2015 — 13 February: Friday

Having dialled back the brightness of my screen to a mere 70% of "flat out" (with room, it seems, for yet further cutback), done all my weekend hunter-gathering (before the ankle-biters are too much of an underfoot hazard), rendered the back windscreen slightly more see-through (removing the surplus guano while I had wet cloth in hand), and replied to a handful of email1 perhaps finally I can sit back and enjoy my first cuppa? It is, after all, very nearly 09:00...

And the usual mid-Feb Grade A grey day out there.

They do things...

... differently across the Pond:

tax dodging

By contrast, Brenda's gang of tax gatherers rely, it seems, on "professional bodies" to deal with the myriad tax avoidance, erm, schemes being continually cooked up by splendid chaps in smart suits working at large accountancy firms. How very British. (Link.)

It seems...

... the idiot I'm forced to leave in charge of the kitchen forgot to stew my next batch of fresh fruit for my cereal topping. No matter. I can amuse myself in the meantime by failing to download last night's BBC Radio 3 "Late Junction" in any shape or form from the BBC's "new, improved" Audio Factory facility despite it showing up as being in there somewhere. Very annoying.

Pause for munching thoughtfully.

Well, refreshing just the main get_iplayer component did 99% of the trick, though it's also reset the location of the downloaded recordings back to the default (desktop)... and seems not to have managed2 to snaffle the corresponding thumbnail.

And now it's...

... pouring with rain. Wunnerful. Meanwhile, having set up my equally wunnerful Raspberry Pi2 as an ultrafast webserver for me, Brian has turned his attention to his own Pi2 and his continuing pursuit of software defined radio. Successfully. He's hoping to move on to satellite weather images next. (Just look out of your window, lad! See that wet stuff? That means rain.)

Monitor screen brightness, by the way, is still adequate when dialled back to 50%. I'm getting quite skilled at grappling around the back of the thing.

Compare and contrast the dual 24" screen setup of May 2012:

Twin screens

And this morning's arrangement:

4K 40-inch screen

This afternoon's treat...

... will be tea and biccies over with Roger & Eileen. (Now that lunch is safely out of the way in good time to listen in to the 'flagship film review' from Kermode and Mayo.) I've not heard this for a while — clearly my enthusiasm became unfocused, just as it did quite long ago with NPR's "Car Talk".

I refuse...

... to believe that this 'story' constitutes "news". My own first encounter with the digital Dark Age3 came in the form of the data I had accumulated on a series of Amstrad 3" diskettes written under CP/M and LocoScript. I ended up writing my first simple serial port program to transfer this data across to my Acorn Archimedes RISC-OS PC. Well, it was either that or pay the outrageous £70 per diskette demanded by a local enterprise to do (in all probability) exactly the same for me. I will draw a veil over my dabbles with 270MB SyQuest removable hard drive cartridges in the early to mid-1990s.

By the end of 2002 — when I finally bit the bullet and moved across to a Windows platform at home — I had learned to be very careful to work (as far as possible) with either plain ASCII text, simple HTML material, or (as far as possible) with widely-supported non-proprietary data formats for image, audio, and video material. Here, for example, are the assortment of data types I can export my Xara artwork as:

Xara export filetypes

Of these, I have only ever used the .jpg, .png, .gif, and .bmp file formats.

Browsing some of...

... the annual image competition galleries on Wikipedia I found a massive Mandelbrot image (generated by the same Intel i7 2600K CPU that hums quietly to itself most of the time in BlackBeast, but which had been left running for a solid 70 hours). It makes a wonderful desktop background, except for one minor drawback. Much like the mind-destroying alien signal in Piers Anthony's "Macroscope" it does my head in, and I start getting lost in it. Very weird. Here's a tiny portion of it, reproduced at a scale calculated not to burn your brain:

Fractal desktop

I used the GIMP to cut out a suitably-sized and precisely-scaled chunk to fit on my 4K desktop. Poor ol' Fireworks wouldn't even begin to be able to contemplate loading the full-size original. It's over 51MB and clocks in at 12,000 x 10,816 pixels.

40 years...

... to finish decommissioning the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant? Blimey. (Link.)



1  "Do I remember Linsley Hood?" What a question!
2  False alarm. It wasn't until I opened a fresh Windows Explorer window on it a few minutes later that the thumbnail sprang into existence. For such a deeply integrated portion of the so-called "operating" system, Explorer has a few too many idiosyncracies for comfort. (As for yesterday's news that a one-bit setting in all existing Windows systems could cause untold havoc because a portion of the Kernel is actually devoted to managing scroll bars in the GUI? Don't let's go there.)
3  Given the impenetrability of the Event Horizon, I prefer to think of it as a Black Hole.