Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Side project, or a tale of paranoia and python

This starts with a post to clug-tech (, titled "Make automatic backups of gmail account". This extracted several obvious solutions using getmail or fetchmail & gmail's IMAP service. There are obvious weaknesses with using IMAP to backup mail, though - exposing all the labels as folders is not desirable when you regularly use multiple labels per message, and any re-arrangement of mail into per month mailboxes or the like needs to be handled client side, which seems a waste given that gmail has a rather nice search engine as a major selling point.

Combine this with the following ingredients:
  • I'm prone to sporadic bursts of data paranoia
  • I've wanted to play with libgmail (a python interface to gmail) for ages
  • I don't have a backup of my gmail account's mail
  • work has involved lots of meetings & academic proposal writing, and not much of actual interest of late.
The result is Gparanoia, a simple little python program for pulling down mail. It's currently far from robust, and far from complete, but kinda-sorta-maybe does some of what I want some of the time, which seems the perfect point at which to turn it loose into the wild. It may very well eat your data, start a land war in Asia, or generally behave in an ill-mannered way at the dinner table, but it's available if people want to play with it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Whale watching

After the Monkey town visit, and related activities, Simon, Adrianna, Andrea & myself went through to Hermanus, with the aim of Whale watching on Sunday. Saturday evening involved a game of scrabble where I had a statistically rather unlikely run of low point letters (although I did have one nice score from adding FIG to Simon's OX), which I am blaming for my defeat (regardless of the evidence).

Sunday morning was spent more successfully whale watching (photos). Photographing whales is always a bit awkward - unless they actually do something, you tend have photographs that look like large logs floating in the water. Fortunately, the whales were quite active, and we even saw one jumping very close to the shore.

This was followed by lunch at "Coffee on the Rocks", a very pleasant little restaurant in De Kelders, with some really nice views of the bay.

Monkey Town

Last Saturday, I joined the party visiting Monkey Town to celebrate belately celebrate Simon's birthday. Having often seen the sign on the way out on the N2, and considering how close it is too me, visiting Monkey Town has been long overdue.

The visit more than lived up to expectations, it's a very nicely laid out facility (photos). The central part is essentially one large cage, with covered passageways for the vistors, and then a large number of cages off to the side. Favourites include the mongoose lemurs, the ruffed lemurs and the cottontop tamarins. Photographing the monkeys is made complicated by the fences, and the bright sunny day meant that most pictures are against a bright background, so I have a number of "almost good" pictures. I should have used the flash more to compensate for the back lighting, which is something to remember next time (And there will be a next time).

Lunch was at the Harbour Island, which I hadn't previously been to. Pretty little venue, and worth baring in mind when the occasion arises. This was followed by losing time in the Gordon's Bay bookshop - I picked up a copy of some of Gilbert and Sullivan's operas, and a few other odds and ends,

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Very true

From a post by Valdis Kletnieks on the Full Disclosure list:

"Ever notice that most of the 'die in a fire' comments come from top-posters?"

Who knew?

Turns out that spending an entire afternoon in a meeting that spun around in circles doesn't leave me in a good state of mind for reading a thesis draft.