Most people are familiar with a few Zen kōans – the ‘nonsense’ sayings of the great Zen masters that are designed to make us think or rather not think. Their aim is to point more directly to what can’t be said in words. Examples include: “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” and “Does…Read More GUID Persistence as Zen kōan
I recently took part in a very long discussion on LSIDs on the TDWG-TAG mailing list. This seems to have been a perpetual discussion over the past four years. On reflection I realised that over two posts I had produced a kind of personal position paper on LSIDs and that it would be worth capturing…Read More A Position on LSIDs
The nice thing about blogging is that you get to mix-n-match your thoughts together in a way that you couldn’t do in the constituant parts of your life. This post brings together the notion of Globally Unique Identifiers (GUIDs) from my world of work and Buddhist notions of identity. It isn’t really acceptable to talk…Read More Identifiers, Identity and Me
View this full screen! This is my first reasonably high resolution Gigapan. It is around 760 megapixel. It was a dark day on Saturday but I am quite happy with the results. You can see this pan along with some of my other efforts on my Gigapan home page. What I think is really ‘cool’…Read More My First ‘Serious’ Edinburgh Gigapan
Back last year at TDWG2008 in Fremantle there was a Wild Ideas session where people could propose crazy things that might not be serious or urgent. I gave a presentation called SpeciesIndex?: A practical alternative to fantasy mashups. This was meant to be a bit of fun but actually went down quiet well with a…Read More SpeciesIndex: A waste of midnight oil?
My Mukka coffee maker just arrived. It is great! It is like a regular stove top espresso maker but you put milk in the top and it has a clever-valve-thing that froths the milk as it makes the espresso thus creating a cappuccino. Bit tricky to get used to at first and not for the…Read More Mukking Marvelous
I have been wanting to push people in the direction of semantic technologies for quite a while now. Mainly this has taken the form of weaning them off the notion that well formed or valid XML is a generic solution to data interoperability rather than just a application level data validation tool. The problem with…Read More Hittite Sheep Hit the Semantic Nail on the Head
My maternal grandparents were in the Salvation Army. This is their wedding in 1928. It is worth clicking on the image and having a closer look. It is one of those photographs where you feel you can connect with the people in it. I wonder why it has that feel when some photos don’t. Was…Read More My Maternal Grandparents Wedding
With apologies to René Magritte. Imagine you are a judge in a small court and I am the accused. I have been caught stealing coconuts from the local supermarket. In my defense I say I did it to feed the last remaining flock of dodos that I have living in my garden. Thus I am…Read More Ceci n’est pas un dodo
Today I start a new job at the Natural History Museum London. For the next two years I’ll be working on Pan European Species Infrastructure as the project officer for Work Package 4 – which is all about standards for exchange of taxonomic data between databases in Europe. I’ll still be keeping an eye on…Read More Now PESI Project Officer
I am an ethical vegetarian who perhaps one day, when the kids have grown a little, will become vegan or nearly so. I also have an allergy to fish. Back in the days when I was a flesh eater I would throw up and have a histamine reaction within thirty minutes of eating even white…Read More Fish – I wish I could see this in myself.
When I was impressionable and even more naive than now I was warned not to trust anyone who started a story with “When I was in …”. This was tremendously good advice. For some reason the society I swim in rates travel above all else and fails to see it as just another form of…Read More John Simpson: Not Quite Arrogant
Back in April when I knew the RMS was going to close for three years for renovation I decided to do some panoramas to capture its pre-renovation state. As with many projects it reached a set level then sat on my hard drive without being launched. A chance conversation reminded me of it so I…Read More Royal Museum of Scotland – as it was in April ’08
Joscelyn (8 years old) came home with an assignment to write a poem about Scotland because it was near St Andrew’s day. The instructions on what was required were a bit confusing. She has a piece of paper with SCOTLAND written vertically down the edge so each line began with a letter. She had to…Read More St Andrew’s Day Poem
I spent a fun evening recently helping Jo Barker photograph her tapestries for an upcoming catalogue and exhibition. Her work is amazing. This one is my favourite of the session. Jo’s exhibition is at the Scottish Gallery and opens on 7th January.Read More An evening with Jo Barker’s Tapestries
I wonder if it is more satisfying to zoomify this kind of image rather than have it as a panorama.Read More View From Scott Monument Zoomified
On my way to work in the morning I often walk past the Scott Monument. Usually the guy who sells tickets to go up the monument is just opening up. Each time I think I’d like to go up but never do – until today. It was glorious I had the whole thing to myself…Read More Scott Monument on a Winter Morning
I have been doing some thinking about capturing images of herbarium specimens so as to facilitate the “taxonomic process” – whatever that might be. The trigger for writing this down was a quote from an excellent series of papers on digitisation of specimens: “Plant sheets are usually scanned at somewhere around 1000 DPI (600 DPI…Read More Herbarium Digitisation: Is 600dpi Evil?
There is no doubt that Globally Unique Identifiers (GUIDs) are important and not just because I have been hammering on about them for the last few years. It is hard to imagine a world where biodiversity data can flow from one application to another without some kind of tagging of that data to show its…Read More UUIDs may be Dangerous
Here is a story on the BBC about a USB device that you plug into your PC to enable it to be put to sleep at the touch of a single button. It is incredible that some one is selling a product to do that. For starters my Macs do it by default. Just close…Read More Eco PC Nuts?
The nice people at Julian Graves wrote straight back to my email and sent me a post paid envelope so that I could send the nuts back to them for analysis. Lets wait and see what they say. BTW Julian Graves has be bought by Holland and Barrett. The bitter taste remains especially after eating…Read More Nuts sent off
The bitter taste in my mouth continues so my investigation goes on. The suspect ‘baby pine nuts’ came from Julian Graves store in Livingston a couple of weeks ago. I remember they had both regular and small pine nuts and we bought the small but as I quickly discarded the packaging I don’t have any…Read More More Nuts
I started to get a bitter taste in my mouth after eating. At first I thought I was going to die so I Googled on it – how many people a minute go through that process! My scatter gun approach to diagnosis came up with a series of suggestions. I either had jaundice or I…Read More Bitter taste after eating for days – caused by pine nuts?
Well I got a link to a US political on line test and I am just another bleeding lefty – ah well no great surprise there then though I would describe myself as a liberal… Take the test if you like. Link at the bottom. You are a Social Liberal (66% permissive) and an… Economic…Read More Another bleeding lefty
This is just an amazing 20 minutes.Read More Jill Bolte Taylor
On a recent BBC documentary about bird mimics wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson told a wonderful ghost story that has that great quality of raising questions in the heart about our place in the world and the nature of causality. Have a listen: Starling Ghost Story (5 min MP3 3.6mb) The original documentary is available…Read More Starling – a ghost story