Because I forget stuff. Part of

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March 2005

Posts made in March 2005

Anything That Can Go Wrong

Having gotten the nod that corrections to the thesis were complete, it was on to the printing stage. Great I thought. Easter weekend, I can print it out and have it ready to bind come Tuesday. Having responsibly went and bought additional printer cartridges on Wednesday, and four reams of paper (no, I don’t need that much but it’ll get used, Friday I thought about starting the process. Er, what’s wrong with the printer, seems a bit sluggish. Er. Oh. The nice trusty Hewlett-Packard deskjet 5550 has dropped from it’s fastdraft page count of 17 pages per minute to about a page every, oh, five to ten minutes. The printing’s fine, it’s just it takes an appreciable percentage of the age of the universe to print a page. I have no idea what is going on. Same problem with the printer connected to two different machines, with software reinstalled. The test page chucks, prints a few lines as expected, then pauses for an age before printing a few more lines. In fact, this happens with the self test page when the printer isn’t even connected to a computer. Not good. (oh, should anyone ever need to know how to get a self test page, with the printer on but disconnected from the computer, hold down the power button, press the paper feed button four times, then release the power button).

The fact that printers are to some extent a black box and I have tried all the tricks I can think of to remedy the problem (and printing just one set of 150+ pages at that speed would be hellish), today saw a new printer bought. As I’m more used to careful research followed by online purchase going to a shop to do this was a very strange and scary experience. They give you virtually no information about these things (the standard seems to be to list the resolution (virtually all identical), pages per minute (varying by about 3 at most) and the fact it’s USB (well, der). So, buy the one that looks like it’s half decent. Welcome an HP deskjet (yes, I still like ‘em) 5740. Seems OK. Not as good as the 5550 but fair enough quality, and certainly quieter. Anyway, it’s about to get a stress test—and we’ll see how generous they were with the supplied ink cartridges given that they are of course completely different…) Murphy’s Law in action.

And That’s A Bind

It’s done. The great thesis saga is over. I just finished the final, final correction. Now all I have to do is wrestle with the intricacies of printing and get it bound. Phew.

Another Hello World Post

Another post to declare my continuing not being deadness. This time made with the aid of broadband (sorted out a whole day before the predicted date as well). High speed internet connection at last. Woo!

Continue reading the rest of this post

Words Come Slowly Now

Having got the “corrections to corrections” for the thesis back from Sarah yesterday I’m working my way through them. I’m pleased to say they aren’t nearly as bad as it first appeared (Sarah did tell me that when she passed me pages covered in red, but it’s good to have realised it’s true). I managed most of the trivial stuff last night while watching the football, so it’s almost all just writing left to do. Unfortunately the words don’t really want to flow. I think I’m now so full of what I’ve already written that I can’t bring myself to produce sentences more. This post, for instance, came an awful lot easier.

Ah well, must force them out. Very final stretch now.

Verbal Spam

What is it with some people? You do not have an automatic right to talk to me and expect an interested response. It’s bad enough the people with clipboards conducting surveys who invariably ignore my pre-emptive “no” and shake of the head but if you’re going to randomly talk to me for no apparent reason you can’t blame me if I’m then not interested or don’t care about what you have to say.

I suppose I ought to explain what I’m rambling about now. OK, so earlier this evening I was picking Rachel up. We’ve just finished putting some stuff into the car and I’m sat in the drivers seat, basically waiting for Rach to get in and ready to go. This “gentleman” wanders down the street towards the car (I think from out of his house). At first I assumed he was going to get in the car parked right in front of me, but instead he wandered round and tapped on my window. Being the polite person I generally am I wound it down a bit to see what this possible lunatic wants (remember it’s dark and Rachel is outside the car). He proceeded to tell me that they’d had some trouble with “kids” round there and inquired where if I lived in the area. Still being polite, though by now Rach is in the car, I pointed out I actually live the other side of town. He mentioned something about it getting worse round there, and reached a point where he seemed to expect some response. I think it’s then I annoyed him, because I basically shrugged with a bewildered expression to put across my internal thinking, “why are you telling me this?”

Our mysterious friend then went on to accuse me of not caring “of course” and I have to confess that I nodded in agreement. Oh, I may care about the greater sociological issues at hand but as he wanted to talk his specific perceived problems then yes, I didn’t particularly give a shit. He started to wander away, muttering something along the lines of “well I hope I never meet you again”. That’s when I got angry. I didn’t initiate all this. He’s the one who came over to me. If he never wants to meet me again then fine. But I never wanted to meet him in the first place. If anyone contacts me, via an email, blog comment or even in “real life” (like the first two aren’t real) then if they have something interesting and/or relevant to say I’ll respond in a friendly enough manner. But this was just verbal spam—completely random and nothing to do with me, what I was doing or my interests. If it had been an email it would have been junked, so I make no apologies for doing the same to a conversation I didn’t want to be having.

I got out the car to shout a few words (possibly even coherently) to his departing back. I hope I’m never forced to meet him again.

A Thousand Feet

Looks like IBM are showing off their millipede a bit more. It seems like a long time since I first heard of the idea of using a bunch of AFM cantilevers to read and write data, but it’s quite interesting that it’s made it as far as CeBIT Looks like there is Plenty of Room at the Bottom

Pictures of Mice

This post probably isn’t of much interest to anyone not a member of the University of York Surface Physics Group, or at least who does MEIS. When doing the minor corrections for my thesis I had a need to quickly produce ball and stick diagrams of my strucural models. I developed a fairly rapid method of getting some half decent graphical representations starting from the MEIS crystal, which I’ve written up here. I’ve also updated the resources page to include the little scripts I’ve written during my PhD (I’ll add more if and when I find them).

Comment here if you have any queries.

Surely I’m Done?

I’m almost finished with thesis corrections. So why do I find myself hacking together a C++ script to convert a file from one format to a slightly different format at this very late stage? I’ll actually write up a page about this code (and why I just wrote it) at some future point as a legacy to future generations. Oh, and doing what amounts to text manipulation reminds me I really ought to know more Perl.

Update: Done that

Is Seamonkey Dead

It’s not that long since I switched from the Mozilla Application Suite (seamonkey, MAS, simply Mozilla – call it what you will), to a combination of Firefox and Thunderbird (and Sunbird). Looks like I may have just done so in time. From the 28 February staff notes:

*Mozilla 1.8 final*

- To be discussed tomorrow whether we do one
Staff notes

The idea of no seamonkey 1.8 has of course caused much heated discussion (and nobody seems willing to commit to one being produced), in replies to the posting of the staff meeting notes, Asa’s blog and other places (and will probably break out at the Mozillazine story too). And I think those who are upset have some good points. From an enterprise software point of view the suite offers a lot more, in terms of features and integration. And in some ways the browser is much nicer for power users (and hence more innovative)—I’ve previously mentioned the huge number of extensions needed to get Firefox up to speed. Some of the decisions for Firefox (no site navigation bar for instance) are very hard to justify.

Even putting aside the Firefox versus Suite arguments (a debate I’m still undecided over, even though I’ve switched—and I think that may be part of the point the Mozilla Foundation seem determined to miss; what is right for one is not right for the other, or even may change at differing times. It’s supposed to be about choice)—there are other issues. For a start, what’s the point in a long and protracted sequence of alpha and beta releases if no final product is to come out the end (if they’d told the suite users that to start with how many testers for their betas do they think they would have had?). Further the sheer amount of anger present in some of the claims show that the foundation is in danger of falling into a trap it’s tripped over before even in the narrower scope of Firefox (think naming issues); it seems happy to appear to arrogantly ignore the the views of a vocal minority of its users (and a proportionally large number of those users have been its most loyal, with Mozilla since before there was a Foundation). it gives the impression (and it doesn’t matter if it’s right or not) that if your views do not agree with the few at the top of the Mozilla Foundation they will be simply silenced.

The most puzzling thing is there isn’t really a clear reason why everyone can’t continue to be appeased. The 1.8 Gecko must be finished, according to the road map that’s what Firefox 1.1 is based off. So why not go the extra few inches (not even mile) to finish a final release of the suite as well. It got you here and you never know, perhaps it just might be the thing to carry you onwards once the excitement of Firefox 1.0 dies away, and it becomes clear it’s a good browser, but hardly that cutting edge of innovation. I’d hate to see seamonkey die, only for us to recreate a suite by bodging the stand alones together. The suite is designed to work as one, any bodge will never be as good unless something changes so Firefox, Thunderbird et al. do the same (one comment rightly pointed out the frustration with having to install extensions twice, once for Firefox and once for Thunderbird). Let’s hope Mozilla for once not only listen, but are seen to do so.

B: Drive

Oh dear. Now I feel quite aged. There are really computer users out there wondering why the floppy is a:, the hard drive c: and pondering where b: is? Oh dear. I suppose there are possibly some wondering what the a: drive is mind you; or what a floppy is…


So earlier this evening I dropped Rachel off in town. Driving back I was nearly home when I felt something a little wrong and then heard a not too good noise. Flat rear tyre. Wonderful. I briefly considered pulling over but was really close to home so coaxed the car back regardless. I’m supposed to be picking Rachel up again later so once home I changed the tyre for the spare, by torchlight :-( Ah well, I suppose at least it wasn’t raining (actually the most annoying thing wasn’t anything to do with changing the actual wheel, but causing my thumb to bleed getting the bloody wheel trim off! That and the fact the spare needs sorting out now…)

Around the World

Having won the X-prize by flying to space, Scaled Composites have been at it again, their’s was the aircraft Global Flyer which just carried Steve Fossett around the world, non-stop, solo.


E. W. Perkins, I. M. Scott, S. P. Tear, “Growth and electronic structure of holmium silicides by STM and STS”, Surface Science 578 80-87 (2005). Finally, my name in, er, ink, or recycled electrons, or something.


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This Crazy Fool

Dr Ian Scott
Croydon (and Gateshead), United Kingdom
Bullding Services Engineer (EngDesign), PhD in Physics (University of York), football fanatic (Newcastle United), open source enthusiast (mainly Mozilla)

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