Saturday, 6 December 2014

Wrestling With the Technology

I'm starting to get to grips with the idiosyncrasies of Blogger and the nightmare called 'page layout'. On the right of the page, you will now see some new features including the most flattering portrait of myself I can find.

There is also an opportunity to contribute to the World Community Grid. If you have a look here you can see what it's all about. The idea is that you download a small program that enables you to donate your unused computer processing power to a global network creating what is effectively a supercomputer of immense power; this can then be used to carry out research for a number of useful projects. The research organisation sends a work unit to your computer which then processes it and sends it back. It only uses the computer processing power that you are not using yourself and can be configured to run in any way you want, for instance, you can set it to run all the time or like a screen saver.

World Community Grid uses a program called the Berkley Open Infastructure for Network Computing or BOINC for short, which was designed by the University of California, Berkley for the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project. The program was designed in such a way that any research establishment can run it's own projects on it without the need to create their own program first.

If you do download the BOINC program, there are a huge number of projects you can run if you don't fancy any of the WCG ones. They range from the really useful to the totally insane. 

I have been running World Community Grid for a number of years. In the early days I would encounter the odd problem or two but it's bug free now as far as I can tell. Having said that, the BBC sponsored a climate model project a few years ago and encouraged everyone to install and run it but, as far as I understand, absolutely forbade anyone at the BBC from loading it onto their work computer. Government agencies also have this somewhat contradictory attitude to cloud computing in that none of the tens of thousands of computers run in government or council offices have it installed. I recall that when I was working for the DWP, we were under strict instructions not to install it and were threatened with dismissal if we did.

World Community Grid can be run on Windows, Linux and Apple (not iPad or iPhone) and includes an app for Android which can be set up to work only when the device is being charged. Setting it up on Linux though can be a bit of a pain if you want to get it to run at startup. I still have to work it out.

The Alternative World of ALDI

It's a funny old world and one of the funniest parts of it has to be the inside of an ALDI store.

If you have read any of my earlier posts, you will know that I have started doing more of my shopping in there. The place is something of a cross between an old Cold War East European shop and the strangest bazaar on Earth. Go on a weekly shop and I guarantee that you will only leave with half the things on your list but you may leave with something you would never have imagined buying. I mean, try and find any other supermarket where there isn't any flour (none that I could find anyway) but stocks cut price astronomical telescopes next to the pickled onions; no sultanas but a good range of children's wellington boots. A real fairy land of possibilities.

A Stroll Along the River.

This week's cover photo features a view of the Crossness Nature Reserve, seen in the 

light of the setting Sun.

You can see the new two-storey bird hide overlooking a small lake and 

described as one of the finest in the country, 

De-grumping for beginners

One of my favourite ways to de-grump (is that a real word?) is to take a stroll along the river front and admire the views and the wildlife.

I'm very fortunate in that respect and find it's one of Thamesmead's most redeeming features. Me and Mrs Grump will travel miles to visit nature reserves around the country and find, as often as not, there is more to see just looking over the garden fence.

The Crossness Nature Reserve is one particular place I have in mind. Managed by Thames Water, it covers 20 hectares of grazing marsh and reed bed. Most of the site is open to the public but the area shown it the photograph is available only to members. You can find out more about becoming a member by visiting this site and also here on the Bexley Wildlife site.

Unfortunately, part of the hide has been vandalised. I suppose little boys have been throwing stones at windows ever since there have been windows for little boys to throw stones at. A shame none the less as this window looks out over the West Paddock and was put there for that purpose.
This is another view of the hide with the wind pump in the foreground.

The Dipping Pond. Lots of fun for the children (and the adults too).
The Dragonflies quite like the pond and many of them can be seen hovering in the Autumn sunshine.

Another view of the pond with the hide and the incinerator in the background

The start of the walkway leading through the reed beds

Here are some recent visitors 

seen along the river lately.

Black Tailed Godwit flying along the river.
These congregate on the mud flats in their hundreds during the Winter months.

Curlews are quite shy and you will be lucky to see one

At this time of year, you will see hundreds of lapwings flying in great flocks along the
river before settling on the mud to feed.

I saw this Kingfisher sitting on a perch in front of the Crossness Nature Reserve hide.
Common Seal sitting on the mud by the Golf Course.
These and the Grey Seal are an increasingly common sight on the River Thames.

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