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osfameron (3135)

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Journal of osfameron (3135)

Friday January 20, 2006
07:40 AM

Perl Pizza

from the blog, an important announcement (roughly translated here)

On, every now and then we talk about pizza. One of our number is in fact a pizzaiolo... one thing led to another, and we decided to create the "Pizza Perl". Ipc0P, owner of the Pizzeria Lo Sfizio has created 9 pizzas of his own invention:

  1. truffle cream, 4 cheeses, cherry tomatoes, fresh mushrooms
  2. fresh mushrooms, brie, greek olives
  3. onions, pancetta bacon, greek olives
  4. fresh mushrooms, parmesan shavings, rocket, cherry tomatoes
  5. vegetable: aubergine, olives, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, etc
  6. mozzarella, aubergine, roast potato
  7. buffalo mozzarella, spicy salami, wurstel sausage
  8. tomato, Italian sausage, capers
  9. cherry tomatoes, rocket, smoked scamorza cheese

Now it's time to vote: which do you prefer? The winner will go on the menu!

Monday January 16, 2006
10:18 AM


Being a fan of the "English style" Guardian cryptic crossword, I thought I'd check out the Italian ones - larsen recommended La Settimana Enigmistica, a classic which hasn't changed format since its inception. In fact at the edicola there are about a dozen magazines toting the same crossword + rebus + jokes format, though not the famous Settimanale when I looked.

The clues are more or less straight-forward, similar to "quick crossword" clues. Rather than the symmetrical grids of white and black cells favoured in UK, most puzzles are the American style grids, largely white, with most words crossed at every point, and very few blacked out cells (often placed haphazardly rather than aesthetically.)

I think that when I can do one of these crosswords I will be able to say that I really know Italian. It doesn't just required a good vocabulary, but also general knowledge - of TV presenters, the fact that Charlie Chaplin's tramp character is called "Charlot" (with a French pronunciation apparently) and so on.

The favoured layout seems to create a fair number of 2 and 3 letter words. Unfortunately, there aren't all that many 2 and 3 letter words in Italian, so rather than change the layout, the preferred solution has been to write really bad clues instead, and relax the convention that the word be a word. "Lega Italiana di Naturisti" --> "LIN", and "Schopenhauer's initials" are 2 of the better ones. "Meta' casa" (half the word "casa" --> "CA"), "Gli estremi del boom" --> ("BM")...

(Apparently the recommended publication had better clues).

There are also barred grids (like those used by Azed in the Observer), and "self-defining puzzles" like the ones popular in Finland where the clues are in the non-light cells. A nice innovation I thought, are the grids where you are told how many black cells there should be, but not where they are located.

There are also some cartoons, most of which seem to be about how hilarious it is that women shop so much. A peculiarity is that when the cartoon has no words, the editor seems to think it necessary to give the caption "Senza parole", perhaps in case we would otherwise think the words had been lost by printers error. (Which reminds me of an Italian TV guide which captioned every picture from a film "Una scena dal film").

05:27 AM

More linux--

Once I'd actually managed to get a UMTS connection, I thought I'd share the love and let larsen, who I'm temporarily sharing with, connect via wifi. Dorward kindly dug up some links on masquerade, a way to share your internet connection that appears to require grokkage. He also passed me this cookbook, which was much nicer (though not especially successful).

Of course, the next day, I tried to dial up again, and failed. I hates computers. Yesterday, with some more random modprobeing and editing of wvdial.conf, a lot of swearing, and the odd reboot of phone and laptop, I managed to get an IP address! But no data transfer.

All was revealed when I got into work and couldn't connect to the LAN either. Using the cookbook, I'd managed to get my iptables to drop all packets. Handily $colleague{Riccardo} knew the incantation to reset iptables

iptables -F; iptables -P INPUT ACCEPT; iptables -P OUTPUT ACCEPT; iptables -nL

and all was well.

But I shouldn't have to know all this. I want a big button labelled "Make it all worky!" (As nnunley suggests, the button is optional, merely there to assuage your techy self-worth, much like the egg in shop-bought cake-mix).

Friday January 13, 2006
01:25 PM

Linux UMTS woes

Mainly, I'm glad I'm using Ubuntu instead of WinXP, it's quite shiny, I like it.

Right now is one of those times where I consider going back to XP or even swallowing the "No, fool! You don't want to be able to maximize windows! Idiot! Why would you want to do that?" pill.

Trying to get the shiny Merlin U530 modem which I have managed to get assigned working, I've been advised by people and articles to look at the output of dmesg, grep the syslog for "acm", modprobe stuff, lsmod it, use gnome-ppp, edit /etc/chatscripts, use GPRSEasyConnect, and a number of other things, most of which I don't understand. Does the card need a driver? Is Ubuntu seeing the card? Is it recognizing it on the right port? Absolutely no idea.

I've had great help on irc (NB to self #ubuntu-it is that much smaller than #ubuntu that you actually get to read the help offered before it disappears off the scrollback), but I'm suffering extreme cognitive dissonance, not sure which manpages I should rtfm - hopefully ones clearer than the pptp docs, something tutorial shaped would help.

Tuesday January 10, 2006
08:48 AM


No, "assumiamo" doesn't make an ass of u and, er, Miamo, rather it means "We're hiring" in Italian:
Web Developer, DADA, Florence, Italy

It looks like the Italian perl community is now promoting more effectively, there are currently 4 jobs posted since December on the Italian index.

Feel free to grab me on IRC if you want more (informal - I'm not responsible in any way for hiring) detail about the job.

Update: After some feedback from various mongers, $boss has now reposted the ad with a guide salary, and a note on language. (Basically, if you're not fluent in Italian then English + conversational Italian is highly desirable).

Thursday December 15, 2005
04:54 PM


After greedily watching the best part of Firefly in a weekend, I became slightly obsessed and got increasingly frustrated that, having missed the run of Serenity in UK, it was later than advertised in Florence, ran only for a week I had to return to Liverpool on a Thursday. (And it was just that bit out of town that I didn't manage to get to it.)

Now though I did finally see it, and was slightly disappointed. I understand recapping the Tams/crew tensions that were resolved in the Objects in space for the benefit of first-timers. I also get that myth-rewriting can justify airbrushing out the men with hands of blue (too sillysinister and powerful?), but I was irked that Simon here knows more about River's situation right at the beginning than he discovered only in Ariel and later in the series.

But that's nit-picking, just like my "oh, look, Mal is now inexplicably able to defeat the far superior bad guy in hand to hand combat, yawn" concern: more importantly, the grand secret at the heart of it was unconvincing, especially the reactions (personal and political) to it. And a general point that there could be many more secrets was glossed over.

Hrmpf, I guess that's also nitpicking, I guess I just didn't get the same sense of fun, adventure from this as from the series.

Wednesday December 14, 2005
12:20 PM

Melting router

Proving that filesharing is bad, kids, my wireless ADSL router melted after a 12 hour bittorrent download, leaving only some untwinkling lights and a worrying burnt electric smell. Luckily, the Apple Centre agreed to look for my receipt (I could only find the iPod receipt to prove I was a valued customer) rather than chasing me away in disgrace. Apparently, though the receipts are printed out, they aren't put into a DB, so someone at head office had to go through all the sales in the period I got the ADSL line installed, which was nice of them.

Annoyingly, they couldn't provide a replacement immediately (bought more than 6 months ago), nor could they loan me even an old crappy one, sell me one on the basis that I'd nudge nudge wink wink take it back when I got the replacement, or rent one to me. This sucks. They did suggest though, that places like PC World might have cheaper ones for 30 quid or so.

This wasn't the case. Their wireless ones cost 70+, and the cheap wired only one was 45 (but was out of stock). Eventually I came across a Zoom ADSL modem for 25 quid, it's not a router, it just plugs into USB port of a Windows or Mac machine but anything to get a connection.

I tried briefly to get it to work with Linux, then gave up and commandeered gf's iBook, which at least lets me work though it's yet another set of keyboard mappings to get used to. (Alt+3 for #, Fn-Down for PgDown except in terminal where that scrolls the buffer and you have to do Shift-Fn-Down).

Netgear customer support is rather unimpressive, an Indian call center, but with attitude. Various people called them while I was away pretending to be me, or my wife apparently, with one call securing a "Yes we'll send a replacement" but then a 20 minute hold and cut-off, and another having the tech support guy berating my girlfriend for not having the serial number to hand.

I called and after 20 minutes of faffing and repeating technical details and spellings of names agreed that they would email me some freepost labels within 24 hours. They didn't do this because they'd spelt my email address wrong, promised to fix it, put me on hold, cut me off, didn't change the address, and are now posting me the freepost labels via "normal post".

12:03 PM

On the ward

Note to self: when I heard the nurses gossiping that an old gent had asked to be moved from a single room onto the ward, I thought he was crazy. In fact, he got moved into our room, introduced himself straight away, and in retrospect, I think he had the right idea. Once the guy opposite who was either mentally disturbed, tripping on morphine, or both, got transferred (handily to the vacated single), it was far nicer to have some social contact on the ward than it would have been staring at the ceiling on your own.
11:52 AM


Broadgreen has the reputation of being the better, and friendlier of Liverpool's two main hospitals. This impression isn't confirmed on entering (the main entrance is unmarked, or rather, it is marked as something else - the CTC centre next door gets an arrow pointing in, while the hospital just has a sign and no arrow. I continued down the road and had to ask a parking attendant to make sure I even had the right building. Still, I must have looked confident as I was asked by someone if I worked there (I forgot to check if he was also just looking for the way in).

As I'd missed the main entrance and couldn't see any signs pointing even to the reception, I asked a passing nurse where my clinic was. "Oh, that's in the new building", she said, before admitting she didn't know how to get in there. Luckily the woman on the charity flower stall nearby did, and pointed me in the right direction. The clinic was marked, first with official signs, then with laser printouts, up until a corridor where the trail went dead. I waited for another nurse to pass, but she had no idea where it was, though she sympathised about the missing signs, "It's a new building, so they don't like the printouts because they look messy". She agreed with my desperate suggestion that I use my mobile to call the appointment line on my letter to check with them. As I dialled, another guy came up and asked the nurse for the same clinic. While navigating the appointment line menus, the same guy spotted a water-cooler attendant who knew the layout better: it was downstairs. We called the lift - the next sign was inside it.

11:40 AM


Over this last longer-than-expected long-weekend, I got to see the fantastic Young Gods, celebrating 20 years of avant garde Swiss noise at Liverpool's Masque Venue. Blinding.