Monday, March 27, 2006

Cabbage on English head

From the brixton_climbers list:

Cabbage Throwing Machinegood session today ,5 brixton climbers got tired after 4 hours session at xtall palace climbing wall,We have to try to keep it open, so maybe we could arrange to have it open more often if more used .Good cracking climb done, by james and tim on the "traverse of the god".no one except Brixton Climber done the "riddle", jhonnatan, steve,james and mister tim had few good attempte but could reach the top of the french castle. The french then,victorious,show them a V signe and througth cabbage on they English head.

The Brixton wall is great, but I have been woefully slack recently.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


despeckle menuLast Saturday night was the culmination of a good day. Damo and Suzy came down for the anti-war march, then we hung out in Soho, met Mistress Pitt, and eroded our collective career roadblocks by beer and yakk. Minus B (work) and Suzy (ill - on birthday - harsh!) we headed to Bar 242 in some wasteland by Blackfirars Bridge, but it was pretty amiable except for the too-cool DJ and his need-for-bleed with the earsplitting music. N + R joined later, and Hari and Damo bonded over Edinburgh Fringe (I presume).

The difference between that night and practially every other in recent memory has been that I actually felt worth talking to - yes, it (my career downer) was that strong. It was damn refreshing to drink that in.

It does all beg the question: how does one spot and deal with minor depression, which is probably more difficult to spot, as it's not as extreme as other forms. Almost by definition, it involves a lack of self-awareness, so some reliance on others is implied.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

RSS Progress

So, I am (glad to be) not the first to think about RSS as replacing SQL: Ray at ABCEDmindedness writes on RSS-driven sites back in 2004:

...RSS should be the foundation of the design of any web applicatin which assists in the creation of a web site.

Leading on from there, and zipping forward to the present, we have these articles: RSS, and yes, probably Atom too, are the "Unix pipes" of the Web; manifestly simple and easy ways to connect virtually any content from point A to points X, anywhere on the Web. from Balkanizing RSS and the risks to the information ecosystem and I've been taken to task occasionally for my prediction that RSS will be the fundamental Web 2.0 protocol, and with SSE my prediction is reinforced. It's so good, so simple, so right that I think you'll see the Web services of yore become almost completely eclipsed by it. in How Simple Sharing Extensions Will Change the Web

Obviously, it's time to investigate SSE and code me a system. Passing Thought: This seems to cover some of the logic of REST Web Services.

Waah. More here!: Adam Bosworth, writing in ACM Queue, elaborated on the database-of-the-future vision he's been evolving for a couple of years now. We can obviously read RSS and Atom feeds, and query them in simple ways, but how do we update and delete?

P.S. - Microsoft's copyrights in this specification are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. - wtf?!?

More to come on this, clearly...


Intersting article by Greg Palast on Iraq.

Specifically, the system ordered up by the Bush cabal would keep a lid on Iraq's oil production -- limiting Iraq's oil pumping to the tight quota set by Saudi Arabia and the OPEC cartel.

By the safe metric that blundering incompetance is probably the culprit, rather than planned cunning, Bush has achieved his aim: high oil prices.

Dorks with Swords!

Some geeks have their choreography well-rehearsed. Complete with light-saber noises and cheesy kung foo!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Managing Pictures

Went to Hampstead Heath with Besim for some finger-freezing photography. In the pitch dark. We looked for the parrots, but in vain; however, we came up with some nice ideas for photo software. Current problems with photo software:

  • multiple upload with metadata
  • keeping metadata with photos
  • retaining ordering of photos in an album
  • tagging photos + searching
Basically, for all its spangliness, Google Picasa is nearly useless for photographers, as you have to type in the tags/keywords by hand. I want a program on my PC which will auto-classify my images (at least to some extent).

I reckon I can see a way, using Flickr, to bring all of these things together. Originally, I was going to use Google Images, but there is no Image API, so screw them. Flickr has a nice clean XML-based API. I see the full application interactions looking like this:

  1. Use desktop app to sort photos into albums.
  2. Desktop app scans Flickr for photos...
  3. ...and uses their metadata to suggest tags...
  4. making use of a feature-recognition algorithm.
  5. User then submits batch of photos to Flickr with metadata
  6. Tag-suggestion gets better over time as learning data improves.
  7. User can build external photo site from Flickr RSS feeds.
  8. Synch tags, albums, photos between the desktop app and Flickr.
Basically, you get Flickr (and its users) to do most of the work of 'identifying' images, by using RSS-feed-by-tag data. All the neural network has to do is to generate some kind of similarity metric for the photos, rip the tags from the best matches, and use those for the suggestions.

In the future, you could auto-submit full-size images - with metadata - to stock photo libraries, having tagged them beforehand. In fact, basing tags on existing images could well be a very good thing, as your image will be placed alongside other similar images automagically.

There is quite some milage in this, and I suspect that most of the code is already written. THe magic would be in the glue.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Burning Image

My new photo site is up and running:

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Israeli terrorism - no other word for it

An Israeli army raid on a Palestinian jail holding a senior militant has sparked a wave of kidnappings and protest in the West Bank and Gaza.

This is nothing but terrorism. It's completely outside the rule of law, even by Israel's meagre standards. Polluting one's own judicial system is one thing, but physically destroying the walls of a prison in another territory is another: the prisoners were kidnapped on pain of immediate death execution if they didn't comply.

Utterly reprehensible. As soon as the Brits and US monitors pulled out, the Israeli army went in. So they were after some rather unpleasant character. SO THE FUCK WHAT?


I went to see Syriana with Gerald and Matej. Pleasantly surprised at the pace and structure of the film. Lots of loose ends, and plenty of time to absorb the deliberate plot spillages. It's got neo-cons rattled, so its politics is on the right track ;-)

Monday, March 13, 2006

Bad Poetry: Ode to a Notebook

My second heart beats excited lines of graphite
Into the manifold of my notebook lungs.
Breathe the quick'ning oxygen of sudden-thought,
Transferred by absorbant page
And capillarous scrawl
To words,
And thence returned to brain!

I love my Moleskine!

Bad Poetry: The Beast

Glinting claws arrayed scratch 
Aural sparks on the granite air:
Bows appear as rippling fur
While cymbal jaws snap echoes.
The polished underbelly of wood and silver
Glints with every flick of the baton-tongue:
Faces recede into scales.

Bruckner's 7th seems better without
The encumberance of specs!
Henley Symphony Orchestra

Saturday, March 11, 2006

New Coordinates

In the end, even I myself became tired of my own prevarications over my career. In response to the predicatable-but-dull question "So, what do you do?" I have a new response. From now on I am no longer a Programmerbut (as in "I am a programmer, but..."). Henceforth, I photograph and write; write and photograph. Perhaps I code some software to pay the bills, but my raison d'etre no longer rests on CREATE TRIGGER or public class foo{}. Irrespective of the outcome of the interminable Google application process, I will exist to explore, create and record the beauty, frailty, jollity, horror, and desire of the world. A mere trifling, then (LOL); but far better than trifling with my time, as I was doing until two days ago.

I am grateful to all those many people who have harangued me over the last few years to quit farting about and do What I Should Be Doing: creating.

He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence. - William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Red Cockatoo

The Red Cockatoo

Sent as a present from Annam -
A red cockatoo.
Coloured like the peach-tree blossom,
Speaking with the speech of men.

And they did to it what is always done
To the learned and eloquent.
They took a cage with stout bars
And shut it up inside.