<< August 2003 October 2003 >>

Monday 29 September, 2003
#Goto Considered Tedious
smellygit said There is no step

"Swear profusely"

Thats where you're going wrong :P [added 29th Sep 2003]

Kal said Write an Ant task d00d! [added 1st Oct 2003]
If any of that was even remotely scriptable, I would have scripted it, believe me. [added 1st Oct 2003]

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Saturday 27 September, 2003
#[linkfarm] Douglas Rushkoff's new book, commissioned by Demos, PDF
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#[elsewhere] aggressive in a cerebral kind of way
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Friday 26 September, 2003
#Alien Director's Cut
with trailer
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# Perhaps my status with the Rotherham boys is about to be clarified. The new COO is asking for my weekly report. Hmm, never had to do one of those before.
smellygit said "Added items to Grounds" [added 27th Sep 2003]
MysteryMan [e] said What about your up-to-the-minute Son-of-Lingua status reports for Vice President of Vice Presidenting whilst at Chrystal ? [added 30th Sep 2003]
Pedant! I've never had to do a weekly report for the Rotherham boys. I just send them invoices and they believe me. How cool is that? [added 30th Sep 2003]

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#[elsewhere] Business as usual at Castle Morrison
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#[linkfarm] ISO to Require Royalties?
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#[linkfarm] Too many ways.
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#[linkfarm] Source Directory Structures for Java Projects
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#The joys and dullnesses of contracting

Back in harness this week for the Rotherham boys. A few years ago, I worked a contract at Cap Gemini, and for part of that time worked with a project manager called Ian. Ian subsequently left Cap, in disgust mainly, and set up his own consultancy house, which isn't doing badly at all. We've kept in touch on and off, although it's only this year that our mutual work need and work availability have coincided. Because Ian and I go back a bit, I'm never entirely sure of where I stand with everyone else there - as a contractor you automatically stand slightly to the side of what's going on, but as a contractor who goes back a bit with the Managing Director, I really don't have a clue.

I started out this week picking up the work I'd been on previously. It's a little intranet workflow thinger for what we NDA'd types must call a large peripheral manufacturer (by which I don't mean the peripherals are large, although some of them are, I mean the company is large). It's ok, if undemanding stuff. Tuesday, I'm asked to write up my CV in "consultant's format", which seems to consist of throwing most of it out, and making the bit left fill two pages by upping the font and narrowing the margins. CVs are always difficult. In contrast to the general rule, mine currently runs to five pages, even after I've squashed the 1991 to 1998 period into 10 lines. It's got a lot of stuff, because I've just done a lot of stuff - I've worked at 20 different places, and done different things at everyone. I'm versatile me (in consultant talk Jez has a broad palette of skills). Or flightly (able to adapt to new situations) I suppose depending on your point of view.

My consultant format CV must still contain a glimmer of what I laughingly call my career's excitement, because on Wednesday I was asked to go out to another of the Rotherham's boys clients. Astonishingly, they're on the Birmingham Business Park. Five years, I've lived in the city, and not once managed to secure a local client.

I pitch up, get given almost half an hour's intro to what's going on, then get largely abandoned in the corner of a low-rise cube farm. Doh! The job itself is pretty straightforward - pick the bugs out of a bit of C code that a Java programmer wrote. The minor excitement, from a CV points perspective, is that the code implements a plugin for a bit of kit called Websphere MQ. Websphere MQ is a message queue. Programs put messages (data of whatever sort) on one end of the queue, and other programs take the messages off at the other end. In essence all very simple, but add in network clustering, guaranteed delivery, failover and so on and so on and message queues explode into large, expensive bits of software. People can build entire careers around looking after message queues. Anyway, looks good on the CV because lots of places, especially head-up-own-arse big-money places, luuuurve MQ, and just won't let you in the building without it on your CV somewhere.

The big secret here is that it's easy. It comes with a big set of samples that demonstrate every possible combination of sticking on a message, getting a message out of the queue, and transforming it in flight, in every programming language you can think off. Follow the samples, and you can't really go wrong. Just don't tell anyone.

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Wednesday 24 September, 2003
#[linkfarm] Word Considered Harmful
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Tuesday 23 September, 2003
#[linkfarm] StrongStyleWrestling Tapes
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#[elsewhere] Belleville Rendez-vous Competition Results
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#[elsewhere] Belleville Rendez-vous Competition - last call
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Monday 22 September, 2003
#[Arabica] Back in paid work from today, which is something that generally signals a full stop on Arabica work. However, I've made such a lot of progress over the last couple of weeks that I'm determined not to let that happen. Not yet, anyway. I've got a bit of finishing up to do on the transcode sample app and the build notes to write, then I should be done.
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#[linkfarm] Underworld Half-Life mod
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#[linkfarm] Versioning XML Languages
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#[linkfarm] Make Life Easy With Autocomplete Textboxes
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#[linkfarm] Here is a sample of Word 2003 XML
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# Those nice Netgear people sent me a new wireless access point.
A large parcel

Small contents
Update: Spent a long and sweary time trying to get the new unit to work. It didn't seem to be doing anything at all, and it wasn't detected properly when I pulled the USB lead in. Tried it with the luggable, with the same sweary result. In desperation I tried it with Nat's machine because it had never been anywhere near a Netgear device before. Powered it up with the new power supply, rather than the old one that's already under the desk. Netstumbler goes BING!
Pigging power supply wasn't supplying sufficient juice. My old unit works fine with the new power supply, so there was nothing wrong with it at all.
planetcutie said And it only took you three minutes to open it, too. [added 25th Sep 2003]
Three minutes to stage opening it anyway. [added 25th Sep 2003]

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#[linkfarm] Owner of Dewey Decimal System Sues New York Hotel
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Friday 19 September, 2003
# To actual Rotherham.
ajbattrick said Jez; Kitting random words together, so you don't have to ... [added 20th Sep 2003]
Not at all. That's really what I did. To is code for "going out to work". "actual" means I physically went there, I didn't just ssh in or something. "Rotherham" means, well it means Rotherham, specifically a company there that I went to see. On Monday, I'll be in virtual Rotherham, which means I'll be in the attic like always but working for them.

It's just so my Mum knows not to worry. Hi Mum! [added 20th Sep 2003]

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#[linkfarm] uncompleted FX shot of THUNDEBIRD 3 taking off from TRACY ISLAND
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#[linkfarm] LOG4CXX
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#[linkfarm] Language Instincts
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#[linkfarm] An Introduction to StAX
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Thursday 18 September, 2003
#What really happened to Colin, and why did he never become the Internet icon we expected him to?
In 1839 British zoologist George Waterhouse reportedly found an elderly female hamster in Syria, naming it Cricetus auratus, the Golden Hamster.

I don't know what really happened to Colin. One day he's a hamster, seeing out his days running nowhere in a little wheel, sleeping, and stuffing his cheek pouches with sunflower seeds. Next day, he's carked it and buried under a bush. Wonder if he got to heaven.

In his second life Colin acts both as a meditation guru and as CIO to mid-size XML consultancy.

Question from Lisa NicelyToasted. What's this about?
HappyKal said Colin recommends using these guys for all software development. Its the only logical conclusion to out-sourcing... [added 19th Sep 2003]
anonymous said Doncha just hate it when ur clever links get stripped out of your comments.

http://www.newtechusa.com/ppi/main.asp [added 19th Sep 2003]

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Wednesday 17 September, 2003
#Conversation with Netgear support
My little Netgear wifi access point died, which was a bit annoying as it's only six months old. Unbelievably for something that only costs 65 quid, it has a five year warranty so I rang Netgear to ask for a new one.

Netgear: Sir, there are two lights on the top of the unit. When you plug the power in, do both lights come on.
Me: No.
Netgear: Your unit is defective, sir. I will arrange for a replacement to be sent out. Please hold.
HappyKal said r u still holding ? [added 17th Sep 2003]
Crazy fule! Only so far as I'm waiting for the new box to arrive. [added 18th Sep 2003]
Electass said I am a PC Tech and I need to get a wireless connection from a Netgear DG834G to a Sony VGN-AR71E Laptop with Vista OS, my customer has lost the original setup disk, can you help please. [added 7th Oct 2008]
Electass said Just to add that the wireless router is already working with an old Dell laptop using windows XP and the Sony Laptop with fine with Ethernet Connection but not wirless. So I guess I net the router setup disk [added 7th Oct 2008]
This isn't really the place to ask, however if the router is working with one machine and not the other, look at the laptop not the router. The router is fine. Check your wireless network settings on the laptop that doesn't want to play. [added 8th Oct 2008]

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Ah, how I've missed you. Although now I'll miss not working. I got loads done.
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Tuesday 16 September, 2003
# Jockey fails breath test - Keith Dalgleish has become the first jockey to fail a breathalyser test under the new regulations introduced by the Jockey Club.
Doubtless so broken up by the mobile phone ban, he sought solace in drink.

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Monday 15 September, 2003
#[linkfarm] You don't have to be paranoid to work here. But we do
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#[linkfarm] Minnokubes - Minature Aquariums
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Sunday 14 September, 2003
# It seems amazing that jockeys are striking because they can't carry mobile phones with them in the weighing room. Apparently a mobile phone is essential to the modern jockey so they can talk to the trainers before a race, and line up next week's work.

Cast your mind back, if you can, to a time before mobile phones. It's not that long ago. You can do it. In fact you don't even have to go back that far. Think back to analogue mobile phones. Big. Expensive to use. Bad battery life. Rubbish coverage. I know from personal experience that Cellnet coverage around Newmarket was rotten, reducing you to bellowing I'll call you from the phonebox and immediately hanging up.

How, if the mobile phone has become so essential to a jockey's life, did they manage those few short years ago? How did they communicate with the trainers? Perhaps by a complicated system of semaphore through the window. Maybe they didn't, and they just hopped on the horse and rode as fast as they could. How on earth did they line up the next job? After the race perhaps, from a land line phone? On the other hand, perhaps they just hung around on street corners, going ride yer horse, sir?

If mobile phone have truly become so essential, the next time there's a network outage will the jockeys sue Vodaphone or O2 for loss of earnings? Instead of knobbling horses, will the unscrupulous knobble jockeys by stealing their SIM cards? Could you affect the outcome of a race by selling cheap P800s on the final bend?

A friend of ours did have a bit of thing with Kieran Fallon, but other than that I know stuff all about racing. I do know that life without a phone glued to your head is entirely possible, though. From here, it looks like the jockeys are being bloody stupid. What a lot of crap.

smellygit said How long would u last without ur cable modem - and they've been around for less time! [added 15th Sep 2003]
But I don't throw a wobbly about if I have to go out to a client who doesn't have internet access. [added 15th Sep 2003]
anonymous said maybe they've become prematurely senile due to excess mobile phone usage. Seriously though - "methinks they doth protest too much" (to paraphrase some old guy). [added 15th Sep 2003]

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#[Arabica] Little bit of filling in providing Xerces support for the wchar_t impaired. I feel the release may be ready. Just need to write some new release notes (it's easier now :), and start putting together a build matrix.
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#[linkfarm] Lotus Notes R3- prior art on Eolas vs MS?
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#[linkfarm] Jeff Minter on Unity
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#[elsewhere] I'm not generally inclined to be sympathetic to MS
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Saturday 13 September, 2003
#[Arabica] Still trying to work my way through what gcc does on platforms where it's wchar_t support is shakey. Under cygwin, for instance, std::wstring is declared but not defined, so you get a link failure. Under Solaris, it isn't declared at all, so you get a compile failure. This might be because I'm using slightly different versions - 3.2 vs 3.2.3. There are similar things going on with std::char_traits and std::codecvt too. It's such a hassle - so much time wasted over pretty trivial things.`
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Friday 12 September, 2003
#[Arabica] Merging some patches from Philip Walford, Arabica's Antipodean correspondent and in-the-wild Xerces user. Most significant is IStringHandle, which addresses the memory leak problem which Philip himself raised.

My biggest problem with merging these patches is getting Xerces to damn well build. I just can't Xerces2.3 to build with gcc3.2.3. Xerces2.2 builds, but gives strange link errors. It's driving me mad. I did manage to get Xerces2.3 under Cygwin though, with gcc3.2. What a bunch of hassle.
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#If you are receiving mail which claims to come from jezuk.demon.co.uk, it did not come from me.
There is no outgoing mail from jezuk.demon.co.uk any more, and hasn't been for at least two years.

What you have received is spam with a forged From: header. It isn't the first time this has happened and it surely won't be the last.

Spam is a complete pain in the arse. You probably can't stop it being sent but you can save yourself the trouble of deleting it by getting a bit of software to do it for you. I use SpamAssassin. It's great.

Maybe I should start PGP signing all my mail?
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# Tidying up a bit downstairs, my reward was to step on a huge drawing pin, which stuck right into my heel. Amazingly, I didn't swear. Unfortunately there's nobody else here to witness my non-sweariness.
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#[linkfarm] Obituary: Johnny Cash
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#[linkfarm] Country legend Cash dies
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#[linkfarm] Singer Zevon dies of lung cancer
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Thursday 11 September, 2003
#[Arabica] Oh happy day - built libArabica.so on Solaris 7 using gcc3.2.3, then linked the SAX examples and ran them. And no, no std::wstring available. [added 11th Sep 2003]
JD Hodges [e] [w] said Was the build fairly painless? [added 29th Sep 2003]
Eventually :)

There were some things I'd forgotton, like Solaris needing to be told the runtime location of shared libraries. Once I'd remembered the necessary incantations it all worked like a charm.

I've rearranged the Makefiles so that platform specific settings are all in one place, rather than scattered about like they are in the current release. It's a pretty basic thing to do, obviously, but it's really helping. [added 30th Sep 2003]

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#[linkfarm] When should I set LD_LIBRARY_PATH?
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Wednesday 10 September, 2003
#[Arabica] More Makefile hackery. Think I have broken the back of it now - at least if you have GNU Make :) (or some other make that supports -include). Platform specific stuff is now isolated in the top level Makefile.header. Here's the place where which compiler and what have you gets specified. Hopefully then, everything else should just work. I'm using this mechanism to build on Linux and Cygwin, just by changing Makefile.header. (CVS now includes a Makefile.header.cygwin that you can use. Similar files for other platforms very welcome.)

Today's successful build matrix is, in no particular order

Anything missing from this list (like other parsers or operating systems) means I didn't try to build it or I don't have it available. If you can crack the Makefiles, it'll probably work. :)
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#[linkfarm] SCO may not know origin of code, says Australian UNIX historian
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#[Arabica] Got the Cygwin build going again. Grrr!
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#[Arabica] Hacked on the Makefiles again. Make rocks, except when it doesn't. I have everything going on Linux, but then I always did, and I'm awaiting news from John. On the other hand, I seem to have completely killed Cygwin :)
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#[linkfarm] Outsourcing: does it reward theft?
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Tuesday 09 September, 2003
#[linkfarm] Locking down that CVS server
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#[Arabica] Many more CVS commits to null out wchar_t stuff for those platforms which don't support them. My test case is Cygwin, and my chum John is doing his best on Solaris. It seems unbelievable to me that a std::wstring doesn't exist on a modern operating system like Solaris, but it doesn't. Weird, huh?

Successful builds today are gcc 3.2.3 on Linux using libstdc++ with expat 1.95.2 and 1.95.6 (but see this), gcc 3.2.3 on Linux using libstdc++ and libxml2 2.5.9. I also built for Cygwin using 3.2 20020927 (prerelease) (that's what comes with the latest Cygwin release it seems) using libstdc++ and expat. (If someone can tell me the proper incantation to build .dlls and .libs on Cygwin I'd be grateful). Finally, I built on Windows 2000 with Visual C++.Net and MSXML.

roboro said I must disagree with the statement that std::wstring doesn't exist on Solaris. You are undoubtedly using the Sun Workshop 6 (or earlier) compiler which did not support Standard C++ very well. The Forte 7 compiler does have std::wstring.

The following "Hello, World" program compiles, links, and runs without error on Solaris 2.6 when compiled with the Forte 7 compiler (CC: Forte Developer 7 C++ 5.4 2002/03/09).




int main()


const std::wstring Greeting( L"Hello, World!" );

std::wcout << Greeting << std::endl;

return( 0 );



Attempting to compile this with the Workshop 6 compiler

(CC: WorkShop Compilers 5.0 98/12/15 C++ 5.0), results in two warnings from ld, and an executable that only writes a new line to the terminal. [added 10th Sep 2003]

Your includes got eaten by the tag stripping regex - sorry about that. Fortunately we can guess that they are iostream and string.

I'm not entirely sure what environment John was trying his Solaris builds with. Initially he was using what he described as CC 6.2 - presumably Workshop 6 - and it appeared to have all kinds of library issues. He then moved to gcc 3.2.1 (it's what's approved at his place) and it doesn't support std::wstring -

In file included from ../SAX/wrappers/saxxerces.h:15,

from ParserConfig.tpl:43,

from ../SAX/XMLReader.h:408,

from saxlib.tpl:19:

../SAX/ext/DeclHandler.h:129: `wstring' undeclared in namespace `std'

../SAX/ext/DeclHandler.h:129: template argument 1 is invalid

../SAX/ext/DeclHandler.h:129: ISO C++ forbids declaration of

`wDeclHandler' with no type

So, I was obviosuly overstating - it's not Solaris per se that doesn't support std::wstring, it's the toolchain available to him.

I'm trying to arrange for an account on Solaris box (although unfortunately not the same one) to have a little poke around myself. [added 11th Sep 2003]

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Monday 08 September, 2003
#[Arabica] Added #ifndef ARABICA_NO_WCHAR_T around all the library typedefs which use std::wstring or wchar_t. This should make those "convenience typedefs" a site more convenient for those that don't have wchar_t support :)
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Sunday 07 September, 2003
#[elsewhere] Belleville Rendez-vous Competition
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#[elsewhere] [BSP] Belleville Rendez-vous
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#[elsewhere] Re: Belleville Rendez-vous on where?
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Thursday 04 September, 2003
#Bit by bit, your childhood fades away ...
Kent Walton - Kent Walton, the former wrestling commentator on World of Sport who died on Sunday aged 86, was instantly recognisable from his husky welcome at 4 o'clock each Saturday afternoon: "Greetings, grapple fans."
Simon Garfield's The Wrestling is a terrific little book - an informal history cum memoir of British TV wrestling - that I'd recommend to anyone who can hear Kent saying "Have a good week, til next week".
wunderwoman said some of us remember him as a disc jockey.......... [added 5th Sep 2003]

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#[elsewhere] It's not either/or, it's both
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# Work related : mmmph mmmph what? mmmph mmph! BWAH-HA-HA mmmph mmmph oh, ok then

Getting Win98 to talk to a scanner it's been talking to for the last six months without a problem related: Oh, for God's sake!

Remember: All software is rubbish.
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# Bean's first day at pre-school today, all two hours of it.

Before: I don't want to go to school. School's not fun.

After: Am I not going to school again? - Yes you are, next week - Good.
planetcutie said Aaaaah, cute. Or something. [added 4th Sep 2003]
planetcutie said Aaaaah, cute. Or something. [added 4th Sep 2003]

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#[linkfarm] Would you get a British passport?

   * mbombo mujinga [e] [w] said i want to know the information about how to get british password my mom been worry about us she want us to have a british ...how can she do to get us that? sent me some information that will be more easy [added 27th Nov 2007]

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Wednesday 03 September, 2003
#[elsewhere] Like it. Thanks.
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#What's it like having a Bean?

It's The Bean not a Bean. I can't quite remember when we started calling him that, but I think it was a little bit before we decided what his name actually was. Not that we disagreed about what to call him, we just didn't know what to call him. We finally settled on Daniel only about a day or two before the deadline for registering his birth. We still called him the Bean anyway, initially only at home but gradually it leaked out.

He paused, before declaring "but you could cut it".

Best thing about having my little mate about the place. Watching him learn and start to think about things. Back at the start of the summer, he and I were shopping. We needed some courgettes, but he suggested getting a marrow. I pick up a courgette to demonstrate that a marrow would be too big. He paused, before declaring but you could cut it. I had to resort to saying Mummy had written courgettes on the list and so that's what we'd better get. While I was taking him to nursery last week, he explained to me in some detail that you should only suck your thumb in bed, but that Tara and India suck their thumbs at nursery.

This is all getting frightfully my-kid's-so-cute, but everyday he says something fantastic. He's got amazing recall too. When I told him I was off to see my friends AndyB and Anton for the weekend. And Jade? Jade? What was he talking about? Jade? I asked. He was definite JayDy. Click - J.D.? He met J.D. nine months before, and I'd last seen the Warps boys in April. I was flabbergasted.

He's just a little champ!

a picture of me that the Bean drew

Question from Lisa NicelyToasted. What's this about?
smellygit said Picture looks better than reality :p [added 7th Sep 2003]
Screw, as the expression goes, U!

:p [added 7th Sep 2003]

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#[linkfarm] BeanShell
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#[linkfarm] Pull-a-Quote
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#[linkfarm] Manic Miner - in JavaScript
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#[linkfarm] Microsoft Office-Linux Interoperability Experiment
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#[linkfarm] The Matrix - Comics
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#[linkfarm] OzComics 24 Hour Comic Challenge
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#[linkfarm] Jenny's Everywhere - A Hero For The People, No Strings Attached
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#[linkfarm] Jenny Everywhere
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#[linkfarm] The 24-Hour Comics Index
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#[linkfarm] The rebirth of comics
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Tuesday 02 September, 2003
#[linkfarm] Method and system for displaying and editing of information
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#[linkfarm] Key features of DOM Level 3 Core
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#[linkfarm] How to draw a girl
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#[Arabica] More codecvt facet renaming. I, like many people, use the terms UTF16 and UCS2 interchangably when talking about slinging Unicode text as wide characters, even though I knew there was a difference between the two. Here's what the Unicode glossary says All clear? No, I didn't think so either. However, with Arabica (and XML processing more generally) it's sometimes helpful to distinguish between a Unicode text as wide characters, and a byte sequence encoding thos wide characters. Therefore, I'm going to use UTF16 to mean a byte sequence, and UCS2 to mean a character sequence. This is still probably not quite right, but I'll take my chances.

Upshot of this is I've renamed utf8utf16codecvt to utf8ucs2codecvt. I've also committed two new codecvts, utf16beucscodecvt and utf16leucs2codecvt, which perform UCS2 to big-endian and little-endian UTF16 conversion.
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#[elsewhere] Belleville Rendez-vous
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Monday 01 September, 2003
#[elsewhere] Bug in DBConnection::ComputeDBType
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#[elsewhere] 6 billion surely?
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#[linkfarm] SpamPal
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#What's the funniest spam you've ever received?
I rather like this, which I received in October 2000.
Subject: If you like BIRDHOUSES then check this out please?

Please send a snail mail with your first name and email address to the address below. PLEASE PRINT THANKS!

Redwood Birdhouses
4724 Murphy Rd. #25
Franklin, NC 28734

We will email you the URL, plus all information regarding our line of handcrafted quality made birdhouses so you can view them the day we get your request.

Spam didn't seem to have reached to monumental quantities it has now, nor was so much of it offering ways expand or reduce your stomach/breasts/genitals/bank balance. There are still odd spams which are pretty strange, but unless they're clever enough to get through SpamAssassin I won't see them.

Question from Lisa NicelyToasted. What's this about?
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#Birmingham or Cardiff?

Birmingham. This is where we chose to live - we didn't wind up here by accident or because we were forced to by work - we want to be here. It's true that we arrived in the Midlands by accident, because Nattle wanted to do her MA at Warwick University, but we stay by choice. The university's in Coventry (for whatever bizarre historical reason) so that's where we moved. When we got the itch to move again, we could go wherever we wanted. By then, Nat was doing her PhD at Cambridge, but it's not as if she had to actually be there, and I was firmly in the contracting groove so I went where the work was. So the choice was open.

We thought about moving somewhere in Shropshire and had several rather nice weekends out looking about. We also considered considered South Norfolk/North Suffolk. Bury St Edmonds, that kind of area. That was actually what decided us on Birmingham. We'd looked at a very nice Georgian townhouse in Thetford (right by that car park where the National Express from Norwich to London picks up). The house was great, but the location ...

Although I'd grown up in Norfolk, I'd never been entirely sure about moving back there. Here was this cracking house, but ... it was one of the scales falling moments. We both realised we liked being where we were, we just fancied something a bit different. So we moved to Birmingham. That was five and bit years ago. Back in February we moved again, but just a few miles across the city. Although we'll probably moved again, I don't see us leaving.

Cardiff keeps coming up here because I've been working for a company there since October last year (finally finish there this coming Friday), and that's also where my Mum lives. To start with I had to be onsite all the time, so I stayed with my Mum, who was then living up the valley in Pontypridd, during the week. By coincidence, my brother Ali was also staying. He'd finished his PhD and was looking for a job. Mum spent a lot of time with Ian, her gentleman caller, prior to them actually get a place together, so Ali and I, I'm mildly ashamed to say, ladded it up a bit by drinking a slightly unreasonable amount of beer, eating lots of steamed puddings (two for one offer at Sainsbury's), indulging in Block War, and playing GTA2 on the Playstation. Ali's now a highly paid civil servant, Mum and Ian live in a swanky flat in Cardiff, and my contract was renewed and renewed, so it obviously didn't do any of us any harm.

Question from Lisa NicelyToasted. What's this about?

prashton said As an expatriate Brummie I would not have believed your desire to live in Birmingham - at least until I returned in 1997 after many years absence. Earlier this year we did some more exploration and also met and talked to a number of people who call Birmingham home. Our conclusion: People really do like living in Birmingham!

This Easter we visited Legge Lane in the Jewelry Quarter where my father set up his metal finishing business in 1922. The building is still there and the family name is still on the signage even though we no longer have any interest in the business (that's another story!) All around the attractive Victorian terracotta facade of No. 3 Legge lane the scenery is changing fast. Buildings worth keeping are being restored, the rest are being pulled down and new, reasonably attractive, developments are going up. Best of all, nearby St. Paul's Square has been revitalized and rejuvenated. It's my favorite church in Birmingham (St. Martin's is just as attractive but has been bull-ringed for too many years)

It will be interesting to visit again next year when the new Bullring is open. However, I am really waiting for the new Moor Street Station to be completed, with steam trains from Stratford every weekend - now that's progress! [added 1st Sep 2003]

St Martin's has been really opened up during the new Bullring development - you can get a bit of feel for it on these panoramas http://www.bbc.co.uk/birmingham/360/bull/index.shtml

The Moor Street Station renovation is complete now too, and its fantastic. There's work on the line I think, but who knows when that'll be done :) [added 1st Sep 2003]

prashton said Thanks for the links to the panoramas - yes, more like the good old days when you stood at the top of the triangular shaped hill and looked down on the church. I remember the old market hall with no roof (WWII to blame for that) and the cobbled hill to allow horses to have purchase on the relatively steep incline. The Midland Red buses waited for us at the bottom of the hill, right outside the church.

We have a Victorian engraved print of Birmingham that I bought years ago. As well as the street plan, there are a number of colored sketches including one of the Bull Ring (definitely two words back then!) I am tempted to open up the frame and scan the individual sketches and load them on focalplane.com for all to see. What do you think?

I checked on Moor Street and it seems everyone but the railways can get their act together on time. So you can drink a nice glass of wine and look at a stationary steam engine exhibit while they continue to align the tracks. . . . But it will be worth it in the end. [added 2nd Sep 2003]

Ah, Bull Ring vs Bullring.

There's been quite a lot of debate about that locally. The consensus that's emerging seems to be that the new development is called Bullring, which just so happens to be in the Bull Ring area of the city. [added 2nd Sep 2003]

prashton said Now that's a good compromise! [added 3rd Sep 2003]
Alan said As an ex Brummie who escaped to Swansea I wouldn't go back to Brum in a hurry. Wales is simply a much nicer place to be, and Swansea has curry to rival Brum too. [added 6th Jul 2005]

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