Sunday, October 26, 2008

Just Finished Reading The War Of The Flowers by Tad Williams #books

I started The War Of The Flowers by Tad Williams right after I finished Witches Abroad. Another fantasy novel, this time about a failing rocker who is drawn into a magical world while reading a book. My post chronology is a little mixed as I actually started reading The End of Mr. Y after this, which has a similar plot mechanism.

I had read Williams' Otherland series before and loved that, even when my father and I kept having to wait for the next book to be written and published. Williams excels in this book once more, the characters are interesting and contains some interesting twists. I don't like posting spoilers, so I won't. Just read this book!

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Just Finished Reading: Terry Pratchett's Witches Abroad #books

I recently read Terry Pratchett's Witches Abroad, what can I say... It's a lovely wonderland of children's fairy tales, and the same thing occurred as the time I read Moving Pictures. (see my review here.) He spends so much time putting in all these references that it makes the book less fun to read. I already know all these fairy tales, but Roald Dahl made a better job of fiddling with the stories in Revolting Rhymes than Pratchett.

I'm not saying it's not a good read. It's very entertaining, funny at times and the WeatherWax character is brilliant.

Will I read another Pratchett? Probably, but just not today!

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Scribefire Broke WordPress? #blogging

As you may or may not know, I have a number of blogs. They once bled over into each other, from MySpace, LiveJournal, Hyves, Blogger and WordPress. I mainly use WordPress now, although for a while I've been using Blogger's ability to add scripts and ads to my blog. More as an experiment rather than really as a way to earn money. This was made very easy with ScribeFire.

As of one of the recent updates ScribeFire doesn't seem to be able to authenticate to my WordPress any more, so now I'm thrown back into the age of having to manually enter my blog items into WordPress. It's strange how we tend to rely so much on technology.

I'm going offline to read my book.

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Examining Profilactic

So I've been playing with Profilactic, which is similar to FriendFeed, although I won't call it a clone. One of it's selling points is that it supports 190 sites, as I have many of these sites hooked into my Ping.FM (currently down) like FriendFeed it collates all the messages that I distribute into the microblogosphere.

Thanks to DutchMob for the hint.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

What am I reading now? #books

I'm currently reading The End of Mr. Y, advised to be by the same girl who gave me A Scanner Darkly to read. It is such a brilliant book, and I'm only at page 287.

I really just wanted to quote a funny passage out of the book, which is relevant to my obsession with risk and quantum mechanics:

Imagine using that as an argument for murder. "But, Judge, I didn't really stab her because the atoms in the knife never touched the atoms in her body."

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Checking your dollars are real #finance

I thought this was funny enough to post it here:

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Figuring out PHP DOMDocument and XSLTProcessor #php

Although I calculate the period I've been programming in decades, I am a relative PHP newbie. I'm testing and playing with PHP and writing distributed services, yet it's sometimes the simple knowledge that I'm missing. (How does this Object perform the function that I want.) So I've been playing with the XML Classes in PHP and modified so code from PHP + Twitter + Google Calendar + SMS
. The article is quite interesting, and I discovered the Zend Framework, which makes my life much easier. :)

// Define credentials for the Twitter account

// Set up CURL with the Twitter URL and some options
$ch = curl_init();
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_URL, '');
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_CONNECTTIMEOUT, 2);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_VERBOSE, 1);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, 1);

// Twitter uses HTTP authentication, so tell CURL to send our Twitter account de

// Execute the curl process and then close
$data = curl_exec($ch);


// Load XML
$dom = new DOMDocument();
$dom->loadXML(print_r($data, true));

// Load XSL:
$filename = "rss.xsl"; // You can find an rss.xsl file lots of places.
$domxsl = new DOMDocument();
$xsltp = new XSLTProcessor();

// Apply XSL to XML
$result = $xsltp->transformToXML($dom);

// Output XSL Transformed XML
print ($result);

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Making a knife in an Airport? #schneier

“The whole system is designed to catch stupid terrorists,” Schnei­er told me. A smart terrorist, he says, won’t try to bring a knife aboard a plane, as I had been doing; he’ll make his own, in the airplane bathroom. Schnei­er told me the recipe: “Get some steel epoxy glue at a hardware store. It comes in two tubes, one with steel dust and then a hardener. You make the mold by folding a piece of cardboard in two, and then you mix the two tubes together. You can use a metal spoon for the handle. It hardens in 15 minutes.”

By way of Bruce Schneier, The Things He Carried

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Physically Impossible Games #games

My father always said there are no games like Web Dimensions (Activision) which are only playable on the computer. Monopoly, Sim City and even a FPG can be played IRL as a board game or with a group of people and a paintball range. I have found another game which would be practically impossible to replicate IRL: Strange Attractors 2.

I had to think about it, and as the game field is 3D we could be inside a ball made from some ferrous material with powerful electron magnets. (MRI rules apply.) Unless the LHC finds the graviton.

Source: Penny Arcade

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Bank Recruiter Enables Identity Theft #privacy

I was recently approached by a recruiter for a role as PKI specialist for a Dutch bank. They asked me to scan my passport and send them a copy of it over the internet. They wanted to forward this to the bank. According to the recruiter this was normal practice for them and the bank.

Interestingly enough when I had privacy concerns they thought I was making a big deal about nothing. This is the recruiter for the Triple-A rated Dutch bank, who I’ve mentioned in my blog before. I obviously refused to send a copy of my passport over the internet, and told the recruiter that I would need some assurance that if I send them a paper copy they would not send it over the internet. I also offered to exchange keys, but this was a little difficult for the recruiter to understand.

I ended up not taking this job.

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