Planet Uknot

March 17, 2018

Roger Bell_West

The Orville season 1

2017-2018 science fiction comedy, 12 episodes. Captain Ed Mercer of the Planetary Union hit a rough career patch after his divorce, but now has command of an exploratory ship. But his ex-wife will be his new first officer.

March 17, 2018 09:03 AM

March 16, 2018

Roger Bell_West

Raven Stratagem, Yoon Ha Lee

2017 science fiction, second in a trilogy. The rebel and revenant general Shuos Jedao has taken over a war fleet… and is using it to fight the invaders better than anyone else could. How many layers deep does his planning go?

March 16, 2018 09:00 AM

March 15, 2018

Zoe O'Connell

A history of LibDem campaigning on LGBT+ equality: “Always been there for you… and we always will”

I was lucky enough to be able to speak at the opening of Liberal Democrats conference last weekend, the 30th anniversary of the foundation of the party. The topic I spoke on was the history of LGBT+ equality campaigning in the party – something that actually predates the 1988 merger by some time, as the old Liberal Party was progressive and including even in the 1970s. Here’s the speech I gave.

For those who want to know more, there’s further information on the LGBT+ Liberal Democrats web site.

Good Evening! For those who don’t know me, I’m Zoe O’Connell – amongst other things, I’m a councillor on Cambridge city council.

But the reason I’m up here today is because I am also on the executive of LGBT+ Liberal Democrats.

And, as you’ve already heard, this year is a special anniversary.

An anniversary of something really, really… bad.

I can see a few staff members near the front looking worried now. Don’t worry, I’m not talking about the formation of the Liberal Democrats!

No, I’m talking about the 24th of May, 1988. The Conservatives implementing section 28, banning any mention of homosexuality in schools. Leaving a generation of frightened LGBT kids with nowhere to turn.

Liberals back then were determined folk – just as many of us are now – and were not going to waste any time. After all, the old Liberal Party had already included full equality in their 1979 general election manifesto so many in the newly formed Liberal Democrats were already well on board.

And they didn’t let being busy with the formation of a new party slow down their campaigning.

Just nine days after the party was formed, Simon Hughes MP – was amongst those standing up in the Commons, speaking out against section 28.

Thirty years on. What’s changed?

In terms of a liberal commitment to LGBT rights, not much.

Our party had started as it meant to carry on – there’s a reason the motto of LGBT+ Liberal Democrats is “Always Been There For You… and Always Will”.

There have been many campaigns along the way. Equalising the age of consent. Opposing the ban on men who have sex with men – and their partners – giving blood. Civil Partnerships. The first Gender Recognition Bill in 1996.

But the highlight of 2013 for many was a bill championed from within the Home Office by Lynne Featherstone.

Same Sex Marriage.

There were highs and lows along the way. Watching their Lordships debate what constituted consummation of a gay marriage was… enlightening.

And for the lows there was the predictable roll call of usual suspects spouting homophobic…

…well, it’s the rally, I’m not allowed to swear! Unfortunately, there are some ways in which other parties have not changed in the last 30 years, either.

But liberals won.

Liberal Democrats, in government, doing what Liberal Democrats do best.

Delivering on equality.

From the exhilaration that followed same-sex marriage, you might think the fight is over.

Sadly not. The need for liberals in parliament is as strong now as it was back in 1988.

LGBT asylum seekers still face intrusive and wholly inappropriate questioning, and end up being sent back to countries where they face persecution, imprisonment… even death.

And we are now seeing battle over equality for trans people hit the headlines.

That’s ahead of a consultation on trans equality later this year, and eventually a debate in parliament.

I already know which side Liberal Democrats will be on.

The right side.

We were ahead of history.

We are ahead of history.

I hope you’ll help us stay ahead of history.

Thanks for being here, and I hope you have a great conference.

The post A history of LibDem campaigning on LGBT+ equality: “Always been there for you… and we always will” appeared first on Complicity.

by Zoe O'Connell at March 15, 2018 09:30 AM

Roger Bell_West

Loudwater Snowpocalypse (2018 edition)

We got our share of the recent snowy weather. (Images.)

March 15, 2018 09:02 AM

March 14, 2018

Roger Bell_West

Doomsday Book, Connie Willis

1992 Hugo- and Nebula-award-winning science fiction. At Oxford University in 2054, a history student is being sent back in time to the Middle Ages. But things are going to go about as wrong as they possibly could.

March 14, 2018 09:02 AM

March 13, 2018

Roger Bell_West

Shokugeki no Soma season 3.1

2017 cooking story, shounen manga adaptation in 12 episodes: AniDB, vt "Food Wars: The Third Plate". Yukihira Sōma continues to fight cooking duels on his way up the élite Totsuki cooking school.

March 13, 2018 09:02 AM

March 12, 2018

Roger Bell_West

The Documents in the Case, Dorothy Sayers and Robert Eustace

1930 epistolary mystery, Sayers' only non-Wimsey crime novel. An expert on edible fungi dies after eating mushrooms he picked himself: the mistake that was bound to happen eventually? A dossier of evidence suggests otherwise.

March 12, 2018 09:02 AM

March 11, 2018

Roger Bell_West

Bones season 12

2017, 12 episodes. Final season of this police procedural in the CSI mould: a team of forensic experts at the "Jeffersonian" consults for the FBI.

March 11, 2018 09:03 AM

March 10, 2018

Roger Bell_West

Secrets in Death, J. D. Robb

2017 SF/mystery; fifty-sixth (roughly, or 45th novel) of J. D. Robb's In Death series. Homicide Lieutenant Eve Dallas is out with a colleague when another patron of the bar is cut and bleeds to death in front of her. She may not have much time for gossip journalists, but solving murders is still her job.

March 10, 2018 09:00 AM

March 09, 2018

Roger Bell_West

Marlow Tabletop and Board Games 5 March 2018

This Meetup-based boardgames group continues to meet at the Marlow Donkey.

March 09, 2018 09:02 AM

March 08, 2018

Roger Bell_West

Poison Romance and Poison Mysteries, C. J. S. Thompson

1899 non-fiction; Dr Thompson, a medical historian, examines the history and practice of poisoning.

March 08, 2018 09:04 AM

March 07, 2018

Roger Bell_West

MythBusters season 20

2017-2018, 14 episodes (12 broadcast at time of writing). A new team tests various myths, sayings and rumours, to see how they stack up against the real world.

March 07, 2018 09:01 AM

March 06, 2018

Jonathan Dowland

Software for a service like

Can anyone recommend software for running a web service similar to

We are looking for something similar to manage digital assets within the Computing History Special Interest Group.

One suggestion I've had is CKAN which looks very interesting but possibly more geared towards opening up an API to existing live data (such as an relational DB of stuff, distributed or otherwise). We are mostly concerned with relatively static data sets: source code archives, collections of various types of publications, collections of images, etc.

(Having said that, there are some interesting possibilities for projects that consume the data sets in some fashion, perhaps via a web service, for e.g. reviewing OCR results for old raster scans of papers.)

I envisage something similar to the software powering We want both something that lets people explore collections of stuff via the web, including potentially via machine-friendly APIs in some cases; but also ideally manage uploading and categorising items via the web as well.

I've also had suggestions to look at media-manager software, but what I've seen so far is designed for personal media collections like movies, photos, etc., and focussed more on streaming them to LAN clients.

Can anyone recommend something worth looking at?

March 06, 2018 04:27 PM

Roger Bell_West

The Courts of the Morning, John Buchan

1929 thriller, inter-war thud-and-blunder. In South America, Sandy Arbuthnot and Archie Roylance find themselves involved in fomenting a revolution, but not in the usual way.

March 06, 2018 09:03 AM

March 05, 2018

Roger Bell_West

What is missing from these roadworks?

Just before the latest Snowpocalypse, I noticed this slightly odd set of roadworks and thought there was probably a sign missing.

March 05, 2018 09:04 AM

March 04, 2018

Roger Bell_West

A Calculated Life, Anne Charnock

2013 science fiction. Some time late in the twenty-first century, Jayna is an analyst for a predictive agency, teasing trends out of disparate data. But there's something a bit different about her. Spoilers.

March 04, 2018 09:04 AM

March 03, 2018

Roger Bell_West

Kobayashi-san Chi no Maidragon

2017 modern fantasy, seinen manga adaptation, 13 episodes: AniDB. Kobayashi the office worker gets drunk one night, and in the morning finds a dragon outside her front door – who's come to stay with her and be her maid. vt Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid.

March 03, 2018 09:04 AM

March 02, 2018

Liam Proven

Containers and the future of Unix

A lot of my speculations concern the future of new, alternative operating systems which could escape from old-fashioned, sometimes ill-conceived models and languages.

But I do spend some time thinking about what is happening with Linux, with FOSS Unix in general, and especially with container technologies, something I deal with in my current and recent day-jobs more and more.

One answer to legacy nastiness for years now has been to virtualise it. Today, that's changing to "containerise it".

There is a ton of cruft in Linux and in the BSDs and so on which nobody is ever going to fix. It's too hard, it would break too much stuff... but most of all, there is no commercial pressure to do it, so it's not going to happen.

I can certainly see potentialities. There are parallels that run quite deep.

For instance, consider a few unrelated technologies:

- FreeBSD jails and Solaris Zones. Start here.

They indirectly evolved into LXC, the container mechanism in the Linux kernel which gets relatively little attention. (Docker has critical mass, systemd namespaces are trendier in some niches, CRIO is gaining a little bit of traction.)

Docker now means Linux containers are a known thing, already widely-used with money being poured into their R&D.

Joyent, a company with some vision, saw a chance here. It took Illumos, the FOSS fork of Solaris, and revived and modernised some long-dead Sun code: lxrun, the Linux runtime for Solaris. Joyent SmartOS is therefore a tiny Solaris derivative -- it runs entirely from RAM, booted off a USB stick, but can efficiently scale to hundreds of CPU cores and many terabytes of RAM -- which can natively run Docker Linux containers.

You don't need to run a hypervisor. (It is a hypervisor, if you want that.) You don't need to partition the machine. You don't even need a single copy of Linux on it. You have a rack of x86-64 boxes running SmartOS, and you can throw tens of thousands of Docker containers at them.

It gives capacities and scalability that only IBM mainframes can approach.

Now, if one small company can do this with some long-unmaintained code, then consider what else could be done with it.

 - Want more resilient hosts for long-lived containers? Put some work into Minix 3 until it can efficiently run Linux containers. A proper fully-modular-all-the-way-down microkernel which can detect when its constituent in-memory services fail and restart them. It can in principle even undergo binary version upgrades, piecemeal, on a running system. This is stuff Linux vendors can't even dream of. It would, for a start, make quite a lot of the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities moot, because there's no shared kernel memory space.

Unlike Darwin and xnu, it's a proper microkernel -- no huge in-kernel servers for anything here. (Don't eve try to claim WinNT is a microkernel or I will slap you.) Unlike the GNU HURD, it's here, it works, it's being very widely used for real workloads. And it's 100% FOSS.

 - Want a flexible cluster host which can migrate containers around a globe-spanning virtual datacenter?

Put some work into Plan 9's APE, its Linux runtime. Again, make it capable of running Linux containers. To Plan 9 they'd just be processes and it was built to efficiently fling them around a network.

I have looked into container-hosting Linux distros for several different dayjobs. I can't give details, but they scare me. One I've tried has a min spec of 8GB of RAM and 40GB of disk per cluster node, and a minimum of 3-4 nodes.

This is not small efficient tech. But it could be; SmartOS shows that.

 - Hell, more down to earth -- many old Linux hands are deserting to FreeBSD in disgust over systemd. FreeBSD already has containers and a quite current Linux runtime, the Linuxulator. It would be relatively easy to put them together and have FreeBSD host Linux containers, but the sort of people who dislike systemd also dislike containers.

Not everything would run under containers, sure, no. But they're suitable for far bigger workloads than is generally expected. You can migrate a whole complex Linux server into a container -- P2V migration as was once common when moving to hypervisors. I've talked to people doing it.

Ubuntu LXD is specifically intended for this, because Ubuntu isn't certified for SAP, only SUSE is, so Ubuntu wants to be able to run SLE userlands. Ditto some RHEL-only stuff.

But what if it doesn't work with containers at all?

Well, as parallels...

[1] A lot of Win32 stuff got abandoned with the move to WinXP. People liked the new OS enough that stuff that didn't work got left behind.

[2] Apple formalised this with Carbon after the NeXT acquisition. The MacOS APIs were not clean and suitable for a pre-emptive multitasking OS. So Apple stripped them out and said "if you use this subset, your app can be ported. If you don't, it can't."

Over the next few years, the old OS was forcibly phased out -- there is a generation of late-era gigahertz-class G4 and G5 PowerMac that refuses to boot classic MacOS. Apple tweaked the firmware to prevent it. You _had_ to run OS X on them, and although versions >= 10.4 could run a Classic MacOS VM, not everything worked in a VM.

So the developers had to migrate. And they did, because although it was a lot of work, they wanted to keep selling software.

It worked so well that in the end the migration from PowerPC to Intel was less painful than the one from classic MacOS to OS X.

So maybe Linux workloads that won't work in containers will just go away, replaced by ones that will -- and apps that play nice in a container don't care what distro they're on, and that means that they will run on top of SmartOS and FreeBSD and maybe in time Minix 3 or Plan 9.

And so we'll get that newer, cleaner, reworked Unix after all, but not by any incremental process, by a quite dramatic big-bang approach.

And if there comes a point when it's desirable to run these alternative OSes for some users, because they provide useful features in nice handy easy ways, well, maybe they'll gain traction.

And if that happened, then maybe some people will investigate native ports instead of containerised Linux versions, and gain some edge, and suddenly the Unix world will be blown wide open again.

Might happen. Might not. It's not what I am really interested in, TBH. But it's possible -- existing products, shipping for a few years, show that.

March 02, 2018 11:09 PM

Roger Bell_West

The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, Dorothy Sayers

1928 mystery, fourth of Sayers' novels about Lord Peter Wimsey. General Fentiman was found dead in his armchair at the club; but there's some question about the timing, since someone else died around the same time and there's a complex interaction of wills, and Lord Peter gets involved.

March 02, 2018 09:01 AM

March 01, 2018

Roger Bell_West

February 2018 Trailers

Some trailers I've seen recently, and my thoughts on them. (Links are to youtube. Opinions are thoroughly personal. Calibration: I hate everything.)

March 01, 2018 09:02 AM

February 28, 2018

Roger Bell_West

Kitty and the Midnight Hour, Carrie Vaughn

2005 urban fantasy, first in a series. Kitty Norville is a late-night DJ; one night she gets a call from someone who claims vampires are real, someone else says that werewolves are too, and lots of other people seem to want to talk about them. Which is tricky, because she's been a werewolf herself for three years.

February 28, 2018 09:00 AM

February 27, 2018

Roger Bell_West

The Good Place season 2

2017 fantasy comedy, 13 episodes. Eleanor is still in the afterlife, but things have got much more complicated.

February 27, 2018 09:01 AM

February 26, 2018

Roger Bell_West

A Question of Death, Kerry Greenwood

2007 historical detection short stories, in Greenwood's Phryne Fisher series (1920s flapper detective in Australia).

February 26, 2018 09:04 AM

February 25, 2018

Roger Bell_West

Spiced Gins

I like gin. So I thought I'd test some against each other.

February 25, 2018 09:01 AM

February 24, 2018

Roger Bell_West

Lord Peter Views the Body, Dorothy Sayers

1928 collection of twelve short mystery stories involving Lord Peter Wimsey.

February 24, 2018 09:00 AM

February 23, 2018

Roger Bell_West

Star Trek Continues

2013-2017 science fiction web series, 11 episodes; a fan production extends the original Star Trek.

February 23, 2018 09:03 AM

February 22, 2018

Jonathan Dowland

A Nice looking Blog

I stumbled across this rather nicely-formatted blog by Alex Beal and thought I'd share it. It's a particular kind of minimalist style that I like, because it puts the content first. It reminds me of Mark Pilgrim's old blog.

I can't remember which post in particular I came across first, but the one that I thought I would share was this remarkably detailed personal research project on tracking mood.

That would have been the end of it, but I then stumbled across this great review of "Type Driven Development with Idris", a book by Edwin Brady. I bought this book during the Christmas break but I haven't had much of a chance to deep dive into it yet.

February 22, 2018 08:00 PM

Roger Bell_West

Diving Into the Wreck, Kristine Kathryn Rusch

2009 science fiction, first of a series. "Boss" finds derelict spacecraft, investigates, and either salvages them or takes tourists round them. But now she's found the claim of a lifetime…

February 22, 2018 09:01 AM

February 21, 2018

Jonathan McDowell

Getting Debian booting on a Lenovo Yoga 720

I recently got a new work laptop, a 13” Yoga 720. It proved difficult to install Debian on; pressing F12 would get a boot menu allowing me to select a USB stick I have EFI GRUB on, but after GRUB loaded the kernel and the initrd it would just sit there never outputting anything else that indicated the kernel was even starting. I found instructions about Ubuntu 17.10 which helped but weren’t the complete picture. What seems to be the situation is that the kernel won’t happily boot if “Legacy Support” is not enabled - enabling this (and still booting as EFI) results in a happier experience. However in order to be able to enable legacy boot you have to switch the SATA controller from RAID to AHCI, which can cause Windows to get unhappy about its boot device going away unless you warn it first.

  • Fire up an admin shell in Windows (right click on the start menu)
  • bcdedit /set safeboot minimal
  • Reboot into the BIOS
  • Change the SATA Controller mode from RAID to AHCI (dire warnings about “All data will be erased”. It’s not true, but you’ve back up first, right?) Set “Boot Mode” to “Legacy Support”.
  • Save changes and let Windows boot to Safe Mode
  • Fire up an admin shell in Windows (right click on the start menu again)
  • bcdedit /deletevalue safeboot
  • Reboot again and Windows will load in normal mode with the AHCI drivers

Additionally I had problems getting the GRUB entry added to the BIOS; efibootmgr shows it fine but it never appears in the BIOS boot list. I ended up using Windows to add it as the primary boot option using the following (<guid> gets replaced with whatever the new “Debian” section guid is):

bcdedit /enum firmware
bcdedit /copy "{bootmgr}" /d "Debian"
bcdedit /set "{<guid>}" path \EFI\Debian\grubx64.efi
bcdedit /set "{fwbootmgr}" displayorder "{<guid>}" /addfirst

Even with that at one point the BIOS managed to “forget” about the GRUB entry and require me to re-do the final “displayorder” command.

Once you actually have the thing installed and booting it seems fine - I’m running Buster due to the fact it’s a Skylake machine with lots of bits that seem to want a newer kernel, but claimed battery life is impressive, the screen is very shiny (though sometimes a little too shiny and reflective) and the NVMe SSD seems pretty nippy as you’d expect.

February 21, 2018 09:46 PM

Roger Bell_West

Marlow Tabletop and Board Games 19 February 2018

This Meetup-based boardgames group continues to meet at the Marlow Donkey.

February 21, 2018 09:04 AM

Zoe O'Connell

Brexit not happening in our lifetimes

"May abandons plans for House of Lords reforms"Good news! Brexit won’t be happening in our lifetimes!

At least, that’s the best conclusion I can draw from recent news.

It has been 19 years since the House of Lords Act 1999, which abolished most of the hereditary peers*. Phase 2 of those reforms was due to introduce elected members of the Lords, but despite the Wakeham Report being published in 2000 we are still waiting.

A widely recognised problem with a simple and democratic solution.

But Theresa May wants more time to think about it. 19 years is not long enough for the level of “careful thought” regarding such obvious reform.

Compare this with Brexit. A complicated piece of work, with no obvious solutions to problems like the Good Friday agreement, Gibraltar, Trade. And over which the country is deeply divided.

My best guess is that the thinking time for that will be at least 100 years.

*Fun Fact: Hereditary Peers are the largest group of elected members in the House of Lords, followed by the CofE Bishops and then Liberal Democrats. The caveat is that in every case the electorate is quite small – the remaining hereditary peers elect each other, and the Bishops are elected by various Synods.

The post Brexit not happening in our lifetimes appeared first on Complicity.

by Zoe O'Connell at February 21, 2018 08:39 AM

February 20, 2018

Roger Bell_West

Unnatural Death, Dorothy Sayers

1927 mystery, third of Sayers' books about Lord Peter Wimsey. While dining and talking about crime, Wimsey meets a doctor who's lost his practice because he was unhappy about a death (the patient was certainly dying, but should have lasted several more months) and insisted on an autopsy – to the horror of the country town where it happened. Nobody else thinks there's any possibility of a crime, but Wimsey takes an interest.

February 20, 2018 09:04 AM

February 19, 2018

Roger Bell_West

Pyramid 112: Action II

Pyramid, edited by Steven Marsh, is the monthly GURPS supplement containing short articles with a loose linking theme. This time it's the Action series, a set of rules for streamlining GURPS to fit the sort of story one finds in action films.

February 19, 2018 09:02 AM

February 18, 2018

Roger Bell_West

Places in the Darkness, Chris Brookmyre

2017 science fiction. Ciudad de Cielo, the space habitat where the first generation ship is being constructed, has just had its first murder. Two unlikely investigators will need to work together to solve it, and the bigger plots behind it.

February 18, 2018 09:01 AM

February 17, 2018

Roger Bell_West

Jack the Ripper unmasked

For over a century, people have speculated about the identity of "Jack the Ripper", the unknown killer who butchered at least five women in Whitechaper during the latter half of 1888.

February 17, 2018 09:00 AM

February 16, 2018

Roger Bell_West

Detect Me, Selma Wolfe

2013 romance novella. Nikki is an unsuccessful artist in the process of giving up on her dreams by taking a marketing job; Mark is the private detective whose office she walks into by accident. But it seems he needs some help catching an art thief…

February 16, 2018 09:03 AM

February 15, 2018

Roger Bell_West

It's Mystery Bird time again

Yes, once more I've seen a bird I don't recognise.

February 15, 2018 09:01 AM

February 14, 2018

Roger Bell_West

The Convivial Codfish, Charlotte MacLeod

1984 cozy American detective fiction; fifth of MacLeod's novels of Boston Brahmin Sarah Kelling and art investigator Max Bittersohn. A minor theft is nothing to be taken seriously, but a murderous practical joke has more significance… and there's more murder to come.

February 14, 2018 09:03 AM

February 13, 2018

Roger Bell_West

Bermondsey Beer Mile, February 2018

Under the South Eastern Main Line viaduct out of London Bridge, there are now lots of small craft-beer breweries and pubs. (Images.)

February 13, 2018 09:01 AM

February 12, 2018

Roger Bell_West

She Walks in Shadows, Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles

2015 fantasy/horror anthology, consisting of Lovecraftian stories by and about women. Because, as the editors point out, there's a substantial strand of writers of Lovecraftiana who have continued Howard's premise that women just aren't terribly interesting or worthy of notice (both in their stories and in real life), so why not?

February 12, 2018 09:00 AM

February 11, 2018

Roger Bell_West


2010-2011 mystery, light novel adaptation, 24 episodes: AniDB. In the European country of Sauville, Kujō the military brat transfers to an exclusive private school, and meets Victorique the goth-loli enigma. They solve crimes!

February 11, 2018 09:00 AM

February 10, 2018

Roger Bell_West

Speaker For the Dead, Orson Scott Card

1986 Hugo- and Nebula-award-winning science fiction. Having gone from universally loved to universally reviled, Ender Wiggin continues to suffer for your sins.

February 10, 2018 09:01 AM

February 09, 2018

Roger Bell_West

Wisdom of the Crowd

2017 science fiction/investigation, 13 episodes; a tech billionaire, obsessed with finding the murderer of his daughter, builds a crowd-sourced crime-solving system.

February 09, 2018 09:01 AM

February 08, 2018

Roger Bell_West

Clouds of Witness, Dorothy Sayers

1926 mystery, second of Sayers' books about Lord Peter Wimsey. Wimsey's brother, the Duke of Denver, is accused of murdering his prospective brother-in-law. Why won't he say what he was doing in the conservatory at three in the morning?

February 08, 2018 09:04 AM

February 07, 2018

Roger Bell_West

Marlow Tabletop and Board Games 5 February 2018

This Meetup-based boardgames group continues to meet at the Marlow Donkey.

February 07, 2018 09:02 AM

February 06, 2018

Jonathan McDowell

collectd scripts for the Virgin Media Super Hub

As I’ve previously stated I’m no longer using Virgin Media but when I was I had written a script to scrape statistics from the cable modem and import them into collectd. Primarily I was recording the upstream/downstream line speed and the per channel signal figures, but they could easily be extended to do more if you wanted. Useful to see when Virgin increase your line speed, or see if your line quality has deteriorated. I’ve shoved the versions I had for the Super Hub v1 and v3 in GitHub in the hope they’ll be of use to someone. Note that I posted my SuperHub 3 back to Virgin yesterday so I no longer have any hardware that needs these scripts.

February 06, 2018 06:33 PM

Roger Bell_West

Artemis, Andy Weir

2017 science fiction. Jazz Basshara smuggles contraband into Artemis, the city on the Moon. She gets an offer too good to be true… and of course things go wrong.

February 06, 2018 09:04 AM

February 05, 2018

Roger Bell_West


2015 Norwegian disaster film, dir. Roar Uthaug, Kristoffer Joner, Ane Dahl Torp: IMDb / allmovie. The Åkerneset mountain overlooks the tourist village of Geiranger, but a landslide could cause a tidal wave along the fjord. It's going to. vt The Wave.

February 05, 2018 09:03 AM

February 04, 2018

Liam Proven

"The Circuit Less Travelled" -- #FOSDEM 2018 "History" stream talk, notes & slides

So, yesterday I presented my first conference talk since the Windows Show 1996 at Olympia, where I talked about choosing a network operating system — that is, a server OS — for PC Pro magazine.

(I probablystill have the speaker's notes and presentation for that somewere too. The intensely curious may ask and I maybe able share it too.)

It seemed to go OK, I had a whole bunch of people asking questions afterwards, commenting or thanking me.

[Edit] Video!

I have to check out the video recording and make some editing marks before it will be published and I am not sure that the hotel wifi connection is fast or capacious enough for me to do that. However, I'll post it as soon as I can.

Meantime, here is some further reading.

I put together a slightly jokey deck of slides and was very pleasantly impressed at how good and easy LibreOffice Impress made it to create and to present them. You can download the 9MB ODP file here:

The notes are a 110 kB MS Word 2003 document. They may not always be terribly coherent -- some were extensively scripted, some are just bullet points. For best results, view in MS Word (or the free MS Word Viewer, which runs fine under WINE) in Outline mode. Other programs will not show the structure of the document, just the text.

I had to cut the talk fairly brutally to fit the time and did not get to discuss some of the operating systems I planned to. You can see some additional slides at the end of the presentation for stuff I had to skip.

Here's a particular chunk of the talk that I had to cut. It's called "Digging deeper" and you can see what I was goingto say about Taos, Plan 9, Inferno, QNX and Minix 3. This is what the slides on the end of the presentation refer to.

Links I mentioned in the talk or slides

The Unix Haters' Handbook [PDF]:

Stanislav Datskovskiy's Loper-OS:

Paul Graham's essays:

Notably his Lisp Quotes:

Steve Jobs on the two big things he missedwhen he visited Xerox PARC:

Alan Kay interview where he calls Lisp "the Maxwell's Equations of software":

And what that means:

"In the Beginning was the Command Line" by Neal Stephenson:

Author's page:

Symbolics OpenGenera:

How to run it on Linux (some of several such pages):

A brief (13min) into to OpenGenera by Kalman Reti:
A longer (1h9m) talk about it, also by him:

February 04, 2018 06:04 PM

Roger Bell_West

Bad Dog, Ashley Pollard

2017 military science fiction, first of a series. Gunnery Sergeant Tachikoma is about to have a very bad day… repeatedly.

February 04, 2018 09:04 AM

February 03, 2018

Roger Bell_West

The Dark Times 2

The Dark Times, edited by Lee Williams, is a fanzine that follows on from Demonground and Protodimension in dealing with "the horror-conspiracy-weirdness gaming genres", beginning with Dark Conspiracy and drifting into nearby areas.

February 03, 2018 09:02 AM

February 02, 2018

Roger Bell_West

Whose Body?, Dorothy Sayers

1923 mystery, first of Sayers' books about Lord Peter Wimsey. A body is found in a bath in Battersea, naked except for a pair of gold pince-nez; and a prominent financier has disappeared from his bed. Unless they're the same man, the cases don't appear to be connected, but Wimsey the amateur sleuth takes an interest in both ends of the affair.

February 02, 2018 09:04 AM

February 01, 2018

Roger Bell_West

January 2018 Trailers

Some trailers I've seen recently, and my thoughts on them. (Links are to youtube. Opinions are thoroughly personal. Calibration: I hate everything.)

February 01, 2018 09:03 AM

January 31, 2018

Roger Bell_West

Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain, David Gerard

2017 non-fiction. What is bitcoin, and why should any sensible person have absolutely nothing to do with it?

January 31, 2018 09:02 AM

January 30, 2018

Roger Bell_West

1 Player Guild UK Meet

The 1 Player Guild is a group of solo game players, organised on BoardGameGeek. I do this occasionally, and when the inaugural real-world meeting was suggested in the UK, I went along. What could work better than a bunch of solo gamers getting together in one place? Actually, it was an excellent day - in a village hall in the middle of nowhere, bring your own food and drink (but much in the way of snack makings provided by the organiser), eleven people.

With images; cc-by-sa on everything.

January 30, 2018 09:00 AM

January 29, 2018

Roger Bell_West

Risking It All, Ann Granger

2001 thriller/mystery; fourth of Granger's novels of Fran Varady, would-be thespian and amateur sleuth. A private investigator tracks down Fran to tell her that her mother (who abandoned the family when Fran was quite young) is dying, and wants to talk to her. But that's not all she wants. It turns out that after she left she had another daughter…

January 29, 2018 09:02 AM

January 28, 2018

Roger Bell_West

Handycon January 2018

I missed the second instance of this because it clashed with the Worldcon in Helsinki, but made it to number 3. Given how far I travel for other games conventions, one that's just on the other side of High Wycombe is a pleasant change.

With images; cc-by-sa on everything.

January 28, 2018 09:03 AM

January 27, 2018

Roger Bell_West

The Science of Food, Marty Jopson

2017 non-fiction, popular science; short treatments of scientific aspects of farming, food transport and cooking.

January 27, 2018 09:03 AM

January 26, 2018

Roger Bell_West

Screen burn

Burned-in screens were standard when I started with computers, though towards the end of the CRT era it mostly didn't happen any more, and more modern monitors tend not to do it either.

January 26, 2018 09:02 AM

January 25, 2018

Roger Bell_West

Light Thickens, Ngaio Marsh

1982 classic English detective fiction; thirty-second and last of Marsh's novels of Inspector Roderick Alleyn. Peregrine Jay is putting on Macbeth at the Dolphin, but tensions are running high and not all the cast will make it to the end of the run.

January 25, 2018 09:00 AM