Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Funny Air Traffic Control Conversations

This story was on Digg today and it has some really great lines:

Includes things like:

Tower: "Delta 351, you have traffic at 10 o'clock, 6 miles!"
Delta 351: "Give us another hint! We have digital watches!"


A military pilot called for a priority landing because his single-engine jet fighter was running "a bit peaked." Air Traffic Control told the fighter pilot that he was number two, behind a B-52 that had one engine shut down. "Ah," the fighter pilot remarked, "The dreaded seven-engine approach."

Enjoy :D

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

This guy rocks my socks!

Avant-window-navigator is one of the coolest new pieces of software I've seen in a while. If he goes ahead and puts together another project he's talking about, Affinity, then Gnome is going to blow people away!

You can find his blog here, which he updates regularly. The best thing is I've found the SVN version to be STABLE!

Go take a look around and send him encouragement or bug reports :D!!

Sunday, March 11, 2007


I stopped reading Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig quite a while ago; I have been doing a lot of reading since then though, and I thought I'd share with you.

The Independent is running a series at the minute entitled "Banned Books" and each week they're selling a copy of a book that was banned or burned or restricted in some other way for a reduced cost (usually about £3). I'm trying to keep up with the series and haven't done too badly, need to get my hands on a copy of Lolita for this week; passed books have included Farewell To Arms by Hemingway and Clockwork Orange (though I can't remember the author's name!).

Both were really good, especially Farewell To Arms but I warn you, if you're to read it make sure you have something happy to do after - actually that's good advice for any Hemingway book! As for Clockwork Orange, although I've never seen the movie I think the book is probably a lot easier going. There's a lot of Russian and made up words which makes the impact of the disturbing scenes a little less striking - the overall message is still very clear and it's a great read all the same.

I've got an interesting post to put up soon - I just needed to pass a bit of time with this one :D

Sunday, February 18, 2007

VCRs and Guns

I'm reading the book "Free Culture" by Lawrence Lessig at the moment and just read a brilliant example about the problem with copyright laws; I thought I'd share!
In case you can't see it clearly, the caption reads "On which item have the courts ruled that manufacturers and retailers be held responsible for having supplied the equipment?".

The story is that Universal Studios (I think) went to the courts protesting that Sony was responsible for damages caused by the record feature on their new VCRs because, amongst all the legal uses, it enabled people to illegally copy content owned by Universal. Guns, on the other hand, kill people and yet their manufacturers' and retailers' aren't, or have never been, held responsible for murders involving guns.

That ruling was overturned but it's a pretty funny example of the complete lack of common sense surrounding "creative property" law. I'm not sure what the British situation is on all of this as most of the material I've been reading is by American authors but I plan to find out soon...

Friday, February 09, 2007


I've been trying to make a DVD that would both play in an ordinary DVD player and also boot in to a GNU/Linux live CD when in a computer. Apparently nobody else has wanted to do this because I haven't been able to find any documentation on the net but I have eventually figured out the rather obvious solution! I guess anyone else who wanted to do this probably knew more about mkisofs than I did but just in case there's ever any one else who needs to know how to do this, and doesn't know more about mkisofs than I do I'm going to document it very quickly here. (Also for my own future reference!)

mkisofs -dvd-video -pad -l -r -J -v -V "KNOPPIX" -no-emul-boot -boot-load-size 4 \
-boot-info-table -b boot/isolinux/isolinux.bin -c boot/isolinux/ \
-hide-rr-moved -o /mnt/hda1/knx/knoppix.iso /mnt/hda1/knx/master

This example obviously takes Knoppix as the Live CD you're attempting to make but it should work for any live distribution that uses isolinux. The only relevant option to change is the -o, which should point to where you want the iso image to be created and the option following that, which specifies the input folder - i.e. where all your files are which you want to be put in to the iso image.

Hope this helps someone,


Thursday, February 08, 2007

New episode coming!

I'm interviewing Mark Shuttleworth on the 26th of this month (February) so feel free to send in any questions you have for him! The format will be slightly different as I've only got one guest for this episode but the rest is the same, i.e. Mark answering your questions! I'm expecting to mostly take questions on his work with Ubuntu Linux (as he is the founder of the project!) but if people do send in questions about his space trip and such like maybe I'll ask those too.

Oops, almost forgot to put down the contact details. Either send the questions to or leave a voice mail at 0121 286 9845 (+44). Feel free to visit the site,, to find more information, another way to get in touch or to find past episodes for download :-)

I know I haven't been posting so much to this blog lately but my blogging over at Free Software Magazine has been taking my writing attention and also I've started on a new project - more details of that one to follow soon!


Sunday, January 21, 2007

From London to train!

I wish I was using Wordpress now really, unless anyone can tell me a way to get asides on Blogger?!

Well anyway, that's not what this is about. There's an interesting article on BBC which is a correspondent describing their journey to their new posting in China, by train, from London! It's a good read and a really cool thing to do in my opinion...

See why I want asides now? How short was that!

Free as in Freedom!

This is a double post:

firstly, you have to check out wikisource and wikibooks! We all know and love wikipedia but how many of us know about these sister projects? Wikibooks aims to create textbooks and books in the same way wikipedia was created and wikisource is similar, at least I think it is, to project Gutenburg.

Secondly, I found Richard Stallman's biography at wikisource recently and am reading it there at the minute. It's called Free as in Freedom and is really interesting - not normally in to biographies either.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A movie about trusted computing...

Ok this is really cool...well I thought it was. For a start it's just a cool movie with cool animation and soundtrack. Secondly it's a good introduction to "Trusted" computing and makes it quite clear how trust has nothing to do with it. I wish I could upload it to here, infact...

Never embedded a video on my blog before but it's cool so hey! Here's a link back to the original as well so you can see if there's more there that interests you (you can find the video's original copyright info here too). Also, for anyone who refuses to play proprietary formats I've converted it to an ogg theora file and hosted it at my website but please only use this if you have no other way of watching it - I host my podcast here and don't want to lose all my bandwidth to this video!

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Science and Relgion episode released!!

I've just posted the latest episode of the Questions please... podcast. This time around the subject is Science and Relgion and the guests are Russell Stannard, David Bartholomew and David Wilkinson. Russell was the head of physics at the OU and has written and edited many books on the subject; David B is ex vice-principal of LSE and a professor of statistics (as well as author and editor); David W is the principal of St.John's college Durham, author and editor, theologian and astrophysicist.

It's a really interesting listen and covers a wide range of questions including ones on Dawkins, mind & brain, evolution and also some of the failings of science. The address is

Enjoy :-)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Bluehost - argh!!

I'm becoming increasingly disallusioned by my hosting provider! Not only have I found that downloads are painfully slowbut I have discovered that my site is actually down tonight...I'm damn pleased I didn't release the new episode tonight. Haha, and as much as I'd like to believe slow downloads and the website going down is becuase my site is so popular I think this is very unlikely.

So what to do?! I have paid for two years of hosting so I can't see myself moving to a new host so I guess I'll just have to complain lots - maybe they'll give me some sort of upgrade :-) Or even better - money back!

Sunday, January 14, 2007


I was just looking through my flickr account at some old photos and I found these two. The first one was taken in Paris from the Eiffel Tower and is the best photo I've ever taken, at least in my opinion!

The second one was taken in Swaziland, summer 2005 and I just love it - it might not look as arty as the Eiffel Tower one but this photo is so frickin cool! Brings back all the best memories of that to find something else to do before I start to feel nostalgic!

Friday, January 12, 2007

FC6 on Acer Aspire 1300

Just thought I'd write a quick note to remind myself, and to help out anyone else who has a similar problem, that when I installed Fedora 6 on this laptop I needed to change the default run-level in /etc/inittab to 5 to get it to boot graphically. Also to get it to run at the correct resolution use the "Hardware" tab in the Display GUI (found in System>Administration)...

I expect I'll be editing this soon to include how I got my wireless card going; saying that there are plenty of good walk throughs for this already.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Do something!

Ok, this is simple: you can visit Oxfam's website and find lots of easy actions that don't require any money or much time and make some kind of a difference. While you're there, sign-up for e-mail campaign updates and do what you can each time something comes up. They are campaigning on really important issues as well: for example anyone familiar with Free Software and their stance on patents and intelectual property will be interested to discover that IP doesn't just cause problems for software, it also causes problems for people in third world countries who can't afford medication due to patents!

Don't just stop at Oxfam either: there are many organisations that need your help such as Amnesty International and Friends of the Earth; both of these have similar "easy" actions which don't require much time or any money. Saying that, if you can afford to give a little money why not!? I'm sure it will be greatly appreciated and will certainly make some kind of a difference.

The point of this post? Do something! Anything! It doesn't matter what as long as you, from time to time, make an effort to do something.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Questions needed: Science and religion!

I've almost made it to recording the second episode of my podcast. This time the episode is on the topic of Science and Religion and is featuring Russell Stannard, David Wilkinson and David Bartholomew as guests, hopefully answering and discussing questions submitted by people like you and I. Obviously for this to work properly we need your questions so please head on over to the site and and submit your questions, or send them to . In fact, you can even call in and leave a voice mail at 0121 286 9845 (this is a UK number so use +44 if you're outside the UK).

Hopefully the discussions will be just as interesting as last time and maybe the show will even have a bit more polish about it this time: I think I've learnt quite a lot. I'm also hoping to have smaller download sizes and a theme tune!! Exciting stuff hey!? Check it out!!