Wed May 23 20:04:04 BST 2007
My drawings seem to be getting popular - a Google image search for "smiley" returns a link to my smile face artwork on the first page now (up from third about a month ago). "Smiley face" is still on the second page. May be worth looking at an image hosting service such as [Imageshack] or adding Adsense links to pay for the increased bandwidth. Or printing T-shirts, but I think the drawings are too detailed for screen printing, from what I read of the [Spreadshirt FAQs anyway.
Sun Feb 11 11:39:23 EST 2007
I just realised that it has been ages since I updated my website. I got a chance to scan in some more of my drawings, they're in the art section. The first looks something like an "Angry Chicken", see the gritted teeth, squint and coxcomb. The second is a blob with a cheesy grin.
Looking at my referer logs I seem to be getting a fair few hits from people who like my drawings - this is good! Slightly less good is the fact that a few of them hotlink the large versions of the pictures and use them as backgrounds for their MySpace pages. My bandwidth on this host is pretty limited (1GB/month), so if you're one of these people could you please make a local copy instead.
The most popular images seem to be my smiley logo and the hands picture. I also get the first hit on google images for "red dragon symbol" and on the first page for "dark hands".
Sat Dec 9 09:19:15 EST 2006
For the last week I've been at the Australian Institute of Physics Congress here in Brisbane. It covered a wide range of topics with sessions running in parallel, so I didn't get to see everything (also it went from 8:30am until 8pm or later each day so I was a bit shattered by Thursday). Highlights:
- Physics and Education talks, especially the plenary talk by Eric Mazur on interactive teaching. The basic idea is to get the students to do prereading before the lecture, then discuss the reading in small groups and as a class during the lecture. This is a more interactive approach and lets peers discuss conceptual problems in a language that is natural for them, as opposed to the lecturer attempting to translate his mental picture back to the students' level. (...)
Tue Nov 28 21:55:00 EST 2006
It is almost 10pm and still feels pretty hot, at least +26 degrees. Humid as well. And it is only the end of November. NOT looking forward to January. Need to get a fan.
Sun Nov 26 21:21:31 EST 2006
I've been in Brisbane for almost three months now, and am gradually settling in - still does not feel like home though. It's getting pretty hot and uncomfortable, no afternoon sea breeze like we used to get in Perth. Humidity is pretty high as well. Of course, I don't notice this during the week in my nice air-conditioned office, only becomes an issue on the weekends. Still, it's nice and sunny in a "Go outside without protection for more than half an hour and you will die of skin cancer and/or dehydration" sort of way.
Workwise we're getting ready for the Australian Institute of Physics conference starting next weekend. Preparation on my part is preparing a poster to present on the proposed "ultrafast laser" cooling experiment (ie cooling with periodic pulse trains from a mode-locked laser, taking advantage of the phase coherence between pulses). Perhaps foolishly I chose to do the poster in LaTeX using the a0poster package. (...)
Organisation of content
Sat Nov 4 10:21:59 EST 2006
My default state is to take in information in written form from books and websites. This is all well and good but unless I make use of that information it is no better than sitting in front of the television watching a soap opera or reality TV show.
Humans process information. Novelty is the acquisition of new facts about our surroundings and relationships that may reveal potential threats or opportunities. Hence there is a biological drive for humans to acquire and process information. As with any biological drive there is good money to be made by subverting the drive for commercial interests. For example the fast food industry exists by hacking into the biological drive for (high energy density) fatty sugary foods, traditionally a good resource for energy storage in times of famine. In the same way the human desire for understanding and novelty means that new interesting information has a drug-like effect on the human brain. (...)
Content management systems
Sun Oct 15 19:39:42 EST 2006
It looks like it may be time to bid a fond farewell to my homebrew blogging software, at least in its current incarnation. It was a good programming exercise to write a program that read a plain text file and constructed a set of interlinked webpages with the dated entries separated into the appropriate categories. This turned out to be fairly simple in the functional programming style, and I'm tempted to go a bit further in introducing a higher degree of data abstraction (now that I have a better idea of how the Ocaml module system works).
But recently I have been playing around with the Drupal content management system (somehow volunteering to update the group website became constructing the group interactive online community. This mission creep tends to happen when I get a dull computery job to do :) ). The nice thing about this system compared to other content management systems is its extensibility. (...)
Some photos from Brisbane
Tue Sep 26 08:42:02 EST 2006
I finally got around to getting some touristy shots of Brisbane, and also caught up with some relatives. Photos can be found on [flickr] or on my Facebook page. If I get a chance on the weekend I'll start uploading some more of the pictures I've taken over the years - most of them are on [my old physics webpage].
Not that homesick anymore
Thu Aug 31 20:52:04 EST 2006
Well, that didn't take long. Once the final remnants of jetlag went away (and I got back on the net) I started to feel much better about the world. Ignore the self-pittying homesickness whine from the middle of Saturday night, pretty much all better now. Finding how to get food at the uni also helped a great deal.
The Constructivist Manifesto
Sun Aug 27 22:23:15 EST 2006
There are always going to be things that you consider not to be the way the world should be. You can either try to force the world to be as you want it by destructive acts, or constructively build the new capabilities that you require. Analyse the way the system works and build the devices to extend its capabilities or hide the undesired complexities. Borrowing from the Hacker Manifesto, you shouldn't have to solve the same problem twice. After the first time you should have made something that solves the problem automatically.
Always identify why you are unhappy with life, don't just accept things as they are. Sometimes it is fine to be unhappy for the sake of it, but real conflicts between yourself and the world should be resolved. Change yourself to be in harmony with the world, change the world to be in harmony with yourself or accept the tension between the two.
Sun Aug 27 02:00:00 EST 2006
Another day in Queensland. Jet lag continues to go, but the homesickness starts to kick in. What follows are some 2am thoughts that shouldn't be taken too seriously, but the analysis afterwards is useful. Whinging pom mode follows:
I think I may have made a mistake. Why the hell am I in Queensland? I'm homesick. I have no friends here, I don't know how to get food, no-one walks they all drive, it is too hot, there aren't pubs every hundred metres, I'm not on the net, I'm far from the information centres of the world, I don't know if I actually want to do atomic physics anymore. I miss my friends. I miss Alexa. I miss Keble MCR, my home for the last seven years where I could just go in and wait for interesting people to appear. I miss living like a student, I don't want to be a real person. (...)
In Australia now
Fri Aug 25 20:58:26 EST 2006
Made it to Oz ok, the plane trip (all 24 hours of it) was not too bad. Still a bit jetlagged a day later, but have managed to shop for essential supplies and to pop into the uni to get the rundown on the project, meet the group and have a look at the lab. The lab is pretty impressive size-wise compared to the Oxford labs, we have about the same amount of optical table area as was on my old experiment but much higher ceilings so there is a bigger sense of space. There are also a few groups working in the same room, so always something going on.
The experimental setup is really nice, very modular - each distinct optical device (eg laser plus stabilization setup and fibre coupler) is on its own breadboard which is decoupled vibrationally from the table using alterating layers of foam and lead.
No internet access yet unfortunately. I managed to send a quick email to my parents and my friends back in Oxford, and should have access through the university soon. (...)
Heathrow bomb plot
Thu Aug 10 09:26:15 BST 2006
Things that you don't want to see in the news a couple of weeks before embarking on a 22 hour flight to Australia: ['Plot to blow up planes' foiled]. Currently you're not allowed any carry-on luggage apart from identity documents and wallets in clear plastic bags - hopefully this will not be the case when I fly out, since I don't think laptops like flying cargo (the screens don't like low pressure).
Hmm... my response to a bomb threat from the airport that I am due to fly out of in a couple of weeks is not "Oh noes!!!1! We're all going to die!!!1!", it is "Crap. Check-in is going to take hours, and my laptop might get killed in the cargo bay, plus I'll have nothing to read". Realistic response to the threat?
The news article says the plot was for 3 devices on planes going from UK to USA. Number of flights from Heathrow per day is about 1500 ([source
Tue Aug 8 11:04:52 BST 2006
[I'm on Facebook] currently the Oxford network, but soon Griffith University. Still not entirely sure of the point of Facebook since almost all of the people I am in contact with are friends of mine IRL. Useful for finding friends of friends I guess, and I suppose it will turn into a defacto alumni network over the next few years.
Mon Aug 7 16:01:21 BST 2006
Finally finished packing my stuff for shipping off to Australia. My life apparently consists of 15 book boxes, roughly 30kg each, about 1.5 cubic metres. Not bad, but would be nice to reduce it a bit more, especially if I'm going to keep relocating every few years. (Longest time in one house so far is eight years, in Perth for the last few years of high school and undergraduate university degrees).
I like books, but if a good reflective-mode ebook reader comes out (such as the Sony Libre but not DRM'd to death) I'd be sold - half a tonne of books versus a reader and an external hard drive...
Mild moving panic
Thu Jul 20 08:37:47 BST 2006
I just realised that in a month I will be on a plane back to Australia. (...)