2016 — 30 April: Saturday

And so we come to the end of the first 33% of the year. Blimey.

I spent about 45 minutes1 yesterday evening, quite late, finally taking Ubuntu MATE's "Big Daddy" (Ubuntu 16.04 itself, that is) out for a test drive. Once again I took the precaution of keeping it safely confined within the cardboard (as it were) of Oracle's extremely useful VirtualBox, running on BlackBeast Mk III.


I was a little disappointed. While it's much better than the Ubuntu 11.04 I dumped five years ago — and let's not forget I've now been using Linux desktop for the last 14 months — I find myself still not quite fully convinced of the merits of the latest spin of the Unity desktop. Not only that, but I managed to freeze the thing, twice. Now that could be some quirk of VirtualBox, I agree, but it's still a somewhat unsettling sign. There are a few aspects that, because they remain stubbornly unconfigurable, would really get on my nerves. Little things, I agree, but it's the small stones in your shoe that can rub the biggest blisters if you give them long enough.

For a treat...

... I re-watched the first four episodes of the American re-make of "House of Cards" season #1. I think I shall make that my next diversion as it stood up very well in terms of holding my interest. It was alarming to read in a poll that Kevin Spacey's wondrously sociopathic character gains more "votes" than any of the real contenders in the current race. I wonder what my New York friend Carol makes of that.

We owe an awful lot...

... to the chap who (I didn't know this) kept...

at least thirty idiosyncratic unicycles — one without pedals, one with 
a square tire, and a particularly confounding unicycle built for two

... in the garage of the place he called "Entropy House". There's an engaging short profile of Claude Shannon here.

A CV of failures?

With an amusing sting in the tail/tale, too. Snippet:

Most of what I try fails, but these failures are often invisible, while the successes are visible... this sometimes gives others the impression that most things work out for me... they are more likely to attribute their own failures to themselves, rather than the fact that the world is stochastic, applications are crapshoots, and selection committees and referees have bad days

Johannes Haushofer in Grauniad

Some might say that calm contemplation of the stochastic promotion process within IBM could yield a similar impression. I couldn't possibly comment. Though I sometimes wondered what part entropy played in the process.

Knowing that...

... at least one of my gurus is a keen student of the mythos of Cthulhu I sent him — after stumbling across it here — an image I was sure he'd enjoy, setting him the challenge of tracking down my source. Two jabs at Mrs Google brought him very near. But he still wondered how the hell I'd stumbled across it in the first place. Simple! Start here:


Meanwhile, CJ can be watched here.

I note...

... Firefox on Ubuntu has just updated to 46 whereas my version on Mint lingers at 45.02 — I refuse to worry :-)

I have done something — I know not what — that has nudged my handy Kensington USB KVM keyboard / mouse / scanner switchy-whatnot neatly past the (invisible) barrier clearly (but invisibly) marked "Stops working beyond this point". Grr.

Seven years before...

... Trapper John, Radar O'Reilly, Hot Lips, and all the rest of Richard Hooker's creations were brought to inglorious life by Robert Altman's film "M*A*S*H" there was Captain Newman, M.D. If (like me at the time) you only knew Leo Rosten for his stories of hapless Hyman Kaplan, you might be as amazed as I was. I picked up my sadly-battered (but fondly treasured) multi-hand copy of the paperback in 1976 for 10p. My DVD, by contrast, arrived just a couple of hours ago:

Captain Newman

I'm looking forward to seeing it again for the first time in very many years. Its screenplay was partly by Nora Ephron's mother, Phoebe.



1  This was only after first trying in vain to find actual video of Alison Janney as CJ in a performance "for real" as Whitehouse Press Secretary having been tipped off by Brian that that surreal circumstance had been allowed to happen in what passes for real life in Washington.