jetpack technology

Friday, September 29, 2006

would you send your children to a summer camp called "Kids on fire"? It sounds like an extremely dangerous and unhealthy place - and probably makes a fascinating film - though I think I'd find it too disturbing to watch...

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I spent this morning arseing about with video editing software in preparation for making a DVD for a friend who sells agricultural machinery (wahey!), and in getting to grips with the software I came up with this work of art.

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Looking for somewhere to live is so depressing. I found this ad for a large room for rent in Cambridge - imagine living with this uppity little madam. It makes me want to take the room just for the fun of slowly driving her crazy.
    The House: Has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a very large lounge and dining room, the biggest kitchen ever and a shed to put bikes in. This is the cleanest house you'll find in Cambridge - so if you're even slightly messy please stop reading now! ... The house is equipped with high speed wireless broadband to be used but not abused (no slowing the net down for everyone else) The house is centrally heated and is nice and cosy (I like to keep it at 21 degrees - I mention this because it did disturb me when I had a tennant who liked to keep the lounge at 30!)... Me: I'm 25 and I am studying to be a vet (I did a first degree and briefly was an investment banker but didn't enjoy the quality of life) I am very house-proud, so I keep the house very clean. I am very sociable, I do a lot of sport (triathlon and modern pentathlon). I like to live with people that I get on with who would occasionally like to have meals together or get a video, but I also like my own space so I don't want to live with anyone who just sit in the house all day! (rules me out then). Essentially, the person who moves in will be quiet.. I had a tennant who woke me up at night just because they couldn't shut a door quietly. Basically, I would like to live with someone like myself who is clean and considerate. I also respect the environment and recycle what I can, I'm careful with energy etc. This is also appreciated. The other tennant is moving in on the 1st October and is also like myself clean and considerate, a young professional.

She sounds like a complete nightmare, and worst the kind of self-centred "high-achiever". I think you get quite a lot of those in Cambridge... (he said bitterly)

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what in God's name is that creature in the Aphex Twin video? he's such a sicko

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Monday, September 25, 2006

I think must be the site with the most tasteful desktop wallpapers on the net. Really hi-res too and many panoramic ones intended for twin monitors side by side (one day maybe!)

I just installed the MiX theme for windows which looks trés sexy, and I have a fresh install of XP. Now if I can just keep from clogging it up with a million useless progs that never get deleted or uninstalled...

My desktop currently looks like this - very restful methinks

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

here's a fun toy which might keep you amused on your coffee-break. It made me laugh a few times

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oh look a VHS player for high definition televisions. I don't think it's quite as stupid as it sounds, though I do wonder how many people with HDTV still have videotapes. I know HDTV is all the rage nowadays, but how much real HD content is there? Even DVDs are not high definition. I know SKY digital has HD channels now though I wonder just what resolution they are, and if they have the same horrible compression artefacts of all the regular SKY channels...

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Friday, September 22, 2006

now I know how hotdogs are made

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

October 3rd is the Day against DRM - you can even get free stickers in advance of demos in London and New York.

It's quite timely seeing as Microsoft's answer to the iPod has built in DRM, so you can wirelessly transfer music to another player but only play it three times or within three days - even if it has a creative commons license - ie. the artist doesn't mind it being shared freely and/or doesn't have anywhere online that people can buy it. Typical of Microsoft to collaborate with the music industry fatcats in trying to maintain their outdated stranglehold on music distribution. I think it's already making the Zune very uncool... but then I think iPods became very uncool very quickly

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I think the world is turning into an episode of the Simpsons.

First there's a crocodile-themed funeral for an aussie oaf saint, complete with flowers spelling out the word "crikey", then there are Californians sueing car manufacturers for creating pollution. Next they'll sue gun manufacturers for making products that are lethal, it really wouldn't surprise me...

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

well I sold out and finally got a myspace page, simply because it seems to be a requirement these days if you want to get ahead in music and figured it might increase my chances of getting noticed, marginally. They don't make it easy signing up and creating your page. It's all very confusing and circuitous find the right page to do what you want. And the end result is always hideous - it's like the internet circa 1998 when nasty "homepages" were all the rage. I'm not sure what use the "friends" thing is, but Underworld and one of the guys from Orbital are now my friends. I think they just add anyone who requests it, judging by the 20,000 or so friends they have...

PCworld has voted myspace the #1 worst site on the net, with good reason I think

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

some pictures taken outside my mum and dad's house in the fens - pretty innit

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

I was excited to find out that the Future Sound of London have a new album out called "teachings from the electronic brain". I was then disappointed to find out that it's actually a best-of compilation with no new material - oh well, that kind of bonkers mindbending stuff is not very fashionable these days, but I still like it in a nostalgic and slightly ironic kind of way. If you fancy a trip down memory lane or just see some weird clips, there's a montage of videos to promote the new album here

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Friday, September 08, 2006

uh-oh spider season is starting and I've already seen a moderate size one. In fact I can still see it, here in my parents' study. I would catch it and put it out the window but it's in an awkward place (under the pedals of the electric organ - oh dear). My mum was trying to persuade me how timid and harmless the thing is but I'm still not sold on spiders - they get quite sentimental about them. If I sit calmly and look at it it's not so scary, but when you're surprised by a giant black thing on the wall by the head of your bed my first reaction is complete horror and panic. Silly really. I can't help wonder what it is about spiders that are so horrible. I hate all the long jointed legs and appendages on the head *shudder*. Why couldn't they look like little daisies with pretty colours etc? I'm going to be nervous about being surprised by a little monster for the next few months...

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well since Mr Null brought up the subject, I said I'd blog a bit about why I believe in God...... so here's just a handful of reasons, hastily written in the early hours when I should really be in bed...

First of all I should point out that I'm not one of those dogmatic bible bashers who invariably wants to have the final say in what people should believe or how they should live their lives, this is just what I believe and I'll gladly discuss it with any reasonable person of any belief. Another point is that I think there is no completely logical argument of the proof of God, ultimately it's a leap of faith but then so much of our existence is the same. I think it was Descartes who said "I think therefore I am (ie. exist)" meaning that's the one single thing we can really be sure of - which is a self-evident truth I think. So everything else is open to interpretation - some things seem more obvious than others of course.

I know organised religion has been used to control and influence people in a negative way which is something I wouldn't defend. I'm not sure that it says so much about religion per se as it does about human nature in general. Power corrupts and all that. Having said that, I think religious beliefs have caused people (Mother Theresa etc.) to do great and generous things which go against human nature so it does have it's benefits. I don't think you have to have religious beliefs to do good things but I think if you do, the chances are you'll go the extra mile or two (maybe!)

Anyway, one of the main reasons I believe in God is ethics. We all know intuitively that right is better than wrong, good is better than evil, life is better than death etc. but if our existence is completely arbitrary and purely a matter of mathematical probability in a huge random universe, then in the big scheme of things none of those things do really matter despite what our strongest feelings tell us. Why is it better to save lives than to take them if they don't have some special value? If you don't believe in some higher meaningful existence then ultimately it doesn't matter. In that case, your existence in the first place is just a matter of chance, any awareness of feelings are simply a product of physiology and when you die, you'll forget you ever existed in the first place and the whole process of life and death and birth doesn't lead anywhere at all, it just happened by accident. So, I could go out and murder someone tomorrow and it could get me into a lot of trouble which would be annoying, but it wouldn't actually be fundamentally wrong. Of course it would cause suffering and pain to the relatives and family of that person, but what's wrong with suffering? Why do the feelings of those people matter too? Some could argue that self-preservation is why you have those values of right and wrong, good and evil but if there is no important reason for us existing in the first place, then what difference does it make? What's so great about self-preservation? It might feel important to stay alive and keep others alive but that importance would actually be an illusion - maybe it is - in which case it doesn't matter what we think anyway. If however, there is a point to everything and our existence isn't just an inconsequential event in a meaningless universe, then suddenly everything is meaningful again. My life certainly feels meaningful - it might just be an illusion, but personally I doubt it. There are people who claim to have an explanation of ethics without the need for religious belief but I've not heard one that's convincing, and like I said before I don't believe there is a watertight logical argument for any of this, simply because by it's (super)nature it's illogical.

Also, we have consciousness and feelings and personality. Again these could just be an illusion or could have just arisen out of pure fluke. But, I can't believe that a soul-less universe with no conscious being overseeing it could actually create something so intangible, mystical and amazing. It would be like a robot giving birth to a live flesh and blood baby - where did it get the DNA and the plans for the human baby in the first place? So, what I'm saying is that I think the fact that we have personality, feelings etc. reflects the fact that existence/nature/the universe itself also has those attributes - but on a much larger scale, and I think that giant super-intelligent personality is what we call God. It just seems implausible to me that us intelligent, thinking, feeling humans would pop up out of nothingness and find ourselves in a universe that is completely alien and unemotional, like some kind of existential accident that never should have happened.

Another thing which I think confirms that there is an important meaning to life, and therefore a God, is the number of mystical/supernatural experiences that people have. Millions of people have had amazing, inexplicable, life-changing experiences - religious or just plain spooky (and quite a lot of people have probably taken too many drugs or gone a bit crazy but I'm not talking about them). A friend of mine from University who is the most level-headed, rational, non-spiritual person you'll ever meet saw his own grandfather walking up the stairs in his house - five days after he'd been buried. It turns out several of his family members saw the same grandfather at various times. If I didn't know this friend so well I might not take him so seriously, but knowing him the way I do (and how sensible - and cynical he is), something very inexplicable but very real was going on there. Things like this happen to people all the time. Okay it doesn't prove the existence of God but it might suggest that there is more to existence that what we percieve in this world. Science doesn't really have any opinion on the subject because it requires provable empirical evidence, but I think it's extremely likely that many things exist which cannot be scientifically documented and tested in a lab. Some scientists will say that if that can't be done, then it doesn't exist which I think is a big mistake, they should be content so say that science cannot prove it's existence (i'm talking to you Dawkins). Of course science is a discipline which requires strict rules, but to live only by what can be proved in a lab seems rather too conservative to me, considering what other important things you could easily be overlooking. Nowadays we live in a culture of scientific reductionism where just about everything can be explained by some crude mechanistic model of physical laws, and anything which isn't or can't be explained therefore doesn't exist - which is kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy (a bit like CFS - "we don't understand why you're so ill - so therefore you're not ill!"). I don't want to sound like some kind of crank that thinks science is all wrong and we should all believe in fairies. I studied genetics and evolution and biology at University and that all makes perfect plausible sense to me. I just think there's a whole lot more on which science is just not qualified to comment, but which certainly exists judging by human experience over the however many millenia we've existed. Since we learnt so much about science and developed such great technology, we've created a culture which believes that only solid, tangible, provable things exist and everything else is just silly fantasy, but I think that's just a recent secular cultural convention which we've started to take for granted. I've been a Christian for about 15 years and there have been times when I've prayed and prayed for something and my prayers have been answered in a completely surprising and unexpected (and often implausible) way. I'm not going to go into details, and the circumstances weren't completely miraculous but the memory of what happened just seems like that extra bit of proof to me that there is a God that exists and knows us all personally.

Having said all that about science, the cutting edge of physics does seem to veer away from the simplistic, deterministic view of nature and get into some very weird concepts that could be considered philosophy/religion. The whole field of quantum mechanics requires us to exist in multiple dimensions, and for there to be countless parallel universes etc. and that things considered impossible to classical science (eg. the supernatural) are simply a matter of probability when thought of in terms of quantum theory. This seems perfectly plausible to me that if you study nature closely enough eventually you'll find proof for the existence of such things. Here's a good page on the subject.

Something that occurred to me a while ago when having a similar discussion with my brother - him saying how daft and implausible the idea of an afterlife/heaven/other world is, well we only believe in this world because we're here experiencing it. If we were just bodiless spiritual beings drifting in nothingness outside time and space, we probably wouldn't believe in an earth that has a sun and a moon, and seas and land, and animals and people. If you think about it, it does sound kind of weird and implausible but because we're here we take it for granted - and if we refuse to believe in anything else (other existences, heaven, God etc.) then we're just like those bodiless beings in the nothingness who would have been totally mistaken. Of course that could be an argument for believing in absolutely anything and expecting it to exist, but given the infinite variety of different worlds we could imagine, I think it's useful to look at what religion has come up with having thought about the subject for several millenia and narrow it down a bit...

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Monday, September 04, 2006

I'm at the parents' place at the moment and using my mum's computer every waking hour most of the time. My parents have SKY TV and told me you could now download movies and watch them on the computer so I installed the "SKY by Broadband" prog from their website. I tried it out but the download speed didn't seem that fast so never used it after that and I don't think my parents will either. Anyway, tonight I got a mystery error on startup caused by Kservice.exe which made me curious to find out what the file was. Very quickly I learnt that it's part of a P2P program called Kontiki which is installed as part of SKY broadband, enabling them to spread their downloads around the net without having to provide all the bandwidth - which is very sneaky! It even uses your bandwidth when you're not using the SKY software, and the P2P components are not removed when you uninstall the SKY prog (despite what they tell you). Thankfully I found a tool which does this, but just thought I'd mention this on my blog so everyone knows what SKY are up to!

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