The assorted finds of Artefact Publishing

November 29, 2003

No go with Mozilla CTL

It all went relatively easily, compiling a CTL-enabled build of Mozilla 1.5. I had to install some extra Debian packages, and not use GTK-2, but the make and make install parts went without hitch, first time. No doubt this is why the binary doesn’t render Indic scripts any better than my vanilla Mozilla Firebird. I am, naturally, a trifle disappointed, since I followed the instructions at, including registering with Sun in order to download one of their fonts.

Oh well, I guess they’ve got until March 2007 to get it sorted.

Posted by jamie at 17:02+13:00 | Comments (6) | Permalink

November 15, 2003

Sad state of web design

The NetGuide Best Web Designer award went to InterACTION, particularly for their work on ASB Bank's site. It seems that web design is still stuck in the Bad Old Days, or else that this web award is worthless — or, more likely, both of these are true.

InterACTION’s site is Flash, with no textual alternative. Oops. The Flash site even has a Flash intro. The ASB Bank site uses frames, and if your browser doesn’t support frames, one gets those familiar words thrown at one: This page uses frames, but your browser doesn't support them. Going past that, I see tables and I see invalid HTML. In fact, no encoding information is given, and there is no doctype declaration. In short, technically it’s rubbish.

What is really sad is that it may be that this is truly the best that New Zealand professional web designers are creating. Anyone care to give me hope by pointing out companies doing the simplest part of web development well?

Posted by jamie at 11:44+13:00 | Comments (1) | Permalink

An old technique reborn

It appears that people are picking up on Old English poetic vibes without knowing it. Leto and Cracker both want to start posts with ‘So’. Whether they know it or not, this is a possible translation of the Old English word hwæt. Seamus Heaney used it in his translation of Beowulf, saying:

Conventional renderings of hwæt, the first word of the poem, tend towards the archaic literary, with ‘lo’, ‘hark’, ‘behold’, ‘attend’ and — more colloquially — ‘listen’ being some of the solutions offered previously. But in Hiberno-English Scullion-speak, the particle ‘so’ came naturally to the rescue, because in that idiom ‘so’ operates as an expression that obliterates all previous discourse and narrative, and at the same time functions as an exclamation calling for immediate attention.

Also, as pointed out in Eight Old English poems, hwæt is metrically unstressed (usually), and so emphatic (and archaic) glosses like ‘Lo!’ and ‘Hark!’ seem misapplied.

So there you go.

Posted by jamie at 10:54+13:00 | Comments (4) | Permalink

November 14, 2003


This evening I came across Drift, a Python script which:

simulates language generation. Using a set of phonemes (simple IPA symbols, syllable formats, root-form descriptions, sound laws, a word list and a timeline for the insertion of alien material, this application simulates the genesis and the aging of a language.

Naturally this got my attention, and I just might create my own lexicon generator, using IPA Zounds as the sound change engine. I’ve been hankering after a programming project since I finished IPA Zounds (maintenance doesn’t count), and not of the XSLT sort, which is what I am currently doing at NZETC — not that I don’t enjoy that sort of thing, but transforming documents isn’t the same as generating something wholly new.

It occurs to me, though, that I have yet to actually use IPA Zounds, so perhaps I should start writing software that I will use, rather than that I want to use (the two being worlds apart).

But none of that is really the point. It’s interesting to observe that I am at a low ebb in terms of being inspired to work on projects. One of the Nobilis PBeMs I am in seems to have died, while I seem to be the most enthusiastic player in the other. I prefer to have other people around me coming up with great stuff so that I am inspired and can add my own slant on things. I seem to do that better than coming up with material from nothing — I’ve run out of steam on the wiki for that game because I don’t have anything new to organize, assimilate and add to. I think this is also why I find it so hard to prepare for my tabletop Nobilis game, and why having Svend as creative consultant is so helpful.

Posted by jamie at 22:02+13:00 | Comments (0) | Permalink

November 13, 2003

Finally wrapped in Cocoon

After much fluffing around, reading inadequate and out of date documentation, not reading adequate and relevant documentation I didn’t realise bore on the issues at hand, and generally restarting Apache Tomcat until it behaved as I wished, I now have a working installation of Apache Cocoon. I approve, though it has had the effect of encouraging me to try building a Unicode-enabled version of wxPython.

I’ve done this before, and it wasn’t the most fun I’ve had. In fact, I’ve done it since then, too, and that was worse. You see, Python 2.2 doesn’t recognise some Unicode characters which I added to IPA Zounds (namely the extended parentheses and square brackets in the range U+239B to U+23A6) — I don’t know why, since there’re not new and they’re not special. In any case, Python 2.3 does know about them, so I needed to build a Python 2.3 version of wxPython, and I couldn’t. It just would not compile. So now I’m having another shot, with a newer version, and I can already see a miasma of frustration heading my way.

If I’m lucky, I will be able to once again use my own program on my preferred OS.

Update, six hours later: it’s compiled, it works, and it took six hours of building and rebuilding. Some of it was my fault.

Posted by jamie at 10:24+13:00 | Comments (4) | Permalink

November 09, 2003

Everywhere Nobilis

Last night I played in a one-shot Nobilis LARP. This was great fun and included a lovely moment when the angelic powers proposed a scheme to the Cammoran agent which was exactly the plan she had intended to carry out on her own. Scary not just for the convergence of individual trains of thought and action, but for the alliance this entailed.

I am also playing in a second Nobilis PBeM. It has only just begun, but already I am finding that the associated wiki is a potentially invaluable resource, and that it takes a fair bit of effort to keep it up to date and well cross-referenced. The effort will hopefully be distributed throughout the players; my fear is that this may trigger my control-freak tendencies and send me scurrying to ‘fix’ things. Already I have naming conventions, a general organisational scheme, and the like; I’m hoping to hold off on fiddling with the HTML for as long as possible.

Posted by jamie at 12:01+13:00 | Comments (0) | Permalink

November 01, 2003

End work, start work

Having sat my exam this morning — in which the phrase “I wrote a lot of great stuff about this in my first essay” cropped up a number of times — I have finished my courses. On Monday I start work at the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre, doing electronic publishing type stuff. I wanted a job there after reading that they used Apache Cocoon, since I’ve wanted to play with that for years, without having any project which needed it. Plus I may get paid to put the finishing touches on the Old English/Modern English wordlists, which would be nice (this is the project that I used as part of my course work; if I get paid for it too, then I’ll really be in the situation of doing for money what I would do for free).

So, time for me to dive into those parts of TEI Guidelines that I am not particularly familiar with. That would be great chunks of it, since I have tended to use Docbook for my XML texts. Apparently the two may become somewhat compatible in future.

Posted by jamie at 16:22+13:00 | Comments (0) | Permalink