Climate change emergency

A few weeks ago we saw “An Inconvenient Truth”, which had more interesting data and charm than I had expected. Especially interesting was the appalling fact that we really are facing the imminent melting of the ice caps. And the more the arctic ice melts, the faster it will continue to melt, because the open ocean exposed by melting absorbs heat from the sun vastly better than the ice it replaces.

And data is coming in thick and fast now to show that climate change is happening right now: Arctic summer ice anomaly shocks scientists.

I guess that means it is time to do something. Getting the word out is one way. Tackling the nay-sayers – who use similar techniques to those used by the big tobacco companies in the past – is another: British Scientists write to Exxon: stop misleading the public on climate change.

Another approach which might be a good one in the US is legal, following the path of cases against the tobacco companies: California sues car makers.

(Unprofessional) Scientific American

I am a Scientific American print subscriber and I recently set myself up to get RSS feeds from Scientific American.

My immediate reaction is that the Scientific American website is extremely antisocial. On clicking an RSS link for Scientific American I first get a web page from your “sponsor”, which is usually trying to give me a free screensaver or some other such application which is usually spyware or adware. When I click on the link there to get through to the Scientific American website I always get a popup window asking me whether I am a subscriber to Scientific American print, digital edition or something else.

In my opinion this behavior is not conducive to viewing Scientifican American as an authority on scientific matters in the US.


Julian Richardson

Funny, this morning I was musing about my blog and wondering whether I should name it after my friend and colleague, Tim Menzies, whose blog is entitled “Some People Call Me Tim Menzies”. Which led me to the idea that maybe some people call me Tim Menzies, but they are wrong, because I just had a brain transplant… silly Monday morning musings. I was wondering how the brain would feel about its new body, and starting to conclude that it could be unpleasant. I was imagining my back without the slight ache it has (especially on Monday mornings), my eyes would be different… I might not miss the bad things about the old body so much, but the new things could be overwhelming and disturbing.

And then I come across this story about a man who had a penis transplant and couldn’t deal with it. Neither could his wife. They removed the penis.

Much of the weekend was spent gardening, double digging my new vegetable plot, buying lettuce seeds from Common Ground in Palo Alto. Oliver and I started them in flats. In the course of my garden digging, I uncovered much junk: roots, stones, stakes, bottle caps and… pipes. One enthusiastic forking too far and I pierced a pipe from the sprinkler system. A little pool of water formed in my trench then slowly subsided.

The gardener is fixing the pipe now, and uncovering the other pipes in my vegetable plot so I can arrange the plot around them.

It is a shame those pipes are right under my vegetable plot. On the other hand, it turns out that 6 inches under the water pipe I pierced is a pipe carrying all the electricity cables.

Gardening makes me feel good.

Not much brain spam coming in this morning on the RSS brain-tubes. Found this link off a Spanish blog: Nerdy Rapper. And this trailer for The Shining (comedy version).

Lost and Found

This morning I received an email from a very dear friend of mine from my Edinburgh days. My email habits are terrible these days… I often take days, weeks or longer to reply… but on this occasion I emailed him straight back. Fumbling around for a photo I remembered Tim’s blog and so pointed him there

I remembered the good old days when I could spend hours answering an email, having lunch, or working on something new… I’m happier now than I was then, but I miss the flexibility in my work.

Rabid Prototyping

This afternoon I have been putting together a storyboard for part of my project. I like sketching the interface, imagining clicks and responses, structuring of actons and data… maybe I should do more of this stuff?

I feel like it should be possible to code up a prototype in a jiffy bu at last Java doesn’t work that way. There are always 1000 irrelevant (to a first approximation) details that need to be spelled out…

New Apple Magic

Moderately excited about the new Apple Magic. It’s getting time to replace my 3G iPod. I feel like the video iPods are part of a video revolution and I want to be a part of it too. I’m also running to the end of the 20Gb on my old iPod.

The movie store… could be tempting in the future, but similar consideratons apply as for iTunes – given a choice between a DRMed lower quality download from iTunes, or a non-DRMed, higher quality, and cheaper CD from Amazon, I’ll take the latter. Of course with movies DVD is a DRM format and iTunes 640×480 may be close to DVD quality, but still, the price will be a deciding factor.

Mountain View Goatse Festival

Yesterday, we attended the 2006 Annual Mountain View Goatse Festival. It’s like a car boot sale, with less cars and boots and more goatze. Yes, even more goatze than a car boot sale. The first stall we came across displayed goatze so strong than I have no memory of it. With what little remained of my brain, I perused the other stalls – which filled Castro street from end to end. My left preoccular centres were knocked out by some ceramic tiles with pictures of dogs on. Some crazy metal mobiles tickled my brain like an expert fisherman before delivering a hammer blow. Closing down for maintenance…

Software Understanding

Cohesion is one measure of the quality of software wrt modules vs. functionality. The king of cohesion is the module where all parts are functionally related. The pauper is the module where parts are randomly assembled e.g. a utility library. Code should exhibit low coupling and high cohesion.

The following paper Software Metrics: Roadmap may be interesting.

The mental wanderings of Julian Richardson