Yes, it's a pointless end of year list! In no particular order.
Much of this stuff is by no means new in 2008, but it's all new to me in 2008.
Old news to most by now but the popularity of combining this vanilla-flavoured rum with coke and ice has yet to wane.
Imported via a visit to Helsinki earlier in the year, Fisherman's Friend Vodka (both its name, and its recipe) took the world* by storm, and continues to delight.
Helsinki Travel Theodolites
Jim Beam's, Disaronno, Coke, Ice and a slice of lime.
David Thomas Broughton versus 7 Hertz
"Can't afford a pasty from Gregg's bakery". Still loving this album. His singing voice is an acquired taste, but I acquired it. I also admire anyone who doesn't let their equipment blowing up stop them putting the song onto the CD.
Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Dig Lazarus Dig
Reminded me that I do actually really like Nick Cave.
Cut Copy - In Colours
Uncomplicated but enjoyable electro. A New Order I like.
Primal Scream - Swastika Eyes (live)
Entire audience hated it, but it was the only good bit in the whole gig. Still think they're crap.
Trentemoller @ The Big Chill
I knew he'd be astonishing, because all his productions, and all his remixes, are astonishing. He was.
Leonard Cohen @ The Big Chill
The world is thanking his bent accountant for this tour.
There Will Be Blood
It's not exactly a stretch for me to like a Paul Anderson film, but still...
To my shame, I saw the film before the book, but I thought both were brilliant. Yes, even Keira Knightley.
No Country For Old Men
I was expecting to be bored crapless by this but was mesmerised instead.
The Shield Season 7
This final season knocked this back up to seriously rival The Wire for best thing ever. The entire season exulted in reminding you that Vic Mackey was a truly horrible person.
Sons Of Anarchy
A drama about gun-running Californian bikers sounds dumb, but this was brilliantly done. For some reason I kept being reminded of Cher though - that is never good.
Very, very, good restaurant 2 minutes from my flat == yay.
Very good value, with excellent battered scallops, in Chinatown (if you can call a single square a town (which you can't, Manchester - sorry)).
The Deaf Institute
Well done for opening, Trof 3!
Sam Smith's Organic Ale
I drank way too much of this.
Allgates Shining Light
And nowhere near enough of this.
Yes, it's a pointless end of year list! In no particular order.
They're using the phrase "a sense of" even more than they used to. They refer to "the sense of jubilation" in the Democrat camp, or "a sense of taking stock" amongst Republicans. Practically every other sentence uses this moronic phrase. There's a real sense of lazy journalism at the BBC.
On the "moronic phrase" note: "Yes We Can" is just about the stupidest campaign slogan ever.
Also, the election coverage on the BBC was surprisingly biased. Way too many left-leaning talking heads, very
little positive coverage of the McCain campaign. It wasn't Fox News, of course, but it was bad: I expected better from the BBC. It was almost worth it to see John Bolton nearly explode with anger though.
"People don't like being preached at."!!!
"But in a twist which will have Christians in gales of laughter, the advertising campaign...is to be stuck on bendy-buses."May I suggest first that said Christians perhaps need to get out more, and second that "gales of laughter" doesn't seem like a very Christian response?
"fellow humanists, not known for their generosity, wouldn't stump up the cash."Aren't you guys looking a little silly now?
I had this problem recently: I was generating automatic VNC passwords via /dev/urandom, and needed to obfuscate them. Stupidly, vncpasswd is only interactive, and I wasn't in any kind of mood for hacking up the sources. A co-worker kindly pointed me to the solution:
printf "%s\n%s\n" "$PASSWD" "$PASSWD" | vncpasswd /tmp/vncpasswd
In my head, the use of getpass() means this couldn't work, but it does. It doesn't appear to be on Google, so I thought I'd mention it. Of course, as all know, the obfuscation done by vncpasswd is entirely pointless, but Xvnc at least will only take such "encrypted" password files.
Since I can't vote, I may as well trivialise the election by laughing at McCain say things like "Obama's supporters are saying some pretty nasty things about Western Pennsylvania lately. And you know, I couldn't agree with them more. I couldn't disagree with you. I couldn't agree with you more..."
Doddery old fool.
I've never paid anything like this kind of attention to US politics before, and I'm most certainly not alone. Everyone here in the UK is talking about it. It's not just the hatred engendered across the world as a result of the Bush years that's causing this though. I think it's mostly a combination of the huge gulf between the presidential candidates this time around, plus the pantomime nature of the Palin-McCain campaign.
Last time the UK faced a choice as stark as the US faces, I was a toddler, and not quite precocious enough to have an opinion. I'm sure I don't need to mention that everyone in the UK are Obama supporters - we've decided already to vote for Obama come November, and technicalities be damned.
Watching the debates and news clips of the candidates has been completely unreal, from both sides. It's bizarre seeing Obama talking about "crushing" and "killing" terrorists as if it's perfectly normal liberal terminology. Over here that kind of language belongs to the far right. Compare it with Blair (who need I remind you is rather hawkish): "There is no meeting of minds, no point of understanding with such terror. Just a choice: Defeat it or be defeated by it. And defeat it we must."
It's also been entertaining watching Palin stumble along in her attempt to pretend she has any idea what's going on. "First Dude" is an amusing phrase, but it's still amazing she actually uses it herself. Her "expertise" on energy appears to amount to saying "drill baby drill" a lot. Somehow her ridiculous attempt to debate via the language of winking is considered a success. Whuh?
God knows the level of debate in UK politics is woeful, but you'd never get anything like this kind of pantomime. You'd never get ridiculous smears like the Ayers thing, Brown's wife's speech or not.
The UK did elect a London mayor entirely on the basis of his hair, though. Maybe that's the real problem with the US election at the moment: it really can't be decided easily on haircut.
What the hell are they thinking? These awful popups have actually genuinely achieved
a new low: even pop-unders and nefarious crap like that have an obvious way to dismiss the advert.
Apparently it's also OK to just plaster them all over the content so you can't even see it.
You go to the arrow at the bottom right and click "Turn Off Annotations". These are Annotations
in the "Ministry Of Love" sense. Oh, you have to do that for every video by the way. Unlike the
volume control, which of course persists across all videos.
Obviously, YouTube want you to hate them.
I can't quite get over how arrogant his talk was. If you're not sending in kernel patches, that means you're bad and all your developers should get jobs elsewhere, apparently. Things like HAL aren't "Linux plumbing", and if you contribute to that, or GNOME in general, tough luck, since other operating systems can use it. GCC, binutils, and X.org are OK though, because, well ... just because.
As I just noticed on the TV advert:
Universal Pictures will release a special sing-along edition of the hit movie musical Mamma Mia! in selected theaters nationwideI've thought of a worse thing than this though: a "wit-a-long" version of Sex And The City.
Dave Stewart's American Prayer makes we wish I was a Republican. And I don't even live in the US.
Whittaker: stop it. George from Seinfeld: stop it. Stewart: I told you a long time ago.
This is almost as bad as Roger Taylor's Nazis (at the very least, read the lyrics, if you haven't - awesome).
 a little bit
Things I never expected to read in a prominent Intelligent Design blog:
So there you have it. If you're a Christian you'd better not be an ID proponent, and vice versa. Or, of course,
Sorry if I’m offending anyone but these people disgust me. They’re all like “I believe in rational inquiry, science, and bearded thunderers who live in the sky and worry about my immortal soul”. Please. Choose one or the other but not both.
ID has nothing to do with rational enquiry. I'm not sure they really realised they were saying that.
In March of this year, a customer wrote, "I have attached a Word document that describes the problem." (Hey, here's an idea: Why not describe the problem in your email message?)
The Word document contained a screenshot.
The screenshot was of an email message.
The email message contained a screenshot.
Bonus remark from the customer liaison: "Once you open the document, you may need to zoom it further to read it."
For those wondering how on earth to access an underlying real device when PulseAudio is enabled (yes, both alsamixer and pavucontrol only show one mixer control - brilliant!), you can do this:
alsamixer -c 0
Of course, this behaviour isn't documented anywhere. I don't know how people are supposed to discover this.
What are people's approaches to writing Python correctly? The library documentation basically doesn't document the set of exceptions the routines can throw, which makes it very difficult to catch the right things, and do the right thing (for example). What do people do to deal with this problem?
 on that note, if you're writing a command line tool in Python, please catch KeyboardInterrupt and exit quietly. Drives me crazy!
It's somewhat disappoint that Mercurial is still corrupting repositories when you interrupt MQ operations.
Relatively easily recoverable for me this time, thankfully. I'd still like to see hg backup from the OpenSolaris SCM project get merged upstream though :)
After some searching and asking around I didn't find any good explanation of the simplest way to implement plugins in Python. So, for posterity's sake, here's my solution. I'm sure there's a better way: I'd love to hear your suggestions.
First, the requirements. The code cannot have knowledge of how the plugins are named (.so files, .py, package dirs, etc.). I don't want to hard-code the list of plugins, as this defeats its dynamic nature altogether. I have to be able to iterate across all plugins. Any user should be able to use the module without knowing that it's got plugins. Finally, it's got to be as simple as possible.
First up, we have whatever/__init__.py:
plugin_path = [os.path.join(__path__, "plugins/")]
for loader, name, ispkg in pkgutil.iter_modules(plugin_path):
file, pathname, desc = imp.find_module(name, plugin_path)
imp.load_module(name, file, pathname, desc)
This basically uses Python's module search to find all contents of the plugins sub-directory and load them. Now we have some more scaffolding in the same directory, as whatever/whatever.py:
plugins = 
"""Abstract plugin base class."""
plugins += [ plugin ]
# utility functions to iterate across and use plugins...
Finally, each plugin looks something like this, in plugins/foo.py:
from whatever/whatever import *
"""Concrete class for foo plugin."""
Simple enough, but it took a while to work it out. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem possible to merge whatever.py into __init__.py as we have a recursive import problem.
Reading through this bug is seriously depressing to read (until Michael Matz steps in).
It was always complete madness to strip symbols from shipping binaries; it was always
madness to disable the frame pointer too. (The debuginfo trick is an excellent solution
to the problems of source-level debugging, by the way, it's just taken way, way, too far).
This is why you have to install a 1Gb debuginfo RPM in order to run OProfile on the kernel. Crazy.
It's a good read if you like to see certain people behaving like asshats to their fellow community
Is CHRISTIAN electronic music the new underground?
"It used to be that all of the good new music was in the rave scene and then would trickle out into the internet and store shelves. Now when I look for traditional electronic music anywhere, I find that the music seems generally boring or has too much of a political or sinful feel."
I hate that traditional electronic boring, political, or sinful music too.
I'm getting more than a little bit tired of Nintendo playing its bloody games. Yes,
we get it Nintendo, your stuff is popular. Now, please make enough copies of
Mario Kart and Wii Fit to sell them. It's not even Christmas.
Mario Kart isn't even in shop charts. I've been past several shops selling Wii
stuff recently (Game, supermarkets, etc.) and most of them don't even have any
*mention* of Mario Kart. This is insane.
This finally annoyed me enough to find a solution.
If I set a title on a gnome-terminal tab, then it gets forgotten next time I log in. Aside from the GNOME default to not save your session (whuh?), the problem is this: on Fedora, /etc/bashrc forces PROMPT_COMMAND to set the xterm title.
This wouldn't really be a problem, if I could disable setting of dynamic titles in gnome-terminal preferences. However, gnome-terminal thinks that a manually-set (Terminal->Set Title) title is somehow "dynamic", so if you do that, you can never set the title to anything else.
Seeing as I use the tab titles to work what machine I'm on, that's quite annoying.
The "solution" was to just edit /etc/bashrc so it doesn't force a PROMPT_COMMAND I don't want.
Another request for sanity please. If I'm running a Linux distribution less than 6 months old, it should be feasible to install your software without installing random -svn versions of your dependencies.
If it's not, I'm not going to bother trying out your software. That means I definitely won't be fixing any of your bugs, and I'm pretty sure I'm not alone. That means you lose out.
Yes, this means you, Review Board. Is it really so essential that you use a version of Django that isn't released anywhere?
Google have released rietveld, inspired by their internal code-review tool. The video
about Mondrian made it look pretty (i.e. incredibly) useful for code review. The released
version already looks pretty nifty. webrev works great for my day job, but it would be
awfully nice to be able to store comments too. I'd love to see rietveld get adopted, though
there's some tweaks I'd like to see...
zaitcev: I know you're not entirely serious, but I don't know why Ted's post has put the dampers on anything. Fact is, it's still open source, you can still fix things, and you can still get them into the main codebase. Or fork. Even better, you've been through SMI code review, so you'd be super familiar :)
Ted's post is wrong in many ways of course. It didn't take 3 years to get a distributed SCM for the sources out there. I don't believe for an instant he's stupid enough to think that getting external committers set up is as simple as "setting up a Mercurial server" (I can assume you remember Teamware). The low rate of contributions is not primarily a result of the cumbersome request sponsor process.
You can't call something astroturfing when it's actually doing useful work, just because that rate is fairly low. Especially when you look at how DTrace and ZFS have been ported everywhere (except Linux).
(Update: I would have preferred to reply as a comment, but you have anonymous comments disabled, and LiveJournal is still broken when it comes to openid. I didn't use my work blog as that's for content not chit-chat.)
Via davej: "There are no managers at Centaur. Instead, employees report to Centaur founder and President, Glenn Henry".
There are 85 employees there according to Google. It sounds like living hell to me. Maybe all of those people are both really competent and really nice, but I find it a bit difficult to believe.
etbe: I'm confused by your comments in that opinion article - were you misquoted? How did "advised by your lawyer not to look at code" become "OpenSolaris isn't FOSS" ? BTW, whenever you ask a lawyer a can-I question, they'll always tell you no :) I'm presuming you're not willing to share the details of this legal opinion.
OK, maybe scum is a little over the top, but I really do hate how lazy advertisers are.
Current bone of contention being this advert:
Now, whilst I don't think the Mighty Boosh crimping thing is at all funny, it's still really annoying they would blatantly rip it off like this. Just as bad is the Berocca ad. Their player doesn't seem to work, but it totally rips off the infamous OK Go video:
(I was also going to moan about the Crusha advert, but turns out Joel actually did that one, so fair enough.)
Probably the best short programme there is: Dear Television. I love the natural eccentricity of
the type of person who would not only write to the BBC about some minor thing about a TV
programme, but choose as their bone of contention the parking practices of fictional police drivers.
Annoyingly it's not on iPlayer, or even anywhere else. Bah.
For some reason only just now getting around to listening to Fujiya & Miyagi album, though I've got a couple of their 10"s. They're on Tirk, which obviously means they're great by default. If you like LCD Soundsystem or !!!, or whatever, and that, go get the album. I liked it so much I bought it twice. Admittedly by accident, but still.
I've moved my blog to blogspot.com, so I can add pictures and the like without having to bugger about too much as I did on Advogato.
Just back from the US. Somehow I spent 3 weeks there last time without noticing my hotel was practically next to Rasputin Music. Anyway, I finally did this time on Saturday morning and thankfully had time to do some shopping. At the exchange rate, the 2-disc 12" of Underworld's Jumbo was a particularly good buy, though I was most excited over this:
That's the 12" of Trash. Yes, I went all the way to the US to get a record by a local Manchester band. I missed it first time around, and they're all bought up over here, so I think that's why I didn't own it yet. But it's a great tune.