Conway's Game of Life as a C# console app

Since my school days, I've always liked the Game of Life, invented by mathematician John Conway. It nicely demonstrates how complex behaviour can come about from just a few simple rules.

Anyway, when I was reading up on the I2C interface recently, I accidentally found this code on the Wiring Pi website (which is a GPIO interface library for the Raspberry Pi). It looked like a nicely written bit of code so I decided to write something similar in C#. There's no real reason why I should, but it just seemed like a fun thing to do...

In terms of my example (with black and white cells), the rules go like this:

  • a black cell with less than 2 black neighbours goes white
  • a black cell with 2 or 3 black neighbours stays the same
  • a black cell with more than 3 black neighbours goes white
  • a white cell with three black neighbours becomes black

Here is the result:

This console app version demonstrates a glider gun, which is some pretty impressive behaviour from those four simple rules.

Oh, and if you're really interested, and would like to see my code, it's here (as a text file).

Lenovo IdeaCentre K430 Desktop PC

So my wife needs to run a bunch of different Virtual Machines for her work. Doing that means she can easily clone an existing VM, mess about with stuff and throw it away afterwards if needs be. Then she doesn't need to worry about having left her computer with lots of weird settings at the end of the day.

So she really needed a fast machine with loads of storage for all those VM virtual disk images, and a decent amount of RAM as well.

We looked around, and she went for the Lenovo IdeaCentre K430. It has a 4TB hard disk, a intel Core i7 processor and 12Gb RAM. So there's lots of space for VM disk images there and a nice amount of RAM to run them. We've created a separate partition just for the VMs to be stored on. All that RAM means you can easily dedicate 4Gb of memory to a VM without any worries.

When I got my hands on the machine, there was loads of rubbish pre-installed by Lenovo, so I erased the entire disk, set up my own set of partitions and reinstalled from scratch. But it was a pretty smooth process. I didn't even need the Lenovo driver disk, everything seems to have been detected by Windows 8 automatically.

I was tempted to suggest she tried Linux as the host Operating System, but in the end I decided she'd be happier with Windows.

Using VirtualBox, when you set your VM to run full screen it seems just as fast as the old PC running natively, you don't really notice. So that's pretty good. But I will upgrade to Windows 8.1 as the host OS when it's released, I've been using the Windows 8.1 preview on my tablet and I like the tweaks that have been made.

... and I've virtualised the old PC so I can keep it as a VM, just in case there's something left on it that we need. Yet again Disk2VHD comes to the rescue.

More photos from the garden

My wife also found this Privet Hawk Moth caterpillar (Sphinx ligustri) munching away in our garden. Apparently it's the biggest moth we get here in the UK, the moths can have a wingspan of nearly 5 inches (about 12 cm). It was hanging upside down on our privet hedge:

I think it was reasonably young, because I reckon it will get even bigger. It was great to find it and be able to take a couple of photos.

Butterflies in the garden

The buddleia bushes we planted in the garden a couple of years back have started to get really big now, so this year our garden has been full of butterflies. I thought that I'd share a couple of the snaps I took:

I'm not a very good photographer, but you get the general idea. I've found it quite relaxing to enjoy a few moments on a sunny day with all the butterflies flitting around.

Gold Rush

I've become hooked on the TV series Gold Rush which comes out on the Discovery Channel.

In fact, I seem to watch a lot on the Discovery Channel these days. I blame Mythbusters. They started it.

But I suppose that any program involving a load of big digging machines combined with the thought of being able to extract gold from under your feet is bound to come out pretty good...

Having said that, I do find myself shouting "you're an idiot" at the TV quite a bit. So it's probably one of those things where you'd like to think that you could do better yourself. In reality, I'd probably not last five minutes if you sent me to Alaska and told me to try and do what they're doing.

I think that part of the appeal is the often makeshift way they go about fixing things or solving problems. It's all very man-with-beard-in-his-shed type stuff, and I think we could do with more crazy men with beards building things in their sheds. I'd like to be one myself - but I'm more of a man-with-stubble-working-in-the-spare-room. But I'm doing the best I can, okay.

Iced latte saved my life

Well, two iced lattes actually. Yesterday, I was presenting at an implementation workshop in Westminster. It was the hottest day for 7 years apparently. It was over 32°C in London. Just riding on the tube was enough to make you sweat. It really gets hot down there.

So when I got near the venue, I went looking for some kind of cold coffee type beverage. I ended up just round the corner, in Victoria ... where I found a Coffee Republic.

[Photo taken from google street view]

So I went in and bought an iced latte - and didn't regret it. Then, in the afternoon, when my presentation was over (which was in a non air-conditioned room) and I was baking hot, I went back to Coffee Republic for another one.

I then journeyed back down into the tube, with my iced latte and the ice cubes still rattling round inside the cup. There were many envious (even desperate) glances from other passengers as I sipped on my ice cold coffee. Sorry guys.

So, if you're in the Westminster/Victoria area of London, try the Coffee Republic down there. The coffee was great and the service came with a smile too. I expect I'll be going back next time...