Saturday, May 19, 2018


For years now, I have been studying technical books in Contact.

It was only about half a year ago that I got back into reading fiction at home.

Bibliotherapy is the practise of reading to preserve or improve mental health. There is a 20 minute BBC talk about it here.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A video you might find useful.

I've watched this video twice. As someone with Schizophrenia, I think it is a pretty accurate account.…

Of all the symptoms - "difficulty concentrating" - is the one thing I've been able to have some success with. One indicator that supports that is my review of the "Effective Ruby" Live Lessons video files in this month's CVu magazine. It took a lot of time and effort.

When you mix three of the symptoms together - difficulty remembering, paranoia and delusions - you have a potent mixture that can make day to day living a struggle - you are never quite sure what other people have said to you - did you imagine that someone is annoyed with you? - are they plotting something? - there must be a conspiracy against me. And you start to question your own behaviour as well. You then start remembering conversations that probably didn't happen, making things even worse. And eventually you realise your doubts are unfounded and just carry on.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

A day in the life of a Womble - August 2017

Sometime back, Jean's computer failed. The Computer Wombling Project had recently been given a tower PC so that was tested, the hard drive wiped and lubuntu Linux installed and passed on to Jean.

Spent a good amount of time last night and today trying to prod Jean's old computer to work - resorted to scavenging parts today.

I have a device, which I call the "Octopus" - actually a "USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE adapter with power adapter" which I used to connect the scavenged hard drive and DVD writer. I gave the hard drive a new partition table and formatted the hard drive (ext4, of course).

The computer doing the formatting etc is a Dell Latitude CPx J650GT laptop. It is a 2003 era device (used sudo dmidecode for that info) and I use it to check devices I am not completely sure of. Waste not, want not and all that. Hostname is verne, user name is jules - so the command prompt reads "jules@verne".

I used GPartED on the scavenged laptop to create the new partition table and partition and as a result the new partition was owned by "root". I tried using sudo chmod and sudo chown and sudo chgrp. Eventually, after a certain amount of time, the laptop grudgingly agreed that a non-root user could write to the drive.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Monday night at St George's

Was at St George's on Monday evening. As I walked in I noticed a number (about 7) Police vehicles, with Police staff sorting out their clothing. Asked what was happening and they said they were sorting out their clothes. So I went into reception and started reading "The Ruby Programming Language" as usual. Later on I looked up and a group of Police in riot gear - stab vests and transparent shields - Roman style (rectangular) and Pict style (Round) flanked by Police with yellow hi-vis jackets on. They headed off to one of the wards so I resumed reading. After a few hours the Police vehicles disappeared so I presume it finished OK.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Political satire and disability.

I was watching last night's "The Last Leg".

I was wondering, what would be the right name for a similar programme that has people with mental health problems as presenters?

* The Last Neuron?
* The Last Synapse?
* The Last Med?

Saturday, May 27, 2017


Many companies ask for people with vision. They are not too keen on taking on people who have visions.

If people want to experience what it is like to work whilst experiencing a mental illness, I suggest they take medicine with unfortunate side-effects - e.g. increased appetite - I once ate a cauliflower cheese meal in a hospital - despite hating cauliflower. And a sedative. Try getting in to work by 9am every weekday on public transport (because you can't take the meds and drive a car) and under the influence of said medication.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

I.T. common sense

Hope you haven't been too put out by the WanaCry ransomware attack.

As ever, the cheapest ways to do this is:-
* Ensure staff are trained well. Especially the non-technical staff.
* Ensure all computers have their software regularly updated with maintenance/security updates (aka patches).

The term "patch" comes from the Open Source community on the Internet.

Software written as scripts (Basic, Ruby, Perl, Python etc) are provided in source code form and require another programme, an interpreter to run them. Here is an example programme in Ruby:-

#!/usr/bin/env ruby
require 'Qt'

# For info on using Qt from Ruby programs, see my file qt-notes.txt

app =

hello ='Hello World!')
hello.resize(100, 30)


So... if someone wanted to improve the above programme, they would edit the above programme on their system. They would then put the original script and the updated script through a programme called diff, that lists the changes that have been supplied. Then the original author can take those patches and make the changes by running the original script and changed script through a programme called patch. Hence the name "patch" :)

Software written in compiled languages (C,C++ etc) can be provided in source code form. Here is an example:-

 Hello Concurrent World example program.
 This text here is part of a multi-line comment

#include <iostream>
#include <thread>

void hello()
    std::cout<<"Hello Concurrent World"<<std::endl;

int main()
    std::thread t(hello);

You would run the above software by running it through a compiler, That takes the programme text - and compiles it into binary file(s) suitable for a particular hardware architecture and you run that.

Given the source code, however, someone can improve the software by making changes and again use diff and patch to provide the original author with their proposed changes.

Software would be shared by people on hardware platforms with wildly different architectures and operating systems.

When people talk about "patching" Windows systems they are typically referring to downloading binaries. Someone, somewhere, will have the source code, will have identified and fixed bug(s), compiled it into binary and made it available via Microsoft's Window updates facilities.