Saturday, September 23, 2006

Something Maths!

Ok, well given that i'm a Maths Student I thought it was about time I added some maths problems with some solutions, the first problem is the easiest and the last problem is the most difficult, solutions are available below the problems.

Problem 1:

An arrow is formed in a 2 2 square by joining the bottom corners to the midpoint of the top edge and the centre of the square.

Find the area of the arrow.

Problem 2:

Two ladders are placed on opposite diagonals in an alley such that one ladder reaches a units up one wall, the other ladder reaches b units up the opposite wall and they intersect h units above the ground.

Prove the following result.





Problem 3:

How many digits does the number 21000 contain?

Solution to 1:

Consider the two diagrams below.

The area of the square is 4, so the area of the large triangle is 2 (half of the square) and the area of the small triangle is 1 (quarter of the square).

Hence the area of the arrow is 2 1 = 1 square unit.

Solution to 2:

Consider the following diagram:

By similar triangles:

x + y


x + y



Adding equations:

x + y

x + y

x + y


Dividing by (x + y):





Solution to 3:

As 21000 is not a multiple of 10, it follows that,
10m 21000 10m + 1, where 10m contains m + 1 digits.

Solving 21000 = 10k, where m k m + 1

k = log 21000 = 1000 log 2 301.02999... , so m = [1000 log 2] = 301.

Hence 21000 contains 302 digits.

The problems and solutions are all taken from

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Blog Updated, an explanation of changes

Ok, i've recently updated the look and feel of the blog and thought i'd quickly explain what i've done:

Firstly, i've updated to the new blogger beta which has among other things made controlling how the blog looks significantly easier and as a consequence i've tried to make it as easy to use as possible.

What changed:

1) The template being used has changed to a clearer one that shows up bold font much better and infact any changes of font better. I also think its a nicer looking template.

2) I've slightly modified this template by adding a few extra links sections for seperating the articles, so that finding articles on the main topics is easier. To avoid having huge lists of articles, i'll limit this to the articles I think are most useful to people. If anyone finds other articles useful please let me know and i'll update accordingly.

3) The about me and links section are now below the articles list, i've tried to put these in the order that i'd think ia most useful to people.

4) I've renamed the sections to make understanding what is in each section as easy to understand as possible, i've also renamed the links section to offline links so as to show people they will be taken to an external site.

5) Finally i've limited the amount of articles shown on the homepage to five, I think a huge scroll list is a bit annoying for people.

If any of these changes are not beneficial please let me know and i'll change things back, finally if any other changes would be useful please let me know.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Good Free Software For The Average User

Although this information can be found elsewhere on the web, I still feel its useful for me to highlight software that can be used for free that replaces popular (pay for & Non pay for) software.

Web Browser: The commonly used one (and it is free to use) is Internet Explorer, in my opinion however it isn't the best, try Mozilla Firefox, Opera or Flock. They all have their own advantages, see also the article on flock (my personal favourite) on this blog.

Email Application/PIM: The common one is Outlook Express (Free) or Outlook (Part of Microsoft Office, i.e. Not Free!). If you are using Outlook Express at the moment then Mozilla Thunderbird is a drop in replacement and better. Outlook has personal information manager (PIM) features aswell, these can easily be accessed via Mozilla Sunbird, which is a standalone PIM application. For linux users Evolution is another option which has both Email and PIM features in one application.

Office Suite: The standard examples are Microsoft Office, Microsoft Works etc. An excellent alternative is Open Office, which features all of the common applications of Microsoft Office and can import Micrsoft Office files. For Linux (especially KDE users) there is also K-Office.

Instant Messaging: Standard examples are MSN messenger, AIM, Yahoo Messenger, in windows it is best to use these native applications, in Linux Gaim (for Gnome) & Kopete (for KDE) will allow you to use ALL of your chat accounts in one package!

Website Creator: Perhaps a more advanced tool than those listed above but it seems many people do this, the standard example is Dreamweaver, a free alternative that will suffice for the vast majority of users is NVU which works in both Windows & Linux.

Image Editor: For playing about with photographs, the standard example would be Adobe Photoshop and slightly less feature filled (and Cheaper!) Corel Photo Paint. A completely free example would be The Gimp which really is excellent. Also for Photoshop users try GimpShop, which makes The Gimp look more like Photoshop.

Drawing Package: Standard examples would be Adobe Illustrator & Corel Draw. A very good easy to use package for all but the most advanced users of the above would be Inkscape.

Audio Editor: Standard example would be SoundForge or Cooledit. An excellent free alternative is Audacity.

This is not supposed to be an exhaustive list, just a basic start, there are much longer lists around, one of which is linked to below.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Christianity & Medication!

The first thing to ask is whether the Bible expressly forbids the use of medication, the answer to this is clearly a resounding no! If anyone knows of a verse please leave it as a comment and i'll update it as necessary.

The second thing is, is there a good reason or a Biblical implication for not using medication? A biblical implication would be in direct contradiction of the Bible and doesn't exist, take a look at this verse: 'Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.' - 1 Timothy 5:23. Could the Bible be any clearer than this? Quite clearly we see Paul telling Timothy to use a form of medication (wine) for his illness.

The third factor comes from whether medication is necessary or whether healing is provided in all cases by Jesus' atonement. Can the Bible teach that medication is unnecessary and also Paul tell Timothy to use medication? Certainly not without a contradiction. The contradiction does not exist, despite the teaching of many physical healing is not provided for in the atonement, what is provided is spiritual healing. That isn't to say God cannot heal or does not heal, it is simply to say that God is not forced to provide physical healing. Many times he does, many times he doesn't. I think often we like to take God off his throne and make it out as if He must give in to our demands. It is time we let God be God, trust that he knows best and his plans for us are good. This, he does actually promise. '"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."' - Jeremiah 29:11 - Gives a basic critique of the 'physical healing provided in the atonement' position.

This post is not meant to be a full critique of this position, I am unqualified to do this but I hope it is of use to some who see it.

I do however believe that there are positives and negatives to using medication, I am not saying we should all use medication, if you can cope without it, this is often the best situation. Following the advice of your doctor is almost always the best way to go.

Google Personalised Home

A while back I looked into the homepage, it is a site where you can personalise one page (with multiple tabs) online and use it as a homepage (or that seems to be the idea at least!) with it was OK, but for me it was a little slow and awkward, setting it up took too long and there was not enough variety in things for the page.

This has changed with the Google Personalised home, it requires a google email account, but is considerably more intuitive than the homepage and links in well with many other useful google (and non google) features. I particularly like the integration with the Google Calendar and Gmail but any other services you use are fully accessible. I now have a homepage set up (took me about 5 mins) with these features:

1) Google Calendar

2) Weather

3) Quotes of the Day

4) Jokes

5) ESV Bible Verse

6) Dictionary

7) Wikipedia (Encyclopedia)

8) Driving directions (via google maps)

9) Babelfish (A translator)

The page opens very quickly on my connection and remembers things you are logged into (such as google calendar/gmail)

Its worth trying out, seems to work on any Operating System and with any Web Browser

Go to and click personalised home!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

OCD - The First Treatment!

Unlike many, due to my excellent support from people I was very quick in first seeking help with my OCD, it is thought that most with OCD suffer in silence for many years before seeking help, not knowing they have a disorder and can be helped and only getting help when they have slipped down into a state where they are completely incapacitated by the disorder. If you are struggling with what might be OCD, do not let this happen to you, there is help out there.

I went a grand total of about a month before I seeked help for my OCD. Where I would be and what state I would be in today I do not know if I was not pushed to seek help at such an early stage by loved ones close to me. The first thing I did was went to see my doctor and vaguely explained the thoughts that were going through my mind. I was blessed with a doctor who knew about OCD, this is a lot less common than I had suspected and I have heard of many who do not know about OCD and leave patients stranded, if your doctor does not understand, go and see another one! My doctor put me on what is called an SSRI medication (or an antidepressant) called Fluoxetine, which is the generic name for a much more commonly known medication, Prozac. I have to admit I was concerned to begin with, I thought taking the medication meant I was crazy and if I wasn't crazy already then the medication would make me so.

After doing some research and with instruction from my doctor I began on the medication with instructions that the medication can take longer to help than for depression, infact it can take up to 10 weeks. I was also told that sometimes the medications does not help at all and that I may need to try several different SSRI medications before one is helpful. I was also told that the dosage required varies from person to person and that getting mine right may take time.

I however was blessed, the medication while initially making my thoughts stronger, did help me out within about four weeks. They certainly didn't stop the thoughts but they did begin to mean I could focus some of the time on other things and begin to live a more normal life again.

I was also told that seeing a psychologist to do Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and Exposure & Response Prevention (ERP) was the next step in controlling my disorder, however, the waiting list was long and it was going to be another year or so before I was able to see a psycholgist, I will talk about these methods and my experiences in a later post.

My next post will probably be on Christianity & Medication, as a christian I have come across many well meaning christians who argue that taking medication is unbiblical, unneccessary and wrong. I disagree strongly with this position and will hope to help christians struggling with this issue in the next post.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

OCD - The Beginning

I remember the day OCD first hit me vividly, although I did not know it was OCD at the time. I didn't really understand what was going on, only that one thought suddenly came into my mind and began revolving around causing feelings i'd never experienced before. The thought, a fairly common one, one many people experience and let pass by. The thought, I would rather not say and the content of the thought is infact irrelevant to the experience of OCD. For an obsession all is needed is for something to be important to you. I knew at the time my reaction to the thought was over the top but that didn't make it feel any less real or any less disturbing.  The more I tried to fight against the thought, the stronger and stronger the thought got. The obsession was more than just a song stuck in your head type experience, there were mental and physical consequences. The thoughts were accompanied by my chest tightening, my shoulders cramping and a paralyzing state of fear. As a consequence, I struggled to sleep, never felt like eating (although I forced myself to) and my ability to concentrate on anything else slipped to almost zero.

I however was blessed, I had great support from certain people and quickly discovered what OCD was and that I was suffering with it, this was however only the beginning of my encounter with OCD that continues to this day. I will explain more of my experiences soon.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - For Starters


I thought I would begin discussing OCD today, however my aim is to do this in several blog entries, the aim is also not to simply repeat what can easily be found elsewhere online. However, this post in particular will contain information from elsewhere, this is simply for convenience and because these terms will be used frequently. My purpose is to describe the disease in my own terms, in terms of my own journey with the illness, both the ups and the downs.

A Few Technical Terms


  1. Recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are experienced, at some time during the disturbance, as intrusive and inappropriate and that cause marked anxiety or distress.
  2. The thoughts, impulses, or images are not simply excessive worries about real-life problems.
  3. The person attempts to ignore or suppress such thoughts, impulses,or images, or to neutralize them with some other thought or action.
  4. The person recognizes that the obsessional thoughts, impulses, or images are a product of his or her own mind.


  1. Repetitive behaviors or mental acts that the person feels driven to perform in response to an obsession, or according to rules that must be applied rigidly.
  2. The behaviors or mental acts are aimed at preventing or reducing distress or preventing some dreaded event or situation; however, these behaviors or mental acts either are not connected in a realistic way with what they are designed to neutralize or prevent or are clearly excessive.
The above terminology is taken from:


The thought or event which causes the sufferer to obsess.

A Couple of Examples of Spikes:

1) A heterosexual man is making love with his wife when the name of his male best friend happens to flash through his mind.

2) A passenger is waiting on a train platform while the train is coming.He has a thought of what if he did a sudden erroneous movement and fell under the train.

The above are both taken from this site talks about a slightly different form of OCD called Pure-O which I will probably touch upon in further entries.

Some Good OCD Websites: - This is a good website for articles on OCD and some further links, it also has an active discussion group with many people struggling with OCD. Forum requires registration. - An excellent forum monitored by a former Lutheran pastor for those suffering with Scrupulosity (Religious Obsessions). Forum requires registration. - A very good site with lots of articles on OCD written by an expert in the field, as with all things in my opinion some articles are stronger than others, the one most people recommend is the article on Homosexual OCD & Relationship OCD called I Think it Moved, the site is worth a visit for all suffering with OCD. - Home of the biggest UK charity of OCD, it has links to a variety of resources and excellent information on available treatments.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Calv's Spot - A Blog Entry About This Blog

I thought that now this blog was in a reasonable state with a few entries I would give an explanation of this blog and some of the things on it, most of it is very straight forward and self explanatory but I will explain as much as I can anyway.

What you may see at the moment is that all of the entries are about software, this is not planned to always be the case. I have had a lot of time at home recently and have spent a lot of time on my computer and so have found several things to blog about, expect the diversity of things to improve as time goes on. I am hopeful of entries on Christianity, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Big sports events and many other things, there is also a possibility of some articles written by others on topics they are considerably more specialised on, these will be clearly labelled to give credit to the author.

The links section on the website may expand, shrink or stay as it is. Its aim is to feature things that are related to the primary goals of the blog. These goals may however change over time and thus the links may change with it. I will aim to keep these links in some sort of order, at the moment they are ordered in category, if the list gets large I may switch this to be alphabetic or another method.

If anyone would like to have an article on this blog feel free to email me with the article and your name, if I feel it is appropriate I will post it, if I feel it is inappropriate I will do my best to respond with my reasoning as to why I haven't posted it.

My aim is to keep this blog updated on a regular basis but I will try not to post just for the sake of posting, my hope is that all of my posts will either be entertaining or of use to someone.

If you have any comments about the blog, also feel free to email me.

Note: The feed from this blog is fully active so one can also get regular updates through the feed, if you notice any problems with the site or feed please let me know.

Make Your Writings Look Much Better!

Lyx, is a word processor and so offers similar functionality to Microsoft Word and Open Office Writer, it however works on a different principle which not only makes things look better, it also makes things easier!

Standard word processors work on a WYSIWYG (What you say is what you get) principle, that is to say that what you see on the screen in front of you is what will be printed, in theory this sounds a good idea, in practice however it means you spend a lot of your time actually formatiing your document (i.e. Bold, Italics, Font Size, Page Layout etc) and so spend less time actually focussing on what you are writing.

Lyx works on a WYSIWYM (What you see is what you mean) principle, that means using Lyx at first seems a little bit strange because it does so much for you, if your writing a paragraph, you tell Lyx thats what your doing and it sets everything for you, tell it you are writing a Title and again it sets everything for you. It also has proper setups for Theses, Articles etc.

The above is a graphical tour of Lyx and should give you an idea of what it is all about. In addition to the great simplicity and beautiful output you get from it (Put it next to a MS Word document to see what I mean!) it also does several other things extremely well:

1) After finishing your writing you can automatically create a contents page with everything done perfectly.

2) If you use bibliographies this is also greatly simplified and much improved.

3) It works using Tex, which is a type setting format, this is especially useful if you are implementing mathematical formulae as it doesn't require any knowledge of Tex inputs but gives you the brilliant output of Tex.

I must say that this is one package that really impressed me when I tried it, it is a small download and worth a try out for anyone who uses a word processor and wants nicer output than they normally get, also excellent if using bibliographies and contents pages as it saves a huge amount of effort doing these manually.

It is worth noting that due to the WYSIWYM principle it does take a small amount of time to get used to, fortunately there is an excellent tutorial located in the help menu to help you get to grips with it.

The package is available on both Linux and Windows

Ubuntu 6.06 - Better Than Windows!

Welcome - Ubuntu: Linux for human beings

I have a link for this in the links section of this blog but I thought it was worth adding again with a more full explanation about it.

The basics:

1) Ubuntu is an Operating System (OS), a more common example of an OS is Microsoft Windows, it is a Linux distribution.

2) Ubuntu is completely free, that is free as in it costs nothing and you are free to see how it was made, change it and do anything you want with it! That is to say the source code (how it is written) is available.

3) It ships with approximately 18,000 applications which are also all completely free!

4) You don't have to install it to try it, you can run it DIRECTLY from the CD to see what you think, they'll even send you a CD completely free, you don't even pay the postage!

The not quite so basics:

In the basics we've touched on some reasons for using Ubuntu instead of Windows, i.e. Its free and software for it is free also, there are however several other good reasons for using it:

1) Its fast, and I mean really fast, on a fast computer it absolutely flies but even better if you have an older computer that struggles to run windows XP, chances are Ubuntu will run perfectly on it.

2) Its stable, if you often get lock ups and problems with Windows, such as the dreaded blue screen of death, you rarely if ever get these in Ubuntu.

3) No viruses, no spyware, no adware! Almost all viruses are written for Windows and even if they were written for Linux, because the Source Code is available, the clever people would immediately spot viruses.

4) If you don't play the latest games there is essentially NOTHING you cannot do in Ubuntu and for free! If you do play the latest games (like me) there are ways to get some working in Ubuntu but you can install Windows and Ubuntu like I do.

5) The software available really is excellent, popular software also used on Windows would be Open Office & Firefox, my personal favourites in Ubuntu are Qalculate (A really advanced calculator), Inkscape (Excellent and easy to use for drawing), Listen (Think ITunes but nicer), Gimp (For editing photos) & Audacity (Easy editing of Audio)

6) You have four desktops instead of one and can use them all at the same time!

The fairly advanced:

These things are really good but they're not common to Microsoft Windows so they may sound a little bit strange.

1) The Terminal, this is a place where you can type things in and things happen! You can install applications, run applications, edit files, update your computer, fix your computer, turn it off and anything else you can do in an OS all from the terminal. Doesn't sound very useful but I can promise you that once your used to using it, its hard to be without it!

2) XGL & Compiz, this is a new type of desktop that looks awesome!

That is a video of this in Ubuntu, its German I think but you don't need the audio anyway!

3), if you do decide to install Ubuntu these forums are unbelievably helpful, they'll help anybody out on any question at all!

So thats my basic run down of Ubuntu, i'm completely sold on it and have it set up to do all my work in and windows for when I want to play games! It's great, try it!

Friday, September 08, 2006

A robotic friend!

George - - AI by Icogno Ltd - Avatar - AI Chatbot

I saw about this guy in the newspaper, his responses are a bit slow but he's quite interesting and very intelligent! Apparently the most intelligent robot of the lot! Give him a try and see what you think!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Flock - The Best Web Browser?!

Flock — The web browser for you and your friends

A new web browser for anyone to take a look at,

1) Excellent if you use blogs, makes them so easy to use!

2) RSS Feeds are handled much better in my opinion, they just work better! The descriptions are better, I like the seperate panel etc (Ok I know extensions in firefox!)

3) The photobar, not really useful for me but I like it a lot

4) Drag and drop text or pictures to the bottom of the screen and it stores it, much better than opening a text editor and its integrated beautifully

5) Add to that most firefox extensions work (So far I have mouse gestures, Diigo (my favourite) and Adblock)

6) The theme is intuitive and nice

7) Speed, not as quick as Opera but faster than firefox 1.5 which it is based on

Overall, its an excellent web browser, particularly if your a blogger but even if your not! This is beta software (that means pre-release, not finished) so its not perfect but it is already very stable and apart from not being able to set how often feeds refresh I haven't had any other problems.