Friday, January 20, 2012

A word to the wise...

I learnt a new word today. It doesn’t enrich my world in any interesting way and it is to do with an area that holds absolutely no interest for me and never has – fashion.

The word is “peplum”.

Frankly, when I read the sentence “Peplums look like they're going to make a bit of a comeback this year”, I thought the word sounded like a particularly disgusting bodily secretion. Or maybe something to do with lactating women, even.

Guess what a peplum is?

It’s a frill. A frill or flounce of fabric that is attached to dresses, blouses and skirts at the waist, so that it comes down over the hips.

Who would've thunk, eh?

Still, I guess I've learnt a new word today - and unfortunately I'm never going to forget it or its meaning. That's the way it is with information I don't need or care about - it never leaves my head. But all the things that I have to remember for certain occasions (like exams)... they make a beeline for the exit without a single glance back.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Poor little rich/famous girls

Does anyone else find it amazing that practically every other "celebrity" of the female persuasion was "bullied in school" and informed that they were "ugly"? Or is it just cynical ol' me?

And another amazing thing is how 95% of them apparently eat like gluttons and it's their "metabolism" and "good genes" that help them keep their fabulous figures even though they "hate exercise" and "never go to the gym".

It makes you conclude that only bullied girls who eat like horses and hate exercise can ever attain the state of celebrityhood...


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Guest post from my husband

I do not claim to understand much of this (I've dutifully read/watched the Wiki links), so please don't think of quizzing me on it. :) If Pete's post is right up your alley, good for you! If not - don't worry, you're in good company!
What Pete said when he emailed this to me is: "If I had the time to maintain a blog, this is the sort of thing I'd write about."


I have not been sleeping much lately as I have been preoccupied with something.

What is the world’s smallest bit?
When is a bit a byte?
And what is a nibble between friends?

Apparently the answers are: 12, 96 and 48, respectively - atoms, that is. Uhh?? If we had asked the same question a few weeks ago, the answers would have been totally different but that was way back in 2011!

Actually the real question in my mind has been where do I take our company and its services and... well, basically, what we will be doing in the next 10 years. After all, we should have a 1, 5 and 10 year plan,  according to our bankers (I think there a cockney rhyming slang in there somewhere).

If we all take a look at technology now against technology of say 10 years past, ok, so we have faster processors, bigger storage devices, and the computing power we had on our desktops 10 years ago now sits proudly in one hand. We all know there is a finite level of miniaturisation - I mean, just how much storage can you push out of a hard disk? Apple are renowned for thinking out of the box and they are not afraid of starting from scratch... unlike other manufacturers who just take an idea and make it better or cheaper – whichever sells the best.

So – what is outside the box, and who will be there at the forefront of technology in 10 years?  Surprisingly, a 10-year road map may have just been rolled out before us – and understanding what is involved is actually a breeze. How to achieve it is another question, but I believe this is where we go next. How many atoms does it take to store 1 byte of information on conventional data storage devices such as a hard drive or a solid state (chip) device?  The answer? Around 1 million atoms - roughly the number of atoms per byte contained in a current storage device. Multiply the number of Gigabytes 1,000,000,000 x 1,000,000... yeh ok, my calculator wont handle that either.   

IBM have turned their thinking upside down - instead of making things small, you need start small and see where you go from there.  So here is the punchline – IBM have announced that their boffins have stored 1 bit of data in 12 atoms! The world’s smallest bit. 

1944 – At Bletchley Park, the world’s first programmable computer (computing as we know it today) sparked into life, with a memory capacity of – well, actually, nothing, but still amazing! (Ok - I'm just flying the British Flag !

Later that year, IBM (And Harvard) are credited with creating the first computer that could store data – 72 decimal numbers to be precise – well, that’s many bytes in anyone’s books. But how many atoms by IBM’s new standard? Who cares and that’s not the point anyway. ( )

The point is IBM were there at the beginning and it looks like they are there at the new beginning. The 1948 machine was a monster. The equipment used in the lab today to store a number on 12 atoms. IBM is also monstrous – and the direct practical use of this is not what we are looking at; however, the materials that can be used to change the way in which data is stored IS.

Currently there is an accepted finite level of miniaturisation in the current manufacturing methods and materials employed, due to some fuzziness or something interfering with whatever it is that causes the fuzziness. But IBM have redefined the accepted finite level of miniaturisation .    

So, when does a bit become a byte? When you rearrange the magnetic poles of 96 atoms. And a nibble? Well, that's 48 atoms. 

As for my 10 year plan – Yeh right Mr Wanker – sorry Banker, I will give you a 10 month plan and you will be grateful.

Before anyone asks if I was bored or had nothing better to do... let me just say that I needed to spend 20 mins on something different.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

On audio books

Do you like listening to books? Apparently Stephen Fry listens to audio books while going for long walks, but sadly they do nothing for me (walks and audio books both!). For people who don't read, I guess audio books are a godsend, but personally, I'd much rather read a book than listen to somebody reading aloud.

And here's the thing - I don't understand the point of adults being read to, unless they're physically unable to read. It's supposed to be a treat, right, if somebody reads a book to you? Not for me. I think it's meant mainly for children, until such time as they can read for themselves. 

Pete sometimes plays an audio book in the car when we're driving long distances. I've tried my best to get into the story, but after a while it just becomes a drone in the background. I guess I get tired of listening and simply tune out. My brain can't deal with the plot or characterisation or anything, no matter who the narrator is. Not even Stephen Fry, with his beautifully modulated voice, is interesting enough. I suppose I'm a reader, not a listener.

What about you all out there? Do you enjoy audio books? What do you think of them?