All posts made in Jul. 2000:

Oh god, it's like being 14 again. Posting is a playground insult which should probably be classified as criminal assault. has other genius stuff, including blu-tac porn.

Oftel's draft guidelines on local loop unbundling (necessary for proper network-level competition in UK telecom) are -- unsurprisingly -- utter shit.

I've been reading loads of these scary Christian cartoons. It's akin to my compulsion to skim the Daily Mail, and roughly like sticking pins in my eyes.

php xml parser functions: With examples.

There's now proper placeholder for Dirk: You can join a one-off announcement list to be notified when Dirk returns from the grave. Subscribe now.

Did I mention I now have a job? I hit Real Life in September as a Technical Developer for It's going to be big fun. Being me is fantastic.

An overview of XML messaging quickly covers various transport protocols, with examples, including [links pilfered from the article for easy reference]: xml-rpc; soap (faq); wddx; ebXML.

Hm. 'ebXML' sounds disturbingly Blue Jamish.

Style-free XSLT Style Sheets: Making XSLT into a templating language, I guess. Interesting, both technically and philosophically.

XSL Patterns at MSDN.

XML Query Language: XQL is a query language that uses XML as a data model, and it is very similar to XSL Patterns.

Many bookmark managers to keep your favourites on the web, at dmoz.

Find things to do in London, by location or otherwise, at City-Info. Useful: Armed with my A-Z and a bunch of sites like this, I'm exploring the area around Bethnal Green before I even get there.

Entertainment in Bethnal Green and Hackney, courtesy of the Knowhere Guide.

There's a shocking amount of personal information about UK residents at, including the Electoral Roll and Directory Enquiries.

I just got chatting, in the pub, to the brother-in-law of the guy who wrote PhotoDeluxe. Apparently this guy was a long-term man of the church before he decided to take a computer programming class, loved it, binned the church, and wrote the aforementioned application. Yeah. And his brother-in-law is on a cycling trip round the UK. Erm. That is all.

Cool, this I didn't know: EastEnders is based on a real place, Fasset Square.

That must be a world record for finding a flat: a day and a half.

Okay, so next month I'm moving to Bethnal Green. There's a bit of stuff to do, but what does it really mean? It means I don't watch much ITV. Good, I never liked it anyway.


James brings us this Monday's Upsideclown:

I play games with street lamps. Is this because I am Grorg, mighty ancient Giant, finally emerged from my hidden magic Cave in the Andes, eon-dormant until awakened by cosmic alignment, and there is nothing I like more than trampling some Scandinavian hamlets, and plucking the edge of a bahn or two to play nocturnal pick-up-sticks at the summit of Table Mountain?

No, it is not.

I play games with street lamps, fresh today at Upsideclown.

Another update: I've posted my photos from Tate Modern.

A couple of updates to this site:

  • I've finally posted notes on my weekend at ArsDigita boot camp.
  • Possibly the funniest thing I ever did was over a year and a half ago, not on the web, and currently existing as >200kb scans: Nucleus is back online. I might try and optimise those gifs.

xml-rpc for php [via Scripting News]. Keywords: xml-rpc; php.

Both job interviews I've been to have included "Do you know php?". A: I've had a little exposure; it's on my list.

For reference: Alsoft's DiskWarrior fixed my iBook's drive quickly and easily. When I've used Norton Utilities Disk Doctor it's not been terribly successful.

I have: A site to update; a site to design; a system to sell, and many people to write back to. There was an interview last week, a course last weekend that I'm half-way through writing up for you. An interview tomorrow. Programs to write, a programming language to learn. Today, I did nothing.

Last night, my notebook died: I've ordered software and hopefully can resurrect my hard-drive. I've got this bad karma from somewhere and I can't shake it off.

This is dull because my life is not.

Knackered. I'll put up my thoughts about this weekend's ArsDigita bootcamp later. Meanwhile, check out the new Upsideclown: You, Me and Face-space.

Dirk and the other scripts at interconnected won't be back up until August 1st at the absolute earliest: My hosts have had to delay their move until the end of the month.

The Government's Annual Report is out. I've yet to pick up a print copy, but I've a feeling it's going to be very frustrating: Previously they've based the report around their election manifesto promises, and detailed the progress made on each one. For this report, I've heard that perspective is gone which isn't going to make comparison very easy.

You can look up local statistics by postcode in the In Your Area section. Good idea, not terribly well executed. Trust is an incredibly important thing, and I'd much prefer to see this feature come from National Statistics and the Civil Service rather than the Government. I'm just not sure with what purpose in mind the In Your Area sources were chosen. What's not there?

The ArsDigita two-day London bootcamp has long hours: Saturday 10am - 1am. Sunday 10am - 11pm.

So it's going to be rather quiet at interconnected this weekend. for Property Prices, Best Schools, Council Tax, Crime & Health Stats.

The Journaling Script is like Blogger, but for journals. Different, but with some shared features: So, who's going to abstract all the shared stuff and let us get on with building the next set of tools?

Good fun free fonts at Typearound. And good hand-drawn fonts at solar*sister.

So I was taking a piss before I went to bed last night and (carry on, I don't talk too much more about this) I looked down and saw the toilet bowl and thought: What the hell do I mean Things are defined by the things around them? How can I seriously say that the universe has some deeper structure? And as I pissed and stood how could I possibly believe that there was anything other than what I could see?

I was banging on the other day about deeper structures and the nature of reality -- but what do I really mean by saying that a cistern is a cistern because of all the things it isn't? I mean, yes, in my perceptions I can only identify things which have associated not-things, obviously, but deeper than that: That toilet is a collection of atoms and electrons and forces and goodness knows what else. I know, to a degree, why hard things are hard and why wet things are wet (although the latter's a little more difficult). I understand that some people know more than me about this.

It's fairly easy for me to understand that the nature of reality is to me only unknown because I haven't been trained in how to study it, just like the more advanced areas of Physics. And what I know from studying Physics is that the advanced levels are just more of the same: It's all seesaws and levers, even though I may not understand it.

If I couch these explanations in Physical terms they make more sense: Reality is physical, there is nothing else. There may well be more than we can see, but there's nothing special about that -- it's just detail, more of the same. Deep structure might well be super string theory, but it doesn't concern me.

Emergent properties are natural from any complex system; they have rules and behaviours, but there's nothing special about that, either. A toilet doesn't exist in the universe any more than a person exists on the front of your television.

Now things make more sense: What more is there to believe than this?

New at Upsideclown: Jamie's The Etymology of Greatness.

Words. Not everyone's cup of tea. Barry Gibb and his siblings squeaked "It's only words!" at us in disdain. But Tracy Chapman - bless her manly voice - counters with the old chestnut "Years go by and still / Words don't come easily", so make the most of them while they're there (OK, so she actually continued "Like 'sorry'", but only so it scanned). Then Boyzone went and covered both of them. Inconsistent Irish bastards.

And of course, if you missed last week's or the week before (and how could you?), they're in the Archive.

Sing-a-long-a Sound of Music is... well. Let me quote:

Let's start at the very beginning. Have you ever been to a musical film and had an uncontrollable urge to burst spontaneously into song? Well here's your chance to give full rein to your vocal chords and share a few of your favourite things with fellow audience members.

The original Julie Andrews film with all songs especially subtitled for the occasion (though we know that most of you are word-perfect) so the whole audience can: Join in all your favourite numbers and sing-a-long-a-Julie! Boo the Nazis! Hiss the Baroness! Attend the ultimate communal karaoke event of the century!

It's not even live! It's just the film, with subtitles - why do people pay good money for this? I'm not sure I can think of anything worse.

29 October 1969: The first ever packet-based login crashes at the letter 'g'. Thus the internet is born. You can even see the log entry.

The Internet Society mentioned this event in their extensive internet timeline. It seems to be a more readable version of the same in the Computer Museum's Internet History site.

Oh, while I'm on about timelines -- the W3's www timeline is very good.

The first email was 'QWERTYIOP'. Fucking caps. Fucking newbies.

I haven't had any email through now for 24 hours. It's like the time I had a 'heated discussion' with the vicar at a baptism and was plagued with dreams of seven-foot horned man-goats breaking down my door for the next week: Natural retribution.

The Mail Administrator howto (or in plain text) has a good explanation of how email works, and how to talk to an smtp system. Relevant rfcs are rfc821: Simple Mail Transfer Protocol; and rfc1869: SMTP Service Extensions.'s host's are also moving -- on Monday, apparently. The DNS howto (plain text) is a fine example of how open documentation can really work: The backgrounder and tutorial on the dns system are excellent. I haven't read the rfcs; there are quite a lot: Annotated rfcs are kept at the DNS Resources Directory.

So, what have I discovered? That the dns records for haven't been changed for over a year. And that the smtp gateway is down. And the gateways for other domains on the same server, so it's not just me. Well, at least I know -- I don't have to feel so paranoid now -- but it's still concerning: How long is email kept in the queue before it's bounced? How much will I never receive?

Three email accounts and one of them had incorrect forwarding (for a week) and another I haven't received anything from since sometime yesterday: If you want to reach me, I'm holidaying at

Names are but aliases to positions in some universal deeper structure. Another way: document.all.[id] is only one way of referencing. Thoughts:

  • The deep to surface transform is akin to creating a two dimensional map from a higher dimensional system.
  • What is the deep structure? When we produce a scientific model of a system -- say, quantum mechanics describing the double slit experiment -- what is surface and what is deep? We have have the equations and the physical system itself.
  • When we describe a quantum system, are we saying that the universe is as we say? No. We are interpreting equations. The equations are more fundamental than our understanding of them.
  • If I propose a deep structure to explain all of reality (and if it actually does explain -- as in rationalise -- reality) then can we still talk about unfalsifiability?
  • If I explain part of reality by some proposed deep structure, I'm making a metaphor. A metaphor is a metalink between one system and another. Shouldn't the deep structure be indescribable in terms of surface structure?
  • Similar systems, wherever they are, behave in the same way.
  • Things are defined by the things around them. I can describe an unspeakable by speaking of many things and making constructive interference at the second degree connections.
  • The existence-of-a-deep-structure is an unfalsifiable in itself. What if there isn't one? What if there is? Does it matter?
  • The only guide we have to the validity of a model once it has been shown to work is beauty.
  • Beauty is the consistancy of form on the system level or beyond. It is resonance of the model with some other pattern in the meta structure.

I'm lost, stumbling around with ideas I can barely hold in my head: Lack of training, I imagine. As we grow, we add to our reportoire of metaphors; coming across them is difficult and they're hard to keep hold of to begin with, but then they become part of your self. I made a list of mine, once. It's a little out of date now, and the later ones (it's in chronological order) have the mark of being made from a certain perspective. I should update.

You know, there's a whole www out there I'd never even heard about. Stick Figure Death Theatre is only the half of it -- the world gets an order of magnitude more alarming when you see the Top 50 Animated Death Sites, especially as there are actually 38. Oh. Oh dear.

Dead porn stars. At the risk asking this question may spell the end of the universe: Why do people keep lists like this?

There's DHTML to grab at Dynamic Drive. In their faq they say all scripts are as cross-platform and backwards-compatible as possible. Some interesting stuff; it's always good to have some code to look at.

Yeah baby! I'm going on the ArsDigita Two Day Boot Camp. There is reading preparation:

I think next week is going to be, um, busy.

In development since 1972 -- I want motorised boots.

Intriguing. I might finally switch from MySQL: PL/perl allows you to write functions in the Perl scripting language which may be used in SQL queries as if they were built into Postgres.

It's the strangest bug in the entire world! It appears that Netscape refuses to recognise the properties of more that one div if there are any style attributes in any of the elements inside the div. Okay. Right. Fine.

I am going insane trying to get this new HPLG web site to render correctly in Netscape 4+. It works fine in IE, and only uses very simple dhtml: If I only have one div it's fine -- but with two it stops working (they're supposed to be magically appearing tables when you mouseOver People and Research).

So, if you know even a tiny amount of dhtml please have a look and help me out! (I don't often beg like this, but hey.) You can have whatever's left of my eternal soul (once everyone else has had their share).

Mozquito looks like an interesting way to use XHTML Extended Forms in current browsers. This email about Mozquito and XHTML says that they have a 'mechanism' (a Java applet, I think. Or a servlet? I'm not sure.) that translates XHTML into a Javascript application so you can use complex forms. Unfortunately I can't get any of the examples working.

Heads up: interconnected's hosts are moving after the weekend. Expect no updates on Monday and (what with dns propagation) possibly none on Tuesday and Wednesday.

And then, if I'm feeling better, I'll tell you about Dirk.

Masami Teraoka's The Garden of E-mail, 1996. Watercolor on paper (three panels) with construction. 79" x 129".

Today has been a terrible day. Feeling stupid is a chest of concrete and a head and legs of water. It hurts deeper than almost anything else I know.

mod_include documentation. That is all.

Two sides of the same coin:

Don't even ask.

Quiet on interconnected/busy IRL. It doesn't help that I only managed four hours sleep last night - I started my minimum wage job today, and yesterday was the night before Christmas. I get excited about the stupidest things.

Don't give me any compliments like this one at Elec[tricBis]cuit or I'll never be able to fit my head out the door. Ta!

Oh, for supported MathML. How am I supposed to mark up equations in html?

Fortunately, there exists TTH - TeX to HTML translator - and since people round here use TeX it should work a treat. Browsers need to be configured slightly differently under Linux and on Macs, but equations are generated as pure html and that's a Good Thing. Oh, you can translate with TTH over the www, too.

It's Monday (just), and that means a new episode of Upsideclown. Man, you're in for a treat this week -- do not pass Go, do not collect 200 of your local currency, go now to Dan's excellent Roboto il Diavolo.

I've added search to this site, currently way down on the left (it may yet move). Yes the results page looks ugly. Yes I'll get round to prettifying it. No not today.

Ooh, W3C have redesigned. They're keeping an archive of site change comments which is interesting reading. The most controversial change is from domain-grouped keywords to an alphabetical keyword list, which is great for newcomers but would really piss me off if I knew where I was going. I mainly use the Search anyway which, unusually for a large site, is a very useful and accurate way of finding information.

Two noted-so-I-don't-forget-them recent articles at A List Apart: Bill Humpries (of whump) covers the uses of and gives a howto for mod_rewrite in urls! urls! urls!.

J. David Eisenberg starts a tutorial on the DOM, something I'm trying to learn more about, in DOM Design Tricks.

Thought about laundry | It takes me ages to get round to doing laundry, even though it's just a matter of stuffing it in a machine and popping back after an hour (I'm not disgusting; I have lots of clothes). Imagine how much worse it would be if I had to manually soap and scrape and mangle every garment. I would have smelt terrible - but now I don't have to since some genius invented the washing machine.

I've realised: The ultimate purpose of progress is to render the stupid or lazy people indistinguishable from the intelligent and efficient ones.

That, from feeding my pants to a robot.

Thought about microphones | It would be great if they used directional microphones in football matches so you could hear what the players were shouting. But better still would be if everyone in the world was mic'd up, all the time, and you could listen in to anybody's life, anytime you wanted to. Who would you listen to? Film stars? Politicians? Certainly. Most interesting would be normal people.

We'd swap tips about people who have great conversations, people who have great ideas. We'd eavesdrop on teenage sex kittens we'd find by randomly trying members of the lists on a Friday night, hoping to catch something exciting. There would be people with cult followings who led incredible lives.

Some people would play to their unseen audience, talking up their audible life sotto voce while sitting at another desk in another office in another city. And we'd spend so long listening in, hoping to catch something fantastic, we wouldn't say anything anymore.

This didn't start as a parable, btw.

I'd listen to Carl, because he's my stalkee and so I must.

Nuke'em: You know that fairground game with a big plank with several rows of nails in? You drop a marble in the top and it bounces all the way down to land in one of a number of basins, and you score points according to which basins your marble lands in. Well, this is a Javascript version of that game, with a nuclear war kind of spin. Yeah, exactly.

The George Best milk advert is supercool, and can be watched on the (surprisingly good) White Stuff website.

Hey, Ask Monkey at made me laugh. Those laughing apes also do a pretty fucked up comic strip, Sam the Action Man, which is, um, interesting.

You can Ask Yahoo! all kinds of things from What flavor is Dr Pepper? to Why are barns always painted red? and as they answer they teach you how to search on the web. Handy. But not that handy -- nowhere in their archives can I find Where can I find dirty pictures of naughty ladies? which is all www users are really interested in.

When* I get a disposable income, I want the shirt from [via kitschbitch]. Not only because the concept is cool, but because the clothes are cool, the site and navigation are cool, and they have shops in London. But the shirt's over €100.

Oh, and also I want a DVD player and an LCD projector. And a T3. And a troop of flying monkeys to do my personal bidding. Yeah. Then I wouldn't need a car. Or any regular non-airbourne monkeys.

I've seen eye candy from the underground linked from all over the place, but that's because it's brilliant. Being exposed to great ideas and great sites makes that elusive inspiration so much more likely. I've been finding designing (sites, print, whatever) difficult recently - for no reason I can think of - so I'm spending more time looking at colours, art, comics, design, wherever I can find it. It's frustrating to begin with, because I know I'm not good enough, but if I keep on trying it feels really good when something from my head works on the screen.

It never used to be this way.

Go to the Schwatown Midway and ride the Scary Elevator. I am, indeed, very scared.

Excellent. Thanks to the wonders to modern technology, I can now play Missile Commander on the web. I'm a little bemused as to how I used to play this without a mouse (I do remember the game being quite difficult).

ASCII art of the sunlit side of the Earth. 'Nuff said.

Play Mozart's Musikalisches Würfelspiel and make horrendous MIDIs from mashed together music. People have been misguidedly thinking this is a good idea since 1787. If you're feeling brave, generate a fractal then feed it back in to make a minuet.

They say you've got to start somewhere, and I'm starting on Monday at minimum wage. My redesign of the High Power Laser Group homepage is a work in progress, and should keep me in meths and peanuts for a week or two.