Secret Diaries…..

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Browsing Posts published by josiahb

Evernote

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As I’ve said previously I intend to keep track of the work I’m doing on my top secret project and let you in on some of the things which are helping me pull everything together into a sensible whole.  First on the list is Evernote an incredibly useful little application for the technological writer.

I have spent a fair chunk of time walking round with a pen and notepad somewhere about my person so that I can write down ideas as they occur to me and to be quite frank I’ve been useless at using them, you see my handwriting is terrible and if I’m writing fast in a small notebook goes from terrible to almost completely illegible.  I needed another solution and with a quick look round the Google market on my shiny new Android powered phone I’ve found the answer:  Evernote.

Evernote is available for Mac OS X, , iPhone / iPod Touch, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Palm Pre / Palm Pixi and Mobile, so more or less any platform your likely to be using (except Linux, sorry open source fans.  Still ’ll probably run fine in Wine).  allows you to take notes in a whole variety of forms (Text, voice, snapshots or file uploads) before uploading them to Evernote’s servers where they can then be synced to your other devices.  The basic package is free and gives you a maximum amount of 40Mb of monthly uploads which in these times of GB email inboxes etc doesn’t sound much but if all your using for is making text notes for your upcoming novel you should remain well below the limit.

The application itself (on Android and anyway, I haven’t used on the many other platforms available) is simple to use and intuitive so you’ll find yourself taking a whole wealth of notes on a whole variety of subjects before you know .  I use to keep track of those random moments of inspiration which occur throughout the day before taking those many disparate thoughts and hammering them into a meaningful shape the next time I sit down to write.

This is actually looking like the single most powerful tool I have at the moment, those fleeting moments of inspiration are no longer being lost for want of a working pen and the chances of meaningful writing have been massively increased.  If you find yourself losing those brilliant ideas that would turn you into the worlds most successful author I seriously suggest taking a look.

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Structure

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I’m working a lot on improving the structure of my writing at the moment, particularly focussing on the need for a clear beginning, middle and end to everything I put together.  The beginning and middle have tended to be things which I don’t have a problem putting together its bringing those things to a well rounded conclusion which seems to cause me some challenge.

A lot of forward planning goes into writing any article, short story or novel.  Research is always necessary gives a far better structure and depth to your writing and this has been the main casualty in my recent work.  I’ve avoided property research or planning in an effort just to get something published which unfortunately has resulted in the series of random ramblings currently present on this very site.  Opinion only carries you so far when not backed by verifiable fact, without that grounding in reality the writers voice tends to get lost and the content of the article ends up awash in a sea of nothing in particular.

So this is where I find myself now, in search of facts and a rounded and well written ending to go with the many beginnings and middles floating around in my head.  Without them my new super secret project will remain unwritten.  So, over the coming months while I try and get my head round these little conundrums I’m going to be publishing a series of articles on the methods I find and the thoughts I have on the good and bad points of them all.  If nothing else the end result of all this may be some useful hints and tips for everyone else!

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I’ve just started work on my new project (which in all honesty is a rehash of an old project), this will begin appearing in the not to distant future on this very site!

I’m not going to reveal too much largely because the detail isn’t all there yet but expect to hear more as time goes on.

For now its off to work!

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I’m spending a worrying amount of time stuck inside my own head at the moment which is damaging a lot of things. My writing for one.

I actually started work on a novel recently but ground to a halt in a sea of bad writing, two dimensional characters and cliché. Hopefully another few hours of bashing at the keys will get most of that out of my system and I’ll actually be able to move on to producing something worth reading. In order to improve matters I’m looking to do some more structured writing by finding some websites and magazines looking for article submissions with some enforced limits. Even a word count will help focus me at the moment.

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This Saturday saw me become the proud owner of a samsung galaxy portal, not the phone I had originally intended getting but I’m glad I did. Having had a couple of days to play with I am glad to say is responsive good looking and a fantastic value smartphone.

I’ve seen a lot of commentary on the net about the camera on this phone and its not that impressive, at only 3 megapixels its a lot weaker than many on the market but as someone who’s grown up surrounded by photographic equipment I don’t see the point of having an 8 megapixel camera attached to sub standard optics on my phone.

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Following the recent glut of half formed ideas and (really honestly) half finished articles I find myself with yet another case of writers block, ideas and topics are floating around in my head but turning them into fully fledged articles is proving difficult.  What follows is a list of things I’d like to write about:

  • The general election, thoughts on the three main parties and why I think this time there is a real opportunity for change.
  • Job searches, and finding work when your already employed.
  • Making extra money when that little boost will really help.
  • people to drive and the short lived terror of handing over your car keys.
  • Studying, why I should have concentrated more in school and how much of a challenge is to keep focussed now.

Each of these is a topic I should be able to write about without difficulty or restriction but the ideas aren’t flowing quite right at the moment, so instead I intend to spend this week researching other peoples methods of getting the creative juices flowing and maybe you’ll see a round up and review later in the week!

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Many (if not all) of you will know by now that the Digital Economy Bill successfully made through the House of Commons last week, the general consensus seems to be that this was a hell of a rushed job for a highly contentious piece of legislation.  I’d have to agree, although I do applaud the aim of the bill (to stamp out digital piracy) the execution suffers from the same lack of knowledge and bad planning of a large amount of regulation in regards to computing and the internet.

The major problem is the absolute faith the government seems to have that everyone knows whats going on on there own network, in the coporate world this should be true.  If an team can’t manage to secure their network in such a way as to stop copyright infringement then the company in question needs to find a new team.  Home users however are a different story, many don’t care (let alone understand) about securing their network.  Wireless networks are left with default passwords or weak encryption because the people who set them up are focussed on getting working fast not on getting working right.  These people are now at risk, with no proper security and no logging of activity they are going to potentially find themselves cut off by their broadband provider following a court order for a crime they didn’t commit.

Attacking the pirates themselves is the only way to have any effect on the rampant piracy that takes place day in day out all over the internet but needs to be dealt with in a way that doesn’t put the innocent among us at undue risk.  The Digital Economy Bill appears to be written in a way which flies in the face of hundreds of years of British policy on law and order: Innocent Until Proven Guilty.  will also have very little effect on those who are guilty, many of them are smart enough to use technology to hide their activities from basic monitoring and any deeper monitoring of traffic can and should be taken as an infringement of civil liberties.

Oh and for those who defend piracy by claiming causes no harm because ‘I wouldn’t have bought anyway’ please, grow up and take a look at what you are causing.  doesn’t matter that you wouldn’t have bought , that excuse wouldn’t work if you stole a car certainly won’t work if your stealing software, music or movies.  Your actions cause reactions like the debill, you have attacked peoples livelihoods and their bottom line, they are fighting back.  Thanks, now we’re all screwed.

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So, I’m working on upgrading my home PC largely for the purpose of running virtual machines for Labs on .  An old socket 939 AMD dual core with 2GB of RAM just isn’t going to cut .  The problem is I’m hampered by a serious funding crisis, what with rent and bills my spare funds each month are limited and saving is proving challenging.

Various websites suggest ways for pros to make a bit of extra cash but in order to raise significant funds you have to invest pretty much the same amount of time as you do in your full-time job, this of course seems to leave me with only two options, get a pay rise (unlikely) or find a new higher paid job (challenging in this economy).  The other option is to find a killer idea that I can turn into my own money making business and considering the best one I have at the moment is this place which hardly sees any traffic and most of that is by accident I need to do something drastic to give my self the healthy bank balance I’m looking for.

the difficulty in regards to the job search is the catch 22 situation creates, I need the better PC to allow me to study for certifications which would help me get a better job but I can’t build the PC until I’ve got the money which comes from having a better job….

The long game may work in regards to this little site however, page views are slowly on the up and I’m writing more which can only help.  Writing better would probably be th next stage!

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As anyone with any knowledge of physics knows energy can never be destroyed, this presents a problem for those of us working in the wonderful world of .  Computers use energy and then that energy is left hanging around as heat, obviously this heat has to be dissapated somehow.  For a common desktop this task is performed by a combination of heatsinks and fans, in the realm of the server things become a little more challenging…

For a start, servers are normally in a rack, in a room all on their own, rack servers have a lot less free space inside them for air to move so the chassis itself contains a fantastic brute force collection of fans sucking cool air in at the front and pushing out at the rear.  Great right?  But where does this heat go when its left the server?  In a well configured server room its sucked out by some sort of air conditioning system whilst cool air is blown in by the same system.

This of course is in a well configured system, in the room that its currently my task to maintain the process of keeping the servers cool involves an inadequate air con unit, 2 floor standing fans and a portable air conditioning unit.  This is because the people who put in failled to communicate at all and so now rather than out room running at a relatively chilly 19 degrees its a far warmer 34.  Thus pushing the temperature of the servers up and resulting i the newest addition to our server rack overheating and shutting down 5 times in the past week.

Discussions are currently on going on the subject of replacing the current air conditioning unit but until those discussions reach some kind of conclusion every so often I have no other choice but to swear, walk into the room and hit the reset button.  This is followed by a 15 minute wait as first the VMWare hypervisor reboots and then the 6 virtual machines power on.

The upside to this is I have made some cash out of

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Yes the old saying ‘its what you do with that counts’ can be applied to many things, particularly in .  Thanks to bare metal hypervisors its now possible to run your entire infrastructure on a much smaller collection of hardware than was previously necessary.  Mobile phones can now perform many of the functions which previously required a fully fledged PC.  The relentless march of technology is focussed on power efficient processing.

All this means very little to me at the moment unfortunately because buried under a pile of (Unsolicited Bulk Email or Useless Bloody Email depending on your mindset) more commonly known as SPAM.  Recent statistics put the level of spam currently being pumped out at somewhere around 80% of email traffic, 80% of all email currently flying around the net is totally useless and bloody annoying.  My companies current approach to this massive mountain of crap is…..

…. to place the most weakass, difficult to manage, leaky as all hell spam filter between the outside world and our mailserver.

On most days we may as well turn the damn thing off.

I have made my case for a appliance, a dedicated machine with 24 hour support and a nice easy to use web interface and I’ve been ignored, so yesterday I put some figures together.  I’ve lost the link now but somewhere on http://www.wikipedia.org/ someone gave information from a 2001 study which put the of a to the recipient at somewhere around $0.10 (7p) so with this figure in mind I ran through the stats I had gathered and worked out a rough per year to my company of the amount of spam which currently makes past our spam filter and has to be dealt with by a member of staff.  Even I was surprised by the answer:

£31000

31 grand wasted because the company won’t spend £3/4000 on a spam appliance that actually works.

The to those sending out is probably about 10p.

I’ve made my case (again) and I’ll see whether a) anything actually happens and b) I get any credit for (like perhaps some of that 31 grand being added to my pay packet).

Next I’ll see if I can find a good enough business reason for the company to buy my new home PC.

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