(Untitled) Below are the 30 most recent journal entries recorded in the "A zero-width positive lookahead assertion" journal:

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April 23rd, 2014
11:41 am

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Calendars
It has been pointed out that today is not ecclesiastically speaking St George's day. The dragon breathes easier.

dragon safely in mug of tea

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April 22nd, 2014
10:44 pm

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Apparently LiveJournal is no longer open-source (though http://www.livejournal.com/code/ remains contradictory).

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April 6th, 2014
08:02 pm

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Pantydraco
I found out last week there was a Welsh dinosaur called Pantydraco. How could any red-blooded pun-prone Anglophone resist?



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March 21st, 2014
08:19 pm

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Misophonia.
I wonder if my reaction to sniffing noises constitutes misophonia*. Basically, the sound of someone sitting there sniffling (for instance when they have a cold but no tissues) brings out approximately the same level of reaction in me as the sound of someone retching continuously does in (as I understand it) more or less everyone. Headphones & loud music are quite useful when it's a colleague sitting at the next desk :(

*Not to be confused with misophagia, which is eating tasty tasty fermented soya and rice paste.

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March 18th, 2014
10:50 am

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RFH: spell-checking
Bit of a long shot but: I might be shaving the biggest yak ever by building a better spell-checker. Does anyone know any good resources (reviews, research, whatever) into what the current state of the art of spell-checking is?

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February 6th, 2014
08:11 pm

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Is there a website which rates consumer-grade router/modems by how few known vulnerabilities they have (or are estimated to have by people who know about estimating This Kind Of Thing) and how quickly patched they are?

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01:14 pm

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care.data deba.cle
Yesterday I went to my GP surgery for a routine appointment. Since I was there anyway I asked to opt out1 from care.data (FAQ).

I found that:
* my GP surgery had never heard of care.data.
* they assured me that they would never share my details without my explicit consent
* they were rather shocked when I showed them the leaflet that I'd had through the door. The reception manager I spoke to hadn't had a leaflet through her own door.
* they'd not had any training or guidance on how to deal with people who wanted to opt out.

Worse still:
* for people that had asked to opt out, they'd been opting them out of summary care records2 instead. I discovered this when they gave me a form to opt out of that, and insisted that this must be the thing I'd been referring to. I do not want to opt out of summary care records.

I have submitted an FOI request to the Department of Health here.

ETA: I have contacted the HSCIC on 0845 3006016 and reported the matter; they will contact my GP. Please do the same if you find another GP practice that's not been informed.

.


1 I don't think that the scheme is awful in principle; I'm basically pro medical data being used to improve future healthcare (after all, that's kinda my job) — but I'd rather not be an early-adopter until I've had time to research more about the implementation details.
2 Summary care records enable electronic sharing of medical details between clinicians.


Comments note: I really don't want this to turn into a discussion on whether it's right that medical records can be used for research on an opt-out basis or whether Jeremy Hunt is the Antichrist; there are plenty of other fora discussing that. I'm concerned with the implementation of the opting-out here.

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February 4th, 2014
09:46 pm

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Lofty goes flying


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January 26th, 2014
06:15 pm

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Reasons not to get a dog. Or to get a dog, depending on your preferences.
here be text which might not be worksafe in all places and might not be brainsafe in any places.Collapse )

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02:37 pm

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GIP
This icon is from this page of a C14 pentateuch with Onkelos' commentary in the left margin. The text is Genesis 25; the dragon sits atop verse 19 which has nothing whatever to do with dragons; its tail holds the first word of the verse ("and these").


Thanks to the British Library for releasing many of its images under a Public Domain "license"! (non-binding but polite reuse request)

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January 2nd, 2014
02:01 pm

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Internet doggerel, on a pet peeve.
Webbily, wobbly,
Timothy Berners-Lee's
Hypertext network per-
turbs me a jot.


With its prolixity
(decasyllabically):
www.


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January 1st, 2014
09:05 pm

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The anti-shoddy goods committee


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December 31st, 2013
03:09 pm

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On the importance of oiling your feathers well.
I have been playing around with word lists and scansion, and getting into double-dactylic words. Having noticed "chirrupy" and "syrupy", I thought a one-word-per-line verse was indicated.

Chirrupy-syrupy,
Ornithological,
Oligosaccharide:
Budgerigar.

Chickily, stickily,
Hydrophilicity —
Aerodynamically
Unwunderbar.

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December 24th, 2013
11:04 pm

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A very sleepy song.
Little aubergines, on the hillside; little aubergines made of aubergine;
Little aubergines, on the hillside; little aubergines all the same;
There's a purple one and a purple one and a purple one and a purple one
And they're all made out of aubergine and they all look just the same.
(repeat until asleep)

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December 21st, 2013
11:09 pm

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O2 vs Wikipedia - a quick look inside the minds of the folks who build the blockers.
O2, in common with just about all mobile companies, has blocking. Unlike most, they helpfully provide a URL checker http://urlchecker.o2.co.uk/ where anyone can check if a URL is blocked. update: that page has been taken down "to ensure it's fit for purpose and provides transparent info to [O2's] customers".

There are three levels of blocking:

Open Access - what people who've asked for "no filtering at all" see.
Default Safety - what people who've signed up without expressing preferences see.
Parental Control - what people who've actively asked for a child-friendly device see.

Now, O2's Parental Control is a funny old thing. It allows http://www.mcdonalds.com but blocks http://www.childline.org. To be honest, it blocks most of the internet apart from a tiny number of mostly corporate sites. It allows amazon.co.uk but blocks amazon.com. We may never know why - this is all done by their unspecified third-party partner (rumour has it that this is probably Symantec).

Wikipedia seems to be an interesting case - it's allowed, but certain pages are blacklisted. This is all done very shoddily, if the URL checker is to be believed. So https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penis is blocked but https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penises is allowed, even though they both go to the same damn page1 Also, they block Penis but fail to block Clitoris2

The choice of which pages to block on Wikipedia is interesting. A bit of playing around revealed that there wasn't much consistency; it looked like, rather than applying a classifier to every page, someone had made a list of a few pages with titles that seemed dodgy to them, and had called it a day. This seemed an ideal opportunity to find out what the spirit was behind the blocking, especially since they kindly tell us what the category of nastiness is.

Wikipedia has a nice list of the 5000 most visited pages. I ran them through the checker3 and made a list of the aberrations, sorted by category. Pages in more than one category will appear twice; if they're blocked in one and not in the other, they're still blocked to the user.

cut for longish tableCollapse )

Notice that their "lifestyles" category has only three items within the top 5000 Wikipedia pages4. What these have in common is left as an exercise for the reader. Whether that falls foul of the Equality Act 2010 is left as an exercise for the reader who knows about English law.

Notice also that for instance the list does not include the following top-5000 pages: Asexuality, Celebrity_sex_tape, Child_pornography, Homosexuality, Human_sexuality, List_of_female_porn_stars, List_of_Masters_of_Sex_episodes, List_of_pornographic_actresses_by_decade, Masters_of_Sex, Pansexuality, Pornhub, Pornographic_film_actor, Pornographic_film, Pornography, Revenge_porn, Same-sex_marriage, Same-sex_marriage_in_the_United_States, Sex, Unsimulated_sex, YouPorn ... and that's just in the top 5000 out of 4 million. Anyone who thinks the filter is effective is going to be very disappointed. And those are just some of the sex-related pages - they make no attempt to block pages about war, death, torture, or other potentially distressing subjects. Again, speculation about the mindset behind this is left to the reader.

This all reflects very badly on O2; but I think we should assume that the other ISPs are every bit as incompetent, until they present us with evidence to the contrary.

If anyone would like to help me with a similar but more extensive project for TalkTalk, BT or Sky, has a line with one of those ISPs, a willingness to give me SSH access to something at your end (probably helps with that bit if you're a wee bit tech-y), and a preparedness to turn the dreaded filters on for a bit, please let me know in the comments.

I've been ranting about this at more length at [twitter.com profile] pseudomonas

.


1 Note as an aside that the URL checker claims to be able to tell the difference between the two httpS URLs. This is very worrying if it's true, but my suspicion is that it's not and the URL checker is just shoddily written and assuming they're plain http.
2 Perhaps because they had problems finding it.
3 Actually, I misinterpreted how the URL checker dealt with encoding and ones with brackets, punctuation, apostrophes, and diacritics got skipped. Sorry.
4 Since you asked and to save you a click or two, "Bisexual" isn't in the top-5000 list of pages, but that Wikipedia page is indeed classified as "lifestyle".

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Current Mood: angryangry
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November 27th, 2013
10:26 pm

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Following a discussion about Google Analytics


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April 11th, 2013
04:29 pm

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Follow-up additional poll


ETA: I'd be interested to hear what the problems caused by the misconceptions were.

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04:00 pm

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Facebook, a survey
Facebook (unless you pay to "promote" an item) only shows your posts to a certain proportion of your friends, (even if they're using the "most recent" way of looking at updates). In a flawed attempt to harness the wisdom of crowds:



Assume that this is a plain old text update, not a photo or anything like that. Friends that have interacted with you more often in the past will tend to be shown your activity with higher probabbility. If you have no Facebook account, don't complete the poll ;)

There is no right answer that I know of, though if someone has hard data on how to calculate these things, do comment with links.

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February 7th, 2013
02:43 pm

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Holy Guardian Sprout
I sketched this a while back and inked it over in Brussels. I know it's very scrawly :)


The name is a bad pun: כרוב

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January 23rd, 2013
10:36 am

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up goer five wordlist noodling
Upgoer-five stuff - if I used the COCA first 1000 distinct entries on http://www.wordfrequency.info/top5000.asp instead we'd lose the following 364 words:

lostCollapse )

and we'd gain the following 399:
gainedCollapse )

The lists aren't the same length because of the difference in the way they treat words with apostrophes in - I've removed apostrophe-containing terms from both lists. Note also that the COCA list categorises words by their part of speech, so this is a bit approximate, and might exclude lexemes that score pretty highly in lots of parts of speech, but are not in the top 1000 in any single one. If I have time I'll find a way to combine them.



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January 20th, 2013
09:29 pm

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Jelly!
I got a bag of agar powder! so I needed to play with it, clearly :)

Squish strawberries (they were frozen since strawberry season and defrosted) through a sieve, add some sugar, a very little finely-ground black pepper, and a few drops of lemon juice. Stir in some agar powder and microwave until just boiling. Pour/spoon it into moulds - I used a silicone ice-cube-tray in the shape of shells, which I filled half-full. Made four (small experimental batch), only two came out of the moulds properly, so my host and I got one each with our cake. They tasted intensely fruity and the pepper was definitely a good idea. Next time I'll try lightly oiling the moulds and maybe adding a touch more agar (I used about a quarter of a teaspoon to maybe 40ml strawberry pulp and a teaspoon-and-a-half of sugar)

I am looking forward to trying this with some other fruit!

*
*Serving suggestion.

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December 30th, 2012
01:03 pm

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decluttering a bit - free to good home.
Before I freecycle or ebay them, does anyone have a use for:

Three lounge chairs, no arms, steel legs, covered in beige fabric, about 80cm high and 48cm wide.

Maroonish-purple computer desk, about 75cm wide, casters, sliding keyboard shelf, good condition.

A couple of really quite old tower computers, no HDs (I am aware this is not terribly helpful spec, but I haven't much of a clue about their innards. ISTR the older one is 256MB RAM/450MHz processor, the newer one is better spec but noisy fan. Both work fine & have optical drives and network cards, but I'm not going to dismantle them.) Both have keyboards.

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December 13th, 2012
12:44 pm

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Plug for warm things
http://www.universal-textiles.com/ have sent me my new warm underclothing - and a discount voucher code to pass on: friend87 that's good for 5% off for the next 90 days (no kickbacks to me or anything).

(I go on about this cos wearing thermal layers is a really painless way to reduce heating energy use without having major modifications made to one's dwelling)

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December 11th, 2012
05:53 pm

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eeeeeenteresting.
perl -le 'print "$_ + 1 = ", $_ + 1 for qw/milli micro nano pico/'

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July 18th, 2012
01:41 pm

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Before blackberry season gets under way...
When I was a kid back in the 80s, I was told not to pick and eat fruit growing next to busy roads. In these days of near-universal unleaded petrol, does this advice still hold true at all?

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June 20th, 2012
02:54 pm

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Bass-clef versions of tunebooks (ETA: Now with added alto!)
For the benefit of bassoonists, cellists, etc.

I did some fiddling with some perl and abcm2ps:

A Bass-clef version of Playford's Dancing Master (Treble) and A Bass-clef version of the Fiddler's Tune Book (Treble)


A Bass-clef version of Playford's Dancing Master and A Bass-clef version of the Fiddler's Tune Book (I don't think it automatically becomes the 'cellist's tune book) adjusted for 'cello, with pieces containing notes below a bottom C raised by an octave*.

All based on Chris Partington's ABC versions

NEW!
Playford's Dancing Master for Viola and Fiddler's Tune Book for viola

Big Round Band sets for Viola ; 'Cello ; Bassoon etc.


*perl -pe '$BEGIN{$/="\n\r\n"};$x=/[A-G]\,/?"D bass":"d bass+8";s/^(K:\w+)(\s*?[%\n])/$1 middle=$x$2/msg' plyfrd1.ABC | abcm2ps - -N1 --footer 'Based on Chris Partington'\''s transcription\nhttp://www.cpartington.plus.com' -O - | ps2pdf - Playford_dancing_master_bass_clef_cello.pdf
This is not guaranteed to work for all ABC, but it works for the subset found in this file.


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June 19th, 2012
07:20 pm

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Vegetarian sausages
Someone, I have an idea it was ghoti , suggested that leeks make good skins for vegetarian sausages. So, I used the outer few layers of a leek to make a few just now.

I carefully separated the skins, rinsed them, and put them in some just off-boiling water to soften a little

I tied off one end with string, filled them with filling and a teaspoon, and then tied off the other end.

I fried them in shallow sunflower oil and drained them on some kitchen roll.

Filling: fry chopped leek, add dried soya mince and couscous, some stock, dill, thyme, and tomato puree. let cool a bit, beat in an egg, thicken with coarse cornmeal. This was all made up as I went along, I think I'd put more spicy stuff in next time, and I'd like to try something seitan-based.

They seemed to work quite well.

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June 11th, 2012
01:24 pm

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foam
Yay, I have an air mattress. It works. I can now get rid of my old folding-up-chair foam thing. Does anyone want it before I bin it (it's a somewhat decrepit version of this but might be useful if you want big chunks of foam rubber for something)?

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June 10th, 2012
11:56 am

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Owl pipeline technology
Owl pipelineCollapse )
Double bandwith!Collapse )

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June 8th, 2012
12:18 pm

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Mmm. My kind of cuisine.


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