Monday, 28 January 2013

Books - New Amazon Kindle Titles 20p

I thought I'd share this with all you Kindlephiles out there, I've just discovered that there are several new and best-selling novels on Amazon for the Kindle at only 20p per title. Titles such as "Life of Pi" and "The Expats". That's an amazing 97-98% off!

Life Of Pi by Yann Martel (9 May 2002)
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson (12 Jul 2012)
Safe House by Chris Ewan (17 Jul 2012)
1,227 QI Facts To Blow Your Socks Off by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson (30 Oct 2012)
Thursdays in the Park by Hilary Boyd (4 Aug 2011)
The Expats by Chris Pavone (6 Mar 2012)
The Half-Life Of Hannah by Nick Alexander (20 Aug 2012)
The Lewis Man (Lewis Trilogy) by Peter May (22 Dec 2011)
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (31 Jul 2012)
Fifty Sheds of Grey: Erotica for the Not-too-modern Male by C. T. Grey (13 Sep 2012)
Winter in Madrid by C. J. Sansom (9 Apr 2008)
The Siren (Spice) (The Original Sinners: Book 1) by Tiffany Reisz (1 Jun 2012)
Bright Young Things by Scarlett Thomas (6 Sep 2012)
Capital by John Lanchester (20 Feb 2012)
Dark Winter by David Mark (29 Mar 2012)

Not sure how long these are going to be only 20p for, so grab them while you can.
(All links go direct to Amazon UK)

Friday, 11 January 2013

Books: A Scanner Darkly - Philip K. Dick

I've just finished reading A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick. It was an amazing book.
Although a difficult read sometimes, it was dark and paranoid and was engaging throughout.
I would recommend this to any (potential) Philip K. Dick fan.

I came across the book after someone recommended that I see the film. This was actually the first time I've read the book after seeing the film, but I was very impressed with both.

Review from Amazon:
Mind- and reality-bending drugs feature again and again in Philip K. Dick's hugely influential SF stories. A Scanner Darkly is the novel that cuts closest to the bone, drawing on Dick's own experience with illicit chemicals and on his many friends who died through drug misuse. Nevertheless it's blackly farcical, full of comic- surreal conversations between people whose synapses are partly fried, sudden flights of paranoid logic, and bad trips like the one whose victim spends a subjective eternity having all his sins read to him, in shifts, by compound-eyed aliens. (It takes 11,000 years of this to reach the time when as a boy he discovered masturbation.) The antihero Bob Arctor is forced by his double life into warring double personalities: as futuristic narcotics agent "Fred", face blurred by a high-tech scrambler, he must spy on and entrap suspected drug dealer Bob Arctor. His disintegration under the influence of the insidious Substance D is genuine tragicomedy. For Arctor there's no way off the addict's downward escalator, but what awaits at the bottom is a kind of redemption--there are more wheels within wheels than we suspected, and his life is not entirely wasted. In a just world this harrowing novel, the 20th selection in the Millennium SF Masterworks, would have matched the sales of Trainspotting. --David Langford

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

BSL: Fair Access to Family Sign Language Classes

Nine out of ten deaf children are born to hearing families who have little to no experience of deafness. Communicating with your child is a basic right, but many families are not getting the support they need to learn British Sign Language. Sign language courses vary throughout the UK in regards to availability and price. It is unacceptable that parents of deaf children who wish to learn sign language are not getting the help they need to communicate with their child. We, the undersigned, are calling on the Department for Education to roll out family sign language classes for families of deaf children, and to incorporate national standards on sign language support in family services, early years settings, schools and further and higher education in any forthcoming special education needs legislation.

Please take some time to sign the e-petition.

According to the NDCS:
  • The key to unlocking a deaf child’s potential is the family unit. That is why families of deaf children must receive the full range of support and information to which they are entitled. This is not currently the case.
  • There are over 45,000 deaf children living in the UK.
  • 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents with little or no experience of deafness or knowledge of how to communicate with a deaf person.
  • 40% of deaf children have additional needs.
  • Four babies are born deaf every day.
  • Many families struggle to communicate effectively with their deaf child.
  • Many deaf children struggle to communicate with their immediate family, and develop language at a slower rate than their hearing peers.
  • Given the right support there is no reason for any deaf child to develop language at a slower rate than a hearing child with similar abilities.
  • Deafness is not a learning disability. There is no reason why the majority of deaf children should achieve any less than hearing children.
  • Deaf children are at far higher risk of developing mental illness than their hearing peers.
  • Deaf children need to be able to communicate effectively, access information and influence the world around them by any appropriate method whether through sign language, oral communication or a combination of approaches.
30 seconds of your time and a virtual signature, could help thousands of families communicate with their deaf child, please sign


Wednesday, 11 January 2012

I.T.: Raspberry Pi Starts Manufacture!

Great News!

They have started manufacture on Raspberry Pi which means they should be up for sale at then end of January, just in time for my birthday!!

They originally intended for the manufacture to be done in the UK, but they've had a number of issues with this. Turnaround for manufacture in the UK is 12-14 weeks (only 3-4 weeks in the Far East). And the pricing in the UK is prohibitive, so much so, that they'd end up having to sell them at a loss, not good for any business.

But on top of this, if they wanted to build the machines in the UK, the import tax on the components is far greater than the import tax on the completed boards.  That seems strange to me, giving companies who manufacture abroad a tax break, compared to companies who want to bring manufacturing jobs into the UK.  From a business point of view, why would anybody want to manufacture anything in the UK given those kinds of details?

They haven't completely ruled out UK manufacture, but it's just not economically feasible at the moment.
Read the full (and more eloquent) story here.

Following on from this, an e-petition has been created on the Direct Gov website to try and change import duty rules to encourage British manufacturing.

Check it out here, and if you agree, please sign.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Zombies: Zombie Boot Camp in the UK

Check this out!, a UK based "Experience Day" company are offering a Zombie Boot Camp Day.

For only £59, they'll kit you out with all the latest "zombie-deterring" armour, train you how to use a pistol, grenades and a rifle.  And then drop you in a zombie riddled warehouse with only your cunning to keep you bite free.

I have to say that this looks like a great alternative to paintballing or laser quest.  If only I was 10 years younger ...

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

I.T.: Farewell John McCarthy

4 September 1927 - 24 October 2011

Farewell to Professor John McCarthy, inventor of LISP and major contributor in the field of Artificial Intelligence. (From Wikipedia: "He was responsible for the coining of the term "Artificial Intelligence" in his 1955 proposal for the 1956 Dartmouth Conference and was the inventor of the Lisp programming language.")

I remember years ago programming in LISP at University, it was amazing. Having been brought up with BASIC, COBOL and then Pascal, being introduced to LISP, Prolog and Artifical Intelligence in the late 1980's was simply awesome.

Unfortunately I've forgotten most of what I've learnt with regard to AI programming, maybe it's time to revisit?

Maybe it's also time to think about the computer scientists of the 50's, 60's and 70's. The ideas they had, the languages they created and the inspiration they instilled for generations of programmers.  I'm sure that the developers of Siri, many moons ago, dabbled in LISP, maybe read a paper or two from Professor McCarthy, maybe that's where their interest in AI came from?

When moving forward, it's always a good idea to look back once in a while, just to see whose footprints you've walked in.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

I.T.: Farewell Steve Jobs

24 February 1955 - 5 October 2011

Farewell to Steve Jobs, truly a technology visionary.
You will be missed by all.