OK, it's finally happened.

I have lost touch. (p.s. don't read it all unless you want to).

"What's new since 0.16.0? For those who've been following along, a great many things have changed over the last 5 months since the 0.16.0 release - 99 people contributed over 5,700 commits during that time!"

"With this release, we highlight our approach to innovation, while maintaining our friendliness and focus on design and beauty. Keeping the focus on design Like our previous release, we have tried to make Lamarr a beautiful desktop with design elements being minimal and clean. It features a contrasting and sharp design theme inspired and derived from the Nitrux desktop. In Lamarr, we have simplified Plasma 5 by removing many controls which may confuse the everyday user. New welcome screen: Lamarr features a re-designed welcome screen with a heartbeat animated logo. The desktop: The desktop design has been kept traditional and minimal with modern design cues featuring a white color scheme by default. The panel: The Plasma 5 panel has been modified to keep a minimal set of configuration options, which we feel is helpful to new Linux users, who may otherwise get overwhelmed by the power of customization Plasma offers out of the box."

New upstream features and improvements include: additional container support with new tools such as Podman (a container management tool) that complements the previously released tools such as Buildah and Skopeo; policy-based decryption (PBD); GnuTLS support hardware security module (HSM); OpenSSL now works with CPACF; nftables enhancements and the nft command for greater packet filtering insight; OpenSC support for new smart cards; greater support for kdump, network and timesync; integration of Extended Berkeley Packet Filter (eBPF)...."

"A nice way of celebrating the sixth anniversary of this distribution is releasing KaOS 2019.04 with fully updated Midna theme, a new toolchain and Qt 5.12.3. As always with this rolling distribution, you will find the very latest packages for the Plasma Desktop, this includes Frameworks 5.57.0, Plasma 5.14.4 and KDE Applications 19.04.0. All built on Qt 5.12.3. A new glibc 2.29, GCC 8.3.0 and Binutils 2.32 toolchain is among the many changes to the base of the system. Updates to systemd, LLVM, MariaDB, Protobuf, MESA, Polkit and Qt required the rebuild of a large percentage of the KaOS repositories. The removal of Python2 from the KaOS repositories is ongoing. Many more packages are now build on Python3 exclusively. Highlights of KDE Applications 19.04 include an extensive re-write of Kdenlive as more than 60% of its internals have changed, improving its overall architecture."

"Elive 3.0 has been updated and it will probably be the last updated build for the 3.0 release. This updated release includes multiple internal improvements that have been developed for the next version of Elive and I backported these improvements to 3.0. There are too many internal code improvements to list all the details but I can at least summarize some important points. Persistence - overall improvements for saving the desktop configurations based on different hardware profiles and improvements for the option to encrypt persistence; Elive Health tool - improvements for the critical temperature detection feature; USB recorder tool - now supports compressed images; Sound - support for PulseAudio in the Elive internal mixer tool, in case the user installs it....

There's a lot more of this stuff. 

I've realised that the descriptions of Linux distros now looks like gobbeldygook to me where it once made sense.

OTOH a quick read of Distrowatch has made me want to experiment a little again.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

D'you ever see something engineery and think "what about......?"

Like the idea of storing energy for laser weapons mounted on ships in a flywheel.

Ships move in a variety of directions when travelling - how is that going to work with several megawatts of energy (I can't convert that in my head to joules or whatever else is appropriate) in a flywheel that's basically going to strongly resist non-linear motion? They'd better bolt the darn thing down good & hard if they don't want it tearing free & flapping around, and the hull is going to need to be strong enough to cope too. OTOH this may give the boat a much smoother progress through the ocean than usual.

I'm fascinated to know if this has been considered at all.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Well that was weird.

A good friend keeps links to 'voices' that have been connected with him in the past including some that have become quiet for various reasons. Being in a momentary gap, I followed a link to and behold there was a web page as if the original owner were still alive and blogging about IT.

Very very strange.

I also popped back and had a little wander down vandermeander, and it left me sad to be reminded of what I miss now. The blogging community changed years back, and there's not been a viable replacement since it ceased.

Monday, 29 April 2019


I'm an Android user, but I like to identify as an iPhone user.


Have to love the BOFH.

Monday, 8 April 2019

The arm is

somewhat less difficult today, for which I'm grateful.

Yesterday was also a nice day, where we had a morning out together in Oxford with a bit of lunch. Over the last few years, church has been increasingly something which took away rather than adding to energy and enjoyment, and Sunday felt like a day of chores after which there was no energy to do anything.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

And todays embuggerance

is a trapped nerve in my right arm/shoulder, likely cause by laying on the floor working at awkward angles yesterday. I can barely lift my right arm, and the pain makes me gasp - getting dressed was 'interesting' as was sleeping, and I can only type because I can rest my wrist on the laptop. I leave you to imagine some of the other areas that might be impacted by this.

There's a minor issue of also producing orange goo from respiratory orifices (thank you colleagues who came to work with horrible colds last week) but that's merely unpleasant.

Thanks to imgflip for the meme generator.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Today I had a strong reminder of how it felt to be in my 20s again.

When we had no money and I used to do stuff like fit bathrooms and kitchens in our house.

A while back we asked a plumber friend (professional, qualified, full time business) to replace a couple of taps and a waste in our bathroom sink unit, which we wished to keep. However the taps were old and the fittings holding everything together were a bit corroded and reluctant to come undone with everything in situ - he had a go, but couldn't shift joints & suggested we had a nice vanity unit fitted instead.


The answer was 'obvious' old skool - just take the unit off the wall to get better access to joints and where they wouldn't cooperate then apply brute force or a hacksaw.

To a 57 year old who hasn't done any plumbing work to speak of in more than 10 years, it took an hour to get everything off the wall and in bits - not really any touble at all - but then 2 hours to get it all back and leakfree (it all had to come apart again because the new waste leaked - seems OK now) which was annoying and a sign that I really am out of practice.

In a way I'm pleased that I can still do this stuff, but I'd have preferred him to have done it first time & just taken an extra hour over it. And I have a headache, just like I used to get from doing this stuff. There's something about mechanics that requires just as much mental agility as designing tests to measure billionths of a gram of protein, and those cranial demands make themselves felt.

Thursday, 4 April 2019

GAS begets GAS

Or spending money makes you want to spend money.

Back in mid February I was unwell with, as it turned out, a nasty chest infection that took about 6 weeks to clear. With time on my hands I became aware that cameras had moved on from my slightly older system (picked up used in Dec 2015) and had become increasingly frustrated with its poor focussing and fixed rear screen. In an uncharacteristic moment of madness and spending, a used Sony A7III and then a (grey) 24-105 lens arrived and most of my Nikon stuff got sold off.

I won't particularly review the A7 other than to say in the areas I was looking to improve the over Nikon it's outstanding. AF is instant, and with the Sony lens quite silent, and the rear screen flips out nicely for photos at ground level. The 'eye-AF' funtction is astonishing with the way it finds an eye in a face and keeps it in focus, even finding it again if the owner turns away & then back again. And it's a darn complicated little beastie if you want to change a setting from a menu).

But there was a brief bump in the road.

Trying to find a cheapskate budgety way of making things work I picked up some used kit in the form of a Samyang 50mm f1.4 lens - really nice for super-shallow depth of field and super-soft bokeh - plus a Sony adapter that allowed me to use my older Minolta fit lenses and get autofocus BEFORE I bought the 24-105. While they were nice, didn't work that well with the cameras AF system, and they also weren't 'free' so I ended up selling them for what I paid to fund the other lens.

But GAS begets GAS.

Now I remember what I've just had, I'd quite like it again please. :p  Only not yet.

Something I liked about the Nikon outfit (apart from the easy traditional and very simple handling) was that I had pretty much most of the lenses etc I could use. Now I'm back at, if not square 1, then in the early stages of building an outfit again. Patience is required. And contentment.

With the 50 f1.4 on a very dark and dull London day.

On patrol-00221

And using the 24-105 on a much nicer, sunnier Oxfordshire afternoon.

Lord Blandford's Pheasant

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

We have just had snow.

Not much, but it was definitely particles that fell too slowly for hail but we're too dry for sleet.


Monday, 1 April 2019

Today I have sore fingertips

Yesterday morning I pretended to be James Herriot, unblocking a drain. There was a sharp object somewhere in there, and I managed to slice directly into the tips of 2nd and 3rd fingers. There was no pain at the time, but typically it's now open and sore. 🙄

Happiness, depression and certainty

In amongst the propaganda from the BBC about Brexit and LBGTQC(onfused) rights there has been a 'good news' piece regarding a woman who doesn't feel pain. It seems she has a particular genetic arrangement that helps her to not be aware of pain (comments about smelling burning flesh when touching hot metal, enjoying childbirth have been bounced around) and there has been some analysis done before all this hit the headlines.

This also coincided with the headline that twice as many people are using anti-depressants now compared with 10 years ago. I also seem to know far more people now who suffer serious depression than I ever did 30 years ago, depsite having somewhat suffered it myself.

On the radio (4) last week they had 'an expert' talking about why this particular person didn't feel pain as others do, and a part of it was raised canabinoids produced by her brain and a general disposition to happiness. Now the interesting part of this conversation started when the expert began to talk about happiness and the things that make people disposed towards being happy or unhappy/depressed.

A couple of key things that came out were extrovert personalities and certainty made depression less likely, while introvertion and uncertainty made a person more likely to suffer it.

This is interesting in the light of how society has been changing for quite some time. Certainty has been unfashionable for a long time now, with the post-modern backlash, and 'generation snowflake' seem opposed to anything that doesn't align with a nebulous set of all-permissive ideals. Speaking personally, I know that when I had assurance and felt certain about stuff I was far more positive and life looked much better, while over the years I have become far less likely to want to interact with others.

I'm sure my view is skewed by my own preferences.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

An aspect of modern life that boils my blood

Is wearing earphones at work. Try to talk with someone and they a) can't hear you or b) you feel like you're interrupting.


Friday, 22 March 2019

Austrian German is not German German.

I have received a letter recently from the Austrian embassy regarding upcoming European elections, and popping it through google translate does curious things with what I am sure are colloquialisms in the text.

For example: "In dolphin fields you can get used to your community.", "The shipwreck shipment through the southerly community wird ab 02 May 2019" and "Steam cabinets and wheelchairs in the wheelchairs and the wheelchair access, all the way to the bus stop 26 May 2019 at 5 pm."

Think I need to find me a German speaker to help out a little.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Reading a post this morning made me slightly sad.

It seems that my son and I are the only people who wipe water from their bodies after a shower or bath, before towelling dry.

At least, that's true for the small circle of people that we know.

And it made me feel slightly lonely too. I've always been different from others: sometimes I can dominate a group, sometimes guide it, sometimes be present watching what goes on, sometimes be ignored by it - I seldom feel just a part of it. Note the word feel - these are feelings, not necessarily how things really are - and feelings should not be the ultimate arbiter of reality.

I wonder too if this is one of the reasons for wanting adventure, to pioneer a bit - when you're doing that loneliness is not a problem, because OF COURSE you're alone. If you're in the trenches with everyone else then it can remind you more of feeling alone than solitude.

Blummin' 'eck, this is maudlin for a Monday afternoon, though I was even more maudlin this morning.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

More on the 'to vax or not vax'


Regardless. I read some statistics the other day, that before we had a meases vaccine the disease would kill 2.4 million annually worldwide. In countries without a universal vaccination program it STILL kills thousands every year. And those are just the dead, rather than brain damaged or with other long-term diseases remaining from the infection.

Vaccination really should not be a freedom of choice issue.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Never thought I'd see the day

But I find myself agreeing with someone who used to be a more prolific blogger. His experience is quite different from mine, both because of culture and world view, but it seems the disease of disinterest has spread to his part of the world too.

I was interested in his view of the cost of being part of church, particularly as church is no longer seen as the place we go to get re-filled and energised for the week ahead, but a drain on energy & resources on what would otherwise be a day of rest. I went looking for a post where I talked about this, only to realise I'd posted it as a comment on Backyard Missionary recently. In the post linked LT described himself as $20 in the plate and another voice drowned in the music - perhaps if that's all church really is then it's time for those gatherings to close?

Where is the real issue? Is it the people or something bigger?

Makes me wonder if a part of it is that what was underground and experienced with joy when persecuted has become the ordinary, commonplace and mainstream, sucking life out as it becomes increasingly democratised and mundane. The church has a long history of thriving and being healthy when suffering, but causing suffering when in power.

To vax or not vax?

Italy has begun to require vaccinations for children to be permitted to attend school. I hate the compulsion, but knowing that the parents who refuse vaccination will cause some of their children harm, and also cause harm to children unable to develop immunity through vaccination, it's not a completely unreasonable step.

It's amazing how short memories are, of how the diseases these vaccines prevent did so much harm.