Archives for January 2012

January 2012 (23)
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A musical calculator: Casio ML-81

For your jaunt down memory lane today, I present another calculator from my collection: the Casio ML-81. On the one hand it’s a four-banger with memory, but on the other it plays music ! Click the picture to expand it, take a look at the keys really carefully and you’ll see that they are marked Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si, etc. When the little slider switch top right is in the treble clef position, the calculator will ding every time you press on of the number keys. Not only that, but if you do a...

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The popularity of “could care less” cannot be underestimated

Personally speaking, I find the usage of “I could care less” instead of “I couldn’t care less” to be a little annoying. I’d even go further: to my ear it sounds illogical: “hey, if you could care less then you must care a bit!” Much merriment and good-natured joshing ensue, ho, ho, ho. But, to be honest, life’s too short to start a grammar war over it. I’ve even encountered the theory (I believe it was Steven Pinker who first proposed it) that the speaker of “I could care less” is being sarcastic...

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Art at Chatsworth, September 2011

For our wedding anniversary this year we went to the Peak District and stayed at a hotel in Baslow, just north of Chatsworth Park. Of course, since we were so close, we had to go visit the House and grounds. Bizarrely, despite the fact my family used to live near Matlock when I was a late teen, I’d never visited either. I’d driven though the Park at the time in my parents’ borrowed Capri, but never stopped. Maybe at 18 I was too cool for art. With our visit, we were fortunate in...

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Kindle Fire

On the day that Apple announces that they’ve sold a gazillion iPads in the last quarter (and that they can clearly see the near future when more iPads are sold than Windows PCs), I’m going to tell you about my Kindle Fire . Bucking the trend, moi? Wading upstream? Yep, that’s me. There are a couple of reasons why I decided to pre-order a Fire when Amazon announced them last September. The first is obvious: I already had and was using a Kindle (a second-generation, international...

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JavaScript for C# developers: coercion

In C#, we have implicit and explicit conversions. In both cases the idea is that we, the readers of the code, are not surprised by any conversions that happen. That’s why we can freely intermix int s with float s in a floating point calculation and everything turns out just fine. The int s are implicitly converted to float s (there’s no data loss) and the calculation comes out right. However, when there’s a possibility of some kind of data loss (say, converting a ulong to a long variable) you have...

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Agile New Year resolutions

I was having a chat with a friend recently about the blog post I published on January 1, the traditional day for writing down on a napkin your resolutions for the coming year. He was saying that it didn’t sound like a bunch of resolutions of the form “I will do this new thing” or “I will change this existing behavior”. It read as more wishy-washy than that. It reminded me of something Donna has been saying since the New Year. For the past 6 months or more, she’s been in training to improve her marathon...

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Tintin: the British cars in The Black Island

I am slowly making my way through the Tintin comic books in the original French, just so I can keep my hand in. I’ve now got to number 7, L’île Noire , or as they say in English, The Black Island . (Note: all images are copyright Hergé/ Moulinsart .) Like all of the early books, this was originally drawn by Hergé in black and white. It wasn’t until L’étoile mystérieuse (number 10) that he started publishing them in color, at which point, since they were proving so popular, he went back and redrew...

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PCPlus 303: How it works: high definition video

The suggestion came from the top: “how about an article on HD video, HD TVs and all that?” When you get those kinds of suggestions, you don’t raise trivial issues like the fact you don’t even have a TV, let alone an HD TV. You File New in Word and get to work. Yep, it’s true. We don’t have a telly. It goes back to the days when I first came to live in the States in 1993. I thought I’d only be here a couple of years. I was still paying the mortgage on my flat in London, so I wanted to save up and...

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HTML5 and validation issues with this blog

OK, I was nuts. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? But what the heck, it’s part of the technology stack I’m supposed to know and use and promote, and furthermore I have a text editor and know how to use it. The issue is I’ve switched this blog to HTML5 markup rather than XHTML, which is what it was before. No sweat, you snort, the doctype is way simpler: <!DOCTYPE html> and you can get rid of that other XML namespace gubbins on the <html> tag: <html lang="en"> Nice and easy...

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Protesting SOPA/PIPA

Just some warning that tomorrow, Wednesday 18 January from 8am to 8pm EST, this blog will be going on strike to protest SOPA/PIPA. The protest encompasses sites such as Wikipedia , BoingBoing , and even Google will have some kind of protest statement on their home page. Should you wish to join this protest with your blog, you can get the JavaScript code here ....

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