Daily Archives: Sunday, 18th Dec 2011

Weight and Stuff Report – 18 December 2011

What? Up again today? Must be all that inactivity yesterday. Either that or the lasagne.

I decided to brave the crowds and walk into Newcastle for a bit of final you-know-what shopping today. I was surprised to find that Newcastle was a lot quieter than I’d normally expect on the last shopping Sunday in December, so the whole thing didn’t take as long as I expected. It seems the iPhone had a bit of GPS trouble, as the Garmin stuff bears very little relation to where I actually went.

Your picture for today is of the North Tyne Pier from above.

North Pier

North Pier


Cross references made me cross

Back in June, I posted about a revised and improved WordPress Cross-References plugin. This made it moderately easy to link to previous posts, and nicely inserted links to posts that were linking to the post in question, which is a feature I like to have. I liked it so much that I even went to the trouble of tweaking it a bit to suit me better.

But this is an example of what’s known as “abandonware”. The developer hasn’t made any changes since about 2009, on the quite reasonable grounds that he no longer uses WordPress. Up until now, this hasn’t been a problem, but there was always the chance that a change in WordPress core would break something. And it seems that the new media features in WordPress 3.3 have indeed done that. The plugin works by adding a link alongside the “insert media” button, and as that bit of the interface has changed quite significantly, the link now appears, but clicking it makes the normal insert image box pop up.

Bother. Manually typing in a [cref] shortcode didn’t play nicely, either – though that might have been just random oddness, as I’ve known that to fail from time to time for no apparent reason.

So, it was time to remove the plugin. It comes with an uninstall routine that turns all the shortcodes back into normal internal links and deletes its database table. Except, of course, that it didn’t quite work. Older posts, from before I installed the new plugin were converted correctly, but about 90 created since June still contained the [cref] shortcodes. Bother.

So, I’ve spent a few hours editing old posts to restore proper internal links, not to mention fixing a few typos that I’d missed at the time of posting. That was fun…

I’m sorry to lose the useful backward links at the foot of posts, but it’s one less bit of code to run, and one less database table to keep track of, so it’s not all bad, I suppose…

Moriarty: The Hound of the D’Urbervilles – Kim Newman

Not content with reissuing and extending his Anno Dracula series, the excellent Mr Newman has unleashed another book. Moriarty is, of course, famous as the arch-enemy of Sherlock Holmes, despite him appearing in just one story, and having an off-stage appearance, so to speak, in another. This hasn’t stopped him appearing in numerous movies, TV adaptations and Holmes stories by other writers, but the fact remains that we know very little about the criminally inclined mathematics professor. This puts an author in the happy position of being able to play with the character and take things in whatever direction he pleases. When the author in question is Kim Newman, this is a recipe for fun. Lots of fun, and more literary and cultural references than anyone who isn’t actually Kim Newman will catch.

What we have here is either a series of stories disguised as a novel, or a novel disguised as a series of stories. It reads through as a continuous narrative, but each long chapter could be taken as a separate story – indeed, some have previously been published that way. It also benefits from useful endnotes written in the person of an editor discussing the source narrative.

And that source is none other than Colonel Sebastian Moran, known to Holmes readers as a close associate of Moriarty, and “the second most dangerous man in London”. Here, he’s revealed as the Watson to Moriarty’s Holmes – writer of the adventures, often used and misled in the cause of, errr, crime.

Yes, Moriarty is a consulting criminal, whose jobs take him and Moran into a variety of adventures, some of which bear a resemblance to more familiar stories. There are also numerous interactions with other 19th century literary figures, as the title should have warned you.

In the last story, we get another view of what happened at the Reichenbach Falls, which differs somewhat from both of those related by Watson. Not that you’d necessarily believe anything Moran tells you, of course.

This is great stuff – you can read it for laughs, read it as a Sherlock Holmes fan, play spot the reference before Kim hits you on the head with it, or indeed just enjoy the adventure. It belongs on your Kindle or bookshelf.