Simon’s Backup Weblog


New version of my favourite LJ client out…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on July 31, 2002

The Semagic LJ client () has just had a major update. It’s looking good, and now has added menu bars and macro support. Look here for details.

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Found, or so we hope…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on July 31, 2002

Thinking more about my earlier problem, a web search has thrown up this rather useful resource: The Software QA/Test Resource Centre.

Looking through their list I may also have identified OpenSTA as a possible solution to my stress testing problems. Looking at the documentation, it’s an open source spinout from the heavy duty Cyrano testing tool… and it seems to support script iteration tests rather than the timeboxing model of other tools that I’ve looked at.

Now to see if it works…

0wn3d…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on July 31, 2002
37.5 %

My weblog owns 37.5 % of me.
Does your weblog own you?

Oh dear. Personally I blame . That is if I completely ignore the articles on blog software development I wrote at least a year ago. For one thing, LJ is an awful lot better at blogging than Microsoft Access!

What I really need right now…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on July 31, 2002

…apart from a stiff drink…

…is a low cost web application performance testing tool that understands that a single page may include images, and will allow me to build tests that calculate overall page performance instead of having to look at every single GIF… and that allows me to randomise think times for pages rather than every single downloadable element…

Microsoft’s free WAS tool is good, but it’s not quite right for the job at hand… I’m having to get into the underlying Access databases to get things working the way I want.

Grrr. Stress testing this application is stressing me…

Still, it looks like our team’s database guru has found a hidden Oracle setting that seems to make things perform a lot better.

The Tuesday Evening “It’s Sort Of Raining” Review: Mnemosyne’s Kiss

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on July 30, 2002

One of my listed interests in my LJ profile is “post-cyberpunk”. It’s hard to explain what I mean by post-cyberpunk, but I tend to describe it as books like Bruce Sterling’s Distraction or John Courtney-Grimwood’s alternate history futures, books that pick up on the tropes of cyberpunk, and twist them to the author’s own ends. There is no movement, no Vincent Omniaveritas with a Cheap Truth for the noughties, just writers with a new set of tools.

Peter J Evans’ Mnemosyne’s Kiss is a post-cyberpunk novel, very much in a similar vein to John Courtney-Grimwood’s Napoleonic futures. It’s a thriller, a chase through a mid-21st century world that’s more than a list of technologies. Evans’ tomorrow isn’t a utopia, and it isn’t a dystopia. It’s a world that has had more than its fair share of problems, but appears to have pulled through.

Mnemosyne is the goddess of memory, and memory is the key to Evan’s story. Cassandra Lannigan was dead, and has returned minus most of her past. Rayenne is blotting out her past with memory crushing drugs. Between them they need to find out just what has caused them to be reluctant allies, and to understand who is chasing them and why. It’s a chase that will take them from Africa to Central America and to space.

Evans’ first novel is hopefully not going to be his last. Mnemosyne’s Kiss is an enjoyable thriller, and far beyond “writing blurbs for anime videos”. It’s a pity that Virgin killed their SF line just after this book was published, as orphan books rarely gain the success they deserve.

London by night

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on July 30, 2002

It’s a hot summer in London at the moment, grey humid skies in the mornings, that break by lunchtime and then clear for the rest of the day. While may have the thunderstorms we’re hoping for here, there’s no sign of them yet. And I have another day out at Bromley in a very very hot little room full of computers, consultants and clients.

About a week ago, on a glorious evening, I was walking back across the new Hungerford footbridge, and had the digicam in my pocket. The city was bright lights all aound me, and even though it was nearly two hours since sunset there was still a bright glow in the western sky.

So I decided to try an experiment – a five shot panorama that I would stitch back together on the PC using some of the bundled software. To be honest, I’m actually quite impressed with the results. As it’s Canon’s software it knows just what the camera can do, and puts together a very nice image.

(Click on the picture for a larger view which will open in a new window. It’s still only 94KB though….)

The Saturday Morning “It’s Hot” Review: A Year In The Linear City

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on July 27, 2002

PS Publishing is doing wonderful things for science fiction. Its limited edition novellas are showcasing some of the best and most innovative work around, and showing the world that there is a market for high quality short-length fiction. One of the latest works to come off their presses is a fantasy by Paul di Filippo, A Year In The Linear City.

What if the world was an infinite New York street, buildings on either side, the Tracks on one side, and the River on the other? Under the street roars the Subway, and overhead, the Yardbulls and the Fisherwives hover, waiting to carry the dead off to The Wrong Side of The Tracks and The Other Side of The River. This is Dickens meets Dick, with a slap or two of Runyon and Farmer. And, looking again at the title, this is a book that is exactly what it says on the cover: a year in the life of an inhabitant of this unlikeliest of worlds. It’s a story of life, love, death and writing science fiction. And a little journey down the river.

di Filippo is an excellent writer, with much to say about how we live. We can share the lives of his characters, and learn something about who we live, in our world circumscribed by society’s tramlines and institutionalised visions of Heaven and Hell. The lead character, Diego Patchen, is an everyman, living an ordinary life in an extraordinary place. And, di Filippo seems to ask, aren’t we like him, living our ordinary lives in our extraordinary places? The conflict between the downriver section of the city and the visitors from Patchen’s section point out how insular we are, when we could be sharing in a wider world. A Year In The Linear City is a fantasy doing what it should do, telling us about our world and our lives.

A short read, but a worth introduction to di Philippo’s writings.

Memories and images: back to my favourite beach

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on July 27, 2002

I love beaches, those dramatic spaces where air, land and water meet. And, drawn like a moth to the coast, I’ve been on many: the pink coral sands of Bermuda, the wide expanses of the French Atlantic coast near Bordeaux, little coves of crystal water on the Croatian Adriatic coast, the sculpted shores of the south coast of Hong Kong, the flint banks of Shingle Street, the black sands of a collapsed volcano on Lanzarote, and the wide open skies of a winter’s afternoon at Reculver.

But there’s one spot I really love, one beach I could sit on for hours, a beach I grew up with.

Jersey isn’t a big island, and my grandparents lived just on the south-east corner of the island, at La Rocque. It’s a lovely area, with pink granite houses and a small harbour still used by inshore fishermen. While most people tend to stop at the big beach, sheltered from westerly winds by the granite harbour wall, those in the know walk down the harbour, to a set of steps by a plaque commemorating the attempted invasion of Jersey by the French in 1781.

The steps go over the top the harbour wall, dropping you down to one of the quietest and most pleasant beaches you will ever find. Soft white sand billows around pink granite outcrops. The beach shelves gently down to the sea, azure blue like only a summer Jersey sea. When the tide is in, there’s a small island in the middle of the cove, sea pinks nodding on its grassy summit. When the tide is out rock pools run all the way to the horizon, a mile or more beyond the coast.

It’s an ideal beach for children, gentle seas, soft sands, rocks to climb and rock pools to explore. It’s also a pleasant place for adults, quiet and calm, just the lap of gentle waves on the shore, and the ripple of children’s laughter.

Last weekend, back on Jersey, and I spent an afternoon on that beach. And it was just as I remembered it.

The harbour wall and the beach
The harbour wall and the beach

The island in the middle of the cove
The island in the middle of the beach at high tide

The martello tower watching the shore
The martello tower watching over the beach

Pink granite and blue sea
Pink granite and blue sea

Looking west, past Le Hocq to Green Island
Looking west to Green Island, past Le Hocq

Sunset from the sky

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on July 27, 2002

Last weekend and I went back to my home island of Jersey for a family celebration. As we needed to get back in time for a concert on the Sunday night, we decided to try flying from London City airport, rather than our usual jet from Gatwick. The tiny Dash-8 bumbled its way across Kent to Dungeness, before turning west and paralleling the coast down the Channel. I had the window seat, and the digicam to hand, and took a couple of (so I think) rather lovely pictures…

The evening sea touches the coast.

The coast at sunset from the air

Sailing down the Channel, following the sun.

A ship at sunset from the air

These are a few of my favourite tools (Part 1 – Windows)

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on July 25, 2002

In a discussion on a private IRC server a while back, and I were talking about the sort of thing we load on a freshly OSed machine. Let’s face it, we all have our ways of working, and whatever we use, be it Windows, Linux or Mac OS X, just won’t give us what we want out of the box or off the ISO. So what are the tools I tend to install on my Windows boxen – apart from Office?

There are other tools I’ll add, too, depending on use – Sun’s JRE for Java, Web Matrix and the .NET framework, Macromedia Studio MX and of course LiveJournal tools…

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