Sunday, November 16, 2008

Funny English expression of the day

"Rarer than rocking horse shite."

How to replace a bicycle tube/tyre ten times faster than I do

I hate dealing with punctures. I usually spend about 40 minutes dithering at the task, struggling to get the tube out of the wheel, locating the puncture, patching it carefully, leaving it for 5 minutes, coming back to find that I didn't apply it properly, cleaning it with sandpaper and then jamming the inner tube back in under the outer tyre.

So I was a bit embarrassed to see these videos of a guy removing and inserting the tube (and outer tyre in the process, which seems to just speed things up) in about 80 seconds. I'm still a bit skeptical about dealing with the outer tyre, which seems much tighter and stiffer on my hybrid wheel, but I'll have to try it next time!

Tube comes out

Tube goes in

These videos come from the very useful homepage of Jim Langley. (Note: Opera users such as myself may want to identify as Firefox or IE due to some outdated JS-crippling)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Meteor MMS on the Palm Treo 680

Meteor uses a system which pushes the WAP/MMS/etc configuration to your mobile phone, but strangely don't provide the details online for anybody with an unsupported phone. In fact, when I phoned their customer service I had to push the agent to speak to his supervisor and get the settings, since he had no idea what I was talking about (indicated by his question "Did you say I.T. address or I.P. address?").

It's not possible to specify those settings completely in the Messaging program on the Treo 680; instead, you need to modify (or copy and use) the settings in (main) Prefs->Network. This configuration worked for us:
Service: Meteor MMS Copy
Connection: GPRS
User Name: my
Password: mms

Then in the Messaging program, go to the Preferences menu, select the Network tab, change "Network Configuration" to manual and enter the "Edit..." dialogue, where you can enter the following settings:
Message centre number: +353857000000
Email centre number: [blank]

Network Profile: Meteor MMS Copy

This works for downloading MMS messages.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

the arithmetic calculator exercise in GFA Basic

For a couple of reasons, I tried that arithmetic calculator exercise in GFA Basic (v3.6 for the Atari ST; why not?), and although I selected a somewhat different approach, I think it's really like a non-recursive version of the recursive Lisp version I posted before; with state in variables which persist for the whole loop. This is where side-effects can get mysterious, compared to the neater encapsulation of state in each recursive call's parameters.

randomly entertaining Chinese sentence

I check pretty much every new word I come across in my study materials on, which also lists example sentences containing the term.

Here's a nice one I found when looking up the character 肥 (fei2), which according to my book means "(of clothes, shoes) loose*, (of animals) fat":
I was so tightly wedged between two fat women that it was difficult for me to get up and leave the bus.

:D :D

* although I couldn't substantiate the first meaning from the online dictionary..?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Common Lisp: arithmetic calculator exercise

Following a post on the Atari ST forum I tried a little exercise to write an arithmetic expression parser for expressions like "24 - 3*9 + 9/3". I was surprised to find it a little difficult, taking about an hour even with the concessions I made (accepting input as a list rather than a string, and not checking for well-formedness of expressions). My code is on and I'd love to see any improvements or tips. Embarrassingly, I took two semesters of the final year compiler construction course in DCU and did quite well at it; parsing of programs was a central topic on the course! I guess it's easy to take for granted your skills at 'abstract' coding and notice they need a bit of exercising.