good grief, these are …

good grief, these are antiques. mosaic in beta would you believe. i love that grey background, so much more soothing than today’s whites and wasn’t the web was so much more readable before the advent of the background images?

it’s difficult making this page look on today’s browsers like it would have back then. weird.

it’s long been the …

it’s long been the poor relation of the computer family for developers and i’m very glad to see that the situation is changing.

mac os x represents today’s strongest platform for client-side java development.

a good excuse to add another node to my home network so i’ve got more toys to play with? and such pretty toys too.

Garnethill by Denise Mina

Cover of

Another book makes it onto my best books of the year list.

This isn’t a traditional whodunnit. We have the cliche of the victim needing to find out the identity of the true murderer in order to save the bacon of herself and those she cares about, but this set up doesn’t spoil the book. It’s about the only thing that did feel cliched. Everything else about this book smacks of realism.

There are so many small touches, intimate details and personal revelations in this book that I had a hard time believing in Maureen as a work of fiction. She could have been nothing more than a coathanger on which the author hung political issues however her background of psychiatric treatment and an abusing family just make her more real. She’s fully fleshed out.

There was a bit of self administered justice here, the sort of vigilanteism that’s prone to annoy me. This was the weakest part of the book for me. I’d guessed who the murderer was early on the book though and by the time the plot got around to doling out just desserts I was glad to see them given. The identity of the murderer being relatively obvious wasn’t a problem because there were enough missing links to find to make the detection worth while.

And the ending was fantastic. I’m glad to see Maureen’s back in other books. This was really a book that could stand alone though. I’ll be interested to see what happens in the rest of the series.

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.
Purchased on 18th July 2001.

i came across this …

i came across this page about the names given to computers whilst looking for some opinions on something completely different on wiki which is a great site all about software type stuff that i love because it’s so changing and evolves in a way that could only happen on the internet. and that’s got me thinking about computer names.

the first unix boxes i ever used were named after the angels of light and darkness, one lot next to the window and the other lot next to the wall. we got to use machines with great names like ithuriel and
raphael. i think the file server was lucifer but i’m not sure if i’m remembering that right. ic had lots of good names around now i come to think about it. the mail servers for the whole college were paired up with names like punch and judy and romeo and juliet. in the computer lab a friend used at another university department the machines were named after shipping forecast areas, dogger, tyne, wight, cromarty etc. i always liked those. when the angels were replaced we got rivers and, being the information junkie that i am, i had to look them all up to find out where such splendid rivers as the tiber and the potomac flow.

the art of naming computers interesting things seems to be on the decline, either each user chooses their own machine name or they get called interesting things like laptop4. i’ve got an ursa and a pernox at home, but my work machine is called hedgefield which i neither chose nor particularly like nor know where it comes from.

my favourite factoid about computer names is gleaned from the above discussion:

a medical school in Australia that names all its machines after sexually transmitted diseases (“In case anyone asks where you can get syphilis on-line.”)

when i moved this …

when i moved this page to css i left in a device to let me let you switch this page to use a different stylesheet. i haven’t really designed this page using any other stylesheets yet (no time, too much paperwork and money counting aka doing the accounts (i can’t really complain at having too much money to count, i’ve had worse problems! but the paperwork associated with running your own business is really mounting up on me)). you can however see this page without a stylesheet (which may not work depending on your browser but if it does it’ll allow you to read stuff in your default colour scheme and not mine) and in supersized text (which also may not work depending on your browser). i know that there are also some arse ups where p tags appear to be breaking my stylesheet and screwing the fonts up. i’m working on it, slowly like, i’m still learning this stylesheets thingy, much more playing about to come.

my favourite word of …

my favourite word of the day so far is disambiguation. i found it in someone else’s code comments and i rather thought they’d extended it themselves at first, but it’s in the dictionary, has six syllables and rolls off the tongue wonderfully. ambiguity is a lovely word by itself, get rid of it and it’s even better.

Demolition Angel by Robert Crais

Cover of

Where do I start? I want to like Robert Crais. I don’t think he writes badly. I don’t think he plots badly. I don’t think his characters are bad. But none of them are good enough and every aspect of his work seems endemically infected with stereotypes.

I picked up the Elvis Cole series on the eighth book and I thought the ending was lousy but I reckoned that it wasn’t written for me. It was the kind of ending a long time series reader could live with. After eight books you can forgive your heros for acting heroically and in the interests of truth, justive and the American way. This however was a standalone book. Everything known about these characters and all the justification for the twists in the plotline has to be between these covers.

Our heroine was once dead. For a couple of minutes after a bomb exploded her heart stopped and she was saved by paramedics. She was a bomb technician seeking to defuse that bomb. So was her lover. He died and the same time she did but he didn’t get resucitated. I think it’s fair enough to find our heroine, several years later, still a bit freaked out by this and with some alcoholic leanings. She’s now a detective with the LAPD and her current case involves finding the person who planted another bomb that has killed another bomb technician. So far we have an interesting story and it could have easily been a good one. There were numerous elements to the story that were interesting and orginal but I don’t remember those.

What i do remember, though I’ve forgotten some of them, is how many cliched elements there were to this story. There was a federal agent who wasn’t really a federal agent. There was the rural cop who overlooked something obvious to the city cop. There was the perpetrator killing off the informant. There was the… oh, I’d be here hours if I went through them. None of them were major problems on their own, but strung together I felt like I was being subjected to the results of the ‘How to Write a Thriller 101’ course. When our heroine has her police shield removed from her three chapters from the end I shut the book in disgust.

There are books I like in spite of their faults. This isn’t one of them.

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.
Purchased on 17th June 2000.

the story of first …

the story of first world war soldiers climbing out from the trenches on christmas day to play football with the enemy in no man’s land is one of those stories that everybody knows. i’ve never been quite sure whether the story is a myth, a one off or a common occurence. i’ve come across this news story about the death at the age of 106 of the last christmas day truce veteran who played football, shared cigarettes and sang carols with the germans on christmas day 1915. it says that army generals had allowed a festive truce in 1914. i still don’t know how common an occurence this type of thing is but i guess it’s not a complete myth. my sister will still be wondering what the score was 😉