June 2005 Archives

21 June 2005

Formula 1 fiasco

This Sunday's Grand Prix was a complete fiasco — 6 cars starting the race due, essentially to the failure of the teams and the governing body to come to a compromise on how to resolve the problem with Michelin's tyres.

Following the race, much effort is being put in by the various parties trying to blame each other. It seems that this is going to run and run and run. Surely if F1 is to recover from this, people need to start taking some responsibility and identify where the mistakes were made.

Posted by Robert Hart | Permanent Link

14 June 2005

Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Mr and Mrs Smith poster
  • UGC Cinema, 120 minutes, 15, 2005

This action romantic comedy film, staring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, is the first film I've been to in a while without seeing either any reviews or any trailers — in other words I was seeing it blind. I really enjoyed the film, particularly because I didn't have a clue what it was about, or what direction it was heading in.

Rating: 3.5/4

Those who know me well, will be aware that "spoilers" are one of my top ten peeves. ITV are probably the worst offenders, as they seem to assume that trailers are there to enable the viewer to avoid watching the program at all. Books are much more hit and miss. Many books (particularly in hard back) do not have a blurb at all, and a few (e.g. Terry Pratchett's Discworld or Douglas Adam's The Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy) have a blurb written by the author themselves that can be considered part of the book. Many other books however, have blurbs that pretty much ruin the pleasure of reading the book itself, by giving away cruicial information that wont be revealed until well into the plot itself.

For books, reading the blurb is of course optional, and I generally leave reading the blurb til the end. Cinema trailers are much harder to avoid, as you can't see films without first being exposed to trailers for "upcoming releases" many of which you will probably be planning on seeing anyway (or for which the trailer only reinforces my desire not to see it).

Posted by Robert Hart | Permanent Link | Categories: Films

10 June 2005

penrah gets cracked

I discovered that my work computer (known cryptically as penrah) had been broken in to by a cracker coming from a Romanian ISP.

The situation was partly my fault. I had sometime ago created an account to allow my brother to ftp some large files to me, and left it with an insecure password. The intruder was in the process of scanning for further vulnerable accounts, and setting up an IRC bot of some kind. I think they would have been thwarted by the university firewall, and I discovered the intrusion pretty quick.

The moral of the story is never ever choose easy passwords.

Posted by Robert Hart | Permanent Link | Categories: Computers

10 June 2005


kcachegrind screenshot

Had a little bit of fun optimising gnuplot for reading large matrices of numbers. To cut a long story short, the existing code uses sscanf() which turns out to be up to ten times slower than strtod(). The whole situation is made IMHO overly complex due to the need to support a wide range of legacy platforms, and the unusual (by ANSI C standards) number formats of FORTRAN. I think I saw an article on slashdot not so long ago, that seemed to think that sort of thing will be the death of free software.

In the process of doing all this, I discovered kcachegrind which is a graphical utility for examining the call profile of an application. This made it incredibly easy to narrow the hotspot down to a single line of code in gnuplot.

Posted by Robert Hart | Permanent Link | Categories: Computers

05 June 2005

Lord Arthur Savile's Crime

Lord Arthur Savile poster I've been meaning to go to the theatre for ages, but have never really gotten around to it. Part of the problem is that theatre can be quite inaccessible of you don't really know anything about it. Anyway, we decided to bite the bullet, and headed down to see Lord Arthur Savile's Crime by Oscar Wilde at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham.

Not having much experience of Oscar Wilde, and not having actually even looked at the flyers before I arrived I didn't really know what to expect. However, the dialogue and plot was easy to follow, and there were some particularly funny moments (especially Barry Howard's hyper-camp Herr Winckelkopf, Royce Mills's absent-minded Dean of Chichester).

The cast contained many recognisable but not easily placable comedy actors/actresses.

It was interesting to observe that the audience seemed to consist entirely of white middle-class middle-aged locals, with very few young people, and almost no asians. I don't know if that was something to do with the play, or more to do with the "high brow" nature of theatre.

Rating: 3/5

Posted by Robert Hart | Permanent Link

02 June 2005


Screenshot of liferea For a while recently, I've been aware of the number of sites that now provide RSS feeds. Since starting this site, I've become all the more aware of the phenomenon, and wanting to get onboard. Today's LWN had a bit of a roundup of linux RSS aggregators, so I've apt-get install liferea and am giving it a go.

Posted by Robert Hart | Permanent Link | Categories: Computers