ring.ruleAll() – reference ring not found

Relevant examples are of great help when teaching. I was criticised by students this year for overusing “foo” and “bar” as variable names in my C couse. More imagination is needed, apparently.

Here’s a prime example which I shall recommend to Mr Whyley that he use in his Object Technology course: Rings as objects. And the initial comment to which that one refers..

Courtesy of TR.

Now gracing the bedroom wall at meatspace Gimboland…

'Frau Am Meer' by Karin Volker

A tale of detrimental adaptation to local conditions

Bash logic at work yesterday, after our return to Swansea: Something was needed from the attic room, up two flights of stairs.

Bash: “I can’t go upstairs!”

Me: “Why not?”

Bash: “I’ve been living in a bungalow for a week.”

We interrupt this broadcast…

Just one more quick post before the Christmas shutdown – honest! Look, I’m ready to go, it’s Bash who’s in the shower. OK? OK… So anyway, this is cool: four hours of satellite broadcast intended for mainland China was replaced with a program concerning the outlawed Falun Gong movement. So there we have it, kids: you’ve seen how it’s done in the movies, now get out there and broadcast. ;-)

A Merry IICF to you all!

The ultimate Christmas gift for your local cultist: Cthulu slippers [found].

And with that, I’ll say Merry Christmas to my loyal readership. We’re off to Cornwall for a week tomorrow, to find out how Mum deals with a Vegetarian Couple’s First Christmas – should be fun. I’ll be on the end of a telephone line, so probably not much Gimboland. Back around New Year. Namaste one and all…

Barbara: ignore this post until January!!!

Incredibly hard but cool game (Pixelfield).

How to win friends and influence people

Summary of the book How to Win Friends and Influence People.

I was talking about biscuits, Bash…

This is a great idea but that shelf should be bigger if you ask me [null]. Cue Bash to look at me sternly and say “three is enough for anyone”. Yes, well. Quite.

Now we’re here, maybe it’s time to move on…

It’s a long long time since I read Slashdot with anything approaching regularity, so I rely on TR to tell me when anything interesting comes along.

This is interesting: Comment Spams Straining Servers Running Movable Type. Typical. Well, nothing here yet. I shall monitor the situation.

When I was in the early stages of migration, I googled for movable.type.sucks which led me to this at kuro5hin, mainly an amusing and venom-fuelled rant (which somehow reminds me of this classic gem) but has some interesting points to make along the way. On the other hand, the “written by designers not computer scientists” argument doesn’t completely hold water when you look at a lot of the crap that’s produced by people who should know better.

Unfortunately, the fix recommended by SixApart, namely “enable dynamic generation”, is no good for me because it seems badly broken. In particular, some plugins I rely on a bit don’t work dynamically – maybe I can work out why but not right now.

Or maybe I should migrate to WordPress. This guy thinks so.

Kinsey vs the anti-sexuals

Interesting review of a movie about Alfred Kinsey at Alternet [via pursed lips].

It’s depressing to see him vilified by the kind of people who think the world needs an organisation called “Restoring Social Virtue and Purity”, and in light of recent (and ongoing) opposition to the theory of evolution in America’s Stupidity Belt, I found this quote from the article unwittingly on-the-mark:

It was the apparent impartiality of his data that so shook America’s settled notions of sexuality, as deeply as Darwin’s theory of natural selection did the literalist biblical notions of creation.

Ultimately, I’m just baffled: Why does America have such a love affair with violence, and such a hatred of sex? And with the rise of evangelical politics in the most powerful nation on Earth (for now), how much worse can it get?

Isn’t it wonderful when…

… you get your heart’s desire, and nobody gets hurt.

Welcome to Boobtown

Bash has just told me that (so they say), Mumbles gets its name from the two rocky outcrops at the headland, pictured ici, via the French word mamelles, meaning breasts. See the resemblance?

I’m so happy.

Big chunks of water at minus 70

The Guardian has a story about an iceberg, B15A, which was first mentioned hereabouts in Gimboland’s 20th post ever, February 2001. Nice to know it’s still going – shame about the penguins, though…

Lots more groovy antarctic images here. It’s somewhere I’d love to see, though God knows if I ever will…

IICF, Kitty!

Merry Christmas from Hello Cthulu [bash]

I have only one thing to say to you all, and that is…


So, there you have it, the whole of Eastern and Western culture summed up in the handshake which reaches out horizontally to greet another, and Namaste which reaches in vertically to acknowledge that, in truth, that there is no other.

Raise your glass to the Prince of Stories

Apparently, March 2002 was Gimboland’s top month, with a bumber crop of 89 posts – wow, I must have been really focussed on my job… Back then I was more indiscriminate about collecting things “for later” which of course I never went back to. For example, this post regarding Screen Dream, a webring for online dream journals.

Now, back in my early internet days, one of the sites which got me hooked was “Brian’s Dream Log” which was here but isn’t any more, alas. It was groovy – well written, funny, interesting, a peek into someone’s mind and (I guess) my first experience of the now ubiquitous phenomenon of self-exposure on the internet. I’ve also always quite fancied the idea of increasing one’s capacity for lucid dreaming, and keeping a dream log is apparently one of the techniques which can help there.

Thus, dream logs, they’re interesting. And, sometimes, funny. Since there are only 13 blogs in Screen Dream right now, I’ve added a link to my sidebar, and might well be visiting (and linking to) some of these a bit more often. I may even join in. You have been warned.

(Note to self: stop starting posts/paragraphs/sentences with “So, “… This post had two before I proofed/edited it.)


The Soma of history – very interesting.

Toaster dmesg

Toaster dmesg, via TR.

Europe vs the USA

Europe vs the USA [via GalleryPy via dailypython].

This is also quite nice.


Gimboland gets a facelift

I’ve migrated Gimboland to Movable Type.

This has been way overdue for a long time. Since 2001 I’ve maintained this blog using home-grown code called Neomorph (written in Python, naturally), and I just haven’t had time to add any new features to it. Hence, no comments on Gimboland while the rest of the internet gets fully chatted up. Something had to be done, but what? And when?

The last straw came when I discovered mt.el, an emacs module for making and editing MT entries using everyone’s favourite text editor/chainsaw combo (no pansy-assed through-the-web blog editing for me, no sirree!). Finally, a few weeks before Gimboland’s fourth birthday, it was time to Take The Plunge.

So here we have it: the all new Gimboland, with comments, categories, a new look, and much more CSS than before. Please let me know what you think – now that comments are finally here, I’m eager to read them and find out who actually reads this damn thing. Oh yes, and Bash tells me the thing she likes least about the new design is the new font (Georgia) – although apparently it’s OK on the Mac, so maybe I should just ignore her. Is she right, or is she to be ignored?

My next big task will be to update the image gallery to use something similarly marvellous. All suggestions welcomed – at the moment gallery seems to be the main contender.

Making the change has been a fun process. Here’s a small random list of interesting things I’ve found or done along the way:

My archives all had nasty old “Blogger style” filenames (such as 2002_10_01_gimboland_archive.html), whereas MT uses a format like 2002/10/index.html which is, frankly, nicer. I was worried about this change – what about the millions of people who’ve linked to stories in the archive? Obviously I owe it to my public not to break things, so how to solve this? Well, a little reading (here and here, specifically) later, I now have lots of RedirectPermanent directives in my .htaccess file linking the old to the new – problem solved. Aaaah, Apache.

With Neomorph, all my Gimboland posts lived in a big (824Kb at last count) plain text file. In MT, they live in a database, of course. Gladly, MT has the ability to import from plain text. Naturally the MT import format isn’t the same as the Neomorph format, so almost my first task was to write a (python) script to convert one to the other. It being python, this was easy. For posterity, I’ve added it to the Neomorph tarball.

Useful MT plugins: Amputator, ArchiveDateHeader, BlogCopyright, SafeHref, W3CValidator (very nice – only prints badge at bottom of page if page really is valid; wish there was one for CSS as well).

While I was at it, I changed the Gimboland search box (in the sidebar) to use Google instead of the old Atomz thing I’ve had there for years. Surging forward into the twentyfirst century, eh? Dave would probably tell me I’m migrating to Google just as Google’s beginning to get crap, but I’m not ready for such heresy yet, so it’s fingers in ears all the way.

I’d just like to say…

I’ve been really getting into using pushd and popd lately (que?). Yay stacks.

The exception which proves the rule

So says Bash, while listening to the very happy “Fast Lane Jive” on the African Footprint soundtrack:

“It’s impossible to listen to a penny whistle and not feel happy.”

<Short pause>

“Unless it’s a sad song, of course.”

The School of Deceipt

Heh… Bash just read me the following from Alvin Journeyman by Orson Scott Card:

“Verily learned to live with constant deception, hiding what he was and what he saw and what he felt and what he did from everyone around him. It was only natural that he should be drawn to the study of law.”

Swansea University gets rootkitted

Swansea University’s front page appears to have been rootkitted at some point over the last 48 hours [via davea]:

Swansea Uni Rootkit Thumbnail

w00t. I wonder if this has anything to do with recent hacks on the uni servers, or if it’s an unrelated incident…

(Ten hours later, Sunday evening, and the server is still 0wnz3d. I guess the concept of 24-hour cover doesn’t extend into academia. Hopefully the kiddies aren’t using the box for anything nasty, like spamming…)

Hone your tools

As I chopped firewood in the back yard a few minutes ago, I remembered a proverb I’d spotted on the glorious interweb some time during the last fortnight:

If you have a week in which to chop down a tree, spend six days sharpening your axe.

I thought I’d try to find some way to relate this to programming, but frankly it seems so obvious as to not be worth the bother. :-)

Ecks Em Hell

Reading this article about how Python is not Java, I laughed out loud (sorry, I LOL’d), at this misquote from Jamie Zawinksi:

Some people, when confronted with a problem, think “I know, I’ll use XML…” Now they have two problems.

Nice. Keep it simple, stupid.

But read the following comment about how, OK, in Java, XML is a Good Thing. But for my money, that’s more a comment on Java’s relative brokenness than XML’s utility which, as the man says, is basically good for one thing: portability of data. And hey, the Unix folks knew that all data should be represented as text to make it portable back in the sixties… :-)

And this says it all about Python:

To do this, become more demanding of Python. Pretend that Python is a magic wand that will miraculously do whatever you want without you needing to lifting a finger. Ask, “how does Python already solve my problem?” and “What Python language feature most resembles my problem?” You will be absolutely astonished at how often it happens that thing you need is already there in some form. In fact, this phenomenon is so common, even among experienced Python programmers, that the Python community has a name for it. We call it “Guido’s time machine”, because sometimes it seems as though that’s the only way he could’ve known what we needed, before we knew it ourselves.

War on drugs equals better coke

So it seems that America’s war on drugs is leading to better, and more, cocaine, and discouraging Columbian farmers from growing non-drugs crops. How so, you ask? The emergence (or, possibly, genetic engineering) of a herbicide-resistant strain of cocoa means that the crop sprayers are doing the farmers’ weeding for them, and wiping out farmers who grow bananas, yucca, maize, well, basically anything else.

Of course, there is another intruguing possible explanation… Perhaps the Roundup-resistant cocoa was introduced to the system by the US. Perhaps the plan is to get all the farmers growing that strain and no other (which seems, from the story, to be happening). Perhaps this strain has been engineered not only to be Roundup resistant, but also to be particularly susceptible (perhaps the only plant susceptible?) to some other herbicide. Perhaps, when everyone in Columbia is growing the new cocoa strain and all the old ones have effectively become extinct, the authorities will switch herbicides and wipe out the entire crop in one fell swoop…

Now that would be impressive. I don’t believe it for one second, but it would be impressive.

Strong typing

Gimbo! Read this article about strong typing. (TR says it almost makes him want to learn ML, so it must be good).

Ooh, it’s all about the fact that Milner-Hindley type inference is w00ty. Excellent: Swansea’s finest at work…