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Monday 31 July, 2006
#[linkfarm] What Is OpenDocument?
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Sunday 30 July, 2006

Happy Birthday to Uncle Clive Sinclair. Where would I be today if not for him? Happy Birthday too to Daley Thompson, the man who carried a moustache further, faster and longer than any other athlete in history. Sir, I salute you. And Happy Birthday to Kate Bush. Kate, ah Kate. Ah. Kate.

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Saturday 29 July, 2006
#Two headed monster

In almost direct contradiction to my less-power efforts I have, like m'chum John, gone dual-head.

When I first started programming for actual money, the start of the art was a 14-inch monitor running at 640x480 pixels. Once of the first big requisitions I made was for a 15-inch monitor, so I could work at 800x600. Woo!

Last week, I bought a shiny new 19-inch flat panel (ViewSonic VX922 if you're interested) to buddy up with my faithful old Iiyama 19-inch crt. That gives a thumping 2560 by 1024 pixels, which is just mind-boggling really. Over 2 and half million of the little blighters, and they're mine! All mine!

Like John, I have one monitor, the TFT, dead ahead and the second to the left. I'm still experimenting, but at the moment I put email, IM and webbrowser, notes, documentation, and whatnot off on the left hand side, while I work on the main screen. It really is rather good fun and there's less fiddling and moving things around and closing things and opeing them again. And you do feel like saying On-screen.

Pete Ashton said I'm surprised it took you so long. I can't deal with one monitor these days. [added 29th Jul 2006]
Marv said Have you turned into Zaphod Beeblebrox?

Sorry, couldn't resist. [added 30th Jul 2006]

smellygit said The only downside I've come across so far is that I have to turn my head too much to see the left side screen. That's probably down to the rubbish desk design though, which I can't do much about in this cube farm! [added 31st Jul 2006]

For years and years I've worked with the screen off to the left. I can't remember why I first started working that way, but bad office design is probably it. Since then I've kept up because I found it comfortable and because it was the only way to fit a large CRT on the desk. Since switching to work straightahead, I've had to redefine comfortable completely. It's something of a revelation.

As for your cube farm, isn't it about time you switched jobs again ...

[added 31st Jul 2006]
smellygit said I knew you'd say that :) - is Jezuk hiring ? [added 31st Jul 2006]

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Thursday 20 July, 2006

In an effort to cut down the background noise and heat (topical) in my computing lab (attic), I'm in the process of setting up a little NAS. A NAS is a hard-drive that you plug into your network, which you can stuff all your data onto. It's quieter and cooler and uses less power than using a PC, so hurrahs all round for that.

They're also pretty cheap, considering what you're actually buying is a fully fledged computer in a very small box. If you actually go out to buy a computer in a small box, they tend to cost a fortune. Go out and buy a Sky box, an XBox, a cable modem or a NAS and by jiminy they're cheap.

I've bought a Buffalo LinkStation and I'm now debating whether to risk buggering it up by reflashing it and trying to get it run a CVS server. I wonder if it's got enough grunt to act as an Email toaster? Then I could turn off another box as well.

smellygit said I've wondered about getting one of those to act as a slimserver, as my desktop PC sounds like a jet plane when it's hot. Is it any good and is it really really quiet? [added 21st Jul 2006]

It is very quiet. It's not silent, but it's nowhere near the clatter of PC. My big box sounds like a jet engine when it's cool, let alone hot, so it's more than drowned out by that :)

I'm still copying all my data on to it, but it seems to do the business. Plug it in, run the initial set up (which you seem to have to do from a Windows box), and off you go. Once it's up and running, you can administer it all through a web interface. It'll run with a static or dynamic address, you set up as many shares as you like with open or restricted access and what-not. Out of the box, it'll do FTP too. It does what it says on the tin :)

If you reflash it, you seem to be able to do pretty much what you like. There are people running SlimServer on it, but I think you'd lose RealAudio streams. LinkStations run MIPS and it looks like the codecs aren't available. I'd like to run a CVS server and maybe SSH. I've seen a report of someone running SVN, so it must be doable. An email server in a box would be top too. And maybe a cool secondary market :)

I bought the LinkStation because it's got a build in power supply, so there's less underdesk clutter. The Maxtor NASes are comparable in terms of features, and they are also nicely hackable.

[added 21st Jul 2006]
smellygit said Hmm, the QNap TS 101 comes with slimserver pre-installed, and it supports real audio streams. It's fanless too - which must mean it get's pretty hot. [added 22nd Jul 2006]
Looks pretty expensive though - 250for a 200Gig drive, against 135 for a 250Gig Linkstation. [added 23rd Jul 2006]
smellygit said Did you ever reflash it? [added 27th Sep 2006]
No, because it was all set up and working, so I didn't want to risk breaking it. I am going to get another (hopefully soon), and reflash that straightaway.
What did you go for in the end? [added 27th Sep 2006]

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#[linkfarm] it's an act of ideological zealotry to rip your CDs as Ogg - ... apparently, in which case label me a zealot

   * smellygit said You're a zealot

I started ripping years ago for a Creative Jukebox, but now the collection goes onto an iRiver ihp, and it gets played by SlimServer, and sometimes by an XBox 360. I think if I had let my zealotry get the better of me I would have been spending a lot of time recoding my music! [added 20th Jul 2006]

Don't know about Creative Jukebox, but can't all those other things be made to play oggs?

I've ripped everything at least three times - once to mp3, to mp3 again at a higher bitrate when I got a bigger disc, then, when I went all zealoty, again to ogg. Maybe if I get a better amp and speakers of speakers, I'll do them all again. Doesn't take that long :)

[added 20th Jul 2006]

   * KEn [e] said We need to have a conversation about number of music tracks in one's collection versus years left of life - now that I've got my MP3s to around 12000 files I'm playing "Radio Ken" on shuffle most days, and at least listening once again to stuff I'd forgotten I had.

However, the thought of encoding again to something better than 192 MP3s leaves me cold. Good enough is exactly that ;) [added 20th Jul 2006]

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Monday 17 July, 2006

School fair on Saturday and my Dad-fu was strong. Nattle had volunteered me to do stint on the arts and craft stall making paper planes. Trained engineer that I am, I prepared by mugging up on a couple of easy yet not-playground common designs. On the internet! Woo! So I sat, in the blazing sun, showing kids how to make planes and they all seemed to like it. The planes were, I was repeated told, awesome (largely because they actually flew, I think). I couldn't help but notice the odd Dad hovering and watching while pretending not to watch. Yes!

L33t paperplane skillz are just one way that you too can increase your Dad-(uncle/uncle-by-familiarity/adult-chum)-fu. You could also try one or all of the following -

All kids seem to love juggling, but go steady with it. A quick burst, with maybe one transition, is more impressive that a long stretch. Doing five keepy-uppies then showily losing the ball in a tackle is better than knocking it the ball up in the air for 10 minutes. It also means you can be lazier, because you only have to be good enough. Show off, but be casual about it.

Ken [e] said Add these to your list...

Bending your fingers up at right angles away from a flat palm.

Waggling your ears.

Rolling your eyeballs up and back so you look like Storm from the X-Men, or Glasshopper's mentor in Kung Fu.

Making fart noises from under each oxter, especially good if done without the hands.

(In fact, anything that makes body parts into fun.)

Oh, and reviving other dads' TVRs because they don't know that the thing under the bonnet hates this hot weather, and needs a wee shoogle with a damp rag to the coil sometimes ;) [added 17th Jul 2006]

Good ones. Finding out your kiddies' friends middle names and occasionally addressing said friends by the full name is also good. Kids love wordplay too, so silly rhymes and songs are also good for boosting Dad-fu. [added 18th Jul 2006]

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Friday 14 July, 2006
#[linkfarm] How teeny-tiny we are ...
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Thursday 13 July, 2006
#[Arabica] Just committed some changes so that all the XPath tests now pass again for std::string holding UTF-8, and now pass for the first time for std::wstring holding UTF-16. The tests should now pass for arbitrary string classes and encodings, so if you are using something wacky I'd appreciate hearing of any problems.
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#When Amazon recommendations are just completely wrong ...

As someone who has purchased Operating Systems books, you might like to know that "IBM i5/iSeries Primer : Concepts and Techniques for Programmers, Administrators, and System Operators" is now available in paperback.


allan@allankelly.net said Funny, Amazon we're recommending that to me the other day too.

I know that most high street bookshops (e.g. Waterstones, Ottakers, Broders, etc.) actually charge publishers to have books put on the the tables out front, and to label them "managers choice" so I assume Amazon can play similar games.

I wonder if IBM are so keen to get the iSeries Primer into our hands that they are paying Amazon to push it?

[added 17th Jul 2006]

Perhaps they should sell more iSeries machines first?

I found this recommendation particularly bizarre, because it was emailed to me by amazon.com, rather than .co.uk. I haven't bought anything from amazon.com since 2001, and the last computer book I bought from them was in 1998. An 8 year old purchase of Lions Commentary clearly makes me a prime candidate to buy books on iSeries.

I don't even know what the iSeries is? Is that the latest name for the OS/400? Not that that helps, because I don't know what OS/400 is either :)

[added 17th Jul 2006]

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#[linkfarm] The greatest error message of all time?
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#[linkfarm] Rethinking Community Documentation
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Wednesday 12 July, 2006

Following the statement in the House of Commons announcing that more troops would be sent to Afghanistan, Sir Peter Tapsell asked the following question

Will the Secretary of State please convey to the Prime Minister my continuing conviction that sending British troops into Afghanistan is like throwing kerosene on to a burning tent, and that the more troops we send, the higher and fiercer the flames will burn in Afghanistan, throughout the Islamic world and on the streets of this country?

When I heard this on the radio it immediately struck me as a strange phrase - throwing kerosene on to a burning tent. Kerosene? Not the first fuel that springs to mind in the "throwing on to" context, nor for that matter is a tent. Kerosene does burn in a jolly impressive way, though. So do tents. A tent on fire burns so strongly and quickly, that there's no time to throw anything on it. So Sir Peter's metaphor seems entirely at odds with what he goes on to say - the higher and fiercer the flames will burn in Afghanistan, throughout the Islamic world and on the streets of this country. He clearly thinks this is a long term situation which will only be worsened by additional troops. More like throwing a few good solid logs onto a bonfire, perhaps, because that will surely burn longer and hotter and higher. But that's a bit of a mouthful too.

By rejecting the commonplace throwing fuel on the fire, Sir Peter attempts to give his point more weight, and indicate more than usual consideration. It's a small thing, but perhaps his misjudged metaphor betrays a wider lack of thought about this situation?

Ken Davidson [e] said I doubt that most people will examine his comment so closely, and his aim is, as you say, to provide a particularly vivid image to help folk recall his message. As to his understanding of the situation in Afghanistan, I can only speculate - but my guess is that he has a naive and overblown expectation of reciprocity if troop levels remained static, or were even lowered. To my mind it's like walking into a burning building with an extinguisher, and the chap that sent you in has locked the door. After a while you're going to ask for a new extinguisher. [added 12th Jul 2006]

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Thursday 06 July, 2006
#[linkfarm] An Introduction to IKVM - Cross-compilation here I come

   * smellygit said I too am generally pretty cross when compiling. [added 6th Jul 2006]

Singleton: n., a state of permenant rage [added 10th Jul 2006]

   * smellygit said No, Singleton: n, a state of permenantly being at a looseend :P [added 10th Jul 2006]

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Wednesday 05 July, 2006
#[linkfarm] "The Unbearable Lightness of being Fat Freddy"
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Monday 03 July, 2006
#[linkfarm] Because I need to know whether you want me to treat the TB bug as it was before antibiotics ...
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#[linkfarm] The Monster Arrives: Software Patent Lawsuits Against Open Source Developers
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