Friday, December 21, 2007


I like Christmas - it's a good oppurtunity to catch up with family, take a break and laze around doing very little, and generaly annoy the garden's birds by trying to photograph them (which is proving difficult this year since the trees have leaves).

Unfortunately, Christmas is paired with Christmas shopping. In addition to the usual perils of shopping at this time of year (although fortunately fleeing the coast does mean I'm facing less crowded malls than those in the Cape), it also involves selecting some sort of appropriate gift.

Given that everyone I'm shopping for has a reasonable level of disposable income, this means finding something that they want (and isn't ludicrously expensive), but won't buy for themselves, since otherwise they'd have it already. This turns out to be really hard. I suspect it's time to seriously consider falling back on the default gift of a box of biscuits.

Fortuantely, the Christmas season does feature extended shopping hours, so, despite still needing o acquire several gifts, I should be OK.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


So, I spent a lot of the last two days caught up in Starcamp. All in all, it was pretty cool. As a result, I'm currently short of sleep, and work tomorrow is really going to suck, but so be it.

Some overall, not yet well thought out comments:
  • Not setting up the computers on day 1 was a collective 'WTF were we thinking' moment
  • Watching people play on the wii is really quite entertaining in its own right
  • The 1st day was much more traditional conference than I expected, and probably required some pushing to get away from that mould. Having the lab up would probably have helped here, as there wasn't anything happening away from the main venue. The talks were quite interesting though, so there was no dead time.
  • Free food + T-shirt was a major, major plus
  • trying to get gtkboard to compile at around midnight with not nearly enough sleep was perhaps not the best way to prepare for the Sunday
  • Getting the pentago hacking session going to took time, but we did get fairly far (for a generous definition of far)
  • gtkboard is quirky, and it took some time getting my head somewhat around it. We are probably doing horrible things to it, but we may be able to find some nice generalisations that we can try feeding back to whatever's left of the upstream project.
  • I really didn't get enough sleep.
  • (did I mention the free food?)
  • I need a new laptop badly
  • That there was an active IRC channel during a couple of the talks mainly occupied by members of the audience says something about the community. I don't know what, but it definitely says it.
  • My internal physics model is both vague and inaccurate. At some point, I should rectify this.
  • I've forgotten pretty much everything I learnt in my 3rd year AI course, which is somewhat sad, since the course was fun.
  • There are a lot of web companies in CT.
  • There are a number of cool people in CT.
  • (did I mention the free food?)
  • 9am on a Saturday is early - not that we ever got going anywhere close to the scheduled time
  • Being able to stay at the venue later would have been good
  • I still maintain nobody warned us that they were about to unplug the power point my laptop was using. Since I don't have battery that works, I feel rather aggrieved about this.
  • Talking and listening over loud music (the pub, the brass bell), sucks quite badly as a method of interaction
  • I took surprisingly few photographs. Dying batteries played a part, but still. Fortunately, other people didn't hold back, so there will be a good photographic record.
  • It's surprisingly easy to buy a toothbrush at around 10pm.
  • The R310 remains an if'ish road at night.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

On criticism

I write short notes on every movie a see on the big screen. This is mainly to keep track of what I've seen, and to remind myself about the movies later.

Looking at the collection of comments, however, reveals a trend that I find rather interesting. The movies I like tend to get quite short entries (see the 2005's entry for the Incredibles for example), while the longest entries tend to be for movies I did not enjoy (see 2003's comments on the Reign of Fire, for example). While there are numerous short entries for movies I didn't enjoy, there are very few long entries about movies I did enjoy.

I'm not quite sure what this reveals about me, but it does suggest that I find it easier to analyze where something didn't work than what aspects did work.

While my behaviour is unlikely to change, it is an interesting observation.

Monday, December 3, 2007

LotN Starters

So, with the order of LotN Starters having arrived, we had a session to try them out. Overall, the afternoon was quite fun.

In the first game, I played the Assamites, and starting, bleeding Simon, playing the Followers of Set, bleeding Adrianna, playing the Giovanni, bleeding Kevin with the Ravnos. Simon swept the table there, although I was able to burn two minions of his.

This game was rather frustrating for me - Simon got out both Tutu the mummy, and Nakhtorheb, giving him two minions who could untap a turn. I was eventually able to burn both Tutu and another small minion, but in each case, it took a couple of actions to setup. Also, given the Settites S:CE options, the Assamites struggled to be effective. I weirdly only drew 1 Master card, and no untap at all. Adrianna had a couple of good combat combos, but suffered from drawing too much equipment, and wasn't really able to get the Giovanni deck going forward too well. Facing multiple acting minions also didn't help at all. Kevin wasn't able to get the Ravnos deck going, and generally struggled for useful actions throughout.

In the second game, I played the Ravnos (starting again), bleeding Simon with the Giovanni, bleeding Adrianna with the Assamites, bleeding Kevin with the Settites. Kevin and I each gained 2 VPs, with Kevin ousting me after I ousted Simon and Adrianne.

Kevin managed to pull both Tutu and Nakhtorheb for the Settites again. Fortunately, I was able to pull Durga Syn, whose "do not tap for blocking allies and younger vampires, and also had some good luck with drawing untap, but spent much of the game struggling to generate forward momentum due to needing to defend against Kevin. Adrianna struggled with her crypt draw, and ended up bring out 2 ten-caps, while struggling to really impact on Kevin's vampires. Simon was able to pressurise Adrianna quite successfully (striking for 7 in one combat), and, had he ousted her, was probably quite well placed to sweep the table. However, I was able to prevent Simon's lunge succeeding with a Ignis Fatuus, and, thanks to a round of several blocks of Kevin's minions, was able to draw week of Nightmares. The additional bleed allowed me to oust Simon and Adrianna in quick succession, but, despite the 12 pool gained, I then ran out of untap. Kevin, despite being down to only 4 pool (IIRC) was able to bleed through me at an alarming rate (I lost more than 10 in a single turn), and I was unable to generate the stealth needed to get the critical bleeds through.

Overall, the results were not that surprising. All the starters are hurt by having only 6 distinct vampires in the crypt. The Settite starter is the best balanced of the lot, and can generate some quite scary amounts of bleed. The untapping 10-cap is horrible, and is probably the best vampire in the expansion. The Giovanni deck has promise, although is a little light in Dominate (both in the crypt and cards in the deck), and is probably equipment heavy. It also seems an odd choice of deck to have the most votes (3), given the single titled vampire in the crypt. The Ravnos crypt is weird, having only 1 vampire with superior Animalism, although Durga Syn's non-tappiness is very useful (although having a 9 blood reserved as a blocker does suck). The deck struggles with the rather diverse scattering of Chimestry options, and I found the deck really struggled until I got "Week of Nightmares" out. Also, not seeing the Path hurt me, since I spent a lot of blood on Chimestry cards without ever recovering it. The Assasamites needs the most work, undoubtedly. The crypt is a little unbalanced cost wise (2 of the 6 vampires are 10 caps), and the deck needs a clearer focus than it currently has.

Still, I'm happy to have copies of the decks, and the investment looks to be well worth it. The extra potence cards from the Giovanni decks will be very useful, even if I don't put together a good Giovanni deck.

Friday, November 30, 2007


I don't punt PhD comics nearly enough. The characters and situations are instantly recognisable to anyone who's been in grad school.

And, frankly, anyone who doesn't find this funny, is going to understand half my conversations.

Then there's xkcd, which I also need to punt more often. The latest example of why is here.

PRASA 2007

So, I went to PRASA in Pietermartizburg, and successfully returned. Overall, good conference.

An unsorted list of thingies.
  • The N3 to Pietermartizburg sucks. It would suck less, but probably still suck if they weren't doing construction
  • Where do all the lorries on the N3 come from?
  • Durban drivers are impolite and insane. I'm not quite sure how I managed to avoid getting the rent-a-car dinged.
  • Natal thunderstorms are impressive.
  • This is true even when the second storm of the conference is delaying takeoff
  • Photographing birds in lush vegetation is really hard
  • I'm no longer anonymous enough to avoid being roped into chairing sessions. This is both kinda cool, and really annoying
  • I failed my 'avoid involvement' roll, so I'm not going to be able to avoid being involved in the organisation of PRASA 2008
  • Both my students spoke well. I'm more relieved about this than I expected.
  • Students have a bad influence on my drinking habits
  • I'm not really complaining about the above
  • 'Did an engine fall off' as become a over-used standard joke
  • Durban airport is pleasant, but doesn't have enough through the security checkpoint

Friday, November 23, 2007

Sutekh ramblings

(Sutekh is, of course, the python Vampire card management app Simon Cross and I have been working on)

Conceptually, the app is fairly simple, and I've been largely using it as a learning bed for pygtk. Consequently, it does things by hand, rather than the often recommended "use glade" approach. Personally, for something that now as a number of dynamic aspects to the gui (ability to rearrange panes, and so on), I think glade would have become quite painful, and straight pygtk coding is fairly easy once you wrap your head around the whole container paradigm. As an vehicle for learning pygtk, it has been pretty good.

But what has surprised me is it's ability to uncover database oddities. We have to date, discovered two issues with sqlobject (both fixed), had to work around sqlite's query optimiser by throwing in extra joins, triggered a segfault in sqlite (fixed in more recent sqlite's fortunately) and hit a bug in mysql query optimiser that makes certain queries run extremely slowly. WE ahven't triggered any postgresql bugs yet (although there have been a few weirdness's with certain versions of sqlobject talking to postgresql), but have had to fix several bugs in Sutekh's code because of postgres's much more stringent SQL implementation. For not a teribly complex database app, it's quite a impressive list.

So, do other people not trigger these bugs? Are we stretching corners of the databases that many other apps just don't hit (Sutekh has a number of tables, and can involve some quite complex joins)? Do other people just stick to one db, and work around it's quirks?

I dunno, but on the other hand, it's quite pleasing to see how some of this bugs have disappeared during Sutekh's lifetime, which is always one of the strengths of FOSS.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Enough already

An open letter to the management.

To whom it may concern,

While I appreciate that, given the near-crisis strain on the region's water supply, rain should always be considered a good thing, surely you must agree that several rainy days in succession in November is pushing it. Getting wet on a motorcycle is to be endured during the Cape winters, but getting wet during prime riding season is an affront to the natural order of things.

While I will concede that today's rainbow was pretty, it's short duration, and that it occurred while I was riding, and thus unable to photograph also shows a distinct lack of proper planning.

Hoping service will improve.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Children of Dune miniseries

(or "Yes, Virginia, we are completely insane")

So, Saturday evening, the special seminar series resumed. As is often the case, it resumed with a rather ludicrously long session, but it was enjoyable. Kevin, alas, could not make it.

We started with a couple more episodes of Blood+, which continues to wobble between cool bit and excessive teenage angst, without quite falling off the fence on what it intends to be, followed by Bubba-HoTep, which, although I've seen several times before, I had not watched on a projector, and the film is certainly not hurt by the experience (although, given my fondness for the film, that's not that surprising a reaction).

We followed this with the entire Children of Dune miniseries, which took us to 5:15 am. The copy we had suffered from weird glitches, chopping and changing between grey scale and colour on several occasions, and having a few other glitches, but not so many as to be unwatchable.

The actual adaption isn't bad. There are some surprising liberties taken with the books, though, for reasons I don't quite fathom. The conflating of the Guild plots into the House Corrino plots seems pointless, and the depiction of Leto's second skin as a small smattering of sand trout on his right arm seems a completely bizarre choice. Also lost, although this probably hard to avoid with a TV adaption, is the doubt about the Preacher's identity. While in the book, it is only confirmed quite late, in the adaptation it is clear from the Preacher's first appearance.

The bit I found most objectionable is the chance in the structure of Leto and Ghani's plan. In the book, they both agree to Leto's departure, and Chani's belief in Leto's death is a deception she practices on herself. Here, it's a deception Leto practices on Ghani, which seems contrary to the spirit of the relationship.

Otherwise, as expected, lots of the detail of the mental battles is stripped out of the adaption, but, overall, it is not a bad effort at all.

Overall, I'm glad I saw it, but won't be buying the DVD anytime soon.

Monday, October 22, 2007

White Russian (or "wasn't I meant to do something here?")

I finally got around to flashing my WRT54GL with the rather spiffy openwrt firmware (White Russian 0.9 release). Considering I had been intending to do so ever since I got the thing early in the year, this represents a rather impressive feat of procrastination on my part (although not yet an awe-inspiring feat, such as my intention to finish working through the Communication Theory text book I bought while doing my M.)

The process was competely painless. In fact, it was so painless I'm almost feeling cheated. Isn't getting Linux running on exotic hardware the way you proven your geekiness? In addition to the extremely simple install (point router at firmware, press upgrade, wait), the upgrade process retained the wireless network settings, so I didn't even have to configure anything to get my wireless network going again.
Very convenient.

Now, having finally flashed the the thing, I can move doing a proper compartmentalised wireless setup up my todo list. Check back in six months or so.


So, on Friday I was up way too late (4 am in the morning), because of a game Zombies!!!, which I nearly, but not quite, won (I rolled a 4, when I needed a 5). Although, given the way my rolling had gone, it was required some late good fortune to get me that close to winning.

Some observations to come out of the session.

  • Rolling three successive rolls below 4 when on the the Town Square, and a "no bullets may be used effect" is in play really sucks.
  • The extra cards from the guts counters added by the university expansion really changes the balance for events. It's much more likely you'll have a useful event in hand, and thus more events are changed
  • The mall expansion, being much more compact, and with the ease of moving between shops provided by the airducts, is significantly unbalanced when compared to the the town and university. We should never have allowed Kevin to camp in the mall as we did.
  • When trailing badly on Zombies, the fact that the trailing player can place the Helipad makes wandering away from everyone else a viable approach, as you can place the Helipad near yourself. As other players aren't around though, you do have to deal with all the Zombies nearby alone, which can suck badly.
  • Having different expansions running, with different possible Helipad locations, makes this less viable, though.
  • Zombies!!! remains a seriously cool concept, and, if shipping weren't so bloody expensive, I'd be buying it
  • I should have brought Jonathon Coulton's Re: Your Brains to be played at some point during the game
In other zombie related news, Fluxx now has a Zombie version (want (really, really want)).

Sunday, October 7, 2007


So, this Saturday was the 6th CTPUG meeting. We had a reasonable turnout, and the talks seemed to go down well. The python on the S60 has me thinking that, when my current cellphone contract is up for renewal, I need to get me something that can run python (not because I really have any great use for python on a phone, being someone who still mainly uses a cellphone for talking to people, but it'll generally be a cool think to have).

The pylons talk was interesting for me from a underlying technology point of view. I'm not nearly involved enough in web stuff to be that concerned about the differences between the frameworks, but the WSGI stuff is something that looks worth getting acquainted with.

After the talk, a bunch of us eventually ended up a Pancho's for supper. Pancho's serve impressively sized potions, which is just as well, as I needed the food to balance out the margarita's I had. Pleasant enough way to spent the time, be carefully picking my way back along the N2.

CTPUG 7 is scheduled for the 17th of November, which will almost certainly be the last one for 2007.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Geekdinner 4 - Dangerous drumstick

So, I dragged my brother Mark along to this GeekDinner. Since he's down here on holiday, it's seemed a good option. he seemed to enjoy the experience, and I had a pretty god time to, and got very mellow on the rather pleasant wine Getwine provided and I have now ordered some more from them, so I'm sorted on the wine stakes for a while.

(Geekdinner 24 is going to be difficult to name, I suspect)

The Venue

Overall, quite pleasant. Terrible acoustics, but that's true of so may restaurants it's hard to fault them on that. The major complaints I had were parking (it's in Camp's Bay, so that would always e an issue), and actually finding the venue (the name on the awning canopy set back from the road is not visible at night). But the food was good (and excellent value for money), the portions were large and the service was fine.

The Talks

The first talk, on social media, was a bit 'rah rah, the internet is here' for my tastes.

The WikiMania bid sounds interesting. It has the optimistic feel of people organising their first conference about it, which is probably necessary to pull something like that off.

Stefano Rivera's talk on CaCert was brief, but did remind me about it, and I really do need to get myself properly linked into the whole web of trust and replace the self-signed certificates with something at least a little less hassle to keep in sync.

Joe's talk about wireless openings and his visions where it's going to go in this country was interesting, and, if even half of what he discussed comes of, they'll be some cool results out there.

nbm's talk on his planned *Camp was a bit light on the details, but things do seem to be moving in some sort of vaguely forward direction on that, and, overall, the event has the possibility of being quite cool.

So, a pretty good evening, and it rescued the day from being a total disaster due to Futurex,


I'm sorely tempted to write a really lengthy rant about just how bad Futurex was this year, but, considering that such a rant would take me longer to develop to the desired finely honed level of virulence than I actually spent at Futures, I'll restrain myself to a brief, less well thought out rant.

If you had' got the message from the above, Futurex was bad. It was dire. As Mark rather aptly summed it up "It was a good squib short of a damp squib". It would be much easier to list the things they got right rather than the things they got wrong, expect there isn't anything to list as being noticeably right. It felt half-baked, unprepared and poorly thought out. No map, no logic to the positioning of the stalls, only a couple of interesting things on display, amid a lot of just meh. Even the securex side of it didn't have anything interesting.

Basically, unless I am assured by several trustworthy people that the next one is a massive improvement, I'll probably not be attending Futurex again, which is a pity, because, at one time, it used to actually be a useful event.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Upgrading debian

I don't think I've mentioned recently just how much I adore debian's easy upgrades.

Considering that I upgraded our file server yesterday, with the only major hiccup being due to carelessness on my part (a stupid error on the kernel command line), and everything seems to be working fine now, with almost no additional tweaking required, I think it's time a corrected that lack.

I am truly a fan of the work and effort that goes into knocking the rough edges off the entire process.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Playing with panoramas

As anyone looking at my photos might notice, I'm rather keen on playing with my digital camera.

It's probably inevitable that, at some point, I'd be tempted by the idea of creating panorama shots. And, as people who attended my CTPUG talk on PIL can testify, I've sued very simple techniques (simple correlation matching, and PIL's blend stitching, without camera corrections) to demonstarate ideas in on a few occasions before, but never got around to actually doing all the heavy lifting needed to create proper panoramas. Fortunately, the beauty of open source software means I don't need to.

I've been aware of panorama tools for a few years, without ever getting around to playing with them. This changed when I recently discovered hugin, a nice GUI frontend for all the various panorama tools stages. The frontend is pretty intuitive, although it took me a while to grasp adding horizontal and vertical guidelines to help prevent unnecessary curvature of the horizon, and the result, when combined with enblend's stitching, is pretty impressive, I think. See this for example.

So, in short, expect more panorama's from me.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Speed Traps

I really, really dislike camera speed traps.This is especially the case when I have recently received a fine from a camera trap, but, even those usually quite long intervals between such fines, I maintain I high level of general dislike for them. Of course, it is the righteous indignation for the fine I received on Friday, for which I have no real extenuating circumstances, and am completely at fault, tat prompts this post.

A large part of my dislike is the total separation of the South African camera traps form any form of law enforcement. They are run purely as a money making scheme. The fact the most cities out-source the
whole process should surely ring alarm bells at several levels of government, but apparently is viewed as good business.

The objections to running camera traps as a business should be reasonably self evident. There is o incentive for the company placing the cameras to place them in points where speed reduction is an actively good thing, since, many people being semi-sensible, the number of people speeding will be comparatively low. Likewise, at points where exceeding the speed limit is less of an issue, it's in the company's interest to place cameras to maximise revenue. That this is completely the reverse of the desired behaviour, is the problem.

Similarly, to increase revenue, cameras are disguised. This allows several bites at the cherry before people learn that the camera's there, and allows maximum exploitation of out of town people, who have the added advantage of not being well placed to contest the fine.

this also creates the aspect that annoys me most - the long delay between offense and punishment. Receiving the fine some weeks later means that a) one cannot argue against the fine based on traffic conditions or whatever, and b) the actual events are vague, and thus any defense is difficult. This is also in the interests of the company, as revenue suffers when people can successfully contest fines. Likewise, there is no incentive for applying the law flexibly, since a narrow, legalistic interpretation, is better for the bottom line.

My last objection is not against the cameras system specifically, but the way in which it is used to completely replace all other forms of traffic policing. The number of moving offenses that don't involve speeding on our roads is quite staggering, yet only the one is targeted. And since this is targeted, people adopt tactics to defeat it, such as using false plates, or mounting the plates in positions that are difficult for the camera to observe. Since no other policing is done, these tactics are completely safe. That the system fails to address such obvious gaming of the system is a sad inditement of the system's effectiveness.

So, to summarise: Camera Traps BAD, especially when they nab me.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Cape Town Weather, how I wish I could predict thee

I grew up in the Free State (during a drought, nogal). Now, weather prediction in the Free State is easy. You look up at the sky, shake your head wisely, and say "It's not going to rain today". While the weather will occasionally prove you wrong, your average success rate will be pretty good.

Unfortunately for me, I no longer live in the Free State. Weather prediction in Cape Town is much less simple, and, given the tendency of various weather patterns to hide behind mountains (rather unfairly, I feel), prone to being unreliable.

Throw into the mix that I got my bike back from having a choke cable replaced (which took surprisingly long) yesterday, that my rain suit is (I hope) sitting in my office in Stellenbosch, rather than here, and we have potential disaster. Biased towards taking the bike, I happily looked at the scattered high clouds this morning and said "This looks safe, I'll take the bike". Bad idea. 5 kms on the way to iThemba LABS, and it's raining fairly hard. Bother.

So, having arrived at work wet, and generally uncomfotable, I watched with some relief as the clouds cleared during the course of the day. "At least the trip back will be dry", thinks I. Wrong, wrong, wrong!

I noticed some clouds gathering as we neared the evening, so hastily got some stuff done so I could leave before the rains started. I didn't quite make it. About ten seconds after I locked my office, the heavens opened, and I found myself, minus a rain suit, riding through quite downpour. Consequently, I arrived home feeling decidedly bedraggled.

Of course, just to annoy me, the weather cleared as I entered the Strand, and I spent the last few kms of the trip dripping furiously in fairly bright sunshine.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Musing on the Shipman's Tale

Every so often, the following joke (or variations thereof) winds up in my email.

Bob, a good friend of Bill, calls on Bill's pretty wife Sue one afternoon while Bill is away at work.

Bob tells Sue that he's always wanted to sleep with her, and offers her $50 to do so. She refuses, so he offers her $100. This continues until eventually he offers $500, and she relents. Bob pays the money and they do the dirty.

That evening, when Bill returns, Sue tells him "your friend Bob called today. That man has some strange notions". Bill replies "yes he does. By the way, did he give you the $500 he owes me? He said he'd do a turn around today to drop off the money."

The joke isn't very funny, but it has considerable longevity. Indeed, anyone who's read Chaucer will recognise that this is a simplification of the Shipman's Tale, and there's no reason to assume that the basic joke isn't a great deal older than Chaucer's version.

But it's not the age that interests me (after all, several such situational jokes can easily be traced back to the Greek comedies), but the rather significant change in emphasis between Chaucer and the modern version. In the modern version, Sue is very much the dupe. As a morality play, the moral is at best "don't compromise your principles for money, you'll lose". In Chaucer's version, though, Bob is the dupe. Sue spends the money, and Bob only learns that it's been paid to Sue when he confronts Bill about this, and is then stuck with the fact that, since he never told Sue about the loan, Sue has no reason to assume the money isn't a gift. Chaucer's moral is largely about the flow of information in a marriage.

Which leaves me with the question of when the shift in emphasis happened? Much as I'd like to blame the Victorians (who don't get blamed for enough of the ills of modern society, I feel), I suspect it's a much more recent reworking, but can't find any evidence either way.

Dragonfire 2007 summary

Overall, I throughly enjoyed this Dragonfire. unfortunately, no mugs (although this may be corrected in due course).

Thursday was the Vampire tournament, which was quite fun. I played my Osebo close combat deck. As expected, it didn't do that well, although it did gain me one victory point. The weaknesses in terms of bleed speed and such are obvious, and I suffered some strange draws, but enough bits worked tat I had fun, and successfully ousting someone is always a good thing.

Friday, I had the reasonably unexpected LARP, which I've already blogged about. Having now played in a LARP, I'd approach the next one from a slightly less theatrical perspective, and pay a bit more attention to the gaming aspects.

Saturday was spent recovering from the LARP, so I skipped everything, but on Sunday I participated in both modules. The first ran very long for the group I was involved in, but was rather fun. The second was tighter, and also fun. Overall, good to get some role-playing in (I really need to find some sort of convenient RP group nearby).

So, generally good fun, although the unfilled mug issue does remain.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


So, I played in Simon and Adrianna's LARP, the Grove of Fallen Leaves. It was all very last minute - I agreed to play a little more than 24 hours beforehand, due to a player pulling out.

The first obstacle was actually making it to the LARP. This shouldn't have been an obstacle, except that I had to take my bike in to get the choke cable repaired, and they did not let me know that my bike would not be ready until quite late. However, by use of the less than optimal Cape Town train system, I was able to make it across (relying on Simon and Adrianna's hospitality to work around the lack of trains back until the next day).

The LARP was fun. My theatrical background was probably a it of a disadvantage, since I was more likely to play the character, rather than the game situation, although, given the way the game went down, I'm not sure i there was much I could have done differently to change things.

The LARP suffered from hitting a critical level of mistrust, and, despite trying to play a conciliatory role, the rest of the players were more interested in mistrusting each other than actually resolving anything, which was somewhat frustrating.

Still, overall, I had good fun, which is about the best one can expect out of this sort of thing.

Saturday, August 4, 2007


So, yet another CTPUG down. Attendance was down to the basic core group. I'm not sure why the attendance dropped as it did, as UCT should have been about as accessible as the Bandwidth Barn, but so it goes.

Since Kevin hadn't finished his talk last time, he continued with demonstrating numpy, using a fairly simple compression scheme based on Haar wavelets. While the talk ended up taking rather longer than anticipated, it overall went quite well, I thought, and was generally quite enjoyable. The interactive debugging session mid-way through, while pretty everyone there chipped in (an error caused by missing a copy in places).

After the talk, though, my usual vehicle karma kicked in. The choke cable on my bike broke, wihc, given that a cold wind was blowing, meant I run the battery down trying to get things started. Fortunately, I was able to convince jerith to give me a jump start, and get home OK, but it will make transport an issue until I get the problem resolved. unfortunately, the choke is not easily accessible on the Suzuki, so I can't really work around the problem, although a pair of long-nosed pliers may help (will have to try that during the week).

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Harry Potter 7

So, I acquired a copy and finished HP 7.

While the book is pretty good overall, it suffers somewhat from repeating the same tendency to have Harry overangst things, and Dumbledore's overly complex plot that involves not telling Harry much he needs to know is not that well resolved. Several bits are left somewhat unsatisfactorily resolved, and quick flip-flopping of the wizarding world seems a bit overdone. But still, not a purchase I regret.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

YA GeekDinner

So, another GeekDinner come and gone. Fairly good, but not perfect.

So, the bad:
  • Layout of the venue. I ended up at a table near one of the screens, and had to peer round corners to see anything. Fortunately most of the talks didn't use slides, so that wasn't too much of an issue, but was an annoyance
  • The acoustics (do restaurant's not realise people might ant to talk to each other?)
  • V & A and it's parking lots. Especially since the recent rainy weather meant I was in the car, dealing with the driving of people around the V & A area was not fun.
The good:
  • The food was pretty good (although service was a bit slow at times)
  • The wine (again sponsored by (who have stupid captilisation)
  • The speakers
Speaking of the speakers:
  • Dave's talk on the Scarborough mesh didn't tell me anything I didn't already know, having been to the clug talk, and seeing other people comment to progress since then, but it's still an impressive project.
  • I personally didn't get much out of either Ian Gilfillan's talk on writing a technical book, or the talk on peering, although a comment at the end of the latter talk on the intention to lay a lot of fiber in the cape town area could have interesting consequences.
  • GETWINE's talk was interesting on some the issues with the running such a business
  • The last talk, on behaviour-based testing, was fairly interesting, but not immediately applicable to much of my current work. Goes on the list of stuff to remember to look at some time.
Photos (such as they are) here

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Cowboy Bepop

so, the special seminar series on Cowboy Bepop finally ended (after a glitch discovering that the last 3 episodes where subtitled, and thus needed different mplayer options, and not dubbed, like everything else). So, having ow seen the series, and the movie, my opinion piece.

The series is very good. It is not, however, quite great. It suffers from a few too many filler episodes, which delay the resolution of the major plot points. It is very entertaining, most of the time, and has one of the best intro sequences ever.

The movie plays like an extended episode. This works to its advantage, though, since it allows the opponent to be fleshed out more than is possible in most of the episodes, while still allowing a good level of interaction between the main characters.

Overall, well worth seeing.

Friday, July 13, 2007

History of a bug

(or how a problem with our HP printer earned me so money)

The story starts some years ago, where the department bought a rather nice duplex HP4000 printer. For quite some time, I had it happily setup using the on board Postscript interpreter. Then Matlab started producing Postscript 3 graphs, and the on board interpreter didn't handle this, and there was some issue with the newer Matlab's Postscript 2 graphs exceeding the memory capacity of the printer.

Ah-ha, says I, ghostscrpt has good support for the HP printers, so I'll push everything through ghostscript and get PCL output to feed the printer. The only issue was the that the ljet4d driver did not handle Postscript's /Tumble command at all, which was inconvenient, Still, I went with the setup, and, all in all, it worked pretty well, except that, every now and then, we would run into the issue of not being able to bring with /Tumble.

Then, while digging for something, I discovered HP's list of PCL commands, and saw that, supporting /Tumble was quite simple on the PCL side. Thus informed, I spent some time digging into ghostscript's code, and created a patch (which was not very clean at that stage), which did the job. I sent the patch off to the ghosctscript ailing list, and forgot about it for a while.

Sometime later (early 2005), I upgraded the print server, and had to adapt my patch to the new version of ghostscript. In the process, I cleaned up several things, refactoring it to move the Postscipt parsing of /Tumble down into the core, and generally getting something I was much happier with. Since the post to the mailing list yielded no response, I shoved the patches in ghostscript's bugzilla (one bug for the parsing refactoring and one for the changes to the PCL drivers). Since I now had a working setup, I didn't push the issue at all.

Forward to 2007 - I again upgraded the print server, and need to port my patches. At the same time, somebody on the ghostscript side is assigned to the bugs I submitted with the previous patches, and promptly closes them as being old. After complaining that this was not a valid reason to close the bugs, I was told that the parser changes were unacceptable (a decision I disagree with, personally, but it's not my call), but that they would consider an updated fix to the laserjet drivers. There was also a not that the bug had a bounty, which I assumed would be some nomial sum, and didn't note particularly.

After some delays on my side, I eventually found an afternoon and put together yet another version of the patch, and submitted it last week. Thus, I was somewhat surprised when they contacted this week and told me that the bounty was $500. Additionally, they were quite quick about processing the payment, an, at 14:00 this afternoon, my bank contacted me to let me know that the money had arrived.

Overall, I feel quite pleased with the final result - despite the long time frame, it was never more than a couple of afternoon's work and I've had a solution in place for my problem most of the time, but, finally, next time I upgrade, I won't need to worry about this. Of course, I may also no longer have a printer to which the patch applies, but so be it.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

On Failure Modes

People designing systems don't think enough about failure modes. Failures are annoying, but you need to design the system to fail gracefully. It is exceedingly annoying when this doesn't happen.

A recent example, that is of particular concern, as it bite me twice yesterday, it the access control system at Stellenbosch. When the system is down for a particular building, there isn't anyone authorized to open the other doors into the building, thus one is forced to wait until the technicians responsible for the access control system respond. Since this is naturally after hours, this takes some time, and is less than ideal when all you want to do is dive into the building quickly to collect something. A failure mode not designed to enable people to do what they need.

I'd feel a lot happier about the whole experience if I thought there was some chance the system would improve.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

It's been cold

When you spend a couple of minutes wiping the frost off you Bike's saddle, before setting out, then it's pretty darn cold.

Consequently, I can confidently state that last night was pretty darn cold.

Weekend 29 June 2007

Having finally got my car back, the special seminar series was able to resume on Saturday. Kevin, alas, could not make it, and thus fell even further behind in Cowboy Bepop (which remains very cool).

After reaching our Anime quota, Simon and I finally merged the database rework branch into Sutekh. This went surprisingly painlessly, although I spent part of Sunday morning stamping out various little awkward bugs in a less than ideally tested part of the code.

The reason why I was working on Sutekh was that we'd agreed to play vampire on Sunday. I left for this slightly late (due to the bug fixing), but fortunately the N2 was comparatively sane - until the bit where they'd closed it off due to some or other race, anyway - so getting across wasn't too much of an issue.

The modifed close-range Osebo deck was able to successfully burn a vampire in combat each game. It arguably needs some combat rush, and definately needs some more ways of gaining blood. Soem more tastes (if I had any) and some blood dolls would probably do. More immortal grapples wouldn't hurt, so I an get around S:CE. The deck, like all potence decks, suffers from not having a way around Fortitude damage prevention, which, since both simon and Adrianna were playing decks using fortitude, made my life rather difficult.

Anyway, in the first game, Kevin's mixed crypt Presence S:CE and bleed deck, swept all before it. In the second, Simon's Tremere deck did quite well, although Adrianna's Salubri deck farmed extremely successfully and showed good defensive capabilities, although not really able to generate enough bleed to pressurize Simon.

Afterwards, I returned to fix some more bugs in Sutekh. By the end of Sunday, it was getting to be back in reasonable shape.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

No further comment

Arguably the best explanation of Facebook.

(PhD comics is a recent, but much enjoyed discovery)

Saturday, June 23, 2007


So, another CTPUG meeting successfully dealt with.

My pygame talk did not go as smoothly as I had planned, it must be said, and no-one laughed at the "Seriously, who did not see that coming" subtitle, which is a great pity, as I thought that joke was quite good. My demonstration of broken threading refused to break, which was most strange, since it broke quite happily here at home. Given the two in the morning origin of parts of the talk, I think it went as well as can be expected.

Kevin's talk on numpy went over quite well, and sets him up t be roped into to talking at the next one as well. One less talk to find.

After the pygame meeting, most of the attendees migrated to a pleasant little pizza place on Long street, where we had pizza, at quite reasonable cost, it must be said. I wish I could remember the places name, because it is worth remembering.

Monday, June 18, 2007

End of my current car Troubles (hopefully)

My car finally seems to be back in operational condition, due to a badly leaking water pump, leaving the engine running dangerously hot after only a few minutes. Since, based on my email records, the water pump collapsed on the 1st of Feb, this has been an extremely long and drawn out saga.

The major difficultly seems to be how ridiculously hard it is to get parts for remotely old cars in the western cape. Growing up in the Free State, where it is common to keep cars running for yonks, this catches me off guard every time. That I ended up having to get a water pump couriered down from Bloemfontein to eventually get things solved indicates just how strange the problem is. Still, the replacement pump seems to be working fine, so hopefully all will be well for a while.

Friday, June 8, 2007


So I signed up to Facebook.

Why? Idle curiosity, mainly, but I've done many things because of that, so that's not too unusual.

My first impression are mixed, and thus so the are the following comments:

  • WTF is up with the "find friends in your address book" thing? Who though having facebook trawl my contacts list for people would be a good idea?
  • The interface is often clunky
  • "The wall" looks like an astonishing bad invention. It seems to want to be somewhere between a forum and a set of blog comments, but without the ability to compartmentalise into threads that make conversations manageable in either.
  • What people are willing to post on the wall is quite eye-opening at times
  • YA online status thingy to play with
  • Randomly searching for various people eats up a lot ore time than one would think
  • Finding the person you're looking for can be quite hard
  • Following links in various people's social networks is another dangerous time sink.
  • The temptation to push misleading information into "how one met" and such fields is quite strong.
Still, early days yet on my interaction with facebook. While unlikely to be something I have open all the time, I'll no doubt check it quite often.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Because it's so true

from the irregular Radeon blog, comes this marvellous QOTD

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

May Geekdinner

So I went to the Geek Dinner at the Wild Pig last night. Not bad, all things considered. The complimentary wine from was quite pleasant, the food was good, and at around R115 with tip, reasonably priced.

The venue did suffer from poor acoustics, making it hard to talk to people ore than a chair or two away, which limited the ability to get to know people a bit.

The talks were fairly varied:
  • The "Python vs PHP" talk didn't really say anything new (although it was entertaining)
  • The "Project Management in 5 minutes" suffered from being overly short, and so not able to address the major issue with software project management, namely that by the time the problem is sufficiently defined that most classical project management concepts can be applied, the problem has been largely solved.
  • The "Ruby on Rails" talk didn't convert me, but since I don't work with web frameworks, that is not such a surprise.
  • The OLPC talk, while not saying anything new, did have novelty value since it was silent.
  • I don't follow AI closely enough any more to really be that interested in the mind games talk, although I should read up on AI Go systems sometime
  • The unscheduled talk about ripple was interesting, and the whole distributed credit idea is something I'm going to have to read up on carefully. On the face of it, there are several interesting abuses possible from having both distributed authentication and distributed trust, so I'm curious as to how these have been addressed.
Still, worth attending, and I may make the effort to attend the next one.

My photos are up at at my usual photos page.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Weekend Summary

This weekend was mainly notable for a CT BookCrossing's meetup. It took place at the Coffee Bean, unfortunately at the same time as the rugby. It sad how the Coffee Bean has been reduced to yet another place to watch TV, although the management probably disagrees.

I offloaded 3 books into the pile, and picked up a mildly interestig looking murder mystery which I hope to read soon. Simon and Adrianna attendned, and it was somewhat amusing to watch them try to stay polite while a couple of the other members tried to explain the BookCrossing's concept in very small words.

Afterwards, we had the usual games evening. I won at Captain Park, and ended up in an awkward siuation in Jacob Marley, which ended up helping Adrianna win. the game ended off with several rounds of Stoner Fluxx, which was quite entertaining ("What were we doing" is just a great Fluxx card)

Hot Fuzz

After the (sadly not that unexpected) disappointment that was Spiderman 3, it was a relief that Hot Fuzz, which I saw on Wednesday, was indeed as funny as I'd hoped.

Yet, despite being a very funny movie, it has vanished from the circuit very quickly. When I went to see it, it was only showing at Long Beach, which, in the cold weather, made the trip to go so it rather more effort than I liked (the ride back got very cold indeed) and is now completely off circuit in the Western Cape. I am at a loss to understand why, as it has done good business elsewhere, and seems like it should have been given an opportunity to built up some momentum locally.

Anyway, it has at least restored my belief in the ability of movies to be entertaining. Here's hoping Prates 3 is at least fun.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Another news'ish post

So, recent developments in my life that are blog worthy?

The major news this week is the sudden and dramatic arrival of the winter cold. Given that my car is still unusable, this has been a source of considerable annoyance, as the commute in to work as become decidedly cool on the bike. I've also discovered various points where the windows in my flat now allow the cold winds to whistle in, so I'll have to spend some time getting those sealed up.

Otherwise, nothing of major importance. I skipped the weekend's VtES tournament - it was a cold and windy day, and driving across to Cape Town for it was just not appealing in the conditions. It did clear up in the evening, which made the drive across for the usual games evening doable, but then was wet and windy for the drive back, which was less than ideal. The actual games evening was quite fun - we had a close'ish game of Enemy Chocolatier for a change, although Simon still won. We tried Get Out with three dice, which suffers a bit by overly rewarding the half jobs. I had some horrible luck in the game, so was never in the running. We finished up with Give Me the Brain, where my luck was a lot better.

In addition, I went to see Spiderman 3. I've ranted about this elsewhere, so I won't repeat that, but, despite being warned about the movie, and having low expectation anyway, it still managed to disappoint.

On the technical side, I spent some time crawling around the freevo code, trying to work out why tron would no longer play my DVDs, to eventually discover that this was due to kaa-metadata not being compiled with libdvdread support. A quite recompile with the appropriate dev package installed, and all was well.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


So, the third CTPUG meeting went off without undue hitches. The bandwidth barn worked quite well as a venue, and we had a larger attendance than the previous meeting, wich is good.

Getting to CTPUG was made complicated for me by the never ending mess that is the N2 at the moment, and the less said about that part of the trip, the better.

After the meeting, a group went out to dinner at a nice enough place called Greens, near Kloof street and from there Simon, Aridanna and I joined Kevin for the usual weekend games evening. This got somewhat delayed by Simon and I playing with trying to get my laptop to talk to his wireless network, which was eventually achieved.

After a game of CTB, and some rounds of Fluxx, we called it a night. The ride back was made more interesting by a very heavy misty patch on the N2, but was otherwise uneventful.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The upgrade that didn't quite go according to plan

Today (well, yesterday now), I replaced the machine that had been hosting with a much faster and shinier bit of hardware. To keep the upgrade simple, I had planned to move the old hard disks across and go from there. Since it's very new and shiny hardware, I spent some time ensuring dip had a new enough kernel and all that, so everything should have been fairly smooth.

I wish.

One of the hard drives failed when moved across. No problem, says I, I have a spare, and it's a raid array, so plug in the spare, let the array rebuild and all will be OK. The spare was the right size for the array, only the failed drive had hosted raid space + some extra reserved for swap and a couple of dirs, like /tmp that didn't need to be on the raid array. Aha, says I, I have another extra drive handy, so plug that in, make swap space and the file-systems, and everything is hunky dory. That done, I sat a twiddled my thumbs for a couple of hours while the RAID array rebuild (I did go and have supper while doing this). Once the array had rebuild, and after I'd fixed udev's naming oif the network devices, I rebooted - and the system did not come up. With very little info as to why. Eventually, I booted up using a rescue disk, to discover the problem was because the drive I'd shoved in to provide the swap space had some old lvm metadata left on it, that was stopping the lvm partitions being found correctly. Once this got sufficiently nuked, the machine was happy. I was less so, since by this stage the upgrade had eaten up a lot more time than I wanted.

Still, new shiny machine is running, and seems to be running very fast, so all looks to be well at the moment. I also took the opportunity to upgrade dip to etch, since I was breaking stuff anyway. Other than a brief hiccup with Openldap, it went often without a hitch.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

News, News, get your news here (or what happened since I last posted)

Not a lot, or I might have posted it.

Saturday was Free comic day - I went to Outer Limits, and collected the Wolfman comic on offer, as looking quite decent. I also read the Spiderman one while in the store. In addition to the free stuff, I purchased another Volume of Fables, and the first Hellboy Trade, as well as the 1st book of Peter Morwood's Russia series.

Thereafter, I joined up with Simon,. Adrianna and Phillip to play some vampire. Things where quite fun. My modified Osebo deck lost (not drawing enough strike cards, so I wasn't really able to pressurise anyone), but showed some defensive promise with the modified crypt. The Arhimane deck I threw together won, although it really shouldn't have. It benefited heavily from the extreme combat nature of the table, and some luck. I have to play it again to see how the concept actually works. The last game saw me playing my Malkavian deck, which as usual, did fairly well. I was ousted by Simon's Baali deck, partly due to my not managing the end game carefully enough. I was probably one turn away from ousting Adrianna at the time, which would have probably allowed me to sweep the table.

On the ride home from that, I encountered a car going the wrong way on the N2, which is a first (and hopefully last) for me. I have no idea how the driver managed to be going the wrong way, and, in truth, don't particualrly want to know, but it was a surprising experience.

Otherwise, Tuesday saw me pop across to see the clug talk, which was quite interesting. I now have a much better idea of what the OLPC project's laptop can do. Also got a chance to catch up with Kevin, as he was busy over the weekend and didn't join the games evening. Nothing exciting happened on the trip home this time, thankfully.

The end of dial-up (almost)

I'm almost off dial-up as may main connection from home. Yesterday, my line was changed over to ADSL, and today, I collected my free modem (using telkom's self install special offer). I've conencted everything up, and all appears working, I just need to contact telkom and get them to change my dial up account over to a ADSL one, so hopefully, tomorrow morning, I should be able to connect via ADSL, and join the legion of users who curse telkom's ridiculous cap. Ive also setup a webafrica account, so I should be able to use their ADSL options to supplement telkom's. All going well, this should be the last evening I'm using dial up exclusively. The we'll see just how fast I can burn through the allowed cap - it's likely to be quite spectacular.

The modem, telkom's wireless combo, is, to my delight, running a Linux kernel on a mips chip. It's possible, although I'll have to look carefully at this, that I could shove Freifunk or the like on this.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

What I did with my extra long weekend

Other than the usual weekend games session (which was quite fun, although I did horribly in the Big Cheese, and got left in awful position in US Patent No 1), and watching the world cup final, I mainly upgraded tron to debian etch.

Why did this take so long?

Well, the downloading everything over dialup part played a role. Convincing the lirc modules to compile was also a bit of a pain (a combination of out of date docs, and not wanting to dial up during the day on Monday meaning I solved the problem in a rather convoluted way). Migrating the settings from freevo-1.5 to freevo-1.7 was fairly painless, but what took the most time was my very clever idea to replace the awkward custom scripts fro running freevo with gdm & autologin. This worked fine, but I spent several iterations getting the session configured so that freevo would start by default. All is now solved, and tron is up and running better than ever. My local tweaks, based off patches in the freevo bug tracking system, are now unnessecary. Of course, I completed everything just in time to notice that freevo-1.7.1 had been released, so I'll have to update to that soon as well, but that should be a fairly minor issue, especially as I've setup freevo in a dedicated directory under /opt

One advantage of the newer combination of kernel and lirc modules, is that all my remote buttons are now recognised correctly, which has simplified my .lircrc configuration for freevo, so I feel the effort has not been wasted.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

And then the rains came down

Today was wet, cold and generally miserable - a typical Cape Town winter's day. Of course, due the ongoing saga of my car's water pump, I had to take the bike in too work, which is not ideal in this sort of weather, especially as the Suzuki seems to have picked up a slight allergy to water somewhere, and tends to get grumpy and difficult after about 15 kms. The whole experience is vastly enlivened by the usual gormless stupidity that passes for Capetonian driving in the wet.

Still, the major rant I have is about Windows XP. On Monday, I had a very distressed email from one of the students saying that she couldn't get WinXP to boot without a blue screen. After explaining that, due to other commitments (watching 2 world cup semi-finals count of commitments, no?) I couldn't look at it before today, I felt I was obliged to pop across in the evening to look. And indeed, the machine complained of an "unmountable volume" (or something like that) fairly soon after kicking into WinXP. I spent some frustrating minutes trying to convince windows to boot into something that would run chkdsk, before giving up and booting into Linux. From there, it was easy to check that, according to smartmon, the actual hard disk, while starting to show signs of aging, was still basically OK. Linux could mount the NTFS filesystem though, so I ran ntfsfix on it to force a chkdsk run the next boot, and voila, chkdsk ran, and Windows was happy. Now, why windows couldn't do this for itself, without my basically hammering home the message with a sledgehammer, is a mystery to me, and, considering how common and annoying such mysteries are with windows, merely more fuel for my loathing of an OS that tries so hard to protect you from the details that it becomes absolutely opaque. And, while I would very much like to understand exactly what happened, the truth is that, due to the vagueness of the error message, the apparent randomness of the fix and the tendency of most windows forums to lack comments from people with a deep understanding of the system, the amount of cruft Google kicks up on my searches has totally put me off the idea of trying. Anyway, at least the problem appears to be solved, which is some gain from the whole affair.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Cape Town Ubuntu-ZA Meetup

So Saturday was the Ubuntu ZA Meetup in Cape Town. Despite not being that awake (Simon and the shared LoB boosters being at least partly to blame), I did make it across (wearing a Debian T-shirt, which was not that delibrate a statement, but I'll pretend otherwise). It was good to finally meet a number of people I've interacted with online for some time, and generally quite an enjoyable way to waste an afternoon.

The event then kind of continued on into a dinner, where I spent too much (on a very good ostrich steak though), and definitely had far too much wine. The company was good though, and the one advantage of using the bike as transport is one sobers up quite fast in the cool air this time of year, so the ride home was not too bad.

Photos up at on my homepage here

That Armchair Theatre thing

So, what did I do on Friday?

Apart from the usual things (vision group meeting, etc), and getting involved in a personally amusing, if not exactly edifying brief flame war on clug-tech, I went across to attend the bring-n-braai at the armchair theatre.

I met up with Simon Cross and the crowd he was with at Divas, where I'd cunningly arranged to have dinner pre-ordered. This cunning plan, however, took a complicated turn as 8, when we were meant to be getting inside the theatre, approached with no sign of dinner, which resulted in some confusion as we turned our sit-down order into something take-away.

Form there, we hopped across the street to the theatre, and happily walked in. The major speakers I was interested in, Lawrence Lessig and Jimmy Wales, both gave short, but reasonably entertaining talks.

The rest of the evening mainly involved socialising with the other people attending the event, mainly people I knew via the local free software community. There was some interesting music played and so on and so forth, but a spent a large portion standing in the courtyard talking to people, which partly is a reflection on the general crowded-and-smokiness of the actual venue.

Still, an enjoyable evening.

photos, such as they are here

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The obligatory first post

Yeah, so I've got a blog now, so to start off, the obligatory first post, the ever popular (NS)FAQ.


Me, myself & I. Neil Muller, PhD, Applied Mathematics, currently Computer Vision Specialist at iThemba LABS, and odd job sysadmin/academic at Maties. An occasionally pleasant, if not terribly sociable, bloke.


Very good question.


We'll see as this develops



Can you spell at all?


Do you think you're funny?

Sometimes. At other times I think I'm flipping hilarous. YMMV, but it's my blog, so you'll have to put up with this if you bother to read.