Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Wet Disaster

The AG washed some t-shirts this afternoon. All mine came out fine - clean as clean can be. Her one-and-only pink t-shirt in the lot didn't fare so well. In fact, after drying, flattening, and reviewing, it looks remarkably like it would after she'd carried a 56 lb bag of Welsh Nuts in to leave in the Coal Hole. In short, very large very black patches. Very very black patches.

Then we found what we'd missed. A Pilot Precise V5 RT ball-point pen. Aircraft-safe, it said. No proof against spin, heat, and Walmart's liquid detergent, however. About a quarter of the ink escaped into the barrel of the pen, and thence out into the t-shirt.

I like that pen. I really like that pen. I can best link to a Pen Blog for a good review. So I took it to bits and washed its innards with alcohols of varying types. And again. And again and again! Finally, it seems almost clean, so it's time for my erstwhile-lily-white skin to meet the product of the volcano. That terrible ogre so dreaded of generations of British schoolboys - of which I was one. The slimy and rough implement known as the soaped pumice stone. Why? Because I can't get any more ink off my poor mitts without taking the skin off to. So off the skin will have to come. Ouch!

Once I'm over that I've to get back to my Parceltongue lessons - did I say I'm trying to learn Python ? Well, I started off with books, but I wasn't getting far so looked around on the web and found Mark Pilgrim's Dive Into Python book online. It's an intro into the language conducted at a pace suitable for a relaxing F1 driver, which suits me just fine. For trekking off on mini-projects on my own I found Brad Dayley's Python Phrasebook (PDF here), full of tips, tidbits, and useful snippets of code to show you what to do and how to do it. If you already know Perl, learn about Python here.

So what's Python like ? Well, wild, woolly, and a bit wonderful, as well as weird. Sometimes really hard to read, and sometimes really easy to use. For instance, I have a zipped up file called input.txt in a file called ExampleZipFile.zip. The os library lets me get at files, and the zipfile library lets me zip and unzip files into archives.
import os
import zipfile
tFile = zipfile.ZipFile("c:\ExampleZipFile.zip", 'r')
buffer = tFile.read("input.txt")
print buffer
That's lots simpler that the hoops that most of the scripting languages like vbScript make you jump through. While it's a little mind-bending at times, I'm still learning, and lots of other languages are like that too - just take a look at MUMPS, for example - possibly the ultimate in laconic programming languages.

Take a look at this blog entry for a taste of the weird!

More - with yarn ! - next time.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009


No, not Raymond Burke's Connections. Just a heap of links that need to see the light of day for others to enjoy.

To the right, a picture by Richard Heeks, of Exeter, England, of the instant that a bubble is burst. It appears in The Telegraph, and is credited to Bancroft Media.

Network Monitoring Tools
Not something that everyone needs, but when you do, you really do !

Getting Your EMail
When you move your ISP, or it changes (e.g. is bought) you have to set up your email client yet again ... these are the magic incantations to type in to tell it where to go to get your email for you.

Swamp Soccer
The utter futility of it all boggles the mind, but it's still hilarious to watch.

Techie on the Web
The W3 site is the ultimate reference - watch out for HTML5!

Some Really Cool Software for Graphics and Web Page Design
Yeah, yeah, yeah [yawn] - so you've heard it all before. Okay already! Take a look anyhow. It's seriously neat stuff.

They Really Do Have Better TV in England !
Keep your eyes on the model - and the truth! (and "Yaah! Boo! Sucks !" to all you American puritans and prudes !)

Did It Really Say That ?
All these here just to show that maybe that sign really did say what you read - not what you expected to read!

When You Don't Get to Where You Thought You Were Going
An unfortunately common experience on the InterNet (should we all blame Al Gore ?), but some people are creatively trying to improve your day !