Robyn’s graduation

Robyn's graduation My sister, Robyn, just graduated from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine with a Masters degree in Medical Statistics. Mim & I went along to the graduation ceremony, which was thankfully a bit shorter than our own had been as it is an entirely postgraduate institution (hence fewer students to get through). We left Joshua in the free creche they provided, and he was apparently completely happy to sit and play for the whole two hours. He seems to like being around older babies & toddlers.

Silly memes: 100 books

The BBC believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here.
How do your reading habits stack up?

Look at the list and put an ‘x’ after those you have read. Make sure you delete my x’S!

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen – x
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien – x
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte- x
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling – x
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee – x
6 The Bible – x
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte – x
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell – x
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman – x
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens – x
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott – x
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy – x
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller – x
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare –
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier –
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien – x
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk – x
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger – x
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger –
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot –
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell – x
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald –
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens –
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy –
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams- x
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh –
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky – x
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck – x
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll – x
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame- x
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy –
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens – x
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis – x
34 Emma – Jane Austen – x
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen – x
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis – x
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini –
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres – x
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden –
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne – x
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell – x
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown – x
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez –
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving –
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins –
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery – x
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy – x
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood –
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding – x
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan- x
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel – x
52 Dune – Frank Herbert – x
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons –
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen – x
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth – x
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zifon –
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens – x
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley – x
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon – x
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez –
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck-
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov –
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt –
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold –
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas – x
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy –
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding – x
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie –
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville – x
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens – x
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker –
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett – x
74 Notes From A Small Island – Andrea Levy –
75 Ulysses – James Joyce –
76 The Inferno – Dante –
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome – x
78 Germinal – Emile Zola –
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray –
80 Possession – AS Byatt –
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens – x
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell – x
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker –
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro – x
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert –
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry –
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White – x
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom-
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – x
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton –
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad – x
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery –
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks – x
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams – x
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole-
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute – x
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas – x
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare – x
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factoy – Roald Dahl – x
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo –

I get 60, which I guess isn’t too bad, though there are some absolute classics in there that I haven’t read at all. It’s a funny list: for example, why include the complete works of Shakespeare and Hamlet?

London snow

London snowWe had some heavy snow a couple of weeks ago in London. We took a couple of photos of our back garden, and a couple after our walk in the park with Joshua.

Joshua Feb 2009

Joshua in the bath Here are a few photos of Joshua from this month. One of our cameras broke so we seem to have slowed down on the photography recently!

Web server updates

I’ve been planning to do some software updates to my web server for a while. Over the last couple of days I’ve been slowly doing bits and pieces – slowly because I had an operation for carpal tunnel syndrome and can’t use both hands. So far I’ve done the following:

  • Upgraded WordPress to the latest version – fairly simple process.
  • Automated backups of the site and databases.
  • Added Xcache to my PHP installation, which Ubuntu makes a very simple process.
  • Installed Awstats – again very simple under Ubuntu.
  • Added Google analytics, just to try for a while, using the Google Analyticator WP plugin.
  • Added the Google XML sitemap generator WP plugin – Google doesn’t seem to have picked this up yet.
  • Switched my web server from Apache to Cherokee. Cherokee is designed to be small and fast, and as I’ve been having some memory usage issues on the server I decided to give it a try. It’s a bit of a pain to get working with WordPress, but I eventually figured out the correct redirection rules and got it up and running. Pages are now being served much faster, and memory usage on the machine is significantly lower.
  • Added the TanTan Flickr plugin for WordPress, which seems to be better maintained than Falbum (which I was using previously).

Software I worked on makes the NY Times

Years ago I worked for Ross Ihaka at on the R project, a free software statistics environment that has become pretty popular (if you visit the website you can see my name in the contributors list – though my contributions were not exactly central to the project!). R has now featured in a New York Times article entitled R, the Software, Finds Fans in Data Analysts. There are some great quotes:

“R is really important to the point that it’s hard to overvalue it,” said Daryl Pregibon, a research scientist at Google, which uses the software widely. “It allows statisticians to do very intricate and complicated analyses without knowing the blood and guts of computing systems.”

It’s nice to see a great piece of free software recognised like this, and kind of cool for me to have something I worked on getting that kind of publicity. I’ve asked someone in NY to send me a copy of the print edition from that day, so hopefully I’ll have a memento to keep.

Christmas 2008

Joshua with the wrapping paperWe spent Christmas staying in a cottage in Cornwall, as Mim’s grandparents and Aunty & Uncle live down there. Mim’s parents and sister joined us from Cirencester. Joshua’s still a bit young to appreciate actual Christmas presents, though he was fascinated by the bubbles produced by the bubble gun Ruth (Mim’s sister) gave him. He absolutely loved the wrapping paper though, and was immensely happy to sit in the middle of a big pile of paper rustling through it all.


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