I do sometimes question whether computerised tills are really labour-saving devices. It took the man at the newsagent’s some time to ring up the correct code for the jug of milk I picked up this morning. When he eventually found it, here’s what came up on the display:
I had to go to pick up a parcel that I’d missed; fortunately, the local collection office is only five minutes’ walk from here, so it’s no great inconvenience. However, the irate man in front of me delayed me a little—and also provided everyone with some amusement:
Whilst waiting for some friends at the Tube station, one of Transport for London’s numerous leaflets, entitled ‘Don’t let Winter disrupt your daily cycle’, caught my eye.
I decided to try some Palm OS programming. Although I have an entire book on the subject, the inconvenience of setting up a development environment has stymied me in the past. I’m not fan of Java—I despise its unecessary verboseness, its incomplete object orientation, and the ungainliness of Java applications on almost any platform—but SuperWaba, a miniature Java-compatible virtual machine aimed at handheld devices, seemed like it would do the trick.
I was working on a new constructivist-influenced banner for this site, but it was lacking something. When I came across a scanned set of Chinese Cultural Revolution clip art, I knew what I had to do.
I sometimes feel that people brandish their burning cigarettes as if they were weapons, so I was inspired to remix one of Japan Tobacco’s weird smoking etiquette advertisements:
Sarcasm is pervasive in English culture, and one of my earliest schoolteachers was particularly skilled in the art. She would frequently respond to unwanted behaviour by a pupil with a sarcastically-intoned ‘thank you very much!’ At that young age, I inferred the meaning easily from the situation and tone used.
I don’t have an iPod Video, nor am I likely to buy one considering that I already have a 40 GB third-generation iPod. However, the appearance of the tiny-screened iPod inspired me to try transferring video to my Palm Tungsten T3, with its high-resolution 480×320 pixel colour screen. It’s working very well.
Last month, I used Google Maps to make a geographical representation of attempted SSH brute-force hack attempts. In order to translate the bad guys’ IP addresses into co-ordinates, I employed the handy geolocation service at hostip.info.
I thought that this line of police vans in Brussels’ Place de Brouckère made a good image:
I made it safely back from Germany on time, in spite of a little confusion with the airport train.
Strikes, particularly those affecting transport networks, are relatively common in Belgium. On Friday, however, they went a step further, with the first general strike for twelve years. I’m told that everything was closed.
Remember those Japanese monkeys who bathe in hot springs to escape the bitter cold of the northern winter? Apparently, birds do the same. Well, sort of.
There was a partial eclipse of the sun this morning. I’ve seen a full eclipse before, but the weather was cloudy on that occasion. This time, it was a clear day, and I managed to get a photograph with a slightly creative camera arrangement.
Many sources are reporting the story that Yahoo has helped the Chinese authorities to convict a journalist:
Recent events have made me realise how thin the veneer of civilisation is.
Galileo must be rolling in his grave. Apparently, only four fifths of Americans support the heliocentric view.
I received a letter from Lufthansa this morning.
Windows 95 was released 10 years ago. Has it really been that long? (Well, obviously: it’s 2005.)
ChaSen is a morphological analyser for Japanese. For me, it’s particularly useful in the context of full text search. Japanese doesn’t use spaces, so it’s very hard for a computer to work out where to break up the sentence in order to index the components. ChaSen handles this beautifully, delivering a full analysis of the sentence, showing each component’s pronunciation, basic form, and part of speech. It’s an example of standing on the shoulders of giants thanks to open source software: with such powerful tools available for free, it’s possible to achieve things that would otherwise be impossible.
In Japanese, telephone numbers can invariably be made into mnemonic phrases based on various pronunciations of their component digits.
British Airways has been having another of their now-annual summer personnel catastrophes. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of the airline. Partly, that’s due to their overpriced, surly service; the principal reason, however, can be summed up in a single word: Heathrow.
I must have been abducted by aliens last night.
I was trying to retrieve a Windows address book off a partially-corrupt, fully-reformatted hard disk for someone—a task for which, if successful, I have been promised a good bottle of Bordeaux. I connected it up to a Linux machine to start the forensics, only to discover to my absolute joy that Linux could already read the files on it.
Don’t drop your external hard disk. Not even a short distance.
It was sixty years ago today that the first nuclear weapon was used in conflict, killing 140,000 people in Hiroshima.
It must be hard to be Tony Blair: to live with the knowledge that you took your country into a wholly unnecessary, ill-thought-out, unjustified and probably illegal war in Iraq, an action that has led directly to the deaths of tens of thousands of people over there.
I’ve made a couple of small speed improvements to this site.
Just for fun and general subversiveness, here’s my parody of cloyingly-sweet Japanese graphic icon Hello Kitty as a Borg (the villainous cyborg baddies in Star Trek:TNG).
I needed to decode HTML entities in Ruby this morning. Surprisingly, I couldn’t find an obvious way to do it in the existing libraries, although it must be a fairly common requirement.
I said my target was the 1st of August, and, after much drawing, coding, CSS-tweaking, and Textpattern hacking, the all-new po-ru.com is here.
I’ve been wondering whether to serve the Internet Explorer hack file to IE7 or not. I had vain hopes that the long-awaited update might fix most of the infuriating bugs.
My redesign is progressing very well. I’ve spent most of my free time over the past few weeks working on it, and I have a full redesigned site running on a test machine at home and almost ready to go live. I’ve even managed to fix most of the Internet Explorer bugs that are inevitable when designing a website with modern standards (by which I mean ones that are seven years old).
I received this picture today. The original filename suggested that it was taken at Notting Hill Gate station. I have no idea whether it was really on display at a Tube station or not; in any case, I think it’s safe to say that it’s not an official statement from London Underground!
I was concentrating on my work this morning when a friend sent me an IM, asking if I knew about the “explosions in London”. I didn’t at the time, but I soon found out: the co-ordinated bombings in London have been the only thing in the mainstream news today. However, I found Wikipedia’s coverage to be the best by far, in terms of currency and actually presenting the known facts in a clearly digestible manner.
I looked back at the previous entry and realised that it seems a bit ominous, being followed by no more posts. I am, however, in fine health.
I’m writing this from however-many-thousand feet [update from somewhere between Novosibirsk and Ulan Bataar: 36,500 feet] up in the air, on board my Lufthansa flight to Japan. Sipping a gin and tonic, and connected to the internet, it’s hard to escape the feeling that the future is finally here.
On my first visit to Birmingham since graduation the other day, I was amazed by how much it had changed—for the better. The Bull Ring is no longer a squalid cautionary tale of 60s urban design; it is now a clean, light, and pleasant area. Unlike its predecessor, the design is not determinedly avant-garde and therefore much less likely to date as badly.
No, it’s not the title of an early 20th-century Russian play, but of a couple of word-comparison algorithms which I have implemented in Ruby. Both are fairly simple, though I was gratified to note that my Ruby implementation of Metaphone was about a third of the length of the Apache Group’s Java version.
We changed to summer time last weekend. What a pointless activity! Why must people have such fixed schedules that they rely on the government to tell them when to get up?
I went to the FFII demonstration against software patents in Europe last year in Brussels. Despite some success—the European Parliament has repeatedly rejected the patentability of software—the European Commission, apparently awed by corporate behemoths, continues to attempt to bring in the unwanted, unneeded and harmful software patents. It’s going our way at the moment, but I get the feeling that, no matter how many times they get knocked back, they are going to keep trying to bring software patents in, even if it takes them a hundred times before they succeed.
Apart from moving house and playing WEBoggle, I’ve also spent much of the past two weeks working on a BitTorrent tracker. It might seem like a strange thing to be doing, particularly in a week in which one person was fined USD 1 million for running a BitTorrent tracker/aggregator site. But don’t worry: I’m not in any danger. Contrary to what some people appear to believe, peer-to-peer technology does have substantial legitimate uses.
I just found a humorous and well-written Observer article by a long-time British resident of Paris explaining how to deal with France’s notoriously obstreperous service workers without getting taken for un con.
Sorry about the month-long hiatus. I haven’t been in stasis, but my life has been somewhat hectic of late.