purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (doctor who)
So, errr, about sixth months ago the JadePagoda decided all to read and review The Many Hands by Paul Dale Smith. I am more than a little late, both in reading it and then in writing this review.

Anyway, consensus of opinion on JP (if I remember back that far accurately) was that it was quite a dull run-around up until page 100 and picked up thereafter. At the risk of sounding shallow, I actually rather enjoyed all the running around and certainly didn't feel that I noticed any sudden shift in quality or tone at the 100 page mark. I'm not sure the running around is entirely pointless either, in particular a fair amount of character work is going on, building up the antagonistic English Captain McAllister and developing his relationship with the Doctor. Certainly it's around page 100 that the more horrific aspects begin to turn up - but this is horror for intelligent eight-year olds so it's not exactly a dramatic shift in tone.

This is a tale of 18th Century Edinburgh, complete with Enlightenment scientists, surgeons, buried streets and body-snatching. There are also zombies which aren't, it has to be said, a particularly Edinburgh thing but this is Doctor Who and obviously, if you're going to have body-snatching, you might as well have zombies too.

Of all the new series Doctor Who books I've read, this is the one I've enjoyed most. I'm not quite sure why. Possibly its because I'm so fond of Edinburgh, and the book is very Edinburgh. Possibly it's because it is the first new series adventure I've actively chosen to read, rather than reading it because I read all Doctor Who novels, and it benefits from being approached on its own terms. Possibly it was the lack of any kidults. I don't think it particularly rises above (what I presume was) its brief as a historical action-adventure runaround but it does what it does very well.
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (rippling)
I'm at a celebration of Alan Bundy's 60th birthday (even though he's 61). I've just survived a reception, followed by a meal, followed by another reception complete with jazz band.

The new Informatics building is very nice, in particular the fact that they've assigned me my own visitor's office complete with internet (following a certain amount of crawling around under tables plugging things in).
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Achieved:


  • JG sent me a PDF of our note on proof specification languages: read but not digested.

  • Asked LD about putting induction challenge problems into TPTP THF - LD agrees with my approach. LD tried to check type definitions in IsaPlanner for me: "unfortunately most of my systems are halfway between broken and working... which means they're broken".

  • Installed latest versions of both Isabelle and IsaPlanner.

  • Installed Aquaemacs because LD's sml-mode doesn't work in xemacs on the Mac

  • Worked out how to use IsaPlanner using Aqaemacs - it was about 3pm when we got to this point. Getting everything
    set up was slow work not helped by the fact LD had food poisoning and didn't appear until midday leaving MJo and I flailing around rather.

  • Created a handout for my dream talk.

  • Started writing a critic for IsaPlanner - stalled firstly because Isabelle won't let me use partial definitions in the simplifier and then later because there is no way to remove rules from IsaPlanner's wave rule database (which would bypass the simplifier). LD was about to start working on this when South Central Edinburgh blacked out. I'm now in an Internet cafe on the lighted side of Nicholson Street.

  • Observed the introduction of new "stylish" furniture to the Dream group communal areas. Listened to the departmental administrator curse architects and various others compare the furniture unflatteringly to contemporary bars and airport lounges.

  • Discovered that Appleton Tower has extremely poor emergency lighting in the stairwell.



To do:


  • Still no sign of DA

  • Decide what to say in my dream talk

  • Actually Implement that critic

  • Discuss proof plan specification languages further with LD.

purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
Achieved:


  • Volunteered to give a Dream Talk on Friday

  • Printed out and read my papers on Program Slicing which I said I'd talk about in the Dream Talk

  • Long talk with LD about proof specification languages and control rules. Sent him draft paper on control rules by myself MJa and MP.



To Do:



Plan for Tomorrow:


  • AM: Work with MJo on writing proof critics in IsaPlanner.

  • PM: Prepare Dream Talk

  • Evening: Write more gibberish in my blog

purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
I'm visiting Edinburgh next week and, as there are a few Edinburgh folk on my flist, I was wondering if there was any chance of meeting up some evening...
purplecat: (books)
I was interested to note in [livejournal.com profile] wellinghall's recent post about popular libary books that Fleshmarket Close by Iain Rankin was in the top ten and was, in fact, the only Rankin book to appear in the top ten. Does that mean people think it is the best Rankin? or just that its reached some optimal point past publication that suddenly everyone starts borrowing it from the library?

what I thought about Fleshmarket Close )
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
My journey to Edinburgh involved a change at York. York races must have been in full swing because the station was full of well-dressed people drinking Carling and, of course, hats. It was also full of security and the atmosphere reminded me of the odd occasions I've ended up at train stations before a football match. Everyone was being very good-humoured but the whole atmosphere was a little edgy.

Arriving in Edinburgh at half past ten at night I was then equally stuck by the number of people around, until, of course, I suddenly realised it was the middle of the festival. It just shows how long it is since I was an Edinburgh resident that I don't automatically associate August with streets full of revellers, most of whom want to give you a flyer for their show. The atomsphere was very different from that at York railway station, whether because of the lack of security or simply the fact that everyone is mildly stressed at railway stations whereas the festival goers were mostly still happily ambling from one venue or pub to another.

Last time I was in Edinburgh they put me up in an extremely nice (albeit extremely tartan) B&B with free wireless Internet this time, perhaps because of the late booking and the festival, I was in converted student halls run by Edinburgh conference service. No sign of Internet access, although the full Scottish breakfast had the advantage of being freshly cooked.

After the Advisory Panel meeting and a swift half in George Square which had been converted into some sort of beer festival/tent thing for the duration I got to walk back through the centre of Edinburgh. I saw: A man in a white skirt, white face and body make up and a white busbee with a red feather in his mouth (I should really have taken that flyer then there is a remote possibility I would have been able to tell you why); dozens of people in medieval costume; two men in suits and bowler hats (one standing on the other's shoulders); a young girl dressed to hand out flyers sprawled across the bonnet of a car with the driver watching, expression of horror on her face (impressed by the "driver"'s ability to remain perfectly still with mouth wide open but still not impressed enough to help myself to a flyer).

I've been away too long. Although Edinburgh likes to give the impression that it is an Escher painting there are actually points from which you can not go down in order to get up (such as the railway station). Over-eager to get down to station level I ended up in Cowgate and so had to ascend to the Royal Mile once more in order to descend to the station.

Observed that there is now an Internet cafe in what was once the entrance to the AI department where I did my PhD. The fire-damaged remains to the left of this have now been demolished but, 3? 4? years after the event nothing has yet arisen on the site. The new Informatics building on the nearby car park, though, is finally almost complete. I've always been a little suspicious about that fire. Informatics had longed for a new building on the car park for years, but had discovered it was not at the top of the queue for that particular prime piece of real estate...

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