Mail tonym here

Tuesday April 1, 2003

Fools Day in the Year of Gulf Two. And foolish goings on with the blogsite - major HTML boo-boos are milling the site. Still in mid-rescue as I write this. Maybe there's traffic issues and the stuff isn't updating.

Posting more in optimism than hope: anyway, a big change in the weather - rain and wind last night, very welcome by the soil. Weather clearing now to sunshine and heavy showers.

Wednesday April 1, 2003

Working from home today though I was expected to go in to hear a big corporate spiele. Anyway, there's some delivery guys from Dell dropping memory for my PC and I need to be around to collect it. Bright sunny day, if windy, the rain has cleared away.

Did my first set of weight circuits, from the kit I bought in Argos yesterday. Good value at 21 Euro - must shop there again.
Will try to keep this up as a daily routine, just like the blogging. Now to see if blogger is back working properly again.

Raaaay ... it is. Anyway, as a belated doff of the beanie to April's Fools day, here's a good list of the Top 100 beauties.

Beautiful sunny day - pottered about for half an hour in the garden at lunch. The horticultural fabric is working well - the new pegs are good if a little pricey. Must make my own ...

Thursday April 2, 2003

Cloudy day, winds have died down a little. Working directly with Gilly quite a bit at the minute, so learning AutoTest much more thoroughly. Ais much upset last night thanks to horrid new workmate. Soldiering on ....

SARS + wars = world recession. Gloom aplenty here.

Here's a good one - the first mobile phone call. Now we all know who to blame.

Friday April 3, 2003

pblogging here: Everything went off screen the last couple of days. PC only arrived back (real) today - Sat. morning - Scooby took in by the vet yesterday, maybe a blocked gut? I had an upsetting call from the vet re: cut him open or see if he gets better. Called the latter tho we won't see Scooby for the w/e.
Friday a memorably awful day with the hammer well down. Aisling at the Syll. 4 launch, Scooby in his hutch at the vet's geting X-rayed. tonym getting Camp X-Ray at work. Urgghhhhh ....

Saturday April 5, 2003

First haircut in the village. PC came home. Did a bunch of weeding (forecourt and frame 1) and had some nosh in the village bistro - first time, and very agreeable ...

Wi-fi bubble anyone? (ha, back linking again!)

Sunday April 6, 2003

Well knackered today, and very depressed with Scooby sick at the vet's. Grey and misty day, we drove down to Wexford - as far as Castlebridge, bought some nice blue mugs to cheer ourselves up.

Monday April 7, 2003

Pretty ill start to the day, but at least Scooby's still in the land of the wagging. Starting to look like they'll have to take the knife to him though ...

Scooby is still holding out - now they're going to see if he can keep some grub down - there's hope yet.

Spotted by KL, here's an interesting piece on giant squid.

An interesting essay here: Rage, Hubris and Regime Change.

Well, got the truly great news that Scooby is well enough to come home. Went and collected him from the vets, and gave him a good bath and groom when I got him home. Now: fire on, everyone fed, only thing is Ais is watching the (to me) rather visceral TV program CSI - far too blood and guts for me ... funny you can watch Iraq being blown to bits but not a TV program ...

Good piece here on the Google versus Yahoo slugout.

Tuesday April 8, 2003

pblogging for tuesday - a hell on wheels day at work doing more hard-core editing with GW. Followed by a lovely relaxed evening celebrating our 10th. wedding anniversary. We drank Pol Roget champagne, had our classic potatoes, peppers and cod in a paprika and garlic sauce, and giggled helplessly on the sofa watching Only Fools and Horses. Early to bed, and slept like a log ...

Wednesday April 9, 2003

... and woke up feeling a lot better. The old bugs seem to shift a lot faster since I went on the diet - touch wood.
A gorgeous day here at Bywater, took Scooby for a morning walk. No power, but the ISDN line is still working, so I can go online as long as the laptop lasts.

Worked on, then a little bit of weeding while Scoo was taken for a walk with Adeline (cue theme from Dr. Zhivago as Scooby is re-united with his doting walker).
Lovely sunny day. Out east, they're pulling down the big bronze statue of Sadaam Hussein. Live by the sword ...

Thursday April 10, 2003

Another pblog, what a week. Gruelling day on Mod 5, almost there. Stunning evening: we did some much-needed watering, and cooked some beautiful cod w/ white parsley sauce. The parsley was freshly cut from the garden, cut fine with the lunette, and then ground w/ Maldon's sea salt.

Afterwards, we dropped in on Myles and Susan next door - skulled back a few flagons of wine and had a good raimeis ...

Friday April 11, 2003

... leaving the Bywater 2 feeling pretty ragged this morning. Anyhow, it's Friday. And another lovely day.

Spotted by KL - a piece on how WinZip techniques can be used to tell different types of music, languages apart.

Saturday April 12, 2003

Friday ended pretty raw and ragged, and Saturday started fairly wan and despondent. Overworked ...

Tapped away in the garden. Got another frame in place, and firmed up others. Sowed a row each of spinach, carrots, and radishes. Set up a new style fabric cloche, with a bamboo spine. Gathered up all the wood bits lying about and burned them.
Scooby is getting used to spending time with us in the upper garden without trying to run away - it's great, especially now he's no longer allowed around the "rose garden".
Sat about in some chilly sunshine and quaffed a few glasses. I cooked an Indian Country Chicken a la Jaffree and Ais is now doing the rice. Scooby happy after a walk to the village.

Sunday April 13, 2003

Sunday opened to the sound of rain and we went on to have another of those "non-Sundays" though this time happily we had the Scoobs for company. Got out the Part 2 take of 101 Dalmations, which turned out a dud: we wound up watching the original.

Some stuff from Bill Joy

Monday April 14, 2003

Monday clear and bright after the rain. Everything looks washed and happy. Heading into a week of going on the dry - welcome to loads of unprecedented clarity, interest in new hobbies, and the sweats.

Some good Flash content: the Self Healing Minefield.
Finally got my own home-brew archiving working. Bit of a headache - it's time to start getting better acquainted with the Blogger template markup.

Some nifty mental games here. Might be using them to pass the time tonight.

Did tons and tons of potting, hardening off, and pricking out. Out came the delphimuims, sweet peas, stock, and nicotiana from the propagator, and in went more delphs, hollyhocks, poppies, and lupins. Hardened off were the peas. I also planted out loads of little lettuce plants. Some in frame 3, some in pots.

In the end, we went for moderaion rather than total abstinence. Had a nice Cote du Rhone red after 9.00, and watched out HP2. A lot better than the Philosopher's Stone. Big thumbs up.

Tuesday April 15, 2003

Clear bright morning - and head too. Broke out on some coffee at work after months off it - delish. Clipping thru the work ...

The day turned out a beaut. Went to Mackeys at lunch, and got a bundle. Broccoli, cabbage, leek and lettuce plants; courgette and artichoke. A herb pots worth of plants; rosemary, dill, coriander, chives. Did a lot of planting as soon as I got home, and worked till after 8.00 in brilliant warm sunshine - warmest day of year so far.
A pretty full moon rose as the light faded. Went for a walk with Scooby before an early bed.

Wednesday April 16, 2003

Working away to the sound of Lyric. What would we do without this excellent radio station?

Did some great gardening today - another beaut. Planted 4 globe artichoke in their own bed.
Artichokes are the high maintenance blonds of the garden. "Give us a large chunk of the best, sunniest ground, and leave us alone."
Weeded a bit, planted a couple of sempervivum. Work was a busy scene as AT2OK4 cranks up steam. Aisling late home as she wraps up her desk for the Easter break. A productive day.

Thursday April 24, 2003

Pblogging desperately after a long break. Thursday last week was the usual workadelic blastfest, and then went awol for a bunch of days over the Easter break. Pretty much unbroken sunny weather, apart from a relaxing blast of rain of Monday. Garden ticking over as Adam lays down the tools. Back to work with a bang.

Friday April 25, 2003

And the beat goes on. Quite ill this morning after a delish Delia fish pie last nite - with loads of cream = dairy allergy :-( Big pressure at work w/ deadlines.

SARS kicking around the neighbourhood - Dunlaoire as Ground Zero.

Weather turned crusty, big rain last night and through the day. Sudden return to normality.

The Trojan defence for content gains legal validity.

Tuesday April 29, 2003

The first break too long to pblog - signs of an awesomely pressured time. The weekend was a good one, though I was far too crisped to go near a computer. On Saturday, we went for a walk near Moyne, along the Wicklow Way - a minor classic. Afterwards, we met up with a couple Aisling knows - Ivor and Katy, living in Clash. Good times afterwards, though we paid the price on Sunday. Lots of gardening done both days, and even on Monday, which was a total miseryfest at work. Anyway, better times ahead as I am once more on my own devices on the editorial front.

Good piece in the Reg about the non-dangers of using wireless devices in flight.

Wednesday April 30, 2003

Simmer down time. Working from home today, feeling my head slowly lose the loud buzzing noise acquired from all the stress.

I'm about to get a pleasant feeling of recursion out of this. I just wrote a piece on blogging for my Irish Computer friends, so here, on the blog, is the article ....

“Blogging” – using a website to maintain a log – is gathering momentum as a new computer application, a popular social movement, and an embryonic new medium. The Google takeover of blogmeisters Pyra has added fuel to the fire.

Blogging from Baghdad

Everyone who reads or writes about computers is fascinated by the idea of the New Big Thing (NBT): the “killer app” that changes the world for ever. E-mail, the Web, and search engines all fall into this category. These successful inventions warm our hearts when we get depressed by all the turkeys – WAP and PKI spring to mind – that refused to take off.

Blogging is emerging from the same tech fringes of society that spawned e-mail and the Web. It is still burdened by a lingering association with Californian Tina-the-Tech-Writer types obsessing about their cats, and the sort of pencil-necked geeks who hang out at and whose idea of a good time is getting Linux to run on a Nokia phone. But recent events – most powerfully the war in Iraq – have moved blogging onto the front page. And blogging is starting to generate some pretty big readings on the NBT scale.

A blog (shorthand for web log) is an online diary, interwoven with links to stuff you’ve been coming across on the web and that sparks your interest. Hopefully the ratio between the interesting stuff and your personal version of Tina’s cat (in my case it’s currently gardening) is decent enough that you will get visitors. Bloggers link to each other – the phrase “hive mind” is used – and a single blogger or group of bloggers can generate massive enough public interest to make the front page of the New York Times, in the process giving some edgy competition to established media.

Individual journalists – many of whom are relentless and talented bloggers – are comfortable with this (a tip of the baseball cap here to the excellent Karlin Lillington – whose blog is at But their employers frequently are not. Certainly, the likes of Rupert Murdoch are made extremely uncomfortable by the idea of a mass medium which they cannot buy or control.

The genre has its own budding vocabulary: for example, to pblog – post-blog – is to retrospectively add a blog some days afterwards, because you have been unavoidably kept off the net for a couple of days. For example, Salman Pax had to pblog a couple of days after the B52s came to Baghdad.

The story of Salman Pax – and his haunting blog, mysteriously entitled Where is Raed? – is what brought blogging onto the front page of the New York Times. The writer – whose pseudonym is composed of the Arabic and Latin words for peace – blogged unceasingly as the Sadaam regime buckled under the bombardment, somehow staying out of the hands of the secret police. His story takes no sides, simply unflinchingly and honestly tells what he sees. The interest generated was so massive that the folks at (the leading blog providers) had to buy extra servers. Then the B52s came, and he was out for two days. The last entry was March 24, before the bombs came again. And we haven’t heard from Salman Pax since then. Where is Raed? indeed.

Iraq brought blogging to the mainstream in another way. The “warbloggers” were those pundits, passers-by and participants – who brought their wisdom, or lack of it, to the topic of the war. Some war journalists maintained blogs – until they were told to desist. The opinions ranged from “violently agree” to “violently disagree” – but the overwhelming feeling was that here was democracy and free speech in action. And the debates got massive public interest, to the point where the US-based journalists simply read the warblogs to find out the latest stories and insights.

Do you want to try this at home? You can always blog by simply cutting out your own web pages, and putting them on a web server. But even for seasoned Web developers, that’s something you’d prefer to be paid to do. Blogging providers such as use ultra-simple content management systems to take all the HTML out of writing web pages. For those comfortable messing with HTML, they provide templates which you can go in and modify, to customise the look of your page.

And there are little tools that make it a snip to add links, format your text and so on. It’s easy to add links to other bloggers, and build your own online community. Basically, if you can use a web browser and you can type, you can blog.
In and of itself, this should only result in a world of Tinas and Tonys rabbitting on about their gardens and their cats. What changes all that is meta-data. Meta-data – in the context of web pages – is information about a web-page, embedded in it.

While normal data is intended for use by humans, meta-data is for use by computers. For example, search engines use meta-data to search for keywords. So if you want your site to be found by people who share your interest in the French game of boules, you could add the words “boules, bowls, petanque” to your keywords. Search engines in turn can add meta-data to their copy of your page – for example, take note of the number of times it is linked to.

All of this is exactly where search engine leaders Google are coming from. They invented the technique of establishing web site ratings, and moving the successful ones to the top of the search. And what has set the world of blogging aflame is the recent acquisition of Pyra Labs – the guys behind – by Google. It doesn’t take too much imagination to see the impetus that search engine techniques such as ratings would provide, or the impact of having the ability to search blogland – or some of its regions – rather than the entire web.

If we think of the web as a gigantic hard drive, loading the interesting stuff into blogland is like a computer loading data off the hard drive into main memory. Once data is in main memory, it can be process and searched. And it’s a persistent memory. While search results “vanish” when you do a new search, the links in blogland persist. And they usually come with some comments on what’s interesting about the material in the link. For example, on my current blog page, if you skim past the boring diary stuff there’s entry points in the current page to the world’s first mobile phone call, the WiFi bubble, giant squid (thanks, Karlin), the great Google versus Yahoo slug-out, using WinZip techniques to detect different languages and music genres, self-healing minefields, and a mental games site. You're reading this stuff right now :-)

Think of the effects of the Web: it freed the Internet from the hands of geeks who were comfy with command line stuff, and gave it to the world. Think of the effects of the search engine: it did for the Internet what directories and directory enquiries did for the telephone system. What blogging does is add human intelligence to this mix. People, not search engines, will find the interesting stuff for you and develop content at near-zero cost to the publisher. Free content is often useless, as the Web demonstrates. But using metadata, the hive mind will weed out the compelling content from the cats-and-gardens division. The result is an increasingly addictive pastime for those involved.

A standard that will help the hive mind is RSS (Rich Site Summary). This is an XML standard for telling a search engine what the component parts of your site are, and what they are about. For example, a media site could have sections - such as sport, review, letters – containing articles, each of which has a title, a summary, and content. An RSS file can be used by a search engine that’s doing news aggregation – trawling the web daily for news that’s of interest to you. The XML metadata in the RSS file identifies the material type and structure to the search engine. The same technique could be used by the likes of Google to aggregate content from various bloggers whom you have identified as having interests similar to your own.

Let’s leave the final word with Chris Cleveland, CEO of Dieselpoint, Inc., a search software company: “Eventually, search engines will be able to get a handle on the actual meaning of a block of text, and be able to organize the hive brain in ways we can't imagine. Once that happens, the major media should look out, because the best ideas of the great unwashed will always be better and more entertaining than those of the elite.”

posted by A Seeker after Knowledge 1:43 AM

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Back up of April 2003.


Blogs we like:
Where is Raed? in Baghdad
Paulianne in Diois
Karlin Lillington on the move
Tom Chi in Seattle
The Homeless Guy - out and about
John Robb - war-blogging from the armchair
The Agonist - somewhere in Texas
Eric Raymond - an individual

June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003

I live in Ireland, in a lovely part of the country called Aughrim in the county of Wicklow, with my lovely wife Aisling, and my dog Scooby (Scooby's a feisty Glen of Imaal terrier with loadsa character). Both Aisling and I need to commute long distance to our workplaces in town, but it's just three days a week so not so bad - at any rate, it all seems worthwhile when the sun shines where we live under beautiful Croghane Mountain.