Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Best pen ever

You should be thankful that this blog is not in my handwriting. I've never liked my writing; It damages my artistic enjoyment of the world and scratches against my sense of beauty.  At the same time it appals me like any other revolting thing that may emanate from my corpse.

That said, from time to time I do scrawl of sheets of dead tree and when I do I want the experience to be as painless as possible.

I feel that I am a long way off from being an enthusiast, like some people, but when I find something that I like, I want to share it, (and be able to remember it, hence this entry.)

There have been three good pens in my life worth mentioning and the first, (maybe controversially) is the Pentel P205.  For those of you watching in colour, it looks like:
Pentel P205 propelling pencil

 Why might this be a shock? Because it is, <noise like="Dun Dan Duuuun"/> a pencil. The P205, (like its yellow sister P209 and blue P207, and brown P203), is a propelling pencil. The P205 takes 0.5 mm leads, (P209 takes, you guessed it 0.9 mm).

I've had three of the P205 so far, and two of them are still working, (even after years and years of use.)
(I had a P209 but I leant it to someone at school and forgot to get it back.)
Some would argue that the P205 is too light, but for me that is part of the appeal - it feels sturdy enough without needless weight. The pocket-clip is detachable, (if you need to?)

The next pen worth mentioning was a gift from a bandwidth supplier, ( It came in a nice box that looked like:

cross box

and the pen itself looked like:

Cross ATX Matte Ballpoint Pen

The Cross ATX Ballpoint pen, (not to be confused with the water-based roller-ball version, which has a cap that comes off like the fountain pen in this range), twists to retract and extend the point of the cartridge.

This one feels expensively heavy in the hand, (even though it is one of the cheapest of the Cross pens.) I really liked how it wrote, but clearly not enough... because I left it somewhere in Cambridge.
I plan to get another of these and having inspected a few reviews I would go for the same colour and the matte finish.

That leads me to the latest entry and a short story. I found a pen. I liked it. It felt like the best of the previous two, (light, wrote well, didn't feel excessively cheap, but I didn't mind lending it to someone.) I planned to make a note about this pen, using said pen, so that I would be able to get another one once I lost this one... which I promptly did. All I could remember was that it was black, wrote well and had a metal pocket clip. I searched the house a few times and then gave up. The plan was to let my unconscious remember where it was and let me know. That was 2009. Today, the fourth day of June 2012 I found it, and what is more I found out why I had missed it in my previous searches. The metal pocket clip had broken off, hiding like a two leafed clover, in with a jar of other pens. The pen that I'm talking about is the Pilot V-ball 0.5 and looks like:
Pilot V-Ball 0.5

Now if you have tried the 0.7, (which is, on some websites, sold as the 0.5) you may, like me think that this is a smudgy pen that gushes too much ink. In my hunt I found a few of the 0.7 and had surges of hope, (they were black and had a metal pocket-clip) only to be disappointed as they vomited their tar onto the page. Then this evening I noticed a black pen from which the pocket-clip had been removed... The clouds parted as divine intervention struck my brain with imagination, expectation and understanding. To be precise the barcode on this pen is: 4902505085406 (yes, I really don't want to lose this pen again - and when I say "this pen" I mean make-n-model.)

As I do very little writing, (some would argue that I do none at all and that my scrawls don't count), I would be interested in any recommendations from people that have tried one or more of these three and then found something even better.


p.s. I'll probably mention this in a few posts, but to add the images for this post I have to thank $The_Internet and openssl. The images are created from jpegs with the command:

openssl base64 -in image.jpg -out image.base64

and then added to the HTML with <img alt="What this is" src="data:image/jpg;base64,
[Paste in the data from the image.base64 file here]  "/>

Obviously, if you are using PNG then change the src to data:image/pgn;base64,

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Babies first words

I was pleasantly surprised to be asked by a friends child, "which language should I learn?" From the context it was clear that they meant computer language. I regularly write in five, (though which five changes with time context and application, and that's not including things like CSS,) so my first reaction was to resist recommending the language de jour, (either mine, which happens to be C++, or the a-la-mode python.)
  I asked what operating system they had regular access to and found out that they had windows. One of the most under rated, and most abused languages is ECMAscript. I remember, (I'm that old) waaay back when Microsoft created their only tolerable operating system, XP I had to create some scripts to automate a project for a client and I ended up using JScript.

So I installed notepad++ and naturally wrote:

wscript.echo("Hello World");

Saved it as hw.js and told them to double click it.... (My kingdom for a horseshoe nail.)  My "cool" melted away with a jarring "gank" alert noise. I then took far too long to remember/realise why.

Some part of my brain had automatically discarded the solution because, "everyone knows that windows is case insensitive."

WScript.echo("Windows JScript IS case sensitive: wscript.echo\n Error: 'wscript' is undefined\n Code: 800A1391\n Source: Microsoft JScript runtime error\n I feel like my whole life is a lie; unix = case-sensitive (it cares), microsoft = (case) insensitive. Jay script? more like BS cript.");

// JScript is NOT windows filesystem.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

[windows] NAS re-connect fail

TL;DR: Control Panel > Credential Manager
On the right hand side "Add a Windows Credential".

I've just been repairing someone's dual-boot Debian/Windows 8 laptop, (obviously it was the Windows that had the problem.) When I boot the, (frankly cheap, but brand new) laptop into Linux everything that I request seems to happen instantly, or much faster than Windows. [0] They have a NAS and each time they reboot into Window they had to re-enter their username and password. (The NAS partitions mount automatically under Linux. ) So I checked that the NAS supported SAMBA, (it does) and did some other tests. I created a test user on the NAS and that worked, (would reconnect by itself after reboot.) Eventually I realised the problem, (I had to get into the cult mindset of Microsoft.)

The user had the same username to log into windows as they do for the NAS, so the Windows operating system defaults to the local details. This is despite the re-connect challenge window having a "Remember these details" box - which Windows arogantly and presumptuously ignores, and uses the local system details... which fail because the user is well trained enough to not use the same passphrase for everything.

The details that most helped me crack this problem was actually on a microsoft site. My thanks to maximus006dflw:

MA maximus006dflw replied on
Use credential manager in Windows 7 to remember the username and password for your NAS Drive if it doesnt remember it automatically.
Go to Start / Control Panel / User Accounts and Family Safety / Credential Manager
On the right hand side, right below where it says "Windows Credentials" Select "Add a Windows Credential".
Enter your NAS' Server name in the first box.
User Name in the second box and your password for the server in the third box.

[0] For example, opening a new folder on Windows takes 1 to 10 seconds, depending on how its feeling. On Linux it seems to happen before I've finished pressing the W+f chord.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Things to do with your hands

The first type of shorthand that I tried to learn was one of the Pitman. Since then I've found that I prefer the Gregg/Thomas/Boyd/Gabelsberger/Groote flowing types.

If you are interested in such a thing then I would suggest learning Hangul and then looking at Arabic script before creating your own system.  (Note Devanagari digits!)

SI units and scientific notation help to keep numbers short.

If you want to lengthen a vowel from win to wine then just add an ee. [wat?]

The problem is that stenography has been shown to be much faster than any popular keyboard, (such as Qwerty). The advantage of, (light line) shorthand is that a any writing surface that has a flowing system of writing, (pencil on paper, chalk on slate, finger in the sand) are all possible without specialised equipment.

That is where Plover is so interesting.

oh and Learn Cued Speech. It makes you a superhero.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Shuttering out the truth

France is (almost) [0]  a wonderful experiment. It is almost exactly like England, but Beta, (a test platform if you will.)

The two observations that I would like to suggest are more than correlated are: window shutters and hypochondria.

Even before Seasonal Affective Disorder became effective, it was known that humans have an intimate relationship with light that, (as it happens goes back to the first simple multi-cellular ancestors), can clearly affect both physical and mental health.

The English mostly use curtains, (drapes) to cover their windows. The French mostly use shutters.

In this era of energy consciousness the French can clearly feel smug as shutters will, (usually) provide far better insulation that curtains. And killing of the humans more quickly might be the best thing for the climate, (another win for France!)

So why, where there is a convenient corner-shop, (open WHEN YOU NEED IT) in England, is the equivalent location in France is occupied by a pharmacy? (Not open late, or at lunch time. Where "lunch time" is 12h00 to 14h30 - a pharmacist has a "right" to eat you know.)

Is the national health system in France such a "racquet" [1] that it can support so many pharmacies? Did the 1789 revolution throw the genetic strength out with the reform bath-water? (If so, so much for short-sighted logic.)

These are other conclusions that you may argue for, but I think that the gene pool is probably more elastic than that and it is simply the reduction in natural light that is causing so many French people [2] to be such hypochondriacs [3].

You don't get a national health system that is the envy of most developed nations, (and all other nations) without having plenty of sick people to work play with, I mean cure. [4]

Research filtered through pop-journalism offers support for the necessity of sunlight for healthy eye development, (meaning that especially children should not live in shuttered rooms - though if their energy levels didn't give you a clue that they should be outside running about, then maybe you need to work on your powers of observation or conclusions.)

Conclusion: Everyone should have shutters to insulate their windows, but they should open and shut automatically with the rising and setting of the sun, which would probably consume as much energy as they conserve so just use curtains that can keep in the heat while letting in the light. This Englishman thanks you.

[0] When we look at Jean-Paul Sartre's attempts to destroy the bourgeois influences that were, as he saw it, impinging upon the Liberty of the French, (while he had the freedom to postulate such guff) it has a charming naïveté, as if he had already forgotten each of the previous revolutions of his nation. Each one trying to crush a little more freedom from the bodied of those that are perceived to have more Liberty than the majority of the nation. The problem is that it is as sure as entropy that you always reduce the general liberty when you try to drink it from the blood of your fellow humans.

[1] actually racket is one of the few places where the French have the sense to use the same word as in English. ;-)
[2] Feel free to collect your own data, but I'm convinced.
[3] oh yes you are you frenchies. oh and stop smoking - you selfish stinkie person.
[4] Yeah, I know its flawed logic - that paragraph is meant to inject levity before the conclusion.

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Sort of a test blog... until it isn't