Wow, I think I can almost understand the Banach-Tarski Paradox, or, seeing as I’m being a part-time mathematician, I can more accurately understand the Banach-Tarski Paradox as it is set out in the linked article. Subtly different perhaps, but there’s an entire branch of science devoted to that kind of thing. The paradox isn’t, in that it’s quite easy to split up one sphere and rearrange the pieces into two spheres identical to the first – easy, that is, if you are talking about infinitely dense spheres. If you did that with two spheres of lead, you would end up with two spheres the same size, but each with half the density that you started with (and I’ll not go into the chemistry or energetics of said spheres), but if the density was infinite to start with, it’ll still be infinite when you divide it by two. The mathematical spheres are infinitely divisable, but it still results in the same kind of thing. Read the explanation of splitting N into odds and evens if you’re still struggling (and, at the same time, wonder what kind of a ‘Layman’ reads these kuro5hin articles!)
Well, it might well be a bank holiday today, but this Monday is indistinguishable from almost every other Monday I can remember – the treat of doing some work looms close. This lies in contrast to the previous two days, which have been much more cool than most weekends I can remember. Saturday morning saw me up and about at a ridiculously early time (for me, anyway), thanks in part to the continuation of the 24-watching marathon going on in the lounge, with the Rumble-Box of Doom. I then proceeded along to South Ken, to start a pub crawl that wound it’s way through Hammersmith along the riverside to Putney, got bogged down in Wandsworth (for a few pubs and a gorgeous barmaid), and then lots of mini-rugbyballness along the road to Clapham, with Ant, having failed to get intimate with aforementioned barmaid, deciding to get intimate with a lamp-post instead. After polishing of the ninth and final pint of the evening, I had the worst kebab I’ve ever had, and can’t really account for all of the one hour forty between time being called and catching the train (since the kebab shop was across the road from the pub, and crossing back leads to the station entrance). Rumbling down the train tracks led to Crawley, where I once again borrowed Burly’s sofa-bed.
Sunday started with another of Burly’s fry-ups, and then it was off to watch England vs The Barbarians at Twickenham, for free (sweet); the first time I’ve watched a proper rugby match, and a good one to see with 85 points between them and the Baa-baas coming out on top. The England try scored from the penalty bouncing off the posts (after being boo’d be the entire crowd for kicking a penalty awarded just four metres out) came second only to the three match officials all being Scottish – and all wearing Scotland tops while they were reffing. Hee Hee. After four pints in the second half, and another at a rather packed pub beside the station, it was off to Putney again, this time for a barbeque, some more beer, and another DramSoc-inspired gathering. We all really do appreciate ‘the other half’ (which to non-techies out there, has nothing to do with gender), what with them singing in the kitchen whilst we supped margaritas and played console games in the lounge. A good weekend – I wish there were more like it.
Although I realise that loads of people (well, some) read this website, I’m usually content with the fact that most of my visitors are robots, and most of the rest come from search engines. Yet it’s kind of spooky when I find that real people that I don’t know are reading my website and not just clicking back to their search results – Linda from Klamath Design (May 1st 2003 entry) appears to be the latest to have gone as far as mentioning it on her site. She might well learn something from reading this, but I’m not convinced that learning from me is good for your health!
In related news, ‘phlegm’, ‘strange people’, ‘road safety campaigns’, being ‘unloved’ and ‘London demographics’ are some of the top search phrases that have lead here. There’s still an awful lot of questions being asked about rainbows – the last I saw, someone was round here looking for a ‘database of rainbows’. Well, here’s a start – Nia told me there was one outside my flat (being in London) on Monday, but we both have to take Gary’s word on it, since we didn’t see it. I’ll let everyone know the next bona fide rainbow I see, but someone else can make the database…
Continuing in my quest of trying to ruin my degree at the last possible stages (thereby maximising wasted time and effort), I’ve been playing around with my website. You may have noticed one or two minor changes, but these will have been overshadowed somewhat by the complete redesign that happened at the same time. You win some, you lose some. I would go into a ramble about the improvements I have made, but I’ve had a different idea. Instead, I’m going to openly invite criticism and complaints (and maybe even comments, good or bad) about the new style – and if you don’t have a website to air your views, then email me and I’ll put them here. Now there’s an offer you can easily refuse.
I’m going to leave off the rest of the things I have planned for here (including putting some of this site under a liberal license of some sort), since I really should be doing my project. Hopefully I’ve done enough of the changes that I had planned that my need to fiddle has been satisfied.
"…And there will be some patchy rain across the country today, with widespread showers expected. But the very nature of showers means that there will be some dry patches in between, although don’t expect these to last very long…" or, How To Talk About The Weather When There’s Nothing To Say. Brought to you with help from the BBC.
When I got back from the laundrette this afternoon, I found that I had gained a sock at somepoint – I now own one holey, diamond patterned dark-blue sports sock. That’s me one up on Adam then. Hehe.
Well, last week had a fair amount of work for the usual suspects, with a few interesting anecdotes. Security can be remarkably ignorant sometimes, as Andy T and I found to our amusement. Unfortunately, they can also stare in the right direction occaisionally; into space perhaps, but that’s all that was needed to curtail one expedition. But as time goes on, I find more and more places "just like that bit in Half-life where…"
This weekend and today I have been mainly swearing, thinking too hard and pulling my hair out. Here’s a tip for you all – if you ever find yourself faced with an undocumented, unreliable (both in missing or optional data blocks, and fluctuating data labels), ‘Human Friendly’ file format, which is merely stdout printfs of a program redirected into a text file (and so barely even qualifies as a file format), and are asked to parse it using C (oh, go on, with the help of glib 1.0, but nothing else), then run a mile. Did I forget to mention that these files can be easily 1,405,182 lines long (no, that’s not a random number, meet my bayer_dz_md file), and that your text viewer of choice (remember, you need to work out the file format as you go along, so a text viewer and multiple examples are a necessity) has to cope with 50MB files without barfing? Fun stuff, I assure you. Actually, if you’ve any sense, you’ll make sure that I don’t get a chance to assure you. ("Don’t mention the project – I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it!")
I’ve figured out why my weblog has been going downhill of late. With my new chilled out attitude (and a few changes of scenery, figuratively speaking) I no longer want to rant about things as much. So I don’t write things on my weblog so often. When I do get round to writing things, I’m probably quite bored. And that means I’ve usually been doing something boring just beforehand, and that’s why I’ve been warbling on about html and css incessantly recently. Not because it’s interesting, but if my day has got boring enough that I think about such stuff, then it’s probably boring enough that I’ll spout about it too.
So in an attempt to redress the balance, I’m going to write about more interesting things I’ve done recently. More interesting for me anyway, YMMV. (Oh, OK, one little html ramble – I’m not pandering to IE‘s shortcomings any more – I know the difference between an abbreviation and an acronym, and I’m sticking to my principles on this one.)
Did anyone watch Bremner, Bird and Fortune last night? Now that was some scary stuff. I have this horrible feeling that it’s all completely true. It’s really entertaining to watch, but last night’s episode wasn’t really funny; I just had my jaw hanging for most of it, and kept muttering ‘no way!’ throughout. Shock and disbelief would accurately describe it – if you didn’t watch it then you missed out, but I don’t know if you can see it online or get the transcripts from anywhere. And I’m not going to abuse it by trying to summarise it here.
Most of what I did yesterday was walking back from Roehampton through Richmond park, Barnes and along the Thames. Which was really, really cool (especially all the little public footpaths through Barnes), and well worth the sore legs by the end of it. I’ve got a few other walks lined up, but they’re on hold at the moment, until I get some more of my project done (and subject to it not being quite as miserable weather as it is today).
And now, before I start talking about the new versions of xine I’ve been fiddling with, the way that I quote things like a hacker (apparently), my opinons on the linux file hierarchy, or anything else, I’m going to stop.
Well, that’s my exams over. Woohoo! That means a few things – firstly, my head hurts (really badly), and also that I’m back to writing weblog entries. Oh joy, oh rapture, I hear you cry.
Sam continues to make progress in perfecting his weblog, but there’s still some issues I have with the new fireburst layout, validatable as it may be. Now here I walk with my eyes wide open into pot / kettle territory, since I’ve made most of these mistakes too. I just haven’t got round to fixing them yet, if indeed they ever do get fixed. Firstly, headers – he doesn’t use any h tags, just other elements (predominantly div and spans) styled to look like headers. That’s bad, mmkay? Secondly, there’s the links – there’s a menu down the side, with a list of links. A list that is. LIST. See where I’m going? Any element which has one and only one child element is probably redundant, and is certainly redundant if the child element is the same as the parent – so no <div> <div> content </div> </div> please. And for a page with some links and one bit of content, nesting divs four deep is bad karma; there are only three (or so) sections to the page, never mind trying to justify four levels of hierarchy. Line breaks (br tags) can only be justified where the end of a line has a meaning – for songs and computer code – anything else is just whitespace and should be taken care of using margins and padding. Inline styling is bad (I’ve spotted one) and external stylesheets are better than style sections – that allows webservers to return ’304 not modified’ to a big chunk of data, and thereby speeds your site up. UTF-8 has better karma than ascii (just trust me here). The acronyms need marking as such, and some method of skipping over the menu would be good – you don’t want a voice reader reading all your links out every time (or put the menu after the main content, and style it into place…). Widths in em units allows the content boxes to change in size when the user changes their font settings – if I crank my font size up, the menu links are cropped.
But the best of the lot, is the alternative text for the accessibility icon. If I read the page in lynx (like Sam suggested), I’m not supposed to feel that I’m missing out on not seeing the pictures. So if the alternative text mentions a picture, then it’s a bad alternative text. Doing so on the accessibility icon is just beautiful!
I’m not trying to be overly critical of Sam’s code (well, perhaps I am), since it’s pretty darned good already. Validating pages is all I really ask for – stylesheet layouts, semantically ‘correct’ markup, and accessibility issues are worthy goals, but I don’t mind when people choose not to go that far.
For anyone who’s tried doing funky stuff with stylesheets, have a look at the CSS2 Selectors, drool for a while, then the CSS3 Selectors, drool some more, and then realise some of the very cool things you could do (like styling internal and external links differently – even without using icons to do so). Finished drooling? I said could do for a reason – it’s only Mozilla that supports half of those – Internet Explorer doesn’t even do CSS2 yet, and it’s been a full W3C standard since 12 May 1998. Which is very, very, very irritating. I’ve (almost) finished a complete degree in less time than that.