Toxic Elephant

Don't bury it in your back yard!

Research Ideas

Posted by matijs 15/09/2004 at 22h52

I sometimes think of fun things that should be researched. These are typically topics for things like term papers. At least, I think they are. Usually I forget about them after half a day or so, and then I'm annoyed that I didn't write this wonderful idea down. These days, I'm trying to remember to write things down before I forget them.

The first item on my list of things that should be researched that I have actually remembered long enough to write down is: The history of french fries and their sauces.

Some background information on this subject: I was having dinner with some people from different western cultures recently (Dutch, German, American), and one of the Americans (my stepfather, in fact) wanted ketchup with his fries. A friendly discussion ensued, as it had previously, where we Europeans condemned the tendency of these Americans (and, by gross generalization, all Americans) to put ketchup on everything. It then turned to the subject of french fries, and who had first thought of — as the Americans put it — putting mayonnaise instead of ketchup on their fries. Hence the present research subject.

Of course, you can just google for it, and find this: The Secret History of French Fries. It still leaves the sauces, though.

On a related note, in discussions there will often be a point where someone says: We'll look it up, and somehow, the looking-up never happens, and we forget about the whole discussion. This is of course one way to end discussions.

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Finishing Projects, Part 2

Posted by matijs 18/08/2004 at 22h50

Simon Cozens, author of the very software this blog runs on, mentions finishing projects in passing:

Maybe I need to stop coming up with interesting new project ideas, and finish some of the ones I've started.

Nah. Where's the fun in that?

How true. And how annoying that old projects stop being fun before they are truly finished. Somehow, they either linger in a mildly usable state (usable enough for me to use them, not for others), or in a half-finished and unused state, bit-rotting away. This is why I consider so few of my projects fit for publication on my website.

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Finishing Projects

Posted by matijs 16/08/2004 at 23h06

Last month, I decided August would be the month of finishing projects. After August, I would get back to worrying about the future, but until then, I would be tying up the loose ends of the past. This is working, in a way, as I'm actually finishing a big part of my blog-project. On the other hand, lots of my old, rusting, projects won't get finished, and the blog seems entirely too recent to be spending most of my time on.

Luckily, it seems the blog software is now finally working completely.

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A Quick Thought on Feed Readers

Posted by matijs 31/07/2004 at 15h12

After trying out Straw, I am now quite satisfied with Liferea. It does what it needs to do in a straightforward manner. However, I think there is still room for some revolutionary thought on feed reader interfaces. What I'm looking for here are new ways of managing the quickly expanding number of posts that have to be dealt with on a daily basis.

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My very own blog

Posted by matijs 24/07/2004 at 22h01

Although I've been posting some thoughts on my home page already, it was not yet what anyone would call a blog. Mostly, I was annoyed that I had to hand-edit the HTML. Of course, there was also no possibility to post comments, there were no permalinks, etc. This had to change.

I took a look at blosxom, but quickly decided that it wouldn't satisfy my needs. In particular, it used the modification date of its input files as the date of the blog entries. This is a nice idea in itself, but I want to be able to edit — update — my posts without worrying that they'll change dates.

Luckily, I found Simon Cozen's article on Bryar, and today I finally got it working. This is not to say it was that hard, just that I have been procrastinating. Of course, not everything went swimmingly, but that's for another day.

So here it is, my very own blog.

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More Bugfixes

Posted by matijs 31/05/2004 at 18h00

I fixed up MSGConvert some more. All outstanding bug reports were taken care of.

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News Aggregators on Laptops

Posted by matijs 28/05/2004 at 18h00

After reading about RSS and Atom (mostly on dive into mark), I decided to try out Straw, a news aggregator for GNOME. It works, but keeps spinning up my disk. Thus, it is unusable on a laptop.

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Bugfixes

Posted by matijs 20/05/2004 at 18h00

I spent last week in Switzerland, where my mother lives, and this gave me time in between enjoying the beautiful outdoors to fix two bugs in MSGConvert. My earlier rewrite already paid off in making the less trivial one much easier to fix.

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A Cleanup of MSGConvert

Posted by matijs 16/03/2004 at 18h00

The weekend before last, I did a complete rewrite of MSGConvert. The code is now much cleaner, and should be more maintainable. Rejoice!

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Applying Jargon to Another Field

Posted by matijs 14/03/2004 at 18h00

I find this hilarious!

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