Tablet Fame

It seems that the Sunday Herald — one of Scotland’s better broadsheet newspapers — has picked up on my Scots tablet recipe. In an article called 100 Things To Do In Scotland Before You Die, they cite http://purl.oclc.org/NET/scruss/scots_tablet

Part of the 100 Things To Do In Scotland … article is online, but omits Aunt Celie’s recipe. Oh well.

Thanks to David Marsh and former Collins colleague Jennifer Baird, who both spotted this.

signs of spring in scarborough

Fresh diggings around the groundhog hole at Warden Station. I haven’t seen the woodchuck yet, but it’s warm enough for it to be out.

Goodbye, Cecilia

cecilia zhang poster
I really wish this weren’t true: Police confirmed Sunday that the human remains found in a wooded ravine west of Toronto are those of nine-year-old Cecilia Zhang, who went missing last October.

Anyone who has been in Toronto since last October can’t have missed the news about Cecilia’s abduction. And until today, I think everyone had a wee bit of hope left.

the CMYK inkjet scam

I have an Epson C80 inkjet printer. I bought it because it takes separate cyan, magenta, yellow and black cartridges. That way — I thought — if one of the colours went out, I would only have to change the colour in question.

I installed my fourth set of colour cartridges today. Every time I have replaced them, all the colours have run out at once. Don’t you find that strange? Am I the perfectly average printer user who uses exactly the colour balance that Epson came up with in the lab to ensure identical cartridge life? I don’t think so.

Rather, it wouldn’t surprise me that the printer was set to ask for all the colour cartridges to be replaced when one of them was empty. A couple of them did seem quite heavy, as if there was still some ink in them. Hmm.

But since the cartridges died printing out my Canadian Business Number registration, I can expense future consumables against my tax …

Sustainable Energy Fair at University of Toronto on April 1st!

I will be there, on a rather small WindShare stand. Here’s the full blurb:

Where you can you eat a free veggie burger, meet the student,
academic and industrial leaders of the sustainable energy
revolution, and win cool prizes for guessing your environmental
footprint?

Only at U of T’s First Annual Sustainable Energy Fair, which is
happening on April 1st, from 10am to 4pm, just south of front
campus at the intersection of King’s College Circle and King’s
College Road!

Companies representing every major sustainable energy related
industry – wind, solar, geothermal, biofuel, and hydrogen – as well
as representatives of community power co-ops, will have booths at
the fair. U of T research projects related to sustainable energy
will be on display, and student groups concerned with these issues
such as Engineers without Borders, the Energy Sustainability
Community, Science for Peace, the Blue Sky Solar Racing Team, and
the Hydrogen Fueling Station Design Team will host exhibits.

In addition to this, there will be free food cooked on a solar
powered barbeque, informative contests, construction activities
(building mini-turbines and assembling a hydrogen fuel cell model
car), and prizes (CFL bulbs, low, flow showerheads, fair trade
coffee and chocolate).

Come on out, join the fun and learn more about the future of
energy!

For more information, please visit us at:
http://www.ele.utoronto.ca/gradunion/sefair/

Yes, I used to have an M5-designed recumbent bicycle

Speedliner BlueGlide
Perusing the logs, I find that IP address 195.188.41.154 was searching for info on M5 recumbent bikes. Yes, I had a Speedliner BlueGlide, which was a budget version of the M5 26/20.

A fun, fast bike, which I probably sold for too little. Oh well. I do kind of miss it.

Scotland wasn’t ready for it, though; on different occasions, I was spat on, and another time had “Your bike’s pure gay, mister!” yelled after me. And no, that last one wasn’t a compliment.

It was always interesting gauging the response of groups of teens to it. There would always be a brief pause, then one of the teens would utter either a strongly positive or negative statement. Within seconds, the entire group would be repeating it. Who says that people don’t display pack behaviour?

bad palm art

Just because I can draw on my Palm doesn’t mean I should:

a ram in a v-neck badly drawn bob (the angry flower
a ram in a v-neck badly drawn bob (the angry flower)
fish best heart protector stewart's view of norvin
fish best heart protector stewart’s view of norvin
critter asleep under snow stewart fell downstairs
critter asleep under snow stewart fell downstairs
heid! whose leg is this?
heid! whose leg is this?

Chris’s one-liner

We were talking about Leonhard Euler, the 18th century polymath, who pretty much covered calculus, economics, music, solid mechanics and graph theory. There just aren’t generalists like that any more.

To the discussion Chris (not the arena racer Chris Florian, but his OANDA namesake) added: “… and he also stopped things squeaking!”

Touching the camel

Paul asked about getting back
to maintaining some Perl code after an absence of a few years. Since I
do a lot of Perl, here are some of the time-savers that I can’t live
without:

  • search.cpan.org allows you
    to search all the publicly-available modules on CPAN. There are few problems in Perl that
    haven’t been at least partially solved by a CPAN module. At the very
    least, make sure any web scripts use CGI.pm appropriately. I still see
    hand-rolled code that parses CGI arguments, never as well as CGI.pm would
    do.
  • PerlMonks is where you go
    to ask about your Perl problems, and find solutions. It’s worth
    learning a bit about the search options so you don’t ask a very old
    question again. This is me on
    PerlMonks, incidentally.
  • The Perl FAQ,
    included in the documentation as /perlfaq[1-9]?/. The Perl Cookbook is
    basically just the Perl FAQ on paper. Nice to hold, but you can’t
    search it the same way you can with perldoc -q <keyword>.

I would always advise Perl programmers to be
lazy
. Not slothful, but spend a little time seeing if someone
has solved your problem before. Thus you can turn many routine
programming jobs into a small matter of configuration.

I would also advise learning some of the idiomatic Perl tricks,
like ‘... or die ...‘, inline
if/unless, careful use of
undef, and list operators like map and
grep. It’s not just because you’re likely to meet them in
everyday code, but they’re very convenient. Once you start to miss
them in other languages, you’ll know that you are One Of
Us
.

sometimes you just have to …

… calculate the number of seconds in the current year using JavaScript:

function seconds_in_this_year() {
      // get length of this year by subtracting "Jan 1st, /This Year/"
      // from  "Jan 1st, /Next Year/"
      var now = new Date();
      var current_year = now.getFullYear();
      var jan_first = new Date(current_year, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0);
      var jan_next = new Date(current_year + 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0);
      return (jan_next.getTime() - jan_first.getTime()) / 1000;
}

late cat

I think I’m about the last person on the planet to get a Digital Convergence CueCat — remember those freebie barcode scanners that were going to change the world, until the parent company crashed and burned?

Active Surplus has a whole case of late-model USB ones (model #68-1966 for those who care). Maybe $14.95 is a little steep, but it does cover all your barcode scanning needs.

Grubbing about in the logs

Am I glad I’ve installed MT-Blacklist. I’m getting several denied comments a day. Most of these are from IP addresses 213.91.217.*, which if traceroute is to believed, are in Bulgaria.

Another weird thing is that someone’s been searching for bigha on my site. Now, I occasionally have bike things on it, but I’ve never written about Bigha, the recumbent that emerged from the wreckage of BikeE. Is this some form of super-stealth advertising?

Formerly Known As Renaissance Nerd …

I guess I can pull this résumé from toronto.craigslist.org, then:

  • Can (& currently does) build high performance web applications with Unix, Apache, Perl and various RDBMS systems.
  • Linux user for nearly 10 years.
  • Knows his way around pre-press systems, and especially skilled in PostScript hacking.
  • Comfortable with SGML, HTML and XML. Not afraid to use CSS2, JavaScript or XSLT, either.
  • Knows lots of obscure markup languages, like TeX, troff and proprietary publishing languages.
  • Skilled book typesetter, having typeset dictionaries and thesauruses.
  • Obscenely large English vocabulary.
  • Experienced wind farm builder.
  • Skilled numeric data analyst.
  • Can build data logging and instrumentation systems, especially remote, solar-powered systems.
  • Director of a wind energy co-op.
  • Experienced free-lance journalist.
  • Confident public speaker.
  • Mechanical engineering degree, with a master’s in innovation theory.
  • More letters after my name than in it.
  • Cycling and transportation activist.
  • Sometime union shop steward.
  • Well-read and witty.

wind at my back

From early April, I will be a contracting engineer for Zephyr North, a wind consultancy in Burlington. It’s taken me 7 years to get back into wind energy, but it’ll be good to be back.

Oh yeah, I’ll be working in Fortran again. Strange to think that my dad was also a Fortran programmer…

big dog

I met a big dog today. Thor is a 2½ year old english mastiff, and weighs nearly 110kg. I’ve seen smaller Shetland ponies.

I like mastiffs, despite my paperboy experience. One of the houses of Blackfarm Gardens had a huge mastiff, who would lurk under the window until she heard me coming. Then she’s leap up against the window, scaring the living crap out of me every day.

Glass has a limited fatigue life, though. One day, she tried her stunt, and the window gave way, showering me with glass and cutting her quite badly. We both recovered better than the window did.