Simon’s Backup Weblog


Microblogging in the Sidebar

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on January 26, 2007

Now that LJ supports HTML in free text sidebar components, I’ve been tweaking the design of my blog a little.

A recent addition is a scriptless and Flashless Twitter badge. Found at BunnyHeroLabs, the badge creator generates an image with your latest twittering, and adds some HTML that links to your Twitter page. I tweaked the colours, and some of the badge HTML…

It’s not perfect, but it’ll do for now. Now if only LJ would let me link to Flash…

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Hmm…. (Some travel noodling)

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on January 26, 2007

The period between the end of April, all of May, and the beginning of June looks extremely interesting technology conference- and event-wise.

  • Mix07/MEDC in Las Vegas 30th April to 3rd May.
  • RIM Wireless Enterprise Symposium in Orlando 8th to 11th May
  • WinHEC 2007 in Los Angeles 15th to 17th May
  • FiRE 2007 in San Diego 22nd to 25th May
  • TechEd 2007 in Orlando 4th to 8th June

It’s looking as though we could do those all in a single trip, with some logistical juggling. It’ll depend on internal flights for much of it, but doing it with one transatlantic trip would make a lot of sense.

You know, that might just work…

Evening coast

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on January 26, 2007

Evening coast
Originally uploaded by sbisson.

Clouds and sea just on sunset, off California Highway 1, between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz.

California
January 2007

Under the wheel

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on January 25, 2007

Under the wheel
Originally uploaded by sbisson.

Granite olive press at Round Pond Mill in Napa.

Napa, California
January 2007

Huzzah!

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on January 25, 2007

Jersey gets its link to Heathrow back at long last.

British Airways stopped its flights to Heathrow in October 2000, saying the route was losing too much money.

Now bmi, formally known as British Midland, will operate a twice-daily flight from 26 March.

Sorry BA, I think I may be flying bmi next time I go home…

Inside Bucks

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on January 25, 2007

Inside Bucks
Originally uploaded by sbisson.

Inside the memorabilia-laden Bucks restaurant in Woodside, a famous Silicon Valley diner.

Yes, that is the first edition of Red Herring on the wall, along with many other pieces of tech history (and other decorations). The Lenin letter is a must-read…

Woodside, California
January 2007

It’s the new floppy disk…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on January 25, 2007

Totting up the capacities of the 15 or so flash drives we were handed at CES, we seem to have ended up with just under 12GB of flash in various shapes, sizes and colours.

The smallest was a little sliver of plastic which just slots into a USB slot, while the largest were two hefty metal Lexar drives that have built in encryption tools. The niftiest was a yellow lego-like device that allowed the top to click onto the body so you don’t lose it when you plug the device into a USB slot…

A great way to distribute press releases. We’ll suck the content off onto our server, and then donate the sticks we won’t be using to local charities. It’s also a lot less to carry back to the UK…

Hamsterborg on video

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on January 24, 2007

Here’s a (rather noisy) video of the hamster-controlled robot I wrote about in one of my CES pieces for The Register

You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile!

Road Books Read Reviewed

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on January 24, 2007

A good trip for reading, which was surprising considering all the driving I did (around about 1500 miles), and all the meetings we had at both CES and in Silicon Valley…

Transcendent. Stephen Baxter
The final volume of the Destiny’s Children sequence wraps up the story in a loop of time. Baxter links the bottlenecked near-future of a warming-threatened world with the far-distant tomorrow of the Commonwealth, a human-dominated galaxy where the Xeelee wars are long over, and a nascent transcendent overmind struggles to break through its own bottleneck. But is sorrow and redemption enough to build a new future? Baxter mixes the stories of two societies pondering their roads to their separate futures, and finds a road for today and tomorrow to finally collaborate. A fine end to a space opera that mixes philosophy and world-shattering revelations.

Carnival. Elizabeth Bear
One correspondence I’ve yet to see mentioned in reviews of Carnival is Ursula Le Guin. There are echoes of The Left Hand Of Darkness all through this story, a dark tale that explores gender issues and revolutionary politics through a diplomatic visit to a matriarchal world. A fragmented diaspora (the result of a machine-driven winnowing of humanity) has left a depopulated, expansionist Earth struggling to control its many colony worlds. Diplomatic methods conceal subversion and military actions, and two such diplomats arrive on New Amazonia to return stolen art. Separated many years ago, the two men were lovers, and their reunion reveals their true allegiances – and at the same time brings political differences on New Amazonia to a head. Bear juggles plots and counterplots in a Machiavellian skein of shifting alliances, tossing in a long awaited first contact to sweeten the brew. An excellent read, with compelling characters and a story that grabs the reader on page one and doesn’t let go…

The Resurrected Man. Sean Williams
It’s not every SF mystery that starts with a quote from Daniel Dennet’s introduction to The Mind’s I, a collection of the best readings on AI and intelligence. However, Dennet’s musings on the philosophical ramifications of a duplicating teleportation device provide the backbone of Williams’ story. What does it mean when the killer may be a duplicate of the detective, and when his dismembered and tortured victims are still very much alive? The search for the Twinmaker killer takes us from orbital towers to a future Australia, exploring the society that results from cheap and easy teleportation, and showing what such a tool could mean to a serial killer freed to indulge his fantasies. A fascinating, compelling read, this is a book that breaks new ground and sets the scene for the rest of the author’s career.

The Emerald Sea. John Ringo
Oh dear. I should have stopped reading this at the point at which the dragon-carrier crew managed to reinvent fifty years of carrier operations lessons in one afternoon. Post the fall of a post-scarcity civilisation a rag tag bag of re-enactors battles a bad guy armed with people-changing machines fallen straight out of a Jack L. Chalker novel. The result? A mediocre piece of military SF that fails to engage or entertain. The idea was good – a dragon carrier defending merpeople from the bad guy’s demon rays (and a kraken) – but even the set-pieces – dragons fighting orca, the merpeople’s sea cave nursery – seemed to be there as plot coupons rather than as part of the story. A pity, as Ringo’s earlier Posleen war stories had shown some promise.

The Frost-Haired Vixen. John Zakour
The latest Zach Johnson PI pastiche is enjoyable fluff, just like the rest of the series. Zakour’s humour is an easy ride, and Zach’s trials and tribulations push our hero to a solution. This time, Zach is sent to the North Pole to solve the murder of two elves (yes Virginia, in New Frisco there is a Santana Clausa…). Mutant geeks, super-powers, killer robots and obsequious elves litter the plot, while Zakour scatters enough clues to help the reader work out whodunnit just as Zach finds himself at the wrong end of a laser… An enjoyable light read.

Pushing Ice. Alastair Reynolds
Pushing Ice is Reynolds take on Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama. One of Saturn’s moons turns out to to be an alien spacecraft – and it’s leaving the solar system at speed. Only one ship can explore the moon before it leaves the system, and it’s an ice miner that really should be heading home. Things are complicated by corporate politics, a high-speed Chinese mission, the possibility that there’s not enough fuel to get home, and the alien vessel/moon’s mysterious propulsion scheme. Reynolds manages to deliver his own take on the space opera “big dumb object” trope, exploring the human response to the alien, and the effects of politics and survival on friendship and working relationships. It’s a story that mixes the wide screen with the human scale – to great effect. Reynolds’ best book to date.

Back Home…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on January 23, 2007

…and not too horribly jet-lagged.

Normal service will be resumed shortly.

Happily the wine we picked up in Paso Robles survived the journey in our hold baggage – many thanks to the nice folks at the Justin Winery and for the various bottle protectors that did the trick nicely! (also to the cap at Norman who suggested the use of a shoe to protect the neck of a bottle which worked too, for a bottle that was too small to fit in the styrofoam slots…).

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