October 28, 2004
Hobbits in Australia?

Hobbits in Australia? Ridiculous. Everyone knows that Hobbits live in New Zealand.

More Homo floresiensis coverage from the BBC.

Posted to Science and technology by Simon Brunning at 12:58 PM
October 27, 2004
iTunes 4.7

iTunes 4.7 is out. The minimise to system tray (or whatever) feature is very nice, but, ARRRRGH, now whenever I eject my iPod, it stops charging - so I can't listen to it and charge it at the same time.

And as for the iPod Photo, is it just me, or is this a rubbish idea?

Posted to iPod by Simon Brunning at 02:49 PM
Quantum Non-locality in the Macroscopic World

Interesting Quantum Non-locality article via lonita - Quantum quirk may give objects mass.

Posted to Science and technology by Simon Brunning at 01:04 PM
The Face of Titan

Cassini Imaging is showing some facinating Titan close-ups, via The Register.

Posted to Science and technology by Simon Brunning at 12:37 PM
El Presidente had better watch his back...

Miniature claymore mine, via Mark Frauenfelder.

Posted to Funny by Simon Brunning at 11:55 AM
October 26, 2004
The Coolest Man On Earth

What a nasty shock. John Peel has died.

John Peel has been at the forefront of progressive music for more years than 40 years. It's difficult to overstate the impact he's had - would punk have made it big without him? And how many other genres saw their first exposure on John Peel's show?

Obviously, it wasn't all good music - but if you aren't willing to look at new things with an open mind, how can you discover the wheat amongst the chaff? John Peel was always willing to listen.

In recent years, his unpretentious style found an additional natural home - Home Truths. He was able to talk to anybody about anything - always interested, never intrusive, sympathetic, but never condescending.

The BBC will miss him. So will I.

Update - I'm now listening to Teenage Kicks - according to John Peel, the best ever record. "I canít imagine anything you could add to it or subtract from it to make it better." and "I've known the Undertones for so long and I've always claimed that it was my favourite record of all time I'd have to take Teenage Kicks."

I'm not sure that the Busted version went down quite so well.

Another update: The UK blogsphere is in mourning.

Posted to Music and Film by Simon Brunning at 03:33 PM
October 25, 2004
First Against The Wall When The Revolution Comes

I saw The Princess Diaries 2 with Freja this weekend.


Having said that, Freja loved it, as did most of the audience. So, let me be more specific. If you're female and between the ages of six and fourteen, or if you are Mark Matthews, you'll probably love it. Otherwise, avoid.

The royal brown-nosing was blatant. The Americans are obviously desperate for a royal family of their own own. Well, they can have ours.

What else was there? Oh yes, unfunny slapstick, suitable-for-pre-teen romance, and (oh, the horror!) Julie Andrews rapping.

Oh, and the product placement was shocking. Shocking.

Posted to Music and Film by Simon Brunning at 02:12 PM
October 22, 2004
Too busy to stalk your ex?

No problem - O2 will stalk them for you! You can do anything on the Internet these days.

Posted to Funny by Simon Brunning at 02:01 PM
Somebody call Guinness

Is this the worlds largest error dialog? Via boingboing.

(It's not the most embarrassing - that has to be the Comdex demo of Windows 98.)

Posted to Funny by Simon Brunning at 01:29 PM
Solar System Simulator

JPL Solar System Simulator, via lonita. There goes my productivity for the afternoon.

[Insert comment from El Presidente about my productivity here.]

Posted to Science and technology by Simon Brunning at 01:19 PM
Back In The U.S.S.R.

I decided to take a punt on AllOfMP3. I've grabbed much of the vinyl that I'm missing on CD, a lot of it stuff by The Beatles and The Police. It's all worked fine, and the MP3's are of good quality. My iPod is now nice and full. ;-)

BTW, the Bose SoundDock looks gorgeous, doesn't it? But £250!

Posted to iPod by Simon Brunning at 12:35 PM
Full marks for initiative...

Italian kids flooded school to avoid exam.

Posted to Funny by Simon Brunning at 11:47 AM
October 21, 2004
How to Tell When a Relationship is Over

How to Tell When a Relationship is Over, via a small life.

Posted to Funny by Simon Brunning at 12:02 PM

AllOfMP3 - is it legal? Is looks too good to be true, but if it is legal, it's a great way of picking up high quality MP3s for cheap.

I wouldn't use it to get new stuff - I don't think that would be ethical. But I'd quite happily use it to pick up any stuff I own on vinyl...

Posted to iPod by Simon Brunning at 11:01 AM
October 18, 2004
Random Pub Crawl

I've been linking to the fabulous beerintheevening.com for a while, but I've not come across its wonderful random pub crawl generator before. Truly technology in the pursuit of human happiness.

The also have some themed crawls listed. They have the Monopoly crawl, which I've done much of on my 30th. (I got as far as Rose and Crown, Old Park Lane. We figured that we didn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of getting into Henry's in our condition, so we pissed off down to The Frog and Forget-Me-Not and finished off getting pissed. It was pints of wife-beater all the way - how I survived that I don't know. I know we were still in The Grand at two in the morning, despite having started at noon...)

They also have a few Northern Line based crawls; the Barnet branch, and the middle section. They are missing a Southern Branch crawl, though, so here is my modest (incomplete) proposal.

Anyone care to fill in the gaps?

Posted to Beer by Simon Brunning at 05:17 PM
October 14, 2004

Right, that's it, I'm taking a sickie tomorrow.

Posted to Apropos of nothing by Simon Brunning at 04:44 PM
Scripting Civ IV

Amazing news from the forty-second parallel - Civilization IV will use Python as its scripting language!

My favourite game and my favourite language, together at last. This is just so cool...

Posted to Python by Simon Brunning at 04:39 PM
Neither here nor there

Last night's Quantum Non-locality lecture was excellent. The hour passed by in what seemed like minutes - and I'm not quite nerdy enough that this would have happened if is wasn't a good talk.

Professor Popescu started out with a history of the subject. Einstein, assuming that non-locality could not exist, used it as Reductio ad absurdum proof that quantum mechanics could not actually be non-deterministic, and that the apparent non-determinism was actually caused by "hidden variables". But some three decades later John Bell showed that non-locality was in fact real - which also demonstrated that the hidden variables assumption was false.

This does not violate Relativity. Though the entangled particles may be said to have communicated faster than light, this correlation cannot be used to transmit information. Each of the individual particles continues to behave non-deterministically - it's only when their behaviours are correlated that you can demonstrate entanglement. So, it's the very non-determinism which allow non-locality to occur without violating Relativity.

This far, I'd managed to keep up, but the Professor then explained how non-locality could be measured - at which point, he shook me off entirely. So much for no mathematics!

I picked up his trail again soon, though.

Professor Popescu then explained some of the practical application that quantum non-locality might someday have. He went into some (though thankfully not too much) detail on teleportation. This won't, sadly, be too much like Star Trek teleportation, but the idea is that if you have entangled particles at some distance from on another, plus a normal, 'classical' communication channel, you can transfer another particle's entire quantum state from one place to another. This would not be possible by other means, since you cannot measure this state due to the uncertainly principal. The key is that you can transmit the state without ever measuring it.

Lastly Professor Popescu told us about what he's currently working on. It's to do with a perceived problem with Quantum Physics' axioms.

Relativity is dependent upon only two, elegantly simple axioms - that the laws of nature are the same for all observers that move with constant speed relative to each other; and the other was that the speed of light is finite and the same for every observer.

Quantum Mechanics' axioms are not quite the same. For example the first axiom is utterly incomprehensible to most, and complex even to the experts. Professor Popescu is hoping that, just as non-determinism allows non-locality to occur without violating Relativity, perhaps one can take Relativity and non-determinism as starting points, and derive Quantum Mechanics. Beautiful!

Next week, Not just about numbers.

Posted to Science and technology by Simon Brunning at 04:24 PM
October 12, 2004
His & Hers...

You can get all kinds - His & Hers, Hers and His, His and His, Hers and Hers. But it does amuse me that this one comes in a queen size...

Via boingboing.

Posted to Funny by Simon Brunning at 05:12 PM
The Good, The Bad, and the Nerdy

London Java Meetup - 18 Oct 2004.

Posted to Java by Simon Brunning at 04:03 PM
I'm 40% corrupt

How far has London corrupted you?

I must say I'm unhappy to have got only 40%. I must get out more...

Via greenfairy.com.

Posted to Funny by Simon Brunning at 02:16 PM

Check out pytunes - a Python interface to iTunes.

Apparently, Apple have exposed a COM interface to iTunes. If I'd known that, I might have written this myself. Unfortunately, the exposed interface is incomplete. You can't read all of the track meta data - 'My Rating', 'Play Count' and 'Last Played' are missing, for example. And you can't set anything - all the attributes are read only. This is a real shame, 'cos it means that I can't use the COM interface to do what I really want to do - transferring my iTunes library's meta data from one PC to another.

There are a number of ways of transferring the tracks themselves. I use iPod Agent. But this doesn't set all the meta data. 'My Rating', 'Play Count' and 'Last Played' don't get set, for example, and since some of my smart playlists are driven by these values, I really want this all transferred too.

Time to dust off winGuiAuto, perhaps, and its new big brother WATSUP?

Update: David has pointed out the iTunes COM for Windows SDK. The C header files in there seem to refer to the ability to read and set all the meta data that I need, so perhaps I can read and set everything I need to. I'll keep looking...

Posted to Python by Simon Brunning at 01:53 PM
October 11, 2004
A little harsh, perhaps

Five years! I must say, I'd have thought that he's suffered enough already...

Via Gusset.

Posted to Funny by Simon Brunning at 01:46 PM
One not to be missed

Resident Evil: Apocalypse. Why? One word - Milla.

Posted to Music and Film by Simon Brunning at 12:38 PM
PC World

I've been PC buying with my brother Dan, and new sister-in-law Abby for the last couple of weekends. They wanted to meet me at PC World - what a mistake.

I've never bought any serious kit from PC World - and I never will. Their incompetence starts to take on a kind of epic grandeur after a while.

The notebook that they sold Dan and Abby turned out to be sold out - hence the 2nd visit. They then proceeded to try to sell us a number of other notebooks that had sold out. Having been caught out like this before, we kept asking then to ensure that they had some stock, and every time they went off for five minutes, only to sheepishly return and admit that they didn't.

In the end, we went to Comet instead, and picked up a nice little Toshiba Satellite. Which I'll be setting up for them this evening.

Posted to Family by Simon Brunning at 12:33 PM
October 07, 2004

Zombie Infection Simulation v2.3, via DiVERSiONZ.

Posted to Funny by Simon Brunning at 12:37 PM
October 06, 2004
Newton Woz Ere

I really enjoyed my last jaunt to the Royal Society, as suggested by Jez, and there are a couple of cool looking events coming up there in the next couple of weeks: What is quantum non-locality? on Wednesday the 13th, and Not just about numbers on Tuesday the 19th. I'll be going to both, hopefully with a few friends. If anyone fancies tagging along, give me a shout.

I'm particularly looking forward to the John Barrow, since I've read a number of his books; The Book of Nothing, Pi in the Sky, Impossibility, The Universe That Discovered Itself and Theories of Everything.

Posted to Science and technology by Simon Brunning at 02:41 PM


And more humbug.

Posted to Apropos of nothing by Simon Brunning at 12:48 PM
October 05, 2004
Colourful Code

Paste (via My hovercraft is full of eels) is really cool. Just paste your code, and get a URL to a syntax highlighted version. Supports Python, Java, SQL, XML, and more.

Posted to Software by Simon Brunning at 05:29 PM
Zombie Personal Ads

Zombies Seeking...

Via Gusset.

Posted to Funny by Simon Brunning at 04:55 PM

Dr. Tim Couper has built a very slick looking unit test framework for Windows GUI sytems - WATSUP - Windows Application Test System Using Python.

It makes use of winGuiAuto, my rather rough and ready Windows GUI automation utility. Nice to see that I've contributed to something useful to someone other than me! winGuiAuto is just a small corner of WATSUP, though...

Tim will be putting this up as a Sourceforge soon, I gather.

Update October the 8th: WATSUP is on Sourceforge now.

Posted to Python by Simon Brunning at 04:24 PM

Memorial marks Paddington crash.

I was living in Reading during much of 1999, and commuting to London each morning by train. The train that I usually took was the one before the train that crashed at Ladbroke Grove - but it wasn't unusual for me to be running a little late. I probably caught it once a week or so. But by October, I had moved to Colliers Wood.

My friend Amanda was on that train, and she was in coach H. She was lucky to live, but she was hardly unscathed. (You might need BugMeNot to get to that page.)

I never read about Ladbroke Grove without a shiver.

Posted to The Big Room by Simon Brunning at 09:56 AM
October 04, 2004
The First Rule of Pillow Fight Club is...

Tell everyone about Pillow Fight Club.

Via Sam.

Posted to Funny by Simon Brunning at 04:10 PM

Having Googlejuice is very nice, but I'm not too happy being number one hit for this.

Clearly Google is getting cleverer than ever. ;-)

Posted to Funny by Simon Brunning at 12:59 PM
October 01, 2004
Morbid tendencies

Another distinctly Friday-afternoon post, after a very pleasant lunch with Jez: The Unfortunate Animal of the Month Club. I particularly like the skull-heads and the skin rug.

Thanks to the office pyromaniac pyrographer Tracey for this one.

Posted to Funny by Simon Brunning at 03:02 PM
Cock, Aim, Fire

Helping a gentleman's aim.

I remember seeing the flies in the urinals at Schiphol. It took me a while to realise that they weren't real!

But will it actually help? Well, while there are certainly some men who don't take aim as carefully as they might, and who may be enticed into a little more care by this device, I like to think that most of us do our best. But there is a certain inaccuracy inherent in the equipment. That first volley especially can be a little unpredictable.

You ladies didn't want to know that, did you? ;-)

Via NightHawk.

Posted to Funny by Simon Brunning at 02:14 PM