March 2003

Small Stories

If you like slice-o’-life comics, check out Small Stories, a web site of comics strips by Derek Kirk Kim (I lost the address to this site years ago but it was mentioned in Ernie Hsiung’s weblog). There are lots of stips there, some long (Same Difference is some 79 pages long), some short (such as Valentine’s Day). He says he’s working on getting some of them ready for a printed book. I can’t wait...

New bike parking for me

I complained last November that my favourite bicycle parking place had been taken away from me by the County Council. Now the City Council (I assume) have installed new Sheffield racks on a street corner just a few dozen metres from my offices, which is nice. What’s more, they are flush with the ground (as opposed to having steel tubes along the ground, which obstruct the wheels of parked bikes) and well-spaced (usually Sheffield stands are too close together), which improves on most of the cycle parking in town. Groovy.

Copying files

I really lost it at work today. Why am I so frustrated? Well, one of the things that upsets me is when stupid software makes simple things hard. For example, when I find myself spending an entire fucking afternoon trying to copy data from point A to point B.

Rant about copying data about on windows

Second network card

A while back I installed a second Ethernet card in my Linux box and could not get it to work before the iBook returned to where it belonged. Having had another notebook computer visiting us last night, I finally got the thing up and running.

All in all it was a simple matter of:

  • Wasting time examining the floppy supplied with the card for evidence of a program for setting the card’s IRQ.
  • Downloading rtl8139-diag.c and running it. It informs me in no uncertain terms that I need to visit the BIOS settings. The error message has the important hint that there is no way to do this other than the BIOS set-up panel itslef.
  • Shutting down the operating system so I could do this little thing. Fiddling with the BIOS always makes me nervous, but after a couple of attempts I managed to get it working. I knew this when I rebooted Linux and it detected and activated the second network interface automatically.
  • Changed the network settings for the borrowed laptop. Poked it some more until it believed that the network was there and it was possible to ping back and forth along the wire.
  • Changed Internet Explorer’s own special control panel for the automatic dial-up. One of the options makes it so that it does not dial up if there already is a working network. Duh. Now MSIE can visit but cannot resolve domain names.
  • Changed my dnscache settings to permit my newly created network to use it. (A simple matter of touch /services/dnscache/root/ip/192.168.100, as it turns out.)

At this point it was possible to browse the WWW from the laptop. Yay.

LiveJournal, now with cool URLs

I have been scraping the syndicated version of my RSS feed on LiveJournal in order to add comments links to my articles (not that anyone does). They recently changed the format, so that (a) readers must click through to a second LJ page to find the link to click read the post itself, and (b) my scraper broke. But that’s their perogative, and offering a comment service to strangers who aren’t even LiveJournal members is hardly part of their core mission, so I cannot fault them for it!

They have also switched to using ‘cool’ URLs (in the sense described by Tim Berners-Lee in his Style Guide to Online Hypertext) of the form ~pdc/1234.html rather than talkread.bml?this=that&thother=1234. Apart from making the URLs shorter, this change means that the mechanism used to serve the files is now invisible, and can be altered without having to change the URLs in future. It could even be (gasp!) static files generated once a night when they scan my RSS feed.