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Monthly Archives: February 2005

Iranian blogger jailed for 14 years | The Register

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Lenzie, the town where Alan grew up and now lives with Alex, is about 15 minutes drive from Glasgow city centre, just far enough away from the hustle and bustle. Alex had had her hair curled at the hairdressers and was looking fit and healthy as normal without the golden suntan she wore at New Year. Our plan was to go out on the town but post-food fatigue fell upon us after eating far too many enchiladas and fajitas with all the trimmings. Alex, replicating her mother to a tee, attempted to fill us with more food, a cake of some kind, passion fruit and grapes, and after refusing to eat more a hundred times or so, Alex took the food back and herself and Al up to bed. Oh, I forgot, Alex is one of those people who is always busy somehow, so this time, before hitting the pillow, she made some flapjack and left it in my hands to turn the oven off after half an hour. I did, may be somewhat late, and the edges just a little black, gave the impression that the flapjack was baked inside too. Having thought I had burnt it, I proceeded to lift the flapjack from the oven tray to a plate so that it could cool down. Alex, sensing in her sleep that something was wrong, tiptoed, no that’s a lie, Alex is incapable of tiptoeing or doing anything quiet for that matter, like Alan pointed out on various occassions throughout the weekend. But yeah, Alex came downstairs to find me messing with her flapjack. She made me feel better by saying that she got her quantities all wrong. So we picked at it, it still tasted good, but was not sturdy enough to sell at her church the next day. So she binned it! All of it. Better that she did really otherwise I would have picked at it and eventually eaten it all up.

Why is it that however much you plan, not that I did plan this time, there is always a last minute dash to catch any mode of transport? On this occasion Steinunn and I began a 20 minute mad dash to catch the 15:31 Durham to Newcastle train. We were 4 minutes early, 4 minutes that could have been spent walking at a more leisurely pace over the entire walk from house to station, or, perhaps for a more noticeable slowdown, the four minutes should have been dedicated to the last stretch, cardiac hill. The train pulled up and as the doors opened Henry pulled up alongside us too. He didn’t want to sit down, he was planning his dash to the connecting train from Newcastle to Edinburgh, the same train that Steinunn and I were catching. We sat down knowing from experience that careful preparation is a waste of time and soon Henry joined us, realising that the carriage was less than half empty and no ensuing panic would occur.

So we switched trains without a fuss, or, were we on the same train? The platform was the same, the train emptied but I cannot remember if the train moved to be replaced by another. Anyway, we passed through Alnmouth (Steinunn wanted one of the houses below, or was it the one on the end that you cannot see?) then onto Berwick upon Tweed, which is, purely by the law of averages it seems, part of England at the moment, as it has changed between Scottish and English hands no less than 14 times and that’s not counting the last 600 years.

If we changed at Haymarket we would have arrived in Glasgow 4 minutes earlier, an opportunity to add to our previous 4 minutes, but didn’t seem worth it at the time. However, it turned out that McAlan, whose original destination was Queen Street station, had to do a circuit of Glasgow city in order to pick us up from Central station, which meant waiting around in the cold for 8 minutes before McAl arrived. So all in all, time was gained then lost yet all was in balance somehow or other.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Global blogger action day called

Ok, so I’ve just crammed in another sidebar to the left. With my screen resolution (1280 x 960) it all fits in fine, but not too sure about others, for instance, those of you on laptops. Let me know if the changes require you to scroll left to right.

After seeing that Steve has updated the look of his blog, I thought I would too. I wouldn’t say it looks much different except for the sidebar to the right. I’m experimenting with adding pics there at the mo. I’ve removed the the live webcam feed of Durham Cathedral and the daily quote feed. Instead friends, housies, (ex)palatinites, I’ve trawled through the photos I have of you, cropped til I dropped and put them over here ————->
The pics currently at the top were taken whilst at Goldie Lookin’ Chain gig on Monday night at Northumberland Uni. None of the band I’m afraid, they’re all too ugly, and Welsh ( I’m 1/4 welsh so can say that), to feature.

Last Saturday, Steinunn and I went to the theatre luvvie. The Australian Dance Company, who were 1/5th Japanese too, put on a performance at Newcastle Theatre Royal called BirdBrain. Some dances were more of a contortion act, some martial arts mixed with ballet or breakdance, set to electronica that at one point, with a doppler bass sound and pounding bass drum, sent me into a trance and I nodded off. Must have been a combination of wine and the previous traipse around the Eldon shopping centre, because the dancing was anything but dull.

I’m tidying up my bedroom / study and am finding lots of random notes so I’m gonna type them here so I can bin some of the paper that’s taking over my room.

Here are some notes I took on the topic of verification and validation in dependable systems for an essay in the Software Dependability module:

  • Verification can be summed up by the question: “Are we building the product right?” (Boehm, 1979)
  • Verification involves checking that the software conforms to its specification
  • Level of confidence is high for safety-critical systems
  • Testing is a dynamic technique of verification and validation (Sommerville P. 517)
  • Cannot use static v&v techniques to check performance and reliability of a system
  • Identify dependencies between components and test associated with each component
  • V&V is expensive process
  • As a general rule the more critical a system, the more effort should be devoteded to static verification techniques
  • Software inspection is far more effective than program testing. It is widely used method for program verfication, especially in critical systems engineering
  • Static analysis is ‘examing the program without executing it’. Very good for critical systems, discovers large number of potential erros.
  • Modern languages reduce errors by including error-avoidance features
  • Formal verification methods mostly confined to safety & security – critical software development process. UK defence mandated in 1995. Implementation errors will not compromise dependability
  • Testing is a process intended to build confidence in the software as identified in ‘Testing can only show the prescence of errors, not their absence’.
  • Individual testers form part of a more formal process of testing for critical systems testing. Tests are separate and detailed records are maintained of the results
  • ‘Stress testing is particulary relevant to distributed systems based on a network of processors. These systems often exhibit service degradation when they are heavily loaded. The network becomes swamped with coordination data that the different processes must exchange, so the processes become slower and slower as they wait for the required data from other processes.’
  • Reasons for doing verification on critical systems is cost of failure and prove system is safe by certification
  • Statistical testing assesses a system’s reliability
  • What are the most common faults? Are these the parts of the system that are used most often?
  • Should reliability / dependability of a system be met at whatever cost? If a failure amounts to more cost than the v&v then yes.
  • It is important to predict reliability of a system to show if the required amount of reliability will be met
  • Software itself is not dangerous, only when embedded in large computer based or socio-techinical system
  • Maintenance of dependable (critical) systems must be easy to carry out otherwise safety issues arise and are harder to fix
  • Diversification plays an important role in security. Look at MS, if security is breached in a windows system then huge number of machines are vulnerable

i’m off… to The Land of Nod

From Breakfast on through all the day
At home among my friends I stay,
But every night I go abroad
Afar into the land of Nod.

All by myself I have to go,
With none to tell me what to do–
All alone beside the streams
And up the mountain-sides of dreams.

The strangest things are there for me,
Both things to eat and things to see,
And many frightening sights abroad
Till morning in the land of Nod.

Try as I like to find the way,
I never can get back by day,
Nor can remember plain and clear
The curious music that I hear.

by Robert Louis Stevenson