Saturday, March 31, 2007


[reading: Edward Tufte, "Beautiful Evidence"]

Apparently my luck is improving, judging from the emails I've been getting. In fact, I'm so lucky that I win competitions that I never even entered. The luck extends to getting advance warnings about problems with online bank accounts that I don't have.

After my previous worry about spam, things seemed to quieten down again (to ~1/week), but the levels have started to rise again more recently. Wonder why it seems to come in waves?

[A:42245 B:3278 C:346 D:9187 E:91495 Total:146551]

Monday, March 19, 2007

Typos Uncloaked

Normally, when you try to proof-read your own text, there's some sort of stealth field that hides all of the errors—it's very hard to spot your own mistakes. However, I've discovered that there's something different about a properly printed copy of your own stuff: suddenly mistakes just seem to leap out.

In forty-odd thousand words that I've already checked several times, I've spotted:

  • 9 erroneous wordings
  • 10 instances of errant punctuation
  • 5 layout errors
  • 4 formatting/display tweaks
  • 1 bug
  • 2 inconsistent spellings
  • 10 infelicitous wordings.

And of course this is unlikely to be everything.

[A:42245 B:3278 C:346 D:9187 E:74756 Total:129812]

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Thanks, Ken

[reading: "The Sagas of the Icelanders"]

I've just had my council tax bill for the year, and once again the part of the council tax bill that goes to the Greater London Authority (GLA) has risen faster than inflation. This triggered me to do a little rummaging in my files, to look back at the GLA part of my council tax bills.

Year Annual Cumulative
2000/2001     100.00100.00100.00
2001/2002 22.7%0.9%2.3% 122.69100.90102.30
2002/2003 15.2%1.5%1.3% 141.39102.41103.63
2003/2004 29.1%1.5%3.1% 182.47103.95106.84
2004/2005 7.5%1.1%2.6% 196.24105.09109.62
2005/2006 5.5%1.9%3.2% 207.04107.09113.13
2006/2007 13.3%1.8%2.4% 234.68109.02115.84
2007/2008 5.3%2.7%4.2% 247.10111.96120.71

March 2007 CPI/RPI figures not yet available; January 2007 figures used instead.

So in seven years Ken has managed to more than double his part of the London tax burden (in real terms). Still, at least he's now committed not to increase the liability of London taxpayers for the 2013 Olympics* any more.

*Not a typo.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Magic Number

And the number is: 978-1-84753-300-5.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


[reading: Wesley Chun, "Core Python Programming"]

Is your life so exciting
you have to tell everyone you meet.
Try and make it so enticing;
wear your soul out to your feet.

An amusing exchange at fencing this evening, along the lines of:

Annoying new chap: "Presiding epee is more difficult than presiding foil."

Me: "Nonsense—foil has right-of-way to worry about and épée doesn't have any rules."

ANC: "No, presiding epee is more difficult than foil. Or maybe it just seems that way because I'm an international foil referee."

Impressive—he managed to work in that piece of information in his first five minutes at the club.

[Edit: And he's repeated the manoeuvre in the first five minutes of every subsequent conversation I (or anyone else) have had with him…]

(And yes, I'm assuming that he's the sort of person who wouldn't know where the accents go.)

[A:42244 B:3278 C:346 D:9187 E:74299 Total:129354]

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Proof of the Pudding

[reading: Robert B. Cialdini, "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion"; recently: Simon Selmon, "Swing Dancing", Norma Miller, "Swingin' At The Savoy"]

Aha! The first printed copy of my scribblings on software engineering has just arrived (somewhat later than expected, given that I put the order in nearly two weeks ago). Fortunately, the print quality seems just fine with this one (unlike my experiment with photographic content).

Of course, on the very first page that I checked any of the text, I immediately spotted a typo.

(Still, this is supposed to be a proof copy and so finding such things is the main raison d'être—one fewer in the final version.)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

You know when you've been Djangoed

[reading: Manly Banister, "The Craft of Bookbinding"]

Well, that was surprisingly straightforward—I got my first live Django site up and running inside a morning. There were a bunch of configuration tweaks, and I had to fix a couple of problems in the code that hadn't shown up under the test server, but then it was up and running. The hosting provider (WebFaction) was pretty impressive: fast, cheap and well documented. If I'd realized it was this easy I'd have gotten the live site up weeks ago.

So as that didn't take as long as expected, this afternoon I've written my first noddy AJAX code as an encore.