Nick Crane’s Britannia and Floating Islands in Snowdonia, Wales

Watched the first episode of Nick Crane’s Britannia, about England and Wales, and was interested to see a section about Snowdonia which implied that William Camden, the Elizabethan author of the original Britannia, had said that there were was a lake there which had a floating island in it. It implied that Camden would have come across this story by talking to cattle farmers of the area on his travels through North Wales. But that doesn’t seem to be the case at all, in fact the English translation of Camden’s own text says:

Neverthelesse, so ranke are they with grasse that it is a very comon speech among the Welsh, that the mountaines Eriry will yeeld sufficient pasture for all the cattaile in Wales, if they were put upon them together. Concerning the two Meare [lakes] on the toppe of these, in the one of which floteth a wandering Island, and in the other is found great store of fishes, but having all of them but one eye apeece, I will say nothing lest I might seeme to foster fables, although some, confident upon the authority of Giraldus, have beleeved it for a verity.

In other words he was just quoting Giraldus Cambrensis who, in his “The Description of Wales” (1194 CE), wrote:

the latter of which are said to be of so great an extent, that if all the herds in Wales were collected together, they would supply them with pasture for a considerable time. Upon them are two lakes, one of which has a floating island; and the other contains fish having only one eye, as we have related in our Itinerary.

Even then Giraldus is just summarising what he wrote in his “The Itinerary of Archbishop Baldwin through Wales” (1188 CE), where he says:

On the highest parts of these mountains are two lakes worthy of admiration. The one has a floating island in it, which is often driven from one side to the other by the force of the winds; and the shepherds behold with astonishment their cattle, whilst feeding, carried to the distant parts of the lake. A part of the bank naturally bound together by the roots of willows and other shrubs may have been broken off, and increased by the alluvion of the earth from the shore; and being continually agitated by the winds, which in so elevated a situation blow with great violence, it cannot reunite itself firmly with the banks. The other lake is noted for a wonderful and singular miracle. It contains three sorts of fish – eels, trout, and perch, all of which have only one eye, the left being wanting; but if the curious reader should demand of me the explanation of so extraordinary a circumstance, I cannot presume to satisfy him.

So sadly it appears that William Camden was just referring back to a text that was almost 400 years old when the first edition of Britannia was published in 1586.

A new version of “Nobody Nowhere”

New cover of Nobody Nowhere So we’ve just received the revised edition of Donna’s classic autobiography “Nobody Nowhere” from the publishers with an updated forward, some of the quotes about it on the back and one of Donna’s paintings, “Swing“, on the cover!

Donna originally wrote Nobody Nowhere was in 1990 and as it is considered a classic autobiography of a person with autism a lot of folks don’t realise that Donna never meant it to be published.

Nobody Nowhere was written in 4 weeks. I barely ate, washed or slept. I wrote the book as a goodbye and a last hope. My plan was to let just one person read it, then shred it and burn it then jump in front of a train. But life is rarely as simple as our plans. Instead of the confirmation of hopelessness I expected, I was thrown a challenge; to allow the book to help others. Instead of shredding it, it became copied and read by millions of people around the world. Instead of being burned, it spent 15 weeks on the New York times Bestseller list and shot to number 1 in US, Canada, Japan, and Norway and got translated into over 20 languages worldwide.

The book is still in print and still selling almost two decades later!

Designing and Building Parallel Programs available online

Found via Ian Fosters blog on “Free Books“, his paper book “Designing and Building Parallel Programs: Concepts and Tools for Parallel Software Engineering” is available online at ANL for reference for no cost (though you’re not allowed to archive a copy without permission).

This isn’t something new, mind you, it was done 13 years ago in 1995 – quite forward thinking!

Ross Anderson’s “Security Engineering”

Back in 2006 Ross Anderson (Professor of Security Engineering at the Cambridge Computer Laboratory) announced on his blog that he had published the full contents of the first edition of his book “Security Engineering” in PDF format. The book covers a whole range of security issues from creating, managing, accrediting & breaking the mechanisms themselves through security politics and into topics like DRM.

Now the second edition of Security Engineering is about to arrive (published April 14th in the US, Amazon say stock expected in 1-4 weeks) and mine is on order already (along with a copy of Linus Torvalds Just for Fun).. :-)

Book meme from Mark Greenaway

Via Mark.

  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open the book to page 23.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the text of the next three sentences in your journal along with these instructions.
  5. Don’t dig for your favourite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.
  6. Tag five other people to do the same.

Here we go..

The mainboard connector provides a standard PS/2 keyboard connector for attaching a PS/2 keyboard. You can plug a PS/2 keyboard directly into this connector. PS/2 Keyboard (6-pin Female)

That’s from the VIA EPIA Mini-ITX (“Dream Catalyst”) mainboard manual that happened to be sitting in front of me. Extra boring points for me I think!

People can work out themselves if they wish to be infected by this meme.. :-)