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Messages - JennyB [ switch to compact view ]

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hmm, not sure what the legal requirements are here (in the UK) but plenty of "posh" people take on a hyphenated surname when they marry. it's all about them showing off their exceptional breeding, i suppose.

More to do with land, which is why the breeding is important. If you've inherited more than you husband, he adds your surname to his own. If you've inherited a lot more, he takes yours and drops his own. At least, that's how it worked in the days when he took all the land too.  :mad:

Here in Ulster we have a tradition of christening a son with his mother's maiden name, or the surname of a closely related family from whom he may have - expectations.  :P  Lots of people called Johnston Thompson or the like.  Back the 19th century there was a landowner by the name of Porter Archdale for that very reason. Then he inherited the Porter estate, and changed his name to Porter Porter!

Living Room / The XKCD solution to Distraction Affliction
« on: February 21, 2011, 11:22 AM »
Lots of people have asked me for the system I used to implement the restriction in the alt-text of today’s comic.
I made it a rule that as soon as I finished any task, or got bored with it, I had to power off my computer.

I could turn it back on right away—this wasn’t about trying to use the computer less. The rule was just that the moment I finished (or lost interest in) the thing I was doing, and felt like checking Google News et. al., before I had time to think too much, I’d start the shutdown process.  There was no struggle of willpower; I knew that after I hit the button, I could decide to do anything I wanted. But if I decided to look at a website, I’d have to wait through the startup, and once I was done, I’d have to turn it off again before doing anything else.

More here

Interesting idea - what do you do?

Thanks, I'll do that!

General Software Discussion / Local History Tape Archive - need help
« on: February 08, 2011, 04:02 AM »
I have inherited a collection of over 100 tapes of interviews and talks from the local history society. They were recorded on a cheap cassette recorder, so the sound quality is ... variable.

What's the best strategy for cataloguing and archiving the usable portions on disc for transcription and/or compilation onto a CD?

That would make it great for hauling around something like the Microsoft Inside-Out series of books - or a complete copy of the LDP archive.

That is the great advantage of an ereader: series. One example: the six volumes of Proust's In Search of Lost Time. Or imagine carrying around Joyce's Ulysses with another book or two full of annotations for it. Very handy. But I still need to be able to markup, take notes, and export those notes in text format sooner, not later.

Any notes or highlights you make in the Kindle are logged in a text file called My Clippings.txt. If you edit a note, the revised version is logged there too. Some people use their Kindle as a calendar or To Do list by having a text file showing the days or categories, to which they can attach notes. You can export or My Clippings via USB any time, or delete it. A new one will automatically be created the next time you make a note or highlight. The "real" notes for each document are held in a  MobiReader format .prc file of the same name. I'm sure there's software to convert these into text, but I haven't gone looking yet.

Another odd thing - the Kindle doesn't read .htm natively, but if you rename them to .txt it can do a pretty good rendering. Character and list formatting are supported, but not tables, as well as external links. You just need the bare <htm> and <body> tags. I've found that a quick way of saving content from the Web to read later.

Living Room / Re: Why does the Mayan calendar end on....?
« on: January 31, 2011, 04:56 PM »

I believe the only reason this subject is even being discussed is that:
(1) It is a concrete date.
No other civilization lost to the sands of time has given so unambiguous a date for any event, no matter how mundane.
(2) The date in question is "at our doorstep", so to speak.
Whether we take any stock in it or not, it is something happening in our very lifetime, so it enters into our culture and our collective conversation whether we like it our not simply by virtue of the fact that it is NOW.

Personally, I like the Bible's proclamation that "no man will know the day or the hour", so basically setting a date is kinda pointless.

P.S. Here's an easy read on Mayan math and date reckoning:

As far as I tell from that and Wikipedia, the calendar does not end in 2012. At best, that is (possibly) the end of one cycle. The Meso-Americans seem  to have counted days rather than years (presumably because seasonality was not so marked as in more northerly latitudes). As with Julian Day Numbers, it's easy to count back without having to worry about leap years and the like. They counted in base 20, but the Long Count seems to be based on notional years of 360 days (the same as the Babylonians used).  To help them keep track, they had twenty day names, which they numbered modulo 13, so that after 260 days the pattern of day numbers and names would recur.  The start of the Long Count has been calculated as August 13, 3114 BCE, though I doubt if the actual counting began so long ago.

So what cycle will end in 2012?  13 x 20 x 20 360-day years.  If you are counting of 20-year periods (the third digit space on a Long Count date), one cycle of 260. Is that significant? It's a bit like saying "a year of generations," or the various schemes based on "a thousand years as a single day."

If pre-Mayan peoples did think in terms of cycle of this length, then perhaps the Long Count began ca. 550 BCE., when whoever started it supposed themselves at the midpoint.  I wonder what they would have thought if they could see the result?  :P

Living Room / Eight-year-olds publish scientific paper.
« on: December 23, 2010, 06:34 AM »
This is such an inspiring example of Socratic science teaching: a class of Devon primary school children has had a paper on bee's colour perception accepted in the Royal Society Biology Letters.    :Thmbsup:

Here's the background to the experiments, done two years ago when the eldest of the children was just eight:  :o

The experiments were not devised by the ‘scientist’, but by twenty five 8-year-old children. The children devised the questions; they reasoned an answer; they designed the experiments; and they did all the data analysis.

Some questions asked by the children about bees:

  • What if... we had a colour in the tube that connects the hive to the arena, and then they have to go to that colour on the flower wall?
  • What if... we could find out how much effort the bees will go through in order to get a reward? For instance, they have to move something heavy out of the way to get a reward.
  • What if... we could find out if they prefer warm or cold nectar?
  • What if... we could find out if they could follow a route of colour?
  • What if... we could discover if bees can learn to go to certain colours depending on how sweet they are?
  • What if... we could find out if some bees could learn faster than others?
  • What if... we could find out how many colours they could remember?

 :-* :-* 8)

Finished Programs / Re: Request: Transparent Screensaver
« on: December 20, 2010, 04:31 PM »
Thanks for tackling this for me! It's a good start! :Thmbsup:
Multi-monitor capability is a must for me because all of the computers here are 2+ monitor configurations.
I think the inverse band is pretty good, but it's moving too fast on my system and is really choppy. Is there a way to modify the speed and width of it?
Also, if there could be a way to dim the screen such as in the dimsaver screensaver (allowing realtime updates), I think that might be just as good as doing a whole shot and inverting it.
As far as how realtime the data must be.... I would be okay with less than 2-5 seconds of delay.

Would it be possible/useful to just slowly scroll the whole screen? Up until the header appears at the bottom, then down until the footer appears at the top, and repeat?  :-\

Living Room / I wish I'd had this when I was learning physics
« on: December 14, 2010, 08:34 AM »

This colour pdf guarantees to be entertaining, surprising and challenging on every page. With little mathematics, starting from observations of everyday life, the text presents the best stories, images, movies and puzzles in physics. If you are between the age of 17 and 107, you will enjoy it.

The colour pdf tells about animals and sport (mechanics and heat), about the sky at night (relatvity and the structure of the universe), about lightning and nerves (electricity, light, the brain, language and truth), and about colours, pleasure and the stars (basic and advanced quantum physics). If you are interested, a separate volume tells about the search for a final, unified theory of physics. Enjoy!

Motion Mountain is downloaded over 30 000 times per year. Several younger readers liked it so much that they decided to study physics at university. A paper edition delivered to your home can be ordered here.

It's also big (over 1,000 pages) and beautifully designed.  :-*  8)

A few quotes at random:

In contrast to most animals, sedentary creatures, like plants or sea anemones, have no
legs and cannot move much; for their self-defence, they developed poisons. Examples of
such plants are the stinging nettle, the tobacco plant, digitalis, belladonna and poppy;
poisons include caseine, nicotine, and curare. Poisons such as these are at the basis of
most medicines.Therefore, most medicines exist essentially because plants have no legs.

How can the speed of falling rain be measured using an umbrella? The answer is important:
the same method can also be used to measure the speed of light, as we will find out
later. (Can you guess how?)

As a consequence, if the Earth stopped rotating (but kept its shape), the water of the
oceans would žow north; all of Europe would be under water, except for the few moun-
tains of the Alps that are higher than about 4 km. The northern parts of Europe would
be covered by between 6 km and 10 km of water. Mount Sagarmatha would be over 11 km
above sea level. If one takes into account the resulting change of shape of the Earth, the
numbers come out smaller. In addition, the change in shape would produce extremely
strong earthquakes and storms. As long as there are none of these effects, we can be sure
that the Sun will indeed rise tomorrow, despite what some philosophers might pretend.


Having had this heartache before, I started logging every install on a new laptop - even the Firefox extensions  ;D - with CintaNotes.  It's kind of a PITA, but doesn't take much ... just the program name as note title, version - and any other significant data, such as removal date, reason, and more - along with appropriate tags to indicate why/where/how any action was taken.  Doesn't slow me down that much, and has been extremely helpful with some driver issues.

Drawback:  this process does not take into account automatic updates, nor potential conflicts, since it relies upon manual entry.

I've been hunting for some kind of logging system for the last couple of decades - that, my friends, would be worth gold - lot's of it.  Ideally, such an app would recognize several varieties of installs/upgrades, then log time, date, version, name, and optionally, comments.  I suspect that would be a fairly large order, even larger if appropriately cross-platform - I'd certainly hate to try to create something that could keep up with the *nix habit of compiling and installing on the fly  :(.

All that being said, I'd be really interested to meet the dev that would be willing to tackle such a project  :-*.

It still doesn't help with automatic updates, but it should be possible to make a drop target that opens a log file and records date, time and filepath before it runs the file that is dropped on it. Any help?

General Software Discussion / Re: After re-installing XP - what?
« on: November 15, 2010, 04:05 PM »
When you back up a partition with Macrium, chances are good when you restore it's going to overwrite the partition table.  Once you stabilize the partition scheme I would do another backup right away and throw out the old one(or at least annotate the fact it was from the old partition scheme.)

It may be possible to restore without hosing your partitions but if something can go wrong chances are good it will, esp. when doing disaster recovery.

Yes, that's what I'm planning to do.  That's why I'm asking now if any further partitioning is worth doing. This is a single-user PC, and probably will never have any guest accounts. 

General Software Discussion / Re: After re-installing XP - what?
« on: November 15, 2010, 12:20 PM »
OK, I've backed up with Macrium, and checked that the boot CD will find the backup. The next thing I did was to repartition and move My Documents to the new partition, so they will not be affected by future restores. I suppose I could go wild and do a full Linux-like partition scheme, but what is most worthwhile to separate out?

General Software Discussion / Re: After re-installing XP - what?
« on: November 12, 2010, 03:54 AM »
For the OP I think an imaging program and an external USB will be useful with little in the way of learning curve.  Make a boot CD. Do a backup.  Done.

Yes. I need to be sure that I can get back to where I am now without having to take the machine back to the shop before I start "optimising" any further!  ;)
I did actually have an external USB drive, but I just hadn't got got round to using it before the crash.  :-[

I'm a bit unclear on the "make a boot cd" step. How do I do that? I take it the CD does not hold the image, but a program to restore the image from the external drive?

General Software Discussion / After re-installing XP - what?
« on: November 11, 2010, 12:46 PM »
Last week my three-year-old Packard Bell began blue-screening, and finally refused to boot. I hadn't any system disk, so it was back to the dealers. Fortunately my documents were backed up - but I lost some programs, and it took a day or two to get everything back more or less the way I liked it.

On the bright side I also got rid of a lot of programs that had looked useful at the time, and everything looks cleaner, simpler and faster. For now. 

But I've still got that itch to try stuff out, so what is a best strategy for keeping a clean fall-back before I start messing it all up again?  :tellme:

General Software Discussion / Re: Filter directory tree by file type?
« on: November 09, 2010, 07:36 AM »
Nope: Registration

I'd just use Everything and type in the path and/or filter.

That's FAST!!!  :o And it will do for what I need. Thanks!  :Thmbsup:

General Software Discussion / Filter directory tree by file type?
« on: November 07, 2010, 07:33 PM »
You know how the Open File dialog can show only files matching a particular type? As soon as you go up the tree it displays all the directories and you have to open them to see if they contain anything relevant.

Is there any program that can take a file type and return a list of directories that contain files of that type?

Living Room / A warning from History
« on: June 04, 2010, 09:54 AM »
From a delightful article on how historians organised their notes in the pre-electronic era:
It is possible to take too many notes; the task of sorting, filing and assimilating them can take for ever, so that nothing gets written. The awful warning is Lord Acton, whose enormous learning never resulted in the great work the world expected of him. An unforgettable description of Acton’s Shropshire study after his death in 1902 was given by Sir Charles Oman. There were shelves and shelves of books, many of them with pencilled notes in the margin. ‘There were pigeonholed desks and cabinets with literally thousands of compartments into each of which were sorted little white slips with references to some particular topic, so drawn up (so far as I could see) that no one but the compiler could easily make out the drift.’ And there were piles of unopened parcels of books, which kept arriving, even after his death. ‘For years apparently he had been endeavouring to keep up with everything that had been written, and to work their results into his vast thesis.’ ‘I never saw a sight,’ Oman writes, ‘that more impressed on me the vanity of human life and learning.’

Sounds familiar!  :-[

General Software Discussion / Off-lining Opera
« on: April 09, 2010, 06:23 AM »
I was a happy Opera user for many years, but now I find that the combination of Gmail+chrome+extensions suits me better.

This has left me with a massive Opera database (mail RSS and newsgroups) that I only want to keep as a searchable archive.

Two problems:

For some reason the latest update of Opera insists that it is the default email handler, so it starts every time I click a mailto: link.
How can I keep the present set of newsgroup message without Opera wanting to fetch more?

A Pattern Language is a book about architecture that was written in the 1970s, before the Web as we know it was even conceived. But the book provides hundreds of valuable patterns for community planning and architectural design, many of which can easily be applied to online communities and social networking websites.

And Smashing magazine goes on to demonstrate with 27 examples.

It's not really that surprising for those of us with a long memory: Christopher Alexander's book is one of the classics in any discipline, and a major influence in the development of software patterns

Developer's Corner / Factor - anyone?
« on: February 16, 2010, 10:29 AM »
From the Factorcode home page:
Factor belongs to the family of concatenative languages: this means that, at the lowest level, a Factor program is a series of words (functions) that manipulate a stack of references to dynamically-typed values. This gives the language a powerful foundation which allows many abstractions and paradigms to be built on top.

Has anyone else any experience of it?

I'm interested because I'm a Forther from way back, and this is like a high-level Forth with lots of intriguing ideas and useful libraries. How can you resist a language with "fried quotations?"  :P

Use aerosol cans as a flame thrower with matches to light up army men (I still remember the trouble I got into for doing that one!)


It took a second to realise you weren't from Northern Ireland  :-[

Thank you all for your replies.

Outsourcing is tempting, but there are a lot of local idioms and references that might puzzle an Indian. I've used Scribe for transcribing before. It has a lot of useful features like slowing down speech without affecting pitch, which are very useful and certainly a vast improvement trying to transcribe direct from a cassette player - which i have also done. I thinking of compiling a CD around the best quotes and wasn't sure if it could handle that job.

According to the index the list doesn't look to be that tame as people suggest.

I wasn't all that adventurous as a child, but I think I did them all, apart from the ones involving trains and domestic appliances that weren't around then.  >:(

What do you remember doing as a child that you would add to the list? I have fond memories of walking barefoot on the road in summer, when the sun had melted the tar.   8) Not so fond memories of having to clean up afterwards.  :P


I have about 50-60 cassette tapes of oral history recordings that been meaning to edit and transcribe/convert to CD for the last ten years.  :-[

I've read of machines that rip old cassette music collections to MP3, but is that the best format for this use. I need to be able to quickly find and mark the interesting bits (the tapes are not great quality) and decide whether they can be transferred as audio or need to be transcribed.

Has anyone experience with  this kind of thing?

Living Room / Re: Birth of an Avatar
« on: January 21, 2010, 05:53 AM »
Guys, this thread was meant to spread this video, for those of us who'd rather spend our time appreciating something for what it is (instead of whining incessantly about it). Go find another thread/forum to rag on would you?


Apologies. The video is cool and inspiring.  8)

Are there any tutorials that would help us graphics novices to do likewise?

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