Simon’s Backup Weblog

Our other blog gets a new feed

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on November 30, 2007

IT Pro has updated its blog software to WordPress MU, and with that come a whole new set of RSS feeds. Instead of the single feed that all of the blogs had, there’s now a feed for each of the blogs on the site.

I’ve created a new syndicated account for our column:

We post articles there at least twice a week.




Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on November 28, 2007

Some backlot shots of the Vancouver sets for the Watchmen movie have emerged.

In good news, they appear to be very faithful to Dave Gibbons’ art – even down to the neon on the GungaDiner…

A Souvenir of Canada

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on November 26, 2007

Found while pootling on YouTube last night, a series of promotional videos for Douglas Coupland’s new novel The Gum Thief

Rather excellent little animations, and (what I assume is) Coupland’s flat affectless narration giving a feel of the vast emotional spaces that lie at the heart of his books.

(And apropos of this blog post’s title, it turns out they’ve made a film from his two Souvenir of Canada books.

On a cold winter night…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on November 24, 2007

…a perfect New Zealand beach.

Wild Beach

Somewhere to bask a while.

Don’t dance on the volcano

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on November 24, 2007

Don't walk on the volcano

On a cold day, a warm view. This is the fragile new land of Timanfaya, the volcanic national park on Lanzarote, where the heat of the earth meets the heat of the sun.

Lanzarote, Canary Islands
February 2002

Feral Roman Cats In Ruins

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on November 24, 2007

Feral Roman Cats In Ruins

Cat on the Colosseum

Feral Roman Cats In Ruins

Cat in the Forum

It’s about time to cross the streams, and merge three recurring interests across my friends list: ancient history, travel and cats. So here are a couple of old photos that I recently added to Flickr, of some of Rome’s famous feral cats lazing about on some of Rome’s most famous ruins…

Rome, Italy
September 2000

Many Worlds Get Smaller.

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on November 24, 2007

It turns out that E from Eels is the son of Hugh Everett III, the Everett in Everett-Wheeler.

He’s just made a film about him

Shortly after my father died the phone started ringing. My father was Hugh Everett III. When he was 24 he wrote a ground-breaking thesis about physics most commonly known as “the many worlds theory”. It challenged the accepted notion of how the world works in such a huge way, stating that there were actually countless versions of ourselves splitting off and going through as many different scenarios as you could imagine, and the physics powers that be (Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr) were having none of this. They weren’t about to let a 24-year-old knock their faces off the Mount Rushmore of physics. Getting no encouragement, my father gave up on quantum physics.

Interesting stuff.

Flash Fiction: Getting in is easy, getting out is the hard bit.

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on November 24, 2007

A feral Matrioshka Brain is a dangerous place. The wild evolution of self-replicating machines makes it a playground for Darwin – and deadly for anyone that tries to venture in. But if you’re scavenging the ruins of dead civilisations, there’s really no other place to go.

The first ships that tried to make it into the whirling zombie hell of a Matrioshka died quickly. All those fresh resources in a solar system made of nothing but cannibalised computronium drew the autonomous hunter-seekers in, moths to a metal and plastic flame. The next few ships were shielded, armed and armoured. That only meant they lasted a few hours longer. We heard their screams as the machines ate their way through the hull plates.

They put the name of the team that worked out how to get in to and out of a dead transcendent up in lights. They also made them richer than Buffett and Gates put together, as we all ended up working for them. They built the gizmo that got us in, and the gizmo that got us out. All we got was a percentage of anything useful we brought back.

A couple of AU out from one of the more recently zombied Matrioshkas, our small convoy was drifting, waiting. Most of a scavenger’s life was waiting: waiting punctuated with a few hours of more than extreme danger. Getting in to the Matrioshka was easy. The hard bit was getting out again.

We were going in hot and fast, following a relativistic comet. Its megatonnes of ice, pushed to nearly .9c, would punch a hole right through the Matrioshka, burning a tunnel into the heart of the system, killing the brain’s components in a hail of hot particles. Our ships would come in right behind it, hiding in the storm. Peeling off to scavenge the rubble of its passing, we’d grab what we could, wait for the trail of the next comet, and then boost out behind it before the wild machines returned.

The secret to getting in was this: If you leave FTL travel just that little bit wrong enough, you don’t slow down that much. All we needed to do was stick one big old chunk of transcendent technology onto a cometary body out in the interstellar void, fire it up, and let physics (and a lot of programming) do the rest.

Voices crackled through the ship’s net. “Fire in the hole.”

“Engines on line.”

“Targets acquired.”

Clocks scrolled down the displays, words flashed on screens, numbers blurred into insignificance. The moment was upon us.

The comet flashed past, screaming X-rays as it burned its way through the Matrioshka’s attenuated solar wind. The engines kicked in and we fell, following the fire, into the angry maw of entropy.

Panoramic Yosemite Reflections

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on November 21, 2007

Yosemite Reflections Panorama

I recommend clicking to see the larger versions of this – it’s a 6 image stitch of the view over Lake Tenaya in the Yosemite National Park, on a beautiful early autumn evening…

Yosemite, California
September 2007

I’m quite impressed with the stitching tool in Windows Live Photo Gallery – it makes producing this type of image a matter of a few clicks, and as it uses a graph cut algorithm, produces a very smoothly blended panorama with no need for intervention…

Ansel’s Jet

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on November 21, 2007

Ansel's Jet

Black and white shot of a jet in a clear blue sky over Yosemite.

It just seemed the right thing to do…

Yosemite, California
September 2007

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