Monday, 14 October 2019

New Dog("Harvey")

For around five years, we have been waiting for our circumstances to be right to take in a dog. Similarly to my feelings on spawning a child, I felt strongly that we should get a rescue. Now that I've done it, it is the only way I would feel comfortable doing it again. 

One major hurdle we faced was that my partner is hugely allergic to many dogs and there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to what sets her off. So, this summer when we felt we were in a suitable position to approach the Dog's Trust, we were not expecting it to happen fast. 

Like so many, I bond quickly with dogs. So I was digging in expecting to have my heart broken each time we saw a potential match. 

Then came Harvey! 

Harvey was aloof, stressed out and a bit of a dick to other dogs. He was a stray from Wales, who was not house trained but knew some tricks and had a chip so must have been homed at some point. 

He was beautiful. 

We met him, my girlfriend did not explode, and we took him for a walk. He played and responded to treats. He was a gent. 

Harvey is what you call 'unsocialised', meaning that he probably didn't spend time with other puppies while growing up. He also knew how to sit, paw and lie down, which again reinforces that he must have spent some time in a home. 

Skipping to the end a little; we had him on a trial and have now adopted him officially. I walk him at unsociable hours in remote places to minimise his contact until he is more comfortable, if ever, with other dogs. In almost every other way conceivable, he is the perfect gentleman at home. His house training seems to have been in place all along, just hampered by the stress of being in a kennel. He is playful and intelligent. 

I wanted to post this to urge anyone thinking of getting a dog, to consider adopting if your circumstances are right. If you're nervous then talk to the trust. They are just amazing human beings who are always willing to help you make their dog's life better in spite of being insanely busy. The support is of great value to us and I can't applaud them enough. 

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

new braintidy()

I made a thing :)

BrainTidy is a desktop app which I am developing to help myself, and others organise their day from the outset.

Follow the link and see if this free alpha is worth developing any further, then by all means get back to me here, on the website or on twitter @medthepirate

Monday, 4 May 2015

Synergy Shift Problem with Windows Server (windows 10)

Just thought I'd get this down as all I found on the net failed to help me.

A while ago there was a windows 8 update that caused machines to crash. Said update also stopped Synergy servers from sending the shift key to clients. See the link here for information on that.

github discussion about windows update k27blahblah

None of the workarounds or fixes worked for me as I'm currently using Windows 10 tech preview.

So I found a solution:

Either switch to the linux machine as the server...


[step 1]
On whichever distro you're using workout how to assign keys to a command. Then pick two keys you don't think you'll need as much as shift..

[step 2]
Make sure you have xdotool installed:


             sudo apt-get install xdotool

[step 3]
Open the keyboard shortcut settings menu

[step 4]
Add a shortcut and assign it to a key, naming it shift_up.

[step 5]
In the 'command' field type:

             xdotool keydown Shift

[step 6]
Repeat steps 4 and 5 for a shift up key using 'keyup' instead of 'keydown'

I did this in mint. It will have a similar equivalent in Ubuntu and is definitely easily figured out in Suse etc.

If your machine is quick you could write a shell script and point the shortcut to it which has an if else statement so you can use just one key.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

paradigm problems

The more I think about it, the more I think that our education system has things backwards. It seems to me that learning to count in decimal is fine, but why not introduce the concept of powers earlier? Or rather, when powers are introduced, why isn't it applied to our base ten counting system. This would give kids an extraordinarily powerful understanding of how number systems are formed. I can't remember it being explicit in our learning material; maybe it was. 

That said things may have changed a lot in 20 years..

By the by, I feel the same way about radians and degrees. I don't think they're harder. In fact I think that both of these concepts *could* help some kids conceptualise numbers and mathematical problems far better if they didn't have to see it from the point of view of their educator. Ask yourself how big a degree is.. then ask why. Apart from it having many possible factors it seems almost arbitrary.

Whereas radians have an iron clad concept.

Rant over. Off to my exam.

Friday, 28 November 2014


Finding balance in your life is a difficult, but important goal. But computer science/maths is teaching me some useful ways to define it.
Defining it, after all is key to creating and maintaining it. So here's my question to you; "How do you define balance?"
Here's my two pennies worth.
  1. Define it - sit down and set your goals for things, relationships, finance and the your development this might help. it helps me
  2. Refocus each day - here are some tools I use personally. But you can do it on paper or in your head in the shower. I sometimes use a recording to give me headings to think on and brief/debrief each day
  3. Take Action - make sure when you have filtered your action plan to the daily level you follow it and record your progress towards each goal
  4. Refocus twice a year - I do the goalsetting thing every six months to refresh my goals and adjust for new priorities. That's why I made it
I hope you find all that useful. It is the system I use to manage my development as a computer scientist, musician, martial artist, parent, security operative, teacher, lover, friend, uncle, brother, son, and everything else that I turn my skills towards in the future.
My website has had some pretty big updates lately, including a new web based image editor (beta) and some new videos. check out for regular updates.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014


Here are some of my favourite quotes from the last month of door work:

"I'm a professional boxer." Announced by an overweight girl at 'The Association' in Ripley. She wasn't..

"You'll get used to the locals here.." Said by EVERYONE! What's the deal? I haven't reacted badly to 'the locals'.

"Hang on a minute mate, I just bought a drink.." Gentleman I asked to leave because he punched someone.

"You're posh aren't you" ... No... I'm southern, shut up.

"... so he said 'can I have a word outside?' an' I said 'that's not happening mate'. I mean I'm not 'urting no one, just a bit of coke for myself. I said 'I think you wanna talk to (insert doorman who's been there longer here) he understands'" Said obviously for my benefit to 'doorman who's been there longer'. To which I responded "I'd have had you out. He was just doing his job. If you don't want to be thrown out don't do drugs." BUT I resisted the urge to make a face..

"raghssshhbagabagawallashitballs" Woman who punched me in the face.. I added 'bagawallashitballs' to make her sound more clever.

"So what would you do if I did this" Said by our 'professional boxer' as she punched me in the stomach, to which I responded by feigning being winded and asked her to 'give me a second JESUS!'

"My boyfriend's over there" said by woman with her arm around her boyfriend.. He nodded. I'm still confused.

"'Insert owners name' said I could stick around." It was 'owners name' who told me to kick him out.

"Ha, you are WAY more ticklish tonight than you were last night!" Overheard two straight men on the front door.

"Catch it, bin it, kill it!!" One gentleman discussing a woman that he had seen and was less than impressed with the look of. He was not exactly a catch either.

Me:"What's your D.O.B?", girl: "16th of march 1986" (wrong), me: "that's wrong.. you don't get your own birthday wrong and it looks nothing like you."... time passes... Me: "You need to go home" as she tried to sneak in ... third attempt, me: "Seriously you need to jog on." she has a tantrum, the like of which I've never seen during which manages to say the utterly golden and pointless "My uncle's a doorman!" 

I love sharing.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

L33t Learning

Since I missed out on my calculus mark by 5%, the school of computer science looked at my application and saw that I had very high marks for programming, so they said if I hit 40% in the resit, I'd progress to year 1 of the degree this September.

This was a mixed result for me. Having been out of education for 16 years and having never studied maths to FE level, I have struggled to get my head around Calculus and Algebra as well as square away my subjects every three weeks for this year.

So for the last three to five weeks I have been on calculus overdrive. I've pushed my brain through real life pain; through threshold after threshold in a relatively short amount of time to arrive at a point where I would actually be comfortable starting the course again. I've inflicted such guilt on myself when avoiding study, that it made me quite difficult to live with I imagine.

Each tiny step up the Calculus mountain took me hours or days of study to get my head around, and during the last week I bashed said head against every past paper I could get my hands on over and over again. I studied the papers, and the solutions trying to reverse engineer the lecturers answers. Occasionally I'd hit a wall, when I could not see how the lecturer made some magical leap in his/her working out. I shed actual tears digging through notes looking for specific axioms that I had missed in the lectures. I scoured the internet, and notably bugged one of my maths lectures with (I estimate) close to 50 emails.

I sat the paper on Tuesday, and I have to say I'm really confident. I completed all 18 questions and did not hit a single point where I felt utterly lost. I couldn't believe it when I came out. It could still all go pear shaped, but I think I've done enough.


I passed with 68%, so the school has accepted me. :)