Monthly Archives: May 2010

Some short ramblings about various computer-related stuff

At last I’ve bought myself a laptop; I picked an Acer Aspire One, as it looks like that’s well-supported on Debian. It has more memory than my main home machine which I use for serious development work; in fact, much of the seriously intriguing computing doesn’t take much memory by modern standards; it seems to […]

Reason for arrest: The computer says you look suspicious

With fascinated horror I read the article about a CCTV system with software to detect suspicious behaviour automatically.  The article presents it in the context of military counter-insurgency operations; I’m glad that NuLabour got voted out, because they seemed to have the attitude that protest against government policy was to be treated as insurgency, […]

Embarrassingly simple, with the Python API

I’ve been trying to get my language interface library “muesli” to handle Python statements; it would only take expressions, but kept giving an error when I tried to “import” something to try calling functions that I’d added. I spent quite some time at the weekend tracing through cpython with gdb — and eventually tried asking […]


One of the cats on the farm where I live had five kittens on Wednesday. Two of them have died (the mother had been sitting on them, instead of feeding them, when I first saw them) but the other three seem to be healthy. The mother is one of last year’s kittens, who I handled […]

Banging my head against a web site

I’ve just been banging my head against a railway booking website (, and my plea to web developers generally is “Explain every error, with an exact explanation of what the site found unacceptable and what it will accept. Allow the users to continue past errors if at all possible.” The particular example I hit was […]

Novel engineering

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been trying my hand at writing a novel. Then I left it for the last few months, and am now that I can come back to it from a bit more of a distance, I’m doing a last pass through it to get it ready before sending it […]

On experience in programming

There’s a meme going round that it takes 10,000 hours of conscious practice to become expert at something. I’ve got probably about that much in writing Lisp (mostly Emacs-Lisp, some Common Lisp and now a bit of Scheme) and about twice that in writing C, so I’m in a position to comment on the difference […]

A step forward

Today I cycled to work for the second day running (or is that cycling? I must build up a cycle of these –or is it a run of them?)

Exim setup on Debian

A while ago, my work machine’s network connection changed, and now goes through the campus firewall, which meant I could no longer send mail directly from Emacs, and had to put up with Outlook webmail. At last I’ve got round to fixing it; if I’d known it would only take a couple of hours to […]

Bad journey? I almost ranted!

Because of the ash cloud, I recently had to change my travel plans and make a trip to and from the UK by coach and ferry, instead of by air. It really brought out the worst in me, in terms of “them and us” thinking, mostly because of the people on the coach (particularly on […]