The assorted finds of Artefact Publishing

April 25, 2005

At last, it lives!

The new NZETC website is live. Based on an XML topic map (currently focused around textual structure, publication details, and names of people, places, organisations and ships), it features automatically generated lists of links from a topic page to the texts which mention, were written, published or funded by, the topic subject. So, for example, the page for George William von Zedlitz links to various chapters in a history of Victoria University of Wellington, as well as two images of him, and all because the source documents have some markup specifying that his name occurs in those documents.

Despite the substantial change from our old site, the really good stuff is still to come: multiple views of the texts (such as a basic view which regularises spelling and doesn’t show mistakes), event and subject topics, and more texts.

Posted by jamie at 12:48+12:00 | Comments (2) | Permalink

April 24, 2005

Dictionary editor progress

The dictionary editor I mentioned way back in November last year has finally seen some progress. I have found a mostly suitable Python XML library (Amara) and I have a fair idea of how the GUI will work.

Of course, there is still lots of code to be written, and I have no idea how I’m going to handle some parts (like specifying which language a given bit of text is in), but I feel confident that I can make something useful relatively soon.

As part of trying to get a better grip of what is going on with the new release of the NZETC’s website (the new, topic map-based version of which should be up and running within the next day), I discovered Trac, the enhanced wiki and issue tracking system for software development projects. Put simply, it is a fantastic tool, nicely integrating with Subversion and using wiki features throughout (so there is easy linking, for example, to changesets or specific files at specific revisions, as well as to tickets/bugs). I have started to set up such a thing for the dictionary editor — which caused a large amount of annoyance as I ran into a mod_python bug by which reloading the Apache webserver does not actually properly restart the mod_python part. Must remember that in future.

Posted by jamie at 20:31+12:00 | Comments (0) | Permalink

April 16, 2005

Don’t treat HTML as text!

Which seems to be exactly what Movable Type does. Though this blog is set up to use UTF-8, I tend to use numeric character references for all non-ASCII characters, in part because it’s often easier for me to input them, and in part because when I tried using the actual characters, bits of Movable Type behaved badly.

However, I have now discovered that the search function operates over the plain text of the HTML entries, and not over the parsed text. Which is to say that for the purposes of search, “faërie” (using the actual e with diaeresis character) and “faërie” (using the numeric character reference for e with diaeresis) are not the same thing. And that’s just wrong. To add insult to injury, the results page when searching on the latter (that is, entering “faërie” into the search box) autofills the search box with “faërie”, so that if you activate the search form again, it won’t return the same result. Madness!

I am hoping that Wordpress gets this right, by searching over the parsed text. Update: But, sadly, it doesn’t. I might just go file a bug.

Posted by jamie at 14:24+12:00 | Comments (0) | Permalink

April 14, 2005

Book questions

So Stephen has nominated me to answer some questions about my book tastes. I don’t think in this instance I can be both honest and interesting, let alone esoteric, so I shall go with one.

  1. You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book do you want to be?

    I am unclear as to whether there is any particular aim implied by the question, such as to be able to educate or entertain others. For best reading aloud, either Winnie the Pooh or Spencer’s The Faerie Queene — sure, the latter drags on a lot, but it also has the line “whose fall did never foe before behold,” and I can forgive a lot for that. I tripped over it when I first came across it (I was reading aloud), and then immediately repeated it several times out of delight with it.

  2. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?


  3. The last book you bought is:

    Verlyn Flieger’s Splintered Light : Logos and Language in Tolkien’s World (revised edition). When reading the first edition the writing style initially put me off through being somewhat clumsy, but it overcame that and is thoroughly excellent. I am hoping that the revisions improve the original as much as has been said.

  4. The last book you finished is:

    John Brunner’s The Shockwave Rider. I hadn’t read it for years, though it is probably the book I have read most often. It was what made me look for Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language (though I did not know that it was that book I was after), for which alone it deserves my thanks, though I could say many other good things about it.

  5. What are you currently reading?

    Verylyn Flieger’s A Question of Time : J. R. R. Tolkien’s Road to Faërie and various articles in Tolkien and the Invention of Myth : A Reader. Yes, some might say I was overdosing, but it is both interesting and professionally relevant.

    Oh, and tombstone inscriptions from ancient Rome.

  6. Five books you would take to a desert island.

    The one-volume collected works of A. A. Milne, The Wind in the Willows, The Lord of the Rings, A Pattern Language, and The Shockwave Rider. I love rereading, and do far more of that than I do reading.

    I would like to put Crime and Punishment on the list (and the ending is fine, if only because Dostoevsky was skilled enough to pull off something which would usually be lame and insulting), and महाभारत (Mahābhārata), and Aeschylus’s Ἀγαμέμνων (Agamemnon). But then that list could be continued on for some time; I stand by my first five.

  7. Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?

    Michael, because he reads too much and will be thrown into a flurry of indecision; Stuart, because he won’t be able to resist talking theoretical physics; and Morgue, because he is broad-minded where I am narrow.

Posted by jamie at 22:23+12:00 | Comments (1) | Permalink