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simon collis

musings of an omnivorous biped

While I’m on the subject of Microsoft

Posted by simon on 2016/11/28
Posted in Technology  | Tagged With: , , , | 1 Comment

Here’s two free eBooks:

Spoiler: they’re about computer-y stuff. Don’t read if you’re hoping for a whodunnit.

SQL Server on Linux

Posted by simon on 2016/11/28
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Microsoft have a preview of SQL Server for Linux now. There’s even an install guide. Good times.

615dsjiz3blI found this book in a branch of Cash Converters in Lisbon. Actually, scratch that – I found the 1966 edition in a Cash Converters in Lisbon. However the cover of mine is rather beaten up so I borrowed this image from Amazon. You can go buy that edition from Amazon if you wish – that’s not an affiliate link, by the way, as having moved out of the UK they don’t let me do that any more. But I digress…

The early chapters of the book are fairly easy to follow. This is probably because there’s not a lot of change in quite a lot of time, and it’s fairly easy(ish) to document that for the general mathematically ignorant (such as me). Generally speaking even my high level of mathematical ignorance is capable of coping with zero, and negative numbers and so on.
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BCPL: The Language and Its Compiler

Posted by simon on 2016/05/28
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Bcpl: The Language and Its CompilerBcpl: The Language and Its Compiler by Martin Richards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Published in 1981, I bought this when I saw it mentioned in an article on compilers, and someone mentioned this as being a model of what a book about a computer language should be.

It’s interesting to see the way in which this book works, and it’s probably a good model for low-level programming. A fascinating insight into a little-used language these days, and still quite readable even if you can’t get your head round BCPL. Modern programmers new to antique languages will find it strangely fascinating: no strings, no classes, no memory management. It’s about as low level as you can get, and yet there’s concepts in there (write once, run anywhere) that are bang up to date in the latest languages.

A fascinating read for anyone seriously interesting in the history of computing.

View all my reviews

/edit: I originally had the name as “BCPL: The Compiler and its Construction”. Doh.

A fly

Posted by simon on 2014/10/16
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I’ve been a bit quiet of late on this blog – for reasons that I’ll go into at a later date – but I wanted to just share a little incident that happened today.

I work from home now, which means that I have my own little office upstairs. It appears to be a room that the flies like a lot. By flies, I mean houseflies. Your standard, everyday flies. Musca domestica. Not mosquitoes, anything that bites, or anything like that. Just flies. Read more

Comments are fixed now

Posted by simon on 2014/07/30
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Such is the life of the self-hosted WordPress blogger… *sigh*

A letter to Foursquare

Posted by simon on 2014/07/23
Posted in CommentTechnology  | Tagged With: , , | No Comments yet, please leave one

I’ve been a dedicated user of Foursquare for years. If you follow my Twitter, you’ll have suffered my tweets on it for long enough to know that and (presumably) not hate it enough to block me (probably).

Anyway, Foursquare recently reinvented themselves as two apps, instead of one. The new one’s called Swarm. Lots of people don’t like it.

If you read the iTunes app store page, there are lots of bad reviews. There’s also an email address, asking for feedback. Here’s what I sent them: Read more

So did you get the clue from last time? You did? Oh well done you. But it’ll have to wait. You see, I was having this discussion on Twitter and suddenly I thought of another possible British Columbo. One that might – just – shoot straight to the top of the charts.

image: Wikipedia

image: Wikipedia

For those of you who haven’t read the title at the top, let me paint a picture for you. It’s London, 2014, and you decide to see a play. Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit” is on, and the 88-year-old Angela Lansbury is playing Madame Arcati, maybe you’ll go and see that. And then you realise it closed last month – June 7th 2014, actually. So instead, you watch the 1950s version, starring Margaret Rutherford as Arcati.

Well, as good as that is – and trust me, it’s magnificent – there’s perhaps four other Rutherford films you ought to see as well. Read more

My favourite Doctor Who has always been Patrick Troughton. I don’t really know why, but he feels more Doctor-ish to me than any of them, past or present. So when “The Enemy Of The World” and “The Web Of Fear” were recovered (or, mainly recovered), last year, I was downloading them at quarter past midnight. In other words, fifteen minutes after they were released. They’re both good stories, but for me, “Enemy” is the better of the two. It deals with scenarios – dictatorships, food shortages, mass murder – that we can all recognise in the world today.

But my favourite character is Salamander’s henchman, Benik, played with joyous evil by Milton Johns. I mention this because I frequently confuse him with Colin Jeavons. In fact, I wrote the original draft of this thoroughly convinced that Inspector Lestrade was Benik. Read more

Of course, you all got the clue in the last one, right? You know, “Deep Thought”? The computer from “The HitchHiker’s Guide To The Galaxy”. Played, in the 2005 film, of course, by Helen Mirren. Her other big roles have included Queen Elizabeth II… and Detective Chief Inspector (later Detective Superintendent) Jane Tennison in the series “Prime Suspect”.

Prime Suspect is renowned for its gritty realism, its accurate depiction of policing techniques, its treatment of Tennison as a hard-boiled character who regards her femininity as more of a hindrance than an asset… and for the sheer quality of its writing and directing. Read more