food Imported From Epistula

Pumpkin Soup

Serves two full bowl-fulls


  • Some butter
  • An Onion (Chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (Keeps the vampires away. Even the ones with a y)
  • 1.5 pints of Chicken Stock (Either from a chicken or from a cube)
  • Pumpkin. About a pound (A clue: One 6 pound medium-large pumpkin and one small pumpkin yield about 5 pounds of pumpkin flesh when carved out)
  • Spices, Herbs (I used a tiny amount of nutmeg and some thyme)


  • from Kitchen import Saucepan, Liquidizer
  • pot = new Saucepan($base = “heavy”)
  • pot.Content.append(“butter”)
  • pot.heat(high)
  • pot.Content.append(onion)
  • pot.Content.append(garlic)
  • while (onion.state != “clear”){pot.Fry(1m)}
  • pot.Content.append(stock)
  • pot.Content.append(pumpkin)
  • pot.Content.append(herbs, spices)
  • pot.Simmer(20m)
  • liquidiser = new Liquidizer
  • liquidiser.Content = pot.Content
  • liquidiser.Whizz(1m)
  • soup = liquidizer.Content

    (Any similarity to any languages, living or dead, is entirely co-incidental)

    (Less idiosyncratic version at

2004 Imported From Epistula Those who evolve Work

Questions Asked Frequently

Where are you?
Busy. As the previous diary entries have mentioned in passing, I’m spending five hours each weekday commuting from Letchworth to Bedford and back. Since this starts at 6am and ends at 8pm, I have about two hours a day to eat, catch up on email/groups and not go insane. Everything except work and learning to drive is taking a back seat until I fix this mess.
Why does it take two and a half hours?
Because it takes half an hour to walk to the bus stop, ten minutes to get to Hitchin, twenty minutes before the bus to Bedford arrives, an hour to Bedford, and that gets me into Bedford half an hour before work. So it’s a combination of “Fuck of a long way” and “Lack of joined-up transport”. Incidentally, this takes me over three different bus company’s routes, meaning I can’t ever just buy one ticket.
The train, just for all the people who don’t belive I thought though all the possibilities before resigning myself to getting up at 5am, takes even longer and goes via london.
Going by car takes half an hour.
So why don’t you just do things at the weekend?
Ironically, that doesn’t work either. I can’t do anything that will catch anyone’s notice on the weekend, because it appears that most of my readership do so from work, and anything that appears on a saturday or sunday has completely fallen off the radar by Monday morning
So, what are you doing instead?
I am playing Neverwinter Nights, City of Heroes and various other things while at home, and reading the entire works of Agatha Christie during the ample reading time my life has offered me.
Don’t you find it ironic that your MP3 player – which kept you sane during the time you were spending two hours a day commuting to London – decided to join the choir invisible just before you started the new job?
Ironic is one word for it
You should buy an iPod
That is not a question
Shouldn’t you buy a replacement MP3 player, for example an iPod?
Yes, because I’m sure that County Properties will not mind if I don’t bother paying my rent for a month, after all, it is for a worthy cause.
That was sarcasm, wasn’t it?
Yes, Yes it was.
Well, if you’re going to be sarcastic, sod off and carve pumpkins, make pumpkin soup and pie, and do other halloween related activities
Thank you, I will.
By the way, is it true you went to a halloween costume party with a white sheet with eye holes in it, and went as a ghost?
Actually, yes, that is true.
Isn’t that a bit of a crap costume?
Well done, have a point. Lonecat’s costume was better
Imported From Epistula Personal


So, I appear to have lost my weekly ticket, probably on the bus.

I do not have enough cash to buy a single back to Letchworth, and my cash card has a new pin which I do not know.

I may now be slightly screwed.


Got lift home from co-worker. Co-workers good.

On related note, am now transfering away from the Halifax as soon as I can. I shall be wearing a badge reading “Ask me how The Halifax are fuckwits and are screwing the customers making them money”. I’d recommend not taking me up on the offer

epistula Imported From Epistula


I’m being spammed.

The reason comments weren’t working was because I updated my spam detection system to detect on IPs (And broke it at the same time), and this was why I was doing that:

There is a moron spamming Aquarionics.

Actually, I suspect it’s a bot, because it’s filling in url, email and comment fields correctly, then pressing the last button on the form to submit it. It doesn’t appear to notice that the final button on the form is “Post as Private Comment” which actually just sends me an email, thus invalidating completely the idea of the comment spam. I’ve had thirty of these emails so far today, so I’m doing something about it, which is why the final button on the form is now “Post this comment to the trashcan”. If that appears to work, (It works the same as “Post as a Private Comment” right now) I’ll either hide the button or move it under the formatting options or something, but it seems to me to be a neat solution to this pillock’s script.

Incidentally, I’d recommend not talking about poker in my comments system for a little while 🙂

Imported From Epistula Metablog



Comments are now fixed

Imported From Epistula MotW

Mailbox, lets get the baby high

A song for you. It’s called Let’s Get the Baby High and it’s by Mailbox. And we shall learn more of their wisdom later.

Imported From Epistula web development XML

ESF's second birthday

In the great and powerful world of weblogs, anything older than a week, that has vanished into the archives, is dead, gone, and will never be seen again.

Well, almost. ESF appears to have reappeared on people’s radar, and since today is exactly two years (and one month, damn) to the day that I released the spec, I thought it might be time for a little retrospective on why it existed, why it still exists, and where it went.

Well, like a small child with a paintbrush, it went everywhere. Plugins and templates exist for almost every major weblogging tool (Including an MT plugin just to create the required date format) and an increasingly scary number of minor ones. There’s even a feed reader for it (Which has, irritatingly, “extended” the format to allow a text description, which is somewhat against the spirit of the format). Oh, and a CPAN module to create and read it. I’m absolutely freaking amazed by all of this. I created the format for two main reasons:

  1. I was annoyed at the syndication wars
  1. Epistula needed it.

    The second was the actual reason for all this. I wanted a basic format to include a list the last x items of a section without hitting the database each time. I wanted to use an existing feed format for that, but really didn’t want to touch XML parsing with a sixty-foot pole at that point in the system. Because I was – and am – a *nix Admin, the most natural format for me to put this in was something approaching the classic news/mail format, which has passed data between systems for decades without needing to involve XML. I swapped the colon-separated format of that with a tabbed-based format, mostly because anyone using colons in a title field can be forgiven, but anyone using tabs has larger problems already. Hash marks marking non-parsed items is traditional, and after that it really just built itself.

    The two technical decisions it comes under fire most often for are that it sets the mime-type to text/plain and that it uses Epoch time format, both of which I’d probably do differently if I were to write ESF mk2. The mime-type was chosen because it really *is* just a text document, and can be read as such. Also, I’m not sure creating a new mime-type for a tin pot format is at all responsible, and it was never really meant to go as far as it did.

    The date is less excusable. When I was doing background reading for all this I saw that for every method of displaying the time, there were three or four variations to be detected accounted for (From the case of the time/date delimiter to the order of the pieces), so I fell back to the one format I felt was most common to all languages, Unix’s default Epoch time. Of course, this doesn’t allow for any kind of time zoning and isn’t actually supported by MT, so in future I’ll stick to the ISO standard (And indeed for Aquaintances Feed Instances – something of a natural successor to ESF, though it never got released – which was a mail/news based format for single articles, I used the ISO standard).

    So it’s this first, this hatred of the XML based format wars, that got Epistula published. I fully accept that anger is an incredibly bad reason to put a new specification into the wild, and is the fountain of fuckwittery from which a number of the recent syndication debarcles have spewn forth, and this was September 2002, when RSS 0.92, RSS 1.0 and various variations were appearing, all incompatible, all increasingly difficult to parse (And I really don’t like XML modules), and I didn’t – and don’t – want full content feeds. So I created a brand new format with thin slivers of metadata that shouldn’t ever break the bandwidth-bank, wasn’t ever going to change (Scout’s Honour) and, above all, could be parsed with a regular expression or two.

    The problems haven’t gone away. Bloglines’ Web Services Thingy is helping to solve the bandwidth problem, but the more I watch Atom’s development, the more it worries me as it gets more and more complicated, and more and more things that feeds will have because one day something will come along to support them.

    ESF is the simplest thing that could possibly work, and that’s why it exists.

Imported From Epistula Those who evolve Work

One Week

I arrived at 11:00 on Monday.

I’d started at 06:00. One bus had failed to be where I thought it would be, another had recently had it’s timetable changed not to stop at our stop, and I had no idea where any of the buses I want to catch stopped. Eventually, I got to where I wanted to be, and took a taxi across Bedford.

The new office is a single huge room. No dividers, no offices. There’s a kitchen, a conference room and a Room of Junk, but the main room where everyone works (Everyone, directors, coders, admins, designers) has no divisions between people, which is slightly odd. I have my Headphones of +5 Deafness To Anything Else, though, so I’m all right.

When I went in I was pointed at a nice new desk with a nice new computer under it and two nice new monitors over it (Mmm. Xinerama) and I was handed a selection of distro disks. I opted for a download of Ubuntu instead because in a work environment I don’t want to have to explain why I’m waiting for the new release of Gnome to compile for half the morning (Which is a problem with Gentoo) and the new machine is an AMD64, so I wanted a proper 64 bit install.

The AMD64 is, by the way, terribly, terribly nice. Linux on the Desktop is still not quite as there as people seem to think it is, esspecially when it come to just being able to pick a text editor (The “Choose your default text editor” dialog is broken in Gnome 2.8 (Which I’m not sure how could have made it into a release, but never mind). A couple of things (like Wine, for example) won’t work under AMD64 yet, so I’m having to live without the office-default time/task tracking thing in favour of the web-based interface.

Most of the rest of the week was spent learning how the office works, how the software works, and where I fit within both. Surfice to say I’m doing Cool Things that – once again – I shall mention when and if I’m allowed to do so.

The only blot on the horizon is the commute. Getting from Bedford to Hitchin and back again is fairly easy, and takes about an hour. But from Letchworth to Hitchin – which is about 10 miles up the road – typically takes about half an hour, and never arrives within half an hour of my connection. So I spend half an hour getting 10 miles, another half hour waiting for the bus, and a final hour getting to Bedford.

General effect of this is that I have to get up at 05:30, and don’t get back until 20:15, leaving me an hour, maybe two, before I have to go to bed again. And it’s this that’s currently killing me.

So, Learning to drive next month, then.

driving Imported From Epistula Those who evolve


I got on a bus to Bedford Bus Station.

But it didn’t go to Bedford Bus Station, it went to the bus stop outside my office.

Later, I got on a bus that said “Hitchin” on the front.

But it didn’t go to Hitchin, it stopped in Biggleswade and the driver told me to get off, he wasn’t going any further.

So I got on a bus which said it was stopping at Biggleswade, and went to Hitchin.

At that point, I got a taxi.

I don’t like buses much.

driving Imported From Epistula Those who evolve


Have new job.

Leave home at 06:00. Bus at 06:30, ‘nother at 0700, Hour on bus, half hour walk other side. 08:45ish, Work eight hours, repeat in reverse.

Until I learn to drive, get a car, and get insured (Which will turn my commute into an hour each way) stuff here – or anywhere – is likely to be sporadic unless I can do it on the bus.

Today, however, was special. It was my first day of this painfull comute, and thus the perfect time to discover that the bus stop was on the other side of the estate to where I thought it was.

As a result of this and the incomprehensibility of timetables, it took me five hours to get to Bedford.

I hate buses.

I will learn to drive.