Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Trouble with Lichen by J. Wyndham

This book was always on the shelf as I grew up but I only just got round to reading it.

A discovery of the life prolonging effects of a lichen by a Diane Brackley& Francis Saxover leads to a drug treatment which can prolong life to two or three hundred years, with corresponding reduction in ageing, i.e. it keeps you looking young as well.

The story is in two parts, Dian Brackleyis introduced as a very intelligent woman with a sprinkle of suffragette in her family whose Cambridge alows her to work for one Dr. Francis Saxover as a biochemist at Darr house

There an accidental discovery of a property of a lichen leads to both, independently discovering antigerone which can prolong life etc

Part Two is set about 15 years later, Diana has a successful beauty clinic, Dr Saxover is still the top dog at Darr House. We see the discovery  leak out one person at a time until bingo its shit or bust time thence plucky Diana spills the beans to the press, is shot dead, riotous assemblies ensue and the government has to intervene to reassure the public given the supplies of the Chinese Lichen have dried up.

What I noticed about it was how stuck in the 60’s it is; At one point Diana is relaxing on a haystack in the country, see if you can find one of those. Another is a reference to whale oil, as if it was something of no importance an everyday item. Also we had the chain smoking INDOORS, by professional types

Lastly there is the Them & Us divide of the highly unionised work force of the post-war years, The Brotherhood of British Morticians write a letter complaining  that if everyone will now live to be two hundred that unemployment would result!

The treatment cost between £300 £400 per a year, as if this was an unimaginable sum of money, and fractions of a pound are in shillings !!!

The ending is piss poor, betraying the characters where as 2D as they looked so the author could off-load his “I wonder what would happen if …”

Be warned if you put this in a visual medium using its plot lines and characters you will have a Tourchwood style fail, besides it would be like Mad Men meets Quatermass

I would either take it way back to the medieval times or put it in communist Cuba



I read it after talking about a thought experiment I had about eternal life to my brother, no it was not what I was thinking this lichen could not give you life it just stopped you growing old, mine would make you immune from death! But thats another story, a damn sight blacker than this.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

3600 Frames

An old school super 8 film has 3600 frames, which at standard speed is played at 18 frames per second

That 3 and a third minutes (3mins 20 sec.)

Now 640×480 is a VGA frame in pixels, at 24 bit colour (8 bits / 256 shades for each red green blue) is about 900k per a frame, uncompressed

That’s under 4GB for 3 minutes 20 seconds for 3600 frames, uncompressed

So one 4GB SD card in almost any digital camera will when set to its lowest resolution equal at least one roll of super 8 film

Add in the fact you will be saving jpg and not bmp and you can divide that by 15

So a 256MB SD card recording VGA resolution images to jpeg is about the same as one roll of 50ft super 8 film

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Working out the aspect ratio from the pixels

You got a new digital camera or some such and you want to know the aspect ratio, is 4:3, 16:9 or some other value

Simply divide each side (width & height) by the Greatest Common Divisor of both numbers (GCD, which is a function in both Excel and Google Docs (no doubt open office who know).

e.g. My Canon PowerShot 550 has 3072 pixels by 1728 when I set it to that setting,

the GCD of 3072 & 1728 is 192

3072/192 =16


1728/192 = 9

so the aspect ratio is 16:9

For more about DAR PAR AVI and MPEG confusion check out


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dr Breen is dead


Well that puts paid to HL3

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sound Card update

Well if you dig round here you’ll see I had a RealTek ‘97 onboard soundcard which threw a wobbler, convinced itself that it was attached to some 5.1 surround sound system, despite all the facts. I suspect a firmware error*

Anyway I put an old SoundBlaster audigy which was resting in the attic in instead.

*It would send sound out if I attached the case’s front audio socket cable, but only as if it was coming from the front  (or rear) speakers (depending on the driver settings) but it would send nada if you told it you had 2 speakers or headphones; only 4,5 or 6 speakers would make it work. Foxconn mobo, ah the clue is in the name conn

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Realtek AC’97 onboard soundcard problems

I am not sure when it happened but I suddenly noticed my desktop only had one speaker working. Ones immediate reaction is to blame the Chinese for there piss-poor build quality; I assumed it was the speakers. However a quick check on my trusty notepad showed both speaker and cable to be fully functional, could it be the jack plug on the motherboard?. How could something that just sits there day in day out suddenly break? Better check the software.

Well by clicking all the options on the volume control panel and thus bringing to life the surround sound options (front,centre rear etc) I found that if I adjusted the “Front” speaker volume then the only speaker working (left hand side) would respond, ah ah the driver bits now assumed I had put a surround sound system on, instead of my faithful set of 2.1 speakers

So far just removing the driver and re-installing has had no effect

Next step uninstall AND disable…But in Device Manager after enabling hidden devices I see all these Microsoft drivers in the audio section, do I take them out as well? Might as well as its broke, how can I break it more?

Then into the BIOS to disable the onboard sound…

Well after two reboots, re-enabled the soundcard before the last reboot, wait an age for the system to warm up and install drivers and now check the same in device manager, again with”Show hidden devices” ticked; What do I see? I see only one of those MS drivers back- Microsoft WIN oh hang on its just uninstalled itself…

Okay lets play a music file and see if the stereo is back…No same shit

Lets play with its mind and set the BIOS to HD audio instead of AC’97…Well no sound at all but all the missing MS drivers are back

Next after one more reboot lets try putting the original driver from the CD that came with the motherboard back on, but with HD audio still set. Interesting, the fancy graphic installer on the CD list said HDA driver but fails to launch the installer, so had to go via windows explorer, says a lot about the quality

Nah that has not seemed to work

Well as a final work around set the mic socket to rear speakers and plug them into there, trouble is not every program seems capable of using them.

It is beginning to look like the socket has gone but the only sure fire way I know is to wipe XP off and start from scratch, a process I calculate will take 3 days to back up all the stuff I need and another 3 days to reload it, but I should know on day 4 if it will work. And so the process has begun…


Bah a re-install later and its still there, I am going to try a BIOS update…

Posted in Computers and Internet | 1 Comment