A London secret shared

I believe every great country should have a great capital. Naturally, a metropolis will absorb plenty of resentment and bitterness from the provinces, that’s as true of London as it is of Paris and Rome, Washington, Moscow and Madrid. But as a provincial boy growing up in Norfolk, I dreamt of London almost every night as I tried to fall asleep. Reaching it seemed like an impossible dream. I am tired of having to apologise for it. It is one of the wonders of the world.  I love Norfolk no less, nor Yorkshire nor Gloucestershire nor Burnley. But hell, what a city London is.

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When Stephen Fry met Lady Gaga

Exclusively in the FT Weekend: Stephen Fry interviews Lady Gaga. The UK writer, actor and broadcaster and the US popstar met at a hotel in London and discussed fame, Madonna, Oscar Wilde and that meat dress.

Buy the FT Weekend Magazine in the UK on Saturday 28th May 2011.

Read the full story this weekend at FT.com/gaga, along with a picture gallery, a transcript of the interview, and full audio version

This blog was posted in Features

Last Chance to See

See our Last Chance to See features page for more on Stephen’s adventures.

Twenty years ago, writer Douglas Adams and the zoologist Mark Carwardine set off in search of some of the most endangered species on the planet to produce the timeless classic book Last Chance to See.

Now Stephen Fry – who by chance house-sat for Douglas while he was on his epic adventure – is realising the dream himself, as he joins Mark in what could be the final outing to capture some of these species on camera in the TV version of Last Chance to See.

Across six special weeks, Stephen will be engaging in what he calls an “exhausting, exhilarating and exasperating” journey, but one that he wouldn’t have missed for the world, as he tracks the progress of the Aye-Aye in Madagascar, the Blue Whale off the coast of Mexico, the Kakapo in New Zealand, the Northern White Rhino in Uganda, the Komodo Dragon in Indonesia and the Amazonian Manatee in Brazil.

Stephen admits that while he does love animals, he’s not so keen on the fact that to see them in the wild, one needs to spend so much of the time trekking and camping to where they are. But it’s a sacrifice he’s prepared to make to share some incredible moments – his first sight of a blue whale fluking (raising its tail vertically in the air) stirring “almost unbearable” excitement; meeting the world’s smallest primate, Madame Berthe’s Pygmy Mouse Lemur – “sheer, unadulterated cute” -  and watching tiny turtle hatchlings rushing across the sand to reach the sea – “one of the great evenings of my life”.

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Cloud computing

Column “Dork Talk” published on Saturday 4th October 2008 in The Guardian “Dork Talk” – The Guardian headline.

Stephen Fry explains the principles of cloud computing and recommends a few services

I first heard about the principles of what is now called the “cloud” but was then called “network computing” at a talk given many years ago by Larry Ellison. Ellison’s fortune (he is one of the richest men on the planet) came from Oracle, a leading database and “enterprise” computing company. Enterprise software and computing can be thought of as a kind of proactive intranet, a closed system that “powers” (don’t you just hate the current use of that verb?) everything from business databases to the corporate accounts of BlackBerry users.

Enterprise systems will tend to hold applications and files on servers. A server is a dedicated storage and processing computer designed transparently to handle tasks for a network of individual “client” computers, the ones humans actually use. Think of client computers as having screens and keyboards, while servers are stored in racks. The old model of computing required applications to be installed on desk/laptops, each machine an autonomous island. Bridges were built between them by disk-swapping and LAN connection. Even today, most of us will use our computers this way, but now with memory sticks instead of floppies and the internet instead of LAN. People often save data online in the ether or “cloud” simply by keeping it on their gmail or hotmail folders. How many times have you sent yourself a photo just so you can have a copy of it online? But many of us are beginning to dabble in true online applications and storage, in cloud computing. The advantage is that files can be created, stored and accessed from any online computer in the world. The network holds not only your files, but the applications that create them, while your computer is, as in the early days, little more than a dumb terminal. A stolen laptop becomes a nuisance like a lost chequebook – a bit of password changing and ringing round, perhaps, but the valuable data are stored elsewhere. We save to the cloud and only back up to our computer.

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