October 2005

I knew someone had studied workplace interruptions and their effects on productivity….

Here it is.

I’ve started reading David Allen’s Getting Things Done which you may have been beaten over the head with if you have chanced by 43 Folders

Now all we need is a tool that provides a synergy of these ideas…. I suspect It Ain’t Outlook.


For those of you who have looked in on my site for the past few years and wondered “I wonder what Matt’s doing now with his Open Source stuff”, well, the answer has been, frankly, very little.

The hit counter (when it works) increases, surely there can’t be anyone interested in all this old stuff any more?

Surprisingly, there is – mainly scope, my RS232 analyser for Linux/UNIX, Net2TTY, and the MindReader Decryption project. This is progressing slowly – I haven’t really published anything on this yet, and am currently running long-running attempts on this on my own system before redesigning it for wider tinkering. (I’m at around 24% of the keyspace, which, as you’ll see here, isn’t very far at all, really).

I’ve made some useful tweaks to Scope and Net2TTY, and will release these soon.

I also receive about one email/month from other family history researchers interested in the Gumbley family tree – unfortunately, I haven’t maintained this information for a very long time. Perhaps when my children start asking questions about it, I’ll pick it up again – until then, there are really only sufficient hours in the day for small technical interests.

Then there’s this whole home page business itself. I started doing web pages back in the dawn of the web, using NCSA Mosaic. Ah, I’ve seen it all, and yes, it’s very nice. We have proper browsers now like Firefox, so we don’t have to do Your Dad’s HTML – cool hackery with tables and the like, single pixel GIFs, etc…. but come on folks, there’s only so much cool these tired old jaded bones can take… CSS? XHTML? AJAX? Lovely. This website started life being edited with vim, being my editor of choice, on Linux, all processed and made generally manageable with my own bits of shell script, GNU make file and WebMacro.

But let’s be frank for a moment – the website does look unutterably awful, doesn’t it?

I gave up maintaining it – look at the Matt’s Software News page to see when I last did any tinkering here.

Mainly because the hassle of rebooting into Red Hat, firing up a console, hacking away at almost raw HTML, then attempting to upload it to my ISP using a few flaky shell scripts and idiotic firewall misconfigurations… made me long for hours of root canal work.

Of course, I have done some hobby stuff since my son was born, but the output hasn’t yet been published (see MindReader, above). Watching a little person grow up is many orders of magnitude more fun than computing, and being a Dad is far, far harder.

However, around the time my son was born, I started a new job, and now have a couple of hours of commuting time to spend doing, well, stuff. Technical stuff, sometimes work/career-related, reading novels and other books, thinking, meditating, listening to music – you know, the usual commuter thing. I now have some code I’m getting ready to publish – something a little bigger than small UNIX utilities, something that’s a little more academic.

But then faced Updating The Website again….. Shudder.

Hence…. this blog. WordPress and the theme I’m using/butchering here (originally the “Connections” theme) make publishing my pablum easy and pretty. I’ve seen some dog-awful blogs, devoid of content. Hopefully, this one may be attractive and interesting.

I’ll gradually create WordPress pages for the main things found on the old site, then one night, when everyone’s asleep, take the old site out into the garden, and shoot it in the head. It’s the only humane thing to do. W3C told me to do it.

Anyway… Interested in Transputers? Grid Computing/Volunteer Distributed Computing? Minimalism? Forth?

Then stay tuned – interesting things might appear. They may be buggy, and take some time to mature. They may be The Completely Wrong Way To Do It, but hey, it’s fun trying.

No guarantees though…..

If you’d like a nice Multiplication Square for your budding mathematicians, here’s one I did earlier, with double sided sticky tape, Excel and PDFCreator.

Hey, it’s cheaper than paying £3.99 for one at a certain UK educational publisher!