Because I forget stuff. Part of

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June 2007

Posts made in June 2007

Is This Laptop Trying To Tell Me Something?

Alternatively titled “Things Wrong With My Laptop, #7668”…

Sigh. Windows now totally refuses to boot. Blue Screen of Death! Oh, and remember that DVD drive that’s tempremental? The laptop refuses to boot from CD, even when I’ve swapped in another drive (yes, I’ve checked the BIOS settings; yes I’ve checked the CD is bootable in another machine). That makes getting anywhere near recovering from a BSoD somewhat more interesting….

Intelligent Decisions

It’s being reported that the UK government has basically kicked the idea of intelligent design in science lessons into touch. This is of course a decision to be welcomed, something I’ve touched on before. The report comes following a response to an ePetition. Reading that response I don’t think the governments position has particularly changed from what they’ve already said. It’s one I feel fairly happy with so long as they stick to what it says. Questions raised by pupils about ID should be answered (pointing out that in no way is the whole ID movement scientific, and explaining why). The important point is still that there is no reason to introduce discussion of ID, creationism, or related ideas as examples of “controversy”. They should barely raise a mention unless in response to a direct question (which isn’t to say they can’t rate the odd mention along the lines of “some people will try and claim any old crap as science, like intelligent design, but we know better”). It will be interesting to see the actual guidelines when published.

Will The BBC Acknowledge Linux?

The BBC report on BBC policies being attacked, specifically a letter sent by the Open Source Consortium to various regulatory bodies pointed out the problems with the BBC’s closed platform, DRM laden approach to their new iPlayer technology. [I’d swear I blogged about this at the time of the BBC Trusts consultation period, to which I responded making many of the points the OSC make—including the analogy to restricting content to certain brands of TV—but I can’t find any post). The problem is that the BBC, for all their “it’s just a start, we’ll get there” response, seem to simply not “get it”. Read carefully that BBC story (or other BBC stories and statements on the same subject) and see what sort of mentality to “make it work for everyone” they are taking. Specifically note statements like:

The BBC aims to make its content as widely available as possible and has always taken a platform agnostic approach to its internet services.

“It is not possible to put an exact timeframe on when BBC iPlayer will be available for Mac users. However, we are working to ensure this happens as soon as possible and the BBC Trust will be monitoring progress on a six monthly basis.”

The news article

They talk about as widely available as possible but very, very specifically only ever seem to mention Macs (maybe just to stop Apple suing over that iPlayer name!). I have a simple question for the BBC: What is your proposed solution for Linux (and other *nix based) platforms? Surely the BBC has a public duty to support such platforms as much as the big two commercial competitors (after all, there is an argument that Linux offers an effective tool in helping to bridge the digital divide to those technologically disadvantaged for financial reasons). Until they can give some sort of direct answer to that question they are no making things widely available as possible in a platform agnostic way at all.


In a sort of continuation to a theme via Gadgetopia comes New York Times news that the Wikipedia logo contains some errors. I think that as a representation of Wikipedia this makes the logo even more wonderful. It says that even though things may be pretty damn good (like that logo is) it is produced by people exactly like you and so may contain the occasional error. This all goes back to considering the source of information. I’ve seen reports that some educational institutions have essentially completely banned the use of Wikipedia. I think that’s overkill. It probably shouldn’t be used as a citation (unless it really is the only one you can find) but that doesn’t reduce it’s usefulness (and I think in some circumstances it probably is a valid citation—as much as any random reference book anyway). As a starting point it is often hard to beat. Instead of saying don’t use it, it would be much more productive to teach to critically evaluate its contents (even correcting it where possible, as that’s the nature of the beast) and to follow through to the often cited sources.

Stop Press: A Vaguely Science Post!

Ars Technica has a decent piece on press releases and the framing of science journalism that’s worth a quick read. Science communication through the medium of press release is something I’ve, well, complained about before. While I might be the sort of person tends to see at least the contents page of every issue of Nature there’s a lot of stuff out there, and I’m certainly not following things so closely which aren’t my “field”. So I see a lot of interesting stuff, in the biological sciences for instance, the same ways as others—through the press. The main source of information for the press is, of course, those afore mentioned press releases.

Continue reading the rest of this post

Music Needs An Audio Only Option

I’m busy listening to Kasabian’s Glastonbury 2007 performance thanks to the BBC. The thing is the sound is being streamed with video of the performance but I don’t really care about watching. The player is minimised away down in the task tray, I’m just listening. So all this extra data is eating bandwidth for no good reason. I’d just like a link that says “audio only” and gives me just the sound.

Continue reading the rest of this post

Things Wrong With My Laptop, #7667: A Culprit

The continuing saga of my laptop failing. It seems the problem is pretty much the battery. Remove the battery and everything is fine (Kubuntu boots happily, Windows works); put the battery in and things fail in nasty ways. This makes some sense, given the fact windows would work in safe mode, where it’s presumably not loading up most of the power management stuff.

So, it’s either the battery itself (which wouldn’t be greatly surprising given that it’s seems basically broken—things only really worked very briefly when not plugged into mains—or it’s the control electronicy bit (technical term) for the battery. Of course I probably should have replaced the battery a while ago when it stopped being of any actual use, so if its the battery itself a new one fixes all problems (well, other than losing sticky feet, temperamental DVD drive and vertical green lines). If it’s the latter possibility then one is left with another useless battery, though at least things do work without the battery present. Damn, does this mean I don’t have a good excuse for shiny new toys again?

Things Wrong With My Laptop, #7666

A continuation. It seems things aren’t at all fixed. It all falls over on reboot. Windows is still throwing a fit. Linux (eventually) allows me in but has taken to completely freezing at seemingly random moments. I’m thinking it’s not the touchpad, something deeper, or at least different. I hate hardware faults.

Dum-de-dum de-dem, de-dum: And of course now things are back to how they were. Great puzzlement. Ahhhhh.


I need to post something which isn’t about something failing. What we need are kitties! Physics kitties at that. So without further ado:

Lolcat: Kitty with a load of string balls. I'm im ur fizx lab... testn ur string therry (from I Can Has Cheezburger?) If only those string theorists actually could test things out!

Possibly my favourite so far: Lolcat: Kitty sat in a cardboard box. In ur quantum box...maybe (from I Can Has Cheezburger?). Schrödinger’s puddy is always good!

In case you’re wondering what the hell I’m on about, xkcd once again explains it all: xkcd cartoon of man gluing captions to cats

The whole lolcat thing has really taken off. There’s even some discussion of the linguistics. And I do find it very frightening how readable I find LOLCODE to be.

There, that’s better!

Things Wrong With My Laptop, #7665

Ah dear, just a little list, so that I can moan

  • It basically doesn’t work when not powered from the mains. Unpluggng causes it to complain about power supply, a lot, and quickly just die (though not in sync with the battery monitor). Seems the battery is basically buggered then
  • If you tilt the screen at certain angles (such as the ones which make it visible, say) then there appears an unbroken vertical green line about a third of the way in from the right. Fiddle with slight adjustments to the screen angle until it goes, or you give up
  • I think the touchpad is having hardware issues. This can cause some very strange symptoms in Windows, including killing the keyboard. In order to even get in I’ve had to boot to safe mode, uninstall the hardware, prevent it from trying to reinstall it, reboot, prevent it from trying to reinstall, all of which seems a pretty hit and miss process. I’m pretty certain it’s hardware because booting to linux takes an age, apparently while sorting out hardware stuff, though things do at least work once there Actually it turns out to pretty much be the battery
  • The optical drive (DVD writer) is pretty damn temperamental, sometimes to the point of refusing to believe in the existence of DVDs
  • The little rubber feet on the bottom have lost sticky, so they keep falling off (there’s actually one missing)

I think that’s about it. Moan over

More: Actually, that third point is pretty serious. It seems to have caused even linux to do…interesting…things (completely freezing in the process of starting Konq, booting, letting me log in, and being perfect apart from complete lack of keyboard…). It’s actually just resolved itself into “working” again under both linux and windows though (although the touchpad itself is out of order, everything else is ok, and nothing is freezing up). Hardware issues, don’t you love them (especially on impossible to take apart laptops).

Gaaah: And now, under windows, the keyboard has suddenly stopped working. I’m typing this using the on screen keyboard. Time for another reboot

Latest: Well, that at least worked. Current situation is a working USB mouse, working keyboard, non-working touchpad (the touchpad is disabled in the device manager, so that’s at least as it should be). We’ll see how long this state lasts…


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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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