Thursday, 27 January 2005

Almost ready with the survey.

This is to test an explanation for the phenomenon of sunk costs - when you carry on with a bad course of action, just because you've already spent a lot of money, time or effort on that course.

Testing it with WWW::Mechanize - a great little perl library.

USB cd writer in debian

Using kernel 2.6.8-2; trying to record a CD via USB. It had all previously worked fine: mkisofs... followed by cdrecord...

Now suddenly cdrecord stops working. Starts complaining about being unable to open /dev/sg* or /dev/hd* or whatever.

The solution (after an hour of wasted time, reading bug reports, discovering fascinating bits of Linux vs Joerg Schilling politics, etc. etc.):

modprobe sg

Then cdrecord -scanbus finds my cd writer just as before, and off I go.

Why can't things just work?

Wednesday, 26 January 2005

Luey, Tom's dog

when my printer prints

... it makes a little noise like the start of the Blackadder theme tune.

running a wireless node...

... at my office. I was pleased to discover that a few other people have connected. OTOH, I am not using encryption and this does mean that someone could read my internet traffic.

I'm trying to think how bothered I am about this. Anything like a credit card transaction will be encrypted via https, so I guess it comes down to whether I care about the small chance that someone might e.g. read my email. But then, that could happen already - using a wireless link just makes it a bit easier.

I don't really think I care that much. I'll just be careful.

Plus, maybe I can read other people's email ;-)

Tuesday, 25 January 2005


"more", not "less" in the article above.

Just got the GTA survey in...

It turns out that Graduate Teaching Assistants are doing much more work than they are paid for. Like, about 50% more, not including marking.

This sucks and I really hope we can persuade the department to do something about it: ie accept we are working longer hours, or pay us less.

Monday, 24 January 2005


I used to think snobbery was a character flaw that only old people had, and I was pleased that my generation was so free of it.

On the other hand, I was obsessed with what was cool and uncool. I wanted to listen to cool music and be with cool people.

I am a bit slow on the uptake. I later realised that snobbery and cool were one and the same.

Friday, 21 January 2005

Indications that you may be an oversensitive person

No. 353:

You spend 15 minutes looking through hotornot, but every time you see a moose, you click "refresh" so as to avoid voting them down and hurting their feelings.

my car died.

it is sad.

I bought it for £100 and it served me well for more than a year. Toyotas rule.

Thursday, 20 January 2005

bush inauguration speech

.... very religious, very passionate, defence of freedom throughout the world.

I am a complete sucker for these things.

"Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue". So I guess it is better to have those in power talk about freedom, even if the actual policies bear little resemblance to the rhetoric.

Looking for used cars.

So there's the site with the hideous design, or the one with the crappy selection.

Or I can just pay £300 to get my existing car past the MOT. Which would be OK if my existing car hadn't cost just £100.

Tuesday, 18 January 2005

oh yeah, and real transparency for the panel...

... but that one is coming already.

things that should be removed from the Gnome desktop

Warning: contains arbitrary opinion, selfish demands and random flamage.

1. the "stretch icon" item on the context menu. WTF is this even for?

2. "notes" in the properties dialog. As you can't see these or search on them directly, they strike me as pretty much useless. If I want to make notes about a file, I put them in the filename.

3. emblems. Anyone actually use these?

4. "empty wastebasket", unless you are actually in the wastebasket.

5. The "start here" icon. Or the "computer" icon. I don't mind either of these, but I get the impression they haven't really been thought through. What is the "computer" meant to represent? Why "start here" when I never do?

6. The "overflowing" wastebasket - unless you are literally running out of space on disk. Don't make my desktop look untidy unless it is!

And some positive suggestions:

I really like the fact that the Windows property dialog shows properties appropriate to the thing represented - for example, clicking "properties" for the Network Neighborhood icon gives you network properties. That would be nice to have in Gnome too - e.g. "computer" properties would tell you about your computer.

I want a quick search bar in the file browser. Just to search the current folder and show only matching items. But maybe it would integrate with the beagle search stuff.

Anyway, I like Gnome and I think it is pretty usable.

Idea for the Gnome taskbar

I tend to find that I have multiple windows open at any one time, and my taskbar gets cluttered up. It would be nice if windows which I had not recently looked at could be manually or automatically removed from the taskbar - perhaps stored in a single "more windows..." item, or accessible from the taskbar context menu.

Having a less cluttered taskbar would let me keep more applications open - I find that app startup time is a major waste of my time under Linux.

Monday, 17 January 2005

Everything is always changing.

just back from Holland

... where we went to the Hague which is beautiful and clean and laidback. (No young people.)

The new seminar format (5pm with drinks afterwards) seems to have gone well. Chin-Huat gave the presentation - his paper, about the connection between ethnic divisions and one-party rule in Malaysia, was very interesting.

Thursday, 13 January 2005

Trying out this nifty gnome-blog tool

Well I did actually have a blog elsewhere but it seems so easy to use the blogger one that I might keep doing it.