Formerly Known As Renaissance Nerd …

I guess I can pull this résumé from, 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.
General Wind Things

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…


No Such Currency

Do you think we should tell Travellex that there hasn’t been a currency called Scottish Pounds since the early 18th century?


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.


Mr Eitzen Has Left The Building

Norvin doesn’t work for OANDA any more. We’ll miss him.


When siblings go prog …

Uhoh, my sister’s joined a prog-rock band: Tr3nity. Is there any hope of deprogramming? ☺


timewaster #1

Oh no, I have discovered halfbakery.


don’t be a prat, carry one

prat brand notebook logo
Prat might be a respected brand of paper journals and art products, but don’t get too involved in the statonery lifestyle, else people might think you’re a prat.

General goatee-stroking musing, or something

another thing I can’t afford

epson digital rangefinder
The Epson R-D1 Digital Rangefinder Camera. Yes, I can use my existing lenses on it.


mozilla tab coolness

If you have multiple documents open as tabs in the one Mozilla window, you can bookmark the group of tabs if you right-click over the tab bar, and select Bookmark This Group of Tabs.

Next time you open that bookmark, you’ll get all the pages opening in the one window, exactly as they were. Neato mosquito!

computers suck General

Toronto, the MFP enquiry, and Linux

At a Green Economics meeting last night, we heard from councillors Paula Fletcher and Glenn De Baeremaeker about the Toronto Computer Leasing Inquiry. It seems that the city is stuck with approximately 14000 Windows-NT class machines that it can no longer use, as Microsoft will not support its operating system.

I need to find out more on the specs of these machines, but I think it would be fair to say that they would be functional for most office applications with Linux. This has only been hinted at by other writers, but at least it could provide working, virus-proof computers to city staff at very little extra expense.

This could be something that the Toronto Linux User Group could look at.

General goatee-stroking musing, or something

bad news

Despite what I hoped when I said Don’t be dead, Mr. Spalding, it has been confirmed tha Spalding Gray’s Body Found Washed Ashore on Brooklyn Waterfront.

bike stuff General

Toronto International Bicycle Show

Was at the Toronto International Bicycle Show yesterday at the Ricoh Coliseum. There was the usual tedious display of thousands of yet-more-suspended mountain bikes (zz!), but a few (mostly Canadian) things caught my eye:

  • Giatex “stretching” bike, which looks pretty much like a folder until you realise the frame extends rather than folds. Surprisingly light, and remarkably cheap. I’d like to review this for a magazine at some point.
  • Aerolite titanium bike frames. Very reasonably priced, and well finished. What caught my eye was a splittable tandem frame with S and S-like couplings.
  • Go Bike folder. This bike is both lighter and more solid than any picture can do justice to. Richard Diver of City Bikes was on the stand, with the most recent Brompton.
  • CCM Evox upgrades, at least since I reviewed it for Velo Vision:
    • chain guide
    • braze-ons for what looks like a 20″ rack
    • Shimano Altus gearing, with less of a gap between the smallest sprocket and the frame.

    I’d say these are very useful upgrades, and it looks like the price is the same, or possibly even less. No sign of a lighter frame, though.

  • Rotor System crank set. Not Canadian, but another attempt to get past the perceived top-dead-centre problems of rotary cranks.

I was pleasantly surprised by the skill and grace of the flatland freestyle BMX riders. I spent most of the time being amazed at quite how they managed to keep balance on bits of bikes that aren’t usually balanced upon.

computers suck General

Rendez-vous with the Triplets

triplets of belleville
Ah, how I love The Triplets of Belleville. I was brought up on a steady stream of Jacques Tati and Django Reinhardt, so it’s natural that I get along with this film very well. Especially since I scored a region-free copy in the UK. I can live with it being called Belleville Rendez-vous on the box.

It was robbed of an oscar. Finding Nemo was an amusing little merchandising platform, but ToB is genius. But what chance did a joint French-Canadian production have in a US-based competition?

General goatee-stroking musing, or something

Catching up with words

While I was back in Scotland, I met up with many of my old colleagues from Collins Dictionaries. We had a very pleasant evening with Ian Brookes, who is now the editor-in-chief of the Chambers dictionary.

Chambers is an unusual dictionary, in that it has a sprinkling of amusing definitions. One of these is mullet, defined as a hairstyle that is short at the front, long at the back, and ridiculous all round. There are also rare definitions, such as:

paneity n the state of being bread 

After reading that, I knew I had to buy the latest edition. Does this make me a word nerd?

Chambers publish a booklet on their dictionary, which is available online: Words, Wit and Wisdom (or local copy, since it’s fallen off their site: wit_wisdom).

bike stuff Wind Things

A positive wind energy site

Seems to be UK only, but quite pretty and useful.


Scotland Photos

Glasgow Science Centre
A small selection of the photos I took are here:

More will follow shortly.

computers suck goatee-stroking musing, or something

vuescan and gentoo

The very excellent VueScan for Linux now seems to require libusb. It’s no problem to install, but I don’t think I needed it for v7.6.69, but I do for v7.6.79.

General Wind Things

And back home again

Coo, nearly all the snow has gone!

We did many wonderful things, and caught up with a whole load of old friends. Much will follow when I’ve unpacked my brain.

Scottish Coincidence #2: Sheldon asked if I knew of Dougie MacLean. I’ve seen him play live in Glasgow, and also been in his music pub in Dunkeld. Just as we were pulling into the car park at Glasgow Airport to fly back to Toronto, who should cross the road in front of us with a guitar in a flight case but …Dougie MacLean!


Scots, wahey!

We’re in Scotland. I’d forgotten how green it is at this time of year. We’re getting sun and very occasional snow, so it’s feeling vaguely Canadian.

Some things have changed in Glasgow. “The Unique”, the famous chip shop in Govanhill has gone. It seems that the brothers who ran it retired. They had the best chicken and chip dinner ever. CF Nash has gone too. You could get any kind of stationery product in Nash’s. They had the Christmas sale every June.

Kirkintilloch is looking not bad. We walked along the canal, then made sure that the Indian Cottage’s curry is still as good as it ever was (it is). There was also pie, beans & chips and a yum yum in there somewhere. It’s all a blur.