Monthly Archive: December 2004

Looking Back

I thought I would take the opportunity to look back on my year (and a funny old year it’s been) before looking forward to the new year in a few days.  It’s nice and quiet in the house and after such a lovely time (Christmas Morning) it’s left me in an appropriately reflective mood, so here goes:



What a year it’s been, around the middle of January 2004 I started with another flare of Adult Onset Still’s Disease, which had been in remission for about 8 months.  This time no remission has occurred and one year on I am still suffering. However I have come to terms with it well and am approaching the point after many experiments (often painful) and lots of record keeping, research and analysis I think I am on the brink of getting things under control. …


It’s Christmas day today and the girls have had a fantastic time opening and enjoying their presents.  It started like this:


  1. On Christmas Eve the girls were allowed to choose one present to open, inevitably they chose ones that looked most like clothes so that they could where them on Christmas morning!
  2. They all went to bed nice and early without a peep (very unusual) as they all understand that Father Christmas misses any houses where children are awake J
  3. Debbie and I acting as Father Christmas’ helpers then packed up 4 gift bags that Father Christmas was to deliver that night to their bedrooms, one of the nice touches is that during holidays the Twins sleep in bunk beds with their older sisters instead of together.
  4. On Christmas morning we let the kids open their presents from Santa at 7:00AM (and the rest after breakfast) although they often hold one or two back to open on boxing day; which is my Birthday.
  5. This morning Debbie crept into their rooms just after 6:00AM and found them sitting on their beds surrounded by unopened gifts patiently waiting for 7:00 to arrive (bless) I think she let them sneak a …

Windows Media Centre Temptations

Quite a few of my friends now have Windows Media Centre 2005.  I got a Tivo about 3 years ago so I haven’t been too jealous but the Tivo is showing its age, it’s a bit slow it’s hard disk is small and its lack of easy expandability and integration into my home network are gradually frustrating me.  Here is one of many examples of the media experience integration that caught my eye:

Described in its full glory here.  I won’t be investing until the  middle of next year at the earliest but I am starting to earerly anticipate the upgrade.

RSS and the benefits of a standard format

I have evalgalised for a while the innovation that is unleashed in clients and servers when a standard format exists for passing information beteen them.  RSS is a great example of this, and Dare makes the point strongly in this article, a snipit from which reads:

RSS is a wonderful example of the higher level of interoperability that can be built upon XML formats. Instead of information sources using various incompatible mechanisms for providing information to end users such as NOAA’s SOAP web service and the web services which each require a separate custom application to consume them, sites can all standardize on RSS. This standardization creates an ecosystem of applications that produce and consume RSS feeds which is a lot larger than what would exist for each site specific web services or market specific XML syndication formats.  Specifically, it allows for the evolution of the digital information hub where users can view data from the various information sources they care about (blogs, news, weather reports, etc) in their choice of applications

He goes on to point out that RSS goes one better by allowing domain specific extensibility whilist still allowing standards based readers to consume feeds:

Additionally, RSS is extensible. This means …

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

I suffer from mild Asbergers Syndrome so I approached this book with unusual interest.  I learnt two things, first how mild my Asbergers is by contrast with the main characters and second how shockingly brilliant the book was in the way it allowed us to get inside the head of a person with this condition. 

I would recommend everyone to read this book, not only will it delight on many levels, but you will never look at a shy and retiring person the same way ever again!

Crow Lake

A lovingly crafted book, that on one level deals with obvious tragedy of loss but in the end shows that the real tragidy lay in misunderstandings and negative attitudes.  I really enjoyed the book, a slow read but one to be savoured and remembered.  I read the Da Vinci code immediately after this one as was shocked at its poor quality of writing compared to Crow Lake, but equally suprised at how it made up for it in pace.  Two very contrasting books equally enjoyable in their own way.

Angels and Demons

Not quite as good as the Da Vinci Code, bit still a good read.  Took me about 4 days to get through.  Many of the same themes as his other books and the writing is just as bad, but the facinating story line makes up for it.  I think its worth reading but only if the Da Vinci code appealed to you.

The Da Vinci Code

Not very well written, but a great thriller none the less.  facinating subject matter – early Christianity and the catholic Church – and many plot twists.  I read it in two days, my eldest Daughter is reading it now.  Highly recommended provided you are not too much of a fan of elegant prose.  Oh and bear in mind that having read it you are almost certainly going to want to do some further research into the subject!!

Maxthon/MyEI2 Groups

I have mentioned the topic of groups a few times,  let me elaborate.  Maxthon (used to be called MyIE2) is a shell around IE.  You can open a whole load of web pages as tabs (no suprises there).  As I go through my RSS feeds I click away on links of interest and probably end up with 20-30 articles I want to read, I then Click GROUPS – SAVE AS GROUP, and it generates a file of links. 

I then either wait for a robocopy autosync to my tablet or click a shortcut and the group file gets copied to my Tablet within seconds.  I Open the group on the tablet (two clicks) and all the files are downloaded and ready to browse offline (one tab each). 

Home office ideas

If you read my blog then you know I am pretty passionate about office design in general and have a category devoted to related issues.  So I was interested to see dave’s ideas for creating an office for writing, where in particular he describes the benefits of consolidating all of his computing needs onto a single device.  Bryan responds that he is struggling to cope with 3 computers

I found both interesting perspectives, especially since I have quite a number of computers, and largely find the experience quite rewarding.  Here is a snapshot of how I work.

I have a main machine, its powerful, and drives three 19″ monitors, and a great wireless keyboard and mouse.  When I sit at this workstation its optimised for writing, analysing and information gathering.  I have everything to hand and hopefully will soon be getting a optimised chair so I can work for more than half an hour without too much pain.  My main PC is a Windows 2003 Server which allows me to work without admin priv, and always have an admin RDP session open for when I need it.

I have a lab server because my main machine needs …