Welllll... in light of...

So, in light of Sven's Platform, I think I'll just not bother reading his platform when he does get off his arse and publish it (must get round to finishing off NM, must find time from somewhere).

On the offchance that you're reading this after he actually publishes it, here's what it said (single line): "As protest against my unfair banning from debian mailing lists, i will not publish any platform until the weekend after the end of the ban."

Isn't he clever? Isn't that a fantastic way to process - don't publish your platform (that might actually help your case, if you've got any actually reasonable ideas), just whine (again) about your "unfair" banning. sigh. Somedays I do just wonder about humanity.

Posted: 2007-03-02 11:23 in Random | permalink

Mac vs PC...

Now, this isn't actually a post about Mac vs PC, it's a post about the general use of the term "Mac vs PC", why is it that the term "PC" is equivelent to "x86 based windows running computer"? The Mac itself is a PC, dammit, and actually, now that it is just another x86 based product and can run windows... ho hum. Anyways - yes, just mostly pissed off by the fact that "Mac" -> Mac OS, and "PC" -> Windows... now, of the two "PC"s that I use most frequently (err, personal ones, not my workstation, though that also...) there is no freaking Windows on 'em, they're Debian GNU/Linux boxes through and through.

So, can the not-entirely-thick people that should know better stop using the term "Mac vs PC" and instead use "Mac OS X vs Windows [version]" or similar if they're just picking on OS.

Anyways, yes, err, I just read some other blog entry that set this off, I'll, err, grab my coat.

Posted: 2007-02-17 10:45 in Tech | permalink

Command line lucene index inspection!

Woo! I've been looking for a lucene index inspection tool for the command line for about 6 months or so, ever since first trying to use luke over a forwarded X11 over ssh connection to a machine in the colo with a large(ish) (300,000 document) index... a couple of months ago I stumbled upon PyLucene - a python library that can play with lucene indexes, of course the first thing I did with it was package it (can't have random unpackaged software laying around the system after all, can you!), and then played for a bit, and joined the pylucene-dev mailing list. So, imagine my glee today when on that mailing list there's a post about plush - a Python LUcene SHell - fantasticness! Quickly threw that in to a package and tested it out against a lucene index laying around on my workstation, it worked nicely (couple of small bugs, but they've now been fixed in the trunk version), so, now that I had it packaged, straight off I went to the main indexing server and threw it at a large lucene index, it just worked. Fantastic.

I'll add some links to my repository for pylucene and plush later, when I'm feeling slightly better, feel a little under the weather at the moment.

Posted: 2007-02-01 22:29 in Tech | permalink

So, another day...

We're at 5 minutes to midnight, and it appears that Joost is the new TV - it appears to be getting some reaonable coverage at the moment, but looks far too much like another closed app using proprietary protocols - the world has gone DRM crazy - someone stop it, I want to get off. DRM is a myth, if you can play it, you can copy it (not neccessarily easily, but it's still possible). The NewScientist article is quite interesting in the claim of "piracy-proof"... if you can play the video, you can capture it, if you can listen to music you can record it, when is the media industry going to realise that DRM is a very dumb idea that shouldn't have been allowed to get this far - pirates can (and always will) find a way, how about going back to trusting your users rather than tarring them all with the "you're a pirate" brush. The Register's article appears to have a typo in it... well, unless you really do need a 500mbps line in order to use Joost - seems unlikely, I think they meant 500kbps. Anyways - nice idea, not sure that it's better than anything else though, I'll continue buying DVDs that let me play back when I have no interweb connection.

Back to being at 5 minutes to midnight, eeep! We're all going to die! Maybe it's the introduction of DRM that's led to so much terrorism, or maybe just that the media industry appears to be out to shaft everyone. Bah.

Only one other article has caught my attention this morning, it's another look at the Apple iPhone, it appears that no one is actually getting a reasonable amount of time to play and review this device, and it brings up a number of my issues with the iPhone.

So, yes, that's the morning covered - maybe more this evening.

Posted: 2007-01-18 10:17 in Life | permalink

Random Interesting Things of the Day

iPhone news

So, looking around at what's happening in the media we seem to be getting a fair few non-overly impressive insights in to the iPhone (not least of all the fact that Apple haven't secured the name, and that Linksys have had the iPhone name for a while now - see for the real iPhone, the one that does exist, the one that's already in the market place...)

So, back to Apple, people (being people, and therefore incredibably fallable ;) have created iPhone themes for current mobiles, and they're being hunted down by Apple's lawyers, that can't be good publicity, surely? I thought imitation was the sincerest form of flattery... tut, bad evil corporate giant! According to Matthew Lynn on Bloomberg's opinion pages:

To its many fans, Apple is more of a religious cult than a company. An iToaster that downloads music while toasting bread would probably get the same kind of worldwide attention.

Which seems about true to me - the rest of the article is worth reading, gives more insite in to why he thinks it will fail, and is quite an interesting article.


There's a story in the Guardian about Low cholesterol levels linked with higher risk of Parkinson's disease - so we'll continue the Monday trip to the Cafe then, and have us a nice lunch of bacon and eggs, in the name of health, obviously.

From NewScientist, we get the news that being bilingual delays the onset of dementia, so maybe it's time I got round to learning a language that isn't English... I wonder if knowing a reasonable number of programming languages and their syntax works... Someone should do a study in to that.

Random Tech

And just for more fun, lets just have a bunch of interesting links Miniature jet engines could power cellphones, Silicon 'Lego bricks' used to build 3D chips, Gravity gets a quantum boost.

And that's that...

So, we'll end that there, tonight is, as with every Monday, the pub quiz over in the Hop Poles in Brighton. Should be very silly, and fun.

Posted: 2007-01-15 13:35 in Random | permalink

Smartish Phones...

Clive, the Trolltech Greenphone certainly looks interesting, and has the key ingrediant that the iPhone and Neo1973 are both missing. Yes, you got it, it's actually got buttons!

I don't know about the rest of the world, but I like the fact that pushing a button gives physical feedback, also, you can move your thumb around on a keypad and know what button is under your hand, and that you're not overlapping 2 different buttons at the same time - can you do that with a touchscreen? I'm thinking not. So, you have a shiny phone, it lets you do all sorts of crap that you don't really want to do, but when you're using it, that's all you're doing, seems a waste to me.

Posted: 2007-01-11 19:15 in Tech | permalink

The Apple iPhone: Good thing or not?

So, the Apple iPhone has been launched, it was brought to my attention as actually being announced by the MD at work, who appears to have become a complete apple freak (poor bastard... or is that rich bastard to be able to afford apple's mediocre offerings and be happy about it?). Anyways - from reading the story from BBC News and the official website, here's my conclusions.

First off, when marketing a phone, how about you actually mention it's phone capabilities as the number one priority? I'd like to know about the sound capabilities, the battery life, the overall user feel for it as a phone... maybe I'm odd, but a phone has a purpose, it should make and receive calls, and it should do that job well, with good quality voice, a decent (filtering) microphone (it's a mobile, you'll be walking whilst speaking on it, reducing the background noise is a selling point), but apple appear to have mostly avoided talking about this. Instead, the first thing that you're told about from the news story is the unique user interface - great, so we have a touchscreen "whoop, de, do!". Worse still, from the official site, the first thing that springs out is that it's a "Wide Screen iPod" - it's a phone, if I wanted an iPod I'd buy a damned iPod - as it stands, for my music needs I have an iAudio M3 which suits my portable music experience really rather well. I choose that on the basis that it provided ogg support out of the box, didn't require any magical software (I run linux on my machines, it presenting itself as nothing more than a USB hard disk was fantastic, and means that I can use it for other things when needs arise). For a phone I want something that actually behaves like a phone, looking at the iPhone it's primary purpose appears to actually be a media player - that's not good.

With the iPhone only having a touch screen interface, and from everything that I've read there's no stylus and the "finger is the ultimate pointing device", I'm just expecting that within the first 2 weeks you're going to have a scratched or smudged screen from usage alone, add in the fact that it's a mobile phone, and therefore generally treated with contempt (neccessity rather than luxery), and that most people carry mobiles in their pockets without any form of protection (easy and fast access) and you've got a recipe for disaster! The touch screen is going to be hit (wether you like it or not) whilst the phone is in your pocket, it will wear - there's no question in my mind about it. Touchscreens aren't designed to be smacked around 24/7, they're touchscreens - they respond to touch! So, assuming that you're shiny new iPhone is sitting in your pocket a lot of the time that's a lot of usage of the touchscreen - they're not designed for constant pressure (think about what happens to pockets in trousers when you sit down...), so I don't think that, overall, the sensitivity of the screen is going to last very long. It's only got a fairly narrow screen too, so what about those of us with not entirely slender fingers? When composing SMS messages on it with the on screen qwerty keyboard, do you really think that you're going to get the right keys every time? Small, on screen, buttons and pubs do not mix - and I'd hasten a bet there's a fair number of SMS messages sent from, or on the way back from, the pub, with a predictive text system at least you can almost work out what the heck the person was trying to say - this is a whole new ball game.

The iPhone also makes the phone functionality only available after you've hit the part of the screen that says "Phone", now, I don't know about other people, but if I'm being given a number, I tend to just start hitting the right buttons on the phone, I can store the number later (via the call register or whatever) and hit call, now there's an extra step to getting in touch with people.

From the official site we have the words:

iPhone also introduces an entirely new user interface based on a large multi-touch display and pioneering new software, letting you control everything with just your fingers.

Now, err, just when did a phone require you to use anything other than your fingers? Please tell me, I'm dying to know - I've never yet needed to use my feet to operate my phone, have you? This is marketing gone insane - and what worries me is that people actually believe this bullshit.

Apple may have "revolutionised" the computer industry with "Mac OS X" (this is actually not something that I believe, and OS X actually makes me more frustrated than being sat infront of a windows desktop - and believe me, that's difficult), but this is a phone, how about they try making it about the phone first, and the next generation tart audio player second?

I'm willing to be convinced that I'm wrong, but I definately won't be going out of my way to aquire an iPhone just because the marketing spiel looks good.

Posted: 2007-01-10 23:45 in Tech | permalink

OK - now *that* rocked...

Just finally got round to watching cars (bought it earlier in the week, just watched it, damned glad I bought it). I'm a pixar film fan, so when cars was announced as the last film last year before moving to another distributor I was a little pessamistic as to what the quality of the film was going to be, I must say, I'm still very happy with pixar - now, let's see what happens now that they're owned by the evil giant that is Disney - hopefully they'll still leave the pixar team as is and we'll get lots more quality films with lots of imagination behind them. (Yes, OK - I'm a big kid, and I also like most of the stuff that comes out of dreamworks studios, though they tend to have less story line - shrek is rather good though).

So, yeah - just thought I'd post to say... If you haven't seen Cars, go get a copy, watch it, it's fun :)

In case I totally avoid mentioning it tomorrow (quite likely), Merry Christmas peeps. Have a good one, don't drink too much :)

Posted: 2006-12-24 23:33 in Life | permalink

And here goes the update...

Fantastic beginning to the weekend - was in Norwich from Thursday, saw the Dave and the Becca on thursday night - many many thanks to them for floor space thurs and fri and for generally just being fantastic people (with tea and coffee, no less - and a silly beepy tivo box for even more fun - and for introducing me to the american chopper type show thingummy - and for letting me watch the a-team!)

Then, serious amounts of thanks to Noodles and Kathy (who I appear to not be able to find a link for :( ) for inviting me to the wedding and the reception - was fantastic - you're both such absolutely lovely people! Pictures so far appear to be available from Dave and Becca's Gallery, Burly's Gallery and Steve McIntyre's Gallery - hopefully more soon... specially from Dave Noble (can't find him bah he needs more google juice the damned slacker ;) which should be cool! Saturday was absolutely brilliant - including talking about atmosperic physics, failing a-levels, and random universities doing questions (hey, I can't entirely remembere - someone bought a half barrel of nero and some port, and lots of red wine... I wasn't entirely sober ;).

Saturday morning was a bit of a blur - I remember watching the A-Team and then food in the Glass House with Dave and Becca (thanks guys, you rock!) then I wandered to the Fat Cat and met with Eli and Dave Noble, a while later Rob and James and Kaz arrived and we played Munchkin, which was a very very silly game but quite fun (thanks James and Kaz - you're both mildly insane - but it's always fun when you come to the pub!).

Went home with Eli, tried to escape because of the annoying giggly evil students from hell, started wandering back towards the train station and a random bench to sleep on, then got emotional black mail and ended up back at Eli's - ho hum.

Went to catch train at around 10am Sunday morning - discovered trains from Norwich weren't running - replacement bus service from Norwich to Diss left Norwich at around 10:25am, got to Diss, had a 10 to 15 minute wait there (mmmmm, bacon roll and a coffee!) then straight to Liverpool Street, wandered straight off to the underground and got the circle line to Victoria, got to Victoria around 13:40 ish, wandered to look at the boards and saw a 14:17 from Victoria round half the planet to Brighton - thought to myself "not in any rush" and wandered off and found food and then wandered round the WHSmith in Victoria station.... got out of there, glanced at the board again, Victoria to Brighton train had been cancelled - wondered what to do - announcement over the tannoy that to get to Brighton the best idea was to travel to East Croyden and the train would meet us there. So, grabbed that train, got to East Croyden, jumped on the train (first 8 carriages Brighton, back four Plymouth... so, jumped on somewhere around the 7th carriage from what I thought was the front - turned out to be the back - wasn't entirely sure what was going on so when it stopped at Gatwick wandered further to the front of the train a lot, found an empty pair of seats and sat down. Got to Three Bridges and there was a delay, it was announced on the train as "We're waiting for the conductor, he's missed a train and is currently in a taxi, there's at least a 10 minute delay before he gets here", so a load of us bundled out of the train on the basis that that was very much long enough for a cigarette break - just as we were finishing the conductor turned up, so we all got back on the train for the "scenic" route to Brighton (yay for going round the coast), finally got in to Brighton at 17:05, so wasn't too bad, only about 6 and a half hours for a 3 and a half or 4 hour train journey ;). Grabbed chinese on the way home, watched some Morse - all was well with the world.

Lots of beeping this morning around 8.30am, ignored it, finally re-woke up at about 10:30am (ish) - watched some more Morse, grabbed some lunch and then watched more Morse until going to the pub quiz tonight.

Charly, Julius and Pieter turned up for a quick drink and then all left me to fend for my self at the quiz - I came in my usual place - very last (by over 20 points, no less ;) - but had fun, so who cares :)

Anyways - it's now tuesday morning, so probably time for some good ol' fashioned sleep type stuff... might put on the next episode of Morse for the hell of it (might even manage to stay awake through it!).

Tomorrow is probably more Morse, some work on the django packages (just got the first bug report in for those) and possibly applying some of the patches to the scrobbler packages to close some of those bug reports too. It appears that upstream for xmms-scrobbler has disappeared a bit, so might have to look at that a lot closer over the next few months - have some time off work soon - last day this year being the 15th (also happens to be when work are planning the "christmas do").

Wow - that was a ridiculously longer post than I though it was going to be! Night all!

Posted: 2006-12-05 00:45 in Life | permalink

Google vs Gaia

Clint I can see where you're coming from, but as it's the access to proprietary data, that is licenced, I can see exactly where google are coming from - it's not "evil", it's just data protection - it's not thier data after all, they have deals with other people for that data, there is money transferring between google and other companies for that data. The source that was being provided was misusing the data itself, though not a bad goal, it did break the EULA of the data. This is the data age - you want things to be non-evil, make the content providers open the content, don't claim $company is being evil because they're trying to keep their EULA with the content providers.

Posted: 2006-11-26 01:48 in Tech | permalink

Woo! I have a working PyLucene! (Err, and some other stuff about full text indexing).

I've been after a python library to mess with lucene indexes for a bit, we use/write a fair few things that use lucene at the backend at work, and just occasionally it would be very useful to be able to fiddle in them (read: search from the command line) without having to do the "write java, compile, test, recompile because you got something wrong, retest, and again" type loop for simple things. Using X11 Forwarding over ssh over a shared with the rest of the office 2M line to use luke on the indexes is just not fun at all! So, now that I've got pylucene compiled and know the right options (ish), and it compiles on Debian Sarge (both i386 and amd64 variants), I might just build me a package for installing on our servers so that there's an "easy" option for us sysadmin types that just need stuff that we can use, quickly, without messing about!

Semi-planning writing a luke-alike using PyLucene and the ncurses library to make it easier to diagnose/look in to the indexes on remote servers, but that's not going to happen this week!

Quite impressed with the speed though - looks fast - but then, I suppose if you compile the Java using gcj to get native code, then you can expect it to be a bit quicker than running in the vm, right? At least, that's what I'm attributing it to at the moment, well, that and python startup time is likely to be a little bit quicker than java startup time.

Also, in my travels, I found Divmod Xapwrap, which is a python library round Xapian which seems to be another (interesting) full text indexing engine. Haven't played with that yet - but could be worth a look in the future. Core library written in C++ so should be reasonably quick. The bit that I like the looks of though is:

Xapian can search across several databases as easily as searching across a single one. Simply call Xapian::Database::add_database() for each database that you wish to search through.

Which sounds very useful if you start thinking about distributing indexes across a number of machines. I've not read enough Lucene documentation to know wether you can do a similar thing there.

Right - enough of that - time to put things back together in the office and go home (again!). Hopefully tomorrow morning I won't be rudely awoken at 5.30am by someone asking a question that could have been better asked via e-mail (where "better asked" means "wouldn't have woken me up and annoyed the hell out of me because I couldn't get back to sleep", though - I did then play with some things and watched American Pie: The Wedding before heading in to the office the first time round...).

Posted: 2006-11-05 14:06 in Tech | permalink

I want one of...

These! Shiny, compact, nice. Now, who's going to buy me one? :)

Posted: 2006-10-18 09:14 in Tech | permalink

So, what have I learned today?

  1. I'm not attractive (OK - so less learned, more reaffirmed)

  2. Not all hills lead back to the flat

  3. See 2. (OK - so I left $club which I can't remember thinking "tired, home time", wished people good byes, and looked for a hill, usually any going up are back to the flat... wandered up the hill, carried on wandering, discovered pizza shop that I normally order from, said "Oh bollocks" and started heading in the right direction, down the hill, across the road, back up the other hill. Sucks to be on the wrong side of London Road.)

  4. Sleep is good. That's what I'm just about to do.So, what have I learned today?

EDIT: OK - writing an entry in vim at nearly 3am when you've been to a club results in the unfortunate side effect of somehow managing to put several copies of the post in the entry - BAH!

Posted: 2006-10-14 02:52 in Life | permalink


It's all gone, I have not beard... bring it back!

There are photos.

Posted: 2006-10-07 13:47 in Life | permalink

In other news...

It's been an odd week at work, and I've started doing rather more Sudoku puzzles than most sane people - I've found that currently the guardian Sudoku puzzle takes me the longest to get through, though I'm slowly getting better at it... I might actually start being able to see the patterns more quickly soon!

Anyways - in other news JD resigned on Tuesday, so we've only got him at work for another few weeks before he disappears in to the ether (well, not so much in to the ether, but I won't be working with him anymore, eeeeep - this means more work for me!), which also prompted a pay rise (hooray!). Now just to keep up with the good work!

Oh, and on Monday we won the Hop Poles pub quiz! Yay! Where in this case "we" is me, a guy that I'd met in the pub a couple of Mondays before and some of his friends. Was much fun! Tomorrow being Monday again I'll be back in the pub for the quiz and see who turns up this time :)

Posted: 2006-09-24 21:10 in Life | permalink


I've been looking at getting eclim working on my laptop... haven't yet worked it out, can't get the eclimd to run as expected - it's looking very much like I might need to actually do a central install which means creating a package (stuff does not get installed on this machine in central locations unless it's packaged, hopefully for obvious reasons) so I may take some time out to package it over the next week or so. As far as Java IDEs go, eclipse is where it's at, but I don't like the UI and so, being able to use the useful bits of eclim from a text editor that I use for everything seems to me like a fantastic idea... especially now that I'm editing more Java than previously - my current dev environment it purely vim with a reasonable vimrc that sets expandtab, sw=4, ts=4 to fit with the company policy on java development - would occasionaly be useful to use eclipse to manage various things for me though - so that's why I'm looking at it (thanks for pointing me at it Joe!).

Posted: 2006-09-24 21:00 in Tech | permalink

Django Packaging

Well, I've been added to the python-modules project on alioth and am looking at getting the django development in there over the next week, just need to get my head round how this works first and checkout Raphael Hertzog's repackaging of the 0.95 debs that I did in to the new python policy style. Will also need to work out what to do about different python versions, would need to call the right python depending on some setting - not sure how to do that yet - with the previous format there where just 2 different python-django packages for the 2 different versions of python, and then an alternative to point to the "right" within site-packages of the correct python directory - with the central install this is going to be more interesting. Any thoughts on this gratefully recieved to my email address (linked from the bottom of my website.

Posted: 2006-09-24 21:00 in Tech | permalink

I think I've gone insane...

So, today was "interesting", but aside from the working part of the day, I was in a pub... Now, this isn't a new experience for me, as most people will know... but anyways - the subject came up about "religion" (kinda), as I don't actually believe that anyone exists, but do believe in the fact that I find myself in this environment that I can't actually prove does or doesn't exist, and that I then deal with that on a day by day basis of "shit, it's time to go to work..." my view on the world may be "a little" skewed by other people's standards...

So, anyways - it came to a point where someone was saying that "animals" don't do "xyz" and so they can't be as intelligent as us... now my view on this is that animals may have already done xyz and decided that "survival" in this environment is the key to sucess, ergo basic instinct assuming that they all know mortality (which if they didn't the wouldn't reproduce) is that the only thing in this world that actually matters for any given species is survival of the species.

Now, that being the case, and the general case being survival of the fittest, why on earth did we invent this medium (the internet) for talking to each other - do we really need to know what's happing several thousand miles away? If we ditched the technology and went back to our roots, what seperates us from the thousands of other species on the planet?

Isn't it possible that other species have already been through the stages that we are still going through, come out the other end and worked out that, actually, on balance, it's better to hunt/gather and survive than mess with the delicate balance of nature?

So, get out the way the messy politics, the correctness, the complete stupidity that is current human nature and go back to the basics - eat, sleep, hunt/gather... we've ended up making the world a much more complicated place than it actually needs to be... and, at the end of the day, what do we actually gain from this?

Anyways - just a random brain dump after a potentially stupidly long chat in an establishment that is setup purely to intoxicate it's customers...

Night peeps.


Posted: 2006-09-20 00:47 in Life | permalink

AJAX And Accessability

MJ Ray talks about AJAX and Accessability, as much as I hate most things JavaScript, and most things on the web (it's full of bad designers, and pages that I just can't view with a text based browser... grrr ;), I have do disagree with AJAX inherently breaking accessability - that'll be bad web designers. AJAX and JavaScript are supposed to be used to enhance the user experience when run on a platform that supports it, they are not there to replace the job of the server in the first place, good web designers know this, and when they use AJAX it's to minimise data transfer when JavaScript is enabled, but otherwise everything should have safe fallbacks, ergo they're still accessable.

It's not the technology that is the problem, as usual it's the crowd of "ohh, shiny" that don't use any common sense. Fix the people, fix the web. While people are still in the "oh shiny" mindset, we're going to see more problems, it's quite simple. New technology, expecially stuff that really actually isn't new, it's just been bent in to "shape" by a bunch of people that had more time than sense and wanted a set of libraries to make sick things possible... make things simple, people use them. People use them, they use them incorrectly. It's been the way of the world for many years. Simple solution to the problem, force people to use a text based browser for a day a week - no, not w3m with javascript support, that'd be cheating... watch as the web (slowly) became a better place.

Anyways - that's my 2p on the issue.

Posted: 2006-08-29 21:00 in Tech | permalink

New Django Packages

I've been slacking a bit of late on updating the django packages - and there was a new release (0.95), so if you're using my python-django packages of 0.91, beware, the latest version has some backwards incompatible changes - you'll be wanting to look at which documents all the changes... I've also made new python-django-svn-trunk packages (guess what they follow ;), so they should be ready for use now.

Go forth people, and make the web a better place :)

Oh, packages at:

deb sarge django


deb sid django

Posted: 2006-08-13 12:42 in Tech | permalink

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