10 years

Wikipedia-logo-v2.svgHot on the heels of Saturday’s 10 year college reunion, today marks 10 years since I registered a Wikipedia account and made my first edit with it (there were a few anonymous edits before that, but they’ve been lost to the mists of time). Ironically given recent events, that first edit was defending Jeremy Clarkson!

It was impossible to imagine what that start would lead to. Since 2005, I’ve racked up around 75,000 more edits on the English Wikipedia (not counting the forays into other Wikimedia sites). Far more than that: I’ve learnt a huge amount, travelled to exciting places, and best of all met so many fascinating and fantastic people. Now I’m even fortunate enough to have a job supporting the project I love.

Here’s to another 10 years!

2014 Reading Challenge

Just like in 2013 I challenged myself to read a set number of books in 2014. This time the magic number was 45. And just like in 2013, I hit the target exactly, although it was much less close run than last year (when I frantically raced to finish my last book on New Year’s Eve). This time I actually finished with about a week to spare.

Here’s the list of what I read. Mostly the usual mix of classic sci-fi and fantasy, programming, random non-fiction.

Favourite fiction? To Kill a Mockingbird. Somehow our class managed to not read this in school, so I thought it was time to catch up on a classic that seemingly everyone else had read, and it didn’t disappoint. A real page-turner, but with true heart.

Favourite non-fiction? This was much tougher to choose, but probably Our Pet Queen: A New Perspective on Monarchy. Short, incisive, fascinating and often funny.

The two biggest chunks of reading were A Song of Ice and Fire books 3-5 and Orson Scott Card’s Ender Quartet books 2-4. Both series did start to flag a bit as they went on. Ender more so; it would always have been hard to keep up to the standard of the amazing Speaker for the Dead, but Children of the Mind‘s plot really did descend into the ridiculous. Not sure if I’ll return to Card’s series, I’ve heard the Shadow books are good but after the bad taste Children of the Mind left there’s plenty of other books I want to check out first.

As for ASoIaF, while A Feast for Crows was a bit of a slog, I’ll join the massed ranks of people waiting eagerly for George R R Martin to hurry up and resolve some of these unanswered questions and cliffhangers!

For 2015 I pondered dropping the challenge entirely. It’s been rewarding, but I want to focus a bit less on reading: it’s absolutely still something I want to make time for, but there are plenty of other things I want to do more of as well (writing, coding, photography, maybe picking up guitar again). There’s also some intimidatingly long books on my “to read” list (Pillars of the EarthI’m looking at you here!) which I found myself putting off at least partially because they would make it harder to hit my target. In the end I’ve decided to scale my goal back to 40 books again this year. Whether I make it is anyone’s guess, but at least it gives me something to blog about same time next year!

Happenings Intensify

The next two weeks are going to be intense. Two long-planned secret work projects are being launched next week, both of which I was heavily involved in and expect to be subject to a lot of attention. Then the week after that the majority of my colleagues plus a tonne of volunteers are showing up on my doorstep for Wikimania 2014 (obligatory plug to say you should come!)

Plus something else with an indeterminate date likely to fall within the next two weeks, but I’m even less able to talk about that…

Dreams

I’m visiting my parents for the Christmas holidays, and am certain that I have stranger dreams whilst here. Normally my dreams are completely unmemorable, but from the past two nights:

  • Controlling Turk from Scrubs in a very violent (and quite glitchy) computer game. At the end of the level I progressed to the next, where my character suddenly morphed into Ned Flanders.
  • Buying a blinged up robotic pony for one of my colleagues. Then the tech team had a Strictly-style competition to see who could program it with the best dance.

Perhaps it’s the cheese…

Journey review

Just because.

Cambridge-Peterborough, Crosscountry
Fairly quiet, punctual. Nothing to complain about. Still think Cambridge station is being greedy by having 3 AMT coffee stands and should share them with less fortunate stations.

Peterborough-York, East Coast
Fast, quiet and on-time. Ridiculously huge amounts of legroom. Loads of power sockets. “Free Wi-Fi” did turn out to be free for only 15 minutes, after giving away all your personal details, and be slower than just using the intermittent 3G. But on the whole A++ would ride again.

York-Blackburn, Northern Rail
Absolutely rammed, especially after Leeds.

Blackburn-Darwen, Northern Rail
Late. Inexplicably swapped destinations with another Northern train arriving Blackburn at the same time, causing much confusion. Also fairly certain train was on fire. Well done Northern Rail.

Valentine’s day

I’m a sad lonely single and haven’t had a Valentine’s card in years.
So I was mildly excited on receiving a plain envelope through my letterbox today, and even more excited when it turned out to indeed be a Valentine’s card!

“Who could it be from?” I thought. “Could it really be possible that someone out there actually LIKES me?” For a brief moment I actually felt a rare burst of self-esteem. With trepidation I opened the card.

Inside it said “from Jesus”.

I feel like I have been trolled by Christianity.

We gotta move these colour TVs

The new laptop arrived on Tuesday, and it’s brilliant. Dual core processor, 4GB RAM, 500GB hard disk – these might not be all that impressive, but after the five year old laptop I was stuck with it runs like a dream to me. And nevermind the specs, my favourite thing about it is that it’s so quiet. I can barely hear the fan at all, so it’s great for watching DVDs – and even the built in speakers aren’t bad for a laptop. The big sharp screen is actually making me wish I’d shelled out for a Blu-Ray model though – and I’ve always been cynical about Blu-Ray!

Of course like the big geek that I am, I’ve been playing with my new toy every chance I get. One of the things I wanted to try, which I wouldn’t even have attempted on the old one, is some POV-Ray. Anyway I had a bit of a bash at it tonight, and it’s surprisingly easy to get nice looking results. Here’s something I whipped up and am using as a new desktop (click to see it full size).
foo2

Wish you were here

Well, I can’t believe I’ve been in my new job almost two months. Am really enjoying it too, getting to do all sorts of fun stuff.
Millom is lovely too, but a bit isolated and I’m missing lots of my mates. Finally making the trek back to Manchester tonight though to have a long overdue catch up with at least some of them.
After much woe my broadband is finally set up too. Despite being very upset about what’s been happening on Wikinews, I’ve decided to continue contributing there, in the hopes of turning the tide.
Well for once I have an excuse to keep this post short, as I’m writing it on my phone. I love WordPress.

Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends

Ok, I’m going a bit crazy. Trying to follow the Election on BBC, b3ta, Twitter and Wikinews IRC all at the same time, and still feeling bad for missing C4’s alternative coverage – Charlie Brooker, David Mitchell, Lauren Laverne and Jimmy Carr? That’s an awesome lineup.

Anyway, with all that I’m dead tired, and there’s only been 3 seats declared as I write this. I need a slow down before heading to bed, and remembered that I haven’t updated this blog in far too long.

And I do actually have news: I *finally* got a job offer, and though I’m really looking forward to starting, I need to move (up to the Lake District!) and there is loads to sort out in a short time. So the whole day has been rather hectic, especially as my Cantab email has decided to stop working at the most inopportune moment.

So, yeah. That’s an update of sorts. Now I am going to try and get some sleep.

not enough to show I care

And now, an unordered list of tidbits from the past week or so.

  • Went to see 1984 at the Royal Exchange Theatre, which was truly excellent. A great adaptation with stunning performances, in a remarkable space. Have resolved to visit the theatre more often.
  • Gorillaz’ (Gorillaz’s? Gorillazes?) new album is very weird, as would be expected. Not sure I like it as much as the first two, but perhaps it will grow on me
  • Popped into Manchester MoSI (Museum of Science and Industry), seems to be very much under construction at the moment. All the cool space stuff I remember from my childhood has vanished, replaced by surprisingly amateurish promotional materials for the Chinese space programme. :-( Exhibit displacement has also resulted in a lone ZX Spectrum with “Horace Goes Skiing” appearing in the Power Hall, amidst the hulking steam engines. Very surreal.
  • The intro/outro of “Eight Days a Week” is utterly brutal in Beatles Rock Band.
  • WittyLama has some amazing news, he is now “volunteer Wikipedian in Residence” for the British Museum! Read all about it on his blog
  • This is a lovely variation on Breakout in Flash. Takes a little while to pick up, but is spectacular once it does.