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Archives for 2023

Thetford Forest

December 10th, 2023

The days are short and cold and strangely misty so I went for a less ambitious walk this week from Thetford to nearby Brandon.

Between the two is the aptly named Thetford Forest. An enormous man-made forest planted after the first world war to replenish Britain’s stock of trees. There is something quite regular about the rows of trees.

When I got to Brandon they were having some sort of Christmas fête to which the ever-present mist gave a somewhat gloomy and mysterious atmosphere.

The train back was one of two trains per day scheduled to call at Shippea Hill which was once Britain’s least-used station until its notoriety led to an increase in passengers (no one got on or off today).

Melton Mowbray

December 9th, 2023

Last time when I stopped in Oakham I forgot to mention one of its most famous attractions: Oakham signal box which was used as the template for an Airfix model.

Oakham signal box

And here’s the model of it

Oakham has one other attraction which is the “castle” you can see in the photos below. (It’s not really a castle, it’s a “hall” at best.)

From Oakham I walked on to Melton Mowbray. My first visit to Leicestershire and I was pleasantly surprised! Lots of rolling hills and even the remains of this iron age fort at Burrough Hill.

Hill fort on Burrough Hill

Melton Mowbray is of course famous for its PIES (and Stilton cheese apparently) so I had to sample one and very tasty it was too.

A Melton Mowbray pork pie from Melton Mowbray

New NVC version 1.11.0

December 6th, 2023

This is a major new release with much improved support for VHDL-2019. Consult the features page for the current status of each LCS. This release also brings full support for cocotb!

Download: nvc-1.11.0.tar.gz

This release is signed with my PGP key ID 74319F1A: nvc-1.11.0.tar.gz.sig

  • New command --cover-export exports coverage data in the Cobertura XML format which is supported by most CI environments such as GitLab.
  • Generics on internal instances can now be overridden with the -g elaboration option. For example -g uut.value=42.
  • Implemented the 'reflect attribute and associated protected types from VHDL-2019.
  • Added support for VHDL-2019 sequential block statements.
  • Implemented the VHDL-2019 directory I/O functions in std.env.
  • Added VHDL-2019 assert API (with @Blebowski).
  • Implemented 'image, 'value and to_string for composite types in VHDL-2019.
  • Implemented the “closely related record types” feature from VHDL-2019.
  • Implemented the “composition with protected types” feature from VHDL-2019.
  • The new --shuffle option runs processes in a random order which can help to identify code that depends on a particular execution order.
  • Updated to OSVVM 2023.07 for nvc --install.
  • Various enhancements and fixes to the VHPI implementation.
  • Implemented the VHDL-2019 changes to instance_name and path_name for protected type variables.
  • VHPI error messages are no longer reported as diagnostic messages on the console. The new --vhpi-debug option restores the old behaviour.
  • Support for type conversions between arrays with closely related element types.
  • Added support for FSM state coverage collection (from @Blebowski).
  • An alias of a type now correctly creates implicit aliases for each predefined operator of that type (#776).
  • Improve overload resolution where a partial named association implies the formal parameter must be an array (#793).
  • Handling of implicit conversion for universal types has been reworked to better comply with the LRM.
  • Fixed a crash when string literal characters have a type which is an alias to another type (#801).
  • Added a warning when calling the predefined "=" and "/=" operators on arrays and the left and right hand sides have different lengths.
  • Expressions like abs(x)**2.0 are now parsed correctly (#805).

Special thank you to @bpadalino, @tmeissner, @Blebowski, @amb5l, @m42uko, @a-panella, @nv-h for sponsoring me!

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Rutland Water

November 19th, 2023

Recently I’ve been following the Birmingham to Peterborough railway line (in the reverse direction) and the next stop is Oakham in Rutland, England’s smallest county!

Today’s walk traversed three counties! Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, and Rutland. The latter two are firsts for doof.me.uk which is always exciting.

This is Rutland Water, England’s largest reservoir by surface area. It’s also man-made: that building was once the church of the village of Normanton which was flooded when the reservoir was constructed.


November 18th, 2023

Back on the road again and this time heading north-west from Peterborough.
Last time when I reached Peterborough it was already dark so I didn’t get to explore much. Here’s the cathedral.

Peterborough cathedral

The rest of city is a bit a of a dump to be honest. I wouldn’t recommend it.

From there I walked along the river Nene to Stamford in Lincolnshire which is altogether nicer.

River Nene

The town is very picturesque with all the buildings made out of local limestone (the picture below is from a second visit when I returned in the daytime). There’s also a lot of independent shops and restaurants. It seemed so nice in fact that I wondered why I’d never heard of it before. But it turns out I’m just ignorant as the Sunday Times voted it as the best place to live in the Midlands. Unfortunately that means the house prices are all outrageously high and locals can’t afford to live there any more.


Worst Application of Technology Yet

November 9th, 2023

Spotted in a holiday let my parents were staying in. Who asked for a touch-screen operated tap?? (The shower also had the same interface.)

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The Mission to Great Yarmouth

October 27th, 2023

I’ve wanted to continue walking along the North Sea coast since my trip to Sheringham back in June but the next section was quite daunting as the nearest town accessible by public transport was Great Yarmouth about 33 miles away. However I plucked up some courage and stayed overnight in Cromer so I could get an earlier start and began the epic mission!

At 33.7 miles this was close to a doof.me.uk record, beaten only by my trek along Watership Down back in 2015.

Happisburgh lighthouse

The scenery wasn’t all that exciting: just miles and miles of sand dunes and sea wall. And I didn’t stop to look around much as I was trying to keep my average pace above 3mph.


October 16th, 2023

I was struck by the scene of utter desolation on the cover of the Peterborough OS map and knew I had to visit. So I hastily planned a trip starting from March where I left off before.


How I longed to be that that guy trudging head-down along a muddy canal bank.

Actually it wasn’t that bad. Just very flat. And straight. There are some interesting places beyond Peterborough too like Rutland Water and “Leicestershire” so stay tuned.

Bury St Edmunds

September 29th, 2023

Back on the road again! And this time I’m exploring Suffolk. Bury St Edmunds to be exact. Here’s the cathedral, which along with the ruins of the abbey is the main attraction of the town. Although those also a large market and lots of independent shops.

Burt St Edmunds cathedral

First I walked from Newmarket to Bury, and then on a second day from Bury to Thetford. The second section was perhaps more interesting, except the it which involved several miles walking down a dead-straight track through a forest.

Thetford has a bit of a Dad’s Army theme: apparently it was filmed there! They have a museum (closed by the time I arrived) and a new statue in the town centre.

Captain Mainwaring’s statue

New NVC version 1.10.0

July 14th, 2023

The main focus of this release was VHDL-2019 support. Consult the features page for the current status of each LCS. If there is a VHDL-2019 feature you find particularly useful please raise an issue so it can be prioritised.

Download: nvc-1.10.0.tar.gz

This release is signed with my PGP key ID 74319F1A: nvc-1.10.0.tar.gz.sig

  • The Zstandard compression library is now a build dependency. Install libzstd-dev or similar.
  • The integer type is now 64-bit in VHDL-2019 mode.
  • The VUnit VHDL libraries can now be installed with nvc --install vunit but please note this does not install the Python infrastructure.
  • Updated to OSVVM 2023.05 and UVVM 2023.03.21 for nvc --install.
  • Conditional expressions are now allowed in constant, signal, and variable declarations in VHDL-2019 mode.
  • Conditional return statements are now supported in VHDL-2019.
  • Added support for the “function knows vector size” feature in VHDL-2019.
  • Entity ports with variable class and protected type are now supported in VHDL-2019 mode.
  • The xpm_vhdl project which provides VHDL models of the Xilinx XPM macros can now be installed with nvc --install xpm_vhdl.
  • Many improvements to the VHPI implementation (from @Forty-Bot).
  • vhpi_put_value with vhpiDepositPropagate mode is now supported.
  • The Synopsys std_logic_misc package is now compiled for 2008 (#696).
  • Fixed an issue where leading NUL characters in a report message would prevent the entire message being printed (#700).
  • Added support for interfaces in VHDL-2019 including mode view declarations, mode view indications, and the 'converse attribute.
  • Added support for VHDL-2008 matching select? statements (#705).
  • Added support for the new 'designated_subtype and 'index attributes in VHDL-2019.
  • Implemented the date/time functions from std.env in VHDL-2019.
  • The default exit severity was changed from error to failure. This means a failing assertion no longer immediately terminates the simulation. The old behaviour can be restored with --exit-severity=error.
  • Comparison operators as well as minimum/maximum functions are now defined for all scalar array types in VHDL-2019.
  • Added support for selected signal and variable sequential assignment statements.
  • The -a analysis command now accepts an -f list option where list is a text file containing a list of files to analyse. Alternatively this may be written @list.
  • Accesses to protected types and files are now allowed in VHDL-2019.
  • Fixed a crash when indexing a null array (#734).
  • Named and range choices are now supported in aggregate targets of variable and signal assignments (#712).
  • The synopsys.attributes package is no longer distributed or built as part of the standard libraries.

Special thank you to @bpadalino, @tmeissner, @Blebowski, @amb5l, @m42uko, @a-panella, and @ikwzm for sponsoring me!

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