In less than two months

In less than two months it will be

20 centuries
16 years
12 months
8 days
4 hours and
0 minutes

since the nominal start of our time system.

(If you are that way inclined, four seconds earlier you could write the time as
2016/12/08 04:00:-4

1815/12/09 06:03:00 is a better arithmetic progression date;
A quick search fails to find any memorable happenings that day, although Lady Ada Lovelace (Byron's daughter and the first computer programmer) was born the following day.

This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.

Electoral (il)logic

In May, Muirfield Golf Club voted 64% - 36% to allow women as members.
Apparently this is not enough to change the rules, so a second vote is being held
So nearly two-thirds want something to happen but it can't.

Last week the UK voted 51.9% - 48.1% to leave the UK, but it seems that although a very close result, that is definitive enough that we are committed to head in a novel direction, with substantial consequences for a significant part of the world's population, but without a plan or anyone prepared to actually lead us there.

The Brexit referendum was "advisory" - why can't the government do what it usually does with advice: ignore it and do what it wants anyway ?

This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.

You can now text my home landline

We have a new telephone answering machine with DECT handsets.
Not only do the handsets have screens (the old ones did too) but you can send and receive text (SMS) messages.

We did have to register for the service, but it is a great improvement on the voice-mails we had been getting each time someone texted us.

Extra points to someone since this appears to use a BT service and we are on Virgin :-)

This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.

Nice to see some cooperation between manufacturers

We have a Sony Blu-Ray player and a new Samsung telly.
By pressing the correct key combination on the Blu-Ray remote we have got it to control the telly sufficiently that we don't need the TV remote when we watch a disk.

This also worked with our previous, Panasonic, telly.
According to the manual the Blu-Ray remote can be configured to control nine brands of television.

It is nice to see that at least one manufacturer has put user convenience above forcing us to have the same brand of telly and disk player.

This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.

The size and shape of your screen influences the style of your code.

I've been developing some code for a new (to me) open source project (GDAL).
One of the requirements of the developer guidelines is
Try to keep lines to 79 characters or less.


That is an old idea; 80 column teletypes (glass and paper) go back a long way
(though my first experiences of computing, forty years ago, were 132-column
printouts and IIRC 13-column punched cards, perhaps show the demand for wider
lines even then) and Knuth is said to have recommended 72 column text,
as that was about as much as an eye could see at once.

Programmers like to have as much code visible as possible; I've heard monitors
with a large (c1200) vertical resolution described as "programmers' monitors",
and such monitors were highly prized in the software house I once worked.

My attempts at learning Python were blocked for several years because although
I knew that indentation and line breaks were part of the syntax, I hadn't heard
of the rules that allowed a code statement to continue onto the next line.
Thus I was unable to write anything that required a statement wider than a
comfortable editor window. With meaningful variable and function names that
became a significant limit on an 80 column screen.

I had been developing much of my the GDAL code on a wide-screen laptop with more
than enough room for two 80 column windows side by side but not a lot of height,
so when I discovered this rule I went back and found that my code had got much
wider. The sample code I was working from was also heavily commented;
so much so that on an 80x24 window (the default terminal size on many systems)
a single idea could not always be coded on a single page. By making my screen
wider I had got my ideas to fit the page, but the 79 character rule meant
rewriting much of it and it became to long for comfort on the wide-screen laptop
with its restricted vertical resolution (once I would have fixed that by making
the characters smaller, but my eyesight is no longer sharp enough for that).

This post has a hard line break at least every 80 characters.

This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.

(no subject)

The elders of the Maasai are calling for our help:

The Tanzanian government is about to evict the tribe from their traditional lands so that rich men can hunt lions and leopards.

I accept that lion hunting and the money it brings can, under some circumstances, be good for the local people, wildlife conservation and even the population of lions or leopards. However evicting the local people cannot help any of those causes.

Please consider signing the petition at

This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
  • Current Mood
    annoyed annoyed


I'm pleased to hear that the UN General Assembly is expected to vote this afternoon to recognize Palestine as a nation

This is not as good as the UN granting Palestine membership (which the UN Security Council failed to do last year) but it is a step in the right direction.

This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.