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: Milquetoast April 1 non-joke: I'm trying out the smooth lines of Gary's new "Orangery" NewsBruiser theme.

It's So Crazy, It Just Might Work: Time to enjoy 73 pictures from Washington DC. The best ones:

: I put up my PyCon paper and the sample applications. I'll put up the slides tomorrow (they're on my laptop, which is at work).

: Sumana alerted me to a depressing comic called They'll Do It Every Time, which is the opposite of Keith Knight's "Life's Little Victories" comics. It's been going since 1928, and style-wise it is currently stuck in the 1950s (my guess is that it's catering to the childhood memories of its oldest group of non-senile fans). There must be hundreds of syndicated comic strips like this that I've never heard of. Maybe at some point there are no papers carrying the script, but the contract stays in place and so the artist toils away forever, doing a one-panel daily visible only on the syndicate's website, lost to the winds of time after thirty days.

Wow, I think I got Kris' nightmare by mistake.

New From Crummy-Life Records: I'm working on an album of tributes to the lawgivers of antiquity. So far I've got "Solon, It's Been Good To Know You", and "Stop! Hammurabi Time!"

100% Pure Adrenaline!: Here are my PyCon slides.

BACK OFF, I'M INCONSISTENT: By some strange coincidence I saw the I'VE GOT FIRESTONES truck today. Two things: first, there's no American flag painted on the passenger side door. Second, it doesn't have Firestones. It has oversized Goodrich tires.

: It is colossal squid!

Divine Intervention: The movie is basically a collection of little skits bound together by incredibly boring filler. The skits are either low-key psychological humor or over-the-top manic anger and violence. Two of the skits (the balloon skit and the tank skit) are hilarious. The rest span the spectrum of not-hilarious funniness, most of them being moderately funny.

The pacing is off on those skits near the beginning, in which the same scene is repeated numerous times. There's also a weird Palestinian-nationalist fantasy sequence near the end which turned me off. The filler, as previously mentioned, is boring.

The trailer is much snappier and has almost everything that's really funny in the movie, except for the license plate skit and the tank skit, and the fact that the balloon skit goes on and on with James Bond music playing the whole time. My recommendation: just watch the trailer. It's great.

: Easibox looks to replace the little shell script I have written to tar up NewsBruiser releases. I'll have to hack it to pregenerate the template for the release message, though.

PyCon Talks I Wish Had Existed:

: Sumana told me that whereas most Lonely Planet guides to foreign countries have a teaser on the front cover saying something quaint like "The city of high spirits and high art" or "Where ancient history meets modern metropolis", the teaser for the Lonely Planet guide to Myanmar says "Should you go? See page 1". Possible alternative teaser: "Have you considered Kazakhstan instead?"

Two Great Tastes Dept.: Lucene got ported to Python.

Comic Irish Songs Head On "My Music!": Third In A Series: Dear Old Donegal

Panic Pasta: Ingredients:

Heat up water for pasta. Chop up onions. Chop up tomato. Chop up--aah! The mushrooms are rotten! They are deformed, twisted into mockeries of their former shapes! What kind of mold preys on a fungus? Shouldn't a fungus be able to hold its own? Uh-oh, the water is boiling! Quick, throw in the pasta! Now, quickly find

Open the can, drain the olives. Chop up half of the olives. Heat up the olive oil in a saucepan. Stir the pasta! What if you had just mushed up the remaining olives and used that instead of olive oil? Would it work? Would it taste better? If you made olive oil out of canned olives, would it cancel out the cannedness? For that matter, does store-bought olive oil count as "canned" food? Put the tomato, onions and olives into the olive oil and swish them around to cook them. Stir the pasta again. You forgot the garlic! Get

Chop them up and put them in the saucepan. Grate the cheese! The pasta is done! Drain it. Add a splash of vinegar to the pasta sauce and cook a little more. Serve the pasta with the sauce and cheese. Halfway through eating it, decide that it needs some basil.

Add the basil. Enjoy the remaining portion.

You've Never Bruised News Like This: Working on the final push towards getting rid of the manual-configuration setup step in NewsBruiser. You can now (in CVS) add, delete, and reorder notebooks through the NewsBruiser interface. I have to rewrite the documentation and add application cues for new users, but the heavy lifting is done. They said I was mad! And, frankly, I was mad. But that's neither here nor there.

Terror Of Origadzilla: Rawr!

I Know You Want Someone To Round Up Some Games:

[0] "Pseudo-RPG": TwenCen[1] Leonard/Andy term for computer games which have the trappings of traditional tabletop RPGs yet which are not actually RPGs. They're usually just tactical games. Not that there's anything wrong with that! There's no reason you couldn't implement an actual RPG in Agar, except for the inherent difficulty of doing role-playing with a software DM.

[1] Obvious nomenclature for this sort of stupid fake future slang, which I came up with last week while reading David Brin's Earth: "Newslang".

: Tim "Caps Lock" May writes in to tell me that the creature mentioned here is an eryops, not a thecodont or a euryops.

Eryops wasn't a thecodont, but a labyrinthodontid amphibian. Thecodonts, I gather, were reptiles.

Why did I think it was a euryops? Because of Trans-kingdom Speciation Through Typo Codon Insertion.

Software Roundup: Hm, maybe I should split out the programming-related software into a "Software Software Roundup", since that's most of the interesting software I'm finding nowadays. On the other hand, why not jumble everything together?

[0] This is not really a problem with Dia. It's a problem with having to drag boxes aroud.

Our Long National Nightmare Has Reached Intermission: Woohoo, now every part of NewsBruiser setup except actually unzipping the tarball and making sure the webserver can write to the directory is web-based. Gotta test it and rewrite the docs, and then it's time for a release to beat all previous releases.

: I sent a quick tarball of the new NewsBruiser to Brendan, who was having problems installing it due to not having shell access. Says he:

I fully believe that flowers spring from concrete wherever you walk. It totally works!


Start The Insanity!: For some reason, discussions of Unicode inevitably contain the phrase "This is madness!" (via Kevin)

A Small, Friendly Jackal: Hi, I am Hong Kong Tom. Have you seen the first and latest evolution of NewsBruiser that made in Hong Kong? You can also benefit by making extra income .

Most. Ambiguous. Headline. Ever. Watch: I think the MTV News website has one guy who writes all the headlines, because all the headlines are similar in form and impossible to decipher unless you already know about the hot stars of the moment. I am abysmally ignorant of the hot stars of the moment, so I found the headline I saw today, "Lloyd Banks Ready To Make His Classic; Recalls Liver Shot, 50 At #1", a masterpiece of unexplained jargon and abbreviations. It brightened my whole day, thinking of things that headline could mean.

Naming Brand Names: The bar shampoo I mentioned a while back is called J.R. Liggett's Old-Fashioned Bar Shampoo. I don't know if it's actually old-fashined. They have an "herbal formula" which smells weird and is disturbing, but the original formula is excellent.

: I put up 77 pictures from the CollabNet retreat back in February. The retreat was held in the lovely Marin mountains by the ocean, near old WWII Japanese-spotting bunkers and an old Nike missile site. Hence the dual themes of nature and old concrete.

Some samples:

Google MemeWatch 2003: "coalition of the" -willing

: I'm working on a wrapup of PyCon. In the meantime, here's a picture of me giving my talk. No, I don't actually think one picture of me can hold you off for long enough to finish my wrapup.

: PyCon wrapup about half done. As a further delaying tactic I give you my mother's pronouncement on the strata pictures I took for her:

I believe I saw those strata on a geology class field trip when I took geology at DeAnza. What's scary is there are more of them in the ocean, which only show at low tide. They make a dangerous reef if you were a Spanish galleon.

CrummyTone News Presents: The March Of PyCon: My PyCon report is up. It's got notes on all the talks I attended, a lot of links to useful software (it's basically a very verbose and Python-specific Software Roundup), and random ramblings about Washington D.C.

Random Restaurant Review: There's an incredible restaurant called "Heaven On Earth" about 100 miles into Oregon on I-5. I ate there back in 2000, and took some pictures there (they're near the beginning of the set). Actually I mainly have one picture, of the jam and peanut butter, all of which I'm pretty sure is made on the premises. You put the peanut butter and the jam on delicious biscuits. I don't even remember what they have besides biscuits and jam and peanut butter, but whatever I had was also really good. The restaurant is off of exit 86, the Quine's Creek exit. I recommend you stop by if you're passing through. Also, the people at the restaurant are very friendly

: Sean Neakums tries to confuse me with fancy talk about cameras and steep drops:

I have a feeling that the cause is that your camera has a very wide depth of field. If the stuff beyond the drop were out of focus, and the precipice itself in focus, then the precarioutiveness might thus be captured.

We're simple folk 'round these parts. We just point and shoot. Sometimes we zoom.

: I don't think I mentioned before that Jason Robbins left CollabNet to go back to teaching at UC Irvine. We were all very saddened by this development, and to get through the grieving process we (mainly stack) turned Jason's desk into a shrine. It had various Jason paraphenalia like the bag of potato chips he never opened, some notes for a presentation, etc. It lasted about two days.

Some call Jason the patron saint of UML users. I think that rather than being the patron saint of any particular thing, he should be canonized as the PatronSaint design pattern itself.

: Incidentally, the best image gallery program is Curator. It's in Python and it has no dependencies but ImageMagick. It doesn't do exactly what I want, but it's past the critical point where it's easier to hack it than to write my own script. Eventually my picture galleries will be driven by Curator, but other stuff takes precedence (like getting up the England pictures).

: I put up 51 miscellaneous pictures from England. I've got 550 more to put up. This set contains both my favorite London picture ever and the most stereotypical London picture ever. It also has my completely unsuccessful attempt at recreating from memory the cover of the Dover edition of The Ball and the Cross.

Straight Talk About Cameras: From Gary Benson:

The reason your precarious picture doesn't look precarious is perhaps a lack of context: you know that the drop is steep, but there is no non-steep stuff in the shot. If you had got the horizon in there it might have looked more precipitous.

Incidentally this is why everyone who stands at the bottom of a building and takes a shot up at it is disappointed with the lack of looming in the final image. You need some context.

Someone get this man a cable talk show!

Hey, Kris: "Pie Dome, it's the Pie Dome..."

World Famous Leonard: Mentioned in Linux Journal!

: Why is a cross between a grapefruit and a tangerine called a tangelo? Because the grapefruit is a cross between an orange and something called a pomelo. I've never had a pomelo, but it must be just about the most citric acid-laden fruit in the world if you cross it with an orange and get a grapefruit, and then cross it with a tangerine and get a tangelo.

The Pitch!:

Members of Congress.
They've got powers.
They fight crime.

I call it "The Supermajority".

Sea Turtles Play Elaborate Practical Joke On Humanity: "Ha Ha", Say Turtles

World Famous NewsBruiser #2: I don't mention the silly animal-themed codenames I give to NewsBruiser releases in the Freshmeat announcements, both out of my general neurotic distaste for tall poppy self-promotion (notice how the 'get NYCB via email' box is way at the bottom of Crummy's front page, and how NewsBruiser didn't even have a Freshmeat entry for the first four years of its existence) and because I had a vague feeling that the Freshmeat team would just edit out such frivolity. My vague feeling was vaguely justified with the most recent NewsBruiser release, as the Freshmeat team changed "round out the release" at the end of my announcement to the blander "were also added in this release." Perhaps it was merely an attempt to rid Freshmeat announcements of cliches; but then why stop at the announcements? Why not reject entire software packages for being cliched?[0]

All of this is completely irrelevant to the fact that NewsBruiser now has an entry in the prestigious FSF/UNESCO Free Software Directory (UNESCO? They just got involved, apparently.)

[0] Actually, I am kidding. Before my initial NewsBruiser submission was approved, I was interrogated by the Freshmeat admins as to what was so great about NewsBruiser that they should put up another pointer to a weblog program. I think this is a good idea, and I think Freshmeat's reputation for being a repository of pointers to useless, unfinished software is mainly because they don't want to go back and deal with all the packages they added in pre-interrogation days. I check the new packages on Freshmeat every couple weeks for Software Roundup, and even the stuff I'm not interested in is pretty original. Compare SourceForge, which doesn't even care.

: I was never into G.I. Joe as a kid, so perhaps my outsider's perspective is what allows me to notice what no one else seems to see or care about, which is there are two completely different lines of G.I. Joe toys. There's the line of large dolls with realistic gear, a line depicting soldiers from the history of modern warfare. Then there's the line of unrealistic four-inch action figures with ridiculous names like Sgt. Hacker and Chief Torpedo, who fight the equally ridiculous Cobra Commander without ever having to answer to the brass or pesky Congressional subcomittees. Since to me, "same brand" == "officially compatible", I can't help but picture the scene in which Duke (the leader of the G.I. Joe team; there is no actual "G.I. Joe", which I suppose makes sense) is introducing some new recruits:

"Fellas, we've got some new Joes just out of boot camp. I'd like you to give a big G.I. Joe welcome to Blowtorch, who'll be heading up our pyrotechnics efforts.

"Also new to our team is Cross Hair, an expert sniper. He'll be working on disabling the COBRA network of spy satellites.

"And this is Private First Class Jimmy Hightower. He's eleven feet tall, and he speaks Navajo."

Software Roundup Roundup: People come up to me on the street and start to say something but before they can I say "Stop, person coming up to me on the street! How can we go on like this? You, asking me ludicrous and far-fetched questions. Me, using it as a segue into a News You Can Bruise entry. When will it end? Let's break the cycle. Instead of answering your question. I will tell you about some software directories I've found online."

Any that I missed? (I'm deliberately excluding Windows software sites like download.com.com because 1) I am a snob, and 2) I prefer linking to Linux software because that's what I use.)

[Addendum: I update this weblog entry as I remeber or discover more application directories. Do not let this disturb you. Just think of it as a Wiki that only I can edit.]

Software Roundup: Speaking of which...

Game Roundup:

: Funny thing from my mother: California's Velcro Crop Under Challenge

Sci-Fi Cliche Watch 2003: "much like your earth"

: Some more pictures from England: as part of her drama class, Rachel did a performance at the rebuilt Globe Theater. It's pretty tacky, but I suppose it was tacky originally. Originally it did not have the theme-restaurant title of "Shakespeare's Globe", though. Here's my favorite picture of the set.

: Why Guinea Pigs Kill Their Owners

Two Items On Brian:

  1. He now has a weblog.
    Still, Mike Godwin is not someone who exaggerates the seriousness of a situation. Slashdot does, though!
  2. He sent me and Kevin a link to reviews of a hot sauce written by people who have not yet recovered from the hot sauce.

    I envision Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf saying that about some wimpy Tabasco.

Mozilla Icon Or Newborn Chicken? Second In A Metaseries:

(Cf. the elephant.)

Static, Electric: Not a bad evening's work: I added a framework to NewsBruiser for writing static files containing entries and sets of entries. The result is that this most-recent-25 items comes from a file instead of a CGI call, as does any one random entry. Much faster. It's not usable unless you're a Python hacker, but it's in there and I'm using it. With the proper care, NewsBruiser can now be as aggravating as Movable Type and Blogger! Next up: adding writers for the RSS feeds.

Anti-Spam-Filter Countermeasures Undermine Sales Pitch Of Spam #4 or #5, I Forget: (Man, this series just keeps getting more and general)

May I help you with your cell phone axjtsizpfb uygt

Tinnedbeefeaters: From Sumana, a job opening at Buckingham Palace.

The candidates will need to be CORGI registered...

: Jason sent me a link to Programmers And Problems, a pedagogical card game developed by one of his colleagues to teach software engineering practices to college students. If you like games that nip the escapism aspect right in the bud, this one is for you. You play a project manager trying to get a software project developed. Will you go for broke, forgoing design and working your employees 16-hour days? Or will you carefully gather requirements, plan, and document, then realize that it's 5PM and make your employees work another 8 hours actually writing the code? Will you devote valuable time to code inspection, or leave all bugs unrevealed until the final showdown with the client? With Programmers And Problems, the schedule is yours to beat! My main beef: the structure of the game forces you to use the waterfall development methodology. It would be interesting to develop an XP variant in which programmers interacted more with each other, etc.

PS: PAP is the second game I know of in which feature creep is a bogeyman.

Wish I Were Here: On the road to Bakersfield, in an I-5 restaurant called The Apricot Tree which I've long intended to try out but have kept putting it off. I'm going down to meet Susanna's fiance.

The food here is okay; the decor, kitschy. I can't say how the apricot pie is, because it turns out I don't like apricot pie.

Back on the road.

: You know what would be cool would be a way of specifying multiple links for a single <a> tag. You would do this in a way similar to the way you put a <link rel="foo" href="..."> in a HEAD tag. (It would probably go inside the main <a>). Browsers would implement this by, for instance, putting the alternate links in the menu that shows up when you right-click a link. Among other things, I would use this to give myself a link to the entry edit functionality in a NewsBruiser permalink.

I have not looked into whether or not this actually exists, because the longer I put it off, the longer I can pretend it exists in some dusty section of the HTML spec. I assume it doesn't exist because I can already feel the people who are in charge of adding things to the HTML spec breathing down my neck, telling me to use one user-visible control per hyperlink destination. Don't make me use Javascript!

: I got rid of about half of my books at the Bakersfield used bookstore that always makes me feel like they think I'm trying to cheat them. They took all of the books, though, and my contributions will surely make the place a bit more highbrow. There is a used bookstore in Mountain View, right across the street from the Mongolian barbecue place, and I was going to take the books there tomorrow, on my way back home. They have a much better selection for me to use my store credit on, and don't make me feel like they think I'm trying to cheat them, but it turns out they only buy books on Friday and Saturday. Next time, Gadget...

Also gave a bunch of old stuff I don't need to the Salvation Army. It's Get Rid Of Stuff Daze here at Leonard's house, because I might be moving soon. More as the situation develops.

In Bed: My fortune cookie said, "You have a kind heart and are well admired." I am Gamera!

Inexplicably Unused Advertising Slogan For Pizza Or Bread Or Something:

"You'll like our crust!"

: Todd, who is always good for some quick NYCB material, comments on used books:

i was very, very well read in my youth, before i forgot everything. all of that reading did not prevent me from trading 10 or so ratty paperback editions for one fine hardbound, sewn-in-signatures, best translation/commentary extant version of a personal favorite, over and over again. i was ruthless and systematic.

the result is that i have a personal library reflecting well below 10% of the harder books i've read, mostly in immaculate editions that quite naturally show no sign of use. the ones i chose to get the immortal versions of tended to be the ones that spoke most to me at the time. i wish i had the scribbled-up profusion around to remind me of important things from time to time, now that i'm older.

I'm noticing the same sort of thing, except that I buy good copies of things, new or used, at random intervals, and the rest of my library is distilled at intervals from a large number of cheap paperbacks to a smaller number of different but equally cheap paperbacks. Most of the stuff I want to keep is well-known and public domain, hence already on the web, and I'm not sentimental about paper, so it can go. Exceptions for particular authors I'm collecting, like Chesterton, and my awesome hardcover copy of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, which is available Gutenberg-style but which I hang on to with the slim justification that there are woodcuts not reproduced in the ASCII edition.

Second, Todd on links with multiple targets:

there is a specification called xlink that matches your description for links across xml-based documents, including xhtml (1.1 and later) potentially: http://www.w3.org/TR/xlink/ . like most xml fabulousness, the existence of some how-to documentation, schema etc., does not imply the existence, much less wide deployment of software designed to support said fabulousness. mozilla does support some xlinkish stuff - not sure whether the bits you describe: http://www.mozilla.org/newlayout/xml/#linking . in the meantime, there's javascript. <shudder/>

I've barely played with Mozilla's XLink support, preferring to waste this evening writing a syndication feed file writer for NewsBruiser, but the functionality covered by Mozilla's single test case didn't fill me with confidence. Here's an article on XLink which I find only slightly opaque. Perhaps there's hope for me yet; it took me years to comprehend XML, but once I finally figured out the left angle bracket, the right angle bracket was easy.

Python Templating System Roundup:

[From time to time, "Software Roundup" will appear in a bonus edition, evaluating according to obscure criteria the members of an overly bifurcated software category. Only Crummy Premium subscribers ($24.95/year) will be spared this exclusive content.]

I'm investigating Python templating systems for use in NewsBruiser. TTM!'s functional approach is good for user-entered templates that fit into predefined control flow, but I'm looking to start doing the screens with templates, and it's no good for that.

By my side-of-the-envelope calculation, there are more Python templating systems than there are Rocks 'n' Diamonds levels. I've skimmed some web pages and tried to get a few of them to work, so I am now an expert on Python templating systems, at least as regards whether or not I can use them in NewsBruiser.

Here are my showstoppers for any module I might want to incorporate into NewsBruiser. The first two are born of my design goal of making NewsBruiser work for anyone whose hosting service has Python available and who can unzip a tarball. The last one is due to the unfortunate reality of software licensing. I've looked at the template systems with these showstoppers in mind, which means that often I'll simply dismiss a possibly deserving module without really looking at it; this is not a reflection on the module.

First, the ones I can't or won't use:

[STOP PRESS! Crummy Premium subscription now only $24.91/year! Such a deal!]

Now, the actual contenders:

So, unless I find something else that's better (do you know of any?), or I can get XYAPTU to work, I'm probably going to hack up AHTS or tinpy to fit my needs.

Speaking Of Templates: Amazon has a thing called "The Page You Made" where they show me stuff I've been looking at on Amazon, and other stuff that's related to that stuff in the unimaginative way Amazon thinks things are related to other things (ie. by being by the same person). This is fine, except for the tiny fact that I didn't make that page! It's a lie! I never made that page! My antifingerprints are all over it! Had I actually made that page, it would have fewer graphics and those graphics present would be of dinosaurs. It would also have more random stuff on it.

I wouldn't mind so much, except that I have photographic evidence that Amazon is showing this same page to everyone, and trying to pawn it off as my work. For shame!

Suffertime: I forgot to mention that another thing I don't like about template systems is when they add whitespace to my template as they interpolate it. I'm going to be using this templating system to generate RSS 3.0 feeds and other things that care about whitespace. I finally got XYAPTU to work in 1.5, but it introduces blank lines and extra spaces all over the place until I can't stand up. Bleah. Still hacking. Update: Got it to work.

: Sumana showed me a funny Cat and Girl. I laughed! I cried laughed! [I cried! -Ed.] Stop it!

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