Profile

Cover photo
Nick Alcock
Worked at Oracle Corporation
242 followers|57,368 views
AboutPostsPhotosVideos

Stream

Nick Alcock

Shared publicly  - 
 
So... any subscribers to Locus's digital edition among my circles? The most recent digital-edition subscriber's email was sufficiently messed up that downloading the issue was impossible. (They had different random high-ASCII bits turned on in the email's alleged hyperlinks: each email normally has several identical links in it, but this time they were all differently randomly wrecked). I emailed Locus, but got no response...

So... anyone got a copy? (I normally read the PDF and mobi editions...). Anyone else had this problem, or is it just me?
1
Add a comment...

Nick Alcock

Shared publicly  - 
 
Some superb Sir Humphrey lines in here. (You can tell it was done by the original writers.)
 
Sir Humphrey On the contrary, that is most fortunate. The civil service has always opposed the appointment of anyone with specialised knowledge.
Minister Why?
Sir Humphrey Their preconceived ideas may not be compatible with government policy.
Minister What if the ideas are good?
Sir Humphrey Most good ideas are incompatible with government policy.
1 comment on original post
6
Add a comment...

Nick Alcock

Shared publicly  - 
 
So Boris Johnson (!!) is foreign secretary.

I suppose May could have done something even worse like make him Chancellor of the Exchequer, but really this is telegraphing that May expects to do everything interesting with respect to foreign affairs herself. Given his performance over the last few months I very much doubt she has any trust in him to do anything at all without micromanagement, but thankfully she's rather good at micromanaging people. (I mean, unless she's an idiot, and she's not, she's surely noticed that the only less competent person diplomatically in this whole mess has been Nigel Farage.)

i.e. this is a sop to the Brexiteers, and Johnson will be one of the least powerful foreign secretaries on record. (Either that, or he'll start WWIII by mistake.)
3
Alex Bennée's profile photoNick Alcock's profile photo
3 comments
 
+Alex Bennée, yeah. Hopefully his civil servants will manage him. Hopefully they'll educate Davis too, whose knowledge of trade seems... lacking: he doesn't even seem to know what non-tarriff barriers are, let alone that they're important, which given that they're the entire reason for most of the EU's system of regulation is a bit unfortunate.

btw, if the Leavers don't make it work, I suspect brutally efficient May will throw them overboard, and quite possibly Brexit shortly afterwards, despite her current stance.
Add a comment...

Nick Alcock

Shared publicly  - 
 
It looks more and more like leaving the EU necessarily means blowing up your economy for years, if you truly cannot even begin to negotiate any trade pacts at all, including with other EU member states, until after you've left!

Nice trap -- but it would only work to discourage departure if the people agitating for departure were smart enough to notice it, which almost our entire political class clearly was not. (Not even the Remain side, or they'd surely have shouted this from the rooftops.)

Needless to say, the UK simply cannot spend years trading with everyone purely under WTO rules (10%+ tariffs on almost everything and sod-all services allowed, IIRC). 75% of the export economy, most especially including the predominant services economy, would simply collapse. We wouldn't be Greece: we'd be Zimbabwe.
The European Union's top trade official says the UK cannot begin negotiating terms for doing business with the bloc until after it has left the EU.
4
Jasper Janssen's profile photoAlex Bennée's profile photoNick Alcock's profile photo
19 comments
 
+Alex Bennée, they do after all have only twenty trade negotiators right now (the rest are in Brussels, though I'm sure they're being recalled). We'll be able to do a great deal with twenty negotiators, forty years out of practice!
Add a comment...

Nick Alcock

Shared publicly  - 
 
From the BBC:

'Travellers at Clapham Junction said they were faced with a "mass of bodies" as they tried to board services into central London.'

Public transport in London is brutal, brutal, but lethal commutes are new!
Travellers face continued disruption as further heavy rain in south-east England leaves some commuters stranded and leads to the cancellation of rail services.
3
Add a comment...

Nick Alcock

Shared publicly  - 
 
New definition of madness: starting out by thinking "I'll cook my guest tomorrow a curry! Oh and it needs a side dish!" and then a close member of my neighbour's family dies last night and I decide to cook them something too, because the last thing they'll be thinking about is making themselves food.

So, two working days, three curries: one black-eyed-bean/kidney-bean/yoghurt/spinach thing, one aloo gobi, one coriander chicken. Two already cooked, one to cook (because it's best not to cook stuff with meat in it too long before it's eaten...)

At least if I spend so much time cooking in the next couple of days that I lose my job as a software developer I have a side job lined up. :)

(But then, a good curry, like coffee, is obviously job-essential! And what better thing to do while you're waiting for a really really tiresome test to finally finish?)
6
Gert Sønderby's profile photoNick Alcock's profile photo
2 comments
 
True! Unfortunately, providing lunch for my co-workers is not very compatible with working from home until a curry-over-IP protocol is implemented, and actually cooking it, let alone transporting it is not very compatible with commuting for someone who can't drive (I tried, once, but only once.)

So I cook for neighbours when I remember, and the Ely SF book club, and anyone who happens to come round. (My almost certainly true assumption is that I am too boring for anyone to want to come any distance to see unless I bribe them with grub and home cinema-watching.)

(I would plus in the lady I'm seeing tomorrow, but though she appears in my circles, I can't plus her in to anything. What's up with that?)
Add a comment...

Nick Alcock

Shared publicly  - 
 
OK, time for me to stop using G+ until this fucking awful new interface goes away or is radically redesigned.

I read G+ largely for the comments, and this interface makes it nearly impossible to read the comments in order or be sure you've read all of them, and even makes it impossible to read comments more than two lines long or read them if it takes you longer than three seconds to do so.

These do not seem like very radical ideas for a commenting system to me, but it seems the new G+ developers are such utter fuckwits that they have failed to notice that this property of their existing system might be desirable.
8
Nick Alcock's profile photoGeorge Jones's profile photoStefan Quandt's profile photo
23 comments
 
+Nick Alcock The new way to do this is
JJJ Enter NNN JJJ...
It took me a few weeks to get that they changed the behavior.
You may also use '+' to plus a post and hit '?' to get a help screen.

So, the functionality to use G+ without the mouse is mostly in place.
Not to say that this works flawlessly. There are real annoyances like
- for articles with an image the first comment is usually not visible (despite 15" screen real estate).
- actually pressing Enter does not scroll to the first comment
- Nor does pressing N for the first time after Enter
- Enter is overloaded (depends on the currently active item (e.g. the '+' bullet or a comment))
- 'N' often and seemingly at random times does not move down but up instead so that it often needs three or more 'N' in sequence to get to the next article
- sometimes actions like following an article's link fail and the page jumps to the beginning instead
- The help screen says '/' is for search, but this has no effect at all
- there are no advanced search facilities for searching specific scopes like specific circles or communities, articles for which I gave plus one or I commented on. 
Add a comment...

Nick Alcock

Shared publicly  - 
 
+MegaZone, thought you might like to know that if you're interested in properly-hyphenated ebook versions of the textual EPU stuff, I just souped up Brent Laabs's epub conversion script from a few years ago to be able to do that via a new -h option and the TeX::Hyphen module (with a few minutes' trivial massaging per work). Anything capable of displaying discretionary hyphens right should be able to handle the result, which includes things like Kindles newer than the K4 (via kindlegen).

(Well, OK, it turns out Knuth's hyphenation algorithm mishyphenates a few new coinages: it doesn't know Japanese isn't English so the hyphenation in the few brief Japanese bits is kinda nuts, and it bizarrely hyphenates "metaspace" as "metas-pace", but those are the only problems I've found.)

(This all came about 'cos I was rereading the Sword: it might not cope so well with much older stuff like the Core.)

Next on the list: figure out a way (probably using XML::Twig) to hyphenate the HTML stuff for ebookization too :) it's not like it makes massive use of colour or intricate layout so it should work quite well on an e-ink reader.
epu2html - Converts EPU fanfic text to html files (and ePubs)
1
Brent Laabs's profile photoTim Haynes's profile photoNick Alcock's profile photo
8 comments
 
?

Well, yeah, modern e-readers can't do proper hyphenation because they don't use a decent line-breaking algorithm. One of its many faults is that it doesn't apply a penalty to hyphenation, so you can easily end up with a half-dozen consecutive lines each of which is hyphenated, which TeX would have generally considered sufficiently bad that it would have found a slightly worse solution for the rest of the paragraph to prevent it. (However, e-readers don't even try to even out greyness -- I wrote a better line-breaking algorithm than most of them use when I was twelve, and it was a lot worse than TeX's, I can tell you that.)

I don't know why Amazon and all the other e-reader vendors persist in ignoring extremely famous state-of-the-35-year-old art like this :(
Add a comment...

Nick Alcock

Shared publicly  - 
 
The UK is now in an unusual, liminal position: not only are we neither exactly inside nor yet heading outside the EU, we also have a situation where the leader of the party in power is not Prime Minister.

Briefly.

(After all, the Prime Minister, er, sorry, First Lord of the Treasury, is part of Her Majesty's Government, which is nominally independent of Parliament, in a vague and rarely-relevant semi-theoretical sense. This is one of the few occasions in modern times when this actually has any effect on anything.)
3
Tim Haynes's profile photoNick Alcock's profile photo
4 comments
 
+Tim Haynes, thing is, they don't idolize the Tories -- they hate competition for jobs from people who demand lower wages. That's... not really a Tory position, is it? (Or it wasn't before Theresa May's speech of yesterday.)

Juncker and Schulz have already ruled out simultaneous transition, but of course the Council of Ministers has considerable leaning power...
Add a comment...

Nick Alcock

Shared publicly  - 
 
 
Because however you voted — even if you were on the winning side — you should be angry that you have been so cynically and callously used in an attempt to achieve other people’s political gains. You should be angry that this decision was put in your hands without anyone providing a full and detailed plan that could be examined over many months of scrutiny. You should be angry if you realise that you were lied to. You should be angry that our country has been split down the middle and may yet split further, not for the good of the country but to further the ambitions of a tiny group of men and their quest for power.

So demand change. Demand rigour. Demand that our press and our politicians stop lying to our damn faces. Demand better.


https://medium.com/@kirstymhall/brexit-was-a-con-67532113a7c#.p87rnruci
I keep thinking about the Scottish referendum and how it was more than two YEARS of debate, working out details, cross-examination …
13 comments on original post
4
Add a comment...

Nick Alcock

Shared publicly  - 
 
I don't see how this sort of thing could be considered anything but cooking the books.

If one side in a political debate has to resort to that (as well as to outright lying, and to propaganda posters that are almost literally identical to many used by the Nazi party in the 1930s), it's probaby not a side that's worth supporting.
 
A group of economists from the London School of Economics had a look at the 'Economists for Brexit' paper and its curious claim that the British economy would be better off outside the EU.

Bottom line: thats the kind of faulty analysis that you get when your models are 40 years out of date.
The possibility of the UK leaving the European Union (EU) has generated an unusual degree of consensus among economists. Acrimony and rancour surrounded debates around austerity and joining the eur…
2 comments on original post
4
Richard Kettlewell's profile photo
 
Unfortunately humans are very good at reinterpreting evidence and analysis to suit their pre-established goals.
Add a comment...

Nick Alcock

Shared publicly  - 
 
So the +Shuttleworth Collection has gone advance-tickets-only for its airshows, or at least for the upcoming one tomorrow. As far as I'm aware this is the first Collection airshow ever where you couldn't get in at all unless you bought an advance ticket. There was no notice whatsoever of this rather significant change via the usual avenues: nothing in Prop-Swing, nothing on the extremely-sparsely-populated email list which I believe I am on (though I've never got anything from it that I can find, so maybe I dropped off), nothing -- so those of us who don't check the Collection website every five minutes and who normally pay on entry suddenly find we are shut out without warning. (I only found out by chance; I am told not even pedestrians are being allowed in without advance tickets!).

Note to the Collection: if you want SVAS members to feel scammed, this is just the way to go about it. My dad, a member since the early 1960s, spent an extra week in the south just so he could get to this airshow, and now it seems he can't go!

I'm frankly wondering if my fairly recent life membership was a waste of money now: paying days in advance for an event as weather-dependent as this one is unlikely to happen very often, given that I normally decide to go on the day depending on the wind and weather conditions; if tomorrow's show is any indication, that's too late to buy tickets! It seems the choice is to risk wasting money on a rained-off event every time or not go at all, now.
1
Add a comment...
Work
Employment
  • Oracle Corporation
    Software Developer
Links
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Other names
Nix