Big Bubbles (no troubles)

What sucks, who sucks and you suck

Made by RCA

Have you heard it yet? You know, that song that bounces along while the singer trills about “X’s and O’s, they won’t let go”? Catchy as hell. Sounds like Paloma Faith, or maybe Amy Winehouse or … well, one of those types. Bound to have been on a radio near you lately.

Welcome to RCA’s newest product, skilfully developed through years of painstaking effort by trained professionals: Elle King.

Irrevocably Retro

My Glamorous Research Assistant is holding a ‘vintage tea party’ themed party this weekend, so naturally she looked at the mountain of organising, styling, designing, catering and collating that would be needed and deduced immediately that I was best put in charge of … the music. And nothing else.

Puppet to Ansible

I’ve just completed the move of the configuration management for my very small home network from an obsolete Puppet 2.x setup to Ansible. Total time = approximately half a day. Showstoppers - none.

Parsing a Twitter Archive

I just signed up to Pinboard because I wanted a permanent resource to capture all the links I’ve posted and retweeted on Twitter. While Pinboard integrates well in terms of capturing links from your ongoing feed, it will only work backwards to the previous 3200 tweets due to Twitter’s API limit. So the first thing I wanted was to do was process my long term Twitter archive to get everything from the previous four years. You’d think other people would want this too, so something must exist to do it, right? Wrong.

It’s Complicated

A curmudgeon’s guide to Hand. Cannot. Erase. by Steven Wilson

An interesting thing happened when I added Steven Wilson’s forthcoming album Hand. Cannot. Erase. to my Amazon wishlist. Suddenly, my Amazon recommendations filled up with the most appalling shite, presumably on the basis that “other people who want Hand. Cannot. Erase. also have absolutely no taste in music”. A solo album from a member of a decidedly middle-ranking, way past best-before neo-prog act - srsly? What bothered me more was the worry that all the other fans of Wilson’ oeuvre were actually displaying consistent taste, whereas this was an outlier for me.

Computational Pragmatics

Everyone should attend at least one truly memorable lecture in their university career: the one so well-presented or eye-opening in its content that it stayed with you for the remainder of your career. Mine was the last lecture of our Computer Science C235h module at UWA, in which the lecturer immediately grabbed our attention by announcing that there would be no notes as what he was about to say would ‘upset’ certain members of the rest of the department wedded to the accepted wisdom of software engineering practice. In fact, he said, this lecture might be subtitled ‘What they don’t tell you in Software Engineering’.

Plum Umbrella by Saul Leiter

“Plum Umbrella, c. 1957” by Saul Leiter. An early adherent of colour film, Leiter’s work in the medium was mostly neglected during his working career, finding few commercial outlets at the time. The rich body of images he amassed around NYC in the late 50s and early sixties was only rediscovered and promoted in his latter years.

In this shot, Leiter employs one of his favourite devices, closed framing: the titular object blocks our view of the majority of the figures underneath. Between the umbrella in the foreground, which is out of focus, and the large expanse of pavement in the background below, the middle ground forms only a minor part of the overall image and yet holds the key details we need to make sense of it.

The Basics of Baking

Having some time on my hands lately (in which to grow and flourish in exactly the way that potted plants tend not to in office environments), I did some baking. I baked a chocolate loaf, some Aberffraw (shortbread) biscuits, an apple cake and some soda bread, and they all turned out decently, to varying degrees of yumminess. But this was entirely thanks to following the recipes; had I not done so, I wouldn’t have had the first clue what I was doing or where to start - rather reminiscent of several pieces of software I’ve installed and configured under Googled recipes. I don’t actually understand how any of this stuff works; I just know to follow a recipe.

Astra Head Unit Replacement

I know it’s not a glamorous vehicle and it will never set anyone’s pulse racing, but I quite like my Vauxhall Astra. For a start, it has an engine, four wheels and a roof, all of which appear to be of adequate construction, and that’s always been a key consideration for me as a discerning car-shopper with absolutely no knowledge or interest in cars whatsoever. However, the one component that lets it down, as with so many popular makes, is the factory-fitted stereo.

Entertainment U Say?

This is the story of a time when I had poor taste. (In music, I mean. Clothing, I’ve never had much taste in.) But I wasn’t alone. It was the Eighties. And my poor taste wasn’t as poor as everyone else’s poor taste.