It’s not hard to feel uneasy. We’re often taken out of our comfort zone, in all kinds of circumstances — whether an awkward conversation with a colleague, finding oneself sitting in the hotseat in an adversarial customer meeting, or perhaps just when popping to the local chip shop for a bag of chips on a Saturday night after 10pm.

Life throws all manner of confrontational, weird/strange; sometimes outright dangerous situations in our path, even in the most mundane of circumstances. There’s no need to travel vast distances across remote territories in order to find perplexing discomfort. And because nobody can…


Some of my earliest (…) memories are of getting up at 5am and having nothing to do. In order to avoid my parents' wrath for waking them up too early, I would turn on the TV. Video games could take up to 30 minutes to load on my ZX Spectrum, so gaming in the early morning wasn’t a first choice.

But in the mid-1980s there wasn’t much to watch on TV that early, or at least there wasn’t much to watch where I grew up. So I would watch Open University lecture recordings that had been made in the early…


It is often written that jazz is a genre that won’t come to you; you’ll need to go to it. And that’s never more true than for free jazz.

Free jazz was born of the artistic frustration of being boxed-in and constrained in performance by audiences, publishers and promoters alike to the musical styles that had become so popular in the late 1950s and early 1960s — hard bop, bebop, and modal jazz in particular, as well as the styles of the past. Musicians wanted creative freedom to make music on their terms.

Musical creative freedom, or rather freedom of…


One of my favourite film quotes, is from the eponymous 80s flick Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It goes

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Life certainly does move fast; but technology moves even faster still, and today’s hot new tech paradigm is tomorrow’s leftover Xmas nut roast and brussels sprouts.

A Cheyenne soldier, always battle-ready | Source: Wikipedia.org Copyright: Dori

In “Is ChromeOS the most advanced OS on the market today?”, I disassembled Google’s Chrome OS, and attempted to demonstrate that it’s inner workings are not just 5 years ahead of the rest of the market, but…


image courtesy Procolocutor at wikipedia.org

In 1991, Digital Equipment Corporation [DEC] cancelled the VAX VMM engineered system programme - just as it was reaching market readiness. The VAX VMM proposition presented a sophisticated, US Department of Defense Orange Book level A1 capable Multi Level Security (MLS) computer system.

DEC had invested considerable effort into developing the VMM computer OS, and closely integrating it with the VAX-series minicomputer hardware platform, to make a robust, highly secure solution for enabling concurrent processing of different classifications of data, compliant with the Biba or the Bell-LaPadula integrity models, all in the one computer system.

The reasons for the programme…


A few days ago I finally took the difficult decision to decommission my trusty, but decrepit 2011 Apple Macbook Pro. I switched up to a shiny new Google Pixelbook running ChromeOS. Making the move to ChromeOS, I found some good, some bad and some ugly along the way.

What’s a Pixelbook anyway?

Pixelbook is Google’s own line of laptops running Google ChromeOS. ChromeOS is based on the free, open source Linux project and as such ChromeOS is also given away in the form of ChromiumOS. …


A 2014 research paper got me thinking about the relative impact of Nitrous Oxide, Carbon Dioxide, and Methane on global warming. The results were surprising.

The paper (https://www.nature.com/articles/srep03950) suggests that Nitrous Oxide [N2O] release into the atmosphere by urea and ammonia based fertilizers used in agricultural land management can be mitigated by adding nitrification inhibitors such as DMPP to the fertilizer.

N2O is widely purported (http://theconversation.com/meet-n2o-the-greenhouse-gas-300-times-worse-than-co2-35204) to be about 300 times more potent a greenhouse gas as Carbon Dioxide [CO2], so surely introducing N2O preventing additives could be a quick fix to save the world, I thought.

But after some…


So, I’m working on a new data processing system that we’re calling the Barbarian Data System. Our idea is to build and ship a better implementation of the Apache Hadoop stack — or at least, the bits that are still relevant, which in our opinion are primarily Apache Hive and Apache SolrCloud.

It couldn’t have been better timed — Cloudera and HortonWorks announced they’re merging just this week and their CEO expressed his aspiration for the new firm to be “the next Oracle”. …

Rob Gibbon

I believe that progress and profit can be sustainable, that we can all benefit from individual liberty, and that every creature deserves dignity.

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