The assorted finds of Artefact Publishing

October 25, 2003

Any translators about?

Having written a packaging script for IPA Zounds, so that I wouldn’t make silly mistakes like not checking that the release passes all the unit tests, I wanted to use it for real, which requires significantly changing the code. Given that my todo list consists of three items, one of which I have decided should be removed and one of which I now don’t understand (and people think I have a good memory), the only thing to do was internationalise the program.

That is now done for the ipa and zounds modules, barring yet more Unicode encoding/decoding issues. Once those are fixed, I’ll have… well, not a lot more than I had before really, because it will all still be available only in English. So if anyone out there wants to translate a few dozen short strings into another language, I would be most grateful — and if that language uses a non-Roman script, I would be even more grateful. (Yes, I lied when I used that superlative back there.)

Posted by jamie at 18:18+13:00 | Comments (0) | Permalink

October 22, 2003

IPA Zounds version 1.4 released

Three days since I said that version 1.3 of IPA Zounds would be the last in a while. This time there is a fix for a bug which my unit tests caught but which I didn’t (how embarrassing; I must have only run the tests for one part of the software), improved error catching, and new unit tests for bad input. No PDF documentation though.

Posted by jamie at 13:34+13:00 | Comments (0) | Permalink

October 21, 2003

Statistics pet peeve

In the last few years I must have read the following statement (more or less) at least half a dozen times: “half the population has less than 100 IQ, because 100 is the average IQ of the population.” And every single time I am tempted to post a reply setting the person who wrote it right. I haven’t yet, but one day I just know I’ll flip out and do it.

Is it so hard to understand what an average is? That maybe everyone has 100 IQ, or that 90% of people have a 90 IQ and that the other 10% have an IQ which is much greater than 100? Gah.

Funny the little things that incommensurately irk one, isn’t it?

Posted by jamie at 18:09+13:00 | Comments (6) | Permalink

October 19, 2003

IPA Zounds version 1.3 released

Version 1.3 of IPA Zounds is now out. This release fixes a couple of silly mistakes (including removing a debugging print statement that got left in from before the last release) and adds a left margin to the text output in the GUI.

This is likely to be the last release for a while, unless I put the necessary work into creating a PDF version of the documentation. Of course, I think that after every release.

Posted by jamie at 18:30+13:00 | Comments (0) | Permalink

October 18, 2003

दीपावली मेला

I missed it last year, but today I went to the दीपावली (dīpāvalī, in transliterated Hindi generally given as diwali) festivities held in town. Lots of food stalls, music both good and not so good (I’m generally not much into fusion, though I have heard snippets of excellent bhangra fusion music, as in the movie Bend it like Beckham), and of course gorgeous clothes. There were people selling their skills at mehndi, the art of decorating the body with henna, which was also delightful to watch, and which had beautiful results. The word mehndi comes from the Sanskrit मेन्धिका (mendhikā, the henna plant); lots of information on the practice can be found at the Henna Page and the Art of Mehndi.

I didn’t stay long enough to see the Bollywood dance competition and fashion parade, which I’m sure would have been great fun. However, last night at the mediæval feast organised as an end of term celebration for various English classes (those related to the period, of course), there was a costume competition and mediæval dancing (how do they know, I wonder?), so I had probably used up my quota of such things.

Posted by jamie at 21:35+13:00 | Comments (7) | Permalink

October 17, 2003

And now it’s readable, too

Ah, the joys of user feedback. After a number of people downloaded the PDF of my Tolkien essay (and possibly even tried reading it), Michael kindly informed me that the thing was nearly unreadable — due to the fonts, rather than the writing. I have now fixed this problem, and the file linked to above should be a thing of beauty, except for the thorns and eths, which don’t occur in the Type1 font. For those characters, a bitmap is used instead, apparently, and it shows.

Did I not check the PDF myself before putting it up on the web? Of course, but the two viewers I used (xpdf and gpdf) both showed it to be okay (well, it looked a bit odd, and for some reason gpdf even now doesn’t want to display the ff ligature, while xpdf is fine with it). But with Adobe's Acrobat Reader, it was a poor showing indeed.

All’s well that ends better.

Posted by jamie at 16:09+13:00 | Comments (0) | Permalink

October 15, 2003

Career planning

In the last few weeks a number of people, including two academics, have told me that I would do well in academia and might want to think about doing that whole thesis thing, with a view to finding a position on the retirement of the baby boomer generation.


There’s a lot to be said for this, given a good supervisor. On the other hand, it would require me to find something that I was interested in writing something substantive about for several years. Nothing yet springs to mind — there are plenty of things I am sufficiently interested in that I could study them for years, but I don’t know enough to write anything about them (even given the obvious fact that one learns about one’s topic while writing the thesis).

So next year I intend to study Beowulf and Old Norse, with perhaps a helping of Indian philosophy and/or a whole bunch of other interesting stuff, and see where I am then.

My ideal situation is one where a number of my interests converge, or at least have the opportunity to mingle: teaching, studying, programming, publishing. Given the things I want to study, that pretty much means hanging around a university, and even if I don’t become a full-fledged academic, having the qualifications to become one can’t hurt.

Ooh, how I love that word 'qualifications'. Now I’m going to wait for someone to mention Mythesis.

Posted by jamie at 19:51+13:00 | Comments (0) | Permalink

October 11, 2003

Quotation marks in CSS

When I started using typographically correct punctuation on this site, I mentioned languages and quotation marks. Well, I didn’t know what I was talking about: I had failed to notice the lang pseudo-class selector in CSS2, which handles inheritance of language values.

Not only that, but I had also missed the section on quotation marks, which defines a quotes property for specifying quotation marks. It doesn’t do anything that my current stylesheet isn’t doing, but it does allow one to add an abstraction layer between specifying what should come before and after a quotation and the actual characters in question — this is a blessing when dealing with different quotation marks for different languages. And it all even works in Mozilla Firebird (and presumably all other Gecko-based browsers).

So, I shall now go and modify my stylesheet and, most likely, make things even worse for most people reading this site.

Posted by jamie at 21:22+13:00 | Comments (0) | Permalink

October 03, 2003

IPA Zounds version 1.2.1

Version 1.2.1 of IPA Zounds has been released and is available for download. The version corrects Docbook validation errors in the documentation XML files. The only code change is to the script which generates some of those documentation files.

In related news, I have started looking at having a PDF version of the documentation included in the distribution. Preliminary playing around reveals that the large table of binary features for each IPA character is going to require tweaks to the Docbook stylesheets and fonts may be difficult (I’m shocked!).

Posted by jamie at 21:16+12:00 | Comments (2) | Permalink

October 02, 2003

Proving the point

I am now in a position to provide evidence in support of David’s view of bits of academia. Those who are interested can now read my essay on the twin motifs of melting blades and perilous fluids in The Lord of the Rings and Beowulf. The original LaTeX source files are also available. Be warned that the essay is intentionally irritating in its geekery (though I could have made it much worse). I am still a little sad that I didn’t manage to justify that appendix on the contagion of grimmr, but I’ll get over it.

Posted by jamie at 17:44+12:00 | Comments (2) | Permalink