Monday, November 29, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Developing Inner/Emotional strength on top of character.

You start off in life with Inner Strength - aka Character. Then if, you are lucky, you develop one or two out of Emotional Strength or Intellectual Strength which in turn wrap themselves around Inner Strength – like vines around a pole. The inner strength is drawn from childhood experiences (nurture) and sheer luck (nature). Different people have different iKnowledgenner strengths. One everyday experience for one person, might be an epiphany for someone else.

I was temporarily introduced to the theatre and history by my paternal Grandmother. This showed me there was a lot about the world that was beyond my then current set of experiences. And it created a kernel of intellectual activity.

My parents encouraged me to learn stuff. When I was about 7 or 8 they bought “Tree of Knowledge” magazines. While I didn't understand it, it told me that there is a very big world out of there. This was helped by reading various comics – 2000AD, Commando etc. Later on, in MH the boarding school, I read someone else's copy of Look and Learn. Mainly for the cartoons.

When I was about 8 or so, my Dad started working abroad. He told me I was the man of the house and that I had to look after everyone else. I tried to do so.

In Oman (the Middle East) I used to climb mountains near my home. Nothing but camel-thorn, the bones of long dead goats and baked rocks. A bit like Wordsworth in the Lake District. I also had interests in archaeology and geology but they weren't developed. At one school I tried to attend voluntary geology classes but was asked to leave because my handwriting wasn't fast enough.

At boarding school I was showing a certain level of enterprise – for example setting up a school newspaper in N.I. But still being quite naive in my trust of other people.

Boarding School instilled the strength to carry on with normal life even when my life was falling apart. Strength comes from frequent exercise. In my case, the emotional highs and lows of holidays with my parents (leaving boarding school for the holidays – a high, returning to boarding school at the end of the holiday – a low). This was probably encouraging emotional strength by fire. For years I relied on emotional strength, later on, while working, I developed some intellectual strength.

University – buried myself in course work and running and playing Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D). When things got too much for me in the real world, I referred to it as “reality poisoning”, something I avoided by reading sci-fi books or playing AD&D.

Working after University - About £60 left to me in the 1990s by my Aunt E was spent by me in a postal book club (TSP, I think) while I was living in Berwick. I bought various books – philosophy plus Edwin de Bono's “Book of Wisdom”. This was the first time I'd been introduced to thinking about thinking (call it meta-thinking). Meta-thinking has given me the tools to realise that my thoughts have been disrupted by psychotic episodes – this is called insight. Insight can't stop the psychosis but it makes you easier to treat.

First post-graduate job – LiBRiS Computing, Berwick Upon Tweed. I used to be a bit of a Software Engineering fire brand. Simply must use source code control systems (so I wrote one myself – SCHOLAR – Source Code Held On-line Archival and Retrieval). Simply must not reinvent the wheel – so introduced the use of SCHOLAR and shared modules. And was not particularly tolerant of people who didn't share this vision. The main project I worked on was the LiBRiS (public) libaries search engine, delivering a family of search engine products, supported by a makefile and a source code control system. Other programmers worked on these systems as well so I acknowledge their work here but don't name them for privacy's sake. I left an Easter Egg in the last version of the LiBRiS search engine. Go to enter the password on the main menu and type in credits – it lists the programmers – from 1993-1999 who worked on that software.

Later on, in 2001, I came to the attention of the local NHS trust and I've been with them ever since then. I am much calmer these days and instead of writing search engines I help Contact, a local mental heath charity ( ) in the day to day use of its computers, the use of its internet suite. and work in the workshop where we refurbish old PCs and give them away to Contact's members. In particular we are a heavy uses of FLOSS – Free / Libre Open Source Software. See Contact is given stuff that other people don't want any more. Some of the donated PCs come with obsolete versions of Windows so we've a few options 1) buy a Windows XP license – can't do that 2) scrap the PC for parts or 3) if acceptable to the end-user, install a long term version of Ubuntu Linux.

Different end-users have different needs. Regardless of whether or not we use Windows or Linux, the Software Toolkit page listed above shows we can provide the software at no cost to the end-user.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Still doing computer stuff. Trying to get an old PC working again instead of scrapping it. Looking for a way to use an ipod with Ubuntu Linux - apparently the smart money is on Banshee.

I have scrounged an old PC from Contact - bought some replacement hard disks for it from Joe's. I like it. Have christened it "berners-lee".

Still playing Traveller. Currently running a 10-parter campaign and its quite a demanding commitment.

My life is like Java - the garbage collection is slow :) I've been tidying up the PC workshop, giving away unwanted stuff, been tidying up my house, likewise.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

I recently found out a friend from Otterburn ward died recently. My sympathies to her family. They will be playing Radiohead in heaven tonight.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Adopting F/OSS
Here's a thought about the adoption of Free/Open Source software from a Gandhi quote:-

First they ignore you
Then they laugh at you
Then they fight you
Then you win.

After a lot of effort, I'm getting my concentration back. I still have to pace myself, I still have to sleep a lot. But it is a start.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

3rd June 2010

Learning programming languages.

In some job interviews, the candidate is asked “given a rating from 1 to 10, how do you rate yourself given that Bjarne Stroustrup is a 10?”

Here is a breakdown of that scale:-

0 No knowledge

1-3 Novice

1 Done a “Hello World” program from a magazine/web site article.

2 Novice/Tourist – relies on “phrase books” (e.g. O'Reilly's books).

3 Novice – less reliant on books.

4-6 Practised

4 Gaining confidence – books / man pages used for reference.

5 Average – knows the ins and outs of the language/topic.

6 Fluent – above average, becoming an expert.

7-9 Expert.

7 Expert.

8 Lead Programmer.

9 Mentor.

10 Guru. (e.g Bjarne Stroustrup for C++).

Am learning Perl – an old language but a good language to know when doing Systems Administration on Linux systems. At the moment I'm a 3, going on 4.

Role Playing Games.

Traveller books are my self-indulgence at the moment. I'm not running Traveller games at the moment but I hope to do so once I've eventually moved house...

Moving house.

Want to move house but its pretty much a work in progress.


Still working on the PC refurbishment project. Most people only know how to use a variant of Microsoft Windows. Am increasingly coming to the belief we should be using Ubuntu Linux instead of Microsoft Windows.

Nintendo DSi

The Nintendo DSi's camera is being helpful as I can show people different parts of my life. The DSi itself is really good. I bought a second hand copy of “Travel Games for Dummies (Sudoku / Solitaire / Chess)” with practice modes and help as well as the games themselves.