August 16, 2012

A Flickr set from our first Olympic event: fencing  at ExCeL.  We went via Stratford, so we stopped off at the Westfield shopping centre on the way, to look at the view of the Park.

Original Article

A Flickr set from our first Olympic event: fencing at ExCeL. We went via Stratford, so we stopped off at the Westfield shopping centre on the way, to look at the view of the Park.

August 15, 2012
Olympics: some photos from the Park

Ring, ringIconicPassing the ringsVelodromeOrbitPriorities
CauldronRUN!What?RiversideTeamNight crowd
Visible from spaceWater polo and crayonsFalling water wordsParkland from belowGlorianaSurrounded by water
A very big screen in the cityIMG_7494Orbit and Stadium by nightBroadcast CentreWenlock by night

Olympics 1, a set on Flickr; click to see the whole set.

This is a Flickr set of some sights around the Olympic Park the first day we were there (which was just a Park visit; no events).

(I lied about [not posting photos](, by the way.)

July 24, 2012
Google is Buying Sparrow, but not Updating the Apps

Google buys Sparrow, current apps will not get any new features | The Verge.

This is annoying. The only thing that was stopping me from making Sparrow my default mail client on my iPhone was the fact that it doesn’t do rotation to landscape mode yet. Now it looks like it never will.

It’s rarely good in the long run when big software companies hoover up small ones, it seems to me.

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July 18, 2012
A British Court Bans a TV Broadcast

BBC lawyers consider formal appeal over court ban on riots drama | Media |

The most chilling thing about this is not so much banning the broadcast; there could conceivably be a legitimate reason for that, though it’s hard to imagine a good one. Rather it is this:

For legal reasons, the Guardian cannot name the judge who made the ruling, the court in which he is sitting or the case he is presiding over.

This meta-blocking smacks of the “superinjunctions” that we heard a lot about a few years back (but which strangely seem to have dropped out of sight recently).

July 2, 2012
Tip: using Pandoc to create truly standalone HTML files

If you’re using the excellent Pandoc to convert between different document formats, and you:

  • want your final output to be in HTML;
  • want the HTML to be styled with CSS;
  • and want the HTML document to be truly standalone;

then read on.

The most common approach with Pandoc is, I think, to write in Markdown, and then convert the output to RTF, PDF or HTML. There are all sorts of more advanced options too; but here we are only concerned with HTML.

The `pandoc` command has an option which allows you to style the resulting HTML with CSS. Example 3 in the User’s Guide shows how you do this, with the `-c` option. The example also uses the `-s` option, which means that we are creating a standalone HTML document, as distinct from a fragment that is to be embedded in another document. The full command is:

pandoc -s -S --toc -c pandoc.css -A footer.html README -o example3.html

If you inspect the generated HTML file after running this, you will see it contains a line like this:

That links to the CSS stylesheet, keeping the formatting information separate from the content. Very good practice if you’re publishing a document on the web.

But what about that “standalone” idea that you expressed with the `-s` option? What that does is make sure that the HTML is a complete document, beginning with a `DOCTYPE` tag, an “ tag, and so on. But if, for example, you have to email the document you just created, or upload it to your company’s document store, then things fall apart. When your reader opens it, they’ll see what you wrote, all right; but it won’t be styled the way you wanted it. Because that `pandoc.css` file with the styling is back on your machine, in the same directory as the original Markdown file.

What you really want is to use embedded CSS; you want the content of `pandoc.css` to be included along with the prose you wrote in your HTML file.

Luckily HTML supports that, and Pandoc provides a way to make it all happen: the `-H` option, or using its long form, `—include-in-header=FILE`

First you’ll have to make sure that your `pandoc.css` file1 starts and ends with HTML `

Then run the `pandoc` command like this:

pandoc -s -S --toc -H pandoc.css -A footer.html README -o example3.html

and you’re done. A fully standalone HTML document.

  1. It doesn’t have to be called that, by the way.

June 28, 2012
Bash - how to recursively find the latest modified file in a directory

Recursively finding the latest modified file in a directory.

From the mighty Stack Overflow, some useful tips on using `find` with dates.

June 28, 2012
Weekend Warblers

Hackney Weekend: the main stage

The Radio 1 Hackney Weekend festival was fabulously well organised, loads of fun, and passed off with only three arrests. ((I have it on the authority of a Hackney police officer.)) Booking the tickets a month or two ago had turned out to be easy (we sat with multiple browsers and phones as the SeeTickets site crumpled, but in fact it was no trouble at all after we left it for a while). Being local residents helped, as half the tickets were for Hackney households.

It was a free show, so there were restrictions; most notably that you could only book for one of the two days, and only two tickets per person. We were doing it for the kids; and the kids in this family (to say nothing of most of their friends) favoured the Sunday lineup; so that’s the one we went for.

[The lineup]( leaned heavily to the various dance subgenres: (modern) R&B, dubstep, and so on. Not forgetting hip-hop, of course; not only did Jay-Z headline the first night, he guested with Rihanna on the second.

Hackney Weekend: Jessie J on the main stage

For me the highlight of the day was Jessie J; though I was mildly disappointed that she censored herself in my favourite of her songs, ‘Do it Like a Dude’. ((Hint: “Dirty dirty dirty dirty dirty dirty sucker” doesn’t rhyme with “D’you think I can get hurt by you, you [puts finger on lips]”.))

Tinie Tempah was also good, though since I’ve subsequently been listening to Enter Shikari, I’m slightly disappointed to have missed them as they clashed with Tinie.

There was great secrecy and much speculation over who the “Special Guest” was to be. They managed to keep it hidden until the day, which, while impressive in its way, had me worried. I thought that, depending on who it was, there could be a disaster. In particular, if it had been Justin Bieber, as some kids were speculating, there would have been a vast, simultaneous, two-way flow, from and to the stage (my kids would have been running away from the stage; there are no Beliebers at Devilgate Towers).

Not long before the guest’s time I heard on good authority that it was going to be Beyoncé. Believable, as her hubbie was there, and she was said to be “in the house”. But I doubted it: isn’t she a bigger name than Rihanna? And anyway, I get the sense that she’d be too much of a diva to go on second on the bill.

Anyway, in the end it was Dizzee Rascal, which with hindsight made total sense, what with him being a local boy and all.

Hackney Weekend: colourful flags

As we wandered through the stages and the day, we heard snatches of Rihanna’s ‘We Found Love’ seven times (I started keeping count at the third) from various between-act DJs and stalls. So by the time it closed the night, I was thoroughly ready to hear it properly. And a damn fine ending it was, too (though the fireworks were a tad tame).

I was hugely impressed with the organisation of the thing. We got there nice and early, and there was hardly any queueing, despite the airport-style security. The staff were all lovely and friendly, and — get this — there was hardly ever a queue for the toilets!

I would strongly support any moves to make it a regular thing. Radio 1’s event moves around the country, so it couldn’t stay free, but I could easily see it working as a commercial festival in the future.

May 3, 2012
Voting Time Again

Time to hit the polling booths again. Doesn’t seem that long since the last one. But it’s a lot easier to decide this time. Brian Paddick’s a decent guy, but the Lib Dems have shown they can’t be trusted over the last two years.

Boris hasn’t been quite the disaster we feared four years ago, but he still cares more about the richer members of society than everyone else. Plus, he’s a Tory. But I repeat myself.

Ken seems kind of past his peak, but he’s still the one for the job. Though I might give Jenny Jones my first vote and Ken my second. I think that’s what I did last time, come to think o it.

For the Assembly it’s going to be Labour all the way. I’m not impressed with how they’re doing in opposition at Westminster: the Tories are down, but they don’t seem to be kicking. Kick harder, Milliband! But to run London? Obviously it’s got to be the (relatively) good guys.

What’s surprising and slightly scary is the number of extreme-right parties who have put candidates up. obviously there’s the BNP and UKIP: but who knew the National Front were still around? Then there’s ones with names like England First and Christians Against Marriage Equality. (Those names may not be exact, but I’m on the Tube at the time of writing, so I can’t check; but you get the gist.)

Anyway, that’s where we are today. Don’t forget to vote if you can, folks.

March 30, 2012
Weird Law-Enforcement Things

There were three slightly weird law-enforcement- or intelligence-related stories in the news today:

I heard the policeman’s wife on the radio. She spoke calmly about how getting the murderers off the streets was good for the community, and positively about the people who had bravely given evidence (at least one had to be given protection).

The odd, disturbing, and intelligence-community-related thing is that army intelligence had a tracker device in the car of one of the murderers, and at first they refused to reveal its details to the police undertaking the investigation. The police had to threaten to get a warrant. Then when they did provide the data, it turned out to have sections mysteriously missing. You have to sympathise with the PSNI here: they had both the Continuity IRA bampots and the army working against them.

So what, this GCHQ codebreaker on secondment locked himself inside a bag using magic? I’m surprised that they’re even considering that it might not be murder here; or at least that someone has covered something up. More importantly, there’s the fact that the DNA evidence got messed up by a typo. Surely there’s got to be a better way?

And then there’s this business about the corruption in the Met. Evidence allegedly deleted on the orders of crime gangs? That’s some scary stuff. I’m pretty sure that when the Serious Organised Crime Agency was set up, it was meant to be anti-organised crime.

No real connection between these, I just heard about them all today.

March 30, 2012
A Drop of the Hard Stuff

> …potential readers are still coming to the genre. Books aren’t the entry drug any more. Books are the hard stuff, the crystal meth of genre.

Ian McDonald speaks wisely.

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March 14, 2012
Paul Weller in “Good Album” Shock!

Who would have thought, this many years after The Jam, that Paul Weller could still make a decent album? Yet that’s exactly what he’s done. You can listen to it at The Quietus, an online music magazine.

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