Monthly Archives: November 2012

The Singularity – The Answer to the Conquest of Space ?

There was an interesting article in The Sunday Times last weekend about how human life is evolving. This was an article about what has become known as the “singularity”. This is the time that a computer will be able to think like a human brain. It is estimated that the singularity will become a reality by about 2030 or 2040.

Once this milestone is reached scientists are saying that the content of a human brain will be able to be downloaded onto a computer. The significance of being able to do this cannot be understated. This will effectively mean that we will be able to live forever. After all, when you consider that humans are essentially a brain, with a body  to carry it around and once it’s possible for a computer to be a brain then we might not need a body!

All this doesn’t sound like much fun to me but it is said that many scientists are in a race to make sure that they live long enough so that they can take advantage of this huge advance in computer science.

Another interesting suggestion made in the article is that this move towards singularity is how we are meant to evolve as a species. It’s possible, the article says, that aliens haven’t contacted us because their species has not been able to solve the problem of inter-galactic travel and have subsequently died out.

As humans it is also very likely that we won’t be able to solve the same problem to enable us to explore the universe and avoid the natural destructive forces around us. However, it’s also possible that it will be machines and the vast computer power that we are developing that will solve the travel problem and mean we can escape the confines of our small galaxy.

Would I want the content of my brain downloading to a hard drive? As long as there is a secure back-up in case of a hard drive failure I could be tempted !

How to live a long happy life

What’s the secret to a long and happy life? If I knew the answer I would be a rich man. Every day new research is released telling us what to eat and what not to eat. It’s a minefield because there seems to be so much conflicting information and it changes constantly. Everything in moderation is my take on things. I also believe in cherry juice to stay healthy, although I don’t have any eveidence of that yet !

 

Researchers have identified common traits of resilient people, and here is the list of things they have come up with. None of the things on the list are to do with the food we eat, it’s all about our mental attitude to life. Here is the list.

1. Adapt to change easily.
2. Feel in control of their lives.
3. Are able to bounce back after difficult times.
4. Have close, dependable relationship.
5. Remain optimistic even in the face of challenges.
6. Can function well under pressure.
7. Have a sense of humour, even under stress.
8. Have a sense of confidence and strength in themselves as individuals.
9. Believe that things happen for a reason.
10. Can handle uncertainty or unpleasant feelings.
11. Know when to turn for help.
12. Like challenges.
13. Enjoy taking the lead.
14. Have hobbies and others activities.

I guess the moral to the story here is to adopt a resilient mindset to live a long and enjoyable life.

Sources: “The common traits come from the article”  Are You Resilient?, Readers Digest, August 2009, Page 158, Sari Harrar and Debra Gordon

My failed potato crop !

My attempt to become self-sufficient in potatoes has failed miserably ! About 3 months ago I planted 3 growing sacks with potatoes and had high hopes that I would have a good supply of home-grown potatoes ready for Christmas. I looked after them well but it seems our wet weather has taken its toll. About a month ago all the leaves went black and even to my inexperienced eye I knew that things were not looking good.

home grown Potato cropAnyway we decided that maybe potato blight was a problem and we cut off all the offending leaves. This was against my better judgement but anyway it happened. So, yesterday, the potatoes were dug up and whilst not expecting much I was shocked as to how bad the crop was. It is difficult to describe the end result but I can only say that they are small, very small infact! See the photo opposite. The largest was the size of a marble and the smallest the size of a pea!  

 I don’t think that I will try growing potatoes again. In fact I think that any attempt at The Good Life is doomed to disaster as far as I’m concerned so in future it’s supermarket vegetables for me !

As a consolation though it seems that it has been a bad year for potatoes in the UK due to the wet weather. This video about this years potato crop was on the BBC website.  

 

Online education gathers pace

Excellent article in The Guardian asking the question Do online courses spell the end for the traditional university.

We all buy books and listen to music online. Online shopping is causing our high streets to be ghost towns. Newspapers are going online as paper versions struggle to sell. Is education next? I think the answer is yes and within 10 years Higher Education will look different to what it is now. High tuition fees will mean it is inevitable that online universities will proper.

Teaching though is not just about university lectures it is also about learning from those around you. The Guardian article is well worth a read.

Personally, I think a combination of online and face to face might work best (blended learning) but the juggernaut of online learning is now gathering pace and it will be interesting to see where it ends up.

Take a look at the online universities below. They have already signed up tens of thousands of people. All the courses are free. I quite fancy taking the online computer programming course myself !

http://www.khanacademy.org/

https://www.edx.org/

https://www.coursera.org/

http://www.udacity.com/   

 

Windows 8 update problem on HP laptop

My daughter bought a new Windows 8 HP laptop last weekend from Currys and I was looking forward to seeing the new operating system in action. The desktop looks totally different to any other Windows software and it will take a lot of getting used to and involve a lot of learning on how to find things that we have all taken for granted for so long. Things like looking at your Device Manager and My Computer will take some finding !

However, a few days after buying the new Windows 8 laptop there is a problem. The HP laptop wants to update the operating system which begs the question why was the laptop sold with an old version of Windows 8. It shouldn’t need to update so soon after being bought. But there is an even bigger problem in that the software won’t update correctly as it gets stuck at 13% updated and then goes no further. The laptop eventually re-boots with an error message and the process starts all over again.

To make matters worse, Curry’s, where the laptop was bought,have the wrong help line telephone number on their purchase documents. When I called them I was directed to another number – bad customer service Currys !!

I eventually got through to someone at KnowHow and he knew all about the problem. He said we needed to update the anti-virus software and if that didn’t work we needed to update the audio and video drivers !

The problem is that its impossible to get to the desk top now as the software constantly wants to update. It looks like Windows 8 still has teething problems so beware.

Cancer Research UK Hallowe’en Party

I was at the most amazing Hallowe’en party last night. It was in aid of Cancer Research UK and the hosts had gone to extraordinary lengths to make it as authentic as possible. Their front garden had spooky music playing with skeletons and barbed wire. The back garden had been converted into a totally covered room with a coffin, headstones, grizzly murder scenes, animatronics and even an electric chair where guests could be “electrocuted” !

Here are some photos I took.

 

Malaysian beef and aubergine curry‏ for the slow cooker

My slow cooked beef curry recipe is the most popular recipe on my blog so I decided it ‘s time to add another fabulous and easy curry recipe. This was introduced to me by my daughter and I have to say that I enjoyed this Malaysian curry more than the beef curry I normally make!
 
Try this recipe for an easy Malaysian beef and aubergine curry. You can use a slow cooker or a caserole pot on a low light in the oven.
 
Here are the ingredients to serve 4 people.
 
1 large onion
3 garlic cloves
500g braising beef, diced
1 large aubergine, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons (or to your tasting!!) of red Thai curry paste
1 tablespoon fish sauce
400ml coconut milk 
 
Method
 
Finely chop the onion and fry in oil. add garlic, beef, aurbergine. fry until browned.
Add to the slow cooker, then add the coconut milk, fish paste and Thai red paste.
Cook on low until done.
Serve with rice and pak choi
 
Enjoy!!