metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
It's been a busy midwinter for and around me. Everyone in the household
has taken a turn or two being sick -- gastro, conjunctivitis, cold and/or
flu... I took my first sick day in a while and I'm glad I didn't try to go
in that day.

it gets better )

I guess all this entry is missing is a beer review at this point. Maybe
next entry -- I have been drinking enjoyable beer from time to time lately!
metawidget: My full geek code.  Too long for DW alt tag, please see profile if interested. (geek)

I've wanted to write a little about how I handle financial matters, and how our household money situation works — I like reading about other people's ways of doing stuff on LJ, and thought I'd throw my thoughts into the mix.

money and the pipes it flows through )
metawidget: [garblegarblescript] Political! Science! for Amusement! [pictures of John A. Macdonald with swirly eyes] (science)

I made it, through the full-body scanner and a flight above the clouds, to Washington D.C. I mixed Metro (mostly) and walking (from L'Enfant Plaza across the National Mall to Chinatown, so get a sniff of the air, get a look at the monumental-ness, and grab some tasty Thai food) to get me to the University of Maryland, where I'm staying and taking a course on disclosure control. Today was the ins and outs of releasing aggregated data, which is the end of things I've worked more in. Mostly for myself: I should e-mail Dr. Cox about where methodological transparency grants the intruder extra leverage in estimating sensitive cells: his problematic findings on feasible intervals, and Dr. Karr's recent conference papers on the topic in general. I think I'm getting some good review and some connecting details that I was missing so far.

Tonight I'm probably going to drop south from Foggy Bottom into the western end of the National Mall and try to see the giant statue of Lincoln and the Vietnam Veterans' monument. Tomorrow: microdata, dynamic queries, and then the rush to the airport to get home.

metawidget: My full geek code.  Too long for DW alt tag, please see profile if interested. (geek)
Who does your domain name registration? How much are they? Are they any good? I'm kind of tired of GoDaddy and would like to move my registration to someone a little less sleazy and more local.
metawidget: My full geek code.  Too long for DW alt tag, please see profile if interested. (geek)

I think it was [ profile] audrawilliams that got me on to Digger, by Ursula Vernon. I've been nibbling my way through it for a week or two, and it is a funny, strange, silly, pretty and humane story with sympathetic characters and a touch of Douglas Adams. The main character is a staunch rationalist wombat named Digger who takes a wrong turn while tunnelling and gets entangled all sorts of things in a very strange and unfamiliar land. And apparently, after 752 panels or something like that, it has wrapped up, so start now and have a complete work waiting there for you. I've still got two thirds of the story to go.

I've also been enjoying some of the Miles Vorkosigan books by Lois McMaster Bujold — just finished Brothers in Arms, which also is about two thirds of the way between straight SF space opera and Douglas Adams weird, with a bit of Adrian Mole thrown in for good measure. I find suspension of disbelief a little tenuous with Bujold sometimes, but it doesn't matter because when she's over the top, she is also funny and clever, and the suspension-of-disbelief trouble is more on the end of improbable plot and less on the part of her main characters, who are generally sympathetic and believably crazy. I've got one more Bujold book borrowed from [personal profile] commodorified (which, to her, is probably a “Lois book”), and it is probably next on my reading stack.

metawidget: My full geek code.  Too long for DW alt tag, please see profile if interested. (geek)

I just set up OpenID at my woefully out-of-date but pithier URL of Like my e-mail over there, the idea is to future-proof my online identity: I more or less own my own domain, whereas it is possible that Dreamwidth, myOpenID, Livejournal or whoever else will do something I don't like (or just be reduced to a smoking crater by a DDoS or an antitrust lawsuit or something). Through the miracle of OpenID delegation, if I get sick of whatever site is doing the OpenID listing, I just fire them, change these two lines, and keep my OpenID. Also, it might motivate me to clean up my site, archive some stuff, and all that.

Here are the two lines:

<link rel="openid.server" href="">
<link rel="openid.delegate" href="">

They go in the head element of index.html, or whatever other page loads by default when hitting the domain. The first line indicates where the server doing the heavy OpenID lifting** is located. The second line gives my OpenID over there, which if someone claiming to be wants to be authenticated, they will need to convince Dreamwidth's servers that I am If I get sick of being vouched for by Dreamwidth, I just change those two lines to a new provider (the form of the first URL varies from provider to provider, the form of the second is just the usual URL you use for OpenID). Note that I don't include my OpenID in those two lines: that is covered by the fact that those two lines can be found at Also note that I don't have to register this delegation with Dreamwidth: the only place the delegation exists is on a page I control. The whole shebang relies on the assumption that only I can go and stick code in the head element of whatever comes up at the URL of the OpenID I'm claiming.

There is a presumably out-of-date (at least no longer mainained) PHP script that lets you set up a tiny single-user OpenID server on your own machine, but almost everyone who might want an OpenID on their own domain has another OpenID sitting somewhere.

This post is basically a re-hash with commentary of the technical information I found on Stack Exchange.

*assuming you have an OpenID somewhere else

**by which I mean “lifting I don't want to do”

metawidget: [garblegarblescript] Political! Science! for Amusement! [pictures of John A. Macdonald with swirly eyes] (science)

I renewed my Dreamwidth subscription not too long ago. Here are some reasons why:

cut for those who don't want to be evangelized )
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
Is anyone using the "tab groups" feature in the Firefox 4 beta? Is there an easy way to flip between groups? What benefits are you getting out of the feature, if any? It looks promising, but also a little clunky.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
I managed to get S2 to give me a back to top link on each entry. Yay, customization!

S2's rigidly-defined layers are a little annoying, but I'm glad it's reasonably hackable. I'm a little disappointed CSS2 has a content element on :before and :after that can't represent a link (text, image, bullet, counter, but not a link!), but it got me poking around S2, so something good came of the W3C's omission.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
  1. There are 18 000 pages on the Branch Intranet site at work. Four of them are hits for the search term "foo". I'm the author of all of them. I feel sort of geeky-alone…
  2. Dreamwidth cut-expanding triangle thingies: click the triangle if you're on DW reading this )
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
I'm writing from the couch with Pixel the Relatively New Cat lying on my legs. She's kind of the Ernie to Noisette's Bert: sociable, talkative, stripey and drives Noisette a little crazy. They're getting along a bit better than they did at first, though.

I'm in my second week of a two-week vacation: Elizabeth's music school shuts down for two weeks in the summer, and my projects are all long-term enough that two weeks in the summer without me won't kill them, so we co-ordinated. Happily, Kaleioscope Gathering was also on, and so we hopped on our (fully-loaded with panniers and a trailer full of gear) bikes and went out to Planatagenet or thereabouts to camp under soft pines, participate in a communal camp kitchen, learn about partner yoga, thai massage, herbs, relationships, vocal techniques and esoteric stuff, hang out with fun pagans and pagan-friendly people, acquire a thumb piano, and attract most of the security on duty to our campsite — with rumours of chocolate fondue. Like [ profile] teinm_laida was reporting, people there for the most part have their guard down and are their genuine, enjoyably weird selves.

The garden is doing really, really well. The exciting bits lately are red Russian kale coming up where the spinach was, and a zucchini patch that wants to take over the world. Also of note are the beginnings of a blackberry patch behind the compost!

I commented with "words" over at [ profile] stateofwonder's journal, and she gave me five words to riff on:

biking • Quebec • Scrabble • Mathematics/Statistics • home cooking )

Well, it seems that this time last year is still on the first page of my Livejournal — I guess I'm a little uncommunicative on here. I hope a few more meaty updates will be in the near future, as well as the traditional good/blah table for all your point-form needs…
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
At breakfast in a hunting-lodgelike restaurant in Peterborough, the kids at the next table over dropped some silly putty on the floor. Fortunately, it got kicked out of the way rather than ground into the carpet, but it prompted a deep question for us:

[Poll #1302647]

meme bis

Jul. 7th, 2008 10:56 pm
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
I got [ profile] gregorama to review my interests list and pick out the seven most interesting ones (to him). Here are the explanations-of-sorts:
… is something I picked up from [ profile] denkizero, I guess mostly a greeting/handshake thing sort of like coucou, which I also find fun.
it's a marker of the conspiracy
generative design
I worked on a project dubbed Generative Design for several years in university — it was about shape grammars, symmetry and cataloguing traditional pattern. I think it's sort of dormant now, but it was good fun and was the backbone of my M.Sc. thesis.
A shibboleth is a code-word which is unpronounceable or unknown to the out-group: "sibboleth" is how the out-group pronounces it. I got the out-group note here (in the footnotes), and have been sort of piqued by political shibboleths, left and right, of late.
useful trivia
Better than useless trivia! I'm pretty full of the useless stuff, and sometimes it does turn out to be useful, or at least pertinent.
I like running with the joke (and remaining smiling).
I read a fair number of blogs, and some of my good friends are academics.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
I'm looking for recommendations for a Windows FTP program, preferably a simple, Free Software or freeware utility that lets users drag and drop from their usual explorer windows and won't be too scary for people who might be new to FTP: I'm going to teach a workshop soon and I want people on each platform to be running the same software (I'm a Mac person, but it's a big tent). Any suggestions are appreciated!

Also, on the off chance that there exists such a thing as a Linux user who wants to learn very basic HTML, what are the (again, free in one way or another) text editor and FTP client that Just Work and are good for beginners on there?
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
I don't know if it's contagious from [ profile] diatribein here (friends-only, alas), but I've been thinking abbreviations for a little while.

It took me quite a while to figure out what ETA stood for in a forum/blog/journal context: it was always clear from context that it meant "updated content," but the interference with "estimated time of arrival" in my head made it hard to come up with "edited to add." This kind of bothers me: unless it's ironic, or a statement of some sort, using an already firmly occupied bit of namespace to mean something very different seems like a Bad Idea. As far as I can tell, ETA fails that test.

The other thing about ETA is that there is perfectly good markup to represent the idea: XHTML has a pair of tags, <ins> and <del> that work fine in LiveJournal and are way less confusing. Added and deleted stuff can even be annotated given a title attribute, if you have a relatively compliant browser it'll appear as a tool tip or in some other useful way.

If markup isn't available where you write or if you're not a markup geek, you may as well just put EDIT: or UPDATE:, more readers will decipher your post faster and it's only an extra keystroke or three.

In other Internetty thoughts, LiveJournal has let folks enable little hover previews like I've seen on some other blog services (WordPress, I think?) for some of their links, like truth, over there (the rule seems to be inside *, the previews don't happen, which I think is a bit of a shame as it'd be nice to see a little flash of someone's journal layout in a link to it). So far, I find the icons a little bothersome but the previews themselves I can see myself using. I'll see if I'm using them in a week and decide whether I like them. Anyone else have any thoughts on that feature?
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)

I finished my thesis yesterday and today I'm in Montreal handing it in and wandering a bit: lunch with an old high school friend, then wandering, then meeting [ profile] denkizero at DemoCamp.

Here's the abstract of the thing that's eaten my summer:


more… )

I signed up for yesterday, I'll keep the scrobbler on unless it degrades performance when I'm listening to music and online. It gave me a nifty quilt thing:

I likka this moosic )
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
I have found the Truth and encourage you to link to it!

Also, Elizabeth is playing Petit Chicago tomorrow (and I'll probably be manning the door):

metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
The strangest things pop out at you sometimes.

Apple would like me to update my copy of iTunes, which I may get to doing when I'm not listening to music:
With iTunes 7.3, you can now activate iPhone service and sync it with your music, TV shows, movies and more. Also, you can now wirelessly share and enjoy your favorite digital photos from any computer in your home with Apple TV. iTunes 7.3.2 provides bug fixes to improve stability and performance.

That led me to here.

I am also simmering ideas about cut-sets, reachable rules whether realizable is a rule thing or a grammar thing.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
I'm now pretty much wholly at the new² place. We're still picking our way through stuff that needs unpacking, reassembling and stowing, but things that need hooking up are hooked up, and the bulk of our stuff is here, thanks to Allied Movers (who were friendly, efficient and broke absolutely nothing as far as we can tell) and my uncle and his wife (likewise, and they brought us pizza despite my offering to feed them). It's chaos, but it feels like home already. We've put down some "Thames green" paint in places, patched up the white in others, cleaned, hooked up the appliances, taken out the initial trash, and generally started bending the place to our will. We've made coffee and toasted bagels so far, so the kitchen is coming along!

There's still some mop-up to do at the old new place, but we'll be out of there pretty soon.

I also tried out Inkscape, and I think it's definitely a keeper. It runs smoothly in X11, and makes sense to someone who's got basic mucking skills in Illustrator. The tutorials are also quite straightforward, yet treat the reader like a geek who's had enough coffee to get their brain working already.

The binge of figures that will illustrate what I'm thinking in the thesis will be upwards of 80% done in Inkscape. Met with Fred to set some more milestones and talk committee, and things are looking good. I'm going to set up the office in the new place today, I'm sharing with the cat den and the sewing machine (and a lot of boxes, for now).

Crashed at Owen's place on Wednesday after meeting Fred, ate Chinese food, watched Serenity and the Firefly pilot (the movie was excellent, and the pilot will probably have me renting the series in the fall). Something not-funny was happening with the plumbing there, so I also bailed grey water from the sink to the tub in a wok a couple times. If you live in a building with a no-dishwashers policy, then there may be a reason. Be nice to the guy in the basement apartment, mmmkay?

Adobe Reader 8's font "smoothing" on Palatino is a disgraceful, snaggly mess.

Lattice theory is neat. I've got my library card for the National Library so I can grab some books locally.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
I'm on the sidewalk, soaking up wifi vibes from Petit Chicago. We went there last night for a drink, the beer there is pretty good, and cheap on Tuesdays. It's a little grey, with a nice breeze out here.

Two policemen with funny hats just walked by. They're without a contract (and have been for a while) out here, but they haven't given up on the somewhat sketchy area around Place #1. Good on them.

Things are coming together: thesis is progressing (and ratio of stuff that falls under "know it, did it, just have to write it" as opposed to "don't know it, have to figure it out, beat it into submission, then write it" is nice, considering that I have to be done by the fall); we have appliances coming, Verdun stuff arranged for moving, paint colours almost picked and several nice people offering to help us lug what stuff we have at Hull Place #1 to Hull Place #2..

I look forward to taking a break from writing to illustrate some stuff. Maybe I'll give my recently-downloaded copy of Inkscape a spin. I know I'll be hammering away at GraphViz, which is a very cool free program for drawing stuff connected to other stuff: OmniGraffle for poor people who like editing text files and dislike making layout decisions. Seeing that I'm using LATEX for the text, it's a logical choice for graph drawing.

In other news, I had a nasty cold before that seems to be going away.


metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
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