2011 archive

This page is part of the archives of my blog.

·1998 · 1999 · 2000 · 2001 · 2002 · 2003 · 2004 · 2005 · 2006 · 2007 · 2008 · 2009 · 2010 · 2011 · 2012 · 2013 · 2014 · 2015 · 2016 · 2017 · 2018 · 2019 · 2020 · 2021 · 2022 · 

2011: January · February · March · April · May · June · July · August · September · October · November · December ·

This is the full archive for 2011



Getting sorted for the new year, in the Mocca Lounge

A new cafe, on the way home from a ride this morning: the Mocca Lounge, it seems to be called. I guess they mean brown and not quite one thing nor another, but at least relaxing. It’s a reasonable place to sit for a while and read a book. It’s an inside cafe with no windows (can you believe such a thing?!), but it is at least dim and carpeted and large and mostly empty, which are good things. And I’ve a coffee and a book and time, which are also good things.

So, three cheers for all that, then.

I’ve been sorting out a new filesystem nomenclature, these last few months…

  1. The top level (my home directory, /home/sam) contains one directory per year and ~/tmp, and a pile of other stuff, as usual, but that’s all maintained by various programmes and the OS.

    ~/
    1995/
    1996/
    …
    2011/
    2012/
    tmp/
    
  2. Each year has only a single level below it, topically- and old-fashionedly-named to maintain alphabetical sorting:

    2011/
        Subject, clarification/
        Subject, andother aspect of it/
        Another subject/
        Again, something else/
    

    There are no files at that level, only directories.

    • At the turn of the year, items which are of continuing activity are moved to the new year. All else stays put. This means that the current year only ever contains things that are useful and whatever is old but still needs to be kept—and which will rarely be looked at—disappears out of sight in the old years.

      I’ve always found it annoying that computer organisation systems don’t allow things to moulder away in boxes in sheds (as it were), instead forcing everything to be current and visible — and thus liable thrown away once no longer useful. A core part of my archival system is to hide things from my own penchant for disposal.

      • Within each item, and within the tmp directory, there is no prescribed ordering. Files take whatever names and arrangements as seem suitable.

      • File and directory names contain whatever characters they want, with the exception of quotation marks, slashes, colons, asterisks, octothorpes, and anything else I think is likely to be annoying in scripts, moving between filesystems, or other filename handling.

      • There is no rule six. :-)



Publication dates

"Brian Kernighan and P. J. Plauger named their programming-style book The Elements of Programming Style (1978) after the writing-style book The Elements of Style (Strunk and White 2000)."

I knew Kernighan and Plauger were forward-thinking, but hadn’t realised they were 22 years ahead of their time!

(Oh, and for my own future reference: Creating a torn/ripped paper effect in GIMP.



Of course we can do it

I read a few posts this morning about the wonders of open software and how it can help ‘the 99%’. Nothing new there, in the techno-optimism, nor with the “yes, but” reactions to it. It’s heartening to read it, though; there’s far too many people harping on about the delights of the iPhone.

One thing that does strike me is that we really do already have the tools for this open paradigm: we don’t need some new crew of idealists to come along and build a Faceboo’ replacement, or invent some new way of storing files (or remove the necessity for doing so). We just need to stick to the open standards and apply a tiny amount of conservatism when it comes to choosing the next groovy technology that we’re to trust. Not very difficult, and yet people run to cast their lot in with corporations who give barely a nod to these ideas.

Perhaps Bruce Love is correct, and a practical distributed and decentralized net can be built trivially using a mix of explicit peering with rsync and rss for open peering. Seems simple to me; just needs to have a GUI that makes it look like an iPhone, I guess.



Travels with Charley, by John Steinbeck

<img src="http://samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/IMG027-1024x127.jpg" alt="Photo of the spine of the book." style="width:100%" class="aligncenter wp-image-975" srcset="http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/IMG027-1024x127.jpg 1024w, http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/IMG027-150x18.jpg 150w, http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/IMG027-500x62.jpg 500w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" />



Switching an SVN directory to and from an ‘externals’ definition

There seems to be quite a few posts out there about how to replace Subversion externals definitions with local directories, but not so much for going the other way. I’m not sure why; it seems to me more likely that one would start off with some small module as part of a bigger repository, and then at a later date want to move it out to live on its own. I don’t really know what I’m on about, though.

The point being, that I’m working with a branch of a project that is having a few of its directories — its current, local, ‘normal’ directories — replaced by externals definitions. That’s all fine and good, but I keep having to switch to trunk and back again, and there’s the crux: the directories that are getting turned into externals do not like being switched.

Running the usual svn sw http://svn.example.com/repo/branches/v2 from the top level of a trunk checkout gives the following error:

Fetching external item into 'lib/foo':
svn: warning: W155037: Previous operation has not finished; run 'cleanup' if it was interrupted

Running svn cleanup complains with:

svn: E155010: The node '/path-to-repo/lib/foo/file.txt' is not installable

And not even status has anything useful to say (throwing instead the same error as above).

A solution (and yes, this post is probably a bit long-winded for such a short snippet of advice; I can only say that I felt like writing this down this morning because four weeks ago I figured it out but forgot and I suspect that four weeks hence I’ll have forgotten again, and this morning is one of those moments of verbosity; blame Travels with Charley, which I was reading over breakfast this morning), and it’s probably not the ‘proper’ solution because I’m no Subversion hacker and do rather treat it as magic, but the solution that I use is (and I’d better put it on it’s own line, because no one’s likely to have read to the end of this paragraph)…

Delete the offending directory (as in, rm -r lib/foo or what have you), and update again.

That’s all.



The Quakers by Pink Dandelion

<img src="http://samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/The-Quakers-a-Very-Short-Introduction-spine-1024x51.png" alt="" title="The Quakers, a Very Short Introduction (spine)" width="1024" height="51" class="aligncenter size-large wp-image-951" style="width:100%" srcset="http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/The-Quakers-a-Very-Short-Introduction-spine-1024x51.png 1024w, http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/The-Quakers-a-Very-Short-Introduction-spine-150x7.png 150w, http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/The-Quakers-a-Very-Short-Introduction-spine-500x25.png 500w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" />



Carnival, by Compton MacKenzie

A scan of the spine of the book.



Waverley by Walter Scott

<img src="http://samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/waverley-1024x163.jpg" alt="Photo of the spine of the book." style="width:100%" class="aligncenter wp-image-942" srcset="http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/waverley-1024x163.jpg 1024w, http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/waverley-150x23.jpg 150w, http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/waverley-500x79.jpg 500w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" />

[openbook booknumber=”0140430717″]



Kitchen Stone, Part II

<img src="http://samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/P1040767-402x500.jpg" alt="" title="1. Cut rebates in the existing pine trim." width="402" height="500" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-923" srcset="http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/P1040767-402x500.jpg 402w, http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/P1040767-120x150.jpg 120w, http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/P1040767-823x1024.jpg 823w" sizes="(max-width: 402px) 100vw, 402px" />

<img src="http://samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/P1040770-500x216.jpg" alt="" title="2. Build supports for stone." width="500" height="216" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-924" srcset="http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/P1040770-500x216.jpg 500w, http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/P1040770-150x64.jpg 150w, http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/P1040770-1024x443.jpg 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px" />

<img src="http://samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/P1040771-500x279.jpg" alt="" title="3. Silicon the bits of stone in." width="500" height="279" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-925" srcset="http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/P1040771-500x279.jpg 500w, http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/P1040771-150x83.jpg 150w, http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/P1040771-1024x571.jpg 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px" />

<img src="http://samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/P1040772-500x365.jpg" alt="" title="4. Put the (very dirty) stove back in place." width="500" height="365" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-922" srcset="http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/P1040772-500x365.jpg 500w, http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/P1040772-150x109.jpg 150w, http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/P1040772-1024x749.jpg 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px" />



Thank you, Tree

Is there anything more important in the landscape than a beautiful tree? Cutting one down should never be undertaken lightly, and should never be the sole decision of a land-owner; they effect everyone else’s amenity far too greatly. The ACT has a tree register — I’m not sure if Freo does (I was, oddly enough, unable to find anything about such a thing on the Council’s website).

Anyway, I admire this tree every day on my way home, and I just wanted to let it know that it’s appreciated…

<img src="http://samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/P1040766-823x1024.jpg" alt="A big tree behind a shed." title="Carrington Street tree" style="height:90%" class="aligncenter size-large wp-image-913" srcset="http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/P1040766-823x1024.jpg 823w, http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/P1040766-120x150.jpg 120w, http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/P1040766-402x500.jpg 402w" sizes="(max-width: 823px) 100vw, 823px" />



The Fremantle Society AGM

<a href="http://samwilson.id.au/2011/12/02/agm/p1040764/" rel="attachment wp-att-895" style="float:left; margin-right:1em"><img src="http://samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/P1040764-150x112.jpg" alt="A blurry photo of the FTI auditorium." title="Fremantle Society 2011 AGM" width="150" height="112" class="size-thumbnail wp-image-895" style="" srcset="http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/P1040764-150x112.jpg 150w, http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/P1040764-500x375.jpg 500w, http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/P1040764-1024x768.jpg 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 150px) 100vw, 150px" /></a>The Fremantle Society AGM was held last night, at FTI. Always inspiring to talk to people (before and after the meeting) about why they care about Freo. Perhaps less so concerning some of the discussions (during the meeting) — that seem at times to be more about people airing their personal gripes than working for any common good. Ah well.

It was my last meeting as minute-taker (I’m off the Committee now) and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in to things like scanning the 1978 photographic survey prints and getting them online, and helping Fremantle in whatever other geeky way I might. :-)

Now then, who’s up for a coffee-powered occupation of that debacle of a scaffold that’s been dumped on the lazing ground of the World’s End Cafe?

Flippin’ ridiculous.



A case for modernization as the road to salvation

Knowledge workers are more alienated from the products of their labor than any other class in history, unable to claim some role in producing food, shelter, or even basic consumer products. And yet they can afford to spend time in beautiful places — in their gardens, in the countryside, on beaches, and near old-growth forests. As they survey these landscapes, they tell themselves that the best things in life are free, even though they have consumed mightily to travel to places where they feel peaceful, calm, and far from the worries of the modern world.

Putting faith in modernization will require a new secular theology consistent with the reality of human creation and life on Earth, not with some imagined dystopia or utopia. It will require a worldview that sees technology as humane and sacred, rather than inhumane and profane.

The risks now faced by humanity are increasingly ones of our own making — and ones over which we have only partial, tentative, and temporary control. Various kinds of liberation — from hard agricultural labor and high infant mortality rates to tuberculosis and oppressive traditional values — bring all kinds of new problems, from global warming and obesity to alienation and depression. These new problems will largely be better than the old ones, in the way that obesity is a better problem than hunger, and living in a hotter world is a better problem than living in one without electricity. But they are serious problems nonetheless.

Evolve by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, from the September/October 2011 issue of Orion magazine.



MediaWiki TwentyTen now has nicer ToCs

I’ve finally gotten around to updating my MediaWiki port of the TwentyTen WordPress theme. There’s more to be done, but this morning I moved the page Tables of Contents to the sidebar (issue #2). It’s nice to be forced into learning more about the internals (especially caching) of MediaWiki!



Corduran freedoms

My new bag came today! It’s totally brilliant. It’s a Brain Bag, from Tom Bihn, and I got a brace of extras with it (which is more than a ‘pile’, and tied together… isn’t it?). I was wondering just now whether it was too big — but no, then I saw the bus coming around the Winterfold Road corner, and had to run, and so I hitched up all the straps, and legged it — and it felt snug and good and secure, and hardly moved an inch as I lept through the traffic. So huzza for Tom Bihn! Here I come, World, with my laptop and all else for wandering-et-recording. Brill-o for leggy freedom.

Egghh. Again, I ask for your reading allowance, with today’s post. I’d gotten home, tired, and wanted a small corner in which to sit and sip a beer. And I was granted such a thing, in the new front room, and a platter of cheese on which to snack, and well, then there was the bus-running moment, and the bus-driver friendliness (and his damnation of a passing motorist to stir things up!), and what can I say but that all is t’riffic with the world? Not much indeed.



Stone flicked through my journal the other day, and couldn’t find himself featuring as greatly as perhaps he’d hoped. And nor will he, the bally footballeroonie! What’ve I to say of he?! Nothing, given the snorting and gufawing that goes on when he reads (or bothers to read) my blog. Ha! Nothing! You hear me?!



(And one last note, before toddling onwards.) The wifi in Kings Square seems much faster than it used to, this evening. Good work, Freo Council! I throw packets at your TCP/IP with fervent abandon, and salute your electromagnetic gusto!



20 million books in my library

I really like digital, online, libraries. Like Wikisource and Project Gutenberg. They make me feel like I’ve got a huge personal library, that I can delve into whenever I feel like it. They’re not quite as good as, say, Chifley, from the point of view of strolling calmly along the stacks and discovering something exciting and new quite by chance… but then, there isn’t the satisfaction in a big library, of (once one’s found something exciting) reading absolutely-everything-else-that-author-wrote!

So I like helping add to these libraries — mainly Wikisource, because it’s easier and I like the page-by-page comparison of the scanned and digital texts — because I feel like I’m adding to my own library. Which is exciting, because then I’ve got more to read (and there’s no big library around here).

http://openlibrary.org/



Archive Team

A while ago I came across Archive Team, a group of people dedicated to *saving* any and all digital cultural heritage materials (read: websites) that are being deleted (or in danger of being deleted; or just because they want to).

Like Geo Cities. Or those BBC sites that were closed. Or a dozen other things that no one is likely to think about, nor would’ve missed — but they’re saving them nonetheless.

Brilliant work! Not only necessary and sensible and useful, but done with such style!

Who else is making ctrl-s an act of defiance?! (And, yes, legitimising digital hoarding, perhaps…)



Trust the Tech

Believing we have all the technology we’ll ever need, we seek to draw attention to its destructive side effects. This seems foolish…

—Neal Stephenson, <a href="http://www.worldpolicy.org/journal/fall2011/innovation-starvation" title="Read Stephenson's article on the World Policy Institute's website">Innovation Starvation</a>

It is the first day of a new month. Does that mean anything? Not really, but it’s a convenient thing to kick me in to writing again.

Can we imagine things, and then have them come to be? Should we do so? I mean, should one set out with some grand plan, a vision of something (presumably) desirable, and work doggedly towards it? Is the confidence of this, fundamentally, a good thing? To throw aside doubt, charge forward with a grin, and do something! To aim to get what we think is good?

Or is the doubt that stops this, useful; does it help?

Obviously, the premise of that second stance is that, indeed, the doubt must be listened to! For otherwise, why ask? Why acknowledge that there is any doubt, if the better thing to do is to push through it?

Forgive me, I’m not making much sense. Blame the beer (and I’ve heard some advise against writing publicly in this condition… bah!). All I’m getting at is the seemingly inexhaustable bloody optimism of the tech industry…

Everywhere I turn, in my job as a coder and in my general skiving around the web, there is a pervading sense that all this tech — all these screens, these images, this communication ad adnauseam — is good. Of course that’s the prevailing mood, within the tech; it has to be. No doubt that there’s tomes of discourse, paper tomes, swapped between those who disagree with the tech-is-good premise; but they’re not on the web, and I don’t see them.

And I don’t really want to! I’m so very much on the verge of giving in to the doubt, that I really don’t need any encouragement! Where’d I be, if I listened to the posibility that the very foundations of my daily work are not to be trusted?! A gibbering wreck of anxiety, or bean-hoeing luddite; one or the other. Maybe both.

So I’m going forth with optimism (which may be blindness); grabbing the (possibly fake, or at least poorly-built) handrail of geeky progression; and climbing the hill (or decending into the pit) of joyous digital liberation.

Or something.



What Technology Wants

Kevin Kelly, in The European:

Most of the problems today have been generated by technology, and most future problems will be generated by technology as well. I am so technocentric that I say: The solution to technological problems is more technology. Here’s a tangible example: If I throw around some really bad ideas in this interview, you won’t counsel me to stop thinking. You will encourage me to think more and come up with better ideas. Technology is a way of thinking. The proper response to bad technology is not less, but more and better technology.

The idea of privacy is a very recent concept. When people shared large huts, there was no privacy. The reason this was acceptable is that there was no privacy for anyone. The problems begin when some people are forced to be a lot more transparent than others.



How to kill WordPress

(Other than mis-capitalising its ‘P’, that is.)

I have had a wordpress site (see, I’m failing even to give it a capital ‘W’ now) for many years, since about… umm… November 3rd 2003 at 16:01:23 or thereabouts. I’m finally sick of it. It’s grown and grown and is trying so hard to be everything to every blogger out there, that I don’t know where I stand with it. It used to be fun, y’know?! A codebase I could fiddle with, and make do whatever I wanted. Now, I just find it very good for doing things that I don’t need to do.

So, I’m dumping it. No more WordPress.

Now the question is: how to migrate away from it? The important thing (although, really, I’m not actually that fussed about it; it’s more a pride thing — a web geek hardly wants to go against Tim BL’s advice, does he?) is to preserve URIs, at least the important ones.

So I started by making a final backup — all files, WP core included, and the database dump — and moving that tarball out of my usual backup rotation. So I’ve got a snapshot of the site, that will never fall off the far end of my backups. You never know (to quote Duane Dibbley).

Then, I inserted all of the WP posts into my new system’s database::

INSERT INTO journal_entries (id, title, date_and_time, entry_text)
  SELECT id+1000, post_title, post_date, post_content
    FROM wp_posts
    WHERE post_type = 'post' AND post_status = 'publish'
    ORDER BY post_date ASC

The +1000 on the ID was to ensure that I could refer to the new IDs of the imported posts in the next section, the redirections (there were fewer than 1000 records already in the journal_entries table)::

SELECT CONCAT(
    'Redirect permanent /',
    YEAR(post_date),'/',
    LPAD(MONTH(post_date),2,'0'),'/',
    LPAD(DAY(post_date),2,'0'),'/',
    post_name,' ',
    'http://samwilson.id.au/journal/view/',
    id+1000
  ) AS redirection
  FROM wp_posts
    WHERE post_type = 'post' AND post_status = 'publish'
    ORDER BY post_date ASC

And I dumped all that into .htaccess.



Cool URIs don’t change; but they should, sometimes

Everyone knows that cool URIs don’t change:

When you change a URI on your server, you can never completely tell who will have links to the old URI. They might have made links from regular web pages. They might have bookmarked your page. They might have scrawled the URI in the margin of a letter to a friend.

When someone follows a link and it breaks, they generally lose confidence in the owner of the server. They also are frustrated – emotionally and practically from accomplishing their goal.

It the the duty of a Webmaster to allocate URIs which you will be able to stand by in 2 years, in 20 years, in 200 years. This needs thought, and organization, and commitment.

How does this work with the right to vanish?

Sometimes you move on and exercise your RightToLeave a community or a locality. In MeatSpace, people eventually forget what you said and did, unless you erected monuments. In other words, our real self is gradually dissociated from the idea people in a community have of us. Conversely, in our new home we have a fresh start: people generally won’t start calling our old home area to find out about us.

This is not so on an OnlineCommunity: wiki pages are always “fresh”, forums and UseNet keep archives. It’s impossible to tell a still-held belief from a once-held one. Furthermore, when we arrive in a new place in MeatSpace, people there don’t generally know all about what we did and said in the past, which is something we have grown used to since the mass urbanization of society (previously, village life was more invasive). The internet being easily searchable, in CyberSpace our reputation may precede us. Conversely, our past follows us.

Sometimes I want to reorganise my online life, shuffle things around and not put in hundreds of redirects that are just going to make it easier for people to find things I wrote once that I no longer believe in, and that anyway will probably never be followed.

Oh, but look, I’m being inconsistent: I do actually think it’s important to keep URIs working — even if the content’s gone, it’s better to leave a page explaining why, in its place. The right to vanish can still be exercised.

(I don’t think I’ll bother publishing this little ill-thought-out thing. I’d hoped it was going to be the first of my new daily blog posts… but no. Tomorrow, perhaps. I just don’t have the energy for decent writing at the moment!)



Another Wikimedia meetup

There’s to be a Wikimedia meetup this weekend; hurrah to that. How better to rekindle (and why did Amazon have to steal that word?!) the passion for helping write and build Encyclopaedias, Dictionaries, Libraries, Newspapers, Textbooks, and Universities — than drinking beer on a Saturday afternoon?! None! I say, none at all.



Ink or keyboard? (Revisited)


· Reading · Dichotomy · Ink · Typing · Writing ·

I was just sitting there, just now, reading the natural navigation book that Mum gave me earlier this year, and I was struck by just how nice it was to hold something physical, something nice, in my hands. I wanted to have more of that. I wanted to be a woodworker, making my house nice all over, and having things that are good and real. But then, it all seemed pointless, as well. Why have nice things? For what purpose? Just because they’re nice? Well, yes. That’s it, really. Nothing more. It’s about the present, and the personal, immediate experience of them. It’s not about the future, and how these things will fare in the coming decades and centuries. It’s also not about how sensible and efficient and practical these things are. The book, for instance: this afternoon Tristan and I popped in to the bookshop near the Stock Road markets, and it was lovely. Nothing special, just a normal second-hand bookshop — but it was real and immediate and did not look to the future or the past; it was just for now. I bought a couple of paperbacks, thinking to add to my growing collection of Penguin Classics. Now I feel like that’s all wrong: I can’t have these temporary, poorly-made paperbacks! Why not get an ebook reader?! That’s what a paperback is aiming to be! The simplest thing, least concerned with aesthetics and the feel of the thing in the hand. So paperbacks are superseded; but well-bound hard-covers aren’t. They’re objects of beauty in their own right. I should collect them, because they’re worth more than the sum of the words they contain. But I should not collect them, because there’s just no need.

There’s no need to have these things that are nice! They’re satisfying, in the moment, but if that for which they’re being used — and now I’m thinking more about books in which one writes, journals, than published books — is not a thing that is about the current moment, then what’s the point? No, worse than that: they’re detracting from the real purpose! I write, to get words down, and be able to re-read them in years to come; this is better done on a computer (which is backed up, and the words are printed, and in other ways assured to live on) than in a paper journal. I read, to hear the author, and not to be happy with the heft of the cardboard case and the smell of the pages; these are incidental. There are lovely things about the physical objects, and using them; but if the loveliness blinds me from getting better quality in the features that the objects exist for in the first place — exchange of ideas over time — then I’m losing out.

It’s a hard decision, and turn after turn I think I’ve made the wrong one… but ultimately, words are better off in digital form (remembering that they can always make it back on to the paper, and in multiple copies) than as ink in books. There are so many other objects that can be nice to hold, and physically satisfying to use; kitchen knifes, for example. Amazon aren’t going to replace them any time soon.


How to go camping, by the Blasphemous Bicycler

The Idyllic, Mythical Camping Experience:

  1. It never rains.
  2. There are no mosquitoes.
  3. The ground is as soft and comfortable as a feather bed.
  4. The overnight temperature is warm enough to sleep naked with no blankets.
  5. The forest is full of fruit trees and wild berries, so you never have to cook or do dishes. Bears will not try to eat your dinner.
  6. You never have to go poop.
  7. You are a Zen master — totally content to sit and commune with nature. You never get bored.

In the Idyllic camp-out, you simply walk naked and empty-handed into the wilderness, sleep on the ground, and walk home when you’re done.

How to go camping: Part 1 – Introduction

Mrs. Billickin sets her terms

&#8216;Five-and-forty shillings per week by the month certain at the time of year,&#8217; said Mrs. Billickin, &#8216;is only reasonable to both parties. It is not Bond Street nor yet St. James&#8217;s Palace; but it is not pretended that it is. Neither is it attempted to be denied — for why should it? — that the Archway leads to a mews. Mewses must exist. Respecting attendance; two is kep&#8217;, at liberal wages. Words has arisen as to tradesmen, but dirty shoes on fresh hearth- stoning was attributable, and no wish for a commission on your orders. Coals is either by the fire, or per the scuttle.&#8217; She emphasised the prepositions as marking a subtle but immense difference. &#8216;Dogs is not viewed with favour. Besides litter, they gets stole, and sharing suspicions is apt to creep in, and unpleasantness takes place.&#8217;

<a href="http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Mystery_of_Edwin_Drood/Chapter_XXII">—The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Chapter 22</a>



An afternoon cutting dovetails

I’ve just come in from the shed, where I’ve been working on the tea shelf. It’s coming along well, although I’m about to reach one of those points of really seeing how good a workman I am, with the actual fitting the dovetails; up to now it’s all been a matter of marking and cutting and paring. So before launching into that I thought I’d come inside for a coffee.

Cutting dovetails is mostly a matter of getting one’s body into the right spatial relationship with the wood: stand above the cut, an eye on either side of the saw, and just cut down; for the tails, cant the timber over in the vice to whatever angle looks good (traditionally 1:7), and again, cut accoring to gravity. There’s really nothing to think about, no lines to follow (not down, anyway; there’s a guiding mark on the end grain, but even that can be ignored for the tails—for the pins, it’s critical). The whole process is quite fast, and rather relaxing; there’s not too much measuring and thinking to be done.

The goal is, of course, to cut the tails, mark the pins, cut them, pare the endgrain cuts back to the scribe lines… and then have it all just fit. Nice and snug, square and strong. Hmm… I’m not quite getting that, yet; but “little bit, little bit” as someone used to tell me! (Actually, this cutting and fitting is only what I’m aiming at—have been since arts school—but I know plenty of other people do it differently, and are far more concerned with accuracy. I just want to get the process swift and clean and right, and then do it over and over until the result is good.)

So cutting everything is easy, and there’d be the end of it if I were good enough. But I’m not, so the fiddly job of taking a bit off here, a whisker off there, and slowly fit-by-fit getting the parts to come together. This is what I need the coffee for.

I’d better get back to it!


Upgrading MediaWiki and SMW

I was updating MediaWiki to 1.17 last night, and kept getting a::

Fatal error: Call to undefined function wfWarn() in /var/www/w/extensions/SemanticMediaWiki/includes/SMW_Setup.php on line 49

because I was setting up SMW with $wgServerName:

require_once("$IP/extensions/SemanticMediaWiki/SemanticMediaWiki.php");
  enableSemantics($wgServerName);

and this has been deprecated in 1.17. As for why SMW is using the nonexistant mfWarn(), I haven’t got time to investigate.



32GB of public domain Royal Society articles now available

18,592 public domain (i.e. pre-1923) scientific papers from the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society are now available for anyone to download.

An extract from the README:

[…]

Several years ago I came into possession, through rather boring and

lawful means, of a large collection of JSTOR documents.

These particular documents are the historic back archives of the

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society — a prestigious

scientific journal with a history extending back to the 1600s.

The portion of the collection included in this archive, ones published

prior to 1923 and therefore obviously in the public domain, total some

18,592 papers and 33 gigabytes of data.

The documents are part of the shared heritage of all mankind,

and are rightfully in the public domain, but they are not available

freely. Instead the articles are available at $19 each–for one month’s

viewing, by one person, on one computer. It’s a steal. From you.

When I received these documents I had grand plans of uploading them to

Wikipedia’s sister site for reference works, Wikisource — where they

could be tightly interlinked with Wikipedia, providing interesting

historical context to the encyclopedia articles. For example, Uranus

was discovered in 1781 by William Herschel; why not take a look at

the paper where he originally disclosed his discovery? (Or one of the

several follow on publications about its satellites, or the dozens of

other papers he authored?)

But I soon found the reality of the situation to be less than appealing:

publishing the documents freely was likely to bring frivolous litigation

from the publishers.

[…]

—Greg Maxwell, July 20th 2011.



Marco Arment on why you should own your online identity

Own your identity by Marco Arment:

If you care about your online presence, you must own it. I do, and that’s why my email address has always been at my own domain, not the domain of any employer or webmail service.

&#8230;

Sadly, most people don’t care about giving control of their online identity to current or future advertising companies.

But there will always be the open web for the geeks, the misfits, the eccentrics, the control freaks, and any other term we can think of to proudly express our healthy skepticism of giving up too much control over what really should be ours.

I am reminded of that old thing: “if you do not pay for a service on the web then you are not a customer, but rather your content is a product that is sold to advertisers”.



Freo Bloggers’ meetup

Fremantle

Photo by Pedro Figueiredo [CC-BY-SA-2.0]

There’s going to be a Freo Bloggers’ meetup in three weeks, at X-Wray cafe on August 2nd, from about 5:30PM.

Partly inspired by the activity starting to happen on Freospace blogs (and the possibilities of disagreement therein!), but mainly just because it’s nice to have a beer after work and meet some of the people who’s names we see dotted around the web.

The idea is to just talk about whatever’s interesting: who’s blogging, and why; how to contribute; what software to use; photography; what to write about; anything, really. Even if you’re not a blogger, but are interested in jumping on a soapbox, come along to learn how! It’s jolly easy.

(By the way, on the topic of blogging: if you’re a WordPress user, they’re doing a survey of how you use WP, if you feel like helping.)



Preventing duplicate rows in a tabular HTML form

I am working on a bespoke issue-tracking system at the moment (not for code issue-tracking, in case anyone thinks we’re cloning Redmine; although there certainly are overlaps…) in which each issue has a list of personnel, each of whom have a role on the issue.

The task at hand is to prevent people selecting the same combination of role and person more than once. Of course, the application and database will reject such an occurence; this is to fix the UI so that users can’t easily submit the duplicates. For the purposes of this explanation, we’re working only in HTML and Javascript (jQuery).

2011 06 select boxes.png

The UI looks something like the screenshot to the right (there is also a means of adding new rows to the table—that doesn’t change how this validation works, but it is why we’re using .live() below):

The Problem

In an HTML table full of form elements, where new rows can be added (dynamically), we want to prevent duplicate rows being selected.

The Plan

After changing a value in any row, get a list of the values in that row and then go through all of the rows and see if those values are there. If we find more than one instance of them, tell the user and return the changed value to what it was before.

The Solution

The final code is below (it was built using jQuery 1.6.1 and jQuery UI 1.8.5), and a demonstration is available elsewhere.



Mapping Hilton

The OpenStreetMap of Hilton currently looks like this:

Hilton on OSM. (source)

Which is pretty good, considering some parts of Perth; but it could be much better. So I’ve downloaded some Walking Papers (it’s rather an easy way to get a map printed on a grid of individual pages, along with an index page; here, there’s seventeen A4 pages all up):

Walking-papers.org-screen-capture-2011-6-28-17-32-6.jpg

And shall print them, and (once the rain’s buggered off again) shall walk the streets (probably dropping off a few of the Freo Society’s new brochures along the way), clipboard, pen, and camera in hand, and fill in whatever’s missing.

Take that, Google Earth! (Hmm, yes, possibly not the most smashing blow to the forces of privatised data, but one likes to do one’s bit, eh?! Especially as it’ll culminate in a nice coffee at Figo’s.)



The launch of Freospace

I’ve just returned from the official launch of Freospace, the council’s new publishing platform for precincts (not to be too alliterative about it or anything), at the North Fremantle bowling club. It’s a collection of blogs, one for each precinct, to which precinct members can post news and whatnot—mostly minutes of meetings so far, but it’s early days—and on which anyone in the community can comment.

I’ve written about Freospace before, but of course now it’s all public and ready to use, there’s a few more things to mention:

  • They’re using WordPress, with the multi-site feature enabled. The choice of this is almost too obvious and sensible to mention, because if someone is setting out to create any sort of group of blogs, WPMU (or whatever they’re calling it these days) is likely to be at the top of the list. It’s just that when it comes to government, one can’t take sensible decisions to be inevitable (don’t take that the wrong way!).

  • It’s not completely open-slather: user registration is closed, so the hoi polloi aren’t able to post news—but they can post comments on anything, and I’d imagine that anyone wanting to get involved would be able to do so pretty easily. Far better getting involved with this sort of community-web stuff face-to-face, anyway, I reckon. Keeping it all online isn’t necessary when we all live so close!

    Which is an interesting point: the precinct group meetings seem to still be the focus of engaging with Freospace—but again, that may change, as people get involved who mightn’t be so keen on the meetings. Get ye along to freospace.com.au!

  • There’s lots of talk about ‘conversations’ and these blogs enabling community collaboration and whatnot. Which is great, but I can’t help but feel that ultimately this is about community relating to Council, who are still somehow separate and in the position (within this framework at any rate) of power. I don’t mean that in a negative way, really; just that this doesn’t strike me as being the online equivalent of the noticeboard at the shops. The element of anachism, or collective ownership, is possibly missing. I might be wrong about this. Freospace seems more part of the mechanism of representative democracy, a fantastic way for us all to meld our ideas and reach a better understanding of the “will of the demos” or something. It’s not somewhere to post your announcements about lost cats or upcoming book club meetings.

All up, I think Freospace is brilliant, and absolutely in the right (technical, and social) direction. Thank Stallman that the Council didn’t see fit to use Friendface or Ning, or some other ridiculous silo’d means of communication!



Update: I’ve just noticed that not all Freospace sites are active yet: O’Connor, South Fremantle, and White Gum Valley seem to still need a bit of love!



What will the Internet look like in ten years?

The Internet Society’s Future Internet Scenarios.



2011 Fremantle Heritage Awards

Fremantle

Best Book award for Fighting For Fremantle! And a few crappy photos from my phone:



FreoWiki event calendar

Setting up a event calendar in FreoWiki: freo.org.au/wiki/Events.



Interpretive Demolition

Wasn’t there a sign there last week?

<flickr>28930706492|c|none</flickr>

Perhaps someone took Tilden’s fourth principle to heart? The chief aim of Interpretation is not instruction, but provocation.


Update 2011-06-01 09:55: Roel tells me that a garbage truck drove into it on Sunday. I guess they really cleaned it up, eh?! Ha! (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)



Joined Wikimedia Australia

Today I joined Wikimedia Australia.



Open Data Kit

<a href="http://opendatakit.org/">Open Data Kit (ODK)</a> is a free and open-source set of tools which help organizations author, field, and manage mobile data collection solutions. ODK provides an out-of-the-box solution for users to:

    <li>
      <a href="http://opendatakit.org/use/build/">Build</a> a data collection form or survey;
    </li>
    <li>
      <a href="http://opendatakit.org/use/collect/">Collect</a> the data on a mobile device and send it to a server; and
    </li>
    <li>
      <a href="http://opendatakit.org/use/aggregate/">Aggregate</a> the collected data on a server and extract it in useful formats.
    </li>

I’m investigating this for use at work, and so far I’m loving it! Just the sort of simplicity, and (it has to be said) correlation to the office-people’s ideas of forms-that-get-filled-in, that I’ve been looking for.



The Rise of “Logical Punctuation”

…When I asked Feal and Carol Saller, who oversees the Chicago Manual of Style, if there was a chance their organizations would go over to the other side, they both replied, in essence: &#8220;How about never? Is never good for you?&#8221;…

— <a href="http://www.slate.com/id/2293056/pagenum/all"><em>The Rise of &#8220;Logical Punctuation&#8221;</em></a>, Ben Yagoda, May 12 2011, <a href="http://www.slate.com/">Slate</a>.



Home work

<img src="http://samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/P1030874-150x112.jpg" alt="" title="The courtyard" width="150" height="112" class="alignleft size-thumbnail wp-image-770" srcset="http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/P1030874-150x112.jpg 150w, http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/P1030874-500x375.jpg 500w, http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/P1030874-1024x768.jpg 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 150px) 100vw, 150px" />Summer is over, so we’ve taken the shadecloth down in the courtyard, and started work on the vegie garden. My first ever attempt at bricklaying! It’s fun; a bit like cob building, but not as messy and with the added element of greater permanence. I guess I really live in the ‘burbs now… the other end of the wall is going to be a barbeque, nice and big and brick (but fear not, it’ll be rendered and probably colourfully-tiled also). It’s nice to spend a weekend at home, and actually have energy for the place again; it’s been a while.

<img src="http://samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/wall-500x195.jpg" alt="" title="The beginings of the new vegie garden wall." width="500" height="195" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-769" srcset="http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/wall-500x195.jpg 500w, http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/wall-150x58.jpg 150w, http://localhost/~sam/wp-samwilson.id.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/wall-1024x399.jpg 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px" />

I guess this project’s going to take a few more weekends.



West 86th – Paperwork Explosion

“Machines should work, people should think.” The message repeats itself several times; it’s the core of the film’s techno-utopian vision. We can imagine IBM executives and lawyers and public relations agents sitting across a table from Jim Henson telling him to make sure he includes these lines in his film. What if, following William Empson’s advice to readers of poetry, we shifted the emphasis just a little bit? From “machines should work, people should think” to “machines should work, people should think”? Is it possible that the film might be trying to warn us against its own techno-utopianism? Read this way, the film is less an imaginary resolution to the problem of information overload in the modern era than an imaginative critique of this imaginary resolution. Machines should work, but they frequently don’t; people should think, but they seldom do.

Ben Kafka

via West 86th – Paperwork Explosion.



What my blog is

I want my blog to be the hub of my online life. I’ve come back to using WordPress because I want to be able to show other people how easy it is to avoid the walled-gardens of Facebook, Twitter, et al. So I need to explain what I want my blog to be.

  1. A place to post reports, thoughts, photos, observations, etc. about what’s been going on in my life (i.e. what a blog usually is);
  2. A means of providing a feed of the posts;
  3. Somewhere to consume feeds from elsewhere (see my news page for how this is shaping up so far; it leaves a fair bit to be desired, but I’m working on that);
  4. In its capacity of a record of things, I want to be able to print yearly compendiums of all contents (might seem strange in this age of digitisation, but I do rather like a good solid shelf full of records — even if I never use them);
  5. Be my OpenID provider (this is working perfectly);
  6. I have a couple of other sites around, and I would ideally have their functionality within WordPress itself… this is probably the biggest problem I have at the moment.

Basically, I like Dave Winer’s idea of everyone having their own place to call home on the web, that doesn’t involve giving all their content to Facebook or whoever.

How far I am from doing all this: really, it’s the crappy photo management of WordPress that’s holding me back. I’ve got a couple of draft plugins that should fix this up (be able to change the date of uploads, for one thing!). The other thing I’d like — even though I realise that it’s acutally nothing to do with blogging and so doesn’t really belong in WordPress, but I would like it — is to be able to check my email from within this site (one of my other little hand-coded sites that I’ve got elsewhere is an email archiving thing that ends up producing a yearly LaTeX-formatted tome of all my emails).

(Anyway, I’m really only posting this to get things straight in my head, and there’s more to be said — where Wikimedia, OSM, etc. fit in, in this scheme, for instance — but it’s time to go. I have at least kept my one-post-per-day thing going for the third day in a row!)



Cory Doctorow on Ubuntu-ThinkPad

My new Ubuntu-flavoured ThinkPad is computing heaven, Cory Doctorow, The Guardian. [Local archive]

This article will probably even appeal to Mac fans; certainly reminds me of my idea a few months ago to get one of these machines…



Finding all date ranges (which may be open-ended) that overlap with a given range

Given a database table listing events and their date ranges: events { id, start_date, end_date, … }, where either or both of the dates can be null, how is one to find all of the events that fall within (even partially) a given date range? (This is pretty much what Kieran Benton asked on Stack Overflow, with the addition of the nullability.)

There are twelve possibilities for ranges with respect to the given range A-B:

Possible ranges within a given range. Note that the gradients indicate null start or end dates. Source SVG

The red ranges are the ones that should be included in the result; the orange ones should be omitted. It’s easier to query for the smaller set, which satisfy the following conditions:

> A < A > B < B NULL
Start Date x


End Date
x


Start Date



x
End Date
x


Start Date

x

End Date

x

Start Date

x

End Date



x

Which corresponds to the following SQL:

SELECT * FROM events
WHERE NOT (
  (start_date IS NOT NULL AND start_date < :A AND end_date IS NOT NULL AND end_date < :A)
  OR (start_date IS NOT NULL AND start_date > :B AND end_date IS NOT NULL AND end_date > :B)
  OR (start_date IS NULL AND end_date IS NOT NULL AND end_date < :A)
  OR (start_date IS NOT NULL AND start_date > :B and end_date IS NULL)
)



How many ship-hittable bridges between here and Claremont?

Service disruptions on the Fremantle Line “due to a ship colliding with a bridge and causing damage”. A bridge?! Not the bridge over the Swan, but some other of the many bridges between Freo and Claremont, I suppose…



The awards night

Just home from the WA Heritage Awards, where the Freo Society won the community based organisation category (which surely they should’ve hyphenated?). Nice evening, jolly exciting—despite a fair bit of a gosh-this-is-middle-class-Perth feeling—makes me glad to be part of it nonetheless.

It was good to be there, also, because my grandmother Marnie (aka H. Margaret Wilson), won the inaugural state heritage award in 1992. It makes me miss her, and wish she were around to talk to about all this stuff…



FreoWiki is go! (Or GoFreo is a wiki?)

We had a great gathering last night at Little Creatures to talk about FreoWiki (including what to call it; one suggestion is GoFreo). Some topics…

  • It’s all set up and good to go, at http://freo.org.au/;
  • The site overall is licenced under CC Attribution 2.5 Australia, but people can put whatever licences they want on individual pages or media;
  • Some ideas are being bounced around about alternatives to FreoWiki as a name;
  • The Fremantle Herald might be interested in adding their archival content to FreoWiki—at the moment they’re only keeping the four most recent editions on their site, and we could host a complete archive;
  • Personal, first-person content is desirable: people’s recollections of Fremantle, or visions for its future;
  • The entry page needs to look good, and (visually) convey what it’s all about;
  • We’ll make cards to hand out to people, with some small bit of info about FreoWiki, and a URL with a blank after it (i.e. freo.org.au/_____________) in which we can write the name of the page that we’re suggesting people use; e.g. to a business owner, with the name of their business (then we scurry home and quickly add some content to that page);
  • Good thought needs to be given to ways of ensuring longevity of the project (if it takes off), both technical (backups etc.) and organisational;
  • We should enable using media from Commons (already done);
  • Plus lots of other stuff that I can’t right now remember!

So now it’s time to start adding content! :-) The easy bit, really.



What I’ve been up to

I have not blogged much for a long time. I’ve fallen into that all-too-common programmers’ foible of spending too much time on building one’s website and not ever getting to the point of adding content. A line has to be drawn at some point, however—and anyway, it’s not that I haven’t been contributing content anywhere…

I’m getting more into OpenStreetMap, still uploading GPS traces from work vehicles (~250 000 points over the last six months, from memory), and tracing from aerial imagery whenever such work takes my fancy. We went to Bencubbin last week, and I spent a few happy hours wandering the streets and bush, following tracks and fences and plotting it all on my phone (more on which, later). I also finally decided to get a decent GPS: yesterday I ordered a Garmin eTrex Vista HCx.

My little projects on Wikisource are, tiny-bit by tiny-bit, coming along. I don’t really know why I’m transcribing some old US Navy document, but I guess it just proves that the pedantry of the geek knows no bounds—I just want to add a couple of references about the Arts Centre’s history to Wikipedia, and now I find myself adding the whole source document.

A less well-defined web geek thing is possibly taking shape, under a working title of FreoWiki. There’s a meeting about what this will be this Wednesday at Little Creatures (6PM, in the shop bit with the armchairs) if anyone’s interested.

(Oh, and I’ve done a miniscule amount of work on the MediaWiki TwentyTen theme; hardly worth mentioning, really, considering the more interesting bits of that that are yet to be done.)



Now, I didn’t actually want to launch back into blogging with such a dull precis of what I’m excited about online.

I’d rather tell the world about that tall red pot over near the door of this cafe, and its struggling little planty inhabitant. It’s the only vegetation in the whole room—a pretty grim room, I’m sure, by some people’s standards. I rather like it. There’s four tables, nine chairs, the red pot, a little fridge with water bottles, and a newspaper dumping ground. White tiles; skirting boards that are not skirting boards but those quarter-round concave aluminium edges used in commercial kitchens; a door; and a window. More things, too, but because this is just me saying what I’d rather talk about this morning, and not me actually saying it, I won’t go into them.

Another morning, perhaps, and another cafe.



Point Counter Point, by Aldous Huxley

‘[…] The first step would be to make people live dualistically, in two compartments. In one compartment as industrialized workers, in the other as human beings. As idiots and machines for eight hours out of every twenty-four and real human beings for the rest.’

‘Don’t they do that already?’

‘Of course they don’t. They live as idiots and machines all the time, at work and in their leisure. Like idiots and machines, but imagining they’re living like civilized humans, even like gods. The first thing to do is to make them admit that they are idiots and machines during working hours. “Our civilization being what it is,” this is what you’ll have to say to them, “you’ve got to spend eight hours out of every twenty-four as a mixture between an imbecile and a sewing machine. It’s very disagreeable, I know. It’s humiliating and disgusting. But there you are. You’ve got to do it; otherwise the whole fabric of our world will fall to bits and we’ll all starve. Do the job, then, idiotically and mechanically; and spend your leisure hours in being a real complete man or woman, as the case may be. Don’t mix the two lives together; keep the bulkheads watertight between them. The genuine human life in your leisure hours is the real thing. The other’s just a dirty job that’s got to be done. And never forget that it is dirty and, except in so far as it keeps you fed and society intact, utterly unimportant, utterly irrelevant to the real human life. […]’

pp. 417-418. Point Counter Point by Aldous Huxley. Chatto & Windus, London 1947.



Ionocom

Ionocom — Writing Technical Specifications in the Present [Local archive]2011-02-22 09:58:35



ReStructuredText for me

It’s a hot evening here; still, quiet, and hot. No one’s been home all evening. So I’ve had a lovely few hours of concentration and quiet, and passed the evening in listening to old By Design episodes about municipal architecture in rural Australia and converting all of the various prose-entry parts of my website to use reStructuredText. ReST is a groovy, and remarkably easy to learn (compared to say, TeX, which is possibly not a very good comparison but it’s what I have been using up until now for most of my writing), text markup syntax. It’s really rather exciting!

The best thing about ReST is, I think, the fact that it can be converted not only into HTML — for which I usually use Markup, because it’s about as simple as these things get — but also into LaTeX or ODT or anything else that one might want.

So I just thought I’d send out some kudos to the people who’ve put so much good thought into building this thing. Huzza!



On saving bits of the web (but not why it’s worth it)

172 doomed BBC websites saved by one geek, for $3.99 [Local archive]

I used to not bother saving anything that I read on the web, figuring that it was all either insignificant ephemera or would be there forever. Now, I save whatever takes my fancy — not aiming at comprehensiveness (of course! I’m not the IA) — and stick it up wherever seems fitting (Wikisource, if it fits there, or one of my own sites).

Of course, there’s no guarantee that *my* copies of this stuff will survive, but that’s why *everyone* should save the things they think are interesting. That way, there’s multiple copies (hmm, which reminds me of LOCKSS), and it also gives some insight into the person doing the saving — personal archives are often more interesting than institutional…



Wikipedia meetup in Freo

(I might be two days late with the birthday wishes, but that’s only because I’ve been too busy partying…)

On Saturday afternoon more than a dozen Wikipedians turned up to Little Creatures to raise a toast to ten years of Wikipedia. There was beer, t-shirts, discussions of intricacies of Wikipedia (none of which, for once, had to be prefaced with an explanation of what the flippin’ deal is with editing), and a broadside infiltration from — of all things — a Reddit crew who had heard about the free swag.

So happy birthday to Wikipedia, and thank you to everyone who came on Saturday for rekindling my enthusiasm for all this. I’m excited about the possibilities for some sort of collaboration between the Fremantle Society and Wikimedia projects. (More on that, later.)


Retrieved from ‘https://wiki.samwilson.id.au/index.php?title=2011_archive&oldid=3126