Just a status update

I’m still working on my blogpost about sexuality and gender. It’s amazingly hard to write blogposts about those topics – not only because of how sensitive the topic is, but also because the language used is very often either poorly understood, or will offend somebody.
I’ve finally got somewhere to live in July reasonably close to Hursley, so yay for that. Also I’m getting a car – eep!
Generally though, I feel like I’ve been pottering along this holiday – generally chilling and enjoying the lay-ins before I start my placement. Got some reading done as well – Read 2 short books (only 300 or so pages); not as much as I’d have liked perhaps, but there is still a week left at home! I sense that American Gods might have to wait until my first holiday whenever that is – I think I’m too wrapped up in A Song of Ice and Fire to read much else at the moment.
I need to work out what I’m taking with me this time – fewer books I think, now that I have an e-reader and can fit a lot more books on it than in a suitcase. Yes, I’m shocked as well – me leaving books behind!
It is amazing though that everything I need for a year can fit in the back of a car. Perhaps I should do one of those challenges where you only use 5 luxuries in a day. Now that I think about it, it probably wouldn’t be that hard. Laptop, iPod, e-reader. Errr… Ok, make that 3 things in a day! In all seriosuness though, as I’m sitting in my room typing this, I’m looking  around and wondering ‘Why do I have all this stuff? TV, VCR, DVD player? I use my laptop and VoD services. Games Consoles? I rarely use them anymore – mostly use my laptop with a few classics. Books? Ahh, books. They, I think, are the one thing I would keep in my room. Despite what I said earlier about my e-reader it can’t beat the feel of holding a book in your hands, and turning the pages. And that’s before getting into the whole licence vs ownership debate, perhaps I should do a blogpost about that sometime?
Well, I think that is this blogpost done.

If Humans were to just disappear

Although I’m a Computer Scientist, a big part of my life is more… philosophical… in nature. Every so often, and quite regularly, I will just sit and ponder on a question. This time, that question is ‘What would happen to the planet if humans were to just disappear. This is my attempt to record my thoughts on this, so apologies if it is somewhat rambly.
My first thought is of my pet dog. If no-one was home when everyone disappeared, then the chanses are that he would be locked in the house and would either starve or die of thirst as unless he can open the cupboard where we keep his bones then he would have no food. The possible exception would be if one of our widows got broken by another animal, but I think that unlikely where we are.
Moving beyond the personal though, my next thought is nuclear power stations. Power generation generally can just cease in most generation scenarious with negligable effects. But nuclear power stations are another matter. With humans gone, at some point something mechanical owuld fail, most likely the pumps for pumping cooling water. Then the control rods should be automatically engaged to stop the reaction. However, the water would still boil off and so a meltdown would happen at some point. As the closest nuclear powerplant to my home in Norfolk is Sizewell, it is possible that any effects would reach us. Certainly the high radiation in the seawater and air around Sizewell would cause enourmous environmental damage for a significat period of time.
Happisburgh just up the coast, would almost certainly fall into the sea as its erosion would no longer be slowed.
Naturally, almost everything not natural around us would probably start decaying pretty quickly. Everything. the patchwork of fields that the UK has almost everywhere would be quickly consumed again. Roads would decay. Buildings, streetlights. Books could fair slughtly better – but not much better. Computers would cease to function relatively quickly. Almost every piece of information created in our lifetimes would vanish.
The ironic thing is that, the Pyramids would still survive, the Colluseum, the Acropolis. These would all survive, more or less, for a long time afterwards. As would the Rosetta Stone. Anything on paper or more recent technologies would decay very quickly in comparison. everything more than 1000 years would be lost. the odd bit of plastic might survive in the long term, but any writing on it would be long gone. Any future sentient creatures would know more about the humans from 2000BC than from 2000AD. Physics would have to be rediscovered almost from scratch. Science generally. Maths. Literature. everything all of us owns will be outlasted by The Pyramids, and the hieroglyphics of the Egyptians.

The joys of Uni

I’m on a break for tea as I’m writing this, after spending since lunchtime on Programming Coursework. It’s the hardest coursework I’ve had to do, not because I don’t understand the theory, but because i have never had to write large chunks of C before – add in to that the need for it to work with Lex and Yacc and you have something that is nearly incomprehensible to a novice c programmer. On the up side a simple mistake in several function declarations has solved about half my errors, and I now understand the value if c header files – even if I still don’t get the precise mechanism by which gcc handles them. Ah well, food is here now so I’ll leave this here.

Why I switched to a Mac

The short answer is that there isn’t a short answer. It was a combination of several things I think.
My old laptop was in a very, very bad condition – i had missing screws, a missing cover bit thingy, it had scratches and one of the screws holding the screen in had gone missing. Add to that that the screen itself was failing most times when I started it up. Thirdly, the battery was drained – and I’d already bought one replacement from Dell at an extortionat price. Finally, it was still running Windows Vista and was just plain slow. I mean really slow.
Now, that explains why I bought a new laptop, but not why a Mac, let me get to that now.
I guess, if I had to pick one defining reason, it would be the aesthetics – of both the machine and the User Interface of the OS. This is, quite possibly the area that Apple do best. Also, the fact that Windows is officially supported on them now by Apple alleviated my fears of not being able to play some of my favourite games. Anyone who is not a tech geek, please feel free to skip to the next paragraph, now. The final major reason, is the fact that it is based on Unix, so you get the power, and customalisability of Unix under there. Especially important for my CS degree.
Welcome back, non-techie readers. One of the biggest things I’ve found since switching is the battery life. The advertised 7 hours is actually accurate – even with web browsing or text editing. I’m even considering not taking my power adapter to Uni, and I never shut my Mac down – sleep makes almost no difference to your power. Another thing I’ve found is the screen. I went with the anti-glare option, and it’s jsut so vivid and clear. It certainly seems ‘whiter’ and brighter generally than any of the non-Mac laptops my friends have.
Now, I’m not going to pretend it’s perfect. I still don’t like…. errr. Now I come to think about it, I can’t think of any major thing I miss from Windows, and Windows laptops generally. I’ll be sure to update if I think of something.
Finally, I will admit, yes I have installed Windows 7 on here as well – but it’s exclusively for playing Windows only games at the moment.

A new start

So I’ve switched to WordPress.
Let’s face the facts – I’m not a blogger at heart, so I don’t have the motivation to code up my own blogging platform in my own time. I’d much rather spend that time doing other things – reading, browsing HackerNews and the Internet in general. Plus, this is simple (and much improved since I last used WordPress.
I guess I’ll do a blogpost shortly about my switch to Mac.
Now for a random thought: When did prisoners find out about 9/11 or 7/7?
I guess this is the kind of question you can only think of after a hard day courseworking, at about 10 to midnight.
And I can tell I’m rambling now, so I’ll leave this here and hope to bring you something much more interesting later.
 

<Insert Wheel of Time quote here>