Sunday, October 08, 2006

Patterns and Grimoires

Mark-Jason Dominus has a post here about Design Patterns, which discusses whether the existence of a design pattern in a particular language is an example of a weakness or a missing feature in that language, and also discusses whether there is a meaningful distinction between features implemented in the language, versus in the library.

One of my favourite concepts in my own private study of meaning is that of the True Grimoire. To me a True Grimoire is a particular kind of book of magic - one which has the property of being written in the language which things are, rather than any language in which they are merely represented.

A True Grimoire is thus able to be understood by anyone who reads it, no matter what languages the reader understands - because the concepts represented are the concepts themselves, not any model of them.

This is useful for thinking about patterns, because it brings to the centre the idea that programming languages are just models of a set of concepts which are more complex en masse than their basic form suggests. MJD says that the existence of patterns in a particular language is a sign of weakness in that language. The implication is that if the pattern needs to be repeatedly re-implemented in the domain of applicablity of the language, then perhaps a version of the language which included the pattern's solutions as part of the shipping bundle would be better.

I think of it as this - when we can write a computer language (Enochian?) which resembles the alphabet of the True Grimoire, then patterns will truly have become irrelevant. Until then, we're stuck in a world where we address them as we find them and in doing so shift the burden of the heavy lifting from one stress point to another.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Skype, and getting my BT headset working

I have a Powerbook and a Cellink BTST-9000a headset with mic.

Until now, I had no reason to get them playing together, but a good friend (who lives on the other side of the world) popped up on Skype, so I felt motivated to get going on it.

The manual, which you will need, is here. The key trick to get it working with a Mac is that, as it needs a passkey (1234, by default), you will have to detect it from the "Setup Bluetooth Device" menu option as "Any Device", not "Headset". That should get it actually visible to the Mac.

Now, when you're actually wanting to use it for sound, you'll have to set up the sound preferences in the Sound option of System Preferences. Manually choosing it for sound input and output each time - there doesn't seem to be an option to say: "If you can see the headset (ie, it's in range and not switched off) - prefer it to the speakers / internal mic"

Still, it works, and Skype should now be a little less painful.

Music sounds like semi-shitty Internet radio, however.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Fun with My N70

I have a Nokia N70 on Vodafone UK.

The firmware for this phone truly blows goats.

It's full of unpleasant, undocumented misfeatures - you can't use .mp3s as ringtones to push you to pay for ringtones, the phone's so bloated with chrome that the phone takes that little bit too long to respond, making the UI excruciating to use.

In short, it's a sack of shit, so I decided to do something about it.

The method detailed on the web (here) doesn't appear to work for UK Voda firmware - I suspect the firmware is too old.

So it was back to square 1. I found a couple of adverts on Google which offered a service, and one of them was not too far from Biscuit Town, so I gave them a call to check they could do a Voda N70 - which they could.

I treked down there on Saturday afternoon, and found myself in quite a suburban side-street, outside someone's house. This looked a bit dodgy, and I considered bailing, until I remembered how shitty the service and treatment in high street stores is.

I rang the bell, and was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by half of a lovely geek couple who were running their business out of their front room while they found a space in central London for a reasonable rent (good luck).

They were really nice and friendly and we exchanged email addresses after we'd backed my data up, reflashed the phone (using a hardware flasher called JAF - Just Another Flasher) and recopied my data.

The new firmware is so much better than the Vodafone. The phone feels snappier, more responsive and generally not shit.

I have an mp3 as ringtone now, and I'm working on getting LifeBlog working. Currently, I am having problems getting it to post. I suspect that the Vodafone HTTP proxies don't like either the Content-Type: or possibly Basic Auth that the Atom posting API uses.

I will investigate further.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Hi, welcome to my blog.

This is not my main personal blog - that's elsewhere. This is mostly a tech blog, and also my chance to talk about some of the things on my mind in a different space to usual. I won't intentionally identify anyone I talk about, and I won't respond to speculation - and will delete any comments I don't like.

That said, come on in.