Friday, 31 August 2012

Clear skies and cool days

Make for chilly mornings. 4'C this morning, one cat refusing to go out.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

I've cut out comments

Since Haloscan are going belly-up shortly. Apparently no-one knows the answer to why google comments don't work. You'll know if I get them working again.

Oxford 26th August.

There might be more later.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Do you ever wonder about marketing people?

Especially when they are trying to shift computer parts etc? carry a range of base units and mini systems that someone is trying to sell just too hard. They are just a bunch of slightly dull black and grey boxes, somewhere between the size of a shoebox and a midi tower, so how do they get names like hellspawn, hellscream, punisher etc?

It's just a grey and black box with some commonplace electronics inside designed to run Windows beige-world 7.

Even the kids that live in their parents basements and play WoW and MW3 are going to be cynical, let alone anyone who has actually had a job. Sometimes it feels like people actually believe the things they invent.

And there's a penny dropping moment.

Men have always wanted to invent things that needed to be worshiped, creating rules and scenarios in which to frame and sell their ideas. Only now instead of worshipping in darkened caves and temples, it's spare rooms and cafes.

I'm quite torn about the whole computing and the internet aspect of modern life. There is so much potential good, and yet there is such a strong draw, and I very much recognise my own weakness to that, to spend too much time just on the computer, not talking or sharing face to face, but in simulated company. There's a side of me that would love to just ditch computing completely, but it IS so useful.

Of course the challenge is to handle these things well, just like food and drink, just like reading and socialising. For those things society has created expectations and training from a young age, and we can see the effects of their failure in obesity as much as alcoholism, in those who live to escape and those who cannot stop themselves talking. Would future generations develop their own social limitations to internet use, if the internet were to be around for another 150 years?

Monday, 20 August 2012

So we just went to dinner.

Last night, after a day of stuff.

Up at 6.30 (as always) putting songs together for worship at the church.

Into work at 10am to print off sheets about forgiveness.

In church at 10.30am, setting up for the morning meeting (not too hard, since cups already out and urn on).

Around 2.30 Chris out for cream teas and networking at a local village event, me cutting grass.

4.00 through the shower and quickly out to see our good friends and amazing people of God Mike & Liz Beaumont before they left for 9 months in Vancouver. We both come away, having met some of the other guys in leadership in Oxford Community Church realise what we've been missing - the wisdom, the depth of faith, the family and the trust between men of God who have chosen to walk openly with each other. It was just as if we'd never been away, and some of the guys we were only passing acquaintances with.

6.05 (oops) back at Heyford Park for the evening prayer meeting. A good time sharing stuff - almost too much sharing, then prayer where I really became aware of the Spirit of God moving, and catching a bit of His heart.

7.45 Done for the day and into Bicester. So we just went to dinner at Anica (I want to call the place either Arnica or a knicker) which is a decentish curry house. We've been out to dinner a number of times recently, which is unusual for us, since money has been tight, but there has always been a purpose and always in company. It's good to just be the 2 of us, together. No need to make conversation, but able to talk about almost anything that we want to. I need times like this with my wife, who is also my friend.

Chris has been asking when I get a sabbath, and the answer is that I get by. Sabbath has begun to happen, even though I have lots of work on in the lab right now. Tuesday night there's another meeting, but it *feels* like sabbath has already started in preparation for the holiday.

Ben might be home tonight, after HIS holiday. That will be nice.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Confession and forgiveness

Sometimes messages are easy to write, and I have felt almost guilty to be completed in 2 or 3 hours.

Sometimes they just don't flow *easily* and require some real work.

So I'm speaking on confession and forgiveness tomorrow. This has been real work. I hope it is actually useful.

And maybe they'll forgive me. ;-)

Friday, 17 August 2012

I'm having trouble enabling blogger comments

As can be seen, the Haloscan comments that I used for the last 9 years are being discontinued in October. I have enable google comments in the settings, but cannot see anything that suggests they are actually working. Do I have to use a new blogger template for them to work, or are comments exclusive (i.e. if I have external comments enabled does that disable blogger comments)?

Suggestions welcome.

Y'know how some mornings the sun shines

.........and it's all great.

Cat sick on the kitchen floor, and it was raining first thing.

We just feel really battered this morning, mostly because we went to bed last night feeling battered. We did the 'Are you OK. Yes, are you?' thing, but the feelings obviously remained, though for me they are seeping away now I'm starting to do stuff.

Some stuff isn't fixed easily, but one thing's for sure; we're not getting any more cats.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

A week on, I'm pleased with the SSD upgrade.

I'd been thinking about doing this for at least 6 months, and wish I'd done it sooner, although prices have plummeted in that time. It's simply a much nicer machine to use, and everything just seems to work better. How much of that is Mountain Lion, how much the SSD I'm not sure, but it doesn't go all jerky like it would sometimes before.

One thing I should say is that it is NOT amazingly quick. Applications do open much more promptly than before, but the OS feels like it's deliberately slowed down so that everything is greasy-smooth, rather than 'instantly' snapping open.

As for ML, the changes of 10.5 seem quite small really, and mostly cosmetic. I know they aren't, but apart from a couple of 'change for changes sake' alterations, it works very similarly to the way it did before. It seems there is a monitor control issue in ML, and hopefully that will get patched soon. Battery life is likely to be quite a bit shorter, though it's hard to tell because the time remaining in hours and minutes has been replaced with a % remaining value, and that's meaningless. The machine gets VERY hot when connected to an external hard drive (even when idle) but that would also cause heat with 10.5 and degrade performance noticeably too as it ran out of RAM.

So if you're considering the upgrade I'd definitely recommend it. If you own a Mac then the recommended drives are the Crucial M4 and the Samsung 830, maybe an Intel 520 series. Prices have dropped a long way, and I wonder now about one for a home computer.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Ever come home from work with your head full of crapspeak?


I remember being in project meetings where people (well, the boss) would talk all sorts of old rubbish, and the language would worm its way into my head. When I got home sometimes I'd talk to Chris about implemention something or trajectory the other, then apologise for the crapspeak I'd just inflicted on her tender ears.

This episode of the BOFH brought it all back.

Eventually said boss was 'let go to pursue other interests' and we all breathed a sigh of relief. He wasn't stupid, but he was a nasty bully, inclined to emotional blackmail. I'm told that outside a work context he was a lovely guy, kind and generous to a fault. Wonder what drove the work persona?

Day 4 of OSX 10.8 AKA Mountain Lion

Monday I mentioned having put a Samsung SSD in the Macbook instead of the original drive (now nearly 4 years old, although for 1 year not in use due to 'upgrading' with a Western Digital drive that wasn't much faster but vibrated and made a lot more noise and then failed in use - the warranty replacement vibrates even more!).

It's been an uncomfy 3 days since.

ML downloaded overnight (4.4 Gb) and after saving the application, ran the install which took about 30min. I then restored my data from a Time Machine backup, keeping a spare so I could revert (Apple updates will work in 1 direction only, and they will not let you go back) restoring data only but no applications.

Initial reactions were mostly along the lines of 'why did I bother' except that updating now might mean holding off obsolescence for another 18 months. Macbooks made in August 2008 were already too old and no longer have an OS upgrade path. Not necessarily a big deal unless you need to use a more recent piece of software or hardware, in which case it becomes a very big deal indeed. There are a couple of features that seem neat, like reminders of calendar dates, and I can see the cross over with iDevices.

I've not really figured out the point of mission control yet. There presently seem several systems for displaying applications, open windows etc spread across the desktop, all of which are a mess and don't work as well as a windows style taskbar for finding open application windows. I can see these making more sense on a small device that doesn't have a mouse, where you won't run many apps open at the same time - it makes no sense on a desktop and never did. The application icon is shown at the bottom of each window, again confirming that this is designed for a device with a small screen so you can see which window is a browser, mail, calendar etc. On a 20" monitor where you have 8 spreadsheets and 6 word docs open it may not be so useful. Choice is good, but only where those offered are intelligent and useful.

Some have complained about short battery life and overheating. For the first day it was running really hot, fans humming away and battery capacity dropping rapidly. Yesterday that seemed to stop, and it was running cooler (not checked battery life again) an explanation from the Apple forums being that the OS was indexing all the data for spotlight, and that would seem reasonable.

The app launcher is OK - familiar from Pear Linux. For reasons that I've not yet investigated, all the Microsoft applications have been placed on the second launcher page while other apps like Firefox and Libreoffice were added to the first page (where there's still a lot of space). I keep Office in the dock, along with any other apps I'd normally use, so it doesn't matter, but it's an odd thing to do. That side of things all seems to work normally and just like it ever did, so no problems there.


I mentioned an uncomfy 3 days. Well getting it to talk to my Samsung 2043NW monitor has been difficult. Initially the monitor would occasionally flicker if monitors were set to mirror, showing the same resolution as the laptop screen despite being set to 1680X1050. When set up as a separate monitor behaviour was erratic over resolutions and in any case that was not how I needed it to work. After much hunting I found a piece of software - SwitchresX4 - through a link on the apple forum where other users had seen similar problems with 10.6.3. This enabled me to adjust the individual sync settings for the monitor - so now it would remain on, but the Macbook signal was sent mirroring the screen res at 1280X800. :p  Sometime after the first day the icon for screen control in the top toolbar disappeared too. Finally, trying to start it in clamshell mode was totally ineffective - it would display the grey 'booting' screen on the external monitor  for a few seconds, then the screen would go black and the macbook would go to sleep.

I'd wrestled with it too much and eventually gave up, just using it as a laptop sat on my desk because I needed to be productive, promising myself that I would find a replacement as soon as Windows 8 was out.

This morning I came in, thought "wonder if I can get that screen control icon back" and started it in clamshell mode again. The monitor went grey, then black & I thought it must have gone into sleep mode. Suddenly voila! There was my desktop, a bit fuzzy and with wonky colours, but back at native resolution and the Macbook running with closed lid. It's nice to have enough space again, to give my eyes a break too. I've since recalibrated the display but fonts are just plain fuzzy, almost certainly due to screen sync, but I'm reluctant to adjust further since it does actually work.

As for the SSD, it has made the system more responsive, although I've noticed that after a couple of days programs open less quickly and boot no longer seems so strikingly rapid - probably just all part of the way an OS slows down after first install and updating. there is distinctly less beachballing, and the machine is less frustrating to use. So that's good. Definitely an upgrade I'd recommend.

Worth putting some context on this - going from Leopard to Snow Leper made the machine almost useless (i.e. printing was no longer possible). Guess I should be grateful this particular service pack for OSX has been so well behaved.

Monday, 6 August 2012



But a time is coming for an update.

Talking of which, it's nice to have the Macbook boot in around 10-15 sec instead of a minute+, when it can finally get its backside in gear. Just installed Office and now going for 198Mb worth of update. It seemed like a better idea to do that first, so that when Hill Cat gets added the latest version is already waiting for it. The installs were nice and snappy too, with 10.6 going on in about 30min instead of 50min and Office in around 5min instead of 10.

The install is happening

1.3Gb of updates for Snow Leopard now happening. This is like downloading a whole new Linux distro, and in many ways, that's very likely just what it is.

Why do I need several hundred meg of iTunes? 

Ever thought you knew what would happen?

When you allowed something to update?


Update template.




I'll try to repair the damage over time, but blogger tools seem to be total poo compared to editing directly into the full HTML template. How stupid am I?

It's here!

The Samsung SSD 830 for my Macbook.

Now I want to know, why are Macs so slow using USB devices these days, and why do they seem to infect USB devices with slowness? I'm backing up to an external HDD and it's running apparently at around 10Mb/sec. I've only got 77Gb on the drive, but it seems to be taking forever.

The *plan* is that I'll pop the SSD in, create a fresh install of Leopard, then update, then install Snow Leopard on top, then update again to 10.6.8, then download & install Mountain Lion + updates. Then install Office 2008.

At that point I will have to decide whether to system restore from Time Machine, putting everything back as it was, or whether to reload manually. Right now the last option is looking favourite, simply so I can ditch some stuff that I'm sure is cluttering the Macbook up, hopefully losing the memory leak at the same time and keeping the benefits of a fresh install.

For security I will have the original HDD & 2 Time Machine backups, 1 at work &1 at home, so that IF I choose the restore option then I still have 1 backup that is compatible with 10.5.8 and can defeat Apples scorched earth policy to legacy.

In other news, I'm still trying to recover strength. A couple of weeks back I did a cycle ride that completely exhausted me, but probably made me fitter. Now the same thing is happening with my mind, being stretched and pulled to the point where, sometimes, it's just exhausted but cannot relax & rest. Greater mental fitness will come, but it's a painful uphill struggle, and the body is tired too. We'll get there.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Curious how things go - wonder if I've used that title before?

2 Sundays ago I spoke about salvation and the choices we make: how we can chose the things that line up with God, that do us good, help us live in freedom and at peace. It was in the context of working out our salvation instead of waiting for God to just change us spontaneously.

A name has recently come to my attention through a professional contact system, and it still makes me shudder a bit.

So I find there is unforgiveness in my heart, sitting there beside the scars. So I'm thinking about what choices I can make to undo that, to be free of the hurt and to see them as they are, separate from the history we have. Even if no-one else listens, hopefully I can preach to myself.