Phoned That One In, Didn’t You?

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

I’m only vaguely interested in what Professional Photographer think of the Sigma DP1, but I tell you what, it was a laugh looking at the review. Apart from Ian Farrell’s apparent ignorance as to the difference between Sigma’s sensor and the more ordinary CMOS or CCD (and the artifacts caused by Bayer effects), what made me laugh was the test images. One was of the inside of a pub:

and the other seems to be of the undergrowth around the pub car park:

10/10 for slacking, sunshine!

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I Had No Idea

Friday, February 13th, 2009

There is a welcome new addition to my favourite DJs when it comes to release mixes: Stanton Warriors. Yes, I know they’ve been around for ages and you can hardly ignore their remix chops, but thanks to my (home taping is killing music) habit of illegal downloads as a try-before-you-buy tactic, I’ve discovered the joy of:

Stanton Sessions III

The Stanton Sessions Vol III – which incidentally is over an hour long: ideal for my pathetic running speed when training for that 10k run I stupidly signed up for in April. So far I get to about 8.5k in an hour. If I lose 20 kilos, maybe I’ll get under the hour. Trouble is, the only way to do that right now would be to chop off a leg, which kind of defeats the object.

Speaking of which – to the gymnasium!

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A Note to the Nerds

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

If you use bacula for backing up your Linux boxes like I do, you might hit the same problem I did. This is just to record what I found for search engines to find, ‘cos it ain’t obvious and I haven’t seen it noted anywhere else.

In the Messages resource, the “Mail” record must be after the “MailCommand” one, otherwise the director will act as if it didn’t find your lovingly-crafted MailCommand. I was getting lots of emails with the subject of just “Bacula Message” when I could have sworn it should include some more details, like maybe whether the damned thing succeeded or failed. I haven’t found any other configuration resource that has this kind of order dependency.

(Despite this little hitch, I do highly recommend bacula. By the way, this little nugget is true at least in version 1.38, which is what you get in debian etch.)

Don’t Fall Off Your Chair

Monday, January 19th, 2009

After visiting town for the first time in ages at the weekend, I’m sitting perusing the copy of “A user’s guide to The Fall” by Dave Thompson I got from Fopp and enjoying a good dose of down and dirty muso wallowing. For no good reason, and hoping I don’t put you in mind of Nick flippin’ Hornby, here’s a top ten Fall tracks from my point of view:

  1. Overture from “I am Kurious, Oranj”
  2. Wrong Place, Right Time
  3. White Lightning
  4. Edinburgh Man
  5. There’s a Ghost in My House
  6. Bill is Dead
  7. Life Just Bounces
  8. Dead Beat Descendent
  9. Carry Bag Man
  10. Guest Informant

Well now. I must say that I reckon that’s got to be in no particular order, and I’ve probably missed a good few corkers. But there’s a couple of threads that link them together: first, they were the first proper band I saw at a proper venue (I remember it was Rock City in 1987 – so that makes it May 25th according to the book) so there’s plenty of work before then that passed me by. Second, there’s nothing since the mid 90s either.

For Your Thoughts

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

Thank you to everyone who called, emailed or commented here about Des. It’s really great to get all those messages of support. Two months down the road, we still miss the old bugger but my mind still settles on the idea that he didn’t hang around, suffering. And of course we have our other two little dynamos to keep us busy:


Badger  and



For the long-lost friends who want an easy way to keep in touch, you can find me on Facebook!

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Dear Tesco

Friday, July 4th, 2008

Just a small note to say:

  1. There is no such chuffing word as “instore”. Why do you insist on using it? What does it add to your message, other than illiteracy?
  2. Well done for providing soy sauce, wasabi and ginger with your packaged sushi. Now, if only the little bowls in the packaging provided for dipping were actually big enough to dip the sushi into it, we’d be golden.
  3. Oh yes – the word “everyday” doesn’t mean what you think it means*. You think it means “every day” and it just doesn’t. So when you put on your packaging “enjoy everyday”, I don’t take it to mean “buy this product every day” but maybe it’s more subtle than that. Perhaps it’s the secret to inner peace and contentment: find a way to enjoy the commonplace and ordinary (which is what “everyday” means) and, just maybe, one will overcome the personal turmoil of being unreasonably annoyed by, for example, bad English.


What’s Wrong with This Picture?

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

Two on the ball - where’s the man?

When I see this in front of me, playing in goal in our weekly five a side game, I get very annoyed. I can’t help it. There’s two of my team marking the bloke with the ball, and so of course one of his team-mates is scot free at the edge of the D. Once the ball gets to him (and it usually does) he’s through on goal. And I shout even more. So please don’t play like a schoolboy and get drawn to the ball all the time, otherwise there will be more expletives and arm-waving.

Thank you.

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Thanks for Everything, Mate

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

The house feels awfully bigger this morning.

In the early hours, I drank a toast to Desdog – he died around midnight. He really didn’t suffer for too long: within an hour or so of becoming ill he was at the emergency vets and on opiates. My only regret was that in my last nuzzle of the fur behind his ears I couldn’t smell him properly because of the cleaning chemicals in the consulting room.


What a good dog. A constant through some troubled times, his unconditionally doting presence was comforting beyond words. “But that’s just what dogs do”, you might say; and you’d be right. But he was my dog, and that makes all the difference.

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Dear Mr. DPD Courier

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

DPD logoHow can I put this? You’re not the sharpest tool in the shed, are you? Please, please, when I’m out and you try to deliver something, do not tape the card saying “sorry we missed you” to my front bloody door at eye level! You see, it might not cross your mind that there’s anything wrong with that, but as I say, you’re not exactly Richard Feynman. The card says “sorry we missed you” but it might as well say “The occupiers of this house are out. Burglars, help yourselves!” Just put it through the letter box, would you please?

On top of that, while I’m at it, please fix your systems. Both your website and your automated phone system, after a lot of faffing about entering consignment details, can’t connect to your SQL server and so fail. It ought to be pretty simple just to get a few printer cartridges into my sweaty mitts, but it appears not.

Parceline may have changed their name to DPD, but they’re still buffoons.

By the way, what made your phone system think I wanted to hear about a new comedy club in Plymouth while I was on hold? Huh?


A new error!



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Getting PicLens to play nicely with WordPress pretty permalinks

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

When the nice lady on the BBC showed me the PicLens plugin, I knew my search for a cool way to show visitors my photos was finally over. I always liked Lightbox and its variants, but I wanted something that would allow people to easily browse the pictures and show them full screen with no distracting clutter. PicLens does all that, and in a very nice way. Even when you don’t have the plugin (and there isn’t one for Opera, for instance) or Flash installed you still get a pretty nice JavaScript alternative.

They provide easy ways to integrate PicLens into your site, including the wp-piclens plugin for WordPress. But there’s a snag. Out of the box, at least for me with my WordPress 2.3.3 installation, it only works properly when pretty permalinks turned off. (That means style links would work, but not my preferred ones). The way it would fail is that when you click on the “Start Slide Show with PicLens Lite” link which the plugin helpfully inserts into posts which have images in them, PicLens opens up but sits there forever with a “loading” progress bar, not getting anywhere.

Time to break out the debugging chops :->

It turns out that PicLens was actually getting a 404 error when it requested the Media RSS feed from wp-content/plugins/wp-piclens/mrss.php. Weird, since when you request the feed directly, you’d be confused to see that the feed actually appears – but sure enough, look at the headers with Live HTTP Headers, and the response code is a nasty 404 instead of the nice 200 we might expect. This is caused by the way that wp-piclens invokes the wp() function to generate the MediaRSS. To cut a long story short, the WordPress parse_request function assumes that when URI rewriting is turned on, it’s going to generate a 404 error. Then, if and only if it finds a rewrite rule to successfully apply, it resets that error. So, despite the fact that the URI for the MediaRSS feed doesn’t actually need rewriting, you get a 404 error when you request it when URI rewriting is turned on. The fix? Add a hook in the plugin to rewrite the mrss.php URI onto itself, like this:

function feed_dir_rewrite($wp_rewrite)
$feed_rules = array( 'wp-content/plugins/wp-piclens/mrss.php' => 'wp-content/plugins/wp-piclens/mrss.php' );
$wp_rewrite->rules = $feed_rules + $wp_rewrite->rules;
add_filter('generate_rewrite_rules', 'feed_dir_rewrite');

Then you need to force the rules to be re-generated: go to Options/Permalinks in your WordPress dashboard, select “Default” and hit “Update Permalink Structure”, then re-select your preferred permalink method (mine is “Date and name based”) followed by another “Update Permalink Structure”.

That should be it! Now when you click on the “Start Slide Show with PicLens Lite” link, you should see your photos on the PicLens wall in all their glory.

(Now I can finally get on with adding some content instead of fiddling with infrastructure… maybe…)