Michael Norrish's web-log

pitas login

Link: Supervising arrangements

Listening to:
Sibelius, symphony #7 in C, Op. 105. A 20th century symphony in C major.
Just read:
I finished Great Expectations yesterday. It's certainly a great novel, and brilliantly plotted. I got through it in three sessions, and found it very enjoyable. Dickens's women aren't all totally believable. In particular, the "saintly angel" figure seems to be a staple of his fiction.
Now reading:
My next book is Elton's England under the Tudors; a famous history, though now regarded as slightly old-fashioned. I'll let you know how I get on with this. I doubt I'll finish it in three sittings.
I should be doing other stuff right now. In fact, today's link is all about it. I'm doing my bit to turn Cambridge students into world-conquering Oxbridge graduates. The supervision system at Cambridge (they're called tutorials at Oxford, but the system is otherwise similar there) is widely held to be one of the university's great strengths.

It has its moments, but right now, I wish term was over.

Monday, 28 February 2000

Link: Railroad Tycoon II

Listening to:
Bruckner, symphony #9 in D minor.
I feel as if I'm setting myself up to pose as some sort of bastion of anti-popular culture conservatism. I'm not a reactionary old fogey, honest. My take on it all is that pop culture gets quite enough attention as it is, so I see no reason to add my voice to that hubbub.

There's an interesting article in this week's Economist about the hype surrounding e-commerce. (I won't bother linking to it because it won't stay at a fixed URL for long before being consigned to subscriber-only archives.) It suggests that many of today's e-companies are going to crash and burn, just as early railways, car makers and airlines did when those industries had their bubbles. (One has to wonder quite how the wonderful folk at pitas are making their money.)

Anyway, this allows me to segue gracefully into a brief word about my principal link above, Railroad Tycoon II, a great computer game. I got it as a Christmas present, and we've been playing it pretty much every weekend since. I just finished the Cape to Cairo scenario, and thus the first campaign. I felt this was a great achievement.

Friday, 25 February 2000

Link: Rongotai College

Listening to:
Brahms, string quintet in G, op 111. This is a beautiful, melancholic work.
I clearly don't do enough web-surfing. I'm too busy for that kind of thing. So what do I put on a web-log? Well, so far, my links are not to interesting pages I've found recently but rather to things related to what I've been doing recently.

So, in a radical departure, my link today is to something I did a long time ago. I'm quite impressed by the fact that the page mentions fees. It turns out that the site is really for the benefit of prospective international students, and that "education for international students is one of New Zealand's major service industries." Hmm.

Wednesday, 23 February 2000

Link: Great Expectations

Listening to:
Duke Ellington, A lull at dawn and others
Just read:
Finished that issue of Granta. It included a nice story by Haruki Murakami called The seventh man. V. poetic.
Now reading:
Great Expectations, as per link above to a zip file of the complete text (courtesy of the Project Gutenberg).
Dickens is definitely a great writer. I first read GE at school, something that happened so long ago that all I can really remember of the experience is that I enjoyed it. Re-reading the novel now, I am up to the stage of things where Pip is about to leave for London, thanks to a mysterious benefactor.

It's engrossing stuff.

Monday, 21 February 2000

Link: Source Forge
Well, the world of the web-log is bigger than I thought. It also appears to be a bit incestuous, which is an interesting paradox. I've been adding interesting logs to my bookmarks for the last couple of weeks, but it has become clear that I am not going to have time to read them all.

I also can't help but suspect that people pouring out their hearts and souls on-line is just another manifestation of a talk-show desire to "be famous". As I said a few entries ago, seeing one's words in print is a buzz, and now that the Web is here, we can publish as much as we like, as often as we like.

So, wise-guy, what am I going to do about it?

I don't know, but maybe I'll keep up appearances, and post URLs to things that I think my adoring public need to read about.

So, here we are. Source Forge, a site hosting free software project development. It looks extremely slick. I'm about to move across a long-running project of my own. There's already a blurb there about it, but no source yet.

Friday, 18 February 2000

Link: American Beauty
Went to see this last night. I quite liked it, but we eventually decided that it wasn't as good as All about my mother, which has picked up an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film.

(There's a story to be told in finding the URL above. Having seen a trailer for The talented Mr. Ripley mention that its URL was www.talentedmrripley.com, I figured that every film these days had its own domain-name. But it seems not; www.americanbeauty.com leads to a pasta company from New York. The film site is co-hosted with Amazon--strange, I thought.)

Anyway, after a full and frank exchange of views, we decided that the problem with AB was that it veered too much between parody and glutinous sentimentality. The characters in AAMM are in even stranger circumstances, but are much more sympathetic and engaging.

There's a few films out there that I quite fancy seeing. In addition to Ripley, I want to see Topsy Turvey, Cradle will rock and the one about the secret passage into John Malkovich's head.

Wednesday, 16 February 2000

Link: Granta
Hitherto this web-log has presented a picture of me that is sadly lacking. I have yet to own up to my great love of reading. The link is to the magazine of new writing Granta. I'm currently reading issue 61, whose theme is the sea.

There's a great piece in there by a British writer who goes to sea with a Spanish fishing boat. Non-Europeans may not be aware that fishing rights in European waters are a long-standing source of bad feeling. The Spanish are often cast as the villains of the piece because Spain consumes the most fish in Europe, and has the biggest fishing fleet.

What comes out of the piece in the Granta is that the fishermen are as aware of the environmental issues as anyone. They're not the rapacious destroyers of the environment you might expect them to be given the typical coverage in the British press. Further, if the boat the author of this piece went out with is typical, most fishermen would much prefer not to be involved in the industry if they could support themselves some other way.

If you were keen to do further research, I imagine that the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's Fisheries Department site might be the place to start.

P.S.: The river that passes through Cambridge is really called the Granta. I think the magazine has or had some link with Cambridge, but don't think that I'm recommending it on this basis!

Monday, 14 February 2000

Link: Sluggy Freelance
When I get into work, the first thing I do is to surf my standard list of links. First up is Sluggy Freelance, a web-comic. It's usually pretty funny, and the stories are suitably detailed and well worked out. It's also a bit juvenile at times, seeming to be designed to cater to the tastes of 13 year old boys.

Doonesbury is better if you're after slightly more mature, and political humour.

Friday, 11 February 2000

Link: New York Times on Shostakovich
I'm a great fan of classical music in general, and one of my particular favourite composers is Shostakovich. The article in the NY Times describes him as a moral beacon, which is a good way of putting it.

I have a page of brief composer biographies where more of my thoughts on this wonderful stuff reside. Being the product of several years inconstant work, the tone and substance of the material is wildly inconsistent. But hey, at least it's still there. (I wonder for example, if the link above to the NY Times will still work in 3 years' time. And what about pitas.com itself? Or is that a heretical thought?)

Tuesday, 8 February 2000

Link: Moscow ML
So, I'm a computer science researcher, and it's time to add a plug for the great Moscow ML implementation. I use this underneath the hol98 theorem proving system to do my stuff.

I'm feeling particularly lyrical about this system today because the principal implementor, Peter Sestoft has found and fixed a problem I was having in under a week.

Thursday, 3 February 2000

Link: Buena Vista Social Club
I saw this film last year and greatly enjoyed it. More recently I have bought the CD whose production the film is about. The CD is v. good too. I particularly like track 8, featuring Eliades Ochoa.

The film is directed by Wim Wenders.

Thursday, 3 February 2000

Link: Calamondin
Someone out there with what is effectively an online diary. I'm not sure I'd necessarily like to share my life story with random passers-by. That would be a result of my repressed upbringing of course. I keep a paper and ink diary as it is, so adding to the effort of maintaining this is not that appealing.

Seeing one's words in print is a buzz though, isn't it?

Wednesday, 2 February 2000

Link: David's web-log
What got me into this web-log business at all. David's daily log is an interesting and fascinating read. I don't know that have either the inspiration or the time to produce something similar myself.

Friday, 28 January 2000

Link: My home page
First entry in this new web-log. Because I need to provide a link, it's a link to my home-page.

Friday, 28 January 2000