Thursday, November 30, 2006


[reading: William Faulkner, "As I Lay Dying"; recently Neil Strauss & Bernard Chang, "How To Make Money Like a Porn Star"]

Now that I've got Django installed and running, I've been setting up my first web application with it.

I spent a bunch of time yesterday trying to figure out how to get extra parameters passed through a generic view; in the end I had to UTSL to get a method that worked.

So of course today I find a nice page that concisely and coherently explains it, rather more quickly than the couple of hours it took me to figure out.

Perhaps I can suggest *knolp* (the reverse of *plonk*) as the sound of an RSS feed hitting my aggregator. (It looks like I'm not the first person to think of this.)

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Saturday, November 25, 2006


[reading: Derek Young, "Rock'n'Roll Dancing"]

Here's a question: is there a Unicode character for an N with an umlaut?

(Triggered by eating a splendid dessert of brownies and Häagen-Dazs ice cream, which made me think of that most famous of fake umlauts, the one in the name of "Spinal Tap").

Oh, and compounds like U+006E U+0208 (i.e. 0x6e 0xcc 0x88 in UTF-8) don't count.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Editing Hacks

[reading: Tom Stafford & Matt Webb, "Mind Hacks"]

Started reading "Mind Hacks", which looked interesting in the bookshop but the formatting is already starting to annoy me. In that respect, it's the worst book-that's-just-a-printout-of-a-cool-website ever, and that's up against some pretty stiff competition.

  • A large fraction of the hacks refer the reader off to movie files or Flash animations on the web. Not very helpful for a physical book that you might want to read on a train.
  • "Color: The second color is used to indicate a cross-reference within the text". Except that there is no second color—the relevant parts just come out in a hard-to-read light gray.
  • The halftoning for photographs and some of the diagrams is poor—it looks like the output of an 1980's laserprinter.
  • I don't know what system they used to produce the book, but it's generated some real oddities in linebreaking (mostly around URLs). Favourite so far: a line break after the decimal point in "3.3" (page 144).

Still, the content might be OK once I get into it, and at least they include lots of references to the original literature.

[25-Nov-06] Edited to clarify that I'm complaining about the formatting rather than the content. Feeling slightly guilty given that one of the authors came over and commented. You'd think I'd have learnt my lesson about who finds what on tha intarweb.

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Monday, November 20, 2006


[reading: Martin Amis, "The Rachel Papers"]

Grr. The spammers seem to have found me. I've been using my current email address for three years now, and I've not had any spam at all until the last week or two. (There's occasional spam to webmaster@ or info@, but they're easy to ignore). I guess I must have gotten complacent and signed up to something dubious with my real address. Drat.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

One Year In

[reading: Seamus Heaney, "North"]

Just noticed: it's a year since the original idea for the company.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Strike One

[reading: Lois McMaster Bujold, "The Sharing Knife: Beguilement"]

One down, two to go. Still, at least it was a swift response; strike while the iron is hot for the next scary email….

Monday, November 06, 2006

Post Hoc

[reading: Seamus Heaney, "Beowulf"]

I know it's entirely back-to-front, but I keep encountering things in Beowulf that feel like they were stolen from Tolkien: there's a minor character called Eomer, and I've just read the bit where  a drowsing dragon  is raised to wrath*  because a thief has  snuck in and stolen  a cup from his hoard. I had a similar experience in Iceland—I kept on spotting businesses apparently named after dwarves: "Balin Shipping" and "Thorin Warehouse" (or þorin) and so on.

In other news, I finally succumbed to nagging and sent off a scary email….

* Anglo-saxon alliteration is irresistibly infectious.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


[reading: Scott McCloud, "Making Comics"]


Over the last few weeks we've had our flat roof re-felted. (This involved an unexpected amount of hassle, as we seemed to end up in the middle of a dispute between management and workers. The dispute was nominally about health & safety, but I suspect it was really about something else—probably money.)

The trigger for getting the work done was how much it had been raining…indoors, particularly around the skylight. A quick examination revealed the primary problem: there were large, ragged, holes torn in the flashing around the skylight. The flashing was silvery, so the most likely explanation for the holes was that they had been pecked out by birds.

So when I heard a loud tapping sound this morning and looked up to see two crows attacking the newly-repaired skylight, it was time to do something about it.


* And yes, I know that "scarecat" isn't a logical variant of "scarecrow" in this context.