July 2003 Archives
July 31, 2003
You know your series has made it to 'cult hit' status when it's only been showing in the US for a couple of weeks, and there's already a page of BitTorrent-distributed rips of it. All credit to Spooks/'MI-5' (sic), though one has to wonder how long it'll take the vultures at BBC Worldwide to sit up and take notice.
July 30, 2003
Got the bike on Friday: finally had chance to ride it properly today/yesterday. Verdict? Rock. On. I'd even forgotten how unpleasant it isn't to get rained on while cycling... so long as it happens on the way home, rather than first thing in the morning.
Meanwhile, in unrelated news:
- Some excellent - and hilarious - applications for a researcher post on How2. I find it reassuring that there are so many talented people out there, and for the moment at least I can make myself forget that I'll have to disappoint pretty much all of them.
- Carpaccio of beef (seared and crusty, not plain raw). Yum, if I do say so myself.
- I finally worked out what was goofy with my install of the PHP Gallery script. It's the Asda PhotoCD JPEGs that are borked, not the script/ImageMagick/Gallery Remote/phase of the moon/etc. Batch convert to TIFF and back again fixed everything, so I can finally get around to posting my USA photos. Give me a few more days...
July 29, 2003
The staircase treads at work are all falling off, so they're being Evo-stuck back on as necessary. Today there's lots of 'necessary,' each restuck tread marked by a hand-scrawled sign reading (with a delightful tinge of oxymoron) 'Please do not stand on this step.'
Since, in some flights, more than half the steps are so adorned, climbing the stairs has become somewhat akin to performing an inclined hopscotch.
July 28, 2003
I hereby present Jonathan's Theory of Stereotypes:
- All stereotypes are true, but:
- They apply only in the majority of cases, thus:
- It is never safe to apply any stereotype to any given individual.
Paul 'you may as well just call me Avon' Darrow has finally secured the rights to Blake's 7, and he's making big noises about a new mini-series. The BBC story covers most of the useful bits, without your having to navigate the pretty but horribly slow Flash site. Sadly, they've taken down Darrow's earlier, semi-maniacal ravings, that covered the preceeding two years of the project.
But good luck to them. I'd love to see B7 back. Ambiguous heroes are in short supply.
July 27, 2003
Paper cuts: sure, we've all had them. Bagel cuts? Hmm. Apparently it's possible.
On Friday morning, I rang the office to admit sheepishly that I was 400 miles away:
"Hi, it's Jonathan. I'm going to be late in today, even for me. I'm... er... still in London."
"Ooh, did you get lucky?"
Somehow, this rather took the edge off the feeling of insubordination. And sadly, the answer was 'no.'
July 23, 2003
Canon have an interesting approach to selling their bubble-jet printers. Looks like fun.
One of the joys of ploughing back through old scripts is rediscovering lines one had forgotten. Like, for example, the sketch where renowned gastronaut William Buckland is served roast crocodile with the line 'Your croc, monsieur.'
July 22, 2003
July 21, 2003
I have today:
- Made extensive and careful enquiries with the Inland Revenue to ensure that yes, I really am up-to-date, that there are no nasty surprises around the corner, and that they really do owe me several thousand pounds; I subsequently wrote a brief letter to said government agency, requesting said refund.
- Ordered a stupidly expensive but unbelievably slick road/commuting bike.
Try as I might, I just can't see any connection between these two events. Ahem.
The bike in question:
Yes John, I'm aware that it appears to have rather fewer spokes than seems reasonable. And yes, this does worry me, traditionalist that I am. But it's unbelievably fast and - shock - there's one in the country in my size, which is more than can be said for any other model. Seriously.
I'm not sure what this says about the leisure pursuits of the UK population, but I noted with interest the following movements on the M6/M74 this afternoon:
- North-bound: Horse-boxes.
- South-bound: Rowing eights.
Any explanations gratefully received.
July 19, 2003
There's an advert on for - I believe - Sony home cinema systems. Couple watching TV; knock on the door; woman opens it to find a crowd of guys who thank her for appreciating their work. They're sound recordists.
It's somewhat amusing, but there's a slight flaw: real sound recordists would have said simply 'I'm not ready yet.'
So, when I was Googling for 'Server based RSS aggregator,' why didn't I stumble over Bloglines? As it was, I had to find out about it from back-with-a-vengence NTK (which opens this week with the Big Red Button quote below, hurrah!). Still, Feed on Feeds is working extremely well for me so far, and since the developer is a chatty/friendly sort I may as well stick with it.
July 17, 2003
Looks interesting - but then, anything that offers new ways of data mining on the desktop is interesting, if you're me. Anyone actually running this? Go on, Martin, leave that printer on eBay and cough up $99 for this.
In a Media Guardian story on reporting cruise missile firings:
One HMS Splendid crew member tells the BBC: "A left mouse push fires it. Kinda crazy really. We actually asked for a great big red button, but they wouldn't give us one."
July 15, 2003
Violet: 'I am the queen of demuxing!'
July 14, 2003
July 13, 2003
[geek mode on]Feed on Feeds is a young (read: 'immature/buggy'), simple (read: 'ugly as sin'), basic (read: 'bits plain don't work') server-side RSS aggregator.
It does the job. It sucked in my subscriptions list from NetNewsWire (yay OPML!), and it's happily sitting on my server, waiting for me to click 'update all' to find out what's changed online. So next week, I can sit in the office and still check dozens of websites.
Oh, happy day. [geek mode off. Normal people may resume reading] [oh, wait! This is what Moveable Type categories are for. Dang.]
Anyone out there played with Hydra outwith the geek context?
(You'll gather that I'm catching up on RSS feeds in NetNewsWire, having been away from my Mac for a week. When I've finished, I'm going to set up a server-side aggregator so I can news-surf from the office. Stripped of NetNewsWire, I just don't know what to do with the web any more.)
I recently toyed with some digital SLRs, and dismissed them largely on the grounds that genuinely wide-angle lenses are wince-inducingly expensive still. But now I discover that I was investigating entirely the wrong end of the market. Tom Coates' photo collage is terrific, in more ways than I can enumerate.
[edit: While I'm on the subject of photography, I'm a big fan of Chris Heilman's weblog, 101-365. A mix of hard science and beautiful images that strangely works. Though the wine transmission spectroscopy series was perhaps a tad bizarre.]
July 12, 2003
This video is utter, utter genius. It's a pair of chaps playing table-tennis, Matrix-style. A stage show, with no digital retouching whatsoever, yet they still manage bullet-time effects.
Quite possibly the most inventive staging I've seen all year (and last month I took in the Blue Man Group in Las Vegas).
(notes: I can't get my WindowsXP PC to play this, but bizarrely it works OK in Windows Media Player for Mac. I missed the link from Metafilter - guess I picked it up somewhere else.)
(edit: the MeFi page has a link to a much higher-quality, downloadable version. Unusually, it's worth seeing both - the illusion is better in the crap-quality version.)
Capps was the principle UI architect of the Newton OS, which (as you may have gathered) I still consider to be the best general-purpose interface I've seen. Yes, better than Macintosh. When the Newton was canned and the group dissolved, Capps left Apple, resurfacing quietly in the UI group at Microsoft.
Then all went quiet. We never really heard what he was up to, and it's been years. Windows XP doesn't exactly exhibit much of the Newton's elegance or simplicity; it seems inconceivable that, if Capps had anything to do with it, he's particularly happy with the result.
And now this latest twist. Is this patent based on new work (which would suggest that Capps is back at Apple) - or is it merely a result of Apple trawling back through the dusty files labelled 'Newton,' and giving due credit?
Maybe I should have set up that 'Cappswatch' website I mooted a couple of years ago. Heh.
July 11, 2003
Lovely drive back from Glasgow to Leeds this evening, avoiding the West coast roadworks by meandering through Northumbria. It's not an area I know very well; a pity, since it's as ruggedly beautiful as everybody says. Amazing skies capped it off.
Annoyingly, I didn't have a camera with me. Boo!
This is (a.) a terrific idea, and (b.) so bleedin' obvious, I didn't think of it: Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure.
Gutted, I am. Gutted. Looking forward to the Edinburgh run, however.
July 10, 2003
'Developing ideas' is a curious state of mind in which to be. I finish the day's work with two impressions: that I had a highly productive morning, and a highly unproductive afternoon. I also have the nagging feeling that neither of these impressions is correct.
Fascinating story about the Weapons of Mass Destruction Google Bomb mentioned here a few days ago.
Blogging from the International Space Station. I'm not sure which impresses me more: that Lu is blogging, or that he has time to write so much material.
As an aside: I should just set my Dad up with a blog of his own, shouldn't I? I mean, I can't keep pretending that I find all this stuff, can I?
July 8, 2003
It started raining.
'Welcome to Scotland' read the next sign I passed.
I'm back in Glasgow, which should be home for about a year, maybe more. It's good to be here.
July 6, 2003
Yes, there will be some posts about the US here, at some point. I've some I wrote along the way that I haven't got around to transferring yet (while San Francisco is bathed in WiFi, that's simply an 'all you can eat' buffet for Mac developers - My poor little Newton was hopping around tugging at coat-tails whimpering 'Bandwidth for a poor orphaned platform, guv'nor? Spare a DHCP slot, madam? Alms for a StrongARM?').
The real delay, however, is that I want to post some of the stills and video I shot along the way - and I'm about to go to Glasgow for the week, sans PowerBook since I haven't got one that works.
Can you stand the suspense?
In case I was in any doubt of my current locality and nationhood, I spent Saturday catching up on being British at the Henley Royal Regatta. Swanning around in blazer and college tie; people-watching the beautiful; slumping towards pleasantly sozzled on a combination of champagne and Pimm's; plied with caviar, salmon and tea at every turn while the band of the Grenadier Guards played on - then standing for the national anthem and viewing most impressive fireworks from a vantage point best described as 'ground zero.'
Dorothy, we're not in Arizona anymore.
Oh, and there was a spot of rowing at some point. I'm told.
...though the latter does somewhat alarm me, on the grounds that their (uh... potentially libellous?) hitlist includes Starbucks but not Monsanto (etc etc). But hey, it's the principle that counts, right? And the comments on that page are all both rational and entirely critical of the page itself, which is either brave, foolish, or the whole point.
July 3, 2003
- Go to Google
- Enter the search term 'weapons of mass destruction.'
- Click 'I'm feeling lucky'
- Read carefully
Well, I liked it.
July 2, 2003
Drat. Steven Frank of ultra-cool software developers Panic is trying to name a tune, with absolutely no help from anyone so far. It's not a track I'm familiar with, but yesterday I re-remembered Shazam! again, and gave it a try.
No dice. Sorry, Steven. Shazam! is as stumped as I am.
[update: others are helping. Bless 'em.]
July 1, 2003
Haddock, baked with a crust of onion, sweet pepper, tomato, chilli, lemon, lime and parsley; new potatoes; lightly-dressed salad; efficient (ie. cheap) Chilean Chardonnay.
Sometimes, heaven lies in the straightforward.
I spent my afternoon trying to find a wiper blade for my Mini (cheaper, it turns out, direct from the showroom than from Halford's - except BMW haven't got any either).
Living a somewhat more radical life, John evidently spent his afternoon turning everything blue.