Archive for the ‘Computer geek’ Category

Google Mars

13 March, 2006

My good friend tyme pointed out the new google map of the surface of mars to me via IRC. It’s colour-coded by altitude in a way that reminds me of a fractal. I think it’s pretty cool, although there’s not really a lot to see if you’re not into astronomy.


ACS now offering RSS feeds for journals

11 January, 2006

RSS has really changed the way I use the Internet, updates of my favourite sites are delivered at customisable intervals and it makes catching up with all the news (most decent forums offer RSS feeds now too) easy.

The good news is that the ACS are now offering RSS feeds of articles ASAP and the TOC alerts for all their journals.

If you’ve never used RSS before, there are some basic capabilites built into some browsers such as Firefox, but I personally find it much easier to use a dedicated aggregator (more like an email client than a web browser) – the following free (as in no money-cost) aggregators seem good to me:

Update: The ACS just don’t seem to get RSS. The feeds tend to get a couple of hundred entries per day, many of which are simple refreshes from the days previous – that’s very likely to cause me to hit the “mark” all as read button!

GOTO BLAS libraries make slashdot

28 November, 2005

The GOTO BLAS libraries have been mentioned on slashdot (and on the new york time website). I’ve been using this library for quite a while now and I’ve seen massive improvements in the speed of several codes (including the venerable Gaussian). I can really recommend them to anyone trying to save a little time with code that relies on BLAS or ATLAS.

Glad to see the author is getting some much deserved credit for his good work.

Intel Powerbooks

14 November, 2005

Those of you that know me will probably realise I’m a bit of an Apple fan – owning an iMac for almost a year now. Whilst everyone and their dog seems to have had an opinion about Apple’s switch to using Intel x86 based chips from IBM PPC’s I’ve never really sat down and wrote anything about it…

The event that’s prompted me to do this is several rumour sites suggesting that Intel based Powerbooks and iMacs could well be announced/available in January. I’ve been toying with the idea of replacing my Linux/Windows Toshiba laptop for a while now, with a Powerbook being one of the top candidates – moving to Intel just seems to sweeten the deal! Faster processors, possibility of dual booting with windows (for playing the odd game), and the availability of the Intel compilers all make for an attractive platform, especially as Apple laptops generally seem to be well engineered and actually look quite nice!

 From a quantum chemistry point of view the availability of the Intel compilers should mean software such as GAMESS and Gaussian should be quickly available for the platform (although perhaps not supported – hand-editing of the makefiles will probably be necessary).  I wonder how Intel will make the compilers available though, few people in the academic community seem to realise that the current Intel compilers on the “free” non-commercial license are not allowed to be used to research if you recieve a payment for your work.

Thesis handed in

7 November, 2005

I handed my PhD thesis in last Friday – I thought I would feel relieved but I don’t really. I guess it’s a strange feeling when you hand over three years of your life and the woman on the other side of the desk (who can’t be bothered to force a smile) gives you a stamped piece of paper in return!

The university should now be refunding me £200 of continuation fees, I’ll be off to find some gadget to spend it on…..

Printing pdf’s

1 November, 2005

I thought that using pdf meant that you’d pretty much get the same results on any screen and any printer – I was wrong.

 I’ve got to the point where I’m printing out my PhD thesis when I’ve been bitten by this. Whilst writing my thesis I was using a HP Laserjet 1200 to print out drafts etc, and got all my images to look just the way I wanted them to on it. When I tried to print out a final copy on a HP Laserjet 4000 I found that the fonts within my images were severly messed up. I thought that it was probably my original eps images didn’t have the font embedded and this was casuing the problem. However, whilst I found that embedding the font did change the printed image, it was still far from correct!!

 I’ve now travelled 250 miles to get back to that trusty LJ 1200 and the correct print out – I guess I should reconsider the level of trust I place in PDF documents….


28 October, 2005

I started trialing a new web browser today, it goes by the name of Flock. It’s currently only a developer preview at version 0.5pre, so it’s not for the faint of heart – it is however built on firefox so it’s not a complete mess.

One of the more interesting features is that it uses to store your bookmarks/favourite internet sites on the web. This means that you can access your favourites from anywhere in the world (note. is available without using flock, but flock exclusively uses it for bookmarking). A couple of other items of note are:

  • RSS feed support built into the favourites system
  • Aggregation of your RSS feeds into a single page
  • Built in blog editor (works with wordpress)
  • Many blogging tools
  • Blog about Flickr pictures

I guess your average ma and pa web user probably isn’t going to care about these features (and are they all that different to whats already available as Firefox extensions?), but I’m willing to give it a go…. At least for a short while 😉

Let me know if you try it and what you think.