Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

A Christmas Collection

Monday, November 19th, 2007

Following the success of Someone to watch over me, The Pavao String Quartet have released 2 new albums as of today. Kerenza, the lead violinist, is a relative of mine.

The first, titled “A Christmas Collection”, is a collection of Christmas carols uniquely arranged for the quartet by Carlo Martelli. At £6.99, it makes for an ideal Christmas gift and £1 of each sale goes to the Breakthrough Breast Cancer charity. Buy from Amazon or

Track list

  1. Silent Night
  2. Away In A Manger
  3. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  4. Angels From The Realms
  5. Christmas Medley
  6. Vaughan William’s Carol
  7. The Shepherd’s Farewell
  8. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
  9. Sleigh Ride
  10. O Little Town Of Bethlehem
  11. Once In Royal David’s City
  12. Suite From The Snowman

The second album release of today features performances of two classical quartets composed by Bax and Elgar. It is released in celebration of Elgar’s anniversary. Buy it from or HMV.

Track list

  1. String Quartet No 1 In G (Bax)
  2. String Quartet In E Minor Op 83 (Elgar)

Blue-tack stop motion

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007

My artistic friend Chris has just published his first stop-motion blue tack creation. It rocks. Watch it on youtube immediately.

IBM University Team Challenge 2007

Monday, October 1st, 2007

At the end of last week, myself and five other 3rd years represented the University of Manchester at the IBM University Team Challenge. We competed against 16 other UK universities at IBM’s site in Hursley (near Southampton).

After a meal the previous evening and various introductions we were given 2 hours 30 minutes to complete as many challenges as we could. There were 24 challenges, grouped by category: maths, logic, communication, sensory, mystery, physical. In one challenge, 5 of us had to communicate a map to our team mate who had to transcribe it, but our communication was limited to 4 picture cards, 4 smells, and a rattle (no talking allowed).

The most amusing challenge we undertook was in the physical category, pictured below:

In this challenge we had to strap colanders to our heads and catch badminton shuttles in them, which were batted by a team mate from behind a wall!

The second half of the competition was a quiz, with various dynamics to mix things up a bit.

The winning team – Cambridge – won a ThinkPad each and £1000 for their university. As we didn’t come in the top 3 overall, we were not told our position, but we do know that we came 2nd in the first half of the competition with 7 challenges completed (plus a bonus for completing at least one challenge in each category).

It was a fun trip and interesting to meet some IBM people and look around their site. It’s nice to see IBM organising and sponsoring student events like this, it can’t be cheap…

21 today!

Saturday, August 25th, 2007

I’m finally 21!

I’ve spent the last few weeks on holiday with my family. We started off just outside Toronto, at a lovely lakeside house owned by some friends. After a week there, we drove to Niagara Falls and did the usual tourist things on the Canadian side, which was an amazing experience. Next we flew into Boston and then spent a few days at a nice beach-side house on Cape Cod. We’ve spent the last few days in Boston and my family will return home on Tuesday.

Tonight, my family, 20 friends and myself will be gathering for a meal in Boston. Then we’ll be hitting up some bars for my first true taste of American nightlife (the under 21 thing isn’t much fun out here!).

It’ll also be a bit of a farewell do, as on September 4th I end my American experience and return back to England. It’s going to be strange leaving all this behind so suddenly, it’s also a little sad. For those of you who stumble across this post, I’d like to thank all of my new friends in the US who have made this year so enjoyable, especially those who helped with the moving and settling in. I’ve had a fantastic time and will definitely be visiting in the near future.

What’s next for me? Well, in a few weeks time I return to the University of Manchester (UK) to resume my studies. I’ll be entering the 3rd year of my Computer Science masters degree.

Misc updates

Sunday, November 12th, 2006
  • I hope to continue my investigation into the fingerprinting legal issues within the next few days. This is currently on hold while I’m waiting for information from a few people.
  • With help from Matthieu Castet and Johannes Berg, I’ve been reverse engineering the firmware for the ZD1211 wireless devices. We understand approximately 85% of the instruction set. Assuming we can figure out the remaining details, we’ll be able to write an open source firmware at some point in the near future. My assembler, disassembler and notes can be found in a git tree (gitweb, clone URL).
  • I’ve moved touchcal to sourceforge and taken over maintenance. I fixed it up to work better with EloGraphics screens, but do not have any immediate plans to develop it further. Contributors/contributions are welcome.
  • Anyone affected by the recent VIA IRQ quirk problems in recent Linux kernels should try Alan Cox’s fix against 2.6.19-rc. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then ignore this.
  • USA is great, thanks for asking! I’m especially looking forward to my first ever thanksgiving :)
  • Last week I saw the Boston Bruins battle it out with the Buffalo Sabres. Thanks to a company sponsor we had seats in a members-only premium suite. The atmosphere was great, Boston were 4-1 up but unfortunately the Sabres came back late in the game and won 5-4 in the shootout.

Post-it notes and adhesive tape

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

Monday was a very eventful day at work. I started my co-op placement at a small-but-mature startup company less than 2 months ago, and yesterday morning we are herded into a meeting where it is announced that we have been acquired by 3M. The buyout is especially interesting given that Brontes is still a pre-sales company.

3M is an amazing organisation, notably in terms of their scope. You name it, they make it. Post-it notes, dental products, pharmaceuticals, scotch tape, chemicals, health care products,skincare product like under eye masks, etc. It’s really exciting as we’ll now have a huge amount of global resources to tap into. I’m really happy that I get to experience this while on my placement year.

More details here.

Settling in, started work

Saturday, September 9th, 2006

The US move has worked out rather well. I’m set up with a bank account, cell phone, basic room furnishings, etc. The various Americanisms I complained about last time are slowly becoming easier to accept.

I’ve managed to keep myself mostly occupied. After helping Seemant move house, I met up with Steve B at the end of last week. Steve is a friend from university and was visiting Boston after working all summer in New York. Then at the weekend, Dave took me down to Connecticut for a barbeque with some of his friends and family, which was fun.

I started work on Tuesday. It’s an exciting atmosphere to work in, as the product release isn’t too far off. The technology is even more amazing than I remember it, and everyone has been very welcoming. The office is calm, open, and spacious. It’s going to a busy year, taking over many of Seemant’s roles as well as with plenty of other interesting problems to solve.

No snakes on this plane

Sunday, August 27th, 2006

I’ve had an enjoyable first few days in the US (Boston, MA). My apartment is really nice (considerably nicer than the student places I’ve been in for the last 2 years!), plus Dave (flat mate) and Seemant + Aimee have been really helpful in terms of getting me settled in.

I’ve figured out the public transport system and ventured into the city a few times. As I don’t start working until September, I’m enjoying having the time just to wander around with a slightly alienated feeling (everyone talks funny, drives on the wrong side of the road, etc) and no real commitments as of yet.

A few things have struck me while trying to get on my feet:

  • The banking system is weird. The high street banks here seem to lack the efficiency which I’m used to back at home. And what’s this about paying monthly fees just to have a basic account? Savings accounts which offer only 0.40% interest? Having to pay to get a cheque checkbook?
  • Holes in the mobile cell phone network… Having a tri-band phone on a UK network allows me to connect to any GSM network out here, but reception of any network in my apartment is basically non-existent. Things don’t even get much better in the local town area, although it was OK in the city.
  • Lack of any decent pay-as-you-go cellphone plans — I don’t see myself using a cellphone too much if I can’t even get signal at home, but it looks like all “prepaid” phone plans really suck out here

It has also been an educational experience. I now know the value of a dime (why is a 10 cent coin smaller, thinner and lighter than a 5 cent coint!?), and discovered what a corn dog actually is (haven’t tried one yet, but this Americanism had been bugging me for a while).

On Friday (my 20th birthday) I met with Dave & Megan and friends, Seemant & Aimee, Mike Frysinger and Joshua Nichols. We ate at a nice bar in the city, which was fun. I hope we can meet up again soon, once I’ve adjusted to the timezone.

Moving soon!

Thursday, August 17th, 2006

Finally, I hold, within the grasp of my hands, a one-year US visa. It only took several months of paperwork and a 5 hour wait on the pavement outside the US embassy for a 30-second interview to get to this point.

I’m flying out on Tuesday, which is veeery soon. I’ll be living in Lexington, MA (just outside Boston).

It’s my 20th birthday on 25th August (next friday). As I won’t really know many people at that point, I’m hoping to get a few members of Gentoo’s boston conspiracy together for a meal or something, suggestions appreciated. Hopefully the worst of the jet lag will have worn off at that point.

Also hosting a joint leaving-and-nearly-birthday BBQ celebration at my house on Saturday. Hopefully it will have stopped raining by then.


Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

As of tomorrow evening, I’m heading off to St Jean de Monts on the west coast of France. I’ll be back home on August 11th, and then hopefully moving out to the US soon after.