Basics : Home

4 May 2007

Long time, no post! I knew it would happen - I'm no blogger, so I can't sustain daily posts of little substance.

I've decided to turn the news section into a library of the sort of interesting but useless stuff that I know I'll end up mentioning in a conversation some day.

At least this way, when people doubt me, I can point them to a reference

16 August 2006

A bit of trivia: I got no results when searching Google, Yahoo and even MSN search, looking for "({)". I wonder if this is a syntax issue or whether no one has actually included ({) in an indexed page.

For the majority not in the know: ({) translates to the little hug icon in MSN messenger. (}) is a hug back.

10 August 2006

Attended a poker game last night - my first taste of Texas Hold'em. I had a great time playing and, once my chips were gone, just as much fun studying the remaining players.

Our host and winner of the night's pot, the amazing Tung ("never let him see the river!"), had earlier in the week asked the group, "What makes a good poker player?"

I thought about it at the time and then again after the match and this is what I came up with:

Practical Psychological Strategic
> Has confidence in his/her knowledge of the game.

> Can process information, weigh odds, and make quick decisions.

> Adapts strategies in response to new information.
> Does not allow his/her behaviour to be influenced by his/her previous hands.

> Has confidence in his/her decisions.
> Can 'read' people.

> Ensures others cannot read him/her.

> Can fake signs to fool people who are trying to read him/her.

25 June 2006

I can be such a smartass! I was just looking over some old emails when I found a program that I sent to a colleague:

open (INFILE, "< file.txt") || die "can't open file: $!";
while (<infile>) {chomp; s/[ \t]//g ; $items{lc($_)}++; }
close (INFILE) ; open (OUTFILE , "> out_file.txt") || die

"can't open out file: $!";foreach $item(sort keys %items)
{  print  OUTFILE   "$item\n"  ;   } close   (OUTFILE)  ;

#this occaisionally gets mangled
#by the content management system

No that's not a formatting issue - that's exactly how I layed out the code >:). Any Perl programmer worth his salt will be able to tell you what it does in under 30sec

10 May 2006

I've updated the Dynamically Filtering Dropdown Lists page to include a variation where the search box only appears when requested

17 April 2006

I've added a section devoted to breadcrumbs. There are currently four implementations in two languages (JavaScript and PHP). I intend to add Perl/CGI in the near future and eventually a Java implementation. If I'm feeling nice, one day I may even throw in an ASP version

12 April 2006

A bit of tweaking and the news now wraps around the site intro. Previously, it extended down the right hand side of the page in a thin strip.

Being the hoarder that I am, I was reluctant to start archiving the news bites so soon. At least now they don't look too ridiculous.

25 March 2006

You could almost set your watch by it. Every two years, there is a flurry of activity and I produce a new home page over the course of a week or two

This time round, my inspiration was mostly to do with the erosion of this site's rank in google searches for Justin Whitford.

Not content with the 1st result being one of my contributions to Evolt, I had to make sure that this site still ranked well. To do that I had to make it useful, relevant and current

What we now have is the more useful, relevant and easy to update web site

I've also designed the site with a few target audiences in mind. The basic site makes compromises, but if you enter an access code (ask me for one), the site content and navigation changes subtly

Family get their applications and more pictures; chat friends get more pictures; and prospective employers get more vocationally focussed information

Of course, if I log in, I get everything - plus the ability to update the content on this page.


22-04-2009 Some long, long words.

07-04-2009 Drug Erases Fearful Memories
Apparently, it helps disassociate the memory from the emotion, allowing the memory to be recommitted sans fear

16-12-2008 Sarcasm perhaps not the lowest form of wit
Researchers using sarcasm to help diagnose dementia.

21-11-08 Woman unable to recognize voices, unless it's Sean Connery
ahhh... now I can pretend to have a medical condition when I forget someone...

07-04-08 Rabbit mutilator jailed
I keep assuming everyone knows about this... apparently not. This one is pretty shocking too...

30-01-08 Rampant homosexuality and male prostitution in ancient china
That got your attention, didn't it? Two articles from a gay Asian web site that discuss what China was like before the prudes arrived.

07-12-07 Chili extract for pain relief?
Study showing that applying capsaicin (the spicy chemical in chili) to incisions during surgery, reduces post operative pain for at least 3 weeks.

03-11-07 Vet dispels goldfish 3-second memory myth
It's funny how rubbish, if repeated enough times, gets mistaken for fact...

27-10-07 Optimism has no effect on cancer survival
At least now we can stop blaming the victim.

17-08-07 More on copyright
Anaylst firm gets busted for distributing articles to employees.

13-08-07 Gabriel Estavao Monjane
There's been some news coverage lately of a new "world's tallest man". Some colleagues and I were discussing it when I mentioned that a previous holder of the title died from falling over because it was such a long way to fall. Understandably, one of my colleagues called bullsh!t. Never doubt me, people ;-)

05-06-07 Forgetting May be Part of the Remembering Process
Suppresing some memories enables the brain to better remember others.

19-06-07 Whatever doesn't kill you might make you stronger
Pretty much what I've been saying for years: moderate exposure to harmful things is actually good for you. A more balanced view can be found at Wikipedia

14-06-07 Plants 'recognize' their siblings
Apparently when plants from the same species are grown in a pot together, they grow more roots to compete - unless they're siblings

14-06-07 Altruism as good a food and sex?
Study finds that altruism lights up a primitive part of the brain. The same part that lights up for food and sex.

04-04-07 Spider bite better than that v-pill you get spammed about
The Brazilian Wandering Spider delivers more than just a painful bite and risk of death

04-04-07 A folder named con
Ever tried to create a folder called con on your windows machine? How about PRN, AUX, NUL, COM1, COM2, COM3, COM4, COM5, COM6, COM7, COM8, COM9, LPT1, LPT2, LPT3, LPT4, LPT5, LPT6, LPT7, LPT8, or LPT9?

04-04-07 Gene clue to longevity uncovered
I'm always mentioning a greyhound study that showed that, to a point, the less you feed them, the longer they live.

04-04-07 Kids that change gender at puberty
Guevedoche is an autosomal recessive genetic disorder which is characterized by a phenotypically female child (genotypically male) who at puberty will become anatomically male.

04-04-07 Flying Spaghetti Monster
Someone reminded me of this the other day (thanks Eric). Definitely worth a read

20-07-06 Doctor, your sponge is beeping
The idea of putting RFID tags on surgical instruments so the surgeon can wave a detector over the patient to make sure no tools have been sewn up inside. Does it really happen that often?!

12-07-06 Survey: Majority of Web Usere Are FBI Agents Posing as Teenage Girls
Couldn't resist posting this. Very funny.

20-06-06 Study dishes the dirt on hygiene's role in disease
The less hygienic your surroundings, the healthier your immune system. Not a new theory

09-07-06 Social Engineering, the USB Way
The weakest security link is usually the people.

18-05-06 The Absolute Minimum Every Software Developer Absolutely, Positively Must Know About Unicode and Character Sets (No Excuses!)
Required reading.

12-05-06 Considering Ajax, Part 1: Cut through the hype
One of those rare articles where I agree with almost everything said.

10-05-06: Calling All Designers: Learn to Write!
Basically saying that designers should be concerned with content because it's part of the user experience.

08-05-06: Hoodwinking the censors
Interview with the makers of Psiphon, an application that allows people to bypass a country's censorship of the Internet. I feel like such a minority, but I really think that western countries need to learn to mind their own business. There seems to be this arrogant assumption that the western way of life - with western culture, values and political systems - is the only right way to live and that we need to convert everyone else. Personally, I like the fact that there are lots of different cultures, values and ways of life out there. It pains me to watch the war on diversity pan out.

02-05-06: Coffee makes us say 'yes'
Apparently, the equivalent of two cups of coffee causes your brain to systematically process information, which makes you more susceptible to persuasion.

20-04-06: Tiny Reactor Boosts Biodiesel Production
This looks very promising: "This is all about producing energy in such a way that it liberates people". I like the quote but I wont be surprised if the technology ends up being prohibitively expensive for a decade.

13-04-06: Miaow to kitten-based authentication
Another take on the Turing test. When signing up for an account, instead of reading an obscured word to prove that you're not a computer, just indicate which three of these animals are kittens. Unfortunately, this suffers from the same problem as the obscured words: how does a blind person prove that they're not a computer?

12-04-06: West African owlseller contacts El Reg
The Register continues to exhibit some of the worlds most bizarre 419 scams. My all time favourite is still Amanda Clinton's

09-04-06: Devil rabbit terrorises village
Now this is real news ;-)

08-04-06: 'Star Wars Kid' cuts a deal with his tormentors
This is kinda sad, really. The video, if you've seen it, is pretty funny. But what you have to take into account is that this kid didn't choose to share an embarrassing moment with the world. The poor kid had to go to school and face daily ridicule.... and, yes, I'm aware of the irony of me saying that and posting a link to the video

06-04-06: AJAX: Is your application secure enough?
Two subjects near and dear to my heart: security and AJAX. The lesson is an old one: be sceptical.