Puppy strutting at Belfast Pride

All of the doggos!

See more photos

Close Crossing

Bray Air Show, Ireland

See more photos

Puppy Love

A puppy in Iceland, with Victoria cuddling

See more photos

Living in the Nexus

No Comments

I recently purchased a new Asus / Google Nexus 7 tablet, and I’m writing this entry on it! It’s awesome, and at a great price, I recommend it to anyone considering a tablet – whilst it is smaller than the iPad, and with a slightly less good screen, its specs measure up well otherwise, and the price is ace. £160 or £200 (depending on storage space) and generous current offers from Tesco Direct for £20 off (see HotUKDeals.com). You even get £15 worth of Google Play credit, to spend on music, movies, books and apps.

As I already said, you get a 7 inch, HD screen, covered by Corning Glass (although jury is out on whether it is their ‘gorilla’ brand – some report yes, some report no but with a scratch-resistant coating, some report a so-called ‘gorilla glass v2’). Regardless, the screen is good, clear and durable – I can tell as I already dropped mine! (Actually I think it was a poltergeist – it was sitting on a flat desk yet slid off). As usual, it collects fingerprints like most touchscreens…
The processor, for those interested, is an awesome quad-core ARM Cortex A9 at 1.3GHz, running on an nVidia Tegra 3 platform. This gives it great power both at regular tasks as well as multimedia. It multitasks brilliantly, and thanks to this power as well as Project Butter, transitions are smooth and seamless. It just feels NICE to use, and as an Android user, I admit that has been a problem in the past – but not on the Nexus 7.

One side point, the original release was a bit of a mess, with many more preorders than expected. This high demand led to a bit of a nightmare for Google, with a considerable quantity of preorders arriving late, in some cases after the brick and mortar stores had received them. This is something that Google will need to improve upon if it continues to supply physical devices for sale on its Play Store. Some users who had preordered from the beginning ended up cancelling and walking into stores to get it there. It’s a heavy criticism, mitigated by the much higher preorder numbers than expected.

That aside – I can’t express how happy I am with it. It took all my current Android apps from my phone fine, it took my email accounts, my Facebook, Twitter. Chrome runs beautifully and looks just like my desktop. Battery life is fantastic – definitely the quoted 8 hours of moderate to heavy use it was quoted for. Streaming video and music works great. It feels nice in the hand, perfectly portable, with a nice rubberised feel to its back cover.

So, if you are considering a tablet, whether its for gaming, movies, reading, on-the-go documents, you could do worse than the Nexus 7 – and its worth having a play with while you look at that shiny iPad, and it is a fraction of the price, courtesy of Google selling it at cost.

Give it a look – you might find it to be just what you want!

Northern Irish Identity

No Comments

Some of you may be familiar with the date. 11th July. Every year. That’s tonight, by the way.

A night where people go crazier than usual, where bonfires spring up and police are on patrol. And on this ‘special’ night, I wanted to share a post from my friend, Chris Geddis, on national identity in ‘Our Wee Country’…

Ok, this is Northern Ireland, or the North of Ireland or whatever your upbringing and current views tell you it’s called. Whatever. This is a disclaimer, this could get controversial and somewhat nasty in the debate that’s probably going to occur. This is your warning, so don’t get hurt and offended later if you can’t steel yourself beforehand.

Northern Ireland, a wonderful littleclusterfeck of a nation is seen mostly as usual in green and orange and fuck everyone who doesn’t quite fit into that.

Here’s my problem. Northern Ireland is currently a nation under the united title of Great Britain, something that also encompasses Scotland, Wales and England.I don’t view my nationality as either Irish or British, I view it as Northern Irish, you are allowed to disagree with me here in views to how you see your own nationality but don’t you dare talk down to me about how my nationality isn’t valid or doesn’t exist.Here’s some popular arguments. “You can’t get a Northern Irish passport, you can only get an Irish or GB one.” This is very true. So by that logic, Welsh, Scottish and English people aren’t allowed to call themselves Welsh, Scottish or English, because you can’t get Welsh, Scottish or English passports, only British ones.

Another favourite of mine is being told I’m being wishy-washy. I’m not. I’m sorry but it’s true. I feel I’m Northern Irish. I look to the South and don’t see myself associated with or represented by the Dáil or the Senate. They don’t affect my life. I look to Great Britain, and I can see that the laws passed there will affect me, but each member nation still manages to have its own sense of uniqueness and its own devolved powers.I look then at Stormont, in regards to most powers and issues this is where I feel I need to go and challenge to be represented. We also have our own culture and way of doing things. It’s not Irish culture, and I can’t seem to find anything British culture wise that I can feel I belong to or represents me. I find it here at home in Northern Ireland.So why then do republicans and loyalists, nationalists and unionists insist on calling me out and attempting to the best of their ability to try to make me feel like my opinion is invalid? Scottish people are part of Great Britain, they still have things that are Scottish and unique to Scotland, when they go away abroad places they say they are Scottish.Same with Wales and England. But in Northern Ireland?

Any attempt to assert or try to establish a Northern Ireland identity is often met with the most rampant and ignorant rejections, dismissals and hatred I’ve seen in a long time. Why is this?I can understand if you don’t agree, or feel you need to declare as Irish or British depending on your beliefs and I’ll respect that, but here’s the thing you ignorant bastards. Don’t you ever dare try to tell me that my nationality or belief is invalid, and I can’t call myself Northern Irish. We have our own history, our own culture and our own uniqueness separate from the Republic, and separate from the title British, just like England, Scotland and Wales do.So the next time you feel like you need to get on your high horse and tell me that I’m not supposed to, or my views on my nationality are invalid, I want you to think if you’d tell a Scottish person they can’t be Scottish, a Welsh person they can’t be Welsh or an english person they can’t be english, or an irish person they can’t be irish. Or finally, a British person they can’t be british.Thank you. And wise up.

Don’t do anything stupid on your 11th night, no matter what ‘side’ you’re from.

Thanks to Chris for allowing me to repost.

Peace, out.

Conferences and Open Bars

No Comments

Every so often, when doing a PhD, you get to go to conferences and the like. Sometimes, there conferences are across the world, and you get a free holiday. Sometimes, they’re right in your backyard.

This week, I had the pleasure(?) of attending a Seagate sponsored and ANSIN organised conclave at the Hilton Hotel, Templepatrick. Whilst I don’t want to go into detail on the content, suffice to say the talks were all interesting enough, some good and some bad – par for the course really at these conferences.

Did I say par? Ah yes, so one reason they picked the Hilton? It’s got a great golf course!

The view of the golf course here at my room in the Hilton Hotel, Templepatrick

Robert and Bob, my supervisor and vice-supervisor respectively, are keen golfers, as are a few of the Seagate staff if I recall. Whilst I’d love to try it out as I enjoy watching it, I don’t have clubs, shoes, skill…

Anyway, time was too short really for either that or the jacuzzi and gym that our room fee got us. What was fun was the boozing. As you may have heard me say on Facebook, it was an open bar.

Very tasty Long Island Iced Teas, and with an open bar courtesy of Seagate, much more tasty again!

Well, basically this post is just to say how much fun it can be seeing your friends and colleagues, other academics, and staff all get very very drunk on free booze!

Church of England on gay marriage – the consultation

No Comments

I’ve had all day to digest the latest reports, documented in many other reputable news sites (and some disreputable ones). I just wanted to go through and break down the Church of England’s argument all the way down, because it is such huge bullshit. For those not in the know, the UK government put out for public consultation the issue of full gay civil marriage, and this is the ‘official’ Church of England response to the consultation.

The response in full is much too long-winded and pointless for me to copypaste here, but if you want to, read the full document here.

Let’s make a start. First we have this:

Such a move [to introduce gay marriage] would alter the intrinsic nature of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, as enshrined in human institutions throughout history. Marriage benefits society in many ways, not only by promoting mutuality and fidelity, but also by acknowledging an underlying biological complementarity which, for many, includes the possibility of procreation.

Intrinsic? Intrinsic is a meaningless word in this context – marriage is not ‘intrinsic’ to humans as it is not itself a natural occurrence – it is a word which we use to describe a particular set of conditions, and a simple way to assign various legal and tax benefits on a blanket basis rather than a case-by-case one. So, let’s drop the emotive wording. Next I’ll be told flying in airplanes is intrinsic
Marriage DOES benefit society, and so why should gay people not also get these benefits, as you say, for promoting fidelity (which is something that, admittedly, the LGB community gets a bad rap on). And please, don’t tell me I CANNOT procreate. I assure you, I am capable, but I choose not to (for obvious reasons), just like many heterosexual couples. This ‘biological complementarity’ I hear so much about these days is a fabrication – the only complementarity is that, to be crass, round peg fits in the round hole. Dress it how you like, and again, I am perfectly capable of that, regardless of you finding my variety of it distasteful.

We have supported various legal changes in recent years to remove unjustified discrimination and create greater legal rights for same sex couples

Bullshit. Are you kidding me? You opposed civil partnerships vehemently! What is that about bearing false witness?

To change the nature of marriage for everyone will be divisive and deliver no obvious legal gains given the rights already conferred by civil partnerships

When your neighbour gets married, does it devalue your marriage? When he’s onto his 6th marriage, is 75 and marrying a 24 year old, does it devalue your marriage? No.
Now, whilst they are correct in that it offers no obvious legal gains, it offers an important distinctive gain, whereby it stops intolerant straight couples from thinking they and their marriages are better than everyone elses. I mean, seriously, that is all this is about, protecting their ability to think they are better than the rest of us.

The Bible teaches us that marriage is a gift of God in creation and a means of his grace, a holy mystery in which man and woman become one flesh.

This is church talk for boning.

Marriage is given that husband and wife may comfort and help each other, living faithfully together in need and in plenty, in sorrow and in joy. It is given that with delight and tenderness they may know each other in love and through the joy of their bodily union may strengthen the union of their hearts and lives. It is given as the foundation of family life in which children may be born and nurtured in accordance
with God’s will, to his praise and glory.
In marriage husband and wife belong to one another and they begin a new life together in the community. It is a way of life that all should honour and it must not be undertaken carelessly, lightly or selfishly but reverently, responsibly and after serious thought.

What part of this cannot and does not apply to loving gay couples? What exactly do these churches think we gay people DO behind our doors??? They think we don’t properly FEEL the same way as other people? That we are aliens or something? Maybe they actually just think we are deluded, and when we say we feel love, they go “Oh pish posh, that isn’t love!” in the same way a parent does to a teenager in terrible US comedies.

Who the fuck elected these people to determine how great, how accurate, how REAL my love is?

It is well known that there is a continuing debate within the Church of England about its declared view of sexually active homosexual relationships. It is important to understand that our response to the question of same-sex marriage does not prejudge the outcome of that continuing theological and ethical debate.

In other words, this response to the consultation was put forth not only by a small gathering at the top, but without the full backing of the Church of England, simply because even THEY don’t know their position! As the comment article from the Guardian points out, many CoE members are very accepting and keen to have equality!

This understanding [of union between man and woman] is deeply rooted in our social culture.

Not any more. Society has changed. This point is therefore invalid instantly.

but is based on a conviction that the consequences of change will not be beneficial for society

I never hear quite how. Is this the same conviction that drove people to insist that black people were not good for society?

This distinctiveness and complementarity are seen most explicitly in the biological union of man and woman which potentially brings to the relationship the fruitfulness of procreation. And, even where, for reasons of age, biology or simply choice, a marriage does not have issue, the distinctiveness of male and female is part of what gives marriage its unique social meaning.

So, let me understand and be clear – marriage between a man and a woman is unique because it can directly produce children except in the cases where it does not, but oh well? You can’t start by saying something key to the argument, and half a sentence later dismiss it as not really being important! (PS: this term fruitful I find absolutely disgusting, like people are just trees to grow things for consumption)

Marriage has from the beginning of history been the way in which societies have worked out and handled issues of sexual difference. To remove from the definition of marriage this essential complementarity is to lose any social institution in which sexual difference is explicitly acknowledged.
To argue that this is of no social value is to assert that men and women are simply interchangeable individuals. It also undermines many of the arguments which support the deeper involvement of women in all social institutions on the grounds that a society cannot flourish without the specific and distinctive contributions of each gender.

Hoo boy… So, in one section, the church has decided that women are inequal, and purports to claim that they are trying to use marriage to make sure women still have a distinct place? How utterly sexist. Presumably they believe that the ‘sexual difference’ refers to a woman in the kitchen, except when she is spitting out babies for the church to indoctrinate.

The rest of the response is about trivial matters, such as current definitions of how marriages are consummated needing changed and it not being addressed. As I said, trivial.

 

I need say little else that hasn’t been said above. The Church of England is acting irrationally, not even at the will of their entire congregation as they freely admit. How exactly they can claim some sort of dominion over matters of morality, over matters of CIVIL marriage is audacious and mistakes their place in society. Don’t like that assessment? Get over it. Churches are not special, they are not better. Everyone can see that from all the greedy pageantry, the child abuse, the mistreatment of women and LGBT people. You lost your hallowed moral high ground long ago, and you have only yourselves to blame.

Cry somewhere else. Gay marriage WILL happen in the UK. It HAS happened elsewhere, and all these apocalyptic ideas have had not happened. Goodbye, sayonara, adios, hastalavista baby.

Peace, out!

– Matt

Troubleshooting: Ice Cream Sandwich Bootloop

No Comments
I had a hugely frustrating experience very recently with my Galaxy S II, and whilst trying to find the solution I searched and searched and couldn’t find the answer. BUT!!! I have solved the problem, and I will share it now, in case you ever have such an issue. I’m currently typing with only one thumb (another story – broken thumb), so forgive any missed spelling errors!
TLDR instructions at the end, for the impatient.

To set the scene, my phone is the Samsung Galaxy S II, a fantastically powerful and capable phone that very recently got the upgrade to Android OS 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich). This was mostly trouble-free, however I have had probably slightly more phone crashes since the update, probably because the OS is relatively new and needs a few bugfixes. My phone features a large internal app space in contrast to many phones, having a full 2 GB of app space. It also has an SD card capable of up to 32 GB. Why do I tell you this? It will become relevant later.

So what happened exactly? Well, I was minding my own business, on my phone, late on Thursday trying to cure the broken-thumb-induced insomnia, and I have a facebook message from a friend who has changed his number. I want to copy his new number into his contact, so I click the hyperlinked number in his facebook message, and it dutifully opens my dialer and fills in the number. I highlight it, and go to press the copy button… and nothing. The system seems to have locked up. This isn’t unheard of, as I said I do encounter these, and usually they resolve themselves pretty quickly, usually at the expense of whatever program is running. So, I wait, tap the screen a bit to see if it frees up, and suddenly, I get the swirly video indicating my phone rebooting. “Crap” I think, but I don’t worry, this has happened and I get ready to just try again. So I wiat for my phone to reboot, not a long process. My background comes up, my pattern lock. I put in the pattern… and suddenly gone again, reboot. Once more, I don’t panic, I just assume that maybe my dialer app got fucked by the process, and wait.

Again. Again. Again, each time a short but variable amount of time after boot. Longer after a cold boot. Clearing my cache in recovery fixed nothing.

Now, I am rooted, and I knew I’d very recently updated to a slightly newer firmware. I pondered whether it was blowback from that update, although I was at a loss to explain why. I knew I could easily reflash using ODIN, but didn’t want to have to go through the rooting process for something I didn’t believe was at fault. I notice that the problem SEEMS to only occur once the mobile signal kicks in, so I try to boot without my SIM, to no avail.

I give up, and give in to the reflash. NOTHING!

By this point I begin to worry a little. I start going through scenarios; a data / factory wipe being most likely to bring success, but my inability to get in and run a backup to save all my shit making that daunting, and with the loss of root to the reflash I can’t do deep diagnostics or backups. I start wondering, what did I install recently? I had installed a load of FlipFonts recently, as well as a few apps updating themselves that day. I wonder if a corrupt font might be causing it, but I get no time to try and uninstall them before the reboots.

I start thinking about what I can backup – most of the stuff being in the internal storage space and therefore largely inaccessible. I take out my SD card and use my card reader to check what I can get off it before resigning myself to a data / factory restore. On an impulse, I turn on my phone without SD card. And what do you know, it works! So basically, the phone is stuck in a bootloop when the SD card is plugged in!

It becomes clear, the reboot occurs during the initial SD card media scan on boot – giving me a method of diagnosing the problem. First thing I try is to check the SD card for errors using Windows. No problems. I justifiably assume the problem isn’t MP3 files or video. The only other thing on the SD card? The “.androidsecure” folder, used to store apps that have been moved to the SD card. I rename the folder, and the problem is gone!

I go back into the folder and being to search for anomalies – I find one file that has an erroneous size of 0Kb which doesn’t solve the problem. Eventually I give up trying to isolate which it is, most apps on the SD card where installed there by default because they are big games, and I know I can easily redownload. I delete about half of my SD apps, and the problem is gone. I can only assume that one of the apps that updated itself earlier became corrupt.

Easy!

I have to reroot, and clean up some of the mess I made, like settings etc that were lost, but well I couldn’t sleep anyway, and that would have bugged me all night.

TLDR

Summary – Whilst there can be many reasons for a bootloop on an Android device, if your device only exhibits the problem when your SD card is plugged in, this may be your problem.

Take your SD card, remove it and plug it in using a card reader.

Locate the folder “.androidsecure”. It may be hidden.

If you know which apps changed recently, delete those ones and try putting the card back in. Otherwise, just rename or delete the folder.

If it works, hurrah! Redownload any apps you want and you are good to go.

If it does not, this is not your problem, sorry!

 

UPDATE: The problem happened again, and this time I noticed that on both occasions, the free game “Tanked” was updated, which was one of the SD card apps. Removing it instantly solved the boot loop. So there you go!

 

Hope I helped!

Matt (gyaku_zuki)