Samsung Galaxy SIII

As my phone contract with Orange was nearing it’s completion, I decided that I would upgrade to the Samsung Galaxy SIII.

It’s a pretty good phone, running Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich, 16GB internal memory, Samsung Exynos 4 Quad SoC based on a 1.4 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU, so it’s not slow! The UI (TouchWiz) is pretty responsive, but a bit different to what I’m used to with HTC Sense – such as the customisable number of home screens. Admittedly, I do miss some of the things that the HTC Desire had – such as a widget to enable the hotspot mode, but there are so many really nice things with this phone – including the availability of Google Chrome :)

The S3 is also my first device which includes an NFC (Near Field Communication) reader, and I’ve found that I can read a number of different things somewhat unexpectedly, including both my bus pass and my passport – I’m hoping I’ll have some chance to play with that technology in the future, especially since I have some NFC tags on order :)

There has also been a bit of a problem with these phones – it was discovered by some researchers that on opening a URL using the “tel” scheme will automatically open the dialler and pre-fill in the number. For example, a link such as the example below will open the dialler and dial 012345:

<a href="tel:012345">click me!</a>

However, some special numbers (called USSD codes) will automatically detect as these special numbers and automatically start something – most phones can be made to show their IMEI number by dialling *#06#. If, by clicking a link such as this your phone shows it’s IMEI, it’s vulnerable to attack. The Galaxy SIII has a special code in it which can be used to run a factory reset without confirmation and without possibility of cancelling it. This could be started simply by clicking a link in a web page. Thankfully, my phone doesn’t appear to be affected by this, but a large number of Galaxy SIIIs out there are vulnerable.

Overall, it’s a brilliant phone, and I’m really glad I got it :)

Raspberry Pi, and Raspberry Pie


I went to bed early last night cos I knew I had to be up early this morning. Getting up at 05:30 is something that is incredibly rare for me. Unfortunately, it was a bit pointless this time around.

I was trying to get one of these:

Copyright 2011-2012, Raspberry Pi Foundation

It’s called a Raspberry Pi, and it’s essentially a computer the size of a credit card. With an ARM11 processor manufactured by Broadcom, 256M RAM, HDMI/RCA video output, 2 USB ports and Ethernet, powered by micro-USB, with SD for storage. What more could you want for a basic computer system?

Initially, it’ll run a variant of either Debian or Fedora Linux, and my plan is to use it either as a local web server/proxy server/dns server, or maybe running XBMC as a low-power media frontend. It’ll also be good for simply messing about with.

Oh, did I mention the price of this thing? No?

$35 (USD).

In the process of trying to order one, we (everyone who wanted one) brought down not only RS Components’ website, but Premier Farnell too in mere seconds. They were warned about the traffic, but seemingly thought the warning a bit frivolous since both of them didn’t adequately prepare for a HUGE traffic surge.

And now I have a craving for raspberry pie.

The Twelve Days of Christmas

A good quiz question might be “How many gifts were given during the carol ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas'”. The answer, 364, might be known by a reasonable number of people by now, but let’s look at the problem both from this perspective, and another perspective: how many legs were in those gifts?
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AI Exam (continued…)

So, yesterday I found out that one topic in the AI exam which I thought I must have completely glossed over in the notes – well, it wasn’t actually in the notes. In fact, the only reference to it was in one of the “recommended reading” – a list which is reasonably long.

That question was worth seven marks.

Exams and Hurricane Bawbag

After lots of last-minute panicking over the Computer Graphics exam, being resigned to not remember half of the matrix transformations and the Phong equation, we were all taken by surprise by the exam – almost a cakewalk – and a lot of us were saying that too.

AI, on the other hand, couldn’t have got much worse.

Everything that was a “guaranteed” question on the past papers didn’t come up. Everything most people revised didn’t come up. In fact, a fair description of the entire AI module is this:

I could rant on about the coursework too, where we had to produce two expert systems on the same topic – one data driven and one goal driven. We were given two examples, one data driven and one “goal” driven, but the “goal” driven example that we all based our “goal” driven systems off was actually also data driven.

Goal driven was worth 2/3 of the marks.

Just as the AI exam finished, an announcement was made that due to the adverse weather, all exams after this one had been postponed by the university…… in some ways I’m glad it’s out of the way though.

It was a bit windy when we left campus, being on the outskirts of the city it’s pretty exposed – some roofing came off one of the buildings on campus right next to the main bus stop, so that meant the only bus stop that could work on campus was the one at the back of the CS building :D Only in Scotland it be called something like “Hurricane Bawbag”!

Oh well, there’s only Foundations to go, with it’s joys of lambda calculus.

An amazing thing

On Tuesday 15th September 2009, I made a decision. That decision was trivial, much along the lines of “do I go to this free event?” The sort of decision that everyone makes every single day. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but that one decision changed my life.

That one decision was a decision to meet up with another new group of people, something I’d been doing a lot of since that was my first week of uni after freshers week. This group of people was different though. I was going to the LGBT group’s first meeting of the year.

My plan was to meet new people, make friends, and generally say hi to other gay students – and if necessary, help out others with my experiences. I’d decided before going to uni that I was gonna be completely out of the closet from the start, having already been through the whole coming out thing a few months earlier.

So I went along, met a few people, made a few new friends, had a drink or two, then met someone else.

That someone was Scott.

I knew pretty quickly that he was a nice guy, someone I could get along with – and pretty damn sexy too! I knew by the end of the night I really really liked him, but me being me, it took until two weeks later for me to actually ask him out. At some point on the night of the 29th of September, I finally asked him out.

That was a year and nine months ago.

Ever since that Tuesday when I met Scott for the first time, he’s been the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to me. He’s made me laugh when I’ve been down, looked after me when I’ve been ill, been someone to talk to when I’ve needed it. He’s funny, creative, good-looking, caring, considerate, cute,  sexy – I could go on and on. He’s just completely amazing!

For the past ten months, we’ve been living together, and it’s been the best time of my life. Scott has completely turned my world upside-down.

Scott, you have been wonderful to me, you are the most amazing boyfriend I could possibly ask for.

Have a great 21st birthday, I love you so much! xxxxxxxxxxxx


Google Chrome – It Gets Better


Such an amazingly beautiful video for the It Gets Better project, but also it’s sort-of an advert for Google Chrome – I’m actually proud of the Chrome team for making a video like this, just like I’m proud of anyone who makes a video for the It Gets Better project.

Like many gay youth, I suffered homophobic bullying at school, right the way through until I got to sixth form. It was a struggle, it hurt me emotionally (and thankfully only few times physically), but I managed to ignore it, shut it out, and grew stronger as a result.

As soon as the idiots had left school, and only those who actually cared about learning were left, the bullying reduced to the occasional jibe, and after a couple of months, it disappeared altogether.

It wasn’t until I’d actually stopped getting the bullying that I finally managed to accept I was gay, and it wasn’t for over a year that I finally built up the confidence to tell someone – the person I was closest to, and even then I didn’t do it properly. Once I’d actually come out properly, my world changed hugely – it’s not a big deal to come out (it feels like it though!), but it does make a big difference – it got so much better! I was finally able to just be myself, do what I wanted, and be accepted for who I was.

There are many many gay people around the world, you’re not alone – and trust us when we say IT GETS BETTER! Just hang on, try and cope with it, cos there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Old blog posts!

I’ve found my old blog posts, archived away in facebook! These posts were from the blog I had but didn’t maintain so deleted, over on

I’ve recovered most of the content, no idea if I got all of it (probably not), but it made some quite interesting reading and reminiscing of times gone by (a year and a half?!).

I’ve put them all under the Archive category if you want a laugh, especially at some of the french wedding stuff. You might have seen it before, I don’t know – worth a look anyway.

I also dug out the correct dates from the facebook archive, so the posts should also be dated correctly(ish)