Colin's Journal

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

November 21st, 2002

Messing around with sound

I’ve been messing around with sound – trying to record the output from a music player into an mp3 file. I’ve managed to do it, but it took some messing around. I can make the player use esd to play the sound, and then use esdmon to get the sound stream. The stream however is not handled by lame, so I have pipe it through sox first to convert it. The reason it took so long to figure out however was that esdmon would fail if the DISPLAY variable was set – yuck.

In better news I now have a link assistant in my weblog program for quickly generating links to sites. Nothing special, but it should be a time saver!

November 20th, 2002

Improvements to weblog system

I’ve implemented a new TAL Engine for my weblog system. This version is a lot smaller than the last one, and implements behaviour closer to the specification. It also allows me to write TAL markup in the postings themselves – which is pretty nifty. This should allow me to support things like images in my postings in an easier to maintain fashion, and hopefully also improve the RSS feed to also include content of postings.

I need to test it against the old version before I can start using it for my personal weblog, but it works in development!

November 17th, 2002

Lots of Snow

Very snowy deck

Winter is here – we have 15cm of snow on the ground at it’s still going! It started yesterday around 4pm, and from the sight outside it doesn’t look like it stopped at all. The transformation is incredible and magical. I love fresh snow, and although I know it’s going to be cold and wet when we go out later, it’s still a wonderful sight to behold.

The picture is the view out of the bedroom door onto the deck this morning (well around 11am!) The snow is still coming down as I type this, and it’s not looking like it will ease up at all – the sky is a very light grey.

In other news I now have a crude RSS feed. It only contains the titles of posts and links to them, but it should be usable in your favourite news/weblog aggregator.

November 16th, 2002

Perma-Links Added

I’ve added permanent link support to my weblog software. I now have little ‘Perma-Link’ entries after the title of each posting which points to the archive version of the post.

November 16th, 2002

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Last night I went to see Harry Potter with Shana and the gang. The gang in this case being a very large number of people – 21 in total. The nice thing about going on opening night is the line-up and atmosphere that comes with it. The film is greatly enhanced when you have people lining up for an hour first to get good seats to see it, and then applauding the film even before it’s started.

The film it’s self is enjoyable, although there is some cringely bad dialog towards the end. The animation is considerably better than the first, the highlight being Dobby. I didn’t like the opening of the book, so it’s no surprise that it’s a little clunky and ill fitting in the movie as well. The decision to highlight the comedy was a good choice – especially for the beginning, although I’m glad that they reduced it later into the film.

The more I think on it, the more it feels like the directory had to rush the end, and took the easy (and rather cheesy) way out. Despite this I would still recommend it to anyone that wants to see a fun, entertaining movie!

November 15th, 2002

Harry Potter

It’s that time of year again: Harry Potter is back, and tomorrow I’ll be standing inline ready to see it.

My impression had been that the media blitz this year has been a lot lower key – and so I expected it not to do as well. So much for that thought, at least in the UK it’s picking up some serious attention.

I suppose the lack of stuff about it in the media shows that there is a point where advertising, in all it’s different forms, is not needed anymore. It’s going to sell – so there’s no point pushing it any harder!

November 14th, 2002

Plans for my website

It’s time to plan out changes to my website, especially now that it’s easier to maintain. Firstly I’m going to try and post more entries to my journal. I’ve built up a usable weblog program now, so I should use it. This also means that I will quickly learn what extra features I want, and so in this frame of mind here’s my current wish list:

  • Adding support for perma-links. I already have all the information required – I just need to make it available to the templates.
  • A more generic template/url mapping. Specifically I would like to be able to have the title and date of the last post (and possibly a few taster lines) on the front page of my website.
  • Support for images. This is a slightly difficult one – it means that the content of the weblog needs to either have expanding variables, or support TAL. That in turn means it would be better if all of the entries where written in XHTML rather than HTML so that the missing close tags don’t cause issues for the TAL parser.
  • Support for toggling between HTML and Structured text. Entering web posts in structured text would make life easier – but I would still need to be able to switch to HTML for those occasions where I need something more complex.

I doubt I’ll get the last two done any time soon – but I can probably do the first two easily.

November 12th, 2002

Work Visa

Some very good news, which justifies another post, is that my work visa for next year has come through! This is always a nervous time of year because although there is no reason why my visa should not be renewed, there is always that nagging worry until you have it in hand.

November 12th, 2002

Site news

It’s been a busy few days in the life of my website. We are now paying for web hosting with Spenix, which means that we can have a proper website, better control over our email, and access for updates more easily.

This has (so far) been a very painless move – I just setup the new server through a web-based console, and then switched nameservers. The results are propagating through the DNS system – and soon the old version can be taken down!

Another big change is to move my weblog to a new system. My old one was based on a custom Java app that uses XSLT to populate the templates, and had a custom Swing GUI as the front end.

I’ve now written a new one in Python which uses wxPython for the front end, and a template language called TAL. TAL is used in Zope, but the implementation I’m using is written from scratch (I don’t want any Zope dependencies).

I’ve converted all my old weblog to the new system using a mixture of XSLT, Shell scripting, macros, and python. The result is that the old posts all look like they were made at 8pm, because the old system didn’t allow multiple posts in one day.

The final thing I need to do now is to create a couple of real templates so that the new weblog integrates with the old site properly…

October 31st, 2002

Today I recieved a joint Halloween card. It’s the first time I think I’ve ever received a Halloween card – it’s just not an event that seems suitable for sending cards about.

In other news I’ve been updating some UML diagrams (I had the arrows the wrong way around!), and also making some changes to my WebLog editing system. It’s an incremental, behind the scenes, type change – but hopefully it’ll be a step in the right direction.

Copyright 2015 Colin Stewart

Email: colin at