computing Imported From Epistula internet

A traditional post – Geekcode 2016

A tradition doesn’t stop being a tradition just because it’s lost all relevance to the modern age. That’s what Christmas is all about!

And one I’ve got is that every couple of years I update my Geek Code. The Geek Code is an old and established tradition, a one line incomprehensible block of symbols that represents your opinions and state on many geek things that mattered in 1995 when it was last updated. As such, it’s missed an awful lot of pop-culture advancement, including the bit where the inclusive nature of geek culture took over the world, and then the toxic nature of it burned some of it down. There’s probably a better article about that, somewhere. Anyway, here on the first day of 2016, the traditional geek code block:

Version: 3.1
GCM$ d s+:+> a C+++(++++)$ ULS++++$ P- L++++$ E- W+++$@ N o+ K w+$ O- M+ V- PS++ PE-(--) Y++(+++)$ PGP+() t 5+ X R++* tv+ b+>++ DI---(++) D++ G++ e+ h--- r++ z? 

The rules:

  • Done with the most recent 3.1 release of the Geek Code
  • Phrasings are as I understand them as I take the quiz, and formatted according to my whim.
  • I don’t look at previous geek codes before taking the test again.

All the geekcodes, 1998 -> 2016 are here


  • It kind of amuses me how I reinterpret the “Dress” section every time, given that my general style hasn’t changed much.
  • My confidence in Computing & Unix varies over time.
  • That you can track down my addiction to Usenet as you can track up the things with “gets paid for this” ($) signifiers amuses me.
  • Watch my opinion of Dilbert do a ski-course impression, as the writer asserts his opinions more.
  • You can basically track my entire relationship history though the (r) column on this graph.
  • I care a lot about security now I’m being paid to.

In the beforetimes:

I’m going to try to resume the weekly posts thing. We’ll see how that goes.


Humour Imported From Epistula social

25 Things

People keep asking me to do the 25 things meme. Or Tagging me, or something. Since Linus Torvolds – of all people – used my idea on how to do it best, I’m going to do it differently.

  1. All things are really meringue. The illusions of things that are not meringue are caused by gloss paint and superglue. It takes the supreme baker five years to bake enough meringue to run each second of our time. It requires more hens than there are space for.
  2. Purple elephants never weigh more than twelve stone, unless you dip them in coffee.
  3. The book that most affected the course of evolution was called “Ugg’s envelope”, and did so by being dropped on the head of someone at the critical point of conception.
  4. Civilisation is no more than four meals away from breakfast.
  5. If you summon an undead cactus, you will not be able to tell the difference.
  6. Science has yet to work out why your toes have toasters on the ends, but assume that it’s not a mutation that will enhance the species. Sorry.
  7. It has been proven by advanced magic that the missing ingredient in your last chilli was sugar.
  8. In Wassock, TX, they have built a coffee mug sufficient to wake up the sleeping earth. The only thing between us and a sentient planet is that they don’t know if they should make it white or black, or how much of a bad idea getting it wrong would be.
  9. Accordions are no longer banned in Westminster, but only if they do not repeat the “9th Note In The Octave” incident.
  10. You cannot fold a single piece of paper enough times to balance that table.
  11. The radius of a CD was specifically designed so that you could use them to put your drink on when the burn fails. The entire industry dedicated to specific objects for that purpose then collapsed, because it had been coasting for years.
  12. In the next series of Top Gear, all the Stigs will be put on trial for corrupting the time stream.
  13. According to tradition, the last person to leave will indeed turn out all the lights.
  14. Yes, they do come with a manual. No, you’re not allowed to see it. That would remove the fun.
  15. If you don’t get well soon, they’re going to shoot you.
  16. There is a fundamental universal law against anyone naming a decent drink “Starboard”
  17. There probably is no event horizon, now relax and enjoy your shoes.
  18. The proof of the pudding cannot be submitted for scientific analysis if you have already eaten it.
  19. Conceptually, it is impossible for elephants to fly under their own power in their current form.
  20. There’s no such place as Brazil, everyone has been lying to you.
  21. Pluto’s demotion was a coverup, really it resigned so that the affair with Tarvos wouldn’t be an intergalactic scandle.
  22. Elvis is the music industry version of Mornington Crescent
  23. Adding more cornflour stops working after a certian – very early – point.
  24. You’ll never get to heaven in a girl-guide’s arms.
  1. There are only 24 things on this list.
Imported From Epistula social

Books for Bricks

  1. And so it came to pass that a friend of mine’s house is falling down
  2. And thus it is useful for him and his family to repair it before it collapses.
  3. And the chances of the insurance coming though before the ceiling does appears small.
  4. And it so happens that he has a book of children’s stories, which I’m told is Good (My copy has not arrived)
  5. And so, if enough people buy the book, all will be well.
  1. And for more details and links to the online places that sell the books, you should go to the website created for this drive,
2009 Doof Imported From Epistula

Hi there

Merry Birthday, Happy New President, Seasons 2009ings. Etc.

One of my resolutions was to get this updated more, which is slowly failing. Mostly because at some point in the last year I broke Epistula’s admin interface (It was a choice between “Breaking Edit” and “Continuing to do an extra ~100 queries per post”) and haven’t fully mended it yet. The only thing stopping me shifting the entire site over to WordPress or something is losing threaded comments, which I still like. Anyway.

As of early this year, I now work for Doof as a web dev (Where my username is Aquarionics) mostly building something new, but also updating Twoof, the version of the site that a) isn’t entirely flash, and b) enables you to play against your Twitter friends instead of your Doof ones.

As a side effect of this I’m developing in CodeIgniter, which is new and therefore interesting. Having moved from the modified Zend Framework structure we used at Trutap to CI, there’s a clear difference in tone. CI’s slightly more clearly documented, with less of a tendancy to assume people should read the code to know the interfaces, and has less of an objects-within-objects-passed-to-objects fetish. CI, on the other hand, avoids this by having magic global functions that aren’t easily traceable. I’m sure as I learn more of how the internals of CI work I’ll bend it further to my will.

So yes. Still Alive (it is a triumph).

And Aquarionics is 9. Big one next year.

Imported From Epistula music

Go, browncoats, go

Paul and Storm – who used to be half of Da Vinci’s Notebook, and were awesome when I saw them in concert with Jonathan Coulton a few months ago – have a Thing. A Running Joke. They create themetunes for things as if they were written by Randy Newman. The joke is that they sound the same. Then the joke became that you could do this for a great deal of things without changing much. Then it became, as they put it, an exercise in musical haiku.

For Advent, they did one a day.

This is the one for Serenity (Contains spoilers)

And here are the rest

2008 Imported From Epistula


If you’re still reading this, Merry Christmas.

Maybe next year it’ll get content again.

Computer Games Imported From Epistula

Left 4 Dead

I now own Left 4 Dead. It appears quite good, but I would like to play with people who I can rely more upon not to, for example, hare off into the distance alerting every zombie in the world to our location and then die and demand everyone heal him.

Left 4 Dead is a co-operative zombie-based shooty game. Very co-operative. You need to stick together or you will die. You need to not be a moron, or you will die. You need to both support and rely on your team mates. Or you will die.

(And then you will play as the zombies, and the humans will die instead).

If you would like to play with me at this game over christmas – or Team Fortress 2, or many others – you should friend me on Steam:

Imported From Epistula trutap Work

Trutap Goes Away

(Viewers are reminded that the following article does not represent the views of anybody else at all by default, though they are welcome to agree if they like. This – obviously – includes anyone else who works for my soon-erstwhile employer. Keep your arms and legs inside the cart at all times)

As reported in Techcrunch UK yesterday:

Trutap, a leading UK mobile startup, is to let go almost 80% of its staff after failing to hit its window for a second round of funding. The blow comes only a month after the launch of its latest software application for aggregating social networks on the mobile, the milestone of over 250,000 users and the launch of a revenue-raising advertising platform.

Trutap, for those of you playing along at home, are the people who give me a paycheque every so often.

To quote one of my coworkers, just when we got our ducks in a row, someone switched off the duck harvesters. I am in the 80% of the cull, unfortunately, and so am currently looking for a brand new job. Trutap is a company it has been my absolute pleasure to work for for the last two years or so, and I’m going to be sad to leave it. This is the second startup that’s gone against the wall as I’ve been working for it. I’m hoping I’m not doing anything wrong…

Mostly, we’ve been shafted by circumstance. Our main investors – as the article says – wandered out of the market just as we were needing a new round of funding.

The various technical news sites have taken something of a depressingly predictable view of why we failed. Classically there are a couple of classes of detractors, both with the same root argument, embodied by this comment by “The Spy” on TCUK:

Doesn’t everyone, who’s anyone, just own an iPhone now? So this app/service is a waste of time

This comment annoys me for several reasons. Mostly because of the sheer level of bollockry it contains in a few short words. No, not everyone has an iPhone, whilst they are very nice devices (and yes, I have one as my primary handset) they are clearly not a panacea. They aren’t ready for prime time as a business handset yet (The lack of support for Apple’s own caldav server, let alone anything else, is a case in point) and whilst the battery-life is better than it was, it’s still not great. Also, they are expensive. I have ranted before on why you can’t just ignore the 99% of the world that does not have an iPhone, and so shall not do so again. This time.

But there are technical hurdles. Future Platforms developed the Java Applet bit of Trutap, and recently published a couple of articles on the process specifcally to us and also in general on the platform, and it’s remarkably like the same arguments that were being made a few years ago about developing websites for different browsers. You start off sniffing for specific browsers and using different page versions for each one, sharing as much content as you can, but eventually you realise that this is not a process that scales far enough and go for a general solution that uses the features you can find.

As for the TT service itself, it’s not going anywhere for a little while. The cutbacks are not total, and we’re aiming to keep the servers on for as long as we can.

As for me, I’ve got an interview to go to. And another tomorrow. And another the day after. And potentially another on Friday.

It’ll all be fine.

Imported From Epistula programming


Yesterday (I rule at this Daily Update thing) was the birthday of Benoît Mandelbrot, creator of the Mandelbrot set fractal, possibly the single most recognisable fractal image there is.

So popular is it, in fact, that a Mandelbrot generator is one of the classic computer science “Look, I can do this with this” problems. For example, someone’s created a Mandelbrot generator from flickr images and there’s even an implemention in four lines of bash, but to save your sanity I can’t find it.

It’s also one of the few mathmatical concept implementations with a song written about it

Mandelbrot Set you’re a Rorschach Test on fire
You’re a day-glo pterodactyl
You’re a heart-shaped box of springs and wire
You’re one badass fucking fractal
And you’re just in time to save the day
Sweeping all our fears away
You can change the world in a tiny way

computing Imported From Epistula Politics

Open Sesame

The Open Rights group founding was interesting.

At a talk just over a couple of years ago, organised by NTK, someone suggested that an organisation to protect the rights of people in the UK would only cost a few hundred people a fiver a month, and that there must be enough that this would be possible.

Having fairly publicly put my money where my mouth was a year or so ago, live on Hashlugradio, I’ve yet to regret doing so. And now it’s three years old, and already getting other people schooled.

It’s been a bumper year for digital rights. From HMRC posting half the nation’s bank details to the Darknet, to the ongoing campaign against Phorm, to three strikes and the rightsholder lobby’s so-far thwarted attempt to take control of your internet connection, this year was the year digital rights went mainstream. (ORG is 3, Nov 08)

So if you give a damn about protecting your rights online and off, I’d recommend throwing a couple of starbucks worth of change at the ORG each month, in return for a warm glowy feeling, a christmas party with no karaoke, and the possibility that the rights you’re guarding are your own.

But the leap from 750 to 1000 fivers received each month is not yet enough to guarantee us long term financial stability. We must reach our target of 1500 fivers before the end of the year. And we can’t do that without you. (ORG is 3, Nov 08)

Go now. Go quickly. We only have a few months to save the world