Are we nearly there yet?
Hot drinks garbage
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:
Why don’t you know?!
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:
The nanny state on cycling
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.
SuperWaba development on OS X Tiger
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.
Hope springs anew
Do you remember the end of the Star Wars trilogy, where the Dark Side is finally vanquished? Today feels a bit like that, albeit without the risible dancing teddy bears.
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 in English
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.
Video in your Palm
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.
Fixing ffmpeg on Ubuntu
Using Ubuntu 6.10 (Edgy) or newer? There are updated instructions available here.
Another useful website bites the dust
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.
Preparing for the worst
I thought that this line of police vans in Brussels’ Place de Brouckère made a good image:
EuRuKo 2005 report
I was going to write about all the goings-on at EuRuKo 2005, but I’m not going to bother, as Leah Neukirchen has done such a comprehensive job with their write-ups of day one and day two. However, I shall say something about their presentation:
Back from EuRuKo 2005
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.
There’s plenty of entertainment to be had from naïve automated advertising algorithms such as that used by HyperDictionary.
Arrr, mateys! Tomorrow, September 19th, be International Talk Like a Pirate Day.
Where the bad guys are
I was inspired by the Mailinator Spam Map to do something similar with attempts to break into my server.
Worst conspiracy theory ever
Many sources are reporting the story that Yahoo has helped the Chinese authorities to convict a journalist:
Civilisation: dry clean only
Recent events have made me realise how thin the veneer of civilisation is.
In science they don’t trust
Galileo must be rolling in his grave. Apparently, only four fifths of Americans support the heliocentric view.
Bitte keine Deppenapostroph’s!
I received a letter from Lufthansa this morning.
Yamaguchi-gumi gets new boss
Ten years of 95
Windows 95 was released 10 years ago. Has it really been that long? (Well, obviously: it’s 2005.)
ChaSen in UTF-8 on Ubuntu (or Debian)
I have been trying to get ChaSen to work in UTF-8. Allegedly, it should do so; however, the packages installed by Debian (and used unchanged by Ubuntu as well) don’t include all the necessary files for rebuilding them in UTF-8 format.
ChaSen, Ruby, Ubuntu Linux
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.
Talking telephone numbers
In Japanese, telephone numbers can invariably be made into mnemonic phrases based on various pronunciations of their component digits.
Propaganda for kids
I came across some Japanese propaganda from World War II the other day. It actually makes for interesting reading, so I have translated it.
Don’t fly BA when there’s no R in the month
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.
Reasons to love Linux
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.
Public Service Announcement
Don’t drop your external hard disk. Not even a short distance.
60 years ago today
It was sixty years ago today that the first nuclear weapon was used in conflict, killing 140,000 people in Hiroshima.
The unbearable heaviness of being Mr Blair
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.
Tweaking for speed
I’ve made a couple of small speed improvements to this site.
How to break YAML in Ruby
Kitty gets assimilated
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).
Decoding HTML entities in Ruby
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 was reading the Slashdot review of DHTML Utopia over breakfast. It set some ideas rolling in my head about unobtrusive scripting.
Directgov’s stupid link policy
I happened across the New Zealand government’s website the other day, and a fine piece of HTML it is too. Elegant, clean, and accessible.
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.
IE7: Still a steaming pile
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!
Bombs in London
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 know Unicode-fu
By chance, whilst researching content management packages today, I found my name mentioned in a gratifying context:
Holidays and redesigns
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.
The People’s Republic of Birmingham
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.
Levenshtein and Metaphone
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?
The Eggcorn Database
I just posted this to MonkeyFilter, but I’m going to duplicate it here.
I uploaded some photos of the demonstration.
Demonstration against software patents... again
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.
How to get served in France
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.
The last few weeks
Sorry about the month-long hiatus. I haven’t been in stasis, but my life has been somewhat hectic of late.