Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lubuntu 12.10

Just did a fresh install of the 64-bit version of Lubuntu 12.10 (Quantal Quetzal), keeping the home directory from my previous 32-bit version of Lubuntu 12.04. Reason for switching to the 64-bit version is to run MATLAB R2012b and upcoming versions.

Main thing I have to remember to get my dual-boot (Windows 7 + GNU/Linux) system working is install GRUB to the root partition of the Linux system, then use EasyBCD in Windows to configure the Windows Boot Manager by adding an entry to boot to Linux with GRUB (Legacy).

[Note: I used the previous version EasyBCD 2.0 that was on my system and don't seem to be able to download the newer version now from Google Chrome. Suggested workarounds not involving EasyBCD for configuring the Windows Boot Manager welcome - I recall the last time I tried to control booting with GRUB on the Master Boot Record, Windows failed to load.]

Now to spend some time setting up the system, though it looks like everything mostly works!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sylpheed Configuration

Just in case this is useful to anyone from Oxford or elsewhere using Sylpheed for emails and having trouble configuring it - I found that I had to choose the "LOGIN" method for authenticating IMAP and SMTP, as "Automatic" wasn't working for me.

Sylpheed is looking like a nice, snappy email program so far, and it runs fast and light on computing resources.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Physics Pieces

Quite a few remarkable talks recently that I thought I'd write briefly about, especially the last one.

Jim Peebles gave a lecture last week about "finding" the big bang (cosmic microwave background and that kind of thing). An interesting account of the historical developments. As physics improves by successive approximations, it always leaves something unknown for the next generation to find out.

Rodney Baxter gave a talk on his work on hard hexagons, and had lessons about publishing conjectures even if you don't fully understand them, so others can work on them too.

Slava Rychkov gave a talk about ideas that might be pretty exciting for future work. Essentially, they use conformal field theory techniques ("conformal bootstrap") with some success in greater than two space dimensions (e.g. on the 3D Ising model), complementing the use of renormalisation group techniques.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Lubuntu 12.04

Did a reinstall of Lubuntu on my laptop as something went wrong during the upgrade to 12.04 (codenamed Precise Pangolin). Just as well, since I have /home on a separate partition so didn't lose any of my data, just the tons of programs that I haven't used for ages. I'm sticking with Lubuntu because Ubuntu (at least version 11.10 of it) was too resource-hungry for my machine.

Instead of the GNOME Do launcher, I now use Kupfer. Very snappy.

Followed these instructions to install Dropbox. Had to install gcc to get it working. Then followed the instructions here to get Dropbox running automatically each time.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

MATLAB Virtual Conference 2012

Attended the MATLAB Virtual Conference yesterday. The session on Mathematical Modelling by Tucker McClure was quite a useful showcase of various features of MATLAB, such as MuPAD (which basically lets you create a Mathematica notebook to write up stuff), and the curve fitting and optimisation toolboxes.

MATLAB seems to have nice functionality to auto-generate lots of useful stuff, like generating code, scripts and reports ("publish"). Using two percent symbols (%%) is also nifty to break code into "cell mode" that can be run in little modular bits.

The time is probably coming, if it isn't already upon us, that these scientific programming tools will be used in the pre-university classroom.

Friday, January 20, 2012


It's a new year, it's a new term. Things are getting off to a flying start. Hold on to your hats, it's going to be a rough ride!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Attended a one-day training in Long Hanborough on the use of Mathematica by Wolfram expert Jon McLoone. You can certainly do some cool stuff with Mathematica if you put aside the issues of "open source" and "free software" (free as in free speech but it's also pretty expensive to get the software!)