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Archives for September, 2009

Mashed potato success

September 30th, 2009

Today I made my best mashed potato yet, so I thought I should document it here. Unfortunately, for the first time I think I made too little. Maybe this had something to do with it.

Anyway, I used Tesco organic white potatoes (on offer at 75p per kg). I used vast quantities of butter: a much larger ratio of butter to potato than normal, but only a small amount of milk. Healthy amounts of salt and pepper were also added. Spudski kartoffelstampfer was the mashing implement. Can’t be sure whether it was the excess butter or different potatoes that made the difference; but large butter quantities have been extensively explored before, usually when the blodgett is present…

Further experimentation required.

Sunset photos attempt 2

September 28th, 2009

Tried again to take photo of sunset. Found a low-light mode on the camera and fiddle with some settings. Much better this time!

Maidenhead sunset

Admittedly I cheated a bit and used the GIMP to remove a few artefacts from the foreground.


September 27th, 2009

Another week, another activity day! This week I walked along the section of the Thames Path from Maidenhead to Henley-on-Thames. Nice weather and very pretty countryside. Henley itself is incredibly posh, as you might expect from BoJo’s former constituency. I felt a bit out of place with my £3 off-the-tubes t-shirt and backpack. Won’t be moving there.

Total distance was about 15 miles, but it took me over 7 hours! Despite a break for lunch, do I really only walk at 2mph? Seems a bit slow.

Obligatory photos:

New plant

September 21st, 2009

I have a new plant! It’s name is Big Plant, on account of it being significantly larger than my other plants. Here it is:


This photo is a bit out of date, as Big Plant now resides in its own big orange pot.

Also, I finally have my own watering can! So handy for those precision watering tasks.

Activity day

September 21st, 2009

Since both my day job and most evening activities mostly involve staring at computer screens, I have implemented a new doctrine called “activity day” which requires me to go outside for one day a week and perform some non-computer activity. Preferably this activity is cheap or free.

On the first official activity day I visited London and went to the Brunel museum and the Science museum. The Brunel museum is quite difficult to find and a bit small, but interesting. The Science museum is full of science, all good. Also costs zero cash monies.

Took a few photos, but the weather in the afternoon was a bit naff so those ones didn’t look great:

Samsung Q320 Fn-key release hack update

September 19th, 2009

Earlier I posted a hack to get the Linux kernel to send synthetic key release events for the Fn-keys on a Samsung Q320. But I forgot about actually submitting the patch to the kernel developers until today. However, it looks like this hack will be unnecessary as of 2.6.32:

Hi Nick,

On Sep 19, 2009, at 12:20 AM, Nick Gasson wrote:

> This adds a workaround for the missing fn-key release
> events on Samsung Q320 and similar laptops.
> Tested extensively on my own laptop.
> Signed-off-by: Nick Gasson

Thank you very much for your patch, hovewer I will not be accepting any more patches for the force release quirk in the kernel. 2.6.32 will have ‘force_release’ sysfs attribute allowing to apply the quirk from userspace.


Which is good, because either way I won’t have to use a custom kernel. I wonder how long this will take to propagate to Debian though…

Photos of sunsets

September 18th, 2009

I can see some lovely sunsets from the window here, but my attempts to take photos of them have been a bit of a failure. If I leave the automatic settings on it comes out either very bright or very dark, but generally fail. Experiment! Set the ISO setting very high and made these:



Lots of noise though, and Digikam’s de-noising algorithm, after churning away for a good 30 seconds makes absolutely no difference at all. Hmm.

Exploring the ‘hood

September 18th, 2009

What have I been doing during my blogging absence? Working! While not working last weekend I walked from my home to Windsor. I thought this would be exciting, but it turned out to be incredibly dull. Highlight must have been walking over the M4 flyover (no, really).


I really like this photo for some reason. Clouds could be better as usual. I’m not sure if the M4 will replace the A64 in my road-affections: the A64 was like a warm comfort blanket enveloping York; whereas the M4 is like a sword slicing through the heart of Slough; and, annoyingly, limiting the places I can go running south of Maidenhead (flyovers are limited compared to the A64).

Windsor itself is quite nice, bit out of my price range house-wise though.

This is the Queen’s house. She’s now officially my neighbour, living the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. Well posh. No one seems to have noticed that both Windsor and Maidenhead are closer to Slough than they are to each other. For the sake of property prices, this is probably for the best.


Went back home via Slough where I took these pictures of local landmarks:


Slough has very advanced high-tech public toilets. Toilet seems to be broken at the moment judging by the status indicator. Note the “20 mins maximum” sign. I read somewhere that Slough was the most productive town in the UK: if it takes you that long to use the loo there’s no place for you here. [Update: whoever wrote that was wrong: Slough is only the third most productive town outside London.]

Tesco in Slough is the largest supermarket in Europe. It’s opposite Slough’s other major landmark: the Brunel bus station. On the outside it’s a huge shiny box: they’ve made no attempt at all to beautify it, and it fits in very well with its surroundings. It’s pretty impressive on the inside too; although they’re not using all that vertical space for sales area: the inside is cavernous like a cathedral. Didn’t see many other supermarket spotters there.


Tubes back again!

September 18th, 2009

Woo! I’ve been reconnected! Tubes seem a little unstable: been disconnected a few times. I think it’s still in the training mode. Was quite excited when it originally synced at 12Mb/s, but it’s dropped back to 9Mb/s – not complaining though :-).

I’ve almost finished unpacking my things, but I still need to acquire a few bits before I’m completely settled in. Here I have documented the progression from chaos to order:

Oh the chaos!

Oh the chaos!

After expending work, order is partially restored

After expending work, order is partially restored

Fabulous view of, er... a school playground

Fabulous view of, er... a school playground

Rest of the flat contains standard bedroom, spare bedroom, bathroom, kitchen (off the living room) and hallway. All are rather small, but OK for just me. Electric Economy 7 heating contraptions are weird and complicated. Oven is a bit fancy pants, and has a “AquaCleanse” self-cleaning mode where it sprays itself with cleaning fluid and then bakes it. Ooo err.


September 4th, 2009

Tomorrow I’m moving to sunny Berkshire so there will likely be a lack of posting for a while until intertubes are connected up. My blogging activity has been furious today, anyhow.

Quite excited but also a little nervous about re-homing. Also starting a new job on Monday: although I lose my tax related student benefits, I finally get to declare my profession as “Software Engineer” on forms – woo!