Enigma Replicas

Project to build an Enigma Replica [gamma].

2000 year old wine found in China

Archaeologists in western China discovered five earthenware jars of 2,000-year-old rice wine in an ancient tomb and its bouquet was still strong enough to perk up the nose, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.


Mobile Asses

Come and get it: Mobile Asses [wotever].

Hectic day

Hectic day… A three-and-a-half hour Internal Examiners meeting this morning, and a seminar right now, then I have to write up the minutes of the meeting. Can’t these people see it’s sunny, god damn it! ;-)

It’s raining little dudes

It’s raining little dudes – hallelujah [wotever].

Big Brother is Back

Big Brother is back – but in a nice way [bash].

Chiseled spam

The phrase “chiseled spam” popped into my head earlier – it comes up in Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, but I’m not sure why I was thinking of it today. Anyway, feeling curious, I googled on the phrase, and the first hit was worth reading, so here it is: chiseled spam.

Which is nice, because it introduces me to Strip Mining For Whimsy, which looks good in general. Huzzah!

Continuations make my brain melt

I’m currently teaching myself Haskell (using yaht). Right now I’m having terrible trouble trying to stop my brain from flipping out through my ears as I try to understand something called Continuation Passing Style. This is the clearest explanation I’ve found so far, God help me.

I’m also trying to adjust to the fact that in Haskell, 0+1+2+3+4 could also be written as (+)1((+)2((+)3((+)4(0)))) or even (+)((+)((+)((+)(0)4)3)2)1. Bargle!

Blimey… I was looking at continuations over a year ago.


Aw, how cute… pika! (thanks, Jo).

What is happening in America?

What is happening in America? [rivets]

419er taken for 171

419er taken for 171 [rivets].

We get on harleys and ride into the sunset.

Oh, just simply hilarious: I put on my robe and wizard hat [ntk].

Damn, Ted… I was just joking around with you.

Electric pine cone trimmers ahoy!.

Locus Sound

Locus – I heard them in session on John Peel a week or so, thinking they were Locust (thanks to Malc) and loved it. So now I’ve got their album, Flossie, and it’s stonkingly good. Multi-layered rolling instruments, basically – tremendously listenable. I’m told they’ll have some unreleased tracks available for download some time soon, which would be good – so far the only downloads are tantalisingly short clips. If you only listen to one, I’d recommend Oranjsuper (355K).

Superb spring-loaded packaging too – check it out.

Also, Chris from the band saw my lego link and sent me this – thanks Chris! :-)

The Lego Time Capsule

Lego catalogues through the ages – thanks, Dave!

Clwb Ifor Bach

It’s… The Welsh Club. Cheesy Club on a Wednesday night, thank you very much. Rich tells me the Goldie Lookin’ Chain (warning: Completely Fuckin’ Broken in Opera) have their first gig there on my Dad’s birthday, heaven help us all. Don’t think Dad would fancy it, anyway.

“Ponda Baba’s Arm Is Missing” is missing.

Whilst browsing through the Gimboland archives a couple of weeks ago, I came across an old favourite entry concerning Ewoks and missing arms. Distressed to find that the links were broken, I revisited the site in question and tried to track the pictures down, but alas, despite experiencing once again the pleasures that are Bad Day on the High Sea, Etsuhiko Shoyama, and most especially Norton Defiant, the sought-for pictures were not found.

As I got older (and, I think, as my exposure to students and their wily ways increases), my willingness to moan is increasing, so I wrote to the artist, Brandon Bird, and asked what had happened. His reply:

Well, I’d done some re-organizing, moving all the artwork onto its own unique domain in the fall, and I trimmed out some things I decided I didn’t really like anymore. But I think killing a lot of the Star Wars stuff had more to do with some phase where I wanted to come off as less of a huge dorkish fanboy retard. Of course, now that they’re gone I’ve started to miss them, too. So I took your advice and the ewok painting is back: http://www.brandonbird.com/yubnub.html, and I’ll bring back walrusman, too, if I can dig up a good .jpg.

I also just added a bunch of “Law & Order” art from around the world, if you’re interested: http://www.brandonbird.com/artisticintent.html.

Thank you for making me see the light.

No problem Brandon – thanks for caring.

1 mile from Earth to Sun

The Maine Solar System ModelAt forty miles from Pluto to Sun, the largest three-dimensional scale model of the Solar System in North America [gamma].

Check out the difference in size between the Sun (so big there’s just an arc) and Earth (which also includes another good illustration of the distance between Earth and the Moon.

4-dimensional Rubik’s cube

Never mind four-dimensional hypercubes, what the world needs now is a four-dimensional Rubik cube [bash].

nb: I haven’t tried it yet, I just thought it looked cool. I’ve got work to do, dammit!


BitlBee [ntk], an IRC <-> Instant Messaging gateway, which is exactly the thing I need if I want to talk to anyone via IM. Which I don’t. But if I did, wow, this would rule.

It all went downhill when everyone stopped using MUDs and MUSHes if you ask me, anyway… ;-)

Marking fun

So I’m sitting here doing the thing that I’m doing, and I suddenly stop myself and say “Oh my God, I’m marking exam papers. Degree level exam papers.” It still feels pretty barmy.

Some wag wrote, for one question, “I am a fish”. Unfortunately they didn’t do it 400 times otherwise I might have been tempted to give them a mark.

RIP Alan

49 years ago today, Alan Turing ate an apple laced with cyanide to escape the bigotry of this world. RIP, Alan.

Fruit machine cheatery not actually legal?

OK, so we all knew that fruit machines were rigged, right? I just always thought it was within the law. These guys disagree, having got hold of and analysed a ROM from one of these machines, and they’re trying to do something about it (complete with obligatory faxyourmp link). [null]

Sign my name, bitch!

How crazy does your credit card purchase signature have to get before someone says something? [wotever]. Apparently there is no limit.

All which base?

I heard this today and thought I’d share:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
All my base
Are belong to you.

Roy Orbison in Clingfilm

I spotted the link to this on popbitch but didn’t like the sound of it, so I didn’t look. However, then Rich sent it to me and I had to look. It’s fantastic.

‘That is a well-groomed terrapin,’ he says.

And the rest.

Lots of good stuff in general on this site. Indeed, the first other thing I read is this marvellous critique of TLC. Superb, although loses it a bit in the last few paragraphs. I particularly liked: And yet I am lovely, and would make a dog-like and devoted husband.

Oh, so much more to read, and yet it’s such a waste of time. I love the internet. Unlike him.

Star Wars: In early drafts of the screenplay there is a strain of cynical humour, and when Ben Kenobi says he hears many voices crying out to him through The Force it turns out to be his pacemaker picking up CB.

Just war my arse.

/me points and laughs at everyone who said it wasn’t about oil [null].

Later: oh, OK, a little context makes things a little clearer. All the same, I’m still incredulous at the idea oil had nothing to do with this.

When you come back, bring pi.

When you come back, bring pie – the weblog of one of my students. One of my particularly hackish linuxy students, in case you couldn’t work it out. ;-)

He’s also, apparently, an angry spork-flinging plaid wildebeest. This explains a lot. Here’s the quiz. I’m an invisible train station, btw.


The trouble with psychiatry

Last night, flicking through my scribbled, fairly randomised, diary of my trip to 2000′s Glastonbury Festival, I was particularly taken by the following snippets:

“The trouble with psychiatry is that it is the business of making people normal, not the business of making people happy.”


“I’ve just walked past a burnt out shoe, for fuck’s sake.”


The 800×600 Project

The 800×600 Project [consume].

800 pixels wide, 600 pixels high, 64 pictures, 1 subject.

Earth from Mars

The first picture of Earth from Mars [phil].

Alas, it was taken from orbit. I guess we’ll have to wait a while before we get a decent shot of the blue planet from the surface of the red one.


Simon Brunning’s Guilt – ouch. He’s right, you know.

Guido on main()

And here’s the first juicy nugget to be extracted from tiddly-pom (although presumably I’d have already seen it if I was still watching comp.lang.python): Guido talking about what makes a good general purpose main() [tiddly-pom].

Wow. Cool. It’s a lot like what I usually use, except I usually put the argv-checking stuff in its own function. Groovy.

Ooh, and while we’re there, here are Guido’s notes on the UK Python conference (mine are somewhere in here).

Ooh! Ooh! Duncan Grisby has photos of the conference including one with a bit of my arm and a couple with my colleague Chris Whyley – clearly a photographically interesting sorta chappie. Oh wait, here we both are, browsing the books, and there’s Chris again, just two seats away from The Benevolent Dictator For Life.

The Language List

Glyn Webster wrote with regard to my recent moaning about the family tree of programming languages. Apparently a lot of the mistakes or confusion seem to come from The Language List. Thanks, Glyn! :-)

BTW, if you only follow one of the links above, follow the Glyn Webster one.

Wine 101

Wine 101 [gamma].

Cinematic Overdrive

Had a very cinematic day on Saturday… We started with the fantastic Bugsy Malone in the afternoon (the “Family Feature” at Chapter – two quid – bargain!!!), then took a chance, since it was on, and caught Russian Ark, of which more shortly. This was followed by a DVD double-whammy at home of the likeable and unchallenging My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and one of my favourite movies, Human Traffic (the “remixed” version of which I picked up on Saturday for eight quid – bargain!!!).

Bugsy completely ruled – so cool to see it again after all this time and on the big screen at last. Was slightly disappointed by the revelation/realisation that the kids were miming, but this was more than made up for by everything else about the film being as fun as I remembered. And oh, Talullah… *sigh*

Russian Ark was something else altogether. An incredible movie, one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. At the start of the day we had no intention of watching it – indeed had never heard of it, but after Bugsy we noticed it was on later and it sounded intriguing, so…

The first thing to say about it is that it’s a single take – no cuts, just one shot, an hour and a half long, moving through the Russian State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, following the main protagonists, who are an unnamed character in the first person, and a 19th Century French Diplomat. They walk through the building, sometimes invisible to those around them, witnessing events from Russian history which took place there, admiring the exquisite art around them, and discussing the relationship between Russia and Europe, the art, and the people around them.

It’s hard to grasp, so to a certain extent I stopped trying and just let it wash over me. I’m sure that with some more knowledge of Russian history some things would have made more sense, but on the other hand I don’t think I lost much of the experience for that. If nothing else it was a visual feast – the rooms, the art, the costumes…

The film truly came alive for me at the end. The last major scene is the last Great Royal Ball of 1913, at the end of which the hundreds of people in the ballroom begin to file out, the camera amongst them, and it just perfectly captures that poignant feeling you get at the end of a marvellous show where everyone’s shuffling outwards, having shared this great experience and now having to return, perhaps regretfully, to reality. It’s something I’ve experienced many times but never before seen captured like this – a truly original piece of film-making. This gently leads into the achingly beautiful, oh-so-gentle end of the piece, and quite frankly I was left stunned. Bash summed it up perfectly: “that was like a dream”. Like watching someone else’s dream.

Pumpkin Rocket

A nice illustration of the all-too-often-witnessed disparity between dreams and reality: the Pumpkin Rocket [bash].