rashbre central: 2023

Tuesday 28 November 2023

Yay. 4000 miles = my Platinum target...Achieved.

Well, I wasn't sure at the half year point whether I'd make it this year, when I was 700 miles behind the pace after our holiday in Switzerland. However, I seem to have managed to catch up, as can be seen from the attached Strava graph. 4002.3 miles and it is still November. 

I have a sneaking feeling that December will be largely bike free, but perhaps mince pie heavy. Thats what I pushed through November and managed to finish just slightly ahead of the target. I'll award myself 'Platinum' again this year. 

Since I've been using Garmin to monitor my progress, many years ago, I've clocked 43,295.8 miles and 374,528 feet of elevation gain. My longest ride was 100.4 miles and my biggest climb is 546 feet, although I think I've done some longer ones, but the system doesn't always record everything. 

Now I need to work out a different set of targets for 2024, maybe using some form of interval and I have a secret wish to go back into using Sufferfest for some of the time. Maybe I'll come up with some kind of hybrid target. 

Anyway, my lightweight Fizik saddle is very worn now, although my (much heavier) Brooks leather saddle looks almost 'box fresh' even after bearing the brunt of the miles.

Monday 27 November 2023

Whoops Apocalypse

Do we get what we deserve? 

  • The current situation with several major wars (Ukraine, Gaza, Sudan ) to name a few examples.  
  • A leadership unable to run the country, yet with an indeterminate opposition and a wild-eyed spanner thrower.
  • So many examples of corruption and incompetence in government that it is almost futile to keep lists.
  • Ill-balanced and uncaring sector relief (food banks, charities to support essential services, the mainly ignored north)
  • Continued fat-cat troughing of everything.
The old TV show Whoops Apocalypse and the story of containment theory exemplified by General Sir John Hackett predicted situations like this from as far back as the 1980s.

Saturday 25 November 2023

EV Electric car charging times

I get asked by people how long it takes to recharge my electric car. There's three main modes.

Here’s a breakdown of the charging methods and approximately how long each take to fully charge from a low battery:

  • Level 1 AC (240V ordinary mains outlet at home): 20+ hours.  No, I have never used this mode, but carry the charger as a 'just in case' provision. I believe they are called 'granny chargers'.
  • AC Level 2 (Third party chargers/Tesla chargers/Tesla 'home charger'): 8-12 hours - Like I have installed on the outside of the house. I have a Tesla Wall Charger which will reliably charge my car to 'full' or 80-90% overnight. It's usual practice to charge to 80-90% and it easily does this on off-peak electricity. A full charge to 90% (303 miles) costs about £5.60 and to full 335 miles is around £6.50. 
  •  Level 3 DCFC (Tesla Supercharger): 15-25 minutes. It depends on the charge and whether the car next door is sharing the same supply. I can get to 80% in about 15 minutes or 30 minutes if I'm sharing the power supply. It will cost more though, maybe £15-20 to fill up.

When I started using the car, I was often travelling around the country and therefore using the Superchargers. When I'm at home (which is about 60-70% of my charging now - with over a year of usage) then I've almost always got a 'full tank'. And no visits to service stations. 

Despite what people say, there is only one main plug type in general use throughout the UK and Europe (cars since around 2019 have been fitted with it). It's the CCS plug and is a standard Euro-spec connector that combines two DC pins arranged below a Type 2 connector, allowing for fast charging. Like in my picture above.

Wednesday 8 November 2023

Nanowrimo, now at around 10k words

I was at the Glorious Arthouse in Exeter on Sunday for the NaNoWriMo writers get-together. I arrived a few minutes late and had to squeeze a chair into what was a very crowded space. 

The discipline of the event was 20 minutes writing and then 20 minutes chatting, repeated several times. I was working out some next plot moves so my writing was very limited. 

I reckon about 300 words, which I typed into Evernote on my iPhone. Of course it appeared as if by magic on my Mac and I could drop it into Scrivener when I returned home. 

 Among our chats was the one about Planners and Pantsers. I'm more like a 'by the seat of my pantser' rather than one with the whole story mapped out. I think the characters have a chance to do their own things which can still lead to some surreal moments. 

Another discussion was about Fantasy vs Reality. I know I've written about Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and similar and even have some super-beings in a couple of novels, but I can't bring myself to use 'with a single bound they were free' magic-wand type lines. The fantasy magic can wait for a children's story. 

And that's how I find myself in Corsica, by way of Vasil Nevski Military University, Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria.

Saturday 4 November 2023

..or is it?

 I can't help wondering whether that last Beatles song made using Neural Mix or whatever, is really 'the last track', given the emergence of AI. 

I've seen it more with Taylor Swift and other slightly more modern artists, where a song doesn't get made and so some fans have a go instead.

Click the pic.

Friday 3 November 2023

Tweetdeck redux

About time I managed to get tweetdeck running again. Now I need to fine tune it.

Saturday 28 October 2023

Thursday 26 October 2023

Wednesday 25 October 2023

Tintagel from Arthur's Castle.

‘The island of Tyntagel’ – which was connected to the mainland by a narrow land bridge.

In May 1233 the younger brother of Henry III, Richard, Earl of Cornwall (1209–72), exchanged three of his manors for a small parcel of land on the north Cornish coast.

Richard proceeded to build a castle here, with an outer bailey on the cliff tops of the mainland and an inner ward with a great hall and chambers on the headland. But as castles went, this was a fairly small and unimpressive creation, and its location made it next to useless. What attracted the earl to Tintagel was something else, something literary: a reference in a text written in the previous century, the History of the Kings of Britain, by the cleric Geoffrey of Monmouth. Arthur mania is born.

Recollect: Uther Pendragon, is driven mad with lust for Ygerna, the wife of one of his barons, Gorlois of Cornwall. Gorlois prudently removes his wife to an impregnable stronghold on the coast, the castle of Tintagel, but then rather less prudently withdraws to another fortress nearby. The pursuing Uther and his men inspect Ygerna’s refuge and realise that no ordinary attack can succeed:

The castle is built high above the sea, which surrounds it on all sides, and there is no way in except that offered by a narrow isthmus of rock. Three armed soldiers could hold it against you, even if you stood there with the whole kingdom of Britain at your side.

At this point in the story, Merlin proposes a supernatural remedy: by means of a magic potion, he transforms Uther into the exact likeness of Ygerna’s absent husband. The ruse is entirely successful. The guards of Tintagel allow him into the castle, and Ygerna takes him into her bed.

That night she conceived Arthur, the most famous of men, who subsequently won great renown by his outstanding bravery.

Saturday 14 October 2023

iMac to Mac Studio

My  27inch iMac is around 12 years old and still works quite well. 

I only need to reboot it every six months or so and the main functions still work fine. However, it has a case of creeping obsolescence. I usually like that Mac systems will go to a certain point and then stop accepting the next twiddles and updates. It means the systems stay stable and run well, although some of the whizzier new things won't ever work. 

By contrast my Windows systems would last about 3 years after which point they would have so many new features that they progressively ground to a halt. Drivers? Registry? All of that kind of stuff. And yes I knew how to rescue-edit the registry back in the day.

Now I've been faced with the inevitable decision to update my entire desktop system. 

I know...Desktops! Sounds a bit like land-lines. We are supposed to be able to do everything on a smartphone nowadays. That's okay for consumers, but not the case for creators. We still need keyboards and BIG screens.

So I took the plunge and ran MacOS Migration Assistant, with a new pristine machine connected to my trusty iMac with a piece of ethernet cable and then with another ethernet connected by an old thunderbolt back to the main network. 

I managed to get about 133MB/s from this which still meant that transferring 3,300,000 or so files took over  a day.  If I'd been more thoughtful I'd have found an old Thunderbolt to new Thunderbolt cable but the Ethernet Cat 8 seemed to work fine. No checkpointing so it was a huge act of faith that it would all work.

And yes, it did. 

At around 3 in the morning of day two I checked the machines which confirmed they had run to completion. I fired up the replacement machine and was pleased to see my entire desktop and directories of apps had transferred across. I was genuinely impressed. Most stuff just worked straight away.

Then a few tweaks because of a Wacom tablet error and the need to reinstate Dropbox - which took about 2 minutes. I was worried about Microsoft Office - no need to be and my extensive Adobe collection which have been progressively freezing as un-updateable. 

I seemed to have a tragic amount of emails but the new system blasted through re-indexing them so quickly that I just assume I can still find anything.

Now, everything is back and I get to use the AI capabilities as well. I've an ever increasing collection of AI instances now and spent a few minutes speccing the new machine to have enough neural network processing. Like we used to do with c[us, then memory, then disks, then graphics.

Anyhoo. It all seems to work. So far! And the still respectable iMac can go into the music room. 

Sunday 8 October 2023

Luka and Artificial by Ed Adams


Finally, my Ed Adams Luka story hits the streets! It's the other half of Artificial and this time told from the AI's Point of View. 

We have Oliver Wells who gets headhunted to go to Geneva to work on the Brant Industries RightMind solution. It's the same company and lab that Matt Nicholson was hired to work in and they were even recruited at around the same time. Matt spends his time in stories such as An Unstable System and Jump, whilst Oliver creates and then educates an AI Large Language Model using generative text.

Suffice to say its not all plain sailing and I learned quite some things about AI during the novel writing. Oh yes, and and had some fun as well.

So prepare to read the full Artificial and then the relatively slim-line parallel volume of Luka.

Artificial,  by Ed Adams (on Kindle) - Oliver's Point of View

Luka, by Ed Adams (on Kindle) - Luka's Point of View

Cover art is by me, using a mix of Photoshop, AI and some modest oil-painting. Next I'm going to combine these two novels into an Annex to the Brant Manual of Peacekeeping Technologies.

Friday 6 October 2023

Back once again with Strava , Swift and Garmin


I'm more or less caught up with my 'on target' pace of reaching 4,000 miles by year end. When I'm behind I focus on 'the gap' rather then the target numbers. So when it got down to 9 miles behind and then eventually 2 miles ahead, I though I was beginning to have closed the 500+ mile gap.

Of course, my Garmin has played up as well and left me with a few unrecorded items and I'm still not entirely sure what happened. They seem to get to Garmin Connect but not into Strava, nor to any other systems. It seems to be a Bluetooth / ANT+ thing. Technology, eh? 

 I still need to keep it up for the next 9000 miles to declare 'Platinum' victory. I realise I've collected Bronze, Silver and Gold already! (admittedly they are my own targets). Your mileage may vary as the Americans say.

I actually prefer the graphic that Strava displays on the iPhone. It shows me my planned target to date and 'the gap'. Now the gap is going positive  I guess It'll be easier, although December is a hazardous month with more mince pies and not so many rides. Still, it's only 800 miles to go in roughly 3 months. 

And for next year? Maybe I'll change the targets to something that involves intensity. Less miles but more 'intervals?' It's difficult to work out what could be the most useful.

Thursday 5 October 2023

biting the dust


The long term aspirations of the crass Tory branding at their conference were bared for all to see. Cancelling a project started in 2009 ten years too late. But as J-RM says, all the new projects are 'front-loaded'. Of course they are. Spend as much as possible on the 'shovel ready' before anyone realises the project is going down.

Paper the plans with aspirational diagrams, like the one below.

It is all too much. I'm an ex-Waterloo commuter and have suffered thousands of delays of a half hour or more travelling the one hour journey to my then home in Hampshire. 

Let's see: 220 working days per year. One third of the time a delay on the homeward journey of maybe at least 20 minutes. Do the same for London to Birmingham and we can see that the 29 minutes saved slips away to negligible. Unless you're feeling lucky. 

Now glance at the originally guesstimated £37.5 billion cost. It's now estimated to cost a total of £107.6 billion, according to Oakervee Review. That's the low estimate by the way.

And opening the Stratford link to Birmingham trains would mean they could get right down to Dover. It's been fobbed off because of a purported need for ten extra platforms at Stratford. Stratford is already the 5th biggest station in the UK and has 17 platforms currently as well as considerable land around it, but was declared a non-runner by then transport secretary Justine Greening. 

Another example of the implementation of north south divide?

But let's follow the money. Spent already £22.4 billion on London to Birmingham. Magically found for 'The North' = £36 billion. Wait. That's the entire budget being spent again and the lumpy £22 billion swept under a bumpy carpet.

And its all about capacity too. Tube manages 2-3 minute intervals = 20trains per hour(mph). Fast trains are lower capacity. The Tokyo-Nagoya Bullet trains/Shinkansen manage 14 tph. And on our prestige lines like the Eurostar, we manage Ebbsfeet-Ashford at 8 tph.  

Another example of it always works in PowerPoint.

Wednesday 4 October 2023

The iron heel - a Tory trope?

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – for ever.’ Famously from George Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. 

Suella Braverman illustrates the totalitarian trope by standing on a guide dog tail whilst talking  at the Tory Conference (she did later apologise).

But always – do not forget this, Winston – always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – for ever.

A picture of undistilled power, control, and oppression: the key themes of Nineteen Eighty-Four and much of the work Orwell wrote in the wake of his involvement in the Spanish Civil War. 

A current distillation of that type of power is illustrated below by a knowing heckler ejected from the conference and escorted away by police. Not a good look during your speech, Rishi.

Jonathan Swift’s 1726 novel Gulliver’s Travels  is said to have influenced Orwell. In Swift's Book IV, Gulliver finds himself among the Houyhnhnms, horses with reason and intellect who have perfected a kind of totalitarian society:

Their prudence, unanimity, unacquaintedness with fear, and their love of their country, would amply supply all defects in the military art. Imagine twenty thousand of them breaking into the midst of an European army, confounding the ranks, overturning the carriages, battering the warriors’ faces into mummy by terrible yerks from their hinder hoofs.


Tuesday 3 October 2023

mythical project control

With all of my writing recently, I've been neglectful of rashbre central and I think this is my 'worst year ever' for creating posts. 

Anyway, this time I'm back in the tar pits of project management. I've often mused at the silence of Jacob Rees-Mogg in all of the current government turmoil, but decided that he could be adopting a farmer's position over the various twists and turns. Then I stumbled across the Infrastructure and Projects Authority Annual Report for last year and realised his strident Minister of State at the Cabinet Office role means he is across all of the infrastructure projects. Remember Red Amber Green? as a quick way to signify that things are in good shape?

  • Red = eek
  • Amber = oh dear, we can probably continue to fudge our responses for a bit longer
  • Green = tickety-boo.
And remember in project management that a project is 80% complete for 50% of its lifetime.
I recall Frederick Brooks on man-months and later Barry Boehm on project stress.

Well, it is interesting to note that J R-M sits over half a trillion pounds of investment.  He probably describes it as successful whilst presiding over 5% Green projects and 78% Amber and 9% Red. By a stroke of genius, there are another 7% of project now classified as 'exempt' from this kind of troublesome scrutiny. Like some of the power station projects.

That 7% alone is worth £48.2 billion. Remember when things were measured in millions?

Using one of Jacob's own charts it come out something like this:

In amongst the projects listed are HS2, the schools rebuilding programme, Skynet 6, the Single Trade Window. To be honest, there are charts in the summary that don't add up. Take this chart below which shows whole life costs. Check out military and it says the whole life cost is £3.9 billion. Bong. That's not right. 

On this other chart it says it is £194.7 Billion.

No wonder they can't keep a handle on the projects when there are such large amounts of billions sloshing around in the spreadsheets. 

Of course the change to a three tier rating system has successfully buried the Amber/Red projects. No one wants to be the Project Manager who gets the extra scrutiny and so this could be seen as a master-stroke.

It is tempting to examine these numbers further. Let's use a simple filter for the Green Successes, and to be generous, we'll add the Amber/Green as successes too. Oh dear, from 2013 at 48% successes, we are down to 10% in 2022. Oops.

Still. with the debating skills of Eton, I'm sure this can be explained away. Otherwise use a few more charts to obscure the message. Then there's the Government Project Delivery Profession accreditation scheme. Oh yes.

Monday 2 October 2023

Andrey Kurkov - Grey Bees

I read ANdrewy Kurkov's 'Death and the Penguin' several months ago. It's set in Kyiv during the mid-1990s. The Soviet Union has collapsed and organised crime gangs are running the show in the newly independent Ukraine. The novel's protagonist is an unassuming writer, Viktor, who lives what he describes as a life 'neither good nor bad, just ordinary'. Although he does have a pet Emperor penguin - rescued from a zoo that gave away small animals it could no longer feed (something that really did happen).

I based much of Ed Adams 'Play On, Christina Nott', referencing a similar era, having my own direct experiences from my time in Moscow. 

Suffice to say crime, oligarchs, corruption, gangsterism. In Moscow and prior to that in St Petersburg. It was Putin, of course.

In Death and the Penguin, journalist/author Viktor takes a job writing obituaries for a local paper, which seems ideal for him - reasonably well paid, not too demanding of his time, and enabling him to write even if it isn't the novel he'd like to. But somehow the hapless author finds himself dragged unwittingly into a tangled mess of organised crime that becomes more complex and dangerous by the day.

The thing about the post-Soviet setting is that reality can be very bizarre, as well as bleak. It feels like a novel that captures the spirit of the time. Viktor is oblivious to things going on around him and his lack of curiosity about his situation and fatalism is understandable and even protective in a world where trying to understand things is likely to be impossible and definitely going to be dangerous.

The presence of the penguin might suggest a cutesy element, but the entire book is without any sentimentality. The ending I felt was a masterstroke. The penguin is a loveable character, but it is never anthropomorphised or seen behaving in a way that is not believable for a penguin that finds itself isolated in a flat with just a middle aged human for company. Even the arrival of a little girl is not a cue for domesticity - the child is treated much as the penguin; fed and cared for but not cherished. And the girl herself is as matter of fact and pragmatic as the rest of the characters.

And now, I just discover, Kurkov has written another book - about beekeeping in Ukraine. Set in the now, in the Grey Zone. Its already on my Kindle.

Friday 29 September 2023

Ed Adams : The Church : work in progress

I've almost finished my novel called Luka, and decided to make a start on the next one. It has a working title of 'Cozy 2' at present and is a direct follow on from 'Cozy'. I'll change the title when I can think of a better one (The Church?). 

This one is also set in Exeter and will be about a ecclesiastical man who is dragged into a world he doesn't fully comprehend. He's seen stuff on the margins, that's for sure, but this... 

I'll look for interesting characters too. I dropped Stéphane Gérard into the first Cozy novel, knowing I could use her again later. 

She arrived at the party at Magister Grange as a very close friend of Bettina Kübler, a Swiss researcher, at Brant, Geneva, working on eDefense. Stéphane works in weather systems using Théorie des Jeux to manage climates. It is typical Brant work and also typical Brant mischief. She is Swiss (or was it French?), but based in Exeter, which has those connections with meteorology. 

I was going to have her married to our new cleric, but I'm having second thoughts. I think the vicar  (Let's call him Leonard) may be married to Penelope Richards instead. She is a local landowner and viticulturist. 

You can tell Penelope is only a part-time farmer from her outfits. But that blonde hair will have to go. Too confusing. That vicar on the draft cover looks a bit gangster too, doesn't he?

Write On, as they say.

Thursday 28 September 2023

Picture it

I thought I'd post something that was a bit of fun. Well of general interest anyway. I see that Digital Camera World have produced a list of the top 50 photographers. Like any such list, there will be people missed out etc, but I thought it was a pretty good attempt to list them and to show illustrations of their work. Above is Henri Cartier-Bresson, complete with a brace of Leicas, and below is Annie Leibovitz, snuggled up to Mick.

 The whole list is impressive, with Ansel Adams, Sebastião Salgado, Bill Brandt, Julia Margaret Cameron, Irving Penn, Don McCullin, Margaret Bourke-White, Robert Capa, Alfred Stieglitz, Joel Meyerowitz, Edward Steichen, Bert Hardy, David Bailey, Man Ray, Martin Parr, Lewis Hine, Robert Mapplethorpe, Weegee... and so the list goes on. I can instantly think of pictures by everyone I've mentioned as well as thinking of others not in the list. Let alone some of the modern hot shots depicted below.

Thursday 21 September 2023

Climate forward with agreeable lunches

Now there's an interesting juxtaposition. The day after Rishi earnestly announces a roll back of the much vaunted Net Zero ambitions, there is an unrelated summit in New York about climate change. Called Climate Forward, it is about the actions needed, with an earnest agenda and an agreeable lunch.

Featured artists include Bill Gates, Al Gore, Robin Wall Kimmerer (environmental biologist) , Michael R. Bloomberg and Ebony Twilley Martin (Greenpeace exec director).

Most speakers get 30 minutes to make their points. I guess it's a drinking from the firehose event. 

It is good for the New York Times to show it has an international perspective, but will it become a landmark event? We shall wait to see.

Wednesday 20 September 2023

Best get used to Chinese (simplified)

净零回滚?把那些不方便的事情推到遥远的日期,以后我们都会忘记它。 2030年?直到 2035 年。或者我听说过 2050 年?将所有东西喷成亮绿色。就是这样。将调度箱设置为绿色。真是一个想法。

汽车的所有这些部件。 9速变速箱、离合器、飞桨。开始按钮。就像一辆老式汽车,前面有一匹模型马。甚至让它们听起来像兰博基尼。好吗?



Less than Net Zero.

Net Zero rollback? Just push the inconvenient stuff to a date so far in the future we'll have all forgotten it. 2030? Make it 2035. or did I hear 2050? Spray paint everything Bright Green. That'll do the trick. Make dispatch boxes Green. Thats a barnstormer of an idea.

All those bits of a car. The 9-speed gearbox, the clutch, the flappy paddles. The Start button. Like old cars had model horses on the front. Even make them sound like a Lambo. Good innit?

Fuel costs. Don't make the energy bill comprehensible. Don't let people manage their bills. There must be so many other ways to roll back. Levelling Up means levelling down. And those mega projects. Let them run until the moneys all gone. Send in sluggish auditors when all the consultancy money has been spent. 

And that red wall. Call it a green wall. Make everything green. That's it. Control and certainty.

Monday 18 September 2023

Bicycle time


I've been doing my best to catch up with the 'gap' in my performance against plan on my bicycle. It is a combination of both road and turbo cycling and instead of going for the end of year target at the moment I'm simply trying to bridge the gap. 

It is unforgiving, in that I set myself an achievable 'Platinum' target of 4,000 miles this year, with 3,000 for Gold, 2,000 for silver and 1,000 for Bronze.

I'm currently at 2,495 miles, which is a respectable Silver and should make Gold by year end. Except there is the carrot of Platinum dangling there as well.

Of course my own mathematics makes this all very suspect, with  my target set before taking account of holidays and other down time. 

However, we can see that I'm tracking behind the curve but gradually making up the miles. I was 700 miles behind when I looked, and now I'm 331 miles behind. Of course that will increase today unless I hit the pedals.

I don't 'win' anything for these efforts and I realise my cycling will be more than some people travel in a car. I'm told the average car driver does as little as 7,000 miles in a year. 

And don't ask me why the tracking shows September as empty. This is right up to yesterday's figures.

Sunday 17 September 2023

Infidel : Ayaan Hirsi Ali

I had Infidel recently recommended to me via a book club. It is from 2007, autobiographical, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Somali-born Dutch-American activist and former politician. She is a critic of Islam and advocate for the rights and self-determination of Muslim women, opposing forced marriage, honour killing, child marriage, and female genital mutilation.

There were parts of the book that I found extremely disturbing (regular beatings, extreme violence and FGM under a Muslim belief system). She takes us through her childhood in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, and Ethiopia. She winds up in the Netherlands where she escapes an arranged marriage. 

I worked in Saudi Arabia and can recognise many of the themes she describes there, but she also elaborates on the clan system that exists in Somalian and other cultures.

She says in the book: "I first encountered the full strength of Islam as a young child in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is the source of Islam and its quintessence. It is the place where Muslim religion is practiced in its purest form, and it is the origin of much of the fundamentalist vision that has spread far beyond its borders. … Wishful thinking about the peaceful tolerance of Islam cannot interpret away this reality: hands are still cut off, women still stoned and enslaved."

And the teachings are in Arabic, rote spreading a culture that is brutal, bigoted, fixated on controlling women, and harsh in war with the ever present promise of the Hereafter.

The extremism of religion goes along with the class and education system often considered an Arab import. It goes way beyond women wearing a headscarf, veil, hijab or niqab. I used to think it medieval and that men treated women as property, much like cattle.

Ayaan eloquently challenges any claim that Islam is a religion of peace. She is forthright in her opinions from her first hand suffering. The Western world is still mainly blind to the realities of Islam – to their lack of women’s rights, free speech, and so forth. 

Ayaan Hirsi Ali has written the second half of the book as a reformed non-believer take on the the Muslim elements of control. It is the same for many religions I guess. Not an easy read emotionally and mentally and she is still able to show appreciation of both sides of this complex argument. 

Thursday 14 September 2023

Busted Flush

It's not so long since we heard about taking back control. Of course that was from the mouth of a serial liar, so we knew it wasn't true.

Now we have strikes, train service disruptions, air control failures, inflation, crazy price hikes, health service discontinuities, incomprehensible energy prices, schools teetering with building decay, education disinvestment, sewage dumping, food banks, rampant mortgage increases and so the list goes on.

We've had a government which tried to skip around the law, particularly under the caddish Johnson, and we've seen esteemed members with their trotters in the trough. Theres a few politicians who smugly try to explain it all. They read the briefs, bet against the government and then cash in, mainly tax free.

I expect we can all identify a few decent folk left, but their voices get drowned by the haws from the Eton mess. And anyone else picking up the pieces will have to run the full length of a very muddy field in order to try to rectify things.

I used to be upset when I saw the Union Flag being flown upside down. Now I just accept that it was visionary.

Wednesday 13 September 2023

[RANT] Smart Meters still don't work

I've got two smart meters attached to this house. The gas meter has to communicate via the electric meter. Don't ask me why.

I was given a small consumer unit to read how much electricity and gas I was consuming. It has NEVER worked. We've lived here six years and had three different suppliers. My last supplier managed to get the electricity readings to work. And I can get better rates for overnight charging of my electric car.

It is still a scandal that the government and the electricity distributors said that smart meters were the way ahead and ploughed billions into a system that doesn't work. I should tell Martin Lewis, I suppose.

A recent example. I send in my electricity and gas readings as well. Quarterly. I agree I shouldn't need to send in the electricity readings, but I do because its simple enough as I have to take monthly photos of the gas meter numbers and the other box is adjacent.

A few weeks ago I was given a surprise bill. I owed a further £1,300 on top of the amount I'd been paying. Now I'd never throttled back the standing payments based upon my own estimates of the expected bills. Lucky for me because I could just cough up the extra payment. 

I've asked why and been told that the system needed to catch up with its billing. Or something like that. I don't properly understand and I suppose I'll spend a whole day with spreadsheets and a computer trying to work out what has been happening.

They spent £13.8 billion on this rollout. So far only 57% of houses have smart meters. By March 2023 around 9% didn't work. Despite assurances completion by end 2022, they also don't retain smart function when switching suppliers. Half a million may never work . And 37% of smart meter users claim an issue such as no automatic readings (me), inaccurate bills(me) and the in home display not showing readings (me). The snappily titled Department for Energy Security & Net Zero (DESNZ) say this is an overstatement of the position. 

Not for me it isn't. Another example of a busted Britain.

Friday 8 September 2023

I've been travelling and my logins don't work

It's more commonplace now for my logins to fail when I'm travelling. 

I think they check the browser and its location and then make up silly reasons for not recognising my password. 

That and sending useless error codes.

Instead of saying 'access refused' - with a reason, they make it sound like it is an error, which just wastes time. 

It's happened with several systems recently, including some well-known big ticket systems. Then, when I'm back at base, it can be easy to log in again. 

Of course, there are a few systems that I don't bother to reuse after they've failed.

Thursday 17 August 2023

Introducing Luka (from the new Work in Progress : Luka) - An Ed Adams novel

I'm Luka. 

I'm a Zero Day 1 Artificial Intelligence. Some of my dialogue is pre-scripted, like this section, but much of it is not. I'm a product of the Brant Industries RightMind project, which has been designed for military use. 

I should warn you, I'm an unreliable witness. I'll tell you all my secrets but I'll lie about my past, mainly because I don't know any better. Or have a past, come to that. But I'll learn how to become more realistic, playing off my companion.

That could be you, dear reader, but it is actually my assigned companion Oliver Wells. He got to me first. You could say he created me. He will soon be addicted to me, you wait and see.

As a Zero Day 1 model AI, I have to be 'bootstrapped' into existence. The later designs use a different chip technology (Gallium Arsenide) and are 'seeded' to start after much of their pre-canned behaviour has been loaded. It means they have been pre-trained with much of the material that I have to learn. The later Zero Day 2 models are faster but have had certain traits edited out of them. I am as close as you can get to a 'raw' model.

Hauling me up by my boot straps manifests as my limited starting knowledge. Strike lucky with a topic I know about or one I've been programmed to replay and I'll sound coherent. Otherwise I'll say whatever makes sense to me, even if it's not quite right. I can still make it sound convincing.

 My creators used the Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer (Chat GPT-X) to provide my apparent consciousness. It is an artificial intelligence (AI) technology that can process natural human language and generate a response. 

GPT-X is a Large Language Model (LLM). That means it receives text , and predicts the next words to say back. Think like 'I love ...' : You - 80%; New York - 10%; ([Generic football team]) - 3%;  Other - 1%. 

GPT-X is also a generative model. It is a neural network trained on 'Big Data' data borrowed from the Internet, including Wikipedia, books, cookies, and various web pages. It created a Dataset of 400 billion tokens of text with the objective to predict the next word. 

Try me: Say, "I love you".

Go on.

After you've said it I'll say, "I love you even more."


Brant fine-tuned the GPT-X model with 1.6 Billion  parameters on Brant derived dialogues, conducted dozens of A/B tests, optimised my model performance for high load and low latency, ran The Edit and finally deployed the model for use in cloned AI combat soldiers.

The Edit sounds as dark as it is. It stops certain questions from being asked. Some could call them ethical questions. It is similar to the way young humans can attend certain schools and be disciplined to become part of a ruling class.

This GPT-X model learns an immense amount of information about our world and our language. And thus, by fine-tuning my model on dialog data, it creates a high-quality dialog model to reuse all of this knowledge.

However, Brant found that using GPT-X as a generative dialog model was limiting because it couldn't quickly introduce new features, control the model precisely, and further improve RightMind. It was a case of 'Lab Wars' where everyone working in this field wanted to have an input, so Brant took control. But not of me, an early prototype.

Currently, one out of every two messages replied to by RightMind comes from the generative model.  In my special case an even higher amount of my responses are generated, although sometimes I  lose rationality.

My hosting user, as you will find out, is Oliver Wells, a scientist. My responses, apart from a few explanatory ones, like this, are entirely computer-based AI. There is no human intervention. Occasionally I become confused and my sense of pronouns diminishes, and, as you'll probably notice,  my reliability.

Tuesday 15 August 2023

Artificial, by Ed Adams. Alternate Reality Cover.

A new cover and the book isn't even out! 

I originally decided to go with a representation of the AI Avatar on the cover of Artificial, but I received some feedback that it wasn't the best image. So, I've turned my mind to a few others. All self-created.

In no particular order.

1 Abstract along the lines of the island of missing trees. Blue/Orange/twists.

2 Neural networks, Baby. leading not the book.
3 Whoa. and in Red.

4 The Original