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GNOME 3 log - Tue, 08/11/2011 - 10:23am

Oh, boy. Where do I start…

I postulate that there exists something called the "UI Singularity". Those who spend too much time considering the optimal way to interact with computing devices eventually pass through this singularity and can no longer effectively communicate with those of us on the other side.

At least that's one way to explain what seems to be happening to free-software desktop environments. From the outside, it would appear this happened to KDE with KDE 4, and now, unfortunately, it has happened to GNOME, with GNOME 3.

Rage log - Mon, 31/10/2011 - 9:25pm

Rage is the latest game by Id Software, a company whose prior work I have an immense fondness for. I picked it up at the same time as buying a refurbished Playstation 3 a few weeks ago.

Sadly, I'm not too impressed.

ifttt log - Tue, 25/10/2011 - 5:48am

I've just learned of if this then that: a simple web tool that performs actions based on events. It's like a streamlined, easy-to-use subset of yahoo pipes. I'm going to try and use it to achieve a few bits of integration, such as tweeting when I write a new blog post.

NIN album collection now complete log - Tue, 18/10/2011 - 8:52am

With this, my NIN vinyl album collection is now complete.

I don't have a comprehensive NIN vinyl collection by any account: I don't have all the singles nor the remix albums, rarities, etc., but I do have all the albums. This is the newly-remastered version of "Pretty Hate Machine", which sites proudly next to an original.

mr-lint log - Thu, 28/07/2011 - 10:53am

mr (multi-repository) is a useful script by Joey Hess for managing multiple version control check-outs. It's particularly useful for team Debian package maintenance, where you can have a common mrconfig file allowing team members to have easy access to all packages.

puppet packages log - Fri, 17/06/2011 - 1:50pm

Puppet lets you install packages on your system, like this:

package { 'foo': ensure => installed }

You can also ask it to make sure that the package is kept up-to-date:

package { 'foo': ensure => latest }

What does "latest" mean? How does this interact with a mixed repository sources.list on Debian?

It turns out that both ensure => installed and ensure => latest honour pinning. For example: if you have a stable system; sid in your sources.list and pinning set up; either of the above will install stable's version of foo.

puppet revisited log - Thu, 16/06/2011 - 8:46pm

In an earlier post, I asked a number of questions, most of which are now answered. Here's a recap:

I wrote

I stumbled across some CF Engine-style definitions for puppet in a Debian Administration article (taken originally from puppet's own wiki, which have since been moved/deleted)

vote log - Fri, 15/04/2011 - 9:18am

I've just voted Stefano Zacchiroli for Debian Project Leader (DPL). The voting period closes tonight, so if you are a Debian developer and haven't yet voted, please do!

Debian uses a Condorcet voting system, which to my non-expert eyes, bears some resemblance to "Single Transferrable Vote" (STV), at least compared to "First Past the Post" (FPTP). There is a debate raging in the UK as to whether Government elections should be counted based on an STV method instead of FPTP, with a referendum on the subject in May.

sortpaper log - Thu, 14/04/2011 - 9:42pm


I stumbled across this file whilst sorting through some old backups. It's a "sortpaper": a wallpaper designed to aid people with sorting out files on their desktops.

I thought I would share it in case anybody thought the concept was interesting: The size/aspect of the picture probably make it less practically useful today than whenever I first made it.

aero log - Wed, 06/04/2011 - 10:54am

aero snap was one of the launch features of Windows 7 that was quickly copied into other desktop systems (most recently, gnome 3). I've written about it before. Essentially, dragging windows to hot regions of the screen resizes those windows to occupy some area of the screen. To the top: the whole window area (maximize). To the left or right, 50% of the width of the window area, all of the height.

office decoration log - Sun, 25/07/2010 - 5:21pm

Whilst re-organising offices, I found a collection of ancient X programming books. They seem like perfect book shelf ornaments for a (former?) UNIX hacker.

A series of X programming books.

Full size 768K.

bup log - Wed, 02/06/2010 - 4:28pm

Packages of bup, a git-based de-duplicating backup tool, are now available in unstable.

new job log - Tue, 20/04/2010 - 3:23pm

I'm changing jobs!

From June 1st, I will be team leader of the Computing Support team for the School of Computing Science at Newcastle University.

I will be leaving my current job as a Computing Officer within the central IT department's UNIX infrastructure team (ISS). My professional career began within ISS nearly 6 years ago. I have made many friends and will miss working with them as closely as I have.

tesco log - Wed, 07/04/2010 - 3:06pm

Tesco Car Insurance (and most likely their other financial products) operate a commercial email system which is populated by anyone who submits their address to them as part of searching for a car insurance quote.

That's not particularly unusual. Each mail that Tesco sends includes unsubscribe instructions - standard industry practise. However Tesco's instructions do not work. I have followed them at least three times since January this year to no avail. Despite this I have continued to receive unsolicitied commercial email (spam) from Tesco.

There must be a better way of doing this log - Mon, 29/03/2010 - 12:10pm
14:31:33$ rake
(in /home/jon/wd/web/sup)
rake aborted!
no such file to load -- rubygems
/home/jon/wd/web/sup/Rakefile:33:in `require'
(See full trace by running task with --trace)

So I identify which package is necessary and install it. Then:

14:31:52$ rake
(in /home/jon/wd/web/sup)
rake aborted!
no such file to load -- gettext
(See full trace by running task with --trace)

So I identify which package is necessary and install it. Then:

pilgrimage log - Wed, 24/03/2010 - 10:16am
a pile of records

I'm in Manchester so I have made my requisite pilgrimage to Vinyl Exchange and paid my dues.

“The Dice Man” and “Generation X” log - Fri, 19/03/2010 - 12:39pm

The movie '“Fight Club' had a profound effect on me when I first saw it in 1999. I wasn't as fond of the originating novel, although there was something about the prose that Palahniuk used which I did enjoy.

the world we live in log - Fri, 19/03/2010 - 9:19am

Sometimes the world we live in amazes me.

Rentokil falsify scientific studies that show an alarming number of bugs and pests on public transport. Ben Goldacre calls them out, and fellow marketing people defend the practice as a sound marketing tool.

The Wire log - Thu, 25/02/2010 - 9:54am

A good friend of mine convinced me to give "The Wire" a try. I've just finished season four of five. This is the best TV programme I have ever seen. I'd have a renewed faith in the TV industry's quality standards were it not for the fact it stands alone, quality-wise.

Guardian columnist Charlie brooker says it best:

iphone doom log - Thu, 04/02/2010 - 9:54am

Id Software have released a port of Doom for the iPhone. What makes this exciting for me is the lineage of this code. the iPhone port is derived from prboom. Peeking around in the source code, there's some of my code in there (p_checksum.[ch]) as well as some code I borrowed from dpkg (md5.[ch], thanks to Colin Plumb and Ian Jackson). This stuff is unlikely to actually be run on the iPhone, mind (although I think I have some patches against p_enemy.c which will).

Dawn log - Fri, 15/01/2010 - 11:48am

The weather in January in the UK is normally very drab, and this January has been no exception. Despite this I've found myself uncharactistically upbeat. I'm enjoying work, I've got a lot to do, and I feel like I'm making real progress in "real life" too. (It's a shame Debian has taken a back seat for the time being...)

This morning was marginally less drab.

music on linux 2009 log - Thu, 14/01/2010 - 2:53pm

An excellent Linux Journal article on the improvements made to music software on Linux during 2009:

no longer on hold log - Wed, 13/01/2010 - 9:06pm

I'm no longer on hold - the call was disconnected after 1 hour and 9 minutes. Yay for O2!

on hold log - Wed, 13/01/2010 - 8:55pm

I've been on hold to my mobile phone provider for over an hour. However, in that time, I've take a massive bite out of my miscellaneous TODO list. That feels good!


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