Below are the five most recent posts in my weblog. You can also see a chronological list of all posts, dating back to 2003.

A few months ago I decided it would be good to re-rip my CD collection, retaining a lossless digital copy, and set about planning the project. I then realised I hadn't the time to take the project on for the time being and parked it, but not before figuring a few bits and pieces out.

Starting at the beginning, with ripping the CDs. The most widely used CD ripping software on Linux systems is still cdparanoia, which is pretty good, but it's still possible to get bad CD rips, and I've had several in a very small sample size. On Windows systems, the recommended ripper is Exact Audio Copy, or EAC for short. EAC calculates checksums of ripped CDs or tracks and compares them against an online database of rips called AccurateRip. It also calibrates your CD drive against the same database and uses the calculated offset during the rip.

I wasn't aware of any AccurateRip-supporting rippers until recently when Mark Brown introduced me to morituri. I've done some tentative experiments and it appears to be produce identical rips to EAC for some sample CDs (with different CD reading hardware too).

Fundamentally, AccurateRip is a proprietary database, and so I think the longer term goal in the F/OSS community should be to create an alternative, open database of rip checksums and drive offsets. The audio community has already been burned by the CDDB database going proprietary, but at least we now have the—far superior—MusicBrainz.

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Cobra mk. 3

Cobra mk. 3

Four years ago, whilst looking for something unrelated, I stumbled across Tom Morton's port of "Frontier: Elite II" for the Atari to i386/OpenGL. This took me right back to playing Frontier on my Amiga in the mid-nineties. I spent a bit of time replaying Frontier and its sequel, First Encounters, for which there exists an interesting family of community-written game engines based on a reverse-engineering of the original DOS release.

I made some scrappy notes about engines, patches etc. at the time, which are on my frontier page.

With the recent release of Elite: Dangerous, I thought I'd pick up where I left in 2010 and see if I could get the Thargoid ship. I'm nowhere near yet, but I've spent some time trying to maximize income during the game's initial Soholian Fever period. My record in a JJFFE-derived engine (and winning the Wiccan Ware race during the same period) is currently £727,800. Can you do better?

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A few weeks ago I went to see Blade Runner: The Final Cut in a one-off showing at the Tyneside Cinema. I've only watched the Final Cut once and that viewing was a bit compromised, so it was nice to see it properly, and on a massive screen with decent surround sound too.

Whilst watching it I saw something that I thought might potentially have been a visual reference to Scott's earlier movie, Alien. When Deckard is climbing onto the roof of the Bradbury building, there's a decorative motif that to me, looks very Giger-esque, biomechanical, a bit like a chest-burster.

click for full frame

click for full frame

I went back and took a screenshot from the Blu Ray at the same point. What do you think?

As it happens, whilst the inner regions of the building in the movie are the Bradbury building (or at least the entrance hall), I don't think the upper exterior shots are.


Purge

Purge

There are a few other, well-known references to Alien in Blade Runner, although they are likely simply re-used effects rather than explicitly easter eggs. The display screen in Gaff's Spinner is re-used from the Narcissus (here's a comparison) and the ambience in Deckard's apartment also featured in the Nostromo's medical bay. Some enterprising person has put together a 12 hour session of that particular sound effect looping. There's a number of other comparisons and spots at this propsummit.com thread.

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-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA512,SHA1

I'm transitioning from my old, 1024-bit DSA PGP key, FD35 0B0A C6DD 5D91 DB7A 83D1 168B 4E71 7032 F238, to my newer, 4096-bit RSA key, E037 CB2A 1A00 61B9 4336 3C8B 0907 4096 06AA AAAA.

If you have signed my old key, I'd be very grateful if you would consider signing my new key. (Thanks in advance!)

This is long overdue! I've had 06AAAAAA since 2009, but it took me a while to get enough signatures on it for me to consider a transition. I still have far more signatures on my older key, owing to attending more conferences when I was using it than since I switched.

This statement, available in plaintext at http://jmtd.net/log/pgp_transition/statement.txt, has been signed with both keys.

I've marked my old key as expiring in around 72 days time, which coincides with my change of job, and will be just short of ten years since I generated it.

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----
Version: GnuPG/MacGPG2 v2.0.22 (Darwin)
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=JBA4
-----END PGP SIGNATURE-----
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I'm changing jobs!

From February 2015, I will be joining Red Hat as a Senior Software Engineer. I'll be based in Newcastle and working with the Middleware team. I'm going to be working with virtualisation, containers and Docker in particular. I know a few of the folks in the Newcastle office already, thanks to their relationship with the School of Computing Science, and I'm very excited to work with them, as well as the wider company. It's also going to be great to be contributing to the free software community as part of my day job.

This October marked my tenth year working for Newcastle University. I've had a great time, learned a huge amount, and made some great friends. It's going to be sad to leave, especially the School of Computing Science where I've spent the last four years, but it's the right time to move on, It's an area that I've been personally interested in for a long time and I'm very excited to be trying something new.

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Older posts are available on the all posts page.


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