Oscar Wilde on football

On the way home from work, I heard the following quote, from Oscar Wilde: Football is all very well as a game for rough girls, but is hardly suitable for delicate boys.

Exposing the X selection

xsel – handy utility to allow you to access the X selection from the command line.


Commuter [ntk].

Commuter is a command line tool that creates mosaics from images, where every tile of the image is itself a smaller picture.

Welcome to the modern village

Welcome to the modern village [rotten].

The third kind of inhabitant is the commuter. The commuter has left the city for the fresh air, the countryside and the bigger house. Sadly, they don’t see any of these because they have to commute vast distances, leaving before dawn and returning after dark. At weekends, they travel vast distances to see friends from the city who live in villages on the other side of the city. You can recognise these people in the village because they’re the ones you don’t recognise.


Pax Americana, my arse

Is the US really the Roman empire of the 21st century? [found].

Mumble mumble mumble

Seen on Psybertron: “It’s like receiving a threat from a post-modernist gangster, who makes you an offer you can’t understand.” – Charlie Stross. :-)

Cops and robbers?

3 Wishes Lingerie – Sexy Police Woman Costumes [buffoonery].

Pinhole camera shack

Pinhole camera shack [consumptive].

Kids today are idiots

Here’s a very amusing account of a young American lady trying her best to set herself, and her surroundings, on fire [gammatron].

Do mine eyes deceive me?

Superb optical illusion [rivets]. Also, eluzions, via anita.

Apologies for apologies

:-) Dear oh dear, the perils of gin and tonic, eh?

I pretty much stand by my comments, with the possible exception of my criticisms of Mr Ashcroft. I’m not a big fan but yes, The Verve did do some good stuff that maybe did tell me something about how I should live my life. Basically, I think I’d just seen a picture of him, looking “all rock ‘n’ roll and smoking a cigarette”, and it rubbed me up the wrong way. Sorry about that. I’ll try to be more reasoned in my drunken invective in the future.

Apologies for attitudes

I’m sorry world, I just don’t like reggae. I’ve tried. I’ve listened. I’ve given it a good go – but I still think it’s shit. Sorry about that.

Also, would someone please explain to me what all the fuss about Richard Ashcroft is about? I mean, woo-ee, wow look at him, looking all rock ‘n’ roll smoking a cigarette, but come on, what has he got to tell me about my life and how I should live it? Oh yes, absolutely nothing – silly me.

Finally, I’d like to welcome all the students back to Cardiff and tell them all to please FUCK OFF. Or at the very least, stop waking me up at ten past one in the morning on the way home from the union/some club/etc. I mean, come on, you’re walking home through an area whose main feature is a shitload of terraced houses – didn’t it ever occur to you that people live there and would quite like to be sleeping at this moment? You may not have to get up until noon tomorrow, but I’ve got to work for a living, and listening to you yammering and bollocking at each other at the top of your voices as you pass my house at two in the morning really makes me want to kill you, frankly. You tossers.

PS: I’m drunk.

The truth about cats and dogs.

Cats remind us not to work too hard. Dogs remind us not to take ourselves too seriously. Greatly are they to be praised.


Hangovers, prevention, and cure [wotever].

Taurus II

Fantastic: the track sheet for Taurus II (346Kb, but here’s a small version) by Mike Oldfield, which to my mind is his masterpiece. My brother has the original gatefold-sleeve/vinyl version of the album Five Miles Out, which this track sheet appears on, but I haven’t seen it in a long time. Super.

Play tetris on a plane, go to jail

An air passenger who played a game on his mobile phone during a flight has been jailed for four months [risks].

Automatic for the Valley Lines

South Wales train leaves station without driver [risks].

Otter of the west

Large wicker otter to be erected on the way to my parents’ house [popbitch].

Gimboland gets permalinks

I’ve added permalinks to Gimboland (at long last, some might say). The problem has always been, where the heck do I put them? I like my layout, and everything I tried (eg [link] links at the end of each post) just didn’t feel right. I’ve come up with the ultimate low-impact solution, whose discovery I leave as an exercise to the reader.

“Gimbo Incorrect” shocker!

Anita Rowland, I’ll see your “d’oh” and raise you a “pants!”. It seems that the italics problem is a quirk of my setup, as a colleague of mine, also using Opera, doesn’t see italics. Quite what this peculiarity of mine could be, I haven’t worked out (there are so many to choose from). We apologise for any distress we may have caused to your or your family. :-)

Snapshots of Chinese life

Ziboy’s photos – nice [buffoonery].

10 worst airline crashes of all time

10 worst airline crashes of all time [consumptive]. Number 7: whoah.


Fnar [buffoonery]

Opera brings me and Anita closer together

I’ve never been able to bring myself to read Anita Rowland’s weblog, simply because it’s all in italics, making it really hard to read. Then today I remembered Opera‘s ability to turn off stylesheets (it refers to this feature as toggling between “user mode” and “author mode”). Now that’s more like it. (Later: Hmmm, I’ve just noticed that in IE, the italics aren’t there anyway. Weird. Maybe it’s something I’ve done. Shrug.)

BTW, speaking of the grooviness of obscure web browsers, allow me to mention Phoenix, a Mozilla offshoot which does what should obviously have been done in the first place, ie ditched the email reader , etc. in order to concentrate on making a web browser. It differs from Galeon in that it uses the same XUL user-interface language that Mozilla does, whereas Galeon is a Gnome wrapper around the Gecko HTML rendering engine. It’s certainly lighter and nicer than Mozilla, but still too slow and unresponsive for my liking – but hey, it’s early days yet.

Hmmm… Also, here’s Skipstone, a GTK wrapper around Gecko – I haven’t looked at it yet, I just saw the link off the Galeon site.

Woman falls for Nigeria scam, $2M lost

Woman falls for Nigeria scam, $2M lost [rotten]

The FBI said Poet, a bookkeeper for a small Berkley law firm, embezzled $2.1 million from the firm’s accounts between February and August, after scam organizers persuaded her to wire huge amounts of money to bank accounts in South Africa and Taiwan to expedite the transfer of money to the United States.

Thirty Years Later: Lessons from the Multics Security Evaluation

Thirty Years Later: Lessons from the Multics Security Evaluation [risks]

This is groovy:

I’m sure that many, many readers of RISKS are familiar with the story of Ken Thompson’s Turing Award lecture: of the invisible trapdoor in /bin/login maintained by an equally invisible trapdoor in the compiler, of the oblique reference to an “unknown Air Force document” whence came the idea for the trapdoors, of Ken’s request for anyone who knew of the actual paper to let him know. What I, for one, did not know was that the paper and its authors had in fact come to light: “Multics Security Evaluation: Vulnerability Analysis”, written by Paul A. Karger and Roger R. Schell and published by the Air Force in 1974. And in a new paper which is simultaneously a trip down memory lane and an up-to-the-moment call to arms, Karger and Schell have collaborated on a new, retrospective paper which reviews (and incorporates a resurrected copy of!) the former report, while analyzing today’s computer security landscape in light of the former report’s analyses and recommendations.

Random updates from Gimbo’s life

Just in case anyone’s interested, here are a couple of snippets on the Big Things happening in my life at the mo…

I won’t be starting my new job until December, because my current employer loves me enough to make me work my full three months notice. Gladly, my new employer loves-me-at-first-sight enough to wait.

In other news, we may be within a fortnight of completing on our new house, and I really mean that. Things were slowed down by the glaring absence of the garden from the titles provided by the Land Registry, but after a bit of poking by the vendor’s solicitors, it now seems we have a title with most of the garden on it, although there’s still a patch “unaccounted for”. This is not, we are assured, anything to worry about, because it’s unlikely anyone will appear and say “hey, that land belongs to me”, and if they do, we’re insured for the value of the land anyway. So, slightly worrying, but it’s not going to stop us. That given, contracts are in the process of being exchanged and so when I now say “we’re hoping to complete in the next fortnight”, I have some basis other than bloody-minded optimism.


I’m not an American, so I’ll never be a “High School Graduate”, but what the heck, I’m still mildly interested in this list of “100 Words That All High School Graduates – And Their Parents – Should Know” [gammatron].

And about time too..

The Shimura-Taniyama-Weil conjecture has been proven – party on, dudes! [ntk]

And here’s an older story linked from that page which is also quite interesting. Two scientists have created a mathematical model of the stock market, which shows that chaotic ups and downs happen because of the actions of the traders, not because of any real change in the underlying value of the stocks. Sounds reasonable.

Strum my strings

Indie-chick lovers, step on up! It’s the bass & guitar girls page! [rivets]

Didn’t feel a thing

Didn’t feel a thing

Taliban reunited

www.talibanreunited.com (thanks Pete!)

Swastikas predate nazis by 3000 years

Short, badly written but mildly interesting article on the history of the swastika, which may or may not suprise you, depending on whether you knew this stuff all ready or not. Clue: nazis didn’t invent it.

It’s raining cars.

It’s raining cars. Hallelujah.

Bloody annoying comment systems!

I’ll tell you something… If I ever do install a comments system on this page, I’m going to make damn sure it doesn’t involve bloody pop-up windows.

Desperately seeking…

If anyone reading this has my copy of The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson, please could I have it back? Thanks. :-)

The receding sands

It seems that the south Saharan desert sands are receding [robot].

The art of deception

I will, solicitors willing, be moving into a new house at some point in the next month. One of the best features of the house is its large kitchen. The worst thing about the kitchen is the view: a plain white wall.

Perhaps a Trompe L’oeil is in order. Ron Francis has some nice ones, in particular this one, this one, and this one.

Of course, it’s just another project that I’ll continually think about in tiny bursts, and never do anything about.

Seaweed from space

Funky-ass satellite picture of sand and seaweed in the bahamas.

Mixerman on socks

Last Friday’s entry in The Daily Adventures of Mixerman contains the following inspirational thoughts on socks:

I replace all of my socks on occasion, and I like to have a full months supply on hand as I can fit the whole lot in the washer in one load. Sometimes I buy a new supply of socks just so I don’t have to wash the dirty ones. And sometimes that gets my wife to wash them for me, since she doesn’t want me buying new socks when I have a laundry basket full of perfectly good socks, were they not dirty. With these strategies in place, I find that I only have to wash my own socks about 3 times per year. I suppose I could just use a fluff and fold service, but for some reason, that gives me the creeps. It’s all very convoluted, and besides, I digress.

Atomic Badger Racing

Atomic Badger Racing – Flash required [rivets].

America intent on world domination. Film at 11.

Bush planned Iraq ‘regime change’ before becoming President [null].

‘… the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.’

… the US must ‘discourage advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership or even aspiring to a larger regional or global role’.

… reveals worries in the administration that Europe could rival the USA;

Somewhat more frivolously, Jesus said… [rivets]

Stain removal for fun and non-profit

Cornell publication provides lab-tested ways to remove 250 different stains from clothes and textilesand here it is [robot].

Web Designer Builds Home out of Flash

Web Designer Builds Home out of Flash.

The whole house consists of one room, but with the power of Flash, Farrell never needs to leave that room. “I’m a little uncomfortable taking a leak the same place where I sleep and fry my eggs, but never having to walk more than 5 feet is pretty nice.”

That quotes pretty much covers what I dislike about Flash: deliberately breaking the paradigm I’m used to when surfing, and replacing it with your own homegrown version which, let’s face it, won’t be as good.

Also, I don’t have the plugin so can’t view it. :-)

419 from Mordor

Dear Sir, I am an Uruk of Mordor… – an amusing take on a a classic scam.

Popping water balloons in zero-gravity

Popping water balloons in zero-gravity – with video [chicken].

Sep 19th: “Talk Like A Pirate” Day

Talk like a pirate on September 19th [chicken].

The moving sofa constant, and if hackers ruled the world

Several goodies via gammatron:

The moving sofa constant and other mathematical constants.

Photoshop fun: If hackers ruled the world. I particularly liked the idea of CHIXX0R magazine. :-)

One cow power.

Back to pen and paper, then…

Long, worrying tales of recent electronic voting screw-ups in America [risks].

Gimbo’s life takes an academic turn

I’ve got a new job!

I’m going to be a tutor at Swansea University‘s Computer Science department. To which, I say, w00t. :-)

The interview took place yesterday afternoon – seriously scary, with a panel of five professors and a friendly face from personnel. Lots of very open-ended questions which gave me plenty of opportunity for demonstrating loquaciousness (wow! I spelt that right first time!), ie I rambled my head off. I thought it went OK but I was kicking myself over some things, so it was a great pleasure to be offered the job.

It’s going to be seriously hard work (Professor Tucker said “I can assure you that the best brains of the department will be occupied with filling your time”). I’ll be teaching two classes (one on Operating System design, in which we’ll study the Linux kernel – fantastic!), on top of which I’ll have several smaller tutor groups, some individual projects to supervise, a bit of administrative work, and of course, best of all, research. Would I, they asked, be interested in registering for a PhD, as that’s something they’d like to encourage? Are they kidding? Would I? Fortunately I managed to answer in the affirmative without sounding sarcastic, saying “w00t”, or saying “word”. Which was nice.

I’ve got slightly mixed feelings about leaving Frontier, but I’m not really in any doubt about my decision. There are some seriously good people here, who it’s been an absolute pleasure to work with, I’ve learnt a ton of stuff in my time here, and all things considered the working environment is great (headphones – yay!). But on the other hand, my job has steadily morphed away from learning and towards doing (which is fair enough when your job is, ultimately, to produce code not think about it), and I don’t still want to be a “jobbing programmer” when I’m in my forties – the market’s far too ageist for that. I’ve had a good few years working in industry, but I’ve always had it in the back of my mind to get back to academia, and get that PhD under my belt. Now is the right time to make that move.

In summary, the first step to becoming a fully-fledged Eccentric Professor has been taken. Tweed with leather patches, here we come!

Small plastic people assembling vast machine

The story of Andy’s computer [rivets.] Nice.

Not-quite-accidents in the workplace

When office supplies attack. Shame you can’t click on the images for larger versions.

All shook up

Wunderbar: this is the Biff cartoon that made me go looking for Biff online.

Notes and queries

The Guardian’s Notes & Queries [found].

I want this dog

I want this dog [sanity].

Ruby Mission

But of a curry theme this afternoon… Death By Curry including lots of recipes. Mmmmm.

Cosmic angst

There should be a word for that moment when you finish a Spicy Curry Pot Noodle then look down and see the unopened sachet of Spicy Sauce sat on your desk.

On the bright side, the next one will be Extra Spicy!

Happy 909 Day

Happy 909 day, people!

The TR-909 Drum Machine

Hamster found driving toy racing car

What is it with all these bloody hamster stories lately?

The Degree Confluence Project

The Degree Confluence Project [rebecca].

The goal of the project is to visit each of the latitude and longitude integer degree intersections in the world, and to take pictures at each location. The pictures and stories will then be posted here.

Swaziland is complete! Still a couple of secondary visits to do in Wales, I notice…

Getting too old for goth girls?

I’m slightly distressed, and slightly relieved, to find out that goth girls don’t seem to do it for me like they used to. Maybe the sample I took is skewed, but the inner frenzy that would once have been kindled at their sight, now lays dormant. Perhaps I’m leaving childish things behind, or maybe I’m just getting old. Thankfully, there are exceptions to be found, but frankly they’re just babes, never mind the gothic…

Update 2003-06-02: Schwing-a-ling!

Now, this is more like it. (Ack – link broken. It was “Gothic Cat of the Week”).

Tasty Wisdom Nuggets

Two tasty nuggets of programming wisdom I’ve had lying around for a while, not really knowing what to do with them:

There are two ways of constructing a software design: one way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies and the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies.C. A. R. Hoare

A programming language is low level when its programs require attention to the irrelevant.Alan Perlis.

No idea where I found these, I’m afraid…

The adoring public

Cor… Scanning my webstats and referral logs, I notice that the following good people have all linked to me lately: Anita Rowland, buffoonery.org, Tastes Like Chicken, Pysbertron, and Audra. Plenty for me to check out there, then…

Agent Fluffy Honk Honk Cusack For President (yes!) [chicken].

Howdy doody RSS people!!!

I’ve added meaningful titles to the items in the RSS feed (previously was just the timestamp). This means I have to add meaningful titles to my posts from now on, and since I don’t see the need for such titles on the front page, the only way you’ll see them is via RSS. An exciting bonus for the RSS-obsessed portion of my audience, eh?

I also realised that since the RSS links go straight to the Gimboland archive pages, I need to be more careful about keeping the archive for the current month up to date. This requires thought. Perhaps the RSS feed should just link to the front page, rather than the archives? Hmmm…

The maximum possible size of an LP

An investigation into the maximum possible size of an LP, which unfortunately assumes it has no mass [phil]. Nice choice of vinyl for the images.

Review: Seascapes Of The Interior promo

OK, it’s about time I shared my thoughts on the Seascapes Of The Interior promo/demo, which I received a few weeks ago and which I’ve been busily absorbing. The first thing to say is thanks to the band for sending it, of course. It’s nice to be in the club – just wish I could make it to some gigs. :-)

My snap/grossly simplistic characterisation of the band: experimental folky acoustic/electric instrumentals with an occasional vocal component (but “song” would be too strong a word). :-) Think God Speed You Black Emperor! meets Fairport Convention, perhaps. Sort of. I guess. If you want to hear some and make up your own mind, I don’t think think you can do better than Protection.

There are five tracks on the demo. I’d already downloaded and got to know “Discriminating Wisdom” and “Protection”, and I really like the latter, so I was mainly interested in the three I hadn’t heard.

So what did I think? Well, obviously this is all my stupid subjective opinion and thus utterly worthless, but what the heck, I’ll share.

The first track, “Symbiont Step”, is superb. A very slow, quiet and droning start gradually builds over a few minutes to a fully-formed and laid-back opener, which at eight minutes drops gently away only to suddenly return with added super-frenzied violin attack. It’s a somewhat Godspeed You Black Emperor! construct, of which I fully approve. Then a slow descent back into the land of the chilled, ending at just over eleven minutes. This is the good stuff – more of the same, please.

I find “Passing” very unsatisfying, simply because it’s so short and leaves me hungry for more. It fades in, does its stuff for about a minute, then fades out. Such a shame, because the stuff it does is groovy: distorted slide guitar over strummy acoustic guitar and synth (or is it organ? mellotron samples?). It’s really interesting and I want more. :-/

“Discriminating Wisdom”, I already know, and it’s fairly good, though not a favourite. Seven minutes long, basically a dreamy, floaty piece with ethereal female vocals you can’t quite make out. It’s nice enough, but to my mind it’s pretty low-impact.

“As I Patiently Watch The Blood Drain Away” leaves me utterly perplexed, particularly when I’m told that it’s going to be included on the band’s forthcoming album. It’s inoffensive, I suppose, but that’s because it’s basically devoid of musical interest (IMHO). We have four minutes of an annoying riff on what sounds like a child’s toy metal xylophone, with a bit of warbly vocal and droning synth for interest (?), then a further two minutes of some sort of whistley feedback noise (a bit like the spooky bit in Pink Floyd’s “Echoes”), and that’s it. What’s the deal here? It’s just too experimental (self-indulgent?) for my tastes, I fear. To me its value is as a discordant counterpoint to emphasise the beauty and musicality of the next and final track, “Protection”.

“Protection” is just wonderful. I really don’t know how to describe it adequately. I find it utterly beautiful, musical, haunting, scary, and all told I think it’s my favourite track of the year, which is really saying something. I’m not going to bother to attempt to describe it, because I won’t do it justice – if you want to hear it, get it here.

I realise that a lot of the above is pretty critical. The problem is, the bits I like, I love, but I don’t really know how to express that. It’s easier for me to describe what I don’t like, I suppose. Overall, I do really like what I’ve heard and I’m seriously looking forward to getting the album when it comes out – I just hope it’s more in the style of “Symbiont Step” and “Protection”, and less in the style of “As I Patiently Watch…”. Fingers crossed.

Phil France lives!

I’ve just discovered the weblog of an old friend and housemate of mine: Phil. I don’t have time to read any of it right now, which is why I’m linking to it. It’s like setting the video so you don’t have to watch TV. :-)

Quite a handful

Quite a handful [evilc + krag].

Samuel Pepys’ diary


Golden Rules for Making Money

Golden Rules for Making Money by P. T. Barnum, 1880 [gammatron].

Kill Your Idol

It’s like Axl said, kiddies: Kill Your Idol.

The Usual Suspects

The Usual Suspects.

My weekend

In another world, I got married on Saturday.

In this world, that wedding has been postponed until a time when Julie and I are settled together again (as opposed to being seperated by hundreds of miles), so we went to Glastonbury, and stayed in a rather pleasant B & B instead.

On Saturday afternoon we had a nose around the Abbey, chortled at some of the shops on the High Street, and were intimidated by some of the frankly aggressive “free spirits”, then Julie had a Reiki session which left her feeling relaxed and happy, but still with a sore back. In the evening we had dinner outside a pub, met a nice dog with a bit of a flea allergy, discussed the rules of chess, drank lots of gin whilst watching the local mating rituals, and slept in The Most Comfortable Bed Ever.

Yesterday, we breakfasted with Australians, climbed the Tor (’tis but a pimple!), and then went to Wookey Hole where there are some groovy caves, a reasonably interesting paper mill, and best of all, a maze of mirrors. I vaguely remember going here as a nipper, and my brother Colin pronouncing the caves better than those at Cheddar – a shocking line to take, I thought at the time. I haven’t been to Cheddar for a long long time, so I couldn’t possibly comment, but Wookey was certainly well worth visiting. (Hey, I just realised why Colin liked Wookey so much.)

After Wookey, we drove around Somerset, heading vaguely towards Weston-super-Mare but ending up at Brean Sands which was just the epitome of the Great British Holiday: mobile homes and caravans that don’t go anywhere, sand in your, well, everything, and cheaply-built single-storey resorts with “cabaret”, a word which strikes terror into my heart. Super.

Home, pizza, pub, bed. Lovely.

Genetic algorithms doing crazy things

Learning to fly and pretending to oscillate – those crazy genetic algorithms! [found]