Archive for September, 2005

Best Quote… …Ever!!!

September 30th, 2005

Forthright civil servant to be PM’s security adviser

Sir Richard, who is 59, has been moving between the top ranks of Whitehall for more than 10 years. He has survived bruising encounters involving both senior officials and ministers. He also knows the dangers of spinning – whether intelligence or anything else.

He was permanent secretary at the Department of Transport when, on September 11 2001, Jo Moore, an aide to Stephen Byers, then secretary of state, told officials in an email that it would be “a very good day” to “get out anything we want to bury”. A few months later, in February 2002, Ms Moore and Martin Sixsmith, the department’s director of communications, allegedly discussed whether the day of Princess Margaret’s funeral would be a good time to release potentially damaging figures about the state of the railways.

It was subsequently announced that both Ms Moore and Mr Sixsmith had resigned. Mr Sixsmith denied this, and Mr Byers, who did later resign, gave a confusing account in the Commons about what had gone on. Sir Richard put it more succinctly. He is said to have told a colleague: “We’re all fucked. I’m fucked. You’re fucked. The whole department’s fucked. It’s been the biggest cock-up ever and we’re all completely fucked.”

WOTD

September 30th, 2005

Todays word is chagrin

cha
·grin
n.

A keen feeling of mental unease, as of annoyance or embarrassment, caused by failure, disappointment, or a disconcerting event: To his chagrin, Michael’s spelling and typing let him down again!

Rambling Ronan Runs

September 30th, 2005

Where will rambling Ronan turn up next

Rambling Ronan Runs

September 29th, 2005

Where will rambling Ronan turn up next

UPDATE. Changed picture to “original”; although I can’t remember Satan running in a city centre ward. I thought the undead were limited to voting only on the North Side!!!

Fun with Robots

September 29th, 2005

Got this in my inbox today

There appears to be a problem on this page of your site.

On page http://www.autoschism.com/2005/09/take-off-your-glasses.html
when you click on “astigmatism”,
the link to http://http/www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/astigmatism.htm
gives the error: Domain name lookup failed (may be a transient error).

As recommended by the Robot Guidelines, this email is to explain
our robot’s visit to your site, and to let you know about one of
the problems we found. We don’t store or publish the content of
your pages, but rather use the link information to update our map
of the World Wide Web.
Are these reports helpful? I’d love some feedback. If you prefer
not to receive these occasional error notices please let me know.

Roy Bryant

Initially I thought this was spam. But the link was broken (I had left out the ‘:’ in “http://”, so full marks for identyifying a problem but 0 marks for identifying the actual problem or a solution). And SevenTwentyFour are a real comany with their own website and everything.
Apparently there is such a thing as the Robot Guidelines. Not that you could tell that from the SevenTwentyFour website, which does like to mention that they confrom to the Robot Guidelines, but doesn’t give a http link to them. Who would have thought that a company which makes some of its money by policing sites for broken links couldn’t provide a simple link to the set of guidelines they are operating under. Its http://www.robotstxt.org/wc/guidelines.html

Here is a sample of some of the guidelines

Be Accountable

If you do decide you want to write and/or run one, make sure that if your actions do cause problems, people can easily contact you and start a dialog. Specifically:

Identify your Web Wanderer
HTTP supports a User-agent field to identify a WWW browser. As your robot is a kind of WWW browser, use this field to name your robot e.g. “NottinghamRobot/1.0″. This will allow server maintainers to set your robot apart from human users using interactive browsers. It is also recommended to run it from a machine registered in the DNS, which will make it easier to recognise, and will indicate to people where you are.
Identify yourself
HTTP supports a From field to identify the user who runs the WWW browser. Use this to advertise your email address e.g. “j.smith@somehwere.edu”. This will allow server maintainers to contact you in case of problems, so that you can start a dialogue on better terms than if you were hard to track down.
Announce It
Post a message to comp.infosystems.www.providers before running your robots. If people know in advance they can keep an eye out. I maintain a list of active Web Wanderers, so that people who wonder about access from a certain site can quickly check if it is a known robot — please help me keep it up-to-date by informing me of any missing ones.
Announce it to the target
If you are only targetting a single site, or a few, contact its administrator and inform him/her.
Be informative
Server maintainers often wonder why their server is hit. If you use the HTTP Referer field you can tell them. This costs no effort on your part, and may be informative.
Be there
Don’t set your Web Wanderer going and then go on holiday for a couple of days. If in your absence it does things that upset people you are the only one who can fix it. It is best to remain logged in to the machine that is running your robot, so people can use “finger” and “talk” to contact you

The SevenTwentyFour robot is called LinkWalker. And while it does appear to conform to the guidelines, the information being gathered is used to solicit business through email – which is a business practice and so not covered in the guidelines (except for the part which can be paraphrased as “be nice, share”) – and so I was probably right in my initial judgement that the email is spam.

Share Results

OK, so you are using the resources of a lot of people to do this. Do something back:

Keep results
This may sound obvious, but think about what you are going to do with the retrieved documents. Try and keep as much info as you can possibly store. This will the results optimally useful.
Raw Result
Make your raw results available, from FTP, or the Web or whatever. This means other people can use it, and don’t need to run their own servers.
Polished Result
You are running a robot for a reason; probably to create a database, or gather statistics. If you make these results available on the Web people are more likely to think it worth it. And you might get in touch with people with similar interests.

Find out more about robots at the web robots pages and here.

Rambling Ronan Runs

September 28th, 2005

Where will rambling Ronan turn up next?

random conspiracy theory

September 28th, 2005

That thing with Kate Moss is all just coke and mirrors.

UPDATE: in response to the comments I must point out that the above throw-away comment isn’t all my own work and I would like to thank all of those who took time out of their busy schedule to come up with it

ll yr vwls r blng t s

September 28th, 2005

In my copious spare time I also admin/host a few other blogs, among them a German political blog.

In that capacity I needed a good, discretionary and easy way to disemvowel inconsiderate guests. The current solutions didn’t satisfy me, so I rolled my own. Through judicious use of Brad Choate’s MTKeyValues plugin, and indiscrimate hacking of Bryant Durrell’s shrpshr plugin, I now have a solution to easily and non-destructively disemvowel individual comments.

If you want to use it or have a look, here it is: disemvowel.tar.gz
Feel free to download and use.

As I understand it, the difference is that Brad Choate’s plugin disemvowels all comments coming from a specific IP address (or addresses), whereas TH’s new disemvoweller lets you discriminately zap individual comments.

If anyone’s interested (and really, I don’t presume to think they are), disemvowelling was born in the comment thread of this inoffensive post, as recorded in this comment. And boy, did he have it coming.

Little Shop of Horrors

September 28th, 2005
Went to the dentist this morning, for a check up and cleaning. Bright and early at 9am. Filled in a few forms to attest that I am fit and healthy and some benefit claim forms – not that I am entitled to anything after 4 years in college not earning any money; well not paying taxes /PRSI anyway. All in all I think I got away lightly, although I knew going in I shouldn’t have needed any more than 17 fillings/teeth removed. As she was counting out my teeth and their overall state in dentalese it was tooth 8; filling blah; tooth 7; filling blah and so on and it seems I have a lot of fillings in my back teeth, probably as many as 12 out of 17. Which seems a lot. I don’t know she didn’t comment. I didn’t ask.

It turns out I need 3 fillings, two to fix broken teeth and replace existing fillings. And one filling to be replaced in a non-broken tooth. There is some stuff that needs to be watched but probably won’t develop into anything and I need to floss.

And thats it. Some enquiries about the state of my wisdom teeth – one is only partially erupted, and I did notice how the dentist and her assistant ran out of the room while they were taking x-rays. I suppose one or two doses of radiation ain’t too bad but you wouldn’t want to work in an office doing hundreds a year.

ach! zombies.

September 26th, 2005
Apparently boy eats girl was initially refused a release permit on the grounds that it glorifies suicide. I certainly know I wanted to kill myself after the movie, but I was able to control my self-destructive urges and now I just want to inflict serious bodily harm on the actors, the directors, writers and just about anybody associated with the movie, the families, friends, neigbours and pets. Thats the last time I let someone else select the movie!!

For those who don’t know; boy eats girl is a bad American High School horror/zombie movie that happens to be set in Dublin and starring Irish zombies, I mean actors. Certainly its the only zombie movie I’ve ever seen where zombies can run! Yes run, not just shuffle along really quickly – I know zombies are supposed to be slow yet they always seem to be able keep up with the fleeing hero/heroine/car/whatever. Maybe zombies move fast only when no-one is looking. Not in this movie however, they were moving fast all the time. Nor should zombies have facial expressions and certainly not ones that change, well not change unless their head is half chopped off or their lips rot away or something.

Although the movie did do a good job of capturing the vacuous lifestyle of american-style teenagers in mixed private school that is probably the same the world over, so you had aspersion (and aspirtation) towards casual sex, girls who were (had been) ill with bulimia and went to end-of-term dances and stuff like that.

The rest of the weekend consisted of beer and such, the usual. Did some DIY at my parents. Managed to not buy books and more or less took things easy. Went running in the rain today.

Apparently The Revs are playing in Dolan’s on thursday, if anyone wants to go.