Dodging the Landfill


Waste Generated by this Exercise

The choices for my (t)rusty old PC were pretty clear: replace or reuse. The former was the easy option, although there was the small matter of a new hard drive and a new graphics card fitted 18 months and 6 months ago, respectively. The latter was hard to believe as being even possible – after all, operating systems are made obsolete to make you buy a new machine, right?

I like my desktop machine. It has two screens attached to allow me to write and research simultaneously (and by that, I mean gaze half the time at a blank page and the other half at social media), something that isn’t quite possible with a laptop. Its Vista operating system worked well enough.

Not for long. Vista will be ditched completely by Microsoft in  April and most browsers no longer work properly with it anyway (I had put up with Firefox’s shenanigans for the last year but only just. I have less hair as a result.).


So, my delight at discovering that I could upgrade for fifteen quid to Windows 7, still supported until 2020, was more than it should have been for so mundane a reason. And after about 9 hours, the upgrade worked and my beloved desktop PC was once more running, albeit with a Chrome browser rather than Firefox (which seemed to just collapse under the regime of a new operating system).

No waste to trouble landfill, no energy needed to produce new hardware, no packaging to recycle.

This is how technology is supposed to be in the 21st century, isn’t it?


Categories: computers, recycling, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Ascent of Machine


Kodomoroid will read the newspaper to you but probably not do a sudoku or understand the cartoons

Their faces, if that’s what you can call them, stare out from the display cases, imploring you to imagine that they are still alive, telling you the stories of their lives from all that time ago. You know that these are relics of the past, from a time before evolution had shaped the common features that everyone recognises, the delicate noses, the deep eye sockets, the curved forehead.

You know this and are comforted by it. These faces belong to a bygone age when things were less civilised.

Then one of them moves.

Its eyes open wide and a perfectly pitched voice says “Well, hello there! Aren’t you a shiny, happy person?”


Winner of the “Creepiest Robot Ever” Award


“To be or not to be”, that depends on your programming


The Grand-Daddy of them all – well, some of them

When I go to the Natural History Museum in London, and gaze at my ancestors’ skulls, I find it a little disconcerting. These were real people once, from the dawn of human time, from before we as a species started to mess things up properly.

The row of old robots I found in the Science Museum in London were a mixture of the scarily realistic and the just plain creepy. And one was a movie star, so not a ‘real’ robot at all.

One day, you might imagine these machines (and their descendants) being in the Natural History Museum, with some cyborgic entity laughing at how primitive their ancestors looked and how they seemed so ape-like, before heading off to recharge “the ol’ batteries” (possibly literally) at one of the museum’s cafés.


All me own teeth!

“Robots – The 500-year Quest to make machine Human” is on at the Science Museum London until 3rd September 2017 or until a robot army liberates the exhibits.


Categories: computers, Films | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Hungry Birds – The Movie

HB Frame.JPG

The bird feeder at Denmark Farm attracts all sorts of avian visitors, hungry for peanuts and a natter with their mates. Here is a time lapse movie, shot over five and a half hours and compressed to just under four minutes so that you can see how fast those peanuts disappear! And watch for a few non-blue tit arrivals too!


Categories: birds, camera, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Wednesday Space

Image may contain: people sitting, screen, laptop and indoor

Wednesdays’ don’t fare well in song lyrics. The best they can hope for is Freddie Mercury bicycling in their evening*; the worst must surely be Robert Smith who plans for either a broken heart or a heart attack** (he clearly isn’t a fan of Tuesday either).

Even Paul Simon decided that early on a Wednesday morning was the perfect time to ponder the recklessness of his youth and the fact he had just robbed an off-licence***.

My Wednesdays are far less eventful, and thank goodness. There are too many hills for bicycling, my heart is perfectly fine thank you very much, and I think the nearest off-licence is about twenty miles away, and possibly located in 1996. No, I choose to come here – my “office” at Denmark farm – to work on the two books I am currently writing.

Out the window there are birds squabbling over the peanuts in the bird feeder. I have a camera set up taking a picture every 15 seconds. After a few hours, I will retrieve it and put together a time lapse movie of bird shenanigans. Meanwhile, I am in an old mansion in a Scottish forest in 2083, about to fool my main character into thinking he has found his grail – a tin of baked beans.

And even better, someone has just brought me a cup of coffee.

What’s with Wednesdays? They’re great!


* I go out to work on Monday morning
Tuesday I go off to honeymoon
I’ll be back again before it’s time for sunny-down,
I’ll be lazing on a Sunday afternoon
Bicycling on every Wednesday evening
Thursday I go waltzing to the zoo (Lazing on  a Sunday Afternoon, Queen)

** Tuesday Wednesday break my heart (Friday I’m in Love, The Cure)

*** My life seems unreal,
My crime an illusion,
A scene badly written
In which I must play.
Yet I know as I gaze
At my young love beside me,
The morning is just a few hours away. (Wednesday Morning 3 a.m.)

Categories: Auguste, Writing | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

A Small Blue thing

Pale blue dot image with a wider field of view to show more background

We are here… for now (Images courtesy of NASA, Public Domain)

“Today, I am

A Small Blue Thing.

Like a marble

Or an eye.”

Small Blue Thing by Suzanne Vega

When Suzanne Vega sang these words, I don’t think she had the picture in mind. I’m sure she didn’t, in fact, but somehow the words resonate both with the picture’s title and its subject.

Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of planet Earth taken on February 14, 1990, by the Voyager 1 space probe from a distance of 3.7 billion miles. The scientist Carl Sagan requested that NASA turn Voyager round to photograph Earth one last time, before this human-made object headed into the space between the space. It has now travelled the furthest from its origin than any human-crafted object has, and is currently still communicating with us at a distance of 13 billion miles.

We did that. As a species, we did that. In doing so, we have helped us all to understand our place, both physical and metaphysical, in the Universe.

“As we begin to comprehend that the earth itself is a kind of manned spaceship hurtling through the infinity of space — it will seem increasingly absurd that we have not better organized the life of the human family.”

— Hubert H. Humphrey, Vice President of the United States, speech at San Fernando Valley State College, 26 September 1966.

“Oddly enough the overriding sensation I got looking at the Earth was, my god that little thing is so fragile out there.”

— Mike Collins, Apollo 11 astronaut, interview for the 2007 movie In the Shadow of the Moon.

“If somebody’d said before the flight, “Are you going to get carried away looking at the Earth from the moon?” I would have say, “No, no way.” But yet when I first looked back at the Earth, standing on the moon, I cried.”

— Alan Shepard

Perhaps the first group of people on those much-hyped commercial space flights shouldn’t be a random collection of wealthy individuals. It should be the leaders of every nation on the planet. They should see what it is that they, collectively, represent.* Maybe they can stay up there until all of them can prove they understand what it is to affect the future of A Small Blue Thing.


As I started gathering quotes for this post, the so-called “Doomsday Clock” (not, as the BBC article was at pains to point out, a real timepiece) was advanced by 30 seconds, largely because of the expected problems caused by one individual, living on that pale blue dot.

For Humans, that dot disappearing would be apocalyptic. For the Universe, not so much. It really is time we all remembered that.


* Plus there could be a TV show public vote to decide who we allow back to terra firma.

Categories: News, Universe | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

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