All posts made the week commencing Sunday 11 Feb., 2001:

Extremely handy cvs faq. If you've never used cvs before, it's a way of storing code/documents so it's automatically versioned, archived, and you can have different development branches (cvs homepage). I can sum this up in two pieces of advice:

  1. Once you start using cvs you'll never want to go back.
  2. Fucking branches. Fucking merging. Files in the Attic? Wtf? Trunkshafted. Arg!

Fellow cvs victims will sympathise.

It's James' Upsideclown today. His life hasn't been going too well...

I stood watching the green-grey waves collapse and run up the shore, hoping that one of them could be bothered to run far enough towards me to make my feet wet and cold. But the tide was going out, so that was getting less likely by the minute. Just like the rest of my life; what was once so full of promise, was now looking utterly hopeless. Young, fresh, just out of a reputable university course and yet it had proven impossible to find work. I was faced with a mountain of debt, had no way of clearing it, and could not see any way out of the problem. I was totally alone in the world, and saw no hope, except for disappearing Reginald Perrin-like into the infinite distance.

James reveals all in Confessions Of An English Sand-Eater.

Because there is no-one like Chris Morris, because everyone who tries to be like him makes just a pale shadow, and because the man himself has spiked both London and new meeja Best Bar [None], London bar reviews: this is why I am happy. [Thanks Flat James.]

So I finished university back in June and wow when I finished it I was sick of it, sick to the back teeth of learning stuff I didn't care about anymore, didn't have to time understand fully anymore, and all that shit. Soo much shit. And now it's, what, eight months later and I find myself really wanting to learn more, really needing to have stuff crammed into my mind. That challenge that comes not from saying "yeah, I can do this", but from saying "I can't believe you gave me this to do, but fuck you I'm going to do it and do it well. Then you'll see". (Which of course is exactly what they want at Oxford, but we'll leave that to the side.) And I miss this. I'm moving along in my own way, learning techniques and languages and new skills, etc, etc, but still there's been something missing.

I don't know. Maybe I have this need to combat something that is fundamentally out of my control.

You would have thought that without this battle I don't even really want taking up my time I'd have loads of creativity to go round, but it ain't so. Without this driving force making me up my level I drop down and don't create anything. And besides, I do want these difficulties. It's like:

It's like this. When was the last time you fell down and cut your knee, really cut it? Not hospital cut, but so it really stings, and there's blood and all the rest? It was probably about ten years ago for me. But when it happens it feels great because it's so different, so new. It sharpens your sense of reality, makes you live in the moment. That's all too rare - what else can do it? - but you'd never go hurling yourself at the ground, deliberately. It's like that. (I have a similar relationship with climbing, on the occassional times I do it: Half way up the wall I hate myself for putting me there, but there's nothing I can do and it becomes a great battle. And it feels good.)

In this vein... Work has suddenly become really busy. Over the next few weeks I'm going to feel stressed, annoyed, rushed. Undoubtedly there will be late nights. And although I feel a little hard done by, there's this feeling of trepidation similar to that I felt before those final exams, and I'm sure I'll love it. I'll be living in the moment. And the more I do this, the more creative I feel. The more I want to do.

So: If I were to rewrite Dirk, what should I include to make it something as groundbreaking and interesting as it really should be? Blue-sky ideas extremely welcome, please let me know.

(Of course, really good music is helping considerably with this conquer-the-world mood.)

And while I'm on a personal post, cos they don't come too often, it's my birthday on this Sunday (the 18th). And it's the first anniversary of this weblog on the 19th. Just so you know, just so you know.

Just a tip, that's pretty commendable crotch hygiene. Give anonymous advice, fair or foul [thanks Flat James].

Just a brilliant concept, and great implementation. WhoWhatWhen does "Interactive Historical Timelines" from 1000AD to the present. For example, you can look up a person and see their lifetime on the graphic timeline. Overlaying that you can choose to display wars, inventions, lifetimes of famous politicians, and so on. Hovering over a bar on the timeline brings up more information, and clicking jumps into the search engine of your choice [via Bud].

Good article at about associated meanings and the idea of the 'North': The_Blank_Space. I find it very interesting how often we're guided by second and third degree idea associations.

You know I don't think the patent WO0029980 should be valid, because the first four claims are for things I've been doing with Dirk for about two years.

The patent is owned by Lazy Software for their associative model of data concept. I've got no complaints with the applications they build on this idea, but what if someone had patented relational databases and not let them go? It's a too low-level and too obvious a technique.

Interconnectedness: So I reckon I own prior art. What should I do?

Soo funny Eminem 'Stan' Slashdot post [via Blue Ruin].

And speaking of which, the sample Eminem used in that is from 'Thank You' by Dido, track 6 of No Angel which I've been listening to today. Remarkable (if you're into female vocalists with a semi Celtic/country feel, which apparently I am).

Hooray for Google! I can't think of a better company to look after those Usenet archives, and I can't think of a group of people more likely to get some startling things out of all that data. Try the Google Groups Beta -- just type in your favourite Usenet group and wonder at the Google interface. Cool.

God this is absolutely brilliant. Warning: There's a lot of nudity involved, and what's more it's Flash. But it's an exploration which involves you completely; interactivity, and time-based in areas too. Absolutely wonderful. The way things should be. The Center of the World [via Kiiroi]. Go. Now.

Jef Rackin's Down With GUIs! from Wired 1.06. Extremely interesting, especially in the light of:

  • Raskin on 'Raskin on OS X', a response to an editorial that many people read as Raskin attacking Mac OS X (which he was, but they saw incorrect reasons).
  • Are Unix GUIs all wrong?: What would a mouseless gui look like? See also the Slashdot thread.
  • XMLterm, a Unix terminal window which runs through Mozilla and can render graphically (eg it understands the xml that xls - the xml replacement for ls - returns).

In Mac OS X the gui and the terminal provide completely different views of the system: hidden files and gui shortcuts enhance what is already a different interface. But what if when you cd'd to a directory with the terminal the gui reflected this in the background? What if the gui and the command-line were linked in an analagous way to the source/rendered-page views of Dreamweaver?

And beyond this, the way we store files is wrong. Why shouldn't documents just be stored in a central location, with no explicit 'Save' command. The primary interface would be search results that look like folders, eg Documents Modifieds Yesterday; Documents Containing The Word 'insurance'. The system would come with some of these predefined, and you could set your own primary keywords -- but how is the current system any better than this at all? (While I'm at it, we should have versioning, but that's a different story.)

Good paper, many growing points: Making a Semantic Web [via Scripting News]. Sets out some of the possibilities, and how to get there from today's technology.

It's Neil's Upsideclown up today:

Gordon turned out to be just what we expected, a management oaf who probably thinks that Dewy-decimal is a polygon. He wasn't even wearing a suit, not even a shirt, just this green sweater with a collar on it- some kind of sportswear, so far as I could tell. He can't be more than thirty.

There's something about Neil's writing that I just can't put my finger on which really appeals to me. There's something under that gentle tone which works on me without me knowing -- well, until it ends. Today's 'clown is the same. Recommended: Bibliofile.

This year I have mostly been completely addicted to Pocket Rogue -- a top-down dungeons and monsters game, not some kind of perversion.

See also: Roguelike News, and dmoz Roguelike category.