Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Riding down the river

10 tourists are riding down the Yangtze river on a boat. One says to
the other ...

Ok maybe I'll skip the comedy. China is a beautiful country I've seem
so much but I know i've seen so little. I'm not quite sure where this
boat is taking me but part of me doesn't care. In the last few weeks
I've begun to appreciate the romance of traveling the world.

I love work, I especially love my work, and in this day and age of
technology who is to say that I can't pack up my MacBook get on a
plane and become a nomadic programmer sucking down torrents when the
opportunity strikes, war driving in foreign lands...

It's a dream, just like my house in andorra and my grey Aston martin.
However as I'm learning from this trip dreams can come true. Hopefully
I won't wake from this one to find the world doesn't agree with my

Quote of the week
Tanya "how many Mosquitos are there here?"
Me "12..."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dreams do come true

At the moment I'm on a train to Shenzhen. The clued up among you will
know that this city borders hong kong.

I've had a fasination with hong kong since I was about 7. The concept
of a far flung British enclave full of skyscrapers amazed me.

I remember watching the hand over ceremony in 97 thinking, I would
love to be there.

More importantly I was watching it with my grandfather. I always told
I wanted to go, and perhaps even live there. While the latter hasn't
happened I would like to think that he is proud of me for achieving my


Thursday, July 09, 2009

Hei se ren zai zhongguo!!

I was thinking to myself yesterday that i haven't blogged about my trip to centre of all of things chinese, china.

I had wanted to blog about my experiences while i was there, but a combination factors, namely i was having to much fun, stopped me from doing so.

My trip lasted 21 days, in that time my perspective and views on the world changed dramatically.

The motif i left China with was:
"Ignorance is dead, long live ignorance". I went to China thinking that i was a fairly open minded person, dismissing all but the most absurd things.

I should preface this by saying that i realise that the china i saw was the watered down westernized version. Any cultured battered by a foreign civilization(US/west) over several decades is going to experience some level of change.

China (mainland) is very different from anything i've experienced before. First people who call the country a developing nation/3rd world country are misled. Sure there are undeveloped parts of the country, they are called villages. The cities are bigger than anything the west has offer, and in some ways better.

China isn't a developing nation, its developed! It is the new superpower, financially, and strategically. I've admired how the government conducts itself outside of its borders. Slowly buying up resources around the world, in deals that could considered slightly unfair, but are deals not invasions (iraq) backed with questionable events(9/11). This is how the British empire started many moons ago. On the basis of (one-sided) trade, and a mighty navy to protect that trade. The US 'empire' also started like this, and guess who has the biggest naval fleet now?

Having read the above you might think i disagree with this practice. Not really, its the cycle of life, the strong prey on the weak ... The Eagle and the Mouse.

The food
Thanks to china, a new mime emerged in my life, "noodle time". This is basically when my craving for noodles gets to much and i have to statisfy it, with ... Noodles!! Rice noodles, eggs noodles, whatever!

The food is amazing, i would marry a chinese woman, just to get that (the food) on a regular basis. One of my favourites is jian bing which is crepe made with eggs, fried dough (this is the magic), hot sauce, spring onions and some other magic. Best breakfast in the world.

Next up is stir fried noodles, simple, quick and very tasty. If i had to rate the rood, i would give it 10 stars out of 5, i ate like pig.

Ever heard of a factory direct store, think of china as one great big one. All of your favourite brands at one tenth of the price if not less. Sadly this doesn't extend to electronics. Well not if you want ones that work, more on that later.

Chinese people are really friendly and in general extremely welcoming to westerners. While i was there i was consantly being asked to take pictures with people, and i mean 'with' not 'of'.

i speak chinese right, so that means i should have had no problem communicating right? Not quite, it helped but at first it was awful. The problem with my chinese was that i had a decent vocaburary, but very poor pronouncation. The other problem was that my listening skills were poor, this was highlighted when i conversed with the locals, and they (assuming i was fluent) would reel off something at me! In the latter stages of my trip i could comprehend most of the nouns in the sentence, along with the odd adjective or verb and use common-sense to work out the meaning of the sentence.

The peak of my chinese came in yangshou, where i talked to a rickshaw driver about my iPod Touch, while playing Mahjong. Even got a discount fare out of him, other highlights where drunk bargining with the traders in yangshou and getting a certain polo shirt.

Absolutely awesome. I loved china, and can't wait to go back. God willing i will one day, how long for is just a question of how long they will give me a visa for!


Friday, June 26, 2009

Ah, the sixties

This program made me wonder what is the big thing of our generation. Yes i know that we have the internet, but is that all we get? Might sound greedy but if you think back to the sixties they had colour TV, Jet Airplanes, moon landings etc. Is the current parallel Twitter and Facebook?

As great as the internet revolution is, i hope for something bigger. Sure my pre (When Palm holla's at me) will have wireless charging, but where my lasers, and hover boards!

Granted i went to Shanghai, and didn't ride a maglev train, but that is a trial, and show of chinese showmanship like this, and this, rather than an actual technological revolution, at least in my opinion.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

freaking out chinese people in doha

At the moment i'm sitting in Doha international minding my p's and q's. But i really want to do is freak out a chinese person. When i say freak them, i mean butt in to their conversation, and add something witty. Yes folks, thats how i get my kicks.

Of course first and foremost this is a technology blog. So lets chop up game. The in flight entertainment was pretty awesome, i watched grand torino, and the valkyrie, played a little tetris. But the most awesome thing, (if it had worked) live TV! Nothing fancy just news channels. I guess it's too much to ask for skysports @ 40k in 2009.

Also while at heathrow, i checked out the HP mininote 1k. I've wanted a netbook for a while but i've been hoping pingguo (apple) would service my mobile needs. Oh, just to say again, while my ipod touch is awesome for movies and web browsing(especially compared to this e61), when it comes to blogging, its pants.

i love travelling, don't get me wrong, but would love it even more if i could be playing FM right now ... Dalrymple wins the cup ...

Friday, May 08, 2009

It's over!

Quick post to mention that i've finished my degree! more importantly i that i can get back to doing what i love, writing code (and playing FM).

Heres some extremely basic python for transforming a simple list of CRLF separated values into a sql statement.

def main():
fh = open('list.txt')

sql = open('sqlDump.txt','w')

i = 0
for line in fh:
statement = "INSERT INTO table (name) VALUES ('%s');\r" % line.rstrip()

sql.write( statement )


if __name__ == '__main__':

Nothing special.

Off to china on sunday!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The iPod Touch is awesome

Yes,i finally gave in and got my first iPod. First i must say, that although i still hate iPhones, when it comes it MP3 players this thing is awesome.

Messenging devices need keyboards.

For all intends and purposes this thing is basically a netbook/net tablet.

China (and my dissertation!) is only days away. All i'm lacking now is the camera. 

** UPDATE **
Never edited a blog post in my life, but there is first time for everything, and this perfectly illustrates my point.

This post was short for a reason. I wrote it on a ipod touch. I hate typing on touch screens, i like keyboards. Why you ask? Tactile feedback! A simple beep is great, but imagine, if you could actually press a key, and feel the response from it! Wouldn't that be awesome! RIMM thought the same thing, and created the Storm, sadly RIMM should have stolen a page from Palm, and took a handful of Apple engineers to create the UI. Cause the Storm sucks badly (plus no Wifi what year did you think it was!)

Virtual keyboards not only provide no tactile feedback, but they also take up screen real estate. Granted that in most situations you only need it for a couple of seconds to put in a web address or to send a tweet. If you are from the long form generation, and can see past the reality distortion field (no physical keyboard eliminates the need for multiple skus!! ), you will know that keyboards are just better. Thats why i'm clinging to my e61 with a death grip, it's huge, ugly, but it messages like no other (well until palm pre time!).

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

中國 is calling

I decided to blog from the park today. The primary reason behind this the 18 degree weather. You have to take advantage of this things when you have the chance.

In all the time i've had my beloved blackbook, i've never really used it outside. Quite frankly i don't know why. It looks quite cool(i think) to just sit here, with google reader watching the news and the world go by all at the same time.

At the moment there are two things dominating my mind, well actually three, but i'm only going to write about two.

I'm getting so excited it's scary. Currently i'm waiting to see if the lovely folks in the chinese government will grant me entry to their beautiful county. I'm practicing my chinese often, and my tonal pronunciation is getting better.
I still haven't decided whether or not to bring my mac. I didn't want to, but i planned to have a palm pre in my possession by this time! But if i really want to podcast, and stay fairly connect, and considering that my e61's battery doesn't hold a charge like it used to it maybe that time. Plus i get to play FM for hours, oh the fun i'm gonna have! Just imagine a 22 year old man clapping to a screen at 40k feet!

My degree,
It's almost over i can taste the end, and it tastes sweet. Not quite 草莓 (Strawberry)but nice. There is still a fair bit of work left to do, but all things are possible, and i'm on target. Sadly i doubt i'm going to get a stunning degree, but at this point i just want to be free of academia. But at the time of writing there are only another 2 and bit weeks left, so bring it on. (remind me i said that).

With summer coming up, and hopefully more time on my hands i'll hopefully blog a bit more. It's not like i'm going to be doing loads now that i 'have' to hold down a job, but still if people can have 100k followers on twitter i surely must be able to blog once a week. Maybe i need to but some twiiter integration on this thing! Speaking of integration, The usual summer process of redsign should be happening soon, both the blog and the company site, i need to attempt to be serious, if only for a moment.


Quote of the Day
"The greatest skill you can have as a man is being able to cook"

Mark Udall, One of my lectures

Friday, April 10, 2009

Couch DB as messaging queue

Never thought about it before, but the idea ran through my head while writing my dissertation. Thought i should save it for a rainy day. But it would make a very nice queue. 

Ah, Messaging queues so distinctly british!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Beijing Bitches

It's booked i fly out on the May10th

My route is:

Beijing > Shanghai > Xi'an > Yichang > Three Gorges Dam > Yangshuo > Hong Kong

I've even started a podcast. The Only Negro In China Podcast. I recorded the first episode yesterday, expect to see it online soon.

Exciting times

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I need to try this

We called it the Rubber Duck method of debugging. It goes like this:

1) Beg, borrow, steal, buy, fabricate or otherwise obtain a rubber duck
(bathtub variety)
2) Place rubber duck on desk and inform it you are just going to go over
some code with it, if that's all right.
3) Explain to the duck what you code is supposed to do, and then go into
detail and explain things line by line
4) At some point you will tell the duck what you are doing next and then
realise that that is not in fact what you are actually doing. The duck
will sit there serenely, happy in the knowledge that it has helped you
on your way.

Works every time. Actually, if you don't have a rubber duck you could at
a pinch ask a fellow programmer or engineer to sit in.


Andrew Errington src

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

So thats why Java ME is so popular

I have to hand in my EWT (Emerging Web Tech) assignment tomorrow.

Part of the assessment is a look at Development platforms in the mobile space. Until recently native was a dirty word as it usually involved device specific C code. Java has always been fairly popular, but i've always dismissed it for it's non native look and feel.

However, after exploring java ME some more i can see why it appeals to many developers.

The Hello world application is fairly simplistic compared to iPhone, Andriod and especially symbian equivalents.

But we all know that it doesn't hold a candle to the Palm Pre. I would demostrate how amazing the Palm Pre is, however i don't have one yet!

Now if i could just work out how to install the thing in OSX we might be on to a winner!

Lastly the 3 iteration of the iPhone SDK was released today. It's good to see apple can still pull some magic out of the hat. I call it magic, because only in the world of apple can cut and paste be termed as a feature on a smartphone in 2009. FYI i've been cutting and pasting on my E61 for 2 years!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Disseration 101: spanning data across multiple cookies

Cookies have are spec'd to hold a max of 4KB. Thats a lot of data. 4096 ascii characters to be exact. However this is 2009, and my ideas of 'a lot' are laughable. Well since we know that one cookie holds x, how about 2x?

Well thats great, but how do i split data across two structures, and ensure that it remains consistent. Well clearly this problem isn't new, it's been solved in TCP, RAID, and many other situations.

TCP's approach is to assign each segment a sequence number, it divides the load based on the window size and assigns it a number.

But how would that look?
foo=1007; hello
bar=1007; world

the issue with the above is that i have to access random keys to get at the data, so something like the below would be better ...

x1007=foo: hello
x1008=foo; world.

in the above the name of the cookie is the sequence number, the first value is the name of the user key, and following the semicolon, the value. Still a little rough around the edges, but what isn't?

Another alternative, is to cram as much data into each cookie. This increases the amount of entries that could be assign

Friday, February 20, 2009

Foreign living

My trip to Barcelona has been fasinating so far. One of best moments was visiting a local supermarket. It was amazing to be surrounded by people, who all spoke another tongue. It was amazing to have a convrsation with someone else, knowing that everyone (or at least most people), had no idea of what was being said.
It made me really want to live and work outside of uk. i've always felt that i don't want to raise my children in britian, for variety of reasons. So it seems logical that i try to move aboard, but the question is where do i start?

Friday, February 06, 2009

hola! Barcelona

I'm on my way to barcelona at the moment. Its perfect timing really as the weather this week has been crap. So 3 days in relative sunshine should be nice.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Jonathan and the social internet revolution

It's 2009. I forget this a lot of the time and find myself doing things circa '00.

Well as of today, no longer. Twittering, flickr posting, facebook ... Stuff (surprisingly doesn't have a verb yet), i should be doing it all.

I won't go as far as to say that the days of isolation are over, however when i find myself giving away my location (using googles new latitude service), you can see why i think this way.

i really want a new phone

Sadly in the mean time, i'll have to deal with just having this (e61) thing. I had planned to get the nokia e71 again however, the palm pre happened. At which point all my funds went right back into my pocket. This isn't a blog post of sorts, just an opportunity to test out blogging from a phone, via email. I was working on a blogger client using python for s60 however, i've just remembered how much fun mobile development is without a decent emulator.

Wow, thats old

Considering that this is the internet and all, i thought i should post this. below was the old text from the about me section of this very blog.
Russian Space Station, named in partial memory of the Fallen "Mir" and that outpost from the movie "Armageddon". I talk about technology, my new life at Southampton Solent University and living on my own @ 18. Subscribe on the RSS or just visit, thanks for popping by.

Tad out of date don't you think.

Are men really that useless: Anglerfish reproduction...

I've always been told that men are useless, however this takes the biscuit. This is how anglerfish reproduce

When he finds a female, he bites into her skin, and releases an enzyme that digests the skin of his mouth and her body, fusing the pair down to the blood-vessel level. The male then atrophies into nothing more than a pair of gonads, which releases sperm in response to hormones in the female's bloodstream indicating egg release.

Sadly i know men who are about as useful as this...

Anyways I'm gonna try and liven up the blog, one post a month/2 months is crazy, this is web 2.0 right. Daily journal returns ...

Quote of the Day
Josh "After i'm done swiping my visa, I'm gonna ask them what their flavour is?"
Me "What do you take this thing for, Baskin Robins!"

Grown women taking their clothes off, seems to have a strange impact on people.