Thursday, 22 March 2007

Vista colour scheme

Here's an interesting Vista tip from my colleague, Josh.

Have Vista and Office 2007? Would you like the Office apps to use the Vista Black colour scheme rather than the default blue? Don't bother looking in Outlook - I couldn't find anything here. Fire up powerpoint; click the windows button (top right); click on "powerpoint properties". On the first screen, there will be a drop down for powerpoint color schems: select "black" and click save. This will side-effect all other office apps! (Isn't aliasing a wonderful thing?!).

Anyone else have another way to do this?

Wednesday, 21 March 2007


I have been killing myself writing two conference submissions recently. By the end of such a process, I started thinking that my writing style was quite good.

Then at the weekend I chatted with my brother about writing. When pushed, both of us nominated Harold Pinter's Nobel Lecture as the best thing we have heard in the past few years. I took a look at it yesterday. You should too:

After re-reading it I realize that I can't write at all. If you ever thought "the pen is mightier than the sword" was something your mother told you to help you get over being bullied at school, you need to read this! Not only is it thrilling reading - from a technical point of view - it simply annihilates Bush and Blair with clinical precision.

Friday, 9 March 2007


We finally got a (tentative) publication date for our paper on dynamic update in ACM TOPLAS. (This is the journal version of our POPL 2005 paper.) We submitted in January 2006, it was accepted in October 2006, and will 2007.

How about that for rapid turnaround? (Not) You natural scientists don't know how lucky you are. No wonder people don't bother so much with journals in computer science...

Thursday, 8 March 2007

The Vista experience

I've just started upgrading my office desktop to Vista. The current preferred route in our office is a fresh install. So, once Vista is on your machine, you have to install all those apps you've collected over the past two years :-( This is a nice way to waste a day I've discovered.

Overall, Vista seems quite nice. Certainly the UI is fresher. I quite like the transparent windows. The aero 3d menus are cute, but I doubt I'll use them other than to show off my graphics card to colleagues! Better is the new ALT+TAB interface. But overall I think MS has done a nice job of tidying up the windows experience - it seems more coherent than, say, XP. [Whether it's better in this sense than MacOS X is another matter!]

The problem comes with installing non-MS software - in particular some open source software. I rely on emacs, miktex, auctex and (to a lesser extent) tortoiseSVN to do my work. Here's where the problems are. Vista imposes a new security model on applications, which many now do not adhere to. So, for the time being, the apps that I need are very clunky. I found problems with all of the above. The solution for emacs/miktex/auctex seems to be to install some older versions. For tortoiseSVN I now use this on an XP machine only. Hunting around the web, it seems that Vista-compliant versions should appear sometime later this year.

I wonder if less MS-friendly people than me will be quite so tolerant?! I understand the thinking, but requiring app writers to re-architect code is going to cheese off a lot of people.

Thursday, 1 March 2007


I've finally made it into the brave Web 2.0 world! Welcome. I hope to discuss my work in the world of programming, and anything else that I discover surfing when I should be working :-)