Monthly Archives: May 2005

I'll trust you if you're me.

Another interesting article from Wired News. Researchers at Stanford have found that test subjects liked and trusted a computer-generated avatar that mimicked their own body-language, albeit on a four second delay.

I was vaguely aware that one could influence others by subtly reflecting their gestures (as I couldn’t work people out at school, I read a lot of text on sociopsychology and the like) – it seems computers can do it even better.

Forcemeats III

The best of the best, head to head! OK, actually I’ve only made the three batches, but you get the idea…

The contenders:

  • Batch 1 – beef, pork, bacon, panade, brandy, egg
  • Batch 2 – beef, pork, lamb, durum wheat semolina, egg
  • Batch 3 – meat mix from batch 1, durum wheat semolina, brandy, egg

The big winner (and that’s my wife and the in-laws saying that as well) was Batch 1. Batch 2 was just too dry – virtually no fat and it suffered for it. I froze half of Batch 1, from which I made Batch 3; all the flavour was there, but using flour instead of bread doesn’t give quite the right texture for me. Bacon, I believe, is an essential component.

The next phase of experimentation will involve making something similar to Batch 1, then smoking it. (My excellent local butcher has given me some metwurst skins and will put whatever I bring in into his smoker.)

Accessibility Evaluation of Smiffy's Place

Having finished my initial tweaks of the code for this web log, I have run it through the online evaluation tool at Cynthia Says (by HiSoftware). In conjunction with my own observations, things aren’t looking too bad; these are the points I feel that need to be addressed:

  • Style sheet needs to be purged of all absolute units
  • Edit and Leave a Comment links on all articles appear the same although they actually point to different resources. I need to get title attributes into the links to fix this – when I can find where in the PHP code they live. (Checkpoint 13.1)

If anyone has any comments to make on the accessibility of this site, please make them against this post.

About Smiffy

I am a thirty-something (the something now being a number greater than 9) IT professional, Open Source and Accessibility advocate, of English birth, who recently (2001) moved from the second wettest county in England (Devon) to the driest state of the driest continent (South Australia).

Professionally, I am a freelance web applications developer and technology consultant through my business, Smiffytech. My full professional Curriculum Vitae can be found at LinkedIn.

I live with my wife, several dogs, two horses, innumerable venomous spiders, mice, and birds* on a small farmlet within heavy artillery range (somewhat more than a stone's throw) of the Spencer Gulf. This distance may be subject to change due to polar ice melt. As the house is over 50 metres above Mean Sea Level, we shouldn't be getting our toes wet just yet.

* That's just the spiders; the mice and birds aren't venomous, to the best of our knowledge, although some of the birds can get pretty stroppy.

Nethack and Slashem players may be interested to know that our house looks a bit like this:

Nethack-style graphic of house

Over the last 4 years or so, I have been impaired by ill-health which practitioners are referring to as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (it sounds more grand than "I don't know"). This has presented certain challenges like only being able to work 12-15 hours per week and not being able to drive. Despite the impairment and the restricted hours, working from home has meant that I can be productive to the fullness of my ability by working when I can, even if this does mean some quite odd hours. I have commented on this in my article Going to Work – Time for a Rethink? Being constantly tired has also lent me a new outlook on web accessibility as described in a presentation given remotely to the OzeWAI 2006 conference. Although it created a few challenges – especially at the outset – Chronic Fatigue has not prevented me from doing Weight Training over the last year as my series Weight Training and Chronic Fatigue describes.

Smiffy Facts

  • Smiffy is the same smiffy as identified by NickServ and is occasionally spotted on #SWIG
  • Smiffy is the CPAN author SMIFFY Don't go rushing off to look – I have only published one module and that was ages ago.
  • Smiffy was a childhood nickname, still used by a few friends; recent usage started as an IRC nickname (recently changed to msmiffy), now a general nom de clavier.
  • Matthew Smith is not the Matthew Smith that wrote Manic Miner and Jetset Willy, although he did own a ZX Spectrum 48k
  • On Yahoo, Smiffy is known as Heoroweard and Prisoner39013. Go figure.

AOL Concocts a Mess With Netscape

I received this worrying article this morning from the Without IE mailing list.

It appears that AOL has, in its infinite wisdom, released a new version of a “Netscape” browser. Rather than going forward and building something wonderful, this offering is a crippled version of Firefox with an Internet Explorer engine – complete with all the Internet Explorer security problems.

Either AOL Time Warner has something going with Microsoft, or whoever draws their browser roadmap has their head well and truly up their bottom.

Sometimes it DOES all seem worthwhile

I awoke grumpy and wondered down to my office, coffee in hand (Mocha Harar, double shot but made long to try to get the chill off me). I sat down, went through my spam, er, mail and chanced to look up. The time – 0717 – sunrise in these parts. From the Eastern window of my office (the Western one just overlooks the back yard and the dogs), I can look North East (my chair facing North-ish) and see the Hummock Ranges. The sun creeps up in a band of orange, over the deep purple of the hills and ‘neath the purples and blues of the dawn sky.

Now it is passed, my coffee is cool enough to drink, so I can go back to being grumpy again.

Sleep Apnoea Resources

Do you snore badly? OK, let’s start again; has your partner/friend/neighbour/people in the next village complained that you snore badly? If you do, and you do it a lot, you might want to mention it to your doctor – you could be suffering from sleep apnoea (apnea in the USA).

I wouldn’t go as far as to say that sleep apnoea has ruined my life, but I have lost about eighteen months of work which has certainly impacted my business (I am self-employed); added to that, nasty things happen to ones organs during apnoea events – it’s a real bummer.

I’m compiling this page of sleep apnoea resources to try to help others; if you know anything about sleep apnoea and would like to help me in this, please leave comments with hints, links to resources, or anything else that could help fellow sufferers.

I neither endorse nor can be held responsible for the content of pages linked from this site, blah, blah, blah. If you see something here you don’t like, just tell me – I’ll check it out.

And No Rain

In addition to today having the lowest temperature recorded this year, I should mention that we have only had 20mm of rain.

Our rainwater storage (3×45 kilolitre capacity) is down to about eight to ten weeks worth; after that, we’ll have to go onto mains water entirely.