Wednesday, 21 December 2011

God != Santa

Glen Scrivener and the good folks at Eastbourne have produced this nifty poem that contrasts the way many people view God as being a bigger version of Santa with what the God of the Bible is really like:

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Which flat panel TV is best?

For quite a few years, Dad and I used to look at the large flat panel TVs in shops and, although I'm a sucker for shiny new technology, we both agreed that they looked pretty shoddy.

With the advent of HD I reckon that's changed a lot. But walking into a TV shop, not only are there different technologies available, but also a big variation in image and quality.

So what do you do? Well, in the case of my family you wait until they get lots cheaper and your CRT dies, but if you prefer to buy now, here's a handy article from CNET that tells you what to do.

Conclusion? If you watch in the dark, get Plasma, if you watch in daylight get LED LCD, if you want cheap and for your TV to look like the rubbish ones that we used to see, get the other kind of LCD. And if it's a good name manufacturer it will apparently be good whichever you get. As much as they look incredible in the shop with something like Avatar in HD playing on it, there's nowt wrong with waiting for the LEDs to get cheaper, they're still pretty new and expensive.

Balotelli's bib

I didn't see this at the time, but I was reading Henry Winter's football review of the year. It's a decent article, with another priceless quote from Ian Holloway (I hope Blackpool get promoted again soon, I miss him on MOTD), and this bit of video gold:

Not sure how you get to be a pro without being able to put one of these on, but after struggling with them at school, I sympathise.

As an extra reward for reading my blog for this long, here's a cracker of a goal involving every player in the Barcelona team (you'll want to start around the 1:50 mark), courtesy of the Daily Telegraph:

Monday, 19 December 2011

Have you heard of Tim Tebow?

For those of you who don't live in America, you may be unaware of the American Football phenomenon that is Tim Tebow. Despite being widely regarded as not actually that good in a conventional sense (just read the NY Times!), Tebow has spearheaded an astonishing success story at Denver Broncos thus far this season. They were 1-4 at the start of the season (that's 1 win, 4 defeats) when the coach, apparently in desperation, gave Tebow a start. The result? He's 8-2 in starts this season and they look like making the playoffs - an achievement that is astonishing given where they were. 
But the thing that's really getting Denver going is not only the wins but also the manner of the victories. The Denver offense has been pretty ineffectual for the first 3 quarters before pulling some magic out of the bag in the final quarter to win some pretty exciting games. Not only that, but the manner in which Denver has been playing, with some devastating rushing (watch the opening quarter against the Patriots, wow), and Tebow himself choosing to run as much as pass, makes them a very entertaining team to watch, if only for watching the way they make the purists tear their hair out. Analysts are struggling to identify how they're actually doing it - but it seems to have a lot to do with the inspiration the rest of the team draws from Tebow himself, and that man's sheer determination to win.
Tebow runs it again. Credit: USA Today
But Tebow has been an extremely polarizing figure. And it's not mainly because Denver have redesigned pro-level offense to suit his strengths and weaknesses (although they have), but rather the much bigger issue is religion. In a sport where a few players have been convicted of various violent crimes, no one has attracted quite as much vitriol as Tim Tebow. Why? Does he kill people? No, the reason is he has been saved by Jesus, has a relationship with Him, and he wants everyone to know it.
The thing is that religion, especially the Christian Gospel, tends to be a provocative and polarizing topic, and it is something that many people would rather is left out of entertainment & sport (esp. in America where politics and religion are taboo subjects for polite conversation). But Tebow has recognised, quite correctly, that without Jesus he would not be where he is today. His abilities are given him by God, if His team does well, it is because God has made it so - and he is just making sure that everybody else knows that too. He mentions Jesus in every interview (sometimes in nearly every sentence), and a lot of people wish he wouldn't. But why shouldn't he?
Tebow here explains his thinking - listen to it for yourself, he explains it clearly, articulately, and with reasons that I can given a hearty 'amen' to:

As the quarterback of an NFL team, Tebow has what an amazing platform he has to tell others about the Saviour that He loves. On the sideline he can often be seen kneeling for a few moments in prayer - something that has been noticed by others and even has its own name: "Tebowing". Isn't that kinda awesome though? A guy in the NFL is so open about his faith that people have actually started imitating it - I know it's all for fun, but the message is clearly getting across. When he was at college level, the rules permitted writing messages in the makeup that players wear to reduce floodlight glare. The result? 160 million people Googled it. Man, what a megaphone to have.
Tebow flashing Bible verses. Credit:
The thing I love most about Tebow though, is that as well as being courageously open about his beliefs, and making sure that God is given the glory for his successes, he really seems to be genuinely living it out. He hasn't been caught in adultery, he doesn't assault gay people, he doesn't burn copies of the Qu'ran - the most controversial thing he's done is appear in a TV ad for a Christian group that opposes abortion - he seems like a genuinely nice guy and that really shouts in his favour. It is like Paul says in Romans 12:17-21 or Peter in 1 Peter 2:12: even when people are being critical, there is a strong sense that he doesn't deserve the stuff that's been thrown at him and that despite his technical deficiencies he really gives 100% - and it makes his critics look churlish in return.

So keep at it Tim Tebow. Stick by your guns. And keep winning, cos the Broncos are properly entertaining at the moment. And Christians? Pray for him, he is just a man in a very public position, pray that God would keep him strong as a good witness and powerful voice, and that he would not fall into temptation. Praise God that he can put His people even in such places.

It's gonna take some saving before I can afford the shirt though.

Every Star Wars game ever

Great video from Gamespot with a very quick overview of nearly every Star Wars game ever that's worth noticing. Emphasis on nearly: they missed Masters of Teras Kasi (basically Star Wars Tekken), Shadows of the Empire (I never played it but supposedly brilliant), Republic Commando (shockingly), Bounty Hunter (again never actually played) and Force Commander (not the greatest but worth a mention).

Some of the criticism was a little harsh too - Racer on the PC was absolutely awesome, and Yoda Stories was one of the most fun time-wasting games I've ever played on the PC (maybe better as a casual desktop game than as a GBC game).

Still, all in all, a pretty good effort at covering the many many that have been made.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Book recommendations for the football tactics fan

I've recently taken up following a couple of football tactics blogs, and I find the analysis and explanation of why teams win/lose very interesting (I've actually always found the analysis part of MOTD good). At Zonal Marking you can find this list of their suggested books.

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Furniture is heavy. Conversations while moving furniture can also be heavy.

I did a day's temp work yesterday shifting furniture at a local furniture shop - double beds, sofa beds, bookcases, wardrobes, that sort of thing. Turns out that a) they don't sell cheap and nasty mdf furniture, and b) real wood is really heavy.

I also spent a fair chunk of the afternoon debating belief in God with one of the other temps who was there that day. I used to do it loads at school in philosophy lessons, but I've been learning recently about the distinction between simply arguing generically for the existence of 'god', and actually pointing someone to Jesus. The problem with arguing in the abstract is that I'm not really trying to defend belief in 'a god', only belief in the one true God of the Bible. I'm not trying to say 'religion is good' - false religion isn't good - I'm actually kinda with Richard Dawkins on that much.
Ultimately the reason I believe in God, and think Him worth following, isn't because of the Design Argument or the Cosmological Argument (or even the Ontological Argument), it's because I believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus - who was God and man and died to take away my sin, rising again to prove that He had succeeded.

These are the most important questions to answer: who is Jesus? Was He really God? What did He do when He died? Did He rise again? And therefore - can I have a relationship with a God who loves me?
The Death and Resurrection of Jesus is the thing that the whole Bible hinges on - the Old Testament points towards it, and the New Testament exists because of it. All other apologetics are to some extent secondary, they are bridges to these questions - the identity and work of Jesus is of first importance. It is the proof of the validity of the whole Bible and it is the revelation of the character of the God of love and it is the way we can be reconciled to God. (For more on the love of God, check out the latest post on Denise's blog.)

How people respond to Jesus will govern how they respond to God ('if you've seen me you've seen the Father'). I still think apologetics questions are worth answering - but if you never come to the question of Jesus and the Gospel, you won't be coming to the true God.

I'm still learning how to effectively move a conversation from abstract intellectual stuff onto the Gospel - any thoughts? How would you go about that kind of conversation?

And what do you think of Jesus? Is He who He said He is - and why?

Friday, 18 November 2011

Is mobile malware a problem?

This guy says no. On the other hand the article also contains links to places that claim it is. So which is it?

'via Blog this'

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Tintin - my twopenneth

The day before yesterday Denise & I went to see the new Tintin film. We didn't see it in 3D, so I can't comment on that side of things (although I've heard the 3D work is good), but we did watch it in Digital, although I'm not quite sure what the difference is supposed to be in terms of experience.

When I first saw they were releasing a film that wasn't the old TV series I was rather concerned. I've seen movie adaptations of books I like before, and they're often just a little bit disappointing. The strength that the TV series had was that it used the same drawings as the original books - it was just an animated book - not much room to screw things up there.

However, having watched it my fears were quelled and then some. I've watched a few adaptations (looking at you Harry Potter) where you end up with the feeling that the filmmakers didn't really get the books or just weren't fans the way you were (I mean, seriously, how could you consider it even remotely acceptable to leave out winning the Quidditch Cup from Prisoner of Azkaban?? That was the best bit of the book.), but I felt watching Tintin that the creators cared enough to not just approximate the books but also reproduce them. One of the most enjoyable things was seeing that so many characters who appear once and are utterly insignificant were still renderings of the drawings used in the books (example, check out the market seller right at the beginning vs. the same character in Secret of the Unicorn, or the crew of the Karaboudjan). Now, I will say that they've changed story elements, the bad guy in the film wasn't the bad guy in those books, and they've blended The Crab with the Golden Claws with Secret of the Unicorn (which tbh, I expected them to do), but the fact remains that they've included a lot of the material from the books and they've done it in a way that is completely in keeping with the spirit of them, so for once I don't mind.

It's also one of the few adaptations I've seen where the characters are mostly like I imagined them - Jamie Bell is a perfect fit for the youthful sound of Tintin without sounding like a child, while Andy Serkis (of Gollum & King Kong fame) is excellent as Haddock (one day he'll land a major role in a major film where you get to see his face), and Bianca Castafiore is also spot on (I was impressed that they even managed to capture in sound the painful noise that Haddock experiences whilst letting you see why others consider her so good, a job I doubted they could pull off).

Full credit also for the adoption of the motion capture animation. People have said negative things about films like the Polar Express that use it, but the characters looked alive in this, whilst still fairly representing their cartoonish features. One frustration I've had with CGI people in films is that their movements don't quite look real - they're just a little to smooth (or sometimes to jerky) and don't quite feel like they interact with the environment properly - but motion capture gets round that to a fair extent because humans provide the movement and you can really see it in the excellent swashbuckling flashbacks and a few punch-ups (also congratulations to Spielberg for not cutting out the fights and guns of the books - like the books no one actually gets shot dead but it's good to see they've maintained that side of things - you don't have to cut it out for it to qualify as a family film).

So all in all I was thoroughly satisfied with the job they've done with it - it's so nice to watch a film where you know the makers cared as much about the little details as you do - it's clearly the work of someone who wanted to bring the books to life rather than just exploiting the license. Bring on the (highly probable) sequel.

3D without screens through coloured lasers

Maybe one day we will manage to achieve the Star Wars-style holographic displays.

Of course, there are still issues I'd have thought around capturing images that give you 3D that can be viewed from all sides - even 3D cameras only get a 3D perspective of one side. That said, it's still quite exciting:

And as the article says, you can get R and B as well as G - so full colour is possible :)

Credit: CNet

Tim Vine

Probably one of the best stand-ups around. Sometimes you can't beat a good old-fashioned joke. Milton Jones also worth a look. Both manage to keep it pretty clean too, which just goes to show what you can manage if you try.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Black is Back

Yep, Rebecca Black has released another classic. Actually, I think it is better as a song than Friday, one could even go so far as to say the song has an interesting concept. I don't think it'll achieve the same iconic status though.

The 10 best England goals I've seen?

Actually it's as seen by the Telegraph's Henry Winter, but I think I've also seen most of them. Some crackers from the old school of Shearer, Sheringham and Gazza. Comes with Youtube links :)

Henry Winter: The 10 best England goals I've seen - Telegraph:

'via Blog this'

Monday, 14 November 2011

Google are so cool

Not only do they make loads of cool stuff for free, but they also have a secret research lab. Not only that, but it's called Google X and the robotics section is at a secret location. Nice.

Frankly, Apple have got nothing on them.

'via Blog this'

Important advice to web designers

Don't ever, ever make a fully Flash-driven website. Please.

I've recently been looking at the Singtel website to help Denise choose a new phone. But I'd like to share some opinions about the consequences of using Flash:

1) Websites that have a loading bar are incredibly irritating. This is an all-too-common feature of websites that are completely built on Flash. Don't let this happen, I would rather have a less pretty website that loaded at the same speed as any other site. Avoid.

2) Make sure that I can open new items in new tabs. If I am choosing from a range of phones I want to be able to have them all open at once so I don't have to keep going back to the list of search results to look at a different phone. The otherwise excellent website is another example of this - it can only handle one journey being viewed at a time. Not helpful.

3) Flash crashes. I don't want to have to reopen Chrome every time the Flash plugin that is integral to the website's functionality crashes - I like to look at other websites at the same time and don't want to reopen them. I will make an exception for Youtube, as their video player is great. But then again Youtube rarely crashes my plugin.

So there you go, three important considerations the next time you consider building a website out of Flash. Don't. Try HTML 5.0.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Fabregas learned well from Wenger

It appears that Cesc Fabregas has learned well from his time at Arsenal. First by taking one too many passes in front of goal when he should have shot, and then by complaining about 'negative tactics'. Eerily reminiscent of Arsene Wenger's complaints about Stoke.

'via Blog this'

Thursday, 10 November 2011

But have you prayed about it?

We tend to plan without praying, or worry without praying. Here's a reminder about the correct ratio of talk/worry:prayer.

via More than Watchmen Wait

Animals Behaving Badly

via Tastefully Offensive

Friday, 4 November 2011

Image Resizing Made Easy with PHP | Nettuts+

Working on an image website - needed a good way to create thumbnails in php - look no further...

Image Resizing Made Easy with PHP | Nettuts+:

'via Blog this'

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Cat scares itself

There's something about cats - they're just smart enough to manipulate the world around them, but dumb enough that they're funny...

Source: 22Words

Monday, 10 October 2011

Choose your own font

I've recently been trying to teach myself a bit of web design. Well, I've got the brain to do the web part, but the design ain't my area of natural talent.

A big problem? What font to use. Step up this handy diagram, although a section for websites would be good too:

Source: 22 Words

Has John Cage considered this?

At the risk of comic upheaval - here's a second post on the subject of music!

I don't know if John Cage has considered this, but it seems right up his street:

At the very least it's subject matter for a Billy Joel song.

Audio gives the most bang for your buck

I tweeted earlier about how listening to the Dark Knight soundtrack makes even mundane tasks like tidying your wardrobe feel slightly heroic. And that reminded me of a comment I half-remembered from George Lucas.

In this interview, George Lucas comments on how he believes that audio is 50% of a movie's impact, and a good soundtrack gives you the most bang for your buck in terms of impact.

Given that he worked on Star Wars I can see why he thinks that. But it's probably true, if you ever watch a scene (esp. the threatening ones) and consider what's actually happening onscreen vs. the way the music makes you feel, you'll realise what an effect it has.

I was searching for a source for the quote when I came across this interview with John Williams about the Star Wars soundtracks. The most interesting part for me were his comments on how an orchestral score appealing to the traditional nature of the stories was an important factor in its popularity, his thoughts on George Lucas' modifications to the original films, and a nice story about how the cantina band tune came about. Worth a look.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Christian rap

Christian rap has been around for a while now, and to be quite frank, I don't know much about it. I don't listen to rap much, but what I will say is that it seems a great medium for putting a message across because it is so word-heavy you can pack a lot of meaning into the lyrics of one song. That said I don't think it would work in church. John Piper likes it though...

I was digging through some bits of paper looking for a password, and I came across a rap I wrote way back in my second year at uni. Some of the rhymes are a bit weak, but it's a bit better than I remember. What do you think? Do you agree with the words? Any bits that should say something different? What's your opinion of Christian rap as a whole? Do you have a favourite artist?

Anyway, comment away, here goes:

God is one God in persons three,
A holy trinity,
Perfectly relating to each other,
And God also wants for you and me,
To be,
In a relationship with Him for all eternity.

He created the world by His word,
All the beauty around more than we deserved,
For Him to give and to be served,
Friendship and harmony in Eden,
Humankind in perfect freedom,
In our perfection we could see Him,
And He provided for all our needing,
And it could have stayed this way.

But we rebelled against Him,
And decided to do our own thing,
Rather than acknowledge Him as King,
But because this is wrong we bring,
A curse on creation and humanity to ruination,
The wrong in the world results from this alienation,
And we deserve His punishment on us, eternal separation,
From the source of all good and are left only with the bad and His wrath in Hell eternal condemnation.

But God so loved the world that He sent His only Son,
Jesus, who mankind shunned,
Came to Earth as fully God and full man,
Lived a perfect life like none of the rest of us can,
But we put Him on a cross,
God's perfect plan, but at great cost,
He suffered for us God's wrath,
And gave up His life for us,
But that was not hope lost.
After three days He rose from the grave,
Conquering sin and Satan, us He saved,
And our sins He forgave,
And that's the best news because to sin we all are slaves.

And if you believe in Him,
Turning from your sin,
He'll forgive you and welcome you in,
But because He loves you that's the thing,
And why Christians sing,
Out of gratitude for His suffering,
that set us free from Hell and death,
That our final earthly breath,
Will not spell eternal pain,
But rather we will eternal life gain.

That's what Christianity is about,
And anything that denies these facts,
Is false and should not be passed about,
That you should not doubt,
From Genesis to Revelation,
The Bible is a proclamation of salvation to the nations,
from generation to generation.
How do I know this is true?
Because it says so in the Bible,
God's infallible word to me and you.

So do you think that you are perfect,
No wrongdoing to detect, correct? Don't even suspect?
None of us are without defect,
Life not directed by the One who demands our awe and respect,
Do these thoughts not affect you and make you circumspect?
Gain the whole world and lose your soul to what profit?
Think it's a trick?
No, the evidence for its truth is historic.
Do you believe that? You pick.

N.B. Best read in a rapping sort of rhythm - it makes it flow a little better.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Peking? No, but I had a jolly good look...

Unfortunately they changed the name of Peking to Beijing, which means the joke no longer works. But yes, I just got back from China.
The joke is from these old PG Tips adverts. Still some of the best adverts I've seen.

More about China itself to follow, I still need to organise my life:

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Social networking IS a bit strange...

This is what Facebook & Twitter would be like if you took them literally:

I mean, poking especially - kinda weird when you think about it.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

I'm alive, and exams are dead!

So, I finished my last exam of university this afternoon. It's a strange feeling, thinking that I have no more work to submit towards my degree. 4 years and now it's done. Weird.

The last two weeks have been really intense. I had four exams in five days in the first week, and between then and my exam last Wednesday I had been spending long hours in the Learning Grid. I don't think I've ever revised with this level of intensity and focus, although I'm sorry to say my discipline dropped off for this final exam, as I had nearly a week to prepare from Wednesday's. Nonetheless, the exams seem to have gone pretty well (maybe better than they have a right to), and God has been gracious. Moreover I also feel more satisfied with this year's work than previous years.

I've been keeping a spreadsheet of marks from my degree - incorporating all my previous module scores and my coursework marks from this year. We've had a much higher percentage of coursework this year, and it's gone very well (including a third year module I took to overCAT). I need roughly an average of 75% from this year to guarantee a 1st (although if you're close the exam board may decide to give you one if your projects are good) and with my coursework, it's basically left me needing to average 70% from my exams and Group Project. It's impossible to predict though, and I've made some conservative entries in my spreadsheet. We've had good feedback on the project, and I'm hopeful, but I'll know for sure on results day.

Regardless, God has been good throughout my time at university. I've not been proud of my workrate all the time, but God, thankfully, does not work on the basis of Karma - He gives graciously and according to His will - and I know I can trust that whatever the outcome, it will be with my best interest in view.

On a lighter note, I think my exams highlight was hearing the account of a (nameless-for-their-own-protection) fellow student who was writing in an exam and went into a daydream mid-sentence. On returning to the hear-and-now they discovered to their horror that they had written an obscenity directed at the lecturer in place of the rest of the sentence. In panic they scribbled it out and then went to hit ctrl+f to find if it had happened at any other points - then realised it was a paper exam...

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Revision + Tired = ?

I had a moment just now where I can zoned out for a little bit as I'm feeling quite tired (cue bed soonish). Here's the last thing I wrote, about the difference between threads and processes. See if you can tell which bit was written after I zoned out:
All threads on one process have the same global data and stack and code. The only difference would be to either thing it doesn't really matter. Whereas more western language would be be able to get with it as our only language.
I'm not even sure where that all came from!

RIBA awards 2011

BBC News - In pictures: RIBA awards 2011

Some really cool buildings here, also testing a blogging extension for Chrome that I added this morning.

Now back to revision...

NSFR - Not Safe For Revision

One of the interesting things about revision is that online flash games suddenly become mind-blowingly interesting. I haven't actually spent much time at all on these two, but they're both potentially quite addictive:

Stick Cricket - Surrey edition
The original stick cricket has been around for ages, but this is a mod for Surrey that has a couple of nice features (such as batsmen changing ends):
Yeah, I'm pretty rubbish at it... (proof I haven't played much!)

This game is hugely challenging - it starts off easily enough, but gets very hard, very quickly. The best I managed was 80 seconds - again cos I haven't been playing much, ok?
As you can see this game is about to go pear-shaped

So anyway, if you are looking for something to occupy your time with, go do something more useful. If you're looking to waste away your life, these are a great way to do it.

Your Apple is now no safer than Snow White's...

Well, that's an exaggeration, but it would appear that there's been an increase in the number of Mac-attacks recently. It is hardly surprising that as Macs become more widespread, the attention turned on them increases.

I've always believed that Macs survive largely because no one has bothered to write a virus for them, rather than because they're just so amazing.

I know this is kind of wrong, but it is particularly enjoyable reading the comments thread and thinking about all the smug Mac fanboys who actually have to think about viruses (I'm sorry, but the amount people go on about their Macs, I can hardly help feeling smug when something like this happens!).

So yes, I confess to writing this with a little smirk on my face... :-)

Bad news PS3 lovers

Because PSN has been hacked...again!

James has the details. Over to you James.

Update: You're in luck, the article James linked to now reports the problem has been patched. Phew.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Some news

There isn't much to say, Blogger was down the other day - it was a strange feeling.

I went for a run this morning as part of my new plan to have an exercise regime. Both for physical fitness, and because discipline in exercise teaches you discipline in other areas too. Which would be useful, I procrastinate too much and need to pray more.

Revision is the usual hard slog - even the ever nearing nature of the exams doesn't spice it up.

Had an early morning 5.20 prayer meeting this morning - I like this new scheme that's been introduced. We're having an early morning 5.20 prayer meeting every other week, with a whole-CU one on the alternate weeks. I like the idea - it'll be like a little bit of mission week, but every week! I suckered myself in for doing a devotion at the next 5.20 one after I suggested it would be a good idea. I say suckered in, I'm actually quite excited, I haven't done one since I was on committee, and I rather enjoy it. :-)

Singaporean Bible study this evening - I enjoy it as people aren't afraid to voice their opinions (and Christians from Singapore seem to have some varying opinions...), and you really end up working to think through the answers. The study guide is on Galatians and is made by Matthias Media, who seem pretty good. It asks the obvious, difficult, questions rather than the obvious, easy ones - which means that it's much more satisfying to work out the answers. It's also really cool hanging out with Christians from another country, but knowing that there are some really solid people there too. I love how global Christianity is, and how global God's vision for the church is.

Unbelievable half-court shots taken blind

Students at a school in Kansas decided to play a prank on their basketball coach, where they told him if he scored a shot from halfway while blindfolded he'd win tickets to the National Collegiate Athletic Association's 'Final Four' - whatever that is....
Incredibly, he actually does it:

(apparently he then had to settle for a restaurant voucher, it would seem they weren't expecting him to succeed...)

Perhaps even more incredibly, a reporter was doing a news article on the incident, and replicated the feat completely by accident:
(n.b. best watched with sound)

Sunday, 15 May 2011

New Spurs keeper

I think this chap might be a suitable candidate if they want someone more reliable than Gomes at Spurs :P

I bet he comes cheap too.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Project c'est fini

Unusually, a post about my life.

Finally put our group project to bed today as we gave our final presentation. It went very well, with the demo working perfectly although it was a good job we'd practised cos we found a lot of bugs in the website (the video application worked perfectly, obviously... or at least the bits that needed to!).

Report was in last week, and looked pretty swish. All that remain now are exams - it will require hard work but I'm optimistic.

Friday, 6 May 2011

An AV irony

A quick thought about AV. An irony I'm currently enjoying.

AV is about giving a fairer voice to democracy. Accurately representing the views of the British public, if you will.

However, the British public have voted comprehensively No.

So does this make them right or wrong? If the vote of the people is 'right', then there is no grounds for complaint about this result. If they are 'wrong', then should we really be trying to give the public a fairer representation? After all, they can't be trusted to know how to vote...right?

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

End of the season and technology dramas

Gomes scrambles back after his fumbleAfter Saturday's loss, it's rather looking like Spurs won't be getting Champions League football next season. We should top Liverpool as we have a game in hand, but Spurs have underachieved against the smaller teams and have paid the price. That said, we was robbed on Saturday. Much has been written on the subject of technology in football, but nothing has changed. I think Harry Redknapp hit the nail on the head when he suggested that the reason for this is that the ones making the decisions didn't have the idea, and so they are refusing to implement it. Technology has been used to great effect in many other sports, only football lags behind with absurd ideas about lower levels not being able to have technology (as if that bothers the other sports), and once again a team has been hard done by because of a lack off willingness to implement something that already has solutions ready to go.

Aaron Ramsey scores Arsenal's goal Spurs could still overhaul Man City, and that match against them will be a crucial 6-pointer, but it seems unlikely at this stage. I'm also still backing Man Utd to win the league, but it could get interesting. Again, Man Utd v Chelsea will be a crucial game in the title race. I almost wonder if Arsenal could do it, but with only three games left that seems absurdly unlikely. I think of all the teams though, Man Utd deserve it the most - they have had the most consistent, if not most spectacular, form throughout the course of the season. Wenger will need to bring in some experience if he's going to deliver some victories next season, Arsenal can be great, but have some big flaws, especially as Fabregas is good enough to go looking in more silvery climes.

I also really hope that Blackpool stay up. If they could just sort out their defence they could do pretty well in the Premiership, and it would be sad to lose Ian Holloway from Match of the Day.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Slo Mo Jell-O

Apologies for the Americanised title, but it rhymes, so I felt the sacrifice was worth it. I saw this slow motion video of a jelly cube bouncing, and it looks pretty cool.

I don't know about you, but I love watching things shot with those super-high framerate slow motion cameras - you see all sorts of things that you never noticed before. Things that used to look solid and stable actually wobble all over the place (for example, when cricket ball hits the bat, the bat wobbles all over the place in a way you just can't see normally:

Top marks for my favourite slow motion shots though, has to go to water droplets. Check these bad boys out:

The best bits are at the end of this one, I just find it amazing the way the droplets actually sit on the surface of the water due to surface tension, it's crazy and you just don't see it in real time. I love this universe:

Osama Bin Laden

In case you hadn't noticed, the internet has gone crazy today as the Americans have announced that they have, at last, killed Osama Bin Laden. There isn't really much yet to say on this topic, although the BBC News website will probably give you all the information you could ever need - past, present and future...

At risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, I do have a couple of questions about the veracity of the claims - an issue that the BBC doesn't seem to have yet addressed. I don't really doubt that it's true, but I find the fact that they've buried him already, and at sea, so there's no body to show, a little surprising - this is the kind of thing that I'd have thought you should be confirming beyond a shadow of doubt. That said, it was announced by the President, which means they are probably pretty convinced - and are at least convinced that they won't be proved wrong!
I guess it makes sense, as then he doesn't have a tomb that can be either made a focal point for terrorists or to be defaced - and you don't want terrorists attacking the military to recover the body either.

I'm not really surprised that he died in the raid, although it would be interesting to know the circumstances - it's much more convenient for the Americans that he died there - no messy trials, no questions about appropriate punishment, and no risk of terrorist attacks to carry out a jailbreak. I'll leave other people to discuss whether it's better this way, or whether justice would have been better served if he had been kept alive (although maybe that wasn't even an option in the end).

I realise reading this over that I sound like a classic conspiracy theorist, but I'm not really - I'd rather believe that the Americans are right on this one, I just thought I'd voice a couple of questions that sprang to mind and see if anyone had a good explanation for it.

I confess to some satisfaction that some form of justice appears to have been served, but it will be interesting to see what the implications of this event actually are. One fears reprisals, and also you have to recognise that, unlike in stories, killing the leader does not necessarily mean total victory. Al Qaeda is not like Voldemort, they do not have 7 Horcruxes that just need destroying before final victory is achieved. Maybe it is a step in the right direction though.

And yet, whilst on one level I feel satisfaction that he has faced the consequences of his actions, I also pity him, because he is not now going to his 72 virgins, but is rather standing before God, and will have to account for his life, and it will not go well for him. This seems to me a prompting to pray for a change of heart amongst terrorists and those who would become terrorists - and turn to a God who does not want His kingdom expanded through violence and coercion, but rather has suffered violence in order to win us through love.
Edit: For a more complete treatment of this last part, see Denise's blog.

As a related side note, I was prompted by this news to have a look through Youtube and I found this video, which contains some genuinely remarkable amateur footage of the 9/11 attacks, there's an astonishingly close view of the second plane hitting around 2:22. I still find it quite hard to get my round the fact that 9/11 really happened in America. I mean, obviously it did, but like with 7/7 you just don't expect things like this to happen in 'safe' countries like the US and the UK (I live in the days after IRA bombs after all).

Friday, 29 April 2011

Royal Wedding quiz

We had a Royal Wedding-themed Globe this evening, and as part of it I ran a quiz on aspects of the wedding of varying obscurity. Here are the questions - answers at the bottom (no cheating!):

1) What is the name of Kate Middleton’s sister? (1 point)
            a. Anna
            b. Pippa
            c. Milicent
            d. Harry

2) Name the venue for the wedding. (1 point)

3) What will be the new title of William and Kate? (1 point)

4) Three points if you can name the three hymns that were sung in the service today: (3 points)

5) There was a lot of speculation about who would design Kate’s dress, but in the end, who was it? (1 point)
             a. Sally Bercow
             b. Sarah Burton
             c. Bruce Oldfield
             d. She made it herself

6) In which country were William and Kate when they got engaged? (1 point)

7) There has been quite a bit of fuss over the fact that the wedding is publicly funded – but how much was actually directly funded by the taxpayer? (1 point)
8) David & Victoria Beckham, were invited to the wedding, but which pair of significant British figures were left out? (2x0.5 points)

9) Which two living Prime Ministers were invited? (2 points)

10) There was a lot of fuss made about the kiss on the balcony of Buck House, but whose wedding kicked off the tradition? (1 point)

So, how did you do? Comment and post your scores - compare!
The score is out of thirteen - and the best mark at Globe today was 12. I was very impressed no team scored under 10, I clearly didn't make it hard enough!
But in case you struggled, here are the answers:

1) b) Pippa
2) Westminster Abbey
3) Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
4) Bread of Heaven, Love Divine all loves excelling, Jerusalem
5) b) Sarah Burton - the expected designer was a popular choice, and the dress was widely praised, with some even likening Kate Middleton's appearance to that of Grace Kelly. Sarah Bercow is the wife of the speaker of the House of Commons, and Bruce Oldfield was speculate as an alternative.
6) Kenya - they were on a ten day trip celebrating William's completion of an RAF training course.
7) Only the security was directly funded - this cost the taxpayer £20 million including all security on the day, anti-terror operations and bank holiday pay. Everything else was funded by the Queen and Prince Charles or by the Middletons themselves.
8) Tony Blair and Gordon Brown - at Charles & Diana's full state wedding, all living British Prime Ministers were invited, but not so here as it was not a state wedding.
9)  John Major and Baroness Thatcher - John Major was appointed guardian to William and Harry after Diana's death, and both are appointed to the Order of the Garter, the highest knighthood in the land, along with William.
10) Charles & Diana - a spontaneous kiss kicked off a tradition of a public kiss at royal weddings - today you got two - absolute bargain!

Royal Wedding

For proper pictures of the wedding see Denise's blog.

This is how it should've been done:

Thursday, 28 April 2011

How to get a football contract

According to the BBC, this one and a half year old Dutch lad has landed himself a 10-year contract with his local football club. This is clearly the way to get into the game - score a hat-trick and get your dad to post it on Youtube.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Double Dream Hands

I don't know how many of you have seen John Jacobson's Double Dream Hands video, but it's a bit of an internet classic and one of my coursemates loves it:

Well, he's released a new video called Double Dream Feet:

I just love how happy he is in his videos. He seems to basically churn out songs and choreography for musicals designed for schools to perform, based on the belief that all kids should enjoy music. There's an interview with him here, and if you're really interested, you can even download his catalogue!

As a bonus, here's a video of him performing Double Dream Hands with the staff of the Ellen Degeneres Show for her birthday - it seems she was quite a fan of the video. If anything it's even better in an ensemble. Maybe we should record a DCS version...:

God in the city

Sometimes I look at an environment like the finance industry, and wonder whether any Christians exist there, and how long they last. I had a few graduating friends who wanted to get into finance, which was news to me, as it didn't seem like the kind of occupation a Christian would be inclined to follow.

Well, turns out there are a surprisingly large number of Christians in banking. And as for how being a Christian squares with all that money-making industry, given the 'love of money is the root of all kinds of evil' and 'it is harder for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God' bits in the Bible, it is helpfully pointed out that it is the love of money, and that money is a gift from God. The question is not whether you earn money or not, but what your attitude towards that money is, and what you do with it.

How to hack like the movies

I don't know about you, but I've always been bothered by the way hackers in films can get crack open any computer system in the world with a few key presses and a couple of seconds, no password crackers, no rainbow tables, no issues about connecting remotely, nothing.

Well, now you can too, with HackerTyper.

Also worth a read is this article on computer usability in movies by Jakob Nielsen. Check out the side article on the astonishing compatibility between human and alien computer systems at the end of Independence Day too, that scene always bothered me - although I think it's one the of those wonderful films that's so bad it's great...

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Does the Bible's account of the Resurrection add up?

I was on the interwebs today and came across a 'quiz' by an atheist that included some questions about the events in the gospel accounts surrounding the Resurrection, with the purpose of showing that the Bible accounts were inconsistent.

I confess I hadn't noticed these before, so I had a look at the Gospel accounts to see if this was accurate, turns out there are a few apparent inconsistencies (pertaining who went to the tomb when, and who they met when there etc.). Here are the 4 accounts:

Dilemma, eh? Well, I had a look on the internet, and found what seems to be a pretty good accounting for the whole thing here.

As an interesting aside, it is also of note that the Bible characters confound the popular myth that is put round that people in those times where credulous and prepared to believe any old miracles, because they were superstitious and not naturalists like us. Well, in actual fact, I think the Jews of that time were probably not that different. Sure, they believed the Old Testament miracles, but there had been 400 years since the last significant prophetic activity - I imagine they saw miracles as a thing of the past.

However, more than that, firstly, Luke was a doctor, and he describes his intent to put together an orderly account based on interviews of eyewitnesses - he was systematic and thorough in seeking the facts.

Secondly, the couple on the road to Emmaus were also sceptical. They had been told that Jesus was risen, and yet rather than rushing to believe in a miracle, they were doubtful, and it was only when Jesus appeared to them, explaining how the whole Bible pointed to Jesus and His resurrection, that they actually believed.

Thirdly, Thomas was a thorough sceptic. Even when the other 11 said that they had actually seen Jesus, he still refused to believe until he saw Jesus for himself. He did not believe until he saw Jesus for himself.

Lastly, the Gospels also describe that Jesus explicitly told them that he must die and rise again, but when he did, rather than taking what he said at face value, the disciples debated what he meant by 'rising from the dead'. If they were quick-to-believe primitives, surely they would have worked out what Jesus meant? But they knew that dead men did not rise from the dead (even though they had seen Jesus do miracles, they were still slow to believe).

The Gospel account of the Resurrection is coherent, and is not simply the work of gullible, superstitious believers. The whole of the Christian faith hangs on the Resurrection - it is the evidence that proves that Jesus' redeeming work on the Cross worked. As Paul says in 1 Cor. 15 - if He did not rise from the dead, we will not also rise, and thus we have no hope for the future and of all men, Christians are the most pitiable. If we believe the Resurrection, we can believe anything else that the Bible says, because it is the summit - the whole Bible is aiming to this point.

The Resurrection is the central truth of the Christian faith - everything else stands or falls with it - so what do you think, do you find it credible?

Saturday, 23 April 2011

I perform this way

Weird Al Yankovic is releasing a song spoofing Lady Gaga's Born This Way - apparently she thinks it's great, which shows a good sense of humour, since it's kinda making fun of her:

Friday, 22 April 2011


Hi fans,

By now you should have noticed that I am no longer using my Tumblr-based blog and have transferred over to this one.

I mainly chose to move because Blogger gives you way more customisation options, and I want to make my blog look more awesome (work in progress at the moment).

I've added some widgets and a couple of extra pages, including a list of blogs and (soon) other websites that I enjoy and want to share. This blog will continue what I started on my old blog, with hopefully a little more intelligent material.

As you'd expect there are facilities for sharing posts and you can subscribe to the RSS feed.


P.S. I've already added a couple of posts - one a Portal 2 trailer (which looks great btw), and an article on Pascal.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Pascal's Wager and the King's Jester

Last week I went to New Word Alive, I may post some stuff about how that was, but it gave me a ripe load of profound material for posting on here. There were several highlights, and one of the most interesting was a session in the morning on Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician and theologian, given by Carl Trueman.

Denise has already addressed this, but I'm my own man, so I'm going to write about it too!

Two interesting thoughts came out of Trueman's account of Pascal. Pascal is significant for his analysis of the way human beings tick, and he planned to publish this in a great work on apologetics. He died before its completion and his notes are published in his Pensees.

The first interesting point was the misunderstood nature of Pascal's Wager. The Wager is traditionally thought to state that people should believe in God because if they do believe in God and they're wrong, they just die and don't lose out, whereas if they don't believe in God and are wrong then they're in deep trouble. However, this interpretation of the Wager a) does not agree with the teaching of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 (that if Christ is not raised we are of all men the most pitiable) and b) does not actually square with the other writings of Pascal himself.
Rather than this interpretation, actually Pascal was trying to expose a human inconsistency. As a mathematician, Pascal noticed that humans make decisions in life based on a percentage game. Humans, Pascal says, calculate the percentage risks involved in various courses of action and choose actions in an attempt to minimize the negative risk (for example we wait to cross the road until the probability of getting run down is the lowest). Ask any Game Theorist and he will tell the same story, human beings are risk averse. However, despite our claim to rationality in the matter of God, Pascal uses the Wager to show that if we were simply playing our usual percentage game that we use in the rest of life, we should believe in God. Yet we don't. Pascal argues that we are inconsistent and this exposes that our beliefs about God are not just intellectual - they are moral choices.

The second insight from Pascal was in his posing the question: Why do Kings need Jesters? Most people have to spend their time worrying and working to live, worrying where money and food will come from. The king, however, does not have these worries to occupy his thoughts. Indeed, if he is left to his own thoughts, his mind starts to dwell on the only thing over which he has no control whatsoever - death, human mortality, and what comes after. Thus the king needs jesters and courtiers to entertain him, to keep his mind busy.
This, Trueman points out, is why we are willing to pay so much money to footballers and film stars, and comparatively little to the politicians who run the country. We are subconsciously declaring the truth - that we consider entertainment to be more important than government, because it is entertainment that keeps us distracted from our own mortality (this is also, Trueman suggested, why people today are so apathetic towards God - because entertainment is so readily available, there are numerous ways to hide).

So there you have it; a misconception busted and a penetrating insight into the human psyche.
Up next: a cat does something funny!

A sample video

Here's a youtube video I wanted to test with:

This is a test post

This is a test post to see what this is going to look like.