Archive for April, 2009

asteroid.gnome.org

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

I’d like to make a page which was like Planet GNOME except that it listed all the tweets and dents that GNOME people were producing. When it grew up, perhaps it could become “asteroid.gnome.org” (because it’s like a mini planet). Bad idea or good idea? Would you read it? Would you like to be on it?

Tuesday: I always tried to write about the light

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

The weather was rather too hot on Tuesday. Wanted to go to the gym but never made it. Later we went out to eat.

Someone in Normandy made a beautiful birthday card using Riordon‘s font Riordon Fancy. I suggested to Rio that she could also add the Cyrillic letters to her font, and she seems quite open to the idea. I need to read up more about handwritten Cyrillic.

Ubuntu Women is holding an IRC Q&A on Wednesday evening.

Joule 3.5 (the one with Twitter and identi.ca support) went into beta. There’s still one caching fix I have to make, and I have to rewrite the documentation, and fix whatever problems the testers find. I was rather sad to have to disable support for Twitterers who have tens of thousands of followers (like Neil Gaiman); the actual download and the comparison would have been fine, but the actual part where we write them all into the database made the page take several minutes to load. There is probably a more efficient way of dumping three hundred thousand rows into a database than calling a prepared statement 300,000 times, though, but I’m not sure what it is.

I don’t understand why my great-grandmother wrote some of the things she wrote, and I don’t agree with many of them: rather, I post them in memory of who she was. Some other people have been trying to argue with her, though, which is rather futile since she died 32 years ago.

And I wrote a sonnet for Katie:

I always tried to write about the light
that inks these eyes in instant tint and hue,
that chances glances, sparkles through the night,
fresh as the morning, bloody as the dew;
the light that leaves your image in my mind,
that shining silver, shared for everyone,
that banishes the darkness from the blind,
the circle of the surface of the sun.
And when your light is shining far from mine,
when scores of stars are standing at their stations,
we’ll weave our fingers round them as they shine,
and write each other’s name on constellations;
and so we’ll stand, and still, however far,
lock eyes and wish upon a single star.

Cast ne’er a clout

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009
  1. I passed a may-tree in blossom today, like drinking some strange and sudden potion. Spring lasted a week and summer is upon us.
  2. I’ve got less to show for today than I’d like, but in the evening I did get some more work done on Joule-for-Twitter. It basically works now, but it’s not quite ready for release. There is also an identi.ca version, of course.  (For those reading who don’t know what Joule does: it makes it convenient to track who’s reading your stuff. You may find it instructive to look at the chart for me on LiveJournal, or the equivalent graph.)
  3. I have decided to rebuild the website for my conlang– a language I’ve been working on since I was a teenager, since before I knew people did so. I lost the site to a domain squatter a while ago, but now I have it back. I have a lot to write down.
  4. I have been reading Thoughtcrime Experiments. You might like it, too.
  5. I think if I had more patience I would have more sonnets.
  6. Carmen, who is wonderful, is looking for people to share her apartment in Berkeley/Oakland.
  7. I have been pointed to two guides on how to use tengwar to represent English. They disagree in several points with Omniglot’s guide. I’m not sure who to believe.

fresh as the morning, bloody as the dew

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Went to play D&D at Bae‘s.

Later, merged the Joule branch for doing comparisons in SQL rather than in memory on the webserver; this will make Joule faster and reduce its memory footprint, which will be necessary when Twitter support is turned on, which should be later this week. If you want to follow that, it’s on twitter or on identi.ca. I’m also planning Dreamwidth support.

Rio has been watching Sita Sings the Blues over and over.

While looking through some old files, I found some of the stories I used to tell my sister when she was little. Here’s the one about the lighthouse.

Dyddgu gave me five of my LJ usericons to talk about.

8fool – I’ve always had an affinity for the tarot card called The Fool. Fin commissioned Joanna Barnum to paint me as that archetype. More information is here. The leading 8 is so that I can select it in one keypress, though I don’t currently need to because it’s my default icon.
pretty – Having quite a day of remembering wonderful people who are dead. This is me after I’d had my makeup done by a friend of mine here called Chuck, who also went by Princess Titania, and is now no longer with us. I use this for gender-neutral things and just randomly.
Poto and Cabengo were twins who invented their own language. I read their story in the eighties in Reader’s Digest and was enthralled. Later, their parents suppressed the language, they grew up, and they were last heard of mopping floors somewhere. Fin made the icon; I use it for language things now. If anyone knows where I can find the film about them, I’d love to see it.
otp – this is Ace and Seven (i.e. the seventh regeneration of Doctor Who). OTP = One True Pairing; they’re my favourite Doctor and my favourite Companion and I have occasionally written slash fanfic about them. When I was younger, I always admired Ace and wanted to be more like her. I use the icon mostly for posting about Doctor Who stuff.
yewenwell – I read somewhere when I was 29 that if you didn’t write your first novel in your twenties, you never would.  I therefore made a great effort to start and finish a novel I’ve been trying to write since I wrote the first version in my teens using DisplayWrite 4.  Needless to say, it ran into problems eleven chapters in and didn’t get finished: I’ve never actually finished any of the novels I’ve started.  I hope it’s not actually an omen.  I wasn’t going to post it until it was done, but when I realised it had stalled I posted it anyway (it starts here; people on my friendslist who would like to read it will need to be on an opt-in filter), and this was the icon I used.

Friday, April 24th, 2009

It was cold in the morning, though I was up early enough to see the sunlight coming through the window that faces east. I went to Parma for lunch with Fin and SaraMae and then to the gym briefly; Fin suggested I try increasing repetitions rather than weight, so I did. Later I did a little work on the Shavian wiki so that it now supports Tengwar, Deseret and Unifon as well as Shavian. I wrote a post asking for help with the tengwar but I haven’t had any replies yet. We are also discussing supporting Ewellic, which reminds me that I invented a con-script of my own as a teenager to keep my diary private. I should perhaps make a post about it here, if anyone’s interested.

Yesterday I received a book in the post that was written by my great-grandmother, Mary Jones, known as Nono. She would jot down her thoughts every so often and when she had a bookful she would publish them. It’s sort of like 1950s Twitter. Here are some examples:

Some people relax so much they can never get started again.

To die— is like being invited into a beautiful, happy, loving home instead of standing lonely in the dark outside.

We live and belong to England and put up with its atrocious weather and cost of living because we think we are free— but are we?

I plan to type it up and put it online. (I don’t agree with everything she says, but I’d like to put it up in memory of her.) Perhaps doing it on Twitter itself would be appropriate: would any of you like to read it?

Blackberries

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

I’ve been feeling slightly under the weather, recently.  The thunderstorm isn’t helping.  I hope it clears up and so does my head.

It’s been good to watch the Shavian wiki grow to 14,000 words.  I’m not sure what to do with it now.  I have considered putting in filters so you can see the text in various other reform systems like Unifon or Deseret.  I’m also considering printing the lexicon with lulu.com or similar, as a pronouncing dictionary.

We moved dorothy last night, and I think some mail may have been lost in the meantime, so if you mailed me and didn’t get a reply, please mail me again.

I know some of you liked seeing pictures of Rothko the kitten, but he isn’t really much of a kitten any more.

I went to the shops, and the person serving me said, “As a Welshman, I’m sure you love singing.  You’re a tenor, aren’t you?  Would you like to join our choir?  We need tenors.”  I’m not actually Welsh, though it seems to be a common misconception.  But joining the choir could be fun.

Some people take not just the poem but even the formatting.

As to names of computers: currently our naming scheme is saints (Dorothy Day is at least on the canonisation track).  Previously, it was colours (green, spectrum, charcoal, lavender, haematite).  When I lived alone before I moved here, it was characters from Njal’s saga.  There was njal, and bergthora, and hrut, which was an enormous tower that didn’t fit anywhere.

I am trying to write more. I don’t always think the results are very good.

A ghost complains about blackberries

And I have nothing else to do again
But walk these halls and wish I wasn’t here,
But picking berries in a country lane.
A shadow is my face, the dust my brain,
My voice is but an echo in your ear.
And I have nothing else to do again
But counting every pace to keep me sane.
Dead as I am, I’ve nothing else to fear.
But, picking berries in a country lane;
Within me lives the spectre of a pain,
The ache of endless summer, yesteryear,
And I have nothing else to do again
But live in memory without my chain
And walk an aimless autumn Cambridgeshire…
But picking berries in a country lane.

Each universe must reach its long refrain.
A moment all my chains must disappear
And I’ll have nothing else to do again
But picking berries in a country lane.

Franklin Institute

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Today we went to the Franklin Institute with Bae and the rest of the D&D group. There was a really rather interesting presentation on the history of the telescope, and an exhibition about Narnia which was a bit dull. Afterwards I was quite sad to find that my favourite Indian restaurant in Philly had closed permanently.

Tax, etc.

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

I went to H&R Block today to get our taxes done. I gave myself quite a headache doing it. Afterwards I went to the gym and worked out a bit, then walked back home, but everyone was out so I went to Subway and bought lunch. Today hasn’t been wonderfully productive other than that.

I think the Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society is no longer publishing, which is a shame, because if it was I’d write them a paper about the Shavian wiki from a spelling reform point of view rather than from a computational linguistics point of view.  (Incidentally, gnome in Shavian is a little guy going “Yay!”, appropriately.)

I was only asked two questions on that question meme:

  1. What’s your phone number? I have lost the charger, so nobody can phone me, I’m afraid.
  2. Have you ever had poetry or prose published? Sort of. I wrote a poem at the age of about nine that was published in Puffin Post– I won a copy of one of the Wizard of Oz books for that. And I had a few sonnets printed in the local church magazine. Other than that, not really. Soberly and without false humility, I don’t really think anyone wants to pay to read what I write: formal verse is unfashionable.

Shavian again

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

I have mentioned before that there are a few dozen people in this world whose hobby is transliterating public-domain documents like The Wizard of Oz into the Shavian alphabet. It occurred to me about a week ago that they are performing the transliteration of most of the words many times, and it ought to be possible for some kind of tool to automate this. It would further mean the creation of something useful which doesn’t currently exist: a free electronic pronouncing lexicon of British English.

So I present the Shavian Wiki. It’s an ordinary MediaWiki installation, but with the added quirk that any page whose name begins with “Document:” is transliterated on the fly by looking each word up in the wiki itself– so this turns into this.  This is done with a custom extension which was trivial to write; I am much impressed at the flexibility of MediaWiki. (If you can’t see Shavian writing there, you will need to install a suitable font.)

And then of course you can dump the lexicon any time you like and you’ll have your own wiki-powered pronouncing dictionary.

I spent a few hours setting this up about a week ago, plus the occasional lunchbreak hacking here and there, and the members of the Shaw Alphabet Yahoo group descended on it and did the rest of the work: wiki power is an amazing thing.

There are now nearly 4,000 words in the lexicon and it’s growing fast.  We’d welcome anyone who wants to join in, but you have to create an account to edit.

Also, here’s a relevant comic.