Global Village
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A week ago, a tiny package addressed to me was shipped from Ontario, Canada. Since then, it has been to Memphis, Tennessee, then across the Atlantic (presumably, though I'm increasingly unsure!) to London Stansted. It has now visited Paris twice, returning to London Stansted each time. I'm informed that it has now escaped its airborne adventure and is at large in Hounslow, presumably meaning I'll get it sometime tomorrow.

It makes me curious about the logistics behind the journey; can it really be cheaper to toss it over to France for a quick bit of sorting before delivery back over here?

Raindrops
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Waiting on a rainy platform this morning, I looked at my phone to check the time.

A raindrop landed on my screen, large and round. Three giant pixels were visible through this unexpected lens. The drop gradually evaporated in the wind and as it shrank, the little window into my screen zoomed out - more pixels, smaller pixels, until it was gone.

I'm tempted to experiment with this now, but can it end in any way other than a water-damaged phone?

Fox watching
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One of my favourite things about driving in London at night is the end of the journey. If I park up in the dark and wait quietly, it's not long before the foxes appear.

It's best when there are a few fox cubs playing: so frisky, at once catlike and doglike, carefree, happy... Tonight I've been watching Surbiton foxes and a white-footed black cat regarding each other from a distance.

A smoker appeared on the street and the foxes vanished. I wonder where they hide?

Fog
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Setting out this morning was nice - grey and foggy. Grey days aren't usually especially attractive but for some reason I've always like layers of fog.

Lately it makes me think of Limbo. Leaving the house as a silhouette, eyes glowing and with no clear idea of what I'm meant to be doing seems like it would make my commute rather more fun.

I'm wary of pointy things.

Platform 0
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Walking through Clapham Junction station the other day, this poster caught my eye:



The renumbering struck me as odd and I wondered what made them choose to do that. How many other stations have a Platform 0? Are there any at all? Is this necessary to avoid disrupting the path of the rush-hour zombie army?

Art and inspiration
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A couple of weeks ago, I visited an exhibition at the Orleans House Gallery. One painting which caught my eye in particular was "Dreamliner" by Roger Hutchins. It was of a steam train and had a very striking composition. I think the painting was to celebrate new livery and there was a sort of abstract version of the livery at either end of the (very wide) painting. It was vibrant and reminded me that in the past I wished for acrylics, for an airbrush...

As a kid I loved pictures by Roger Dean, Jim Fitzpatrick, Derek Riggs, Melvyn Grant... Looking at them again now, I'm feeling inspired to draw again.

Self-Modifying Code
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I spend a lot of time reading old code - in particular, Z80 assembly language from 1980s games. I'm fascinated by the tricks used to squeeze those old games into the limited resources available.


The Z80 supports index registers, pointing to a base address in memory. Instructions using the registers also take an immediate-mode offset: that is, an eight-bit offset from the 16-bit base address. The trouble is that these offsets are literal, not registers. A common trick is for the code to modify itself:


   ld ix,0c000h     ;8000    dd 21 00 c0
   ld (08009h),a    ;8004    32 09 80
   ld b,(ix+00h)    ;8007    dd 46 00

So at runtime, the +0 offset gets replaced by the contents of register A, making variable offsets easy without needing to perform arithmetic on register contents.


I like these little things...


Incoming...
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I just realised that tomorrow's the last day of the year... that seemed to sneak up stealthily! Without the work timetable, days seem to get a bit blurry and I can feel my nocturnal tendencies making themselves known again. To the best of my knowledge, I exhibit neither vampirism nor lycanthropy, though.

Fun though it was to sit and plan resolutions for 2012, I'm somewhat daunted by the list! There are general things, specific things, fun things and unpleasant things. First on the list is to write more, so I'm getting a head start... The rest should hopefully give me something to write about.
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I've decided to start noting some of the present, so that in the future I'll have more of a record of my past.
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