Content here is by Michael Still mikal@stillhq.com. All opinions are my own.
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Thu, 31 Dec 2009



Books read in December 2009

posted at: 21:59 | path: /book/read | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 29 Dec 2009



Thinking about arduino as a prototyping platform

    So, I've mentioned in earlier posts about arduino projects that I consider the arduino to be a prototyping platform, and a damn good one at that. Hack a day seems to think of it in similar terms. It was really Doug who got be thinking in this direction with the initial PCB design for the fridge controller project, which includes space for an Atmega CPU right on the PCB, thus eliminating the need for a relatively expensive arduino board to be permanently consumed.

    So I started to wonder how hard it would be to build a simple arduino replacement board. It wouldn't need the complicated USB hardware, as you could program the Atmega on a full arduino board before installation. It would just need a time source, perhaps a LED, and a voltage regulator.



    You can see in the picture above a version I quickly whipped up on a breadboard to prove this is possible. I didn't bother with a voltage regulator in this version, and the wires off on the right go off to a power source. This quickly turned into a PCB prototype board design, which has a voltage regulator, and exposes all of the arduino digital pins except for pin 5 (which the 16MHz crystal gets in the way of). Pin 5 could be made to happen pretty easily though...



    I think this was about $10 worth of parts, including the Atmega CPU, which makes it a pretty attractive option compared with the real arduino development boards. I expect to be doing a lot of my future development on a full arduino board, and then moving the finished products off onto boards like this. I expect Matt's door bell will be exiled to one of these soon in order to free up a board. Doug and I have talked about doing a custom PCB layout which is similar, but that is yet to happen.

    The best bit of this is I am really surprised by how easy it was. I'm not a hardware person, and it took only an hour or so with a schematic to come up with a working version. I'm much pleased.

    Tags for this post: arduino arduino prototype breadboard pcb
    Related posts: Beer fridge controller 0.3; Beer fridge controller 0.2; Building a hygrometer with a HS1101; Home power measurement; Beer fridge controller 0.1; Arduino with the kids: Cricket Noise Door Bell

posted at: 03:18 | path: /arduino | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 28 Dec 2009



Colony

posted at: 22:35 | path: /book/Rob_Grant | permanent link to this entry


Arduino with the kids: Cricket Noise Door Bell

    When I was a child, I had a doorbell at my bedroom door to ward off uninvited guests. My six year old, Matthew, has always been pretty enthused about building things, and so he wanted to give an electronics project a try. I thought this would be a good project to start out with for the kids, because its relatively simple, and there is a tangible result at the end (you press a button and something happens). Matt liked the idea. Because this project involved a fair bit of soldering, it turns out that Matt spent most of his time taking photos of the work, although we talked about what was happening at each step. I need to think harder about how to get him involved in the construction process -- I think that will be easier once the bread boarding stuff from ebay arrives.



    The design is relatively simple. I took the sample debounce circuit (a button, 10k resistor) and software and ran that first. Then we put a peizo buzzer across pin 13 and ground. That meant that with the sample software we had both a light and a noise when you pressed the button. Unfortunately, the pin 13 LED also turns on when the arduino is booting, which means we got two beeps per boot, which was annoying. The peizo buzzer therefore got exiled to pin 12.



    Finally, the screech from the peizo buzzer was getting a bit much, so I implemented a simple on-off cycle instead of it staying completely on. This produces a noise a bit more like a cricket's chirp, which is much less annoying. Finally, we put the whole thing in a case, and I think it looks pretty good. At the same time as putting in the case, we also added a battery power supply and power switch, as Matthew is now keen to take his door bell to school for show and tell.





    The pictures in this post were mostly taken by Matthew. The source code (which includes a list of the wiring needed) is in my source repository.

    Tags for this post: arduino arduino kids doorbell
    Related posts: Beer fridge controller 0.3; Beer fridge controller 0.2; Thinking about arduino as a prototyping platform; Building a hygrometer with a HS1101; Home power measurement; Beer fridge controller 0.1

posted at: 14:23 | path: /arduino | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 26 Dec 2009



The Robot City, Robots and Aliens Series

posted at: 14:19 | path: /book/Isaac_Asimov | permanent link to this entry


Isaac Asimov's Robot City: Robots and Aliens: Humanity

posted at: 14:14 | path: /book/Jerry_Oltion | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Sunday, 27 December 2009

posted at: 13:52 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Saturday, 26 December 2009

posted at: 03:54 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 25 Dec 2009



Blathering for Friday, 25 December 2009

    21:52: Mikal shared: Oh no, Russel T. Davies, no!
      I don't agree that Doctor Who is entirely without merit, but I must say that Russel T Davies is their weakest author. The problem being that he's also the series producer, and gives himself all the good jobs.



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 02:52 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 24 Dec 2009



Caliban Series

posted at: 20:40 | path: /book/Isaac_Asimov | permanent link to this entry


The Robot City Series

posted at: 20:24 | path: /book/Isaac_Asimov | permanent link to this entry


Foundation's Friends




    ISBN: 0812509803
    Tom Doherty Assoc Llc (1990), Edition: First, Paperback, 464 pages
    LibraryThing
    I was excited when I found Foundation's Friends the other day, because I thought I'd read all the Foundation books and did not know that this one existed. It is an anthology which celebrates Asimov's 50 years as a science fiction author, and each author takes their own approach to the Foundation universe.

    The stories are:

    • The Nonmetallic Isaac or It's a Wonderful Life (Ben Bova): not really a short story, more of an inspection of the impact that Asimov's non-fiction writing has had on the world.
    • Strip-Runner (Pamela Sargent): set after The Naked Sun, a young female strip runner meets Elijah Bailey.
    • The Asenion Solution (Robert Silverberg): a pretty standard science fiction short story.
    • Murder in the Urth Degree (Edward Wellen): I haven't read any of the Doctor Urth mysteries, so to be honest this story seemed pretty weird.
    • Trantor Falls (Harry Turtledove): covers the fall and sack of Trantor at the end of the first Galactic Empire. This one is pretty good, and in keeping with the overall Foundation universe.
    • Dilemma (Connie Willis): Asimov deals with some three law robots.
    • Maureen Birnbaum After Dark (George Alec Effinger): I find Maureen's character to be superficial and annoying. This story didn't really do it for me.
    • Balance (Mike Resnik): Susan Calvin wonders if robots are a better date than men.
    • The Present Eternal (Barry N Malzberg): is it good to be able to see with 100% accuracy into the past? This story was a bit disjointed, and not the best in the book.
    • PAPPI (Sheila Finch): a colleague of Susan Calvin brings home a robot companion for her son.
    • The Reunion at the Mile-High (Frederik Pohl): what if a biological weapon had been pursued instead of a nuclear one at the end of world war 2? What if Isaac Asimov hadn't been a science fiction author because he was drafted into the effort?
    • Plato's Cave (Poul Anderson): the robot debuggers Donovan and Powell return to help with a confused robot on Io. This story was pretty in keeping with the original Donovan and Powell stories, which was nice as those stories are classics.
    • Foundation's Conscience (George Zebrowski): a researcher looks for records of missing Seldon appearances.
    • Carhunters of the Concrete Prairie (Robert Sheckley): this story was written by one of the guys who did the Bill the Galactic Hero spinoffs -- specifically Bill the Galactic Hero on the Planet of Bottled Brains. This story seems to suffer from similar problems -- as best as I can tell its trying to be funny, but it doesn't do it very well.
    • The Overheard Conversation (Edward D. Hoch): the Black Widowers meet for a dinner discussion. I haven't read any other Black Widower stories, so I don't have much of an opinion on this one, although it did seem like a pretty traditional pithy short story.
    • Blot (Hal Clement): explorers on icy Miranda interact with some cubes of unknown origin that appear to be communicating with each other.
    • The Fourth Law of Robotics (Harry Harrison): the Stainless Steel Rat meets Susan Calvin.
    • The Originist (Orson Scott Card): a scientist trying to determine the origin of the human race in the declining days of the Galactic Empire interacts with Hari Seldon and his Foundations.
    • A Word or Two from Janet (Janet Asimov): what is it like being married to Isaac Asimov?
    • Fifty Years (Isaac Asimov): Asimov reflects on 50 years of writing.


    Obviously, being an anthology, some of these stories are better than others. However, this is a good collection with only a couple of stories I didn't really like. I'm glad I found it.

    Tags for this post: book anthology anthology isaac_asimov foundation robot population urth bill_the_galactic_hero stainless_steel_rat black_widower ben_bova pamela_sargent robert_silverberg edward_wellen harry_turtledove connie_willis george_alec_effinger mike_resnik barry_n_malzberg sheila_finch frederik_pohl poul_anderson george_zebrowski robert_sheckley edward_d_hoch hal_clement harry_harrison orson_scott_card janet_asimov
    Related posts: Body Armor: 2000; Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow ; Stainless Steel Visions; Isaac Asimov's Robot Short Stories; Robots and Empire ; Robots of Dawn


posted at: 18:58 | path: /book/Anthology | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 23 Dec 2009



Beer fridge controller 0.3

    Last night Doug made up the first cut of the PCB for the beer fridge controller mentioned in previous posts, and we fitted the arduino to it. There wasn't much in the way of software changes, apart from changing the pin that the compressor runs on.



    You can see here that we've mounted both the arduino and the Ethernet shield onto the PCB -- this is just temporary until we get the PCB right. The black rectangle at the front right is a 240 volt capable relay, and the thing behind it is a 240 volt transformer which is capable of powering all the electronics on the boards. In the final PCB we wont need the arduino at all -- just the Ethernet shield and the atmega 328 from the arduino. However, that didn't work out this time around because of problems getting the Ethernet socket to fit nicely. Its clearer on this picture of the other side of the board:



    See how we had to cut a hole in the PCB for the socket? That took out some of the pin holes for the atmega, and a few tracks. Its not a big problem because we're going to iterate a little on the PCB design (and by "we", I mean Doug). You can also see the perspex shield, which covers all the 240 volt rails, which is a nice touch. This version of the hardware is now sitting out on top of the beer fridge, and I wrote some simple scraping and visualization software for the temperature values I am seeing from the embedded hardware. You can see here the temperatures out the back of my house for this afternoon:



    As I've mentioned before, the hardware and software can handle more than one temperature probe, so the ultimate plan is to take the opportunity to place a bunch of these probes around the house and see what interesting data we end up with.

    Tags for this post: arduino arduino temperature 1-wire beer ethernet homeautomation
    Related posts: Beer fridge controller 0.2; The Beer Fridge saga continues; Beer fridge controller 0.1; Building a hygrometer with a HS1101; Home power measurement; Adding Open Flash Charts to my home monitoring

posted at: 02:05 | path: /arduino | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 21 Dec 2009



Beer fridge controller 0.2

    Further to yesterday's post about the beer fridge thermostat replacement, I've been hacking on ethernet support for the controller. This is handy because I'd like to log the temperature and compressor state over the network, because I'm hoping that can be used to make calculations about the thermal mass of the contents of the fridge, and therefore derive how much beer is actually in the fridge at any given time.

    Because the controller also supports more than one temperature probe, I'll also add more 1-Wire temperature sensors around the house so I can determine important things like if its hot in the outside world.



    The code is currently experiencing some bloat in the binary size, mainly because the ethernet library and the sprintf implementation are quite large. I'll have to think more about that. Here's the current code:

      #include <enc28j60.h>
      #include <etherShield.h>
      #include <ip_arp_udp_tcp.h>
      #include <ip_config.h>
      #include <net.h>
      #include <websrv_help_functions.h>
      
      #include <OneWire.h>
      #include <DallasTemperature.h>
      
      // Temperature sensor and compressor setup
      #define COMPRESSOR 9
      #define ONEWIRE 3
      
      #define HIGHTEMP 4
      #define LOWTEMP 3.6
      
      // 220L Kelvinator is 85 watts
      #define COMPRESSOR_WATTAGE 85.0
      
      #define SLEEP_SEC 10
      
      OneWire oneWire(ONEWIRE);
      DallasTemperature sensors(&oneWire);
      
      unsigned long runtime = 0, chilltime = 0, last_checked = 0, this_check = 0;
      uint8_t compressor = LOW;
      
      // Web server setup
      #define MYWWWPORT 80
      #define BUFFER_SIZE 550
      #define ERROR_500 "HTTP/1.0 500 Error\r\nContent-Type: text/html\r\n\r\n<h1>500 Error</h1>"
      
      static uint8_t mymac[6] = {0x54, 0x55, 0x58, 0x10, 0x00, 0x24}; 
      static uint8_t myip[4] = {192, 168, 1, 253};
      static uint8_t buf[BUFFER_SIZE + 1];
      char data[BUFFER_SIZE + 1];
      
      // The ethernet shield
      EtherShield es = EtherShield();
      
      uint16_t http200ok(void)
      {
        return(es.ES_fill_tcp_data_p(buf, 0, PSTR("HTTP/1.0 200 OK\r\nContent-Type: text/html\r\n"
                                                  "Pragma: no-cache\r\n\r\n")));
      }
      
      // prepare the webpage by writing the data to the tcp send buffer
      uint16_t print_webpage(uint8_t *buf)
      {
        uint16_t plen;
        plen = http200ok();
        plen = es.ES_fill_tcp_data_p(buf, plen, PSTR("<html><head><title>Temperature sensor</title>"
                                                     "</head><body><pre>"));
        plen = es.ES_fill_tcp_data(buf, plen, data);
        plen = es.ES_fill_tcp_data_p(buf, plen, PSTR("</pre></body></html>"));
      
        return(plen);
      }
      
      // Float support is hard on arduinos
      // (http://www.arduino.cc/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1164927646)
      char *ftoa(char *a, double f, int precision)
      {
        long p[] = {0,10,100,1000,10000,100000,1000000,10000000,100000000};
        
        char *ret = a;
        long heiltal = (long)f;
        itoa(heiltal, a, 10);
        while (*a != '\0') a++;
        *a++ = '.';
        long desimal = abs((long)((f - heiltal) * p[precision]));
        itoa(desimal, a, 10);
        return ret;
      }
      
      void setup()   {                
        // initialize the digital pin as an output:
        pinMode(COMPRESSOR, OUTPUT);
        Serial.begin(9600);
        sensors.begin();
        
        es.ES_enc28j60Init(mymac);
        es.ES_init_ip_arp_udp_tcp(mymac, myip, MYWWWPORT);
      }
      
      void loop()                     
      {
        int i, j, data_inset, delta;
        char float_conv[10];
        float t;
        DeviceAddress addr;
        uint16_t plen, dat_p;
      
        // Read temperatures, we dump the state to a buffer so we can serve it
        this_check = millis();
        if(this_check > last_checked + SLEEP_SEC * 1000)
        {
          delta = int((this_check - last_checked) / 1000);
          runtime += delta;
          if(compressor == HIGH) chilltime += delta;
          
          data_inset = 0;
          sensors.requestTemperatures();
          for(i = 0; i < sensors.getDeviceCount(); i++)
          {
            t = sensors.getTempCByIndex(i);
            sensors.getAddress(addr, i);
            
            for (j = 0; j < 8; j++)
            {
              sprintf(data + data_inset, "%02x", addr[j]);
              data_inset += 2;
            }
            sprintf(data + data_inset, ": %s\n", ftoa(float_conv, t, 2));
            data_inset = strlen(data);
          }
          
          // Control compressor
          if(t > HIGHTEMP) compressor = HIGH;
          else if(t < LOWTEMP) compressor = LOW;
          digitalWrite(COMPRESSOR, compressor);
       
          // Status dump
          sprintf(data + data_inset,
                  "Compressor: %s\nRuntime: %lu\nChilltime: %lu\n%% chill: %d\nWatt hours: %d\n",
                  compressor == HIGH ? "on" : "off", runtime, chilltime,
      	    int(chilltime * 100.0 / runtime),
                  int(chilltime * COMPRESSOR_WATTAGE / 3600));
          Serial.println(data);
          last_checked = this_check;
        }
        
        // Handle network packets
        dat_p = es.ES_packetloop_icmp_tcp(buf, es.ES_enc28j60PacketReceive(BUFFER_SIZE, buf));
        if(dat_p != 0)
        {
          if (strncmp("GET ", (char *)&(buf[dat_p]), 4) != 0){
            // head, post and other methods:
            dat_p = http200ok();
            dat_p = es.ES_fill_tcp_data_p(buf, dat_p, PSTR("<h1>200 OK</h1>"));
          }
          
          // just one web page in the "root directory" of the web server
          else if (strncmp("/ ", (char *)&(buf[dat_p+4]), 2) == 0){
            dat_p = print_webpage(buf);
            Serial.println("Served temperature web page");
          }
          
          else{
            dat_p = es.ES_fill_tcp_data_p(buf, 0, PSTR(ERROR_500));
          }
          
          es.ES_www_server_reply(buf, dat_p);
        }
      }
      


    Tags for this post: arduino arduino temperature 1-wire beer ethernet homeautomation
    Related posts: Beer fridge controller 0.3; The Beer Fridge saga continues; Beer fridge controller 0.1; Building a hygrometer with a HS1101; Home power measurement; Adding Open Flash Charts to my home monitoring

posted at: 19:27 | path: /arduino | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 20 Dec 2009



Beer fridge controller 0.1

    On the weekend I picked up a 220 liter beer fridge for $20. Its in really good condition (ignoring some minor rust in the freezer section), and the only real problem with it is that the thermostat doesn't work leaving the compressor on the whole time. Doug suggested that instead of just buying a new thermostat, we should build an arduino fridge controller.

    I'm not really a hardware guy, but once Doug had pointed me at the Dallas 1820 1-Wire temperature sensor, and lent me some resistors, it was pretty easy to pull the software side together. Note that this version doesn't actually do any of the compressor control -- it simulates that by turning a LED on. The compressor stuff has been delegated to Doug and will be mentioned later.



    You can see that the circuit is in fact really simple. There is a LED to simulate the compressor (with a resistor), and then the 1-Wire temperature sensor (with another resistor). The code is pretty simple too. Here's my latest fancy version:

      #include <OneWire.h>
      #include <DallasTemperature.h>
      
      #define COMPRESSOR 13
      #define ONEWIRE 2
      
      #define HIGHTEMP 4
      #define LOWTEMP 3
      
      #define SLEEP_SEC 10
      
      // 220L Kelvinator is 85 watts
      #define COMPRESSOR_WATTAGE 85.0
      
      OneWire oneWire(ONEWIRE);
      DallasTemperature sensors(&oneWire);
      
      unsigned long runtime = 0, chilltime = 0;
      boolean compressor = false;
      
      void setup()   {                
        // initialize the digital pin as an output:
        pinMode(COMPRESSOR, OUTPUT);
        Serial.begin(9600);
        sensors.begin();
      }
      
      void loop()                     
      {
        int i;
        float temperature;
        DeviceAddress addr;
      
        sensors.requestTemperatures();
        
        for(i = 0; i < sensors.getDeviceCount(); i++)
        {
          temperature = sensors.getTempCByIndex(1);
          Serial.print("Current temperature at ");
          sensors.getAddress(addr, 1);
          printAddress(addr);
          Serial.print(" is: ");
          Serial.println(temperature);
        }
        
        if(temperature > HIGHTEMP)
        {
          digitalWrite(COMPRESSOR, HIGH);
          if(!compressor)
          {
            Serial.println("Compressor on");
            compressor = true;
          }
        }
        else if(temperature < LOWTEMP)
        {
          digitalWrite(COMPRESSOR, LOW);
          if(compressor)
          {
            Serial.println("Compressor off");
            compressor = false;
          }
        }
      
        delay(SLEEP_SEC * 1000);
        runtime += SLEEP_SEC;
        if(compressor) chilltime += SLEEP_SEC;
        
        Serial.print("Efficiency: Total runtime = ");
        Serial.print(runtime);
        Serial.print(", Chill time = ");
        Serial.print(chilltime);
        Serial.print(" (");
        Serial.print(chilltime * 100 / runtime);
        Serial.print("%, ");
        
        // The compressor wattage is consumption for an hour, so work
        // out how many hours we've been operating for. Then divide by
        // 1000 to get kWh.
        Serial.print(chilltime * COMPRESSOR_WATTAGE / 3600 / 1000);
        Serial.println("kWh)");
        
        Serial.println("");
      }
      
      // Function to print a one wire device address
      void printAddress(DeviceAddress deviceAddress)
      {
        for (uint8_t i = 0; i < 8; i++)
        {
          // zero pad the address if necessary
          if (deviceAddress[i] < 16) Serial.print("0");
          Serial.print(deviceAddress[i], HEX);
        }
      }
      


    The code uses the Miles Burton 1-Wire library, which was easy to use once you figure out his example code has an impossible number for the pin. The code outputs information like this over serial:

      Current temperature at 10FA473500000037 is: 21.62
      Efficiency: Total runtime = 1780, Chill time = 1770 (99%, 0.04kWh)
      


    That's with it on my desk where the "compressor" is permanently "on". I'll let you know how we go with further versions.

    Tags for this post: arduino arduino temperature 1-wire beer homeautomation
    Related posts: Beer fridge controller 0.3; Beer fridge controller 0.2; The Beer Fridge saga continues; Building a hygrometer with a HS1101; Home power measurement; Adding Open Flash Charts to my home monitoring

posted at: 16:58 | path: /arduino | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Sunday, 20 December 2009

    01:58: Mikal shared: Arduino playground - OneWire
      I bought a $20 beer fridge the other day... Unfortunately the thermostat doesn't work, so now Doug and I are going to build our own Arduino fridge controller. What could possibly go wrong?



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 03:34 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 18 Dec 2009



Blathering for Friday, 18 December 2009

posted at: 01:58 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 16 Dec 2009



Blathering for Wednesday, 16 December 2009

posted at: 03:56 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 14 Dec 2009



Saturn's Children

posted at: 18:40 | path: /book/Charles_Stross | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 13 Dec 2009



Blathering for Monday, 14 December 2009

posted at: 10:54 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Sunday, 13 December 2009

posted at: 04:49 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 11 Dec 2009



Blathering for Friday, 11 December 2009

posted at: 04:21 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 10 Dec 2009



Bolo!

posted at: 17:42 | path: /book/Keith_Laumer | permanent link to this entry


Last Human

posted at: 02:24 | path: /book/Doug_Naylor | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 09 Dec 2009



Blathering for Wednesday, 09 December 2009

posted at: 04:26 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 08 Dec 2009



Blathering for Tuesday, 08 December 2009

posted at: 04:20 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


The Dragonlover's Guide to Pern




    ISBN: 0345412745
    Del Rey (1997), Edition: 2, Paperback, 260 pages
    LibraryThing
    I bought and read this book for the short story "the impression", which is ok but not fantastic. Overall the book isn't really my thing -- its mostly a potted history of Pern and a nearly exhaustive coverage of the various weyrs, holds and craft halls that inhabit the planet. To be honest, I'd rather learn that stuff as I read the series, instead of reading a summary. Overall I think this book isn't particularly great, although its nice to have read the short story at the right time in the sequence.

    Having just read Dragonsdawn, there are also some inconsistencies which grated a little (the use of HNO3 for example, and how much knowledge of the Oort cloud the survey team had string to mind as examples).

    Tags for this post: book anne_mccaffrey genetic_engineering dragon biohazard reference pern
    Related posts: The White Dragon; Nerilka's Story; Dragonsinger; Dragondrums; Dragonquest; The Renegades of Pern


posted at: 02:33 | path: /book/Anne_McCaffrey | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 07 Dec 2009



Dragonsdawn

posted at: 14:34 | path: /book/Anne_McCaffrey | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 03 Dec 2009



Bolo Strike

posted at: 14:38 | path: /book/Keith_Laumer | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 02 Dec 2009



Books read in November 2009

posted at: 21:01 | path: /book/read | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Thursday, 03 December 2009

posted at: 12:48 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Wednesday, 02 December 2009

posted at: 04:13 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 01 Dec 2009



Blathering for Tuesday, 01 December 2009

posted at: 04:55 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 30 Nov 2009



Blathering for Monday, 30 November 2009

posted at: 03:53 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 26 Nov 2009



Blathering for Thursday, 26 November 2009

posted at: 02:12 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 25 Nov 2009



The Ship Who Sang




    ISBN: 0345297687
    Del Rey (1981), Mass Market Paperback
    LibraryThing
    This book is good science fiction, in the sense that it explores something which we are not ready to address as a society -- in this case, would profoundly disabled people prefer that we could replace their disabled bodies? What if the replacement wasn't humanoid? The book is pretty old though, and that shows in some of the elements of the story. I don't feel it detracts though. The book is also composed of a series of independantish by related short stories, which was a common publishing technique for science fiction in the 1960s.

    One story -- "Dramatic Mission" -- did throw me a little. Its just too out there conceptually, and actually kind of dull until about the last three pages, where the controller poses some interesting questions of Helva. I feel that perhaps the lead up could have been better though.

    Tags for this post: book anne_mccaffrey space_travel disability cybernetics music brainship nebula award
    Related posts: The Accidental Time Machine ; Rendezvous With Rama; Red Mars; Dragonflight ; Ender's Game; Foundation's Edge


posted at: 20:57 | path: /book/Anne_McCaffrey | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 24 Nov 2009



Python effective TLD library bug fix

posted at: 13:57 | path: /python/etld | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 19 Nov 2009



Blathering for Friday, 20 November 2009

    00:36: Mikal shared: Apple's Mistake
      Paul makes good points. Although I don't think that you need to develop on your phone -- just have a device which lets you reach in deep enough to make debugging a pleasure.



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 07:28 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Thursday, 19 November 2009

posted at: 04:59 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 18 Nov 2009



Bolo Rising

posted at: 20:01 | path: /book/Keith_Laumer | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Wednesday, 18 November 2009

posted at: 03:18 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 15 Nov 2009



Forever Peace

posted at: 22:44 | path: /book/Joe_Haldeman | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 11 Nov 2009



The Forever War

posted at: 14:14 | path: /book/Joe_Haldeman | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 06 Nov 2009



On Cars

posted at: 21:38 | path: /book/Jeremy_Clarkson | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 05 Nov 2009



Books read in October 2009

posted at: 15:25 | path: /book/read | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Thursday, 05 November 2009

posted at: 00:23 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 03 Nov 2009



Blathering for Wednesday, 04 November 2009

posted at: 23:54 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Tuesday, 03 November 2009

posted at: 04:03 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 01 Nov 2009



Python effective TLD library update

posted at: 09:45 | path: /python/etld | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Monday, 02 November 2009

posted at: 07:34 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 30 Oct 2009



Blathering for Friday, 30 October 2009

posted at: 04:48 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 28 Oct 2009



Blathering for Thursday, 29 October 2009

posted at: 22:41 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


INVOL RER DUE TO OVERSOLD LX40

    I'm not sure where to start this story. I could tell you how I've been flying around the world on a business trip, or I could tell you what I think about Swiss Air business class. Instead I'm left thinking I should mention carbon. You see, I was sitting in first class on a Swiss Air flight to New York City yesterday, and I was surrounded by tree. Big centimeter thick panels of it are all over the place. When other airlines are doing things like using lighter foam for seat cushions or asking passengers to go potty before boarding to reduce the weight of their aircraft (and therefore carbon emissions), Swiss has chosen to find a forest and cut it down to put in their brand new plane. This forest will be flying around for a couple of decades I would think.

    Sure, its only in first class (business class gets veneer), and I'm a bastard for being in first class at all. There's a story to that too though. I booked an ultra cheap around the world business ticket through Swiss Air. It was in fact cheaper than the same flights in economy with Qantas. This is despite the fact that two of the business class segments are in fact on Qantas. That's how I ended up in first class -- I was going between London Heathrow and San Francisco, but Swiss had oversold the Zurich to LA flight. So, I'm bumped to first class via NYC, which added about six hours to my total travel time yesterday.

    Being bumped wasn't all bad. I've never been in first class before, and it was very nice. I might have chocolate poisoning of some form. I also got to "experience" American Airlines business class from New York to LA, in a plane which is possibly older than me. In fact, its entirely possible this plane predates flight. The seat pitch was nice, except that my chair kept involuntarily reclining. I didn't mind too much, as I hadn't slept in about 24 hours at that point, so I nodded off. Before I nodded off, I was also forced to decide that it was in fact the chick from Gilmore Girls (the one who plays Lorelai) two rows in front of me. She dropped her bag at one point in the airport, and I am excited to report that she watched a DVD during the flight. Citizen journalism at its finest.

    I wouldn't normally mention the actress in the front of the plane, especially after TechCrunch taught me that no one gives a crap about what's happening to me (or in fact you) in real time. However, this being a stream of consciousness blog post written at 8am in LA airport while killing time for yet another flight, I think I am justified. Oh, and I also don't care if you give a crap.

    I have more to complain about. Take for example the Swiss Air business class flight that I've just taken from Narita near Tokyo to Heathrow, via Zurich. Its clear why the ticket was cheap. Swiss business class simply isn't up to the standard of Qantas'. The seats don't lie flat (when you try to sleep you slide down to the end of the footrest in a little mound), the on demand entertainment system works, but appears to have some sort of image resizing error (everything is pixelated), and the cabin service is terribly slow. Lunch has just taken about two hours to serve. It took two hours in first class as well, but that's because they were trying to shove five courses into me.

    The cabin fit out on that business class flight was the same standard as Qantas had before they went to their new lie flat configuration. To put that in perspective, that conversion was done at least ten years ago. I think the standard of the equipment being used might also explain why only half of the seats are taken in business class, where Qantas would be running at capacity. This was clearly one of the older Swiss aircraft, but even the brand new one with the forest in it had a business class which wasn't up to the same standard as Qantas.

    I can't complain too much though -- it still beats the pants of Qantas economy, and the flight did give me a chance to discover what I believe might be the most boring television program ever made. Its called "Swiss Railway Journeys", and I heartily don't recommend it. Unless you deeply care about the age of each wheel on the train.

    One last thing. While the Swiss Air staff were all much older than I am used to on other airlines, I think that's because of the vagaries of the youth of today. Each of these staff could speak four languages fluently, and would begin the conversation when you first boarded with a little protocol handshake where they said hello in all four languages and waited to see which one you replied in. Once they had you figured out, they would use the correct language from then on. Modern youth are too busy twittering to learn one language, let alone every language ever used. Oh, and if you know four words of German, don't use them at the start of a Swiss flight. You'll be stuck for the rest of the journey conveying your desires through interpretive dance.

    Tags for this post: travel travel swiss business first carbon
    Related posts: Cryptonomicon; Quite motivational; Young Achievers; In the US you an pack meat in carbon monoxide to keep it red longer?; Your first computer?; Interesting morning chatting

posted at: 14:10 | path: /travel | permanent link to this entry


Triplanetary




    ISBN: 0425053830
    LibraryThing
    This is the first book in the EE Doc Smith Lensman series, a series which sweeps from pre-modern Atlantis all the way well into the future. Its pretty old, so some of the science is dangerously dated, but that's not its biggest flaw. This book suffers from uncontrolled hyperbole, which I guess isn't that unexpected for a space opera. I guess it was also more common at the time, before science fiction started taking itself seriously. The plot is also a little hard to believe, with both sides at one point murdering entire cities. They then of course forgive each other because "its logical".

    However, I have an emotional attachment to this book, because it is the one which interested me in reading as a young child. Despite its flaws in both science and plot, it is still an ok book. I enjoyed reading it, and it was entertaining.

    Tags for this post: book ee_doc_smith eugenics aliens
    Related posts: Beyond This Horizon


posted at: 05:22 | path: /book/EE_Doc_Smith | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Wednesday, 28 October 2009

posted at: 03:51 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 26 Oct 2009



Python effective TLD library

    I had a need recently for a library which would take a host name and return the domain-specific portion of the name, and the effective TLD being used. "Effective TLD" is a term coined by the Mozilla project for something which acts like a TLD. For example, .com is a TLD and has domains allocated under it. However, .au is a TLD with no domains under it. The effective TLDs for the .au domain are things like .com.au and .edu.au. Whilst there are libraries for other languages, I couldn't find anything for python.

    I therefore wrote one. Its very simple, and not optimal. For example, I could do most of the processing with a single regexp if python supported more than 100 match groups in a regexp, but it doesn't. I'm sure I'll end up revisiting this code sometime in the future. Additionally, the code ended up being much easier to write than I expected, mainly because the Mozilla project has gone to the trouble of building a list of rules to determine the effective TLD of a host name. This is awesome, because it saved me heaps and heaps of work.

    The code is at http://www.stillhq.com/python/etld/etld.py if you're interested.

    Tags for this post: python etld effective tld mozilla
    Related posts: Python effective TLD library bug fix; Python effective TLD library update; Implementing SCP with paramiko; Packet capture in python; mbot: new hotness in Google Talk bots; Calculating a SSH host key with paramiko

posted at: 06:42 | path: /python/etld | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 24 Oct 2009



Blathering for Sunday, 25 October 2009

posted at: 23:09 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 23 Oct 2009



Blathering for Saturday, 24 October 2009

posted at: 12:38 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Friday, 23 October 2009

posted at: 00:35 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 21 Oct 2009



Blathering for Thursday, 22 October 2009

posted at: 17:41 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 20 Oct 2009



Blathering for Wednesday, 21 October 2009

posted at: 19:02 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Nerilka's Story




    ISBN: 0345339495
    Del Rey (1987), Mass Market Paperback, 208 pages
    LibraryThing
    This book takes place over almost exactly the same period as Moreta. However, its not a rehash of those events, as it is written from a different person's perspective. There are enough points where the two story lines meet for the books to make sense as a pair, and I'd recommend reading them back to back. This book is an incredibly fast read (I knocked it over in a few hours on a flight), and its a bit more positive than Moreta, which has a pretty sad ending. However, this book isn't the happiest book ever written either. I've seen commentary that says this book is mostly about how unattractive Nerilka is physically. I dispute that though -- the book is about how the human spirit is more important than breeding or good looks, and how Nerilka's efforts to do the right thing in a time of crisis have a lasting impact. I enjoyed this book.

    Tags for this post: book anne_mccaffrey genetic_engineering dragon biohazard pandemic pern
    Related posts: Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern; The White Dragon; Dragonsinger; Dragondrums; Dragonquest; The Renegades of Pern


posted at: 13:05 | path: /book/Anne_McCaffrey | permanent link to this entry
Comment on this post.


Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern




    ISBN: 034529873X
    Del Rey (1984), Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
    LibraryThing
    Moreta is a book about a pandemic, and its hard to make those fun... If you've bothered to find out anything about the book in advance (or read the preceding Pern books, where it is referred to), you know that its not going to be a fun ride. On the other hand, the book is an interesting read, and its educational to find out how much knowledge has been lost in the Pern universe between Moreta and Lessa. For example, its clear in Moreta that everyone knows they moved from the Southern continent, whereas that is much less clear in the books set in Lessa's time. Its hard to say that a book about thousands of people dying is enjoyable. However, the story is a gripping one, and I'm glad I read it.

    Tags for this post: book anne_mccaffrey genetic_engineering dragon biohazard pandemic pern hugo award
    Related posts: Dragonquest; All The Weyrs of Pern; Nerilka's Story; Dragonflight ; The White Dragon; Dragonsinger


posted at: 13:01 | path: /book/Anne_McCaffrey | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 19 Oct 2009



Blathering for Monday, 19 October 2009

posted at: 05:58 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 15 Oct 2009



Blathering for Friday, 16 October 2009

posted at: 18:31 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 14 Oct 2009



Blathering for Thursday, 15 October 2009

    02:50: Mikal shared: Mono is a trap evidence
      These slides are interesting. I worked for a Microsoft ISV back in the day, and the would consistently pressure us to do things that clearly weren't in our best interests (and that they weren't doing to their products either). An example is porting our millions of lines of code to .NET, at the same time that they weren't doing that to their own code.

      I wonder how Microsoft can get away with using language like this in a world in which they are under antitrust scrutiny? I would have though words like "war" and "kill" would be antitrust triggers.

    02:54: Mikal shared: Core Values: The silicon behind Android
      An interesting summary of the current state of play with Android SoC chips. I dispute the statement that Android's feel sluggish, but that's clearly subjective. Otherwise a good article.

    04:06: Mikal shared: Google Unwraps Androids Giant Eclair
      Name a desert beginning with F that you'd like to see in giant form...

    05:17: Mikal shared: The Geography of Jobs - TIP Strategies
      Interesting employment growth visualization for the last five years in the US. Can you spot Hurricane Katrina?



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 17:19 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 13 Oct 2009



Blathering for Wednesday, 14 October 2009

posted at: 19:21 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 12 Oct 2009



Blathering for Tuesday, 13 October 2009

posted at: 16:44 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Monday, 12 October 2009

    04:33: Mikal shared: Greens call for end to car salary loophole - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
      I was talking about the status of FBT for leased cars with a friend just the other day. Personally, having seen people go for hundreds of kilometer drives at lunch time just to get into the next mileage bracket for tax, I think its time for salary sacrificing of car leases to end. I also like the idea of salary sacrifice for public transportation, which is something they've had in the US for ages.



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 04:26 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 11 Oct 2009



Better Than Life

posted at: 00:12 | path: /book/Grant_Naylor | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 07 Oct 2009



Red Dwarf

posted at: 21:45 | path: /book/Grant_Naylor | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 06 Oct 2009



The King's Buccaneer

posted at: 23:47 | path: /book/Raymond_E_Feist | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 03 Oct 2009



Blathering for Sunday, 04 October 2009

posted at: 17:40 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Books read in September 2009

posted at: 15:16 | path: /book/read | permanent link to this entry


Deadly Exposure




    ISBN: 0451408721
    Signet (2000), Paperback, 416 pages
    LibraryThing
    This book isn't very good. I read it because my six year old son really liked the front cover art, and wanted me to read it. He wanted me to read it so much in fact that he bought two copies to give me.

    The book starts off with something which feels like its lifted straight out of the Andromeda Strain, you know, government agency / possible alien infection / we need a crack team of scientists! The book then moves on to introduce a selection of surprisingly one sided characters -- the fat self obsessed scientist, the thin young lady obsessed with getting it on, et cetera. The story jumps around, with sometimes implausible outcomes... For example, people are mid argument, and just magically stop when something happens nearby. Do you know people who stop arguing because the lights flicker?

    The book does pick up a little at the end, and I assume all the weird personification we're subjected to is an attempt to convey that the characters are losing their grip on sanity. Overall, I thought this book was quite rough, which is surprising from an author who apparently has had four other books published.

    I have revenge on my six year old planned -- I am going to make him read this book when he is older.

    Tags for this post: book leonard_goldberg crime pathology
    Related posts: Caves of Steel; Currency; Tipping point: windscreen washers; You Can Be The Stainless Steel Rat; The Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat; Mona Lisa Overdrive


posted at: 15:11 | path: /book/Leonard_Goldberg | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 29 Sep 2009



Blathering for Wednesday, 30 September 2009

posted at: 12:19 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 28 Sep 2009



Blathering for Tuesday, 29 September 2009

    01:00: Mikal shared: Vegemite - Vegemite Name Me
      OMFG. The new Vegemite (which is horrible) is named iSnack 2.0 (an appropriately horrible name).

    19:00: Mikal shared: DIY word clock
      Doug's project is now in Make magazine...



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 08:20 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Monday, 28 September 2009

posted at: 03:00 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 27 Sep 2009



Incorrect channel numbers in MythTV

    We've had a HDHomeRun for a while now, and I'm very happy with it. One wart however was that Catherine was complaining that tuning for Go! didn't work (an extra Win TV channel we get in this area). It was odd -- it appeared in the channel guide, but recordings would end up recording ABC1 instead, and we couldn't tune to the channel in the live TV interface either.

    I fired up the channel editor in mythtv-setup, and the problem was actually pretty easy to solve... The channel scan had assigned channel number 2 to Go!, which is the same channel number as ABC1. It had also gotten the channel number for Win TV wrong, but we hadn't noticed that because that wasn't overlapping with another channel. The channel numbers seem arbitrary, given the database is also storing frequency and demultiplexing information, so the fix was as simple as just giving the various WIN channels the correct numbers (or I suspect any number that was unique) in mythtv-setup.

    Tags for this post: mythtv hdhomerun channel number incorrect scan
    Related posts: Online license plate simulators; 2,150 blog posts; Want HDTV but only for US free to air?

posted at: 03:55 | path: /mythtv/hdhomerun | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 26 Sep 2009



Blathering for Sunday, 27 September 2009

posted at: 15:30 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Bolo Brigade




    ISBN: 067187781x
    LibraryThing
    There seems to be a formula for bolo books -- an obsolete bolo or two, and alien invader, a solitary bolo commander, and preferably a management chain which either doesn't trust bolos, the officer, or preferably both. Its even better if the chain of command is also grossly incompetent. This book has all of those, and I am left feeling that it didn't really add much to the overall bolo universe. Other books have explored some new aspect of the bolo psyche, or expanded on the history of the concordiat universe in some way, whereas this book didn't feel like it did any of that.

    However, this was an entertaining book, and is reasonably well written. It just wasn't as ambitious as I'd hoped it would be.

    Tags for this post: book keith_laumer bolo combat william_h_keith_jr aliens
    Related posts: Bolo Strike; Bolos 4: Last Stand; Their Finest Hour; Bolos 5: Old Guard; Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow ; Bolos 1: Honor of the Regiment


posted at: 03:02 | path: /book/Keith_Laumer | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 22 Sep 2009



The Stars Must Wait




    ISBN: 0671698591
    Baen (1990), Paperback, 283 pages
    LibraryThing
    This book is a novelization of "Night of the Trolls", which I have already read as part of The Compleat Bolo and Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow. I'm pretty fond of the short story, and this book version didn't start out strongly -- there is a prelude to explain some background, and then the book launches into what feels like the exact text of the short story. You can tell it hasn't been edited much, because there are minor continuity errors between this first chapter and the prelude. There are other continuity errors as well -- the blurb on the back says that the main character goes into stasis in 2002, but his wife dies in 1992 which is meant to be after the main character goes into stasis, and the map that he uses once out of stasis is copyright 2011 (even though the main character claims to have bought it just before going into stasis). Note that these dates are different to those used in the short story. These errors are distracting although the underlying story is still a good one.

    However, the good bits of the story are all contained in the short story. This feels like a poorly edited and heavily padded version of that short story, and I think we would have been better off without it. There is in fact a whole heap of seemingly pointless dialogue in the center of the book, where I think what we're meant to be learning is that post-apocalyptic life isn't much fun. I think we could have worked that out, and perhaps saved 50 or so pages. Worst of all, Laumer has changed the ending to a much less satisfying one.

    I recommend just sticking with the short story.

    Tags for this post: book keith_laumer bolo combat post_apocalypse
    Related posts: Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow ; Bolos 1: Honor of the Regiment; Bolos 2: The Unconquerable; Bolo Strike; Bolos 4: Last Stand; Their Finest Hour


posted at: 00:19 | path: /book/Keith_Laumer | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 21 Sep 2009



Blathering for Tuesday, 22 September 2009

posted at: 17:39 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 20 Sep 2009



Days of Blood and Fire




    ISBN: 0553290126
    Spectra (1994), Paperback, 528 pages
    LibraryThing
    This is book seven of the extended Deverry series (preceeded by Daggerspell, Darkspell, Dawnspell, The Dragon Revenant, A Time of Exile, and A Time of Omens). The blurb on the back cover of this book implies that it should be safe for a new reader to enter the series here, and I can understand why publishers would want to do such a thing for such a long series. By contrast, Asimov's Extended Foundation Series has many entry points, with most stories being free standing. I think Kerr did a reasonable job of introducing the characters without being overly annoying about it. I've seen reviews from others that say that there is a lot of annoying ground to recover, such as the Etheric travel sequences. I disagree however -- these are just as long winded as in other books in the series, and we're talking about a couple of paragraphs, not hundreds of pages.

    The only part of this book which didn't sit well with me was Rori picking up a girlfriend with basically now warning. Perhaps I'm dense, but I didn't see it coming at all, and thought it was rather abrupt. I'm also not sure it did much to further the overall story. On the other had, Jadho is an interesting character, and I'd like to see him explored more.

    This book ends mid plot line, so I guess they're expecting me to read the next book soon. That would have been a lot more annoying if I was reading this book fresh off the presses and had to wait for Kerr to write the next one before I could read it.

    Tags for this post: book katharine_kerr sword_and_sourcery dragon deverry fantasy
    Related posts: Days of Air and Darkness; Dawnspell: The Bristling Wood; A Time of Omens; The Dragon Revenant; Daggerspell; Darkspell


posted at: 14:18 | path: /book/Katharine_Kerr | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 15 Sep 2009



Blathering for Wednesday, 16 September 2009

posted at: 13:41 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 14 Sep 2009



Blathering for Tuesday, 15 September 2009

posted at: 14:00 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mr. Penumbra's Twenty-Four-Hour Book Store

    Boing Boing put me onto this online short story. Its really very good, and it distracted me from the book I am meant to be reading by not only being clever, but also by using jargon in a manner that not only furthered the story, but (and here's the rare bit) didn't make me immediately cringe. The story is also chock full of quotable quotes, of which I will supply you with one:

    I can't stop squirming. If fidgets were Wikipedia edits, I would have completely revamped the entry on guilt by now, and translated it into six new languages.


    An excellent short story of our modern times.

    Tags for this post: book robin_sloan

posted at: 03:19 | path: /book/Robin_Sloan | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 12 Sep 2009



Isaac Asimov's Robot City: Robots and Aliens: Maverick

posted at: 04:16 | path: /book/Bruce_Bethke | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 10 Sep 2009



Dragondrums

posted at: 14:07 | path: /book/Anne_McCaffrey | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Thursday, 10 September 2009

posted at: 05:00 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 07 Sep 2009



Dragonsinger

posted at: 04:09 | path: /book/Anne_McCaffrey | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 01 Sep 2009



Blathering for Wednesday, 02 September 2009

posted at: 15:08 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 31 Aug 2009



Books read in August 2009

posted at: 15:28 | path: /book/read | permanent link to this entry


Dragonsong




    ISBN: 0553258524
    Spectra Bantam (1977), Mass Market Paperback, 176 pages
    LibraryThing
    Dragonsong sits between Dragonquest and The White Dragon, although there is some overlap with The White Dragon and it doesn't matter what order you read those two in.

    Some friends and I were joking the other day that all McCaffrey books seem to involve a pained teenager coming to age. That's true with this book, although the story isn't as drawn out as The White Dragon, and I didn't find it quite as annoying to read. I think that's because McCaffrey didn't dwell on how terrible it was to be a teenager as much in this one.

    I really enjoyed this one, and thought it was better than The White Dragon, and on par with Dragonflight, although I do feel that The White Dragon opens up more interesting possibilities for the universe than this book did.

    Tags for this post: book anne_mccaffrey genetic_engineering dragon biohazard music pern
    Related posts: Dragonsinger; Dragondrums; The White Dragon; Nerilka's Story; Dragonquest; The Renegades of Pern


posted at: 03:09 | path: /book/Anne_McCaffrey | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 30 Aug 2009



Blathering for Monday, 31 August 2009

posted at: 10:32 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 28 Aug 2009



Bolos 6: Cold Steel

posted at: 04:38 | path: /book/Keith_Laumer | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 27 Aug 2009



Blathering for Friday, 28 August 2009

    07:00: Mikal shared: HTML5 Demo: geolocation
      Nice HTML 5 geolocation demo. I installed Firefox 3.5 to get this to work...



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 14:00 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 23 Aug 2009



Bio of a Space Tyrant: Politician

posted at: 04:19 | path: /book/Piers_Anthony | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 21 Aug 2009



Who writes Linux?

posted at: 02:22 | path: /linux | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 20 Aug 2009



Blathering for Friday, 21 August 2009

    01:00: Mikal shared: Crazy multi-processor ARM-based Arduino system
      Not only is this nerdy, I suspect there are practical uses as well. Imagine for instance an home automation system where a bunch of these are connected by a simple bus. Want to update just one node? Inject the code anywhere and let it propagate.



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 08:00 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 19 Aug 2009



Blathering for Thursday, 20 August 2009

posted at: 10:11 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 17 Aug 2009



Don't use Jetbus Sydney if you want to catch your flight

    I had to take a flight a few weeks ago, and I thought I'd do the financially (and environmentally) sensible thing and use an airport shuttle service. Especially because the airport train in Sydney is so expensive and slow. I found Jetbus online, and paid with PayPal. The first time I used them they were just fine, but the second time was extremely frustrating. So frustrating that I wont be using their service again, as I value actually getting on my plane.

    Interestingly, Jetbus' Sydney office is across the road from my pickup location, so how badly can it go?

    I had a 4pm booking. I arrived at the pickup location 15 minutes early. The bus drove past me at the speed limit approximately on time. It did not slow down or stop. I rang the dispatch number to inform them of the error. The bus drove past about 10 minutes later, again without slowing down or stopping. I rang again. The bus didn't reappear. In total, I rang dispatch 5 times in an attempt to be collected. After the bus was 45 minutes late, I took a taxi to the airport instead, which cost $47, and arrived with only 15 minutes to spare.

    The only part of this whole thing which makes me happy? This is the first time I have had to use PayPal's dispute resolution system as I am not a big PayPal user. It was pain free, and gave me the outcome I wanted. That's interesting given that I hear so many bad things from other PayPal users.

    Tags for this post: travel australia sydney jetbus airport shuttle rant
    Related posts: In Sydney!; Getting ready to leave Sydney; Travel details so far; American visas for all!; In Sydney for the day; Melbourne

posted at: 16:32 | path: /travel/australia/sydney | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Tuesday, 18 August 2009

posted at: 14:47 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Monday, 17 August 2009

    23:00: Mikal shared: Eh hem
      Virgin Blue steals picture from Flickr for their in flight magazine.



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 06:00 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 12 Aug 2009



Blathering for Thursday, 13 August 2009

posted at: 12:01 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 11 Aug 2009



Blathering for Wednesday, 12 August 2009

posted at: 12:45 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 10 Aug 2009



Blathering for Tuesday, 11 August 2009

posted at: 13:49 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


The White Dragon

posted at: 03:57 | path: /book/Anne_McCaffrey | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 05 Aug 2009



Blathering for Thursday, 06 August 2009

posted at: 14:01 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 01 Aug 2009



Books read in July 2009

posted at: 03:49 | path: /book/read | permanent link to this entry


Why do men fall asleep after sex?

posted at: 02:13 | path: /book/Mark_Leyner_and_Billy_Goldberg | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 19 Jul 2009



An awesome weekend

    I don't tend to write personal things here all that much any more, but I just wanted to say that I had an awesome weekend. It started off with a mate I haven't talked to in years inviting me to go checkout the U brew it place in Hume that the Riot ACT tried out... That was great fun, with the mate putting on a great barbecue, and us producing about 200 liters of beer for bottling in a couple of weeks. I don't think its cheaper than the beers that I would buy from the store, but when you factor in the social event, the barbie, and the fun of doing it yourself it was a great deal. Let me know if you're interested in coming along next time.

    Following on from that Catherine and I went and bought the road bike I have been eyeing off for the last week or so. Its a straight bar road bike, which makes it fast without having that bent over stance that I think looks so silly. Its a very fast bike, and I think my skill level is going to need to increase before I feel fully comfortable on it.

    Then today was my birthday. I had a nice breakfast with half my family, checked out the ANU food coop, had a nice lunch at home with the rest of my family, and then got some chores done. I now have a fancy gray water tank in the yard, with an immersible pump. That was especially cool because it got it for a great price. Oh, and I got some really cool presents too, like new tools (I like tools), and three Clarkson books.

    Overall, I had fun, got stuff done, and ended up with a great bike. I'm stoked.

    Tags for this post: blog birthday bike beer water
    Related posts: Water, wheels, tyres (tires?) and computers; First commute to work; Two weeks of being sick; A Saturday ride; Beer fridge controller 0.3; Beer fridge controller 0.2

posted at: 01:54 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 14 Jul 2009



Bolos 5: Old Guard

posted at: 01:02 | path: /book/Keith_Laumer | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 09 Jul 2009



Blathering for Friday, 10 July 2009

posted at: 12:21 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 02 Jul 2009



Blathering for Friday, 03 July 2009

posted at: 15:26 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Books read in June 2009

posted at: 02:07 | path: /book/read | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 30 Jun 2009



The Wild Palms Hotel

    When leaving the US, I stayed in the Wild Palms Hotel. I selected it for three reasons: I'd stayed there before; it is part of the Joie De Vivre chain which I have had good experiences with before; and it was very cheap on Expedia ($77 compared to an average rate in the area of about $150). I learnt some interesting things I thought I'd share:

    • The hotel is ok, just make sure you get an upstairs room. I was woken by mating elephants at 5am two days running because the floors are so thin. Be the mating elephant, not the victim of it! Once I moved to an upstairs room this probably went away.
    • The executive rooms aren't worth it. I got moved into one of these because of the noise problems. Its advantages was it was away form the road, had a bathrobe (really), and a LCD TV. I don't watch TV much, so the extra cost if I was paying isn't worth it.
    • The cleaning service kept "short sheeting" the bed. By short sheeting I mean pulled the sheets up to make the top of the bed look impressive, but leaving the bottom couple of inches of the mattress uncovered. Lots of hotels do this, and I find it crazily annoying.
    • The air conditioner was insanely loud. It was 38 when I was staying there, and every time the air conditioner kicked in I would be woken up by it.
    • Its a lot further south than I realized. It took about 20 minutes to get to work if you took El Camino. Depending on traffic its probably much faster to go all the way to the 101 and then take that. The Lawrence Expressway looks like the best way to get to the 101 from the hotel.


    So, overall this hotel was "ok", apart from some minor annoyances. I'll keep staying there so long as they're cheap. If they're not running a special, then you're much better off staying further north.

    Tags for this post: travel usa california sunnyvale review
    Related posts: Did I mention it's hot here?; Summing up Santa Monica; More reviews; Book reviews; Noisy neighbours at Central Park in Mountain View; So, how am I getting to the US?

posted at: 14:25 | path: /travel/usa/california/sunnyvale | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 29 Jun 2009



Blathering for Tuesday, 30 June 2009

posted at: 19:05 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 28 Jun 2009



Bolos 4: Last Stand

posted at: 16:27 | path: /book/Keith_Laumer | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 23 Jun 2009



Bolos 3: The Triumphant

posted at: 20:49 | path: /book/Keith_Laumer | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 19 Jun 2009



Blathering for Saturday, 20 June 2009

posted at: 09:19 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 15 Jun 2009



The Book of General Ignorance

posted at: 18:45 | path: /book/John_Lloyd_and_John_Hitchinson | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 12 Jun 2009



Why do men have nipples?

posted at: 20:57 | path: /book/Mark_Leyner_and_Billy_Goldberg | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Saturday, 13 June 2009

posted at: 10:02 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 10 Jun 2009



Isaac Asimov's Robot City: Robots and Aliens: Alliance

posted at: 21:34 | path: /book/Jerry_Oltion | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 06 Jun 2009



Why don't penguin's feet freeze? (and 114 other questions)

posted at: 19:46 | path: /book/New_Scientist | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 04 Jun 2009



Bolos 2: The Unconquerable

posted at: 22:06 | path: /book/Keith_Laumer | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 30 May 2009



Books read in May2009

posted at: 22:23 | path: /book/read | permanent link to this entry


Bolos 1: Honor of the Regiment

posted at: 22:18 | path: /book/Keith_Laumer | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 29 May 2009



A Time of Omens

posted at: 21:08 | path: /book/Katharine_Kerr | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 27 May 2009



Blathering for Wednesday, 27 May 2009

posted at: 20:27 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Taking over a launch pad project

    A while ago Thomas Mashos registered a launch pad project for MythNetTV (here for those that care). Launch pad annoys me quite a bit, although thats probably because I'm failing to understand how to use it in some way. So, perhaps people have guidance for me. Some questions:

    • How do I take over ownership of the project?
    • How do I mark bugs as resolved / fixed / finalized? They just seem to hang around in "fix committed".
    • How do I delete a blueprint that someone submitted that isn't going to get implemented?
    • Given I wrote all the code, and fixed all the bugs, how come someone who writes a two paragraph blueprint that is never going to get implemented gets more Karma than me? Not that I think the Karma system really matters, but it does seem ridiculous.
    • How do I tell launchpad the code is stored in an external SVN repository?


    Here's hoping someone can make launch pad less annoying for me.

    Tags for this post: blog canonical launchpad
    Related posts: Got Something to Say? The LCA 2013 CFP Opens Soon!; Slow git review uploads?; On conference t-shirts; Further adventures with base images in OpenStack; Wow, qemu-img is fast; Reflecting on Essex

posted at: 07:35 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 25 May 2009



Blathering for Monday, 25 May 2009

posted at: 10:02 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 22 May 2009



Galactic Dreams




    ISBN: 0812550587
    Tor Books (1995), Mass Market Paperback, 222 pages
    LibraryThing
    This is a relatively short collection of Harry Harrison short stories. They are:

    • I always do what Teddy says: what happens when we abdicate teaching our youngsters moral values to machine, and then don't test that the machine is working correctly? A short story about unit testing?
    • Space rats of the CCC: this story is just silly. Its a little bit like Bill the Galactic Hero in style, but also a little bit annoying. It didn't really work for me.
    • Down to earth: I'm sure I've read this basic plot line about a billion times, for example Hawk Among the Sparrows being just one example. This one didn't even have a good twist at the end.
    • A criminal act: Harrison feels strongly about population grow (see also Make Room, Make Room!). Its pretty obvious in this story, although its not as preachy as Make Room, Make Room.
    • Famous first words: I actually really liked this one.
    • The Pad - a story of the day after the day after tomorrow: seducing women is hard work for billionaires, apparently.
    • If: a pretty standard "don't alter the time lines" tale, with a small if predictable twist.
    • Mute Milton: what important discoveries have been lost through the ages through racism or accident?
    • Simulated trainer: this is an interesting story -- I quite like the concept, and the execution is more believable than most Harrison stories.
    • At last, the true story of Frankenstein: this is a good story too, with a nice twist at the end.
    • The robot who wanted to know: a pretty classic robot story, which could just as easily fit in an Asimov collection as a Harrison collection. I'm quite partial to robot stories, and I enjoyed it.
    • Bill the Galactic Hero's happy holiday: I've previous complained about the overall style of the Bill the Galactic Hero series. I think it works better as a short story than a novel, because the level of annoyance it develops in the reader is smaller. This was actually better than the novel length Bill stories that I've read so far.


    Overall, a solid collection, but not startlingly good.

    Tags for this post: book harry_harrison deathworld anthology
    Related posts: Stainless Steel Visions; Deathworld Two ; Deathworld One ; Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow ; Dogs of War; Body Armor: 2000


posted at: 08:52 | path: /book/Harry_Harrison | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 19 May 2009



Deathworld Three

posted at: 21:39 | path: /book/Harry_Harrison | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 18 May 2009



Blathering for Monday, 18 May 2009

posted at: 08:45 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 17 May 2009



Dragonquest

posted at: 18:58 | path: /book/Anne_McCaffrey | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 16 May 2009



Early Father's day

    The kids aren't going to be in the same country as me for US father's day (I get two this year!), so they gave me my present early. I now have a complete set of UK police riot armor -- the helmet, shield, and leg protectors. This has already come in handy whilst parenting hyperactive children. I wonder if its legal for me to own such things in Australia?

    Digging a bit further, it appears:
  • Possessing soft body armor (for example ballistic Kevlar) is illegal in the ACT except for those employed by licensed security organizations -- PROHIBITED WEAPONS REGULATION 1997, section 12.
  • In fact, the Commonwealth customs regulations mostly seem concerned with the possession or import of armor intended to stop bullets -- CUSTOMS (PROHIBITED IMPORTS) AMENDMENT REGULATIONS 2005 (NO. 4) (SLI NO 249 OF 2005)

    I can't see any mention of riot armor (which wouldn't stop a bullet) though, nor a reference to militaria, apart from militaria fairs needing a permit. I wonder if anyone else has thoughts on this?

    Tags for this post: blog toys riot armor

posted at: 18:21 | path: /diary/toys | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 15 May 2009



Blathering for Friday, 15 May 2009

    14:45: Mikal shared: Culture war over tax change on employee shares
      Its good to see that other people are annoyed by this change as well. It will certainly affect me.

      The basic issue here isn't that I don't want to pay tax. I'm fine with paying my share.

      The US system has merit here: you pay capital gains tax on the difference between the strike price and the sale price of the option when you sell the share (i.e. realize some income from the asset).

      This new Australian system brings that tax event forward, so that you have to pay CGT at vest time on the delta between the strike price and the market price at vest time. However, you haven't sold the share at that point, so you end up with an unfunded tax liability. Why not just charge tax a sale time? How is that not fair?



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 14:45 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 14 May 2009



CCD Barcode Scanner

    I just picked up a CCD barcode scanner cheaply on eBay. The plan is to use it to bulk enter a bunch of books into my book database. Many US books don't have bookland barcodes, but instead have something which looks like this:



    So, the barcode has no problems with the big barcode on the left, however it doesn't recognize the little barcode on the right. So, does anyone know what format that little barcode is in? What mode do I need to put my barcode scanner into to get both barcodes read, either at the same time or individually?

    Update: once again the Intern has earn his Intern-chow (or whatever it is he eats when he's allowed out of his cage). The deal was I needed to scan the magic "make all possible barcode types work kthxbye" barcode in the book of exactly 1 billion configuration barcodes. It all works well now. I wont mention the Intern's name, because I want to hire him and need more security through obscurity in my life.

    Tags for this post: blog toys barcode scanner

posted at: 21:46 | path: /diary/toys | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 12 May 2009



LinkedIn and Facebook

    I just went through and dealt with my huge (some from 2006!) backlog of LinkedIn and Facebook invites. I'm terrible with names, so if I mis-rejected someone I apologize. I'm also trying to keep FB and LinkedIn separate -- LinkedIn is for people I know professionally, and Facebook is for people I don't mind telling about my hat collection.

    I am sure you found this post enthralling. That is all.

    Tags for this post: blog linkedin facebook
    Related posts: Solutions for the pollution of a social network?

posted at: 19:48 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 11 May 2009



Dragonflight




    ISBN: 0345335465
    Ballantine Books (1986), Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages
    LibraryThing
    This is the first book in the Dragons of Pern series, which I read a small part of as a child. Given that they're still being written, its not surprising that I'm pretty out of date on this series. This book is excellent for a few reasons -- the idea is unique and well implemented; its an amazing mix of fantasy with science fiction style justifications for the way things are; and its well written. The underlying premise is that a planet named Pern as a nearly neighbor on an eccentric orbit. When that neighbor comes near to Pern, spores from the other planet try to land on Pern. These spores breed by eating organic life, so they need to be neutralized or life on Pern will cease. There are however a few patches I had to re-read to make full sense of. I really liked this book.

    Tags for this post: book anne_mccaffrey genetic_engineering dragon biohazard pern nebula award npr_top_100_sf
    Related posts: Dragonquest; Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern; The White Dragon; All The Weyrs of Pern; Nerilka's Story; Dragonsinger


posted at: 21:02 | path: /book/Anne_McCaffrey | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 10 May 2009



Deathworld Two

posted at: 14:44 | path: /book/Harry_Harrison | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 08 May 2009



Deathworld One

posted at: 09:56 | path: /book/Harry_Harrison | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 06 May 2009



Link mailing list complains about twitter, news at 11

    I'm starting to get quite annoyed with the level of complaining about twitter on the Link mailing list. It seems that people can't understand why a short form status publishing service is interesting. Fine. But the bit I don't get is why they can't just ignore it -- its not like anyone is forcing them to use it... Its a bit like MySpace. If you don't like it, just ignore it.

    That is all.

    Tags for this post: blog twitter link
    Related posts: Bad science: Ben Goldacre vs Rentokil, a twitter timeline; On Twitter

posted at: 16:03 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 05 May 2009



Logan's Run

posted at: 20:23 | path: /book/William_F_Nolan_and_George_Clayton_Johnson | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 03 May 2009



Blathering for Sunday, 03 May 2009

posted at: 15:15 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 02 May 2009



Friday




    ISBN: 034530988x
    LibraryThing
    This is the first Heinlein book I have read in a long time -- since High School in fact. I read this one simply on an impulse, as the back cover description made it sound interesting. Heinlein isn't on the list of authors that I am pursuing at the moment, although I might consider changing that.

    This book covers a more complicated Earth than the one we have right now, although in some ways its more simple. The main character Friday doesn't ever seem to have trouble making friends, and portions of the book are just a series of her romantic entanglements. Most of the complexities are political. The story is mostly about a journey, both physical as well as emotional, and interestingly there isn't a consistent opposing force. I suspect that might be unusual, at least for the stuff I read.

    This book was good, even if the constant romantic entanglements seemed extraneous.

    Tags for this post: book robert_a_heinlein courier engineered_human hugo nebula prometheus award
    Related posts: Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow ; Saturn's Children; Mona Lisa Overdrive; The Diamond Age ; Ender's Game; Foundation's Edge


posted at: 21:57 | path: /book/Robert_A_Heinlein | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 30 Apr 2009



Books read in April 2009

posted at: 11:29 | path: /book/read | permanent link to this entry


Isaac Asimov's Robot City: Robots and Aliens: Intruder

posted at: 11:21 | path: /book/Robert_Thurston | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 28 Apr 2009



MythTV Chapter Ready: The Hard Way: Installing MythTV From Source

posted at: 07:30 | path: /mythtv/book/wiki | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 27 Apr 2009



Nightfall (short stories)




    ISBN: 0586212558
    Pan (1991), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 448 pages
    LibraryThing
    There are four Asimov books called Nightfall. There is a two volume collection of short stories (Nightfall One and Nightfall Two), a single volume version of this collection, and a novel length version of the short story "Nightfall", which headlines the short story collections. I've previously attempted to explain the list of short stories in the various versions of the collection at http://www.stillhq.com/book/Isaac_Asimov/Nightfall_Short_Stories.html. There is also a correlation with previously published Robot short stories at http://www.stillhq.com/book/Isaac_Asimov/Robot_Short_Stories.html.

    I just finished reading the short story collection (in this case in a single volume). I haven't read any Asimov short stories in a few months (since September last year to be exact), and I had forgotten how much I enjoy them. One of the advantages of these short story collections is that you get to cover a lot of ground, and there is a real sense of accomplishment in finishing a short story. I think also that the shorter form keeps the author honest -- there simply isn't room to waste space on long passages which don't progress the plot.

    This collection is excellent, much like the others I have read from Asimov. I will note that I particularly enjoyed "The Up-to-date Sorcerer", which isn't something I would expect from a Victorian style humor piece. This book was good reading.

    Tags for this post: book isaac_asimov robot anthology hugo award
    Related posts: Buy Jupiter Short Stories; Caves of Steel; Foundation's Edge ; Foundation and Empire; Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow ; Mona Lisa Overdrive


posted at: 19:38 | path: /book/Isaac_Asimov | permanent link to this entry


Isaac Asimov's Robot Short Stories

    I was getting quite confused about which robot short stories I had already read (many appear in more than one collection), so I built this table to help. Note that ecrosses indicate stories which aren't about robots, and are really stow aways.

    Nightfall
    1971
    Robbie
     
     
    Runaround
     
     
    Reason
     
     
    Catch That Rabbit
     
         
    Liar!
     
     
    Little Lost Robot
     
    Escape!
     
         
    Evidence
     
     
    The Evitable Conflict
     
     
    Robot AL-76 Goes Astray  
         
    Victory Unintentional  
         
    First Law  
         
    Let's Get Together  
         
    Satisfaction Guaranteed  
         
    Risk  
         
    Lenny  
     
    Galley Slave  
     
    A Boy's Best Friend    
         
    Sally    
     
    Someday    
     
    Point of View    
         
    Think!    
     
    True Love    
       
    Stranger in Paradise    
         
    Light Verse    
       
    Segregationist    
     
    Mirror Image    
     
    The Tercentenary Incident    
         
    Feminine Intuition    
     
    ... That Thou Art Mindful of Him    
         
    The Bicentennial Man    
     
    Robot Dreams      
       
    Breeds There a Man      
     
    Hostess      
     
    Strikebreaker      
     
    The Machine That Won the War      
     
    Eyes Do More Than See      
     
    The Martian Way      
       
    Franchise      
       
    Jokester      
       
    The Last Question      
       
    Does a Bee Care?      
       
    The Feeling of Power      
       
    Spell My Name With an S      
       
    The Ugly Little Boy      
       
    The Billiard Ball      
       
    The Last Answer      
       
    Lest We Remember      
     
    Robot Visions        
    Too Bad!        
    Christmas Without Rodney        
    +Essays        
    Nightfall
    Green Patches
    C-Chute
    In a Good Cause --
    What If --
    Flies
    Nobody Here But --
    It's Such a Beautiful Day
    Insert Knob A into Hole B
    The Up-to-date Sorcerer
    Unto the Fourth Generation
    What is this Thing Called Love?
    My Son, the Physicist


    Tags for this post: book isaac_asimov robot anthology
    Related posts: The Rest of the Robots; Robot Dreams ; Nightfall (short stories) ; Robot Visions; Isaac Asimov's Nightfall Short Stories; The Complete Robot

posted at: 19:38 | path: /book/Isaac_Asimov | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Monday, 27 April 2009

    16:45: Mikal shared: Background Briefing - 29 March 2009 - MBA: Mostly bloody awful
      Interesting ABC Background Briefing about the state of MBA education. I've certainly met my share of MBA graduates over the years who don't appear to know anything, although there are exceptions to that as well. I do think that training someone at a University and then expecting them to immediately enter senior management is naive, if not dangerous. Anyway, and interesting read that others who work in large companies might be interested in.



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 16:45 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


How I plan on handling Ubuntu and Mythbuntu 9.04

posted at: 13:00 | path: /mythtv/book/wiki | permanent link to this entry


MythTV Chapter Ready: The Hard Way: Installing Ubuntu

posted at: 12:58 | path: /mythtv/book/wiki | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 24 Apr 2009



Drizzle Developer Day

posted at: 16:41 | path: /mysql | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 23 Apr 2009



Make Room, Make Room!




    ISBN: 044151605X
    LibraryThing
    I must have read this book a few years ago and forgotten, because I have no specific recollection of reading it, but the plot is familiar. This is a distopian novel about the dangers of over population, and was written at a time when the best available population models said that massive over population was going to be a problem by 1999. In the book the population of New York City is 35 million, whereas in reality its much more like 8 million at the moment. In order to support that many people the quality of life has had to radically decline, and the city spends most of its budget on welfare payments instead of maintaining its decaying infrastructure. It turns out that didn't happen, and I think that's partially why I didn't enjoy this book. The underlying story is good, but the book lacks hope, and feels preachy about population control. This book's style is quite different from the rest of Harrison's work that I've read -- there is hardly any humor. Its still an interesting read though and I managed to make it through to the end. I guess what I wanted from this book was a little less doom and gloom.

    Tags for this post: book harry_harrison population
    Related posts: Body Armor: 2000; There Is No Darkness; Foundation's Friends; Caves of Steel; Deathworld Two ; Robots and Empire


posted at: 22:43 | path: /book/Harry_Harrison | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Thursday, 23 April 2009

posted at: 14:30 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 19 Apr 2009



Servant of the Empire

posted at: 19:23 | path: /book/Raymond_E_Feist_and_Janny_Wurts | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 10 Apr 2009



Blathering for Friday, 10 April 2009

posted at: 21:30 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 09 Apr 2009



Blathering for Thursday, 09 April 2009

posted at: 16:00 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 07 Apr 2009



Isaac Asimov's Robot City: Robots and Aliens: Renegade

posted at: 19:26 | path: /book/Cordell_Scotten | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Wednesday, 08 April 2009

posted at: 14:55 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 03 Apr 2009



Isaac Asimov's Robot City: Robots and Aliens: Changeling

posted at: 18:15 | path: /book/Stephen_Leigh | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 01 Apr 2009



Blathering for Thursday, 02 April 2009

posted at: 08:07 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 31 Mar 2009



Blathering for Wednesday, 01 April 2009

posted at: 10:19 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 30 Mar 2009



Books read in March 2009

posted at: 23:04 | path: /book/read | permanent link to this entry


Isaac Asimov's Robot City: Perihelion

posted at: 23:03 | path: /book/William_F_Wu | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Monday, 30 March 2009

    11:15: Mikal shared: M4.3 earthquake near San Jose, CA
      The building I work in has a big steel I-beam frame, and then suspended floors. On the second floor where I sit, it felt a lot like the quake was being amplified by the building design. There was a noticeable sway in the monitor on my desk.

    13:15: Mikal shared: Sydney Airport
      Color me not surprised. I've already resolved to try to use Melbourne airport for as much international travel as possible.



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 13:15 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Tuesday, 31 March 2009

    14:00: Mikal shared: My Manhattan Project
      The story of one of the people who helped write the software that made securitized mortgages possible, thus causing the current economic crisis.



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 09:46 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 28 Mar 2009



A Time of Exile




    ISBN: 0553298135
    Spectra (1992), Paperback, 432 pages
    LibraryThing
    This book is the fifth in the Deverry series, but focusses on a different set of characters than the other books. However, the new plot line is tied in nicely with the previous stories, so there is a nice combination of furthering the overall plot without bogging down in territory which has been covered by the previous books. I liked this book, especially the way it starts out like a sequel to the third book, and then something which feels like an aside becomes the major plot line for the book. Its a great way of introducing a new sub plot without the reader realizing until its well under way, and I enjoyed it a lot. This is a a great book, and probably the best in the series after Daggerspell.

    Tags for this post: book katharine_kerr sword_and_sourcery deverry fantasy
    Related posts: Dawnspell: The Bristling Wood; A Time of Omens; Days of Air and Darkness; The Dragon Revenant; Daggerspell; Days of Blood and Fire


posted at: 22:38 | path: /book/Katharine_Kerr | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 25 Mar 2009



Blathering for Wednesday, 25 March 2009

    09:15: Mikal shared: Is Borders About To Go Under? [Speculation]
      I used to shop at Borders quite a lot before I discovered the second hand book store on Castro Street. I haven't been in a Borders in ages, so it is surprising to discover they're getting out of CDs and DVDs, which I would have thought would have been more profitable than books.



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 09:15 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 23 Mar 2009



Blathering for Tuesday, 24 March 2009

posted at: 09:27 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 22 Mar 2009



Bio of a Space Tyrant: Mercenary




    ISBN: 0380872218
    Avon Books (Mm) (1984), Paperback
    LibraryThing
    This book continues the story of a poor Hispanic immigrant made good that started with Bio of a Space Tyrant: Refugee. This book is overall much more positive than the previous one, with hardly any of Hope's friends being killed. The book revolves around Hope's military career, and the leadership team he builds. Its basically a story of personal magnetism, love, sex, and team work. The technical aspects of this book are a little weak, in a similar manner to the first one -- specifically some of the science fiction is hard to believe. Then again if you're willing to suspend disbelief, this is a good book.

    Tags for this post: book piers_anthony combat
    Related posts: Bio of a Space Tyrant: Refugee; Bio of a Space Tyrant: Politician


posted at: 11:24 | path: /book/Piers_Anthony | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Monday, 23 March 2009

    09:45: Mikal shared: Flammable water
      I wish I could light my water... Although I guess this would be a problem if you were trying to smoke in the shower.



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 07:56 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 21 Mar 2009



Blathering for Sunday, 22 March 2009

    07:45: Mikal shared: Android for Nokia Internet Tablets (NITdroid)
      Tempting. I tried to use my N800 for the first time in ages today and its pretty easy to remember why I gave up on it -- battery life sucks; the user input is hideous; the application repository just gives errors; and flash doesn't work properly in the browser. If only sound worked in nitdroid.



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 12:40 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 18 Mar 2009



Blathering for Thursday, 19 March 2009

posted at: 08:33 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 17 Mar 2009



Blathering for Wednesday, 18 March 2009

posted at: 13:28 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 13 Mar 2009



The Dragon Revenant

posted at: 18:47 | path: /book/Katharine_Kerr | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 12 Mar 2009



I love my intern

    Will Nowak rocks. I have no other way of saying it... He's been interning with me at work for a few months now (although this is something like his third internship with the company), and he has this amazing ability to dive right into a project and make it fantastic. I say this not only because he's doing a great job on the project he was handed at work, but also because he's taken the code for my iTunes replacement (which was always a quick and dirty hack), and done awesome things with it as well. We should hire this guy.

    Why am I saying this here? Because I couldn't contain my delight any longer.

    Tags for this post: blog

posted at: 09:45 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 11 Mar 2009



iTunes replacement part three

posted at: 17:47 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Wednesday, 11 March 2009

    10:30: Mikal shared: Cancel Cable TV
      This lines up with what I've been saying for a while... It seems odd that people pay hundreds of dollars for cable TV when the content is mostly available for free online, often at a higher quality and with less advertising.



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 10:30 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 09 Mar 2009



Redirect to a file:// URL?

posted at: 19:43 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 08 Mar 2009



iTunes replacement progress

posted at: 19:29 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


iTunes replacement

posted at: 10:57 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 06 Mar 2009



How Amazon lost the sale

posted at: 17:04 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 02 Mar 2009



Blathering for Tuesday, 03 March 2009

posted at: 23:00 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sony Reader (an ebook reader)

posted at: 19:52 | path: /ebook | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 01 Mar 2009



Books read in February 2009

posted at: 08:41 | path: /book/read | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 28 Feb 2009



Mostly Harmless

posted at: 12:22 | path: /book/Douglas_Adams | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Saturday, 28 February 2009

    11:15: Mikal shared: ffmpeg - Ubuntu Wiki
      Having trouble with ffmpeg on Ubuntu? This page is your friend.

    11:45: Mikal shared: #5630 (dvd gets stuck on copyright notice screen.) MythTV Trac
      Grumble. The problems I am currently having with playing back DVDs with MythTV 0.21 seem like a known issue, but the advice on how to fix it is to "run trunk". This is a pain because it means I also need to compile a new frontend for my various Macintosh frontends.



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 11:45 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 27 Feb 2009



Blathering for Friday, 27 February 2009

    16:15: Mikal shared: OBDII HOWTO
      Jon, Hugh and Flame have a lot to answer for. My OBD2 / CAN cable arrived today, which means I'm reading howtos while sick in bed.

    16:15: Mikal shared: OBD Clearinghouse
      A useful database of where the OBD connector on your car is.



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 16:15 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Free Baen ebooks

posted at: 14:01 | path: /book | permanent link to this entry


On Basilisk Station




    ISBN: 1416509372
    Baen (2005), Mass Market Paperback, 464 pages
    LibraryThing
    I bought this book because it was cheap a while ago, and only just got around to reading it. Its a pretty standard science fiction story of one naval officer's plight -- incompetent seniors; inadequate equipment; and evil neighbors. The story revolves around a young naval officer named Honor Harrington, who the Internet tells me has her career based around that of Admiral Nelson. This book was an interesting enough story, and doesn't collapse under the weight of cliche like some others do. It was entertaining and I will probably read the rest of the series.

    Tags for this post: book david_weber combat
    Related posts: Bolos 4: Last Stand; Their Finest Hour; Old Soldiers; Bolo!; Bolos 3: The Triumphant; The Apocalypse Troll


posted at: 11:27 | path: /book/David_Weber | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 25 Feb 2009



Roomba Battery Repack 1

    I bought two different versions of the Roomba battery repack kits from ebay and the first one arrived today. This is the nicer of the two versions, because it includes pre-soldered tabs on the battery wires. It cost me an extra dollar, and was about $26 including shipping. To be honest, if I'd found this one first I probably wouldn't have bought the one without the tabs.

    Here is the contents of the kit:



    Note that there are no instructions in the kit.

    The first step is to open up the battery case. The screws are pretty obvious, although the triangular screw driver than the kit ships with sure made this easier. Then you need to crack open the case, which for some reason is glued shut. That took a bit of patience, a jewelers screw driver, and in the end a hammer. I started out not wanting to bash the case too much, but it was glued pretty solidly. In the end it opened up just fine though:



    Now you just need to put the new pack in, making sure to get the tabs in the right places. Screw the lid shut, and go for it. My roomba is charging at the moment, and I'll let you know how it goes once that's done.

    (You might recall this means that I now have two fully functional roombas. I'm thinking of building the serial control cable, hooking up arduinos, and having some sort of swarming vacuum system. Its a pity I don't know anything about swarming algorithms...)

    Tags for this post: blog toys roomba battery repack
    Related posts: New Roomba batteries; Dead Roomba battery; Debugging reboot problems with a n800?; Alan Cox's IBM ThinkPad explodes; Dells are now explosives, and therefore not allowed on planes; Roomba serial cables

posted at: 16:43 | path: /diary/toys/roomba | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 24 Feb 2009



Thinking about IDL style descriptions of document formats

posted at: 16:58 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Wednesday, 25 February 2009

posted at: 07:51 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 23 Feb 2009



So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish

posted at: 21:26 | path: /book/Douglas_Adams | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Tuesday, 24 February 2009

posted at: 08:56 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 22 Feb 2009



Blathering for Sunday, 22 February 2009

posted at: 21:30 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Without Warning




    ISBN: 0345502892
    Del Rey (no date), Hardcover, 528 pages
    LibraryThing
    LibraryThing, of which I am a member runs a program where members are shipped early copies of books for free, with the preference for them writing a review when they're done reading the book. The books are shipped by the publisher directly to the reviewers. This isn't that uncommon in the publishing industry -- both of my books have experienced a similar process, although less formal. A pre-release version of this book was provided by this mechanism. The pre-release had some quite annoying typographical and grammar errors. I assume they are corrected in the final published version.

    I am a little conflicted about this story. On the one hand, the author comes from my home town, as do about 0% of popular authors. You can see he's Australian in the text -- several of the main characters are Australian, Greg Norman gets a cameo, and Tasmania is a hiding place of preference for refugees. On the other hand, I found this book a slow read. The story is good, and the ideas very interesting. The story is good too, with most chapters ending with a hook to keep you going. On the other hand, I just couldn't get into the story for some reason... It just seems like the situation keeps getting worse for the characters, and there is no hope for improvement. Perhaps that's the problem -- it turns out we're screwed if the US disappears, and you could probably say that in a one page essay.

    I really liked the ending of this book though, even though a lot of things which made me sad happened along the way. Like I said, I'm conflicted. In the end I guess it comes down to this -- the book is well written, with a Clancy-like style without being a complete ripoff, and made me think about things I wouldn't have otherwise thought about. The story is sad though.

    Tags for this post: book john_birmingham combat post_apocalypse the_disappearance australian_author
    Related posts: Death Bringer; Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow ; East of the Sun, West of the Moon; Bolos 1: Honor of the Regiment; Iron Master; Cloud Warrior


posted at: 20:43 | path: /book/John_Birmingham | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Monday, 23 February 2009

    13:15: Mikal shared: Great Depression Cooking with Clara
      Cool videos of a 91 year old lady cooking Great Depression era recipes. I think being poor in the US is a lot harder than I am used to in Australia, although perhaps its just less obvious back home. Its really interesting to me how the host doesn't ever complain about things like having to drop out of school -- she just gets on with it.

    14:30: Mikal shared: Mountain View Voice : N. Whisman fire quickly brought under control
      Apparently there was a fire at my apartment complex and I didn't even notice.



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 16:15 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


New Roomba batteries

posted at: 14:32 | path: /diary/toys/roomba | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 21 Feb 2009



Blathering for Saturday, 21 February 2009

posted at: 11:30 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 19 Feb 2009



Blathering for Friday, 20 February 2009

    14:30: Mikal shared: Bloomberg.com: U.S.
      Wow. If you make a "profit" from investments in a ponzi scheme, the government can "claw back" those profits later. This means that even though years might have passed, and you're unaware of the fraud, your earnings aren't safe. Evil.

    14:30: Mikal shared: Snapple To Switch To Real Sugar Instead Of HFCS [Hfcs Backlash]
      Snapple drops high fructose corn syrup. In the process some drinks actually lower their calorie count. Interesting.



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 13:56 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 14 Feb 2009



Security Hyperventilating

posted at: 21:02 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Life, the Universe and Everything

posted at: 17:52 | path: /book/Douglas_Adams | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 12 Feb 2009



Blathering for Friday, 13 February 2009

posted at: 07:20 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 10 Feb 2009



Blathering for Wednesday, 11 February 2009

    16:15: Mikal shared: U.S. and Russian satellites collide
      Huh. If two satellites collide in space and no one is watching, do they still count as an insurance claim?

    20:30: Mikal shared: Facebook's Value: $3.7 Billion and Dropping
      This article includes a statement that every user who joins Facebook costs them about $1 in hardware. If true, that's an interesting number. I bet it doesn't include operating costs like electricity and so forth though.



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 08:36 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 09 Feb 2009



The Complete Hammer's Slammers Volume 3




    ISBN: 9781892389800
    LibraryThing
    This book consists of three paperbacks combined into one volume, and follows in from Volume 1 and Volume 2. I'll cover each story separately:

    • The sharp end: this story is a little different from the other Hammer's Slammers stuff. To be honest, its a bit less grim. Normally the stories are about how war is in the end just a bunch of guys trying to not die (for the grunts at least), whereas this story is a little bit more hopeful than that. Then again, there is still plenty of the negative side of war in this story.
    • Paying the piper: I've seen other people complain that this book is disjointed, which is a fair comment. Concepts are reintroduced several times, even though they've already been covered. I wonder if this was originally a set of short stories in a series? Its a good read however.
    • The darkness: a much shorter story, which is a lot more like the ones in Volume 1 and Volume 2.


    Tags for this post: book david_drake combat anthology
    Related posts: Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow ; The Complete Hammer's Slammers Volume 2; Their Finest Hour; Bolos 1: Honor of the Regiment; Dogs of War; The Complete Hammer's Slammers Volume 1


posted at: 22:25 | path: /book/David_Drake | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 08 Feb 2009



Blathering for Monday, 09 February 2009

posted at: 16:05 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 03 Feb 2009



Blathering for Tuesday, 03 February 2009

    10:30: Mikal shared: Arizona continued
      A missile silo would be a nice addition to my obsession with cold war bunkers.

    20:15: Mikal shared: Crikey - Turnbull's stimulus suicide - Turnbull's stimulus suicide
      I don't agree with Crikey all the time, but this time I think their analysis is accurate -- Turnbull is going to have trouble explaining to the unemployed why he didn't support the economy when he had the chance. I wonder how the cost of this package compares to the cost of the Iraq war, putting refugees on random pacific islands, and so on?



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 20:15 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Wednesday, 04 February 2009

posted at: 14:34 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 01 Feb 2009



The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

posted at: 19:30 | path: /book/Douglas_Adams | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Monday, 02 February 2009

    08:00: Mikal shared: Life at Wal-Mart
      Interesting story about what its actually like to work as an entry level employee at Walmart. Perhaps its not as bad as people make out.



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 06:29 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 31 Jan 2009



Books read in January 2009

posted at: 19:00 | path: /book/read | permanent link to this entry


Isaac Asimov's Robot City: Refuge

posted at: 18:40 | path: /book/Rob_Chilson | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 29 Jan 2009



The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

posted at: 21:35 | path: /book/Douglas_Adams | permanent link to this entry


Restricting anonymous edits

posted at: 20:23 | path: /mythtv/book/wiki | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Friday, 30 January 2009

posted at: 16:45 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 28 Jan 2009



Blathering for Thursday, 29 January 2009

posted at: 09:10 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 27 Jan 2009



MythTV Chapter Ready: The Easy Way: Installing MythBuntu

posted at: 20:42 | path: /mythtv/book/wiki | permanent link to this entry


Looking for a logo

posted at: 11:10 | path: /mythtv/book/wiki | permanent link to this entry


Dawnspell: The Bristling Wood

posted at: 09:26 | path: /book/Katharine_Kerr | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 23 Jan 2009



Prince of the Blood

posted at: 05:33 | path: /book/Raymond_E_Feist | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 21 Jan 2009



Blathering for Thursday, 22 January 2009

    03:15: Mikal shared: Beware Seagate series 11 drives.. at the blog of Chris
      Yay! The 1TB drive in my new backup machine is one of those affected by Seagate's dodgy firmware. I only bought it because I couldn't get a Samsung. I guess I've learnt my lesson. Then again, the drive seems to be working fine, so perhaps I should just leave it alone until reports of bad firmware updates die down.



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 16:03 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Wednesday, 21 January 2009

posted at: 04:00 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 20 Jan 2009



MythTV Chapter Ready: Selecting Hardware

posted at: 14:03 | path: /mythtv/book/wiki | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Tuesday, 20 January 2009

posted at: 04:45 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 19 Jan 2009



MythNetTV talk

posted at: 20:52 | path: /conference/lca2009 | permanent link to this entry


MythNetTV release 7

    This release is smaller than the last one, but has some bug fixes which folk might find handy. New things in this release:

      Better testing:
    • r232: Simple script to create the unit testing database


      New features:
    • r210: Allow users to override the default bittorrent upload rate
    • r212: Provide more sync information when running in verbose mode
    • r216: Add the markunread command
    • r218: Make only one download attempt for a given show per 24 hour period
    • r220: Change download interval to one hour, update last attempt time more frequently
    • r222: Add --oldestfirst and --newestfirst flags, which alter NextDownloads behavior
    • r224: Add flag which forces downloads to run, even if they've failed recently
    • r226: Don't mark a bittorrent download as complete just because the torrent file has been completely downloaded
    • r234: Use reasonable defaults for mysql configuration if no config file can be found
    • r236: Use reasonable defaults for mysql configuration if no config file can be found
    • r238: Use reasonable defaults for mysql configuration if no config file can be found


      Bug fixes:
    • r206: Make the output of "video.py length" more friendly
    • r208: Release man pages as well
    • r214: Fix a bug introduced in r210 which broke bittorrent downloads
    • r228: Fix a typo in the recordings_tool help text
    • r230: Fix a typo in the recordings_tool help text
    • r240: Reduce size of proxy name in the usage table to deal with key length limitations in MySQL
    • r242: The schema for the channel table changed in MythTV 0.21
    • r244: Fix typo
    • r246: Suppress repeated warnings of DB default use
    • r248: Bug fixes for linux.conf.au 2009 talk
    • r250: Include test runner script in release, prepare ChangeLog for release


    Please grab your copy here.

    Tags for this post: mythtv mythnettv release
    Related posts: MythNetTV release 2; MythIpTV Beta 1; MythNetTV release 6; MythNetTV release 5; MythNetTV beta 4; MythNetTV release 4

posted at: 15:11 | path: /mythtv/mythnettv | permanent link to this entry


MythTV Chapter Ready: Introduction

posted at: 13:28 | path: /mythtv/book/wiki | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 18 Jan 2009



Observations on the Wrest Point hotel

posted at: 13:25 | path: /conference/lca2009 | permanent link to this entry


Introducing the online MythTV book

    This post is syndicated from online MythTV book blog.


    When parts of the first edition of the MythTV book became out of date, I decided to take the book online and ask others to help me improve it and bring it up to date. There is a blog for announcements, at http://mythtvbook.com/blog and if you're interested in helping out, please visit the Help Wanted page.

    This book does not aim to be a complete reference to MythTV or a guide for how to develop plug-in modules for MythTV. Although we include a brief overview of the major features of MythTV, we explore only those parts of MythTV that are relevant to the projects in this book, which will include all the parts of MythTV that an average user will be interested in. It will also give you an excellent grounding for further projects with MythTV as well. This book is intended as a hobbyist's project guide, providing suggestions about what sort of projects you could take on and how we went about implementing our own versions of those projects.

    Instead of including exhaustive coverage of features that few people use, we'll provide pointers to how to find out about those features, and we'll cover the 80 percent of MythTV's functionality that everyone will find useful. That way, this book will be genuinely useful to people setting up MythTV, instead of being a boring reference manual.

    However, because the book is a wiki, anyone can add content if they want to. If there is genuine interest in the book being something other than what I envisage, then that is fine. The only barrier I have imposed is that chapters which become "official" (in other words are listed in the table of contents on the front page of the wiki) must go through both a technical review and a copy edit review. This will ensure that they're technically accurate, as well as being sufficiently well written. I am applying the same review criteria to my own chapters as well. I like to think of this as much like a code review before a patch is committed to an open source project.

    You can follow along with the progress of the project at the current events page, and if you're interested in helping with the authoring or review process, I suggest that you join the editors mailing list, which is much like the core developers list for a coding project.

    This is the first time I've tried a collaborative authoring project like this before, so I am very open to suggestions and comments. Additionally, I'd love some help getting the work done, and wouldn't mind some help with graphic design tasks as well.

    Tags for this post: mythtv book wiki project announce
    Related posts: LCA CD continues; How I plan on handling Ubuntu and Mythbuntu 9.04; MythTV Chapter Ready: The Hard Way: Installing MythTV From Source; Project Aardvark unmasked!; MythTV Chapter Ready: Selecting Hardware; MythTV Chapter Ready: The Easy Way: Installing MythBuntu

posted at: 13:21 | path: /mythtv/book/wiki | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 17 Jan 2009



Travelling to Hobart today

posted at: 15:03 | path: /conference/lca2009 | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 15 Jan 2009



Blathering for Thursday, 15 January 2009

posted at: 22:30 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 13 Jan 2009



The Compleat Bolo




    ISBN: 0671698796
    Baen (1990), Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages
    LibraryThing
    I read this book on flights. This book is a collection of several Bolo short stories, as well as two longer stories. This was a pretty common technique it seems with early science fiction, and it works ok here as long as you remember that the chapters are unlinked short stories. In fact, several of them are inconsistent with others in the collection, but I think that's a minor annoyance.

    YearTitleNotes
    1963Night of the TrollsThis story appears in Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow as well
    1961CourierThis is a Retief (Laumer's other major series) story which includes a Bolo. This is my first encounter with Reteif, and it felt a little like a Stainless Steel Rat story, but where the hero isn't a criminal, and without the requirement to suspend disbelief as much as you need to for the Rat.
    1966The Last Command
    1969A Relic of War
    1960Combat Unit
    1986Rogue Bolo Book 1
    1986Rogue Bolo Book 2No relation to the Rogue Bolo Book 1, despite


    Tags for this post: book keith_laumer bolo combat anthology
    Related posts: Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow ; Bolos 4: Last Stand; Their Finest Hour; Bolos 1: Honor of the Regiment; Bolos 2: The Unconquerable; Bolos 6: Cold Steel


posted at: 22:49 | path: /book/Keith_Laumer | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Wednesday, 14 January 2009

posted at: 12:45 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 11 Jan 2009



Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow




    ISBN: 0517641054
    Bonanza Books (1987), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 650 pages
    LibraryThing
    I read this anthology as a child, but when I found a copy on ebay that was cheap I couldn't resist. This is a collection of short stories focusing on what war might be like in the future. It's a good read, although a couple of the stories are out of place compared with the others.

    • Superiority (Arthur C Clarke)
    • Single Combat (Joe Green)
    • Committee of the Whole (Frank Herbert)
    • Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card): a classic, and in some ways I prefer the short story. I've read the extended series of novels a few years ago, but they're probably worth revisiting at some point.
    • Hero (Joe E. Haldeman), later became The Forever War.
    • The Survivor (Walter F. Moudy): I have strong memories of this story from reading this anthology as a child. This is still a good story.
    • The Last Objective (Paul Carter)
    • What Do You Want Me to Do to Prove Im Human Stop (Fred Saberhagen): a Berserker story, also known as "Inhuman Error".
    • Hangman (David Drake): this one is included in Volume 1 of the Complete Hammers Slammers.
    • The Night of the Trolls (Keith Laumer): this was a really good story about Bolos -- good enough to send me out to buy some more Bolo books, which I will now have to add to my reading queue. This story was later expanded into The Stars Must Wait, which I didn't think was nearly as good as the short story.
    • The Nuptial Flight of the Warbirds (Algis Budrys): this story was out of place with the rest of the collection, poorly written, and not very entertaining. I particularly didn't like how it changed plot flow literally mid sentence without warning. I had to read that page three times to work out what was happening.
    • Mirror, Mirror (Alan E. Nourse)
    • The Miracle Workers (Jack Vance)
    • Memorial (Theodore Sturgeon)
    • Shark (Edward Bryant)
    • ...Not a Prison Make (Joseph P. Martino): the ending came to suddenly in this story, but gosh its a good ending.
    • Hawk Among the Sparrows (Dean McLaughlin): this story reminds me strongly of the Axis of time stories from John Birmingham. This short story of course came first, and is a lot simple