They’re in the trees

Every so often, I learn a “life lesson”.

In the middle of May, I met up with the usual suspects to go camping. When I say camping, I really mean drinking beer and burning stuff. Lots of fun. Anyway, that was the middle of May. We’re now past the middle of June. This is a significant time delay.

At one point, whilst wood was being chopped I had the great idea of chopping off a chunk of tree and taking it home to make something on my woodlathe of sorts. I lopped off a nice 4″ long slice of birch wood, and figured I could dry it out and make a bowl out of it. It went into my rucksack before the ride home, and was then dumped in the corner of my living room. Eventually, I planned to spin it around at high speed and wave sharp tools at it, but I left it in the sun so it dried out too fast and cracked.

On Friday morning, just before I went to work, I noticed there was a funny cracking sound coming from the wood. After prodding it, it seemed like the bark was coming away from wood. No great surprise, I guess .. the wood was probably just drying out some more and shrinking away from the bark. I also noticed a single small perfectly circular hole in the wood, which I’d never seen before. I prodded a wire in the hole to see if there was anything in it, but nothing exciting happened so I left the wood in the corner of the room and went to work.

Then when I got home: Buzzing sound near the window. Biggest FOAD insect I’ve ever seen in Scotland clambering nervously over the blinds. We don’t get many big insects here – I guess it’s too cold – but this was a bug of significant proportions. Eep! I carefully removed the Bug to the garden. Then I come back inside and looked at the bit of wood.

There are now three holes in the wood.

Jeez, so let’s assume the original hole had been there for a while and Bug #1 was long gone. Bug number #2 had just been relocated to the garden. So that meant Bug #3 had moved out of it’s Birch home and was now living it up in my flat somewhere. And Susan really doesn’t like bugs. “Hi honey, remember that lovely bit of wood I brought back from camping?”. Cue a frantic bug-hunt.

I found it eventually, huddled in the corner. It was the same flavour as bug #2, but a bit more energetic. I guess nature didn’t prepare them for bursting out of a tree into a double-glazed flat.

That bit of wood had been sitting quietly in the corner of my living room for well over a month. All that time, it had been playing host to two little maggots which grew bigger and bigger, until one day the wood started making cracking sounds and two big bugs ate their way out. It’s like a plot for a horror movie.

Won’t be doing that again.



In the end, I took the plunge and moved my blog from MoveableType to WordPress. Links to existing blog entries should still work, due to the wonders of mod_rewrite, and the RSS feed has full content. First impressions are very positive – wordpress runs a lot faster and is a lot easier to tweak.



I finally took some more measures to deal with comment spam on this blog. I’m fed up wasting time clearing up after people have spammed my website, and regexp blacklisting wasn’t a perfect solution. So hopefully the new measures will help more.

I have tweaked the RSS feed so that it included an HTML version, so links should work. For some reason, old entries have appears as if they were new. I don’t intend to make any more changes, so it’s a one-off.

On the subject of spam, I changed where email gets delivered to nearly two months ago. Yet I still get spam to the old server. I’d have expected all DNS caches to be well and truely flushed by now, so I can only assume that spammers are keeping track of mail server IP address, or have their DNS caches set up with huge long expiry times. Very strange.



Emergency Mental Health
or a guide for survivng a typical software project?


Code, monkey, code

I’m back from a gprs-free week in sunny cyprus. I was surprised to find that I can read the Greek alphabet quite well, courtesy of years of physics. Great ideas included hiring pedal boats to get away from the crowds, scooters to explore the island and finally taking 15 minutes out to order food to be delivered a few hours after we got back. Still, back in Edinburgh again … there’s more need for overcast-cream than suncream here.

I installed the 2.6 linux kernel a while ago, including udev but never played with it. Now, after a bit of editing, I have it giving all my various USB devices sensible names and I’m knocking up a script to automatically refresh my MP3 player with a new set of tunes every time I plug it in.

I’ve also been a passive observed of for a while, but I’ve now created my own area there which means I can find bookmarks filed by people with similar interests. The idea has been around for a while. Delicious is just a pretty neat implementation.

I want to set up a calendar/todo/contacts which is accessible from home, work and mobile. Multisync looks useful, as is this review of calendar software. But my wishlist keeps growing …

I’ve been asking the guys at how to simulate aegis-like “staging areas”. The idea is that developers commit their changes to the “staging area”, a script runs to make sure it builds cleanly on win32/mac/linux and passes the smoke test, before pushing it to the main “known to build” tree. It’s not clear to me that syncing between branches works, since you want developers to be updating /from/ the known-to-build stream but committing to the staging area. Hmm.

Finally, I’m currently reading through a biochemistry textbook with a view to exploring backyard DNA computing. How hard can it be? 😉