Wednesday, August 20, 2008

20 August 2008: Box

So a little over four years ago I blogged about a magic toaster that was going to revolutionise the world. While that hasn't quite happened yet - although the 1/4 terabyte 'WD Passport' drive currently USB'd to my work laptop might disagree - there's another box that just came into my life which promises far less and delivers a much more useful service.

It doesn't store photos, or videos, or cricket statistics, and it doesn't give off smoke. At least not yet. What it does, silently and effectively, is takes electricity from our American socket at 110 volts and outputs electricity into our British equipment at 240 volts, provided said British equipment doesn't want to draw more than 6 amps or so in the process (very few things do). Meaning not only do we now have a printer again (hurrah!) but our glorious region-free DVD player and sound system will now stop dropping out the audio from time to time, and it also makes us sort-of wish we hadn't given away the old John Lewis waffle iron (although it went to a very good, if blog-deficient, home).

The best feature might well be that it will also perform the reverse operation as required, meaning essentially any equipment purchased in any country with either voltage rating is now usable in the other, just in case any such moves are required in the future.

Meantime I'm investigating Oracle-Stellent-UCM-thing's new replacement for Verity, which is hard enough to find and even harder to use. Not only is it not on Metalink (like they said it would be) but it also only works on an Oracle 11g database. Your Content Server can sit on any other DB if you like, but to use OracleTextSearch you need 11g, and if it isn't your core DB, then you have to install it just for this component. Your alternatives? Full-text DB indexing, perhaps some unsupported Verity, FAST-it-yourself and maybe even Google (*cough*).

The features look good - stemming, thesaurus use, the usual suspects - but when the first attempt (loading onto an existing Content Server running on 11g) failed with a confusing-looking Oracle error, I decided it might be safer just to try it on a brand new installation. And that means installing Oracle database 11g, standard edition, with Spatial tagged on in case I want to do some RDFing at any point. And how long does it take to install this thing? Currently two hours in and only at 52%. Even after this, who's to say whether the component will work or just crash like before?

Makes a Windows re-install look almost inviting. Maybe that's why they've not put it on Metalink yet.

Addendum: The Lincolnshire Poacher seems to be no more. I noticed this about a month ago when I saw the Wikipedia article now referred to it in the past tense. After viewing the 'spooks' website though, I realised I probably have more reason to be worried about the Poacher's trackers rather than the mysterious counting sources themselves. Do these folks really have nothing better to do?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

16 August 2008: Paula

Minor respite from travelling means a little blog energy. And for the nth time this summer, this was the view from our living room window early this evening. (n > 4 I think). On this occasion, Kokomo's downtown square was filled with a festival called 'A Taste of Kokomo' where local restaurants (for some reason including chains such as Ruby Tuesday and Cracker Barrel) show up and offer a particularly small selection of their wares (usually including pulled pork) for slightly over-the-odds prices.

Three dollars to get in, and we were honest and did actually leave our place by the rear door, walk round the side of the building and pay the fee at the entrance, rather than just walking out our front door as we could have done, right into the midst of it all.

And it wasn't too bad, albeit not enormously distinguishable from the other various town-square festivals we've either seen or missed during the summer. The food was ok, particularly the freshly-barbecued corn-on-the-cob from a local catering company, the worst (comfortably) being the raspberry lemonade from Ruby Tuesday. The local bands were as loud as ever, and keen to give shout-outs to the in-town radio stations that occasionally play their MP3s. Overall a good feeling to the thing, although after an hour and three times around the square, it was pretty much a done deal for us.

We went back in through our front door. No shame in that.

And upstairs to watch the TV and see the ladies running the marathon. First Olympics I've actually seen so far, and I thought it might be a good chance to see Paula win, or at least do something dramatic (it's never boring with Paula, whether it's tears or pee-pee around the twenty mile mark). The 2004 Olympic ladies marathon was what first got me interested in running such dumb distances: watching Paula just gradually slow up made me shout things at the television screen, typically: "oh just RUN will you, how difficult can it be?" (Answer: very difficult, especially with dodgy knees.)

But as I write this, watching it on NBC - and can I just say, by the way, that whatever criticism the BBC may get in the UK, at least they don't keep interrupting the marathon coverage with (1) adverts, (2) pointless re-runs of men's 100m race from previous day and (3) pictures of Tony Blair meeting swimmers, and THEN saying "continuous uninterrupted live coverage of the marathon continues here, but first..." - where was I? Yes. Watching it on NBC I've seen some Romanian lady charge out in front, taking smelling salts it looks like, and right now she's being chased down by a small group headed by a tiny Chinese lady.

At least I think that's happening right now, because as I write this what they're actually showing is a trailer for "America's Got Talent" (featuring Piers Bleddy Morgan) and something about buying a 4-hour DVD of the opening ceremonies. Presumably with the advert breaks removed?

Oh, and Paula? She faded away about 30 minutes ago, just drifted off the back of the chase group. Boring.

For the first time ever, Paula Radcliffe is being boring. Maybe she's just getting old or something.

Postscript: I'm not going to talk about the football. Except to say, for the first time, I'm actually starting to think Rupert might get his wish and Saints might, actually, not make it to the end of the season. At least Argyle have some kind of hope and can afford to pay wages.