Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Google Groups GoneGoogle Groups is no longer linked off http://google.com. Oh, it's still there, off a new menu that pops up when you click 'more', but it no longer has centre stage. I think this is a great pity; surely Googles archive of usenet postings for the last two decades is more interesting than Google Video, for goodness sakes, which no-one ever uses?
It's a shame. Already, many people think of usenet as just a vast repository of illegal files. And now, the DECENT groups are being de-prioritised in favour of a poor man's YouTube.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Train Station FindingsOn my way home tonight, I had a while to wait for my train. So I had a look around Tara Street Station. I saw this:
"Assembly Area for evacuation by train". I have no idea what this is about. Evacuation from where? To where? Why by train? In what context would this ever be useful? I mean, it's not World War II. I have no idea what this is about, but I'm very curious. Anyone know?
You can't actually see this, sadly. It's a sign giving internal phone numbers for various Ianroid Eireann departments and contractors. Among the numbers given: "Schindler Lifts". Move the 's' and use an old-style 'f', and you're there. Stranger; Schindler was listed for northbound platforms; a different company appears to deal with the lifts on the southbound platforms. Bizarre.
G5I'm now using a dual 2ghz G5 mac in work. It's really amazingly fast, even if it is the technology of yesteryear, now. This computer feels sluggish by comparison. A bit noisy though (the G5). Also has an annoying keyboard. Damn fast, though.
Friday, August 25, 2006
Wacky Russian ThingApparently, just before WW2, the Soviet Union started building this. Then, the war started, and the metal was turned into tanks and similar. The site was turned into a giant swimming pool. A shame. A 100m statue of Lenin on top of a huge building would have been hard to Glasnost away. Here's a photo of construction work. It looks like something out of Brazil, quite frankly.
Totalitarian regimes seem to like ludicrous, over-the-top architecture, actually.
Mind you, some of the Stalinist skyscrapers are quite nice, and very different from western ones.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
I'm not a great fan of pork. I think, really, that very few people are. Consider, you walk into a restaurant. You sit down, of course; it's almost mandatory. You peruse the menu; you may see breast of chicken, steak of beef, leg of lamb, shoulder of vegetarian and what have you, but you are less likely to see anything of pork. If you do, it's probably not pork; it'll be bacon. Pork must be the only meat which more people eat cured, and thus denatured, than fresh. It's about the only meat, come to that, which is commonly cured. Where you do get fresh pork, it's often in a stew, or a casserole, or heavily spiced, or with its flavour masked in some way.
So why is this? Well, as you know, the pig's close relationship to the human is much touted. They share more genetics with us than anything else that is commonly eaten. They even get sunburnt! Imagine! Well, they don't nowadays, of course; they live in boxes. But the point is, they're similarish. Those in the know (presumably mostly weird Germans) tell us that human tastes quite like pig, and indeed human meat is sometimes called 'Long pig'. Now, we tend to have inhibitions against doing things which harm us or, to a lesser extent, society; hence, for instance, the distaste that the average person has for setting themselves on fire or attending a church service. So why not an inhibition against cannibalism? It's one of the most universal taboos, and there's little enough evidence that it was ever particularly widespread. Maybe we just don't like eating ourselves, or anything that tastes like us.
There's a tip to any would-be cannibals, then; if you really must indulge, you'd be best to salt your victim and serve him with eggs, and possibly fried bread. Best not ask about the frying medium, really.
Another widespread use for pigs is gelatin (more on this later). Marks and Spencers has a variety of pig-head shaped sweets whose ingredient lists note that they are made with pork gelatin. This is presumably to scare off any practitioners of a kosher diet not already discouraged by the general motif.
And the Americans, bless their hearts, have another use for pork! There, they have 'Federal pork-barrel spending'; this is a rather colourful Americanism for what we here in Ireland refer to as 'the National Aquatic Center'. There was an interesting piece of news on BBC the other day about American worries about agricultural terrorism. Presumably it is feared that an extremist will crash a cow into the USDA headquarters. In any case, local cow farmer referred to plans to build a $500million cow-related terrorism center (or terrorism-prevention center, one would hope) in Kansas as 'pork-barrel spending'.
And finally, 'porking' is a euphemism for sex. I have no idea why, and I don't really think I want to know.
Graphics Card OddnessA review of an alarmingly expensive graphics card.
From the review: "but if you already have a high-end card, it's not going to be worth investing in" - investing? INVESTING?! Is this how crazy gamer-types make themselves believe that they're not wasting vast amounts of money on something that'll be obsolete next tuesday? Bizarre.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Django and RailsAt the start of the summer I looked at various Python web frameworks. I decided they were all a bit scary, and gave them a miss, going with plain ol' mod_python.
Today, I went back and had another look. Django looks half-decent. I followed a tutorial, and it really is quite clever. And makes repetitive boring DB stuff VERY easy (you model the DB as classes. Sounds horrible, and I've always been cautious of ORM systems, but it actually works quite well. It's also damn fast, especially when running under mod_python.
In the interests of fairness, I also had a look at Ruby on Rails, a web framework based on eccentric Smalltalk-like language Ruby. Similar to Django in many way, but feels less polished, and doesn't have as satisfactory a server arrangement (Django runs either under a dev server included in the package, or under mod_python for production, while RoR has a variety of weird little servers available).
Interesting benchmark here, actually; Rails, Django and some horrific PHP thing. (The community for the PHP thing are REALLY DAMN DEFENSIVE about it).
Anyway, I'm planning to do a little project-y thing with Django or Rails, possibly in both to see which goes better. Of course, my big problem isn't the framework, it's the CSS and visual design in general that is so essential for any self-respecting Web2.0-y thing. I'm completely incapable of doing anything sensible with CSS. We shall see...
Sunday, August 20, 2006
More AJAX-y stuffIn a continuing bid to get rid of my fear of AJAX, I AJAXified my quote website thing a little bit. Now, on viewing a quote, you can add a tag instantly, without having to reload the page. Not hugely useful, but it's progress of sorts.
Olive CushionI was just watching Will & Grace. Judge not lest ye be judged, and all that. Not terribly interesting, but fun in a mindless sort of way. When I saw this.
Note the couch in the bottom-right. Isn't that cool? An olive cushion! At least, I assume it is a cushion and not just a giant olive left there by some clumsy genetic engineer.
Sadly, it's not a plot element. Just a little incidental, thrown in by a bored set designer. I'd quite like to be a set designer, so that I could plant weird objects in sitcom sets.
Comments!Most blogs allow comments. I quite like receiving comments, and find the comments left on other personal blogs in general quite interesting. However, when it comes to big, major, well-known blogs, the comments are almost always made by stupid cretins. I never even look at them anymore. I wonder why this is? Also, people advertising things. Anyway, the major blogging tools need a 'no-comment' browsing mode.
Personal ad, of sortsOkay, so I'm always hearing about people being set up with people by friends. So come on, someone, set me up with someone!
I get the impression this isn't actually something you're meant to ask for. Never mind!
Saturday, August 19, 2006
New Amazon Associate AdsAmazon is now doing an contextual advertising thing for their associate program called Omakase. Sounds a bit like an enzyme, but it actually a context-sensitive ad platform which customises ads to the individual user based on they purchase history. Horribly intrusive, but quite clever. You put the ads on your page, and Amazon pays you a percentage (around the 5% mark) for every sale made. Apparently, you can use it on pages with Google Adsense, too. Maybe. It appears to be a grey area, but most people who've asked have been told 'yes', with the provision that in general you may not use other contextual services on pages with Adsense.
Friday, August 18, 2006
Comment-caustI've just gotten rid of lots and lots of spammy comments, and put in place a new system which will hopefully protect me from the spam a bit better. Now, in many cases, I had to do deletion by wildcard, so if one of your comments has vanished, don't worry! I'm not out to get you, really! :)
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Tax the Ample!Here's an idea from Scott Adams. Tax large people, on the basis that they consume more resources and so forth. Excellent idea! In particular, it does seem deranged that small people are charged for excess luggage while the person in the next seat can be anything up to half a ton and not get charged extra. And his outlying regions end up on the small person's lap! Silliness.
Linked to! Me!This person, on creating his blog, linked to me. Under 'Smart Blogs' too! Imagine! Obviously has but a tenuous grip on reality, but nice of him nonetheless. He's a maths student in Trinity, and intends to blog about the subject. I find this rather intimidating; it's one of my dirty little secrets that I'm actually quite bad at maths. People do imagine that I'm good at it, but alas not.
Anyway, it is quite nice to be linked to, if a little surprising. I wish him luck with his blogging :)
Pedant-tasticFrom an IT news site
"A VARIOUS industry sources confirmed to me that Intel is getting serious about discreet graphics, indiscreetly." - Lovely joke, except that the word they're groping for is 'discrete', not 'discreet'. Tsk.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
A Lady of QualityJacqueline Mackie Paisley Passey is a 'very high quality woman'. Yes indeed. Manufactured to exacting standards, minimum tolerances, standards compliant. The name, presumably, slipped through. A shame. She makes this claim on the basis that she's slim, she's allegedly attractive (I know, being a filthy homosexual, I can't really judge, but she just looks odd to me), she's 'relatively young' (well, at least she didn't attempt to lie through her teeth here), she has a degree (in economics). As an added bonus, she has one of those made-up psychological conditions that are so popular today. Oh, and she's interested in guns. When it comes right down to it, that's what we all really want in a mate.
Now, I know she made this post precisely so that people would mention it, but really! REALLY!
Black Coffee?I drink my coffee black. Always. Same with tea. (My mum drinks tea without milk and coffee with milk; my dad drinks coffee without milk and doesn't really drink tea. I seem to have ended up with a combination). I don't take sugar, either. A few times recently in coffee shops, when I ask for this, I've been met with complete amazement, and "are you sure"s. (On the other hand, some other people think nothing of it). Is this really that unusual?
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Mutter Murmur DietOkay, remember my diet-y blog-y calorie counting thing? You will note I haven't been updating it. Naughty Rob! The truth is that I got distracted, and haven't been keeping it as well up to date as I would like. I hope to resume tomorrow. I'm terrible for getting side-tracked on things like this, though...
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Stat-tasticInteresting post about web demographics here from Michele Neylon. I have somewhat similar results; for this site, 50% of viewers use Firefox, and 7% Safari, while for my reverse lyrics search engine, all but 25% use Internet Explorer. And 11% of my blog users are on Linux; only .3% of the lyrics site users are. My connection speed results are the opposite, though, perhaps because of the continuing low number of broadband connections in Ireland; 80% of the lyrics site users are on some sort of broadband connection, while only 50% of the blog users are. Interesting...
Oh, and in the last week one person viewed the lyrics site with OS/2. OS/2! Imagine! One person viewed the blog with FreeBSD, as well...
Reminder - Pseudo-fun web game!I wrote this, a blatant rip-off of Cheddar Gorge, a game from BBC's excellent "I'm sorry, I haven't a clue" panel game, a while back, as an example of a web-app in (Common) LISP. It's still there; go play :)
Summer OddnessI'm doing a repeat of last summer now; I've ended up in a routine of going to work, going to the gym every now and again, and doing precious little else. I spent most of this weekend watching stupid TV shows, despite having the opportunity to go out and such. Now mind you, it was slightly unfamiliar, scary going-out (Intersocs stuff, plus a linux.ie thingy). I'm very uncomfortable going out to places I'm not used to. But I could have gone; instead I was boring. I've also got a variety of little personal programming projects I really should be doing more on. And yet I sit here, doing nothing much. It's a bad habit, and I really should try to get out of it. Horribly dog-related thing is over, so I don't really have an excuse any more. I am at least getting back to writing this thing, I suppose :)
Spying on your usersI recently set up both Feedburner and Google Analytics on my blog, and Google Analytics on my lyrics search website thingy. Feedburner is a thing which tells you how many people are using your RSS/Atom feeds, while Google Analytics lets you see where your users come from, what browsers they are using, and so forth. Here's an example. Great fun, altogether, even if not entirely useful. If you look to your right, you can even see how many subscribers there are to my blog; it varies a bit, so far peeking at 38. Imagine! 38 people reading this rubbish!
I also got Damien Mulley using Feedburner; he's got about 10 times as many readers as me, though. He's one of these very blog-gy people though; he ran that Irish Blog Awards thingy.
Both services are free; for the Google one you need an invitation, but just fill in your email address and they'll send you one in a few days.
Sunday, August 6, 2006
Copyvio-tastic!This lovely person has ripped off a piece by the very good tech reviewer and sceptic Daniel Rutter. It's embarrassingly obvious, too; compare the style of the first paragraph to the rest of the piece.
From his profile: "One thing very interesting about me is that i am both a computer geek and a romantic graphic designer (i am crazy! Yeah!)." I mean, really.
Quick Tip - High Resolution Screens on iBookWhen running an external monitor at 1600x1200, the ibook feels very sluggish. If you change colour depths on both monitors to 'thousands of colours', though, all is well, and you probably won't really notice a difference for most things. If you do, you can always go back. A few of the backgrounds Apple includes with MacOS seem deliberately designed to show up the differences, though; you may want to switch background.
Diet-y thingI decided it'd be interesting (and helpful from the point of view of keeping a stable weight) to try to quantify what I eat. Now, I'm not going to do it here; it's terribly boring, and would no doubt drive people away. Instead, I've taken the opportunity to give Blogger a go, and this is the result. It's a bit like a really tedious reality TV show... I don't really expect many (or any) people to read, I'm more doing it for myself.
This isn't by any means original, by the way; I've seen it done before a good few times.
At last, a proper keyboard!I popped into town yesterday, in the horrible, overcast, high-humidity hot weather, to buy a thing to let me plug my nice PS2 keyboard into my computer's USB slot. (Apple doesn't believe in PS2 ports. For that matter, nor do most modern PC laptop makers). Also got a nice 7 port usb hub. So now, I'm using the nice keyboard, with my Mighty Mouse (that's the Apple mouse with the funny 2D scrollwheel) and a big CRT at 1600x1200, along with the smaller laptop screen alongside. It's great :) It feels just like a grown-up computer ;)
Crazy Imaginary Lawsuits with STYLE!You'll remember I was threatened with imaginary internet lawsuits by this cretin. That is as nothing, however, next to this crazed rant. Repetition of silly points, stalking, complete ignorance of the law... He's got it all.
Casey Powell, I salute you.
Saturday, August 5, 2006
Emacs-tasticThere are many emacses for MacOS. There's a conventional text-mode one, a conventional X11 one, a Carbon one, a few Cocoa ones, a Mac Classic one... Up until recently I was using Aquamacs, one of the Cocoa ones. It's mostly nice, but a bit slow and it has some weird MacOS GUI idioms (every file opens in a different window, by default, for instance). Now using Emacs.app. Also Cocoa, but far better. I heartily recommend it, if you use a mac and like Emacs.
Thursday, August 3, 2006
ResolutionI've decided that no more am I going to obsess about my appearance. It really could be a lot worse. I'm never going to look like I want to look (If nothing else, my shoulders are way too wide for my liking; nothing really to be done about that) but I suppose it's not dreadful. I DO need to sort out clothes and so on; I just noticed today that I only have one pair of jeans that I've bought since starting college. I'm actually going to go and buy clothes sometime soon, rather than just muttering about it and putting it off. Just putting something down in writing as a sort of incentive to myself, I suppose. Carry on.
Tuesday, August 1, 2006
And from the department of stupidly-named ducksHere, have a smew. Isn't it pretty?
There's also the stock dove (as opposed to the rock dove). The stock dove was of course an early attempt at pigeon standardisation. Late last century, the ISO became worried about a perceived lack of pigeon uniformity. What size should dovecots be? How many bibles can a carrier-pigeon accommodate? Will the legacy dove even be able to dock with the Soviet space station? With the end of the Cold War, though, the military importance of the pigeon went into decline, and the project was abandoned. It leaves a legacy to this day, though; ever-sillier things are of course designed to dock with Mir and its successor, and the rather fetching ring-markings on the pigeon's neck begat the system for indicating resistor strengths.
What utter nonsense.
And finally, Aren't Birds Brilliant. Not the absence of a question-mark. "Yes they bloody are," it seems to say, "and don't you forget it!" Warning, contains Bill Oddie.
It's My Specialism!From a recruitment company's website:
Home - ElanIT - Europe's #1 IT Recruitment Company
Elan is the Worlds leading IT&T Recruitment specialist. Our specialism and domination of the IT&T market means that we have over 5000 contractors currently ...
Now, specialism may be a word, or it may not be. My computer's spell-check certainly doesn't recognise it, and I don't think it appears in the better class of dictionary. There are 1.9 million Google results for it; that's more than 'blancmange' but less than 'partridge', just as a reference point. However, one of the top ten words is a spam site, and another has the subject "Subeject Specialism". So I think we can safely assume that this isn't a proper word. I'd certainly never even imagine using it in conversation, but then I'd never use 'productize' (100,000 hits) or 'center of excellence' (13 million hits), and yet those are popular with the more cretinous variety of spin doctor. So maybe this is a new word for that sort of person.
I wonder does the offending recruitment company recruit tech writers?
EDIT: In any case, they talk of their 'specialism [...] of the IT market'. Hmm. Someone needs a proof-reader!