DECEMBER 29--Until the Saddam Hussein execution video finds its way to YouTube, we can offer hanging fans these two World War II-era clips showing what happened back in the day to Uncle Sam's enemies. The demise of assorted Nazi spies and saboteurs was shot by War Department cameramen and provided to newsreel outlets for inclusion in filmed reports that preceded featured attractions at U.S. movie theaters. The first video (:38) shows the final moments of a Nazi civilian who was executed for killing "one of our boys," as the newsreel announcer notes. The second clip (1:02), which is silent, was filmed by the Army Signal Corps and begins with footage of a death warrant being read. It concludes with the condemned man being dumped into a waiting coffin. Click on the stills below to launch the respective video clips. (1 page)
Despite the flexibility of the English language, I do not believe that mere words are up to the task. I suspect that other languages suffer the same burden.
Our children will judge us on our action (and inaction).
I got a great Christmas present this year; an AirHogs Aero Ace. It's a tiny little toy radio-controlled aeroplane. See the review above for more detailed photos and information. It's a beautifully engineered little toy; none of the hard work involved in flying a "proper" RC plane, just chuck it in the air and start flying it. In a decent-sized room, you can even fly it indoors. It's also amazingly resilient to crashes, which is surprising as it is 90% polystyrene.
So I took it to the in-laws' house the other day, as they've got a big field at the back of their garden. Their house is one of those at the bottom of the picture, so I went out the back and started flying. As it gets higher, it gets harder to tell exactly which bit of land it is flying over; is it still in the field, or is it starting to edge over the abandoned railway track? It certainly seemed to be over the nearby trees, so time to turn it around and bring it back into the field... except however hard I try, it seems to be staying in the same place, occasionally drifting a bit further away, perhaps?
Being around 20g, it's quite easy for a light wind to carry the plane away, it seems. And even if it's perfectly calm at ground level, there could be some wind higher up.
Ah, hindsight :-)
I ended up going down into the disused railway line, climbing up the (extremely muddy) embankment into a field to the left (West) of the one shown, searching that field, then clambering over into the field at the top of the photo shown, until I found it a good 200-300 yards away from the initial launch point. The blue line shows the plane's flight-path; the muddy brown line shows my path.
If I'd have lost my Christmas present within days of getting it (and it being the best Christmas present for many years, at that), I would have been in big trouble. As it is, my shoes took the pain for me.
A joke that went too far; I tried to see what Web2.0ifying the site would look like, and it actually looks quite nice and clean.
For those who are easily bored of Christmas Cheer and Goodwill to All Men, there's a button (well, okay, it's a link) at the bottom-left of most pages (under the "Site Links" thing) offering "Style: Default / New".
Frustratingly, even having rebuilt the site recently, there are many different header files across the pages; 31 in total, serving 208 pages. The main difference is that some include the 3rd column, and others do not. This /urandom/ steals some headers from wishlist, which has some additional CSS, so the blue/grey theme is never far away. But, as I said, it's nothing more than a joke which went wrong.
Still, whaddaya reckon? Does it look:
One thing that CSS can't fix is the colouring of Google adverts. (Or should I phrase that the other way around - Google don't deal with CSS?)
I'm talking to the wrong audience anyway; this blog has a bit of CSS of its own. What's really relevant is pages like here and here; the pages of the tutorial that people actually hit.
Or maybe I should just skip a fad and wait for Web 3.0 ...
Just a quick note to point out a new article on transparent images with the GIMP.
Transparent GIFs (or PNGs) are really useful, but there doesn't seem to be much current information on the Web for GIMP users. For those of us who don't have half a lifetime to dedicate on learning the intricacies of GIMP (a powerful, but complex beast), this article should tell you how to quickly and easily add transparency to images using The GIMP.
From a quick look around, usegimp seems to be a decent one-pager. GUG is another, probably better, site.
Jeremy Allison (Samba co-lead), a Novel employee, has quit over the recent deal made with Microsoft. From his "goodbye" email, it seems that he has tried to fix things internally, and has had no success.
He originally wrote to "Management" saying:
I know you don't want to hear this, I know *nobody* wants to hear this but I'll not be able to live with this if I don't say it publicly at least once.
Whilst the Microsoft patent agreement is in place there is *nothing* we can do to fix community relations. And I really mean nothing.
We can pledge patents all we wish, we can talk to the press and "community leaders", we can do all the right things w.r.t. all our other interactions, but we will still be known as GPL violators and that's the end of it.
For people who will point out to me we don't "technically" violate the GPLv2 here's an argument I recently made on the mailing lists.
"Do you think that if we'd have found what we legally considered a clever way around the Microsoft EULA so we didn't have to pay for Microsoft licenses and had decided to ship, oh let's say, "Exchange Server" under this "legal hack" that Microsoft would be silent about it - or we should act aggr[i]eved when they change the EULA to stop us doing this?"
The Microsoft patent agreement has put us outside the community, and there is no positive aspect to that fact, and no way to make it so. Until the patent provision is revoked, we are pariahs.
But he had no satisfactory response, so he emailed internally, saying:
Unfortunately the time I am willing to wait for this agreement to be changed to remedy the GPL violation has passed, and so I must say goodbye.
Good on Jeremy for standing by his principles. What with Easel, Mono, RedCarpet, etc, there seems to be a whole crowd around the SuSE/Novell camp who don't care about licenses and principles, only about the end result.
It's just a shame that Ubuntu are threatening to go a similar way. Are there any good guys left, or are all the major Linux distro's now just out to get what they can from the goodwill of the community?
SkyOne tonight broadcast part 1 of 2, of their interpretation of Terry Pratchett's Hogfather (discworld) novel. The cast includes Nigel Planer, Tony Robinson and David Jason.
Like any good novellist, Pratchett likes to tell you the little details you needed to know all along. He's nice like that. Just a shame that he waits until the end of the book to let you in on it. SkyOne (or their advertisers) can't quite manage that level of uncertainty, so the plot is very linear. Still, it does seem quite faithful, and the opening credits note that it was "mucked about with by Terry Pratchett", so it presumably has the TP seal of approval.
A closing quote from the book (discussion between Susan and Death, where Death, of course, speaks without quotation marks, and in all capitals. Not equivalent to "internet shouting", natch):
'You're saying humans need ... fantasies to make life bearable.'
HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN.
'tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little -'
YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.
'So we can believe the big ones?'
YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.
'They're not the same at all!'
YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY.
Converting PayPal currency and withdrawing to your own bank account
PayPal allow vendors to sell in different currencies. I use this feature because I feel more comfortable knowing that £X.00 will be going from my account, than some idea that $Y.00 will be converted and taken from my account.
That is why the shell scripting tutorial on this site (http://steve-parker.org/sh/buy/) is available in roughly-equivalent currencies (£5 = $10 = €7). Of course, they're not identical, and if I have €7, £5 and $10 in my PayPal account, then I don't have the necessary (£6.00, I think) to withdraw any of it. By converting these 3 payments into GBP, I can withdraw them to my "real" bank account.
PayPal recently changed the way their website works this conversion. IMHO, they have made it less intuitive.
Say I've got USD I want to convert to GBP
Select USD, then click the CONVERT button at the bottom-right.
Enter USD Balance (conveniently shown for you)
Select your local currency from the drop-down list
Hit "Calculate" if you want to see what it will turn out as;
once done (or if you don't care), Hit "Continue"
Your funds are now in your local currency, ready to withdraw.
I don't consider myself a "proper" PayPal vendor; I just play with it for fun. However, I suspect that I'm not alone in wanting a big red button marked "Give me all my money, in my local currency".
In the meantime, there's this blog post; if Google finds it for you, then I hope it helps ....