Wulf's Webden

The Webden on WordPress

Tuesday 6 October 2015
by Wulf

Double Test

Exam day has arrived and I feel reasonbly confident. As long as I turn up and manage at least a sketchy answer for each question, I should pick up enough marks to secure an overall pass (on the Open University module M812 Digital Forensics). Fortunately the system doesn’t involve deducting marks for wrong answers so, to some extent you can play the numbers; gleaning a few marks from each question is a better strategy than presenting a few very polished responses but entirely neglecting the ones you feel hesitant about.

There is a second test though: finding the venue and finding somewhere to park. GPS will assist with the first and I’ve also done my homework on the second. I don’t think I will find parking at my favourite price (free!) for the required duration, at least not within a sensible distance given the likelihood that this morning’s golden light will turn to leaden rain all too soon. However, Milton Keynes Council does provide extraordinarily detailed parking information including block by block maps and statistics on average ‘parking space residency’ in June and December.

I think my homework on the parking test is done sufficiently; time for a final revision session and then off to the car!

Monday 5 October 2015
by Wulf

Downie Cider Fermenting

Last night I got my cider fermenting. It is a very rustic recipe – when I spotted that the mash of apples was starting to turn green on the top, I took them off with a slotted spoon, transferred the thin juice underneath into a couple of sterilised 5l water bottles and added about 500g of demerara sugar to each. I’ve got plastic pipes coming out of each lid leading to a third bottle and, if I’ve been lucky, some fermentation will be kicking off.

It is a matter of luck because I’m depending on good natural yeasts to kick in and chew on the sugar, creating a preservative level of alcohol. If the worst comes to the worst, then I’ve got about 9l of liquid to add to my compost heap. A middling result would be cider vinegar (although, actually it was quite useful to have around as an ingredient). It is possible though that we’ll get a decent drinking cider.

Time to wait and see.

Sunday 4 October 2015
by Wulf

All Will Be Well

A little while ago The String Project agreed to work with a label called All Will Be Well Records. Rather than a traditional record label approach (a deal, some cash up front and then years of indentured slavery seem to have been the terms that even some massively famous artists have had to operate under) it is largely about creating some more opportunities for us to play gigs and other musical activities in exchange for contributing to mutual self-promotion for the label and other artists on their roster. It probably won’t change the world but isn’t onerous and benefits all involved and the music-supporting public.

So far it has mainly been a case of online interactions but this afternoon there is a little gathering for some of the people involved in Oxford so we’ll finally get to put some faces to names. I’m looking forward to it, not least because we get to play alongside many of these people in Mid-November when we headline the AWBW showcase at the Jericho Tavern on 13 November.

Saturday 3 October 2015
by Wulf

Revising Revision

I’ve been working on revising for next Tuesday’s exam. One of the lessons that is coming back to me is that I probably should have begun in earnest much earlier although I’ve now got a good way through the plan I set out. At least it will be fresh in my mind!

Friday 2 October 2015
by Wulf

Special Burgers

Tonight’s dinner revisited the sous vide burgers I made for our summer BBQ. We didn’t finish these ones over hot coals, although the weather would have been okay if we had wanted to. Instead, I used a hot pan to sear them before serving. Again, they were very successful although I think I could probably have made them larger (not deeper but wider); I started with about 500g of mince and made six burgers but, if I’d made four instead, that would have been the equivalent of a quarter pounder.

The burgers were quite easy to make, although the method involves a certain amount of waiting time as they sit in the hot water bath. I seemed to spend quite a long time in the kitchen though, which was probably down to the fresh bread rolls and hand-cut chips that accompanied the meat. All in all, quite a long time cooking but I think the result was worth it.

Thursday 1 October 2015
by Wulf

Back from the Dead

That was the title of a short talk I gave this morning to the University of Oxford Research Software Developers Network meeting. Although the title sounds like it should have been used on the 31st rather than the 1st of October, the presentation went pretty well, covering the subject of what we can learn from programmes and scripts we have written that have graciously reached the end of their natural life, which never quite made it to release or, in some cases, turned ugly and had to be severely dealt with during their period of operation.

The challenge was that I was anticipating that Powerpoint would run in presenter mode so I could see the script I had carefully embedded in the presentation notes. Instead, I just the same image that was shown on the screen. Eek! Fortunately it was a short talk without too many points. I had to rely on the fact that each section had a picture with some slanted reference to the topic I wanted to mention. Rather than using the images to help the audience remember what I had said, I was using them to remember what I wanted to say!

I think I hit the beats I needed, including the grue reference at the end (it’s a room full of uber geeks – of course they are going to appreciate a nod to a classic part of a classic text-based adventure game!). It also amply justified the main reason I volunteered to give the talk: if you want to be able to confidently speak in public whatever obstacles come up, you have to get a lot of practise in.

Wednesday 30 September 2015
by Wulf

Well Oil Be

For the past few weeks I’ve noticed that the chain on my bike has been beginning to slip on the gears. It looked like it wasn’t sitting quite right on the cogs and I diagnosed that it had stretched. Yesterday afternoon I decided to detour via the bike shop I use for repairs (Reg Taylor on Iffley Road) to see if they could replace it there and then or sell me the chain and the appropriate tool to do the job myself.

I am glad I stopped by a trustworthy place. They took a look and spotted that the chain was rather dry. Rather than replacing it, they applied some oil and, sure enough, on the journey back it behaved properly. I thought it had shown signs of wear so hadn’t got round to oiling it but I must admit that I’m a bit haphazard on that maintenance job so it must have been drier than I thought in the first place.

I guess that what was happening was the dry links weren’t releasing properly from the cogs causing stiffness and the effect that seemed like slipping. Time I think to start being more diligent in chain care.