Colin's Journal

Colin's Journal: A place for thoughts about politics, software, and daily life.

October 27th, 2002

Last night I went to a peculiar event called “The Night Of Dread”. Becky had been last year, and so asked if anyone would like to meet up for it, so I went along. It was fairly pleasant out given the time of year, we had an erratic breeze, but no rain and it was fairly warm. We went to Dufferin Grove Park where it is held as the last light of the evening began to die away.

As we got there we saw two small camp fires, and a larger bonfire surrounded by stakes driven into the ground. Each stake had a piece of card attached to it with a “dread” – for example there was “war”, “taxes”, among others. We sat around for a while on a bench next to one of the camp fires while people were busy milling around and organising things for when the parade got back to the park. The parade had set out prior to our arrival and was travelling around the local neighbour-hood.

When the parade entered the park we went to see it, and were met with a set of superb costumes, stilt walkers, and large puppets (twice the height of a person!). They formed a circle while drums where playing, and then danced around in the circle as they were called out. Each costume represented a dread, although there was no direct symbolism between the dread and the costume.

Once the dance was done we walked back with the puppets to the main bonfire, where a shaman character then picked up each stake in turn, and threw it on the fire. This was followed by a dance of the dead, with a group of people dressed all in white with faces hidden behind masks, dancing around to the music and with people that were watching.

After all this there was then a small parade around the circle of two whole pigs that had been roasted. These were then cut up, and soup was served from over the two smaller fires. I had a couple of cups of soup and one of the legs off the pig – there’s not much meat on pig leg!

October 23rd, 2002

I have recently taken the time to learn how to use GnuCash, and I have to say that it gives a satisfying sense of control over my finances. Of course it doesn’t actually change how much money you have – but it allows you to see what you have in one place. Additionally it handles multiple currencies in a fairly painless way (although it could be better still!), which is extremely useful to me.

In some other news – I’m taking another look at my content manager system and trying to see what I can do to enhance the current system. I’m thinking of a simplified version that defaults all of the options available in the full version, so making it easier to use.

October 12th, 2002

This is the first update on my weblog in a very long time. I think it’s about time I started updating this again, and maybe fix some of the bugs in my home-grown weblog system.

On to the major reason for this posting! I’ve finally managed to upgrade the memory of my home computer. It did have 128MB, and now it has 320. I wanted to add 256MB, but as the following tale will tell,I was unable to get that working.

I started off by getting a new processor (a P3 450) to make my machine feel a little snappier, and to max-out the current motherboard. My next upgrade will be a new machine – at least that’s the plan. As I was adding a new processor, and given how cheap memory is, I thought I’d pickup a 256MB DIMM as well. When I got home I found that the DIMM didn’t work – I got an error from my BIOS during the memory test.

I exchanged the memory for another module of the same type, but on getting home this didn’t work either – so my motherboard is not compatible with this type of memory. The next day I exchanged again, this time for a different brand but otherwise similar spec. This didn’t work either! Today I decided to instead get 2 128MB DIMMS, which means I had to remove a 64MB – but at least I now have a working memory upgrade!

I think that this machine is now as upgraded as it’s going to get. The only thing left is to get a quieter CPU fan, and then I can call it done and move to a new box!

May 22nd, 2002

Just a test posting. It’s not like I’ve updated this is such a long time that no-one would ever bother reading it anyway.

This is really much better than any of the other weblog solutions out there – honest. Unless you need spell checking of course. Of a GUI. Or other such little details.

March 17th, 2002

The conclusion to the Barcelona summit yesterday was a good demonstration of what is wrong with the UK’s approach to the EU. This BBC article on Tony Blair’s response to the summit included this paragraph: Mr Blair accepted many of the reforms agreed by EU leaders would be seen by the broader public as “nerdy” and only of interest to European “anoraks”.

So where are the spin doctors when you need them? It’s no wonder that Brits have no idea what Europe is for or why the EU is important with such statements coming from our own prime minister. Here’s a list of the points that Mr Blair should have made:

  • Agreement to open up the energy market for business consumers across the EU. This is important for the UK because it will open up whole new markets for our businesses, leading to job creation and wealth, while at the same time driving down the cost of doing business in the UK and other parts of the EU.
  • EU-wide health card. This will ensure that all Brits travelling in the EU and/or working there can be confident in the knowledge that they are covered if they fall ill.
  • The go-ahead for the Galileo system. This will provide many different industries with the opportunity to use a GPS system with a guaranteed level of service, and will also secure the EU’s (and therefore) the UK’s independence from the US for this ability.

With so many positive things coming out of this meeting, and several elements that voters in the UK can directly relate to, why was Tony Blair not more positive and forth coming with his pronouncements? Instead he seems to be confirm that no-one in Britain should care about what the EU is doing.

March 9th, 2002

This afternoon I read one of the most disturbing pieces of news I’ve seen in a while. The US government is proposing to use nuclear weapons in the battle field against its enemies, if they feel it is justified.

The first of the scenarios specified is one that is well known: “retaliation for attack with nuclear,biological or chemical weapons”. However there are two scenarios being reported that should cause everyone considerable worry:

  • “targets able to withstand non-nuclear attack”
  • “in the event of surprising military developments”

In other words any situation in which the US engages in military action and is losing, or in which they feel they might lose, there is the possibility of using nuclear weapons. This development is worrying not just because of the spectre of nuclear weapons being used, but because it means that all states can now legitimately pursue the goal of developing nuclear weapons. If the use of nuclear weapons is possible in situations other than Mutually Assured Destruction then there remains no moral imperative for states not to develop nuclear weapons.

The US can no longer say that developing weapons is inherently wrong. Nuclear weapons are no longer restricted to use in self defence, they have now been blessed as available for use in any conflict.

March 8th, 2002

This is my first post to my weblog from my new XML based GUI!

There is much to fix and improve, but it’s a small step in the right direction. The screen has the Date entry (which I will try to make automatic), and a content box. All the rest of the XML is generated automatically. The entry is a little lagged – but that’s the price of using java – it’s slow!

At gone midnight this will also be a sign-off – time to check-in and get some sleep.

March 3rd, 2002

A posting from my new GUI for weblogs! There are many things left for me to fix, but this is a small step in developing a tool that is actually useful.

I need to sort out the tab settings on this!

I also need to work out how the saving of changes should work!

February 20th, 2002

Yet another huge gap between updates of my journal! I’ve been messing around with alternative systems for managing my site content, including:

  • Zope and in particular CMF. This doesn’t look to promising yet – there’s very little documentation and it’s not easy to see how to create templates so that I can have different pages that pull in other content. It does however feature web based editing – which I think it probably a good thing!
  • Building a Java GUI for my home made system. Currently it’ll display things in a tree and supports plugins, etc – it just do anything useful yet!
  • Thinking about building a simple web based GUI for editing pages in my home cooked system – this might be the easiest route to a good solution

In other news I had a trip back home to the UK recently – which was great! It’s nice to get back every few months and remind myself of what life there is like 🙂

January 8th, 2002

We have more furniture! We’ve got half a sofa (the other two cushions to follow – that’s Ikea for you), two desks, two desk chairs, and lots of boxes. The living room is much nicer now, but the second bedroom if full of all the packaging and generally needs some attention.

I’ve been playing LBreakout2 recently – it’s a really good implementation of the classic breakout for Linux.

Copyright 2015 Colin Stewart

Email: colin at