Categories
General

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.

Categories
computers suck Wind Things

Yet another Scottish rooftop turbine

Anent the WindSave turbine, yet another similar product has appeared: the Renewable Devices Swift. It’s Scottish too, and again there are few details. The Scotsman has the story.

Someone commented here that one could build such a device cheaply from parts from any DIY store. This isn’t quite the case. Properly formed blade sets are not trivial to make, and while you could build your own generator, weatherproofing it and making it CE-compliant would be hard.

Categories
General

too much caffeine, and Jeffrey Zeldman

Felt really grim this morning — running a temperature, headache, axious, blah. Not what you want to fell when you’re about to fly.

At 10:30, I realised I hadn’t had any coffee. Even the thought of making coffee made the symptoms lift a bit. Halfway through the cup, everything was fine. Yes, I think I’m a caffeine addict. But there are worse drugs than home-roasted organic Sumatran.

While I was recovering, I was reading through Jeffrey Zeldman‘s “Designing with Web Standards”. It’s extremely good. My only tiny nitpick — and this could be an obsolete concern — is that he says you don’t need to put in the width and height attributes in the <img> element.

Strictly speaking, you don’t. But if you include them, the browser can calculate the sizes of page elements without waiting for them to load. Maybe I’m too recently a per-second-billed dialup user to care about this.

Categories
General

Gallery

I just installed Gallery, so here are Stewart’s Images.

Categories
General Wind Things

Ivor Cutler in The Guardian

Ivor Cutler is still with us (despite the best efforts of the photographer).

Categories
General

National Mechanical Pencil Day

After reading leadholder.com, celebrate National Mechanical Pencil Day!

Categories
General

Living in a Nation Hospitable to Organized Crime and Terrorism

According to the US Library of Congress Federal Research Division, Canada is one of the Nations Hospitable to Organized Crime and Terrorism [PDF].

I read the section on Canada with incredulity. Apparently:

… as a modern liberal democracy Canada possesses a number of features that make it hospitable to terrorists and international criminals. The Canadian Constitution guarantees rights such as the right to life, liberty, freedom of movement, freedom of speech, protection against unreasonable search and seizure, and protection against arbitrary detention or imprisonment that make it easier for terrorists and international criminals to operate.

So these are bad things? Much of this is in the US constitution, or the amendments thereto.
To me, the above terms pretty much define a civilized nation. O America, when did you get so frightened?

Categories
General

Dear Mr SanDisk

I just bought one of your SanDisk 256MB CF cards today. Now I’m a big guy, and of at least average strength, but how on earth are we supposed to open your packaging? Ultrasonically welded plastic is almost impossible to open. After several minutes of fighting with it, I ended up having to snip very carefully along the bottom edge, and shake the contents out.

Your packaging is also an environmental horror. The 43×36mm CF card comes in a snug little polypropylene (maybe, or perhaps HDPE) case — inside a double-layer 127×200mm PVC envelope. That’s an unnecessary amount of the worst plastic for the environment.

I do like your products, but if in future I can find an alternative with less irksome packaging, I shall use them instead.

Categories
General

A little cultural sensitivity, please

blt at the mosque
We’re neighbours with an Islamic centre. It has a Viacom billboard outside it. This week, it’s advertising Tim Hortons BLT — that’s a bacon sarnie, in other words.

I’m guessing that this is just a wee bit haram.

Categories
General

One Perfect Rose for Catherine


  @}-`--,--

Categories
General

windows annoyances: md5sum pollution

I use BitTorrent. As is common in the taper community, these recordings come with an additional MD5 checksum file. This means you can check that the contents are good without having the master copy around.

But do you ever get md5sum files that give you this output from md5sum -c?

: No such file or directory
: FAILED open or read
: No such file or directory
: FAILED open or read
 ...

Yes, it’s a windows annoyance: their ancient CRLF text files are polluting our utility. You can fix it with tr -d '\015' < md5sum.txt | md5sum -c -

I don’t mind that Windows users have finally got on the clue train about data verification. It’s just that, if you’re going to use our tools, why can’t you use them in the proper Unix way?

Categories
General

casting runes, smith chart style

smithchart.png
(you’ll get a bigger image if you select the above image)

When I was a first year mechanical engineering student, I took a very obscure elective in (radio) transmission systems. I think the course was mislabelled, as the rest of the class was third year electrical engineering students, and I was the lone mech in the class.

This was a hard class. It had difficult sums and brutal coursework. The final exam was extremely easy, though.

One thing I remember from the course was the Smith Chart. It was some clever way of matching antenna characteristics. I don’t remember how to use one, but I’ve always thought they looked cool.

Categories
General

Scripting Radio Buttons

I use Perl’s HTML::Template module a lot. It allows you to write web pages that are dynamically modified by the controlling Perl CGI/mod_perl application.

Most of my applications fill in forms from values in a database. This is easy enough when you are filling text fields, but if you ever use radio buttons, things kind of fall down.

I’ve found a way around this. Let’s say you have a status field that can have three values:

  • active
  • blocked
  • retired

So in Perl I define three constants:

  use constant STATUS_ACTIVE => 'active';
  use constant STATUS_BLOCK => 'block';
  use constant STATUS_RETIRE => 'retire';

Then in the template, I have something like this:

  <input type="radio" name="status"
   <!-- TMPL_IF NAME=STATUS_ACTIVE -->
   checked="checked"
   <!-- /TMPL_IF -->
  value="active" />Active

  <input type="radio" name="status"
   <!-- TMPL_IF NAME=STATUS_BLOCK -->
   checked="checked"
   <!-- /TMPL_IF -->

  value="block" />Blocked

  <input type="radio" name="status"
   <!-- TMPL_IF NAME=STATUS_RETIRE -->
   checked="checked"
   <!-- /TMPL_IF -->
  value="retire" />Retired

If the status variable is $account->status, say, I’d use:

  $template->param(
   STATUS_ACTIVE => ($account->status eq STATUS_ACTIVE),
   STATUS_BLOCK =>  ($account->status eq STATUS_BLOCK),
   STATUS_RETIRE => ($account->status eq STATUS_RETIRE)
  );

and, magically, the template picks up the right value.

If the status variable isn’t set to one of the three predefined values, you get a radio group that none of the values is selected. You might wish to think about how you’d deal with that, perhaps setting a safe default.

Categories
General

Doug Selsam does not make wind turbines like anyone else

After Doug left a comment, I checked out his site.

Categories
General

freshmeat shilling for MS, via google

freshmeat supports open source. But what did I see in their google ad panel today?
evil opensource news
The link goes to http://www.microsoft.ca/getthefacts. I’m not sure I’d trust Microsoft to be objective about open source — would you?

Categories
General

Saw

Ah, Saw Player News was in the mailbox. It’s a good day to be weird.

Categories
General

The Corporation

We went to see The Corporation last night. If corporations were real people, most of them would be psycopaths.

Categories
o canada

$29.72/kg

I took 3.6kg of small change (quarters and smaller) to the CoinStar machine, and it netted approximately $107. I actually got back about $96, as the machine keeps about 10% as a sorting fee.

So, weight for weight, Canadian small change is equivalent in value to prime steak.

Categories
General

Glasgow Science Centre needs a Wind Turbine

Glasgow has a Science Centre. Glasgow Science Centre has a 150m tall tower that is supposed to turn with the wind. Unfortunately, its main bearing has been broken since 2002, and it has been closed to the public.

Glasgow is a windy city. I spent more than 30 years of my life there. You could put a wind turbine there, and not merely would it be attractive, it would be educational and would earn some revenue for the centre.

If WindShare can build urban wind turbines, so can Glasgow.

Categories
General

Gandalf, bankrupt

Gandalf Graphics, my first employer in Canada, has reportedly gone bankrupt.