Surprisingly sturdy

They may look flimsy, but after having one bounce on my foot, I can assure you that Visors are quite solid.

Does anybody else sometimes have difficulty reading certain Region 2 DVDs in a Panasonic SR-8585 DVD-ROM drive? My copies of My Fair Lady, Butch Cassidy, and certain West Wing discs don't like playing, and cause the drive to make weird clicking noises.

Floss talks about the gradual decline of Lauren Laverne. I have to agree with everything he's saying - I made a concerted effort to listen to her Saturday show on Xfm, but it's horrible. Nothing like her stand-in performances on the Evening Session a few years back. It's going to get worse before it gets better as well, seeing as she starts the new Channel 5 Pop! programme this week. Someone needs to lock her in a recording studio...

Not that anybody cares about my opinion, but I'd like to join in the growing chorus of approval on Mozilla's tabbed browsing features. Contary to mpt's complaining, I find them intuitive and extremely helpful in organising my browsing sessions. Last night, for example, I had two Mozilla windows, one reading a Slashdot discussion about good books for Computer Scientists and the links I followed from that article, and the other viewing some updated weblogs. If I was letting the window manager handle things, I would have had over twenty windows on-screen. This would create a hideous and hard-to-navigate clutter on my desktop - the tabs make it a breeze.

currently playing: Patti Smith - Gloria

Oh yes...

Carrboro. October 22nd. Sleater-Kinney.
currently playing: Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Henry Lee

Broadcasting live from Oxford University Parks

Except, of course, that my Visor doesn't have any wireless capabilities, so I'll be back home when it comes to uploading this entry. It's the thought that counts.

Bruce Perens isn't going through with his planned breaking of the DMCA today. I understand why HP don't want him to do it, but the words of Lessig keep coming back. Most of us are quite content to sit and whine about the latest RIAA/MPAA controversy on Slashdot, but we don't do anything about it. If we don't do something soon, we'll wake to find that they've won without us putting up any sort of fight.

Two weeks left until the Great America Experiment begins. The Computer Science Department has sent their itinerary for the first week including a mammoth Thursday session lasting from 1:30pm to 9pm. Ouch.

Reasons to love technology: being able to read Robert Moses's writings in The Atlantic on urban sprawl, writing this blog entry, and playing Tetris, all whilst being stuck in traffic on a bus.

My friend Garry is going to the World Frisbee Championships in Hawaii next week. Until today, I didn't even know such a thing even existed...
currently playing: Sleater-Kinney - One Beat

Brother, can you spare a dime?

The question inevitably arises whether a similar cycle of speculation and collapse to that of October 1929 could occur...
The time to worry will be when important people begin to explain that it cannot happen because conditions are fundamentally sound.
J.K. Galbraith, writing about the 1929 crash.
Our economy is fundamentally strong. This economy has the foundation for growth so that people who want to find work can find work, so entrepreneurs can flourish.
President Bush, speaking last week.
currently playing: Charlie's Angels - It's Never Gonna Happen To Me

I just can't help it...

I'm upgrading to GNOME 2. Obviously, I really like shiny new things. Watch this space for the inevitable failure and teeth-gnashing.
Update: I've been reading the Ximian mailing list, and it looks like a very bad idea. So I'll wait some more.
currently playing: DJ Shadow - Six Days

Does anybody know how to use Bonobo?

Apart from those lovely guys at Ximian, does anybody have a clue as to how it works? Last night, after coding up a Perl XML-RPC server to display the current song being played by Xmms (yes, I'm getting back into geek mode ready for university), I suddenly had the great idea of embedding the GtkHtml editor into my simple Python blogging tool, just like how Evolution uses it for reading/writing mail. I'll just look up a few examples of Bonobo usage in Python, and I'll get a HTML editor for no effort.

You can stop laughing now.

After three hours, a conversation on irc.gnome.org, and extensive trawling through Google, I managed to find an example that created a GtkHTML editor window. And did nothing else. The core Bonobo documentation is terse to the point of being unreadable, and the scant few developer articles online focus on extremely light-weight controls, rather than talking about things that are actually useful. I eventually gave up and went to bed. It shouldn't really be that hard. Ideally, it should be extremely easy to write GNOME applications in a high-level language like Python (incidentally, I'm singling out GNOME mainly because it's what I'm most familiar with - KDE might be better), which can access all areas of the desktop environment, from simple buttons to the more complex features such as html widgets and Bonobo components. For all the knocking that Visual Basic receives, it allows almost complete access to the Windows system, and has reams of fantastic documentation. I know that the GNOME Project doesn't have the same sort of resources, but it would be nice for them not to treat non-C programmers as third-class citizens. Maybe GNOME 2 will change all this. I hope it does.

I found LIDN on my travels. It's a start (although for some reason the Bonobo link goes to a CVS book - which seemed to sum up my experience of the last 24 hours quite well), although still heavily C-orientated. Again, it's frustrating, as GNOME 2 sounds like it's got some wonderful features (e.g. the Gnome-VFS system, which allows transparent writing to WebDAV systems), but I don't want to have to go through all the wheel-rebuilding that C involves just to write a simple program...

Okay, rant over.
currently playing: Saint Ettienne - Kiss And Make Up

Personal Computing Joy

It started innocently enough. My abused RedHat 7.0 installation was beginning to show signs of age, and it seems to be dropping off Ximian's Red Carpet in terms of support. An upgrade to 7.3 seemed like a good idea.

The pain.

What I forgot was that every time I've upgraded RedHat, I've done so via a clean install. Still, what could possibly go wrong? I burn the release CDs, reboot, start the upgrade process, and sit back.

Then comes the error. The program dies trying to install twm. It gives a wonderful message saying that basically any number of things could have gone wrong, but it wasn't going to tell me. Oh, and it was going to abort and reboot if that was okay with me.

The reboot leads to all kinds of interesting errors, from refusing to mount my LVM /mp3 partition, doing strange things with my ext3 partitions, before finally giving up with a kernel panic. After wiping the entertaining thoughts of smashing my machine into pieces with a sledgehammer, I start again. With a clean install. It works. With no errors. Obviously, there was a reason that I never did upgrades.

After that, it was a matter of completely junking the RH kernel, and grabbing 2.4.18 from kernel.org, as my VIA chipset wasn't detected with the RH 2.4.18, but was with the standard one. And then slowly rebuilding the applications that I'd lost.

Just for balance - my sister upgraded from IE 4.0 to IE 6.0 yesterday, and lost all of her mail in the process. To sum up - Computers Are Evil.

Nice and smooth.

Spent the day re-reading the entire Invisibles saga, to a cut-up soundtrack of Hacienda/Ibiza period New Order, mid-1990s BritPop, a long-forgotten Ant & Dec support band, and the post-future hymns of Godspeed You Black Emperor, Exhaust, and A Silver Mt. Zion. And this time, I understood. The next time I'll understand differently. Fiction as Fractal. FictionSuitGo.

My very own name plate?

Apparently, I get my own office at UNC Chapel Hill. This is quite scary. They're paying me real money as well. Where's the catch? Aside from having to deal with the students?

Testing PySnap

or why I love Python. I’m timing it as having created a usable blogging application one hour after opening XEmacs and Glade windows. And quite a bit of that time was spent remembering how Python syntax works. I feel useful again.

And it’s only 42 lines of code. That’s quite cool.