Monthly Archives: December 2008

2008 Round-up

In a noble tradition stretching back to, oooooh, last year, here’s a quick round-up of the year.


Last year, I was moderately relieved that I’d managed to get my weight down a wee bit, though I was hoping to make some real progress in getting my weight down quite a lot more. Well, that didn’t really happen, and my weight’s been fluctuating wildly throughout the year. It’s been quite a lot higher – as much as 222.6 pounds (15 stone 12.6 pounds, 101 kg) in the summer after a low of 210.4 pounds (15 stone 0.4 pounds, 95.4 kg) in February. I ended the year at much the same weight as I started it. While that’s not as bad as it might have been, it’s not all that good either.

So, I need to give myself some proper targets. I’d like to get my weight below the dreaded 200 pounds (14 stone 4 pounds, 90.7 kg) level, and preferably below the 14 stone mark. And I need to keep it there. This may require more self-discipline than I actually have, but we shall see…


Despite losing the will to post over the last few months, overall this year was another record-breaker:

2003: 2 posts
2004: 515 posts
2005: 576 posts
2006: 620 posts
2007: 747 posts
2008: 833 posts

You can see the monthly totals on the Archives page, if you’re interested in such details.

It’s quite clear that if I hadn’t lost it a bit over the last few months, I could easily have reached 1,000 posts this year, which would have been quite a lot.

And finally…

Happy New Year to anyone and everyone who reads this stuff. Let’s hope for a good one….

December 2008 Round-up

Another month[1] ends, so it’s time for one of these thingies


December 1: 212 pounds (15 stone 2 pounds, 96.2 kg)
December 31: 215 pounds (15 stone 5 pounds, 97.5 kg)
Difference: A distinctly random rise of 3 pounds (1.4 kg)

This month saw my weight fluctuating more widely than ever, from a very low[2] start to as high as 218.2 pounds (15 stone 8.2 pounds, 99 kg) before coming down a bit.


Generally being bad. Especially at this time of year.


I’m lacking statistics for one week, but overall, in general I walked to work most of the time, and got the bus back most days. I’ll try to improve on that when I go back to work next week.


Still a bit low, but including this post, I’ll have done 28, which is ten more than last month, which has to be a major improvement!


Some photography has happened, and my flat is just about done, so I should manage to relocate to Losing it[1] HQ over the next few days.

[1] And indeed, year. But that’s another post
[2] By recent standards, anyway

Rickrolling is over…

No, I’m not going to post any links that will make you look at a naff 1980s pop video that I didn’t like at the time any more than I do now[1], but I thought this little gem from the ever wonderful xkcd might amuse. As ever, click the image to go to the site and see the whole thing – it’s worth it. And don’t forget the hover text:

xkcd: Party

xkcd: Party

I hope you enjoyed that :grin:

[1] That would be not at all

Sir Terry Pratchett

I’ve long thought that if we have to have an absurd honours system with silly titles, we should at least try to dish out the things to the right people. Quite some time ago, Terry Pratchett was awarded the OBE[1], and now at last he’s got the upgrade: he has been awarded a knighthood for services to literature :bouncy: :bouncy: . And about time, too.

BBC News has a short profile with a nice quote on the nature of Discworld from the man himself:

It started out as a parody of all the fantasy that was around in the big boom of the early ’80s, then turned into a satire on just about everything, and even I don’t know what it is now.

And you know, that really does sum it up nicely – the first couple of books are indeed a parody of Serious Fantasy, then he quickly moved on to the more serious (and more funny) business of using the Discworld as a means of telling stories about, well, us. Marvellous stuff.

[1] An award whose full name is far too silly to mention[2]
[2] Oh, if you insist: Officer of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire[3]
[3] Observant readers will note that our Terry is an officer of an order of something that doesn’t exist. Quite wonderful, really…

AutoKey – Nifty text expander for Linux

One thing I’ve been missing on the netbook[1] is an equivalent of ShortKeys Lite on Windows or TextExpander on Mac OS X. Both automagically expand a short code to a larger piece of text. I find this quite useful, and I’ve been missing it while using Ubuntu.

So, I did some searching and found quite a lot of people looking for much the same thing, but not that many answers. But a little more searching did turn up a few possibilities. The first was Snippits, referred to in a Lifehacker article, and with rather more detail in a Ubuntu Forum thread. So, I gave it a try.

Well, it sort of worked. It’s a wee bit faffy, in that each block of text you want to expand has to be saved as a separate text file, and it was a wee bit slow some of the time. But the big problem for me was that it seemed to be limited to around 256 characters. And as some of the blocks of text I need to insert are longer than that, it clearly wasn’t going to do the job for me. If your needs are different, it might be just the thing, so don’t let me put you off giving it a try.

The next thing I tried was AutoKey. Now if you’re not comfortable with a bit of fiddling, you might not like this – there’s no automagic installation of the package or its dependencies here – the download is a compressed archive which you need to unpack in a folder under your home folder. Not a major operation – the usual archive tools on Linux make it simple enough to unpack to a location of your choice (not hugely different from the equivalent tools on Windows or Mac OS X, really). But before you can use it, you’ll need to install some packages that it needs – normally, an installation would go and find these for you, but this time you’ll need to install them manually. There’s a helpful list on the download page, but you can just copy this line of code and run it from your terminal:

sudo apt-get install python-xlib python-gamin python-notify python-configobj

Now you’ll want to get AutoKey to start automagically when you log on. Assuming you’re using the standard Gnome desktop on Ubuntu (and it’ll be somewhere similar in other distributions and/or desktops), go to Preferences, then Sessions, and click the Add button on the Startup Items tab. Type in a friendly name in the Name box, then click the Browse button to find where you saved the file. Add a comment if you feel like it, then click the Save button.

Now close everything and log out and in again. When you get back in you should see a new icon in your tray thingy area. Right-click on it to get a pop-up menu. Make sure Enable expansions is ticked, then click on Edit abbreviations file.

If you have a look at the file, you should be able to work out what to do from the examples. You’ll probably want to delete some of them, and add your own. There are also some settings towards the bottom of the file, which you may want to play with. When you save the file, your abbreviations are instantly reloaded into AutoKey, and they’ll work immediately.

So far, it seems to do exactly what I want, and I’m quite happy with it. I’ve written this post in the hope it’ll help people find the answer I was looking for. Hope it helps.

If you try it and have any problems, you’ll need to refer to the developer’s support forum – I know far too little about Linux to offer any useful suggestions.

[1] Apparently the once-great company Psion have fallen to the level of litigation and are threatening people who use the term “netbook” as a generic term for particularly small notebook/laptop computers, rather than for their own, largely forgotten products of that name. Silly Psion….

Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death

Yesterday was a good one for TV. Not only did we get the traditional[1] Doctor Who Christmas Special, we also had that much rarer treat: a new Wallace and Gromit short film.

And what a joy it was: filled with the usual mixture of movie references, puns so bad that even I would hesitate to utter them, yet another doomed romance for Wallace, gadgets that would make Thunderbirds jealous, and a deranged Cereal Killer (bumping off bakers…).

It’s amazing work – you completely forget that what you’re watching is painstakingly made stop motion animation[2] and find yourself completely believing in the characters – especially the long-suffering Gromit, who manages to convey a huge range of expressions, despite not having a visible mouth.

Wonderful stuff, which will repay repeated viewings to catch some of the references you missed the first time.

[1] Yes, it’s a tradition. Has been since the first one.
[2] Well, except when you can see fingerprints on the figures. I like that.

Doctor Who: The Next Doctor

Well, that was fun. The build-up to the 2008 Doctor Who Christmas special turned out to be an even more impressive piece of misdirection than I was expecting.

I was expecting it to be some kind of trick – I knew that David Morrissey’s character was most unlikely to really be the Doctor, but I really had no idea who he could be, or how he came to be doing such a good Doctor impression. Russell T Davies kept me guessing for long enough to keep things very interesting indeed, and there was more than enough chasing, running and Cyberman action[1] to make it the usual thoroughly entertaining seasonal romp[2].

And no, I’m not doing the usual plot summary – you’ll have to see it for yourself if you haven’t already done so. :tongue:

But to end on a serious note – when the “Doctor” asks the Doctor why he’s now travelling alone, he explains that people move on, or find someone else, or (in a touching reference to Donna) that they forget him.

They break my heart

Beautiful stuff. Remember, there will only be four special episodes of Doctor Who in 2009, which will involve Russell T Davies and David Tennant leaving the show, which suggests to me that they’re going to be very, very big – not just as a send-off, but also to give Steven Moffat and the actual Next Doctor (whoever that turns out to be) a tough act to follow. Which should also help make sure Steven gets the budget he needs. :bouncy:

[1] Delete! Delete!
[2] Not a word I use a lot, but it seemed appropriate

What do you want from WordPress 2.8?

Now the dust has settled on WordPress 2.7, which I’m still finding much more pleasant to use than previous releases, it’s time to look forward to the next version. WordPress 2.8 is due out in March, and is likely to have some significant improvements – no radical UI changes this time, though.

The developers are inviting commnets and suggestions on what features people want to see given priority. Not only that, but there’s a survey to complete, too. Read the article and click through to the survey.

Prioritizing Features for WordPress 2.8

I’m hoping that the currently rather poor widget management area will get some extra special treatment.

Some Cardiff Pictures

What with one thing and another, today was my only chance to have a random wander in Cardiff. Just like last year, it was a dull, grey day, so I didn’t take a lot of pictures, but here’s a few.

Just like Newcastle, Cardiff is getting a shiny new library:

Cardiff Library

Cardiff Library

Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium is an impressive structure. Its towers are visible from lots of odd angles, such as this one:

Millennium Stadium

Millennium Stadium

Cardiff City Hall is a nicely interesting building. Here’s just a small part of it:

City Hall

City Hall

And finally, here’s the oldest record shop in the world, apparently:



I’ll have to come back to Cardiff when the weather’s better to get some more pictures…

Cardiffian Apostrophe Abuse

Oh dear. It seems that mistreatment of apostrophes happens in Wales, too:



This was in clear view at the entrance to Cardiff’s central market. I’ll forgive the market on this occasion because the nice cheese stall had some very nice hot chilli cheddar. Mmmmmm.