Friday, April 29, 2011


Last night I watched the 2001 movie Enigma. An entertaining WWII spy movie about Bletchley Park and the Enigma code. Unfortunately although a lot of factual details were correct, particularly with regard to the way the Enigma code was cracked using cribs and Bombe machines, the lead character, based on Alan Turing was totally wrong. They cast him as a working class heterosexual Mancunian; whereas of course Turing was a middle class southerner who was very gay. I found the experience of watching the film quite frustrating. Why did they feel the need to rewrite Turing in this way?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

BBC doco "The Computer Programme" from 1981

While doing research on computer history I came across this ancient BBC documentary series from 1981 called "The Computer Programme." The video quality is horrible, really jerky (think Max Headroom), but the show is priceless. It catches computers just as the first PCs like the Commodore PET, Sinclair ZX81 and the BBC Micro were entering the  market and home users were starting to write their own BASIC programs. A real piece of history from 30 years ago.

Incidentally the website that is indexing the documentary is very good if you like docos.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Who invented the computer?

Q. Who invented the telephone? A. Alexander Graham Bell.
Q. Who invented the airplane? A. The Wright brothers first flew at Kitty Hawke in December 1903.
Q. Who invented the computer? [hint it’s not Steve Jobs nor Bill Gates]
Be honest, you don’t know do you (unless you're a computer scientist). Don’t you think its strange that you don’t know who invented something as important as the computer.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sample Chapter

I've posted a new revised version of chapter 2 about Charles Babbage and the Analytical Engine. Many thanks to my friend Duncan Campbell for proof reading the chapter. This chapter is now ready to be mailed out to an agent if they ask. Can you believe in 2011 that quite a few agents want you to send hard copy and an SAE for any reply! I've decided not to contact any of these agents as I doubt they'd want a book on computers.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Finding an agent

OK, I've now got enough content, 2-3 completed chapters and parts of others, with notes for lost of the remainder. Two chapters and the book proposal are being reviewed by a good friend who is a professional writer, recently for a popular computing magazine and now for a software company. That should be a great help.

Finding an agent is a reasonably daunting task and I've been published before. I expect that I will receive plenty of rejections as its not just based on how good (or not) my book is as agents will also be thinking about how the book fits to their portfolio and experience.

Although I say "I'm sure I'll receive plenty of rejections" I actually wont, as most agents state that if you've not received a reply from your proposal in "x" weeks, they're not interested.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

10 Things That Simply Need To Be In iOS 5

I cam across this piece called 10 Things That Simply Need To Be In iOS 5 yesterday. I don't agree with all of them, like sideloading 3rd party apps. However, I do agree with #10 allowing apps to sync or update themselves in the background.
   I'd never really thought of this before, but it is odd that Flipboard and other apps wait until I open them to update. Obviously there should be a refresh button, which there usually is anyway, so I can force a content refresh, but updating and pulling down content for off-line use would be really useful. If this were scheduled for say 6am every day then the iPad will be plugged in charging, connected to wifi and fresh content could be ready and waiting for me at breakfast.