Archive for 2007

For James and Tom

December 24th, 2007 No comments

Sorry for not posting earlier. I’ll find myself an alarm clock some = day!

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My Perfect Alarm Clock

November 25th, 2007 No comments

I keep getting visions of the most perfect alarm clock, well for my needs anyhow. I have problems with ordinary alarm clocks – they all do the basics, like sound when it’s time for me to get up, but being a techno-geek, I can always think of better ways to do things!

I’ve seen a couple of possible candidates for a solution to this problem but I don’t think any of them go quite far enough.

What I really want is an alarm clock that is low power (this is very important – I can probably do what I want with a PC, but the noise and power comsumption would be phenomenal and that worries me). It also needs to be low noise – if this is going near my bed, I want to be able to sleep!

Next, onto the basic features! Alarm clocks are simple, and *must* be reliable (I can’t hink of anything else more important – imagine how many people would be pissed off if your alarm clock kept crashing), so it needs to be able to have a clock and at least two alarms, plus back lighting, a robust and easy to use series of buttons (I want to be able to control this when I have just woken up and probably aren’t thinking straight), I also want high-vis numbers for the clock and a wide viewing angle.

So then we get onto the good features! I want this to be network connected – either by LAN or WiFi (USB isn’t good enough as it requires a computer to be turned on) – this will allow a lot of useful features! My current alarm clock updates itself from the UK’s radio time signal so I either want that feature, or the ability to update from NTP. It will also need to know the date and understand BST/GMT, etc. I want this thing to have a calendar, and specifically something I can update using WebDav, or via an integrated website – I then want this information to be displayed on the screen once the alarm has gone off, that way when I wake up, I can see what I’m supposed to do that day. Also, with the Calendar, I want to be able to set the time that the alarm goes off on certain days and on special occassions – for example, on week days I want it to go off at 6:00am for work, but at weekends at 6:45 for rowing; but if there is a day that I can get up late or one day where I need to get up even earlier, I can then override the usual times. I also want to set rules about how long the alarm will let me snooze for – for example, don’t let me press it more than 3 times, or don’t let me snooze more than 15 minutes after the alarm went off, etc. I also want to through into the mix some weather information (in more than one location please, one for where I am, one for work and one for rowing), and I also want the temperature of the room as well. Also, making a plugin architecture would be good, but not a necessity.

Anyone have anything else to be included?

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Good Lord, It’s Been Ages

November 12th, 2007 No comments

Well, time flies when you’re having fun!

This has to be the longest amount of time that I haven’t blogged for – it’s just coming up to two months.

Haven’t had much time recently, I moved flat just over 6 weeks ago, and I’ve been so busy ever since, it’s been stupid!

Anyway, to give you a summary of what I’ve been doing:

  • Learning CakePHP – Might as well do something with my time
  • Thinking about how to create something like Facebook’s “Facebook ML” for a website (see above).
  • Fixing MythTV – And realising that to do it, I need to wipe the box and start again.
  • XML import and export in Progress 4GL – Don’t be fooled, it doesn’t escape any illegal characters
  • General Living – Has to be done at some point.
  • Becoming a child-saviour – Charity work is good for the soul

Still, I expect that there is more to come!

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Net News

September 12th, 2007 No comments

OK, so there was a report published today (article on BBC) that stated that the information that is reported on sites like Digg and Reddit place a different spin on the news when compared to main stream media.

The report seems to conclude that when people edit the news, then it looks at many more different items than the main stream media; it also suggests that the main stream media re-hash the same stories approaching them from different angles each time.

I can’t help but think though, that this is only the case because people are still consuming the main stream media, and therefore the only thing to report are the small details, and the small news items, that the main stream doesn’t cover already.

Imagine this: In ten years time, the main stream media has vanished. It’s become obselete because of a move to the “citizen news” that the article talks about (incidentally, the report does not state that this is the case, or that this is going to happen. This is just a hypothetical situation). You now have to spend your time drawing all the new sources, all of the information, to stay informed of the “main stories” that are covered by the present main stream media. You therefore have no extra time to find all the little bits that everyone produced before.

Therefore, you can almost conclude that “citizen news” is different because it has to be. If the main stream media cover the bulk of the news, what else is left to cover? Answer: The other bits. But take the main stream media away, and you lose touch with either the bulk or the other bits.

I’m hoping things stay as they are.

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PHP Frameworks

August 28th, 2007 No comments

I’m kind of coming to a conclusion that does not make logical sense to me as a developer.

When I first started using PHP, I wrote everything as embedded code, which had little or no structure. It worked, fairly well, but had very little structure and could be a nightmare to maintain.

A couple of years ago, I challenged myself and rewrote this website using classes and object-oriented techniques. Half way through writing it, I realised that it’s not always the best way to do things.

Having spent some more time working with class based structures (including a half-arsed attempt at rewriting this site), I still not convinced.

What worries me, is the speed at which development progresses – it’s all much slower with classes. What worries me more is the amount of resources that this technique consumes – you can end up creating objects, and child objects just to get a single count of child records in the database – if you want proof of this, check the archive page on this site, half the time it runs out of memory. This then leads on to the next problem – query efficiency. In a lost of cases, it’s fairly simple to write a query to which loads the record information needed for a page, but with a general class hierarchy you need several queries to load several record levels.

At work, we are just releasing a site using the CakePHP framework. This uses the MVC approach to coding, which seems like such a good idea on paper. But I can’t get over how much time I spend jumping between files to look at different aspects of the code, and how much of a peversity it is breaking out of HTML into a PHP code block and calling a class function, when I could easily have written the HTML in the file in the first place.

These thoughts all lead me back to one startling evaluative conclusion – may be it’s better and more efficient to go for the embedded approach after all.

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Rowing and Wind

August 28th, 2007 No comments

I’ve always held the belief that exercising kind of makes your bodily functions more, erm, “fluid”. No, wrong word – I mean, erm, “easy”.

Having not rowed for about 4 weeks, I jumped on an Ergo for 15 minutes tonight and promptly got off, and gassed myself.

Point proved.

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Growing Up Is Difficult

August 2nd, 2007 No comments

So being 6 weeks through the process of buying a flat, which is a scarey process I can tell you now, I’m starting to wonder about things I never thought I’d ever have to think about. Like “What curtains should I buy?”, “How did is the space for the fridge freezer?” and “I need to work out what colour should I paint the lounge so I know what cushions to buy”.

All very scarey things, really. Not just the “buying a house” thing – since when I did ever care about curtains or cushions?

Wonderfully true to form though – my thoughts initially turned to other more homely things like “I wonder what the Freeview signal is like” and “Is it going to be a pain in the arse retuning my MythTV box”, as well as “What speed broadband should I get?, hmm, I don’t even know if I want cable modem or ADSL either”, “What cool stuff can I rig through out the flat?” and “I wonder if the leaseholders would mind if I drill a hole in the wall to pass an ethernet cable through”.

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Oh, Nice!

July 26th, 2007 No comments

So, having said in my last post that I hadn’t posted for ages, the truth was, that I had; and it wasn’t me not posting, but my mechanism for remotely posting things had gone belly up without me realising. Turns out, it looks like it’s my hosting company that have screwed around with things a bit.

I had to hunt around the PHP forums to understand why my connection was not working properly, which I eventually found and fix, and it looks like everything is workin again. What I did realise in the process though, was that I had accidentally posted the same back post, twice! So, nice going there then.

Anyway, it looks like I have got everything back up and running again, and even may have improved somethings slightly (no more cron calling wget to fetch a page to download the latest posts for me – looks like everything should just be done by a cron call to php now. Much simpler, much neater).

If you’re reading this, then everything looks like it’s pretty much OK.

Cool beans.

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Wow, I haven’t Blogged In A Long Time

July 26th, 2007 No comments

Bloody hell, it’s been weeks since I last blogged. There are some many things going on at the moment, I’m kind of losing touch.

Lets see if I can remember….

Kingston Regatta – I raced at Kingston Regatta – twice. Once as Novice Double Sculls and once as Senior 4 Quad Sculls – got knocked out in the first heat both times, but that’s not biggie – I’m just pleased I got my first race in, in two years.

Molesey Regatta – Was supposed to race, it got called off because of the floods.

Capsize – On the day that we didn’t go to Molesey, we had a fun day training at the reservoir instead (Molesey was the last thing we were supposed to do before our summer break). Held our own mini regatta, and I managed to capsize the double that I was in. Done that twice now, both doubles, not once in a single. Oops – the squad aren’t letting us live this one down, I think.

Joined Facebook – Yep, I’m on facebook now as my friend Trudie in Australia asked me to. Getting slowly addicted. Have also attracted several people from school that I don’t really want to know anymore – have come up with game wiht friends to try and get as many of these people as possible; and have invented variant of this game called “Facebook Top Trumps”.

I’ve bought a flat! – Strangist and scariest thing I’ve done in some time. Still in early stages, so everyone can stop asking me if I’ve moved in yet.

I need to relearn Spanish – Doing stuff with work to do with Spain – need to remember how to speak and understand it as some of them don’t speak English. Doh!

Comment Spam Filtering – The list of banned words and phrases for comments and trackbacks keeps getting bigger – yesterday, I removed over 11,000 comments in one quick query (that was over 90% of the comments still needing approval!).

Fitness – I desperately need to improve my fitness levels. I’ve come up with a phrase to keep driving me through, it’ll hopefully help.

That’s about it for now, I’m pretty sure I’ll find some other stuff to talk about.

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Oooh, Useful…

July 17th, 2007 No comments

Whilst trying to compile the BeFS Kernel module for Linux last night, I discovered that it is already included in the default module build for Fedora Core 5. Which was nice…..

Anyway, I’ve just checked now, and it was also included in a Fedora Core 6 VM Image that I have, which I haven’t tinkered with, so it looks like it’s part of the standard build. The only downside is that it is a read-only filesystem at the moment, so I still can’t compile Haiku and release it to my hard disk using Linux. Damn.

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