Saturday, 31 October 2009

ZX Spectrum on Maemo

Seems funny to think that my first computer still lives, albeit in emulation on my phone...

Here the links to the Speccy ZX Spectrum Emulator Homepage and to the listing at for the downloads for the Nokia N800/810 and N900 devices.

An interesting comparison:
  • ZX Spectrum:  16k (48k model also) RAM, Z80 8-bit CPU at 3.5Mhz, mass storage: tape drive or 100k microdrive
  • N900: 1Gb RAM, TI OMAP 3430: ARM Cortex-A8 600 MHz, PowerVR SGX with OpenGL ES 2.0 support, mass storage: 32Gb to 48Gb solid state memory (specs at
A very naïve and simple comparison means that the N900 has about 62,000 times as much memory and about 600 times the raw-processing power, though real meaningful figures are almost impossible to make given memory speed, bus speed, technologies such as DMA and the processor architecture and instruction set etc (so, why did I bother?)

Ralph Johnson @ OOPSLA

Ralph Johnson has made entries into his blog about OOPSLA and papers that Barbara Liskov listed as the ones that she considers that have influenced her. Here's the list:
  • Wirth - "Program development by stepwise refinement" - which pointed out that a program is a series of design decisions, and these decisions give rise to a family of related programs, corresponding to different design choices.
  • Parnas - "Information Distribution Aspects of Design Methodology".  I haven't read this one!  I thought I had read all his papers.  It sounded a lot like his modularity paper. "The connections between modules are the assumptions that the modules make about each other."
  • Liskov - "A Design Methodology for Reliable Systems"
  • Balzer - Dataless Programming - I read this one a long time ago but I don't remember it and ought to read it again
  • Dahl and Hoare - Hiearchical Program Structures", in "Structured Programming" from 1972. 
  • Morris - "Protection in Programming Languages" - I don't think I read this one
  • Wolf and Shaw - "Global Variables Considerd Harmful"
  • Liskov and Zilles - "Programming with Abstract Datatypes"
  • Goodenough - "Exception Handling" Issues and a Proposed Notation"
He then writes a very interesting comment:
The world has changed!  Students tend to think these papers are boring.  "Everybody knows that!"
Boring possibly given today's "advances" from there, but too many fundamentals and much history is ignored and deliberately forgotten in computer science. Time to re-read and re-learn the principles in some of these - maybe we haven't "advanced" so much at all..

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Yr etholiad nesaf yng Nghymru

Ffeindiais fi rhyweth diddorol o blog yma gân Gymro. Diddorol iawn ydy'r y post yn ei flog Saesneg e (mae blog arall yn Gymraeg gyda fe) am y YouGov Poll ar yr etholiad ym Mhriadain nesaf yng Ngymru: "Poll predicts Labour trouncing at next election".

Yn yr blog (yn Saesneg) ydy'r dyfynbris:
"...a word of caution: Apparently The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). This has been one of the reasons why most previous Welsh polls have proved disastrously inaccurate. Wales is not a mini GB. In Wales the C2s Ds and Es are a much more important factor in elections than the C1s who swing middle England for one party or an other."
mae'r rhifau o'r YouGov Poll ydy (Hydref 2009)
  • Plaid Llafur 34% (-8.7%)
  • Plaid Geidwadol 31% (+9.6%)
  • Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol 12% (-6.4%)
  • Plaid Cymru 15% (+2.4%)
Newyddion drwg i Blaid Llafur a Phlaid Cymru hefyd - ydyn nhw'n wrthbleid wir i'r Ceidwadol? Sain gwybod, ond rydw i'n siwr pan bydd yn dod swpreis mawr yng Nghymru yn yr etholiad, ond i pwy?

Fy ymchwil am lyfrau i blant yn y Gymraeg

Dyma'r siôp da yng Nghaernarfon yn gwerthu llyfrau i blant ar y We. Ond, dydy'r tudalen chwilio ddim yn iawn o gwbwl, mae'n rhy anodd i ffeindio ac ymchwilio'r llyfrau, piti!

Hefyd ydy Dref Wen yng Nghaerdydd ...

Roeddwn i'n gobeithio ffeindio "The Cat in the Hat" (neu Y Gath yn yr Hêt) yn Gymraeg, dim lwc...

The Pentatonic Scale

An amazing video about the human mind and the pentatonic scale can be found here:

Bobby McFerrin demonstrates the power of the pentatonic scale, using audience participation, at the event "Notes & Neurons: In Search of the Common Chorus", from the 2009 World Science Festival, June 12, 2009.

After watching that, you'll understand the comment from the scientist (apparently) at the end who asked, "What the hell just happened there?!"

Friday, 23 October 2009

Tall Fiddler

Something to cheer you up for the weekend...

Tommy Emmanuel's Tall Fiddler:

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Sequoia's code, pt.2

More discussion here to keep track of...

Comment on e-Voting system standards:

State of California's report on Sequoia's voting systems:

Sequioia Voting Systems' Code

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Adam Curtis & Afghanistan

Fantastic blog by Adam Curtis of the BBC

Kabul: City Number One - Part 3 
 When you look at footage of the fighting in Helmand today everyone assumes it is being played out against an ancient background of villages and fields built over the centuries.
This is not true. If you look beyond the soldiers, and into the distance, what you are really seeing are the ruins of one of the biggest technological projects the United States has ever undertaken. Its aim was to use science to try and change the course of history and produce a modern utopia in Afghanistan. The city of Lashkar Gah was built by the Americans as a model planned city, and the hundreds of miles of canals that the Taliban now hide in were constructed by the same company that built the San Francisco Bay Bridge and Cape Canaveral.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Status of the P vs NP Problem

The Status of the P Versus NP Problem

None of us truly understands the P versus NP problem, we have only begun to peel the layers around this increasingly complex question. Perhaps we will see a resolution of the P versus NP problem in the near future but I almost hope not. The P versus NP problem continues to inspire and boggle the mind and continued exploration of this problem will lead us to yet even new complexities in that truly mysterious process we call computation.

Opportunty and the Crater

APOD has a fantastic picture today of a small crater on Mars taken by NASA's Opportunity rover. As the picture is quite large click the above link.

Here's the text from the above:

Nereus Crater on Mars
Credit: Mars Exploration Rover Mission, JPL, NASA; Image Processing: Kenneth Kremer
Explanation: It was along the way. The robotic rover OpportunityMeridiani Plain on Mars has a destination of Endeavour Crater, a large crater over 20 kilometers across which may yield additional clues about the cryptic past of ancient Mars. Besides passing open fields of dark soil and light rock, Opportunity has chanced upon several interesting features. One such feature, pictured above in a digitally stitched and horizontally compressed panorama, is Nereus Crater, a small crater about 10 meters across that is surrounded by jagged rock. Besides Nereus, Opportunity recently also happened upon another unusual rock -- one that appears to be the third large meteorite found on Mars and the second for Opportunity during only this trip. Opportunity has been traveling toward Endeavour Crater for over a year now, and if it can avoid ridged rocks and soft sand along the way, it may reach Endeavour sometime next year.

Friday, 16 October 2009

IBEX first results

From Dave McComas, IBEX Principal Investigator
Today is the day we have all been waiting for—when the IBEX first heliospheric results and sky maps are unveiled to the scientific community and public audience for the first time! The first results are summarized in five papers published online today by Science Magazine. They chronicle the remarkable discovery of a bright, narrow band of ENA emissions that was totally unpredicted by any previous theories or models and that snakes between the two Voyager spacecraft, but remained totally undetected by either of them.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Nokia and OpenSource

How Nokia Learned to Love Openness 
Last week I was writing about the Mozilla European developers conference, and the palpable energy there.
I'm currently at the Qt Developer Days, surrounded by some 700 Qt hackers: since Qt is pronounced “cute” this makes for some amusing puns. But cute or not, there is a similar atmosphere that augurs well for the open source project. 
 This is really good stuff to hear, especially as I'm part of it (even Slashdot has good things to say!).

You heard it here first: N900, Linux, M3, Qt, Ovi ... almost as good as a Bugatti....

Bugatti Veyron


versus Eurofighter Typhoon

(C)Top Gear, BBC

Anyway, some specifications from Bugatti...  0-100kmh (60mph) in 2.5 seconds, 0-200kmh in 7.3s and 0-300kmh in a touch over 16 seconds...nothing on how long it takes to 400kmh, but see the video above. Fuel consumption under "normal" driving conditions is, I guess OK for this car....40l / 100km in town, 14.7l/100 out of town and an average of 24l/100km ... which is approximately 12mpg. Fuel tank capacity is 100 litres. But overall not bad for a W16 8 litre engine with all-wheel drive, four turbo chargers and a potential power output of 1001hp...

the price...about 1.1 million UK pounds.....Wikipedia as ever has more a set of tyres costs 25,000 USD, I 'm wondering how much for a winter set?

Dear Santa,
    please please please please please please please, it is cheaper than the A380 - and easier to park....

Hating Star Trek

...its there up with hating any known religion, but Charlie Stross makes an very good point about why Star Trek isn't a good example of well written and thought out science fiction in his blog entry "Why I Hate Star Trek".

It basically comes down to the fact that Star Trek relies upon "technology" to solve every conceivable problem without thought or regard to what that "technology" might even be - it just becomes a way of driving the plot forward without any reference to the characters. Roddenberry actually stated that the problems faced in the original series should be solved by personal interaction rather than some mysterious "technology". You can argue that Star Trek is pure entertainment, but then you soon get to the stage where series such as CSI, Bones and the whole crop of sci-fi over the past 5 or 6 years use "technology" as the plot the distinction between reality and entertainment is blurred to the point where there is no need for character development because as soon as there is an issue or problem to be solved then some magic computer can solve it in an instant.

In someways the modern Battlestar Galactica series* started well with an emphasis on the plight of the peoples and sociological problems they faced; this along with a good dose of a deeper look into to the short-term tactics of an exodus of a race. Sadly, it too ended in a very unsatisfying
finale (Google Search) with a deus-ex-machina ending...

Unfortunately science fiction based on serious science fact or at least on a strong science basis doesn't sell - a genre that authors such as Arthur C Clarke, Frank Herbert and Isaac Asimov were masters of with 2001, Dune and the Foundation series being the most well known examples. In fact if one has to pick a scene that exempifies this in the modern manner then from the film 2010 the scene where HAL relays a message to Heywood Floyd from Dave Bowman (or what was formerly Dave Bowman). While it relies upon technology (ie: HAL, Discovery, Leonov, escape trajectory planning from Jupiter etc) the whole scene is underpinned with a political crisis on Earth, animosity and lack of trust been two rival crews and the disappearance of the Monolith ... in Star Trek, they'd have just repolarised the quantum flux generator and Picard would have said, "make it so..."

* the original series, shown on UK TV as rival programming to the 1984 during the Los Angeles Olympics was pure brilliance, but I was only 12 then, so it counts a nostalgia now.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Doctored Photographs

Returning to that particular theme from earlier, Time is running an article about
doctored photographs...

Top 10 Doctored Photographs - Time Magazine

RDF, Categories etc

Some notes for myself on the combined ([co-]limit?) subjects of category theory, rdf and semantic web:

RFID radio fields

Interesting work both from an RFID and photography perspective:

New species

...beat this Darwin :-)

Cern and the LHC...

As CERN has been in the news regarding terrorism or at least its vague link to* I thought I go and see what the LHC (The Register calls it the "Doughnut of Death") was up to these days - when its not being pointed at rouge Western states ... I suppose the best we can hope for is the production of a stranglet or maybe a black hole that doesn't decay via Hawking radition fast enough...

Anyway, a collection of pictures here: and this particularly nice one showing a simulation of what we can expect:

Picture (C)CERN.

The LHC is supposed to be back up and running in November and there is some news via their home page about the various components now being ready and the ring itself now having 6 out of 8 sections cooled.

* Six degrees of Separation
   .. which implies that you are related not only to Osama Bin Laden, but George W Bush, Matti Vanhanen, Margaret Thatcher, Gordon Brown and the Spice Girls too...

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Friday, 9 October 2009

Nasa and the Moon

More great astonomical stuff from Nasa with the successful crashing of the LCROSS probe into the moon to search for water, lots at Nasa's pages.

And more proof that either science education has serious problems or people are just getting more and more stupid (with a tip of the hat to The Register for pointing out that these people are a serious threat to society).

Black and white pictures

Some really stunning, minimalist black and white work here:

Industrial minimalism:


Some autumnal pictures to cheer you up:
aut1_0001 - Share on Ovi


...CCTV sounds great - imagine a paradise where no crime is comitted because everone is being watched (sounds like the last page to Orwel's 1984 - the book that everone quotes but rarely reads) think a little deeper, how far should removal of privacy from daily life go? Who should be able to watch you? Who should be able to say whether your are comitting a crime or not? You might be, or even you might be thinking of a crime and don't even know it yet...

Anyway, to aid us to this paradise, Internet Eyes have the product for you. The Daily Mail picked up on this (though that's not the best source for news) and so did Slashdot with the inevitable Stasi and Orwell quotes, though Hitler wrote about much of the philosophy behind this much earlier in Mein Kampf.

Just to make it a little more surreal, Internet Eyes offers prizes of 1000 GBP for the person who "solves" (no definition provides) the most crimes...hmmm, I might sign up, after all you could be a criminal and I could be a 1000 GBP richer...

What you see... not always the "truth". Now that Ralph Lauren has finally apologised for its cock-up regarding photomanipulation though from the sounds of it they haven't apologies for the abuse of the DCMA which does not cover these situations (fair use), for the purposes of education and posterity I along with thousands of others, a few major search engines and media outlets will preserve this for posterity and draw attention to other "Photoshop abuses".

As Blogger removed the original post because they caved in to a DCMA thread, hosting site Boing Boing didn't. Click here for the picture in question; and the picture (used under fair use rules).

Humans generally don't have heads bigger than their pelvis...not even Barbie make that bad a mistake.

Anyway, to start, Photoshop Disasters contains many of these, and here's the article about the Ralph Lauren case. Which a few news agencies picked up and and made their own exposes about this, such as ABC about the Ralph Loren picture and a minor touching up of a photograph to remove a bump. A few more from Art Threat about the Ralph Loren picture and a collection of 50 more from Graphic Design Blog.

Thursday, 8 October 2009


Ever wonder if this whole "green" trend is just a ploy...? Of course not, some people are very serious about saving the World, or at least a polar bear or two. Anyway, why not do your bit for global warming, sorry, climate change (hedging bets?) by eating green...

Taco Bell's New Green Menu Takes No Ingredients From Nature

More Onion genius later...

Monday, 5 October 2009

Naturality in mathematics

Some links via nLab's philosophy pages, these are just here so that I don't forget them:

+ Ruelle's Is our mathematics natural?
+ Wimsatt's Ontology of complex systems

Specifically I'm thinking about the nature of semantics wrt Cantwell-Smith and Gougen...

How computer technicians really work

XKCD Explains it perfectly:

Maps and mutations...

Interesting collection of maps at Project Mapping including UK-wide rail maps in Welsh. Very nice to see names such as Bryste, Manceinion and Llundain appear. though there are a few errors such as "Amwythig" for Shrewsbury when it should be "Yr Amwythig", Glasgow's name is not translated to Glascoed, Yr Efrog (York) is missing the definite article ... the definite article being very important in some placenames...regrettably its use seems to be falling with names such as Y Barri just being written as Barri on some roadsigns etc.

Same applies to the use of soft mutation (treiglad meddal) when you see abominations such as Croeso i Porthladd Abergwaun, when it should be Croeso i Borthladd Abergwaun.

Mind you, could be worse as found in this article.

Picture copyright BBC

As for genetic mutations, I'll find some genetic maps and maybe even some lingustic mutation maps...