Archive for January, 2008

Perl Collocates

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

My linguistics course contains lots of really interesting material but unfortunately has really boring assignments. The last assignment was so awful that I considered giving up the course as I didn’t want to spend my spare time on something I wasn’t enjoying. To help with the tedium I decided to find something to do with the new knowledge that actually interests me.

I have been reading about collocates – words that are typically grouped together such as “law and order” and “fish and chips”. What interests me is the introduction of new collocates. I read a study by Fairclough who had analysed 53 speeches given by Tony Blair. The word “new” occurred 609 times and the most frequent collocates were “new labour” and “new deal”.

I am also interested in the Perl community, how it is perceived and how it perceives itself. If I analyse the blogs of various members of the community what are the collocates of “Perl” going to be? Some are going to be obvious – “Perl community”, “Perl 6” – but what unexpected ones will I find? And what has changed in the last few years? What did we talk about in the past that is no longer important to us and what is the latest thing to be linked with Perl?

TLUG: Demonstration of e-paper Readers

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

At today’s TLUG meeting Jim Maricondo gave a talk about writing applications for the iRex iLiad. He brought two with him as well as a two of Fujitsu’s FLIPea prototypes of the first colour e-paper reader.

I was surprised by how good the iLiad looks and did think, when looking at one page of text, that I could read books using one of these. It weighs a lot less than the book I am currently reading and since it doesn’t have a back-light it seemed that it wouldn’t be tiring on my eyes. But then I changed the page. The refresh that takes place involves the screen being made completely black, then white, and then the text appears. It looks like it flickers and given that I read quickly it would be refreshing maybe twice or three times a minute – which would be really annoying.

It has given me hope that there will be a way in the future for me to replace paper books. In Japan my books are getting damp and I don’t have the room I used to have to store these. I also find it difficult to carry them when I am travelling and it would be great to have a light-weight way to carry the text of multiple books.

The FLIPea was certainly interesting to look at but is in no way useful for reading something like a book as the refresh takes 15 seconds when you change page. It’s also surprisingly hard to read, as the contrast isn’t particularly good inside. But it is supposed to look really good in natural sunlight and I imagine that it will be used to display adverts and pictures to begin with and not pages of text.

Bad Kitchen Day

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

Sometimes women complain about having a “bad hair day” but today it was the kitchen that drove me mad. I had forgotten what a mess it was as the living room was tidy and it lulled me into a false sense of security about the rest of the apartment. But when I walked into the kitchen I realised that we had used every plate, cup, pot, and spoon that we own and that if I didn’t do something soon the fungus monster would start to grow.

I put on my cleaning music and decided to just get on with it. But then a Prince song came on to sabotage my plans. I have a play-list of music that I only put on if a I want to dance or clean. “When Doves Cry” doesn’t fit with that list as it makes me want to stop and listen (and it really doesn’t take much to make me want to stop cleaning). Thankfully the next song was something terrible by Kylie so I could continue with my cleaning. Now all I need to do is find music that makes me want to cook the dinner…

I’m No Gentleman

Sunday, January 6th, 2008

I am starting to get overly sensitive about the use of gender specific terms in technical blogs. I really don’t mean for this to happen but tonight, when reading Schwern’s use.perl journal, I did wonder why he had to use the phrase “Gentlemen, start your RSS readers” as the word “gentlemen” makes me feel excluded. I assume that this is based on a quote “Gentlemen, start your engines” and I know that Schwern is not in any way saying that women shouldn’t subscribe to his RSS feed but I did notice it – and I’m not convinced I would have a year ago. So something has changed.

It could simply be that studying language has made me more aware of the words that people use or that in 2007 I read a lot of posts about gender and sexism. It could also be because Schwern’s post is about a new blog that discusses geek communication which made me look more critically at how he was communicating the news.

I don’t find the phrase offensive but it did make me stop and read the line again and make me wonder if there was a better way to have said it.

Lost Time

Saturday, January 5th, 2008

I haven’t got anything done this weekend but I do know where my time went. Marty and I watched Season 3 of Lost. And even when we finished it last night instead of going to sleep I spent hours reading various Lost web-sites to see what the rest of the world thought about the series.

Japanese Hotel Room Descriptions

Friday, January 4th, 2008

I come across strange English in Japan all the time but usually it’s just bad spelling (like the restaurant last night serving “plane croissants”). I was looking on-line at hotels in Universal Studios Japan and saw the following description of a room:

We present you with the time for nesting peacefully your wing of dream fluttered at the Park.

Beautifully spelt words that don’t make much sense when put together like that.

Perl Buzzing

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

I was slightly baffled by the level of disgust Perl Buzz reported over the title of the Linux Journal article regarding the release of Perl 5.10. To me the headline was simply an editor using innuendo and word play to attract attention to a rather dull press release. I have been trying to work out if there is some cultural difference I am missing as, although the phrase “put out” is pejorative, I certainly don’t think it’s offensive enough to warrant that reaction. Maybe to an American like Andy (the author of the Perl Buzz post) it has a stronger meaning than it does to me coming from Northern Ireland.

I am also confused by the things that Perl Buzz are calling on the editors of the Linux Journal to do especially “explain to us what will be changing at Linux Journal so we think of LJ as worthy of our time, trust and readership.” Who is the “us” that Andy is referring to? Is it the editors at Perl Buzz and if so why on earth would the Linux Journal ever feel the need to explain anything to them? Perl Buzz can’t possibly assume that it speaks on behalf of the entire Perl or Open Source community and I find it detracts from anything sensible they are saying when they write as if they are.

Is the article merely an attempt by Perl Buzz to create more of a “buzz” about their blog? Because if their article is really about how wrong they think it is for the Linux Journal to print such headlines and ads why on earth are they re-printing them on the front page of their blog so that I someone like me, who never reads the Linux Journal, gets to see the material?


Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

I’ve been living in Tokyo now for just over a year and have never seen Fuji from the city. But this morning, on the train from Shibuya to Jiyugaoka, the sky was clear, the train was empty and there is was. It’s beautiful.

Quiet New Year’s Day

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

I have been trying to remember what we did with Marty’s family over the past week but the various outings are all starting to get mixed up in my mind. Today Tokyo was quite and empty. It almost felt eerie walking around Ginza with the shops shut and no people waiting to cross at the crossings. New Year feels very different here. Last night there were no car horns beeping, no fireworks, or drunk people out yelling in the streets. The stillness today reminds me more of Christmas Day than New Year’s Day.