Alleged Literature >> pdc >> 2001

Damian Cugley (2001)

Tate Modern: Surrealism

30 December 2001 #

Today Jeremy and I took the coach in to London to visit the Tate Modern. We thought we had already missed the 2001 exhibit Surrealism: Desire Unbound, but no! we were in luck. Some four hours later we tottered out, tired and £8·50 poorer but greatly edified. They had one room which was basically gossip about the Surrealist movement members, illustrated with the books of poetry or collage or photographs that resulted. Considering how chaste the period in question (1930s, 1940s) is usually represented in modern fiction, it’s intersting how many permutations they came up with: many in the Surrealism movement believed in what was then called free love and nowadays sometimes called polyamory. The sections on erotic art and erotic objects was good fun. Those crazy Czechs with their lewd photomontages and unspellable names! Jeremy was annoyed that work by female Surrealists got little mention except in the room about Surrealism’s depiction of women. This despite the women’s work being often being more interesting to the modern eye—the men’s talk of muses and idealized lovers looking more dated today (it was more radical in, say, 1930). Bought a floppy clock (the Tate is taking the opportunity to sell more interesting merchandise) and then tried to figure out from where one was supposed to view the Juan Muñoz installation. First we looked down at it from the highest gallery level, but eventually we worked out you are supposed to look at it from below! By this time the gallery was closing so we staggered home feeling very culturally stimulated.

Christmas Visits (3)

28 December 2001 #

I’m now back from a week-long visit to my mother’s in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull. (Mull is an island off the west coast of Scotland with a total population of perhaps 3000.) Altogether we had my mum Jenny, her husband Dave, and their dogs Tubbs, Sacha, and Jerome; myself and Jeremy (from Oxford); my siblings Mike (Dundee), Kate (Brisbane in Australia), and Rachel (Guilford); Mike’s baby son Darren; and sometimes Mum’s stray boy Iain and his dog Buster. My reader will doubtless appreciate that even in a relatively large house this constitutes quite a crowd... Still we survived with no casualties, and even got off the island and on the way home before the Great Storms began and the ferries were cancelled.

Darren is 10 months old and cute as a button. He spent a lot of his time on Mull crawling at speed up and down corrdidors and up and down the various adults who were trying to deflect him from anything heavy or small enough to try to eat or big enough to try to eat him. Actually of my Mum’s dogs, Jerome (the biggest) is no threat; it is Sacha’s misguided attempts to mother him that might have been a problem if we had not kept an eye on him.

SaVaGe Christmas Cards

18 December 2001 #

Here’s a Christmas card in SVG. Don’t worry, though, I have also made a GIF version for those people who cannot view SVG yet. In this particular case, the ‘fancy’ SVG animation is 23 KB (I could have compressed it to make a 2-KB svgz file), whereas the GIF is 76 KB, and is a simpler animation (you get the blinking lights, but the SVG version also has the tree growing out of nothing an a very amusing manner). That said, the SVG animation needs more client-side CPU, and begins to get jerky on a 200-MHz Pentium-compatible NT box, so I have also supplied a simpler version (missing the background picture) in case that helps.

Christmas visits (2)

17 December 2001 #

Today I was visited by my mother and my sister Kate. Since Kate uses a wheelchair I have learned a lot about the kerbs along the length of Cowley Road. Ironically a lot of the obstructions are caused by work on repairing and improving access for wheelchairs: too bad they could not have taken more notice of my family’s itinery and get them done a week earlier...:-) Our back garden sadly looks a little desolate in winter (pretty much bare earth with some sad-looking twigs poking out), but to Kate’s Australia-adapted eye even that looks novel.

Christmas visits (1)

16 December 2001 #

We spent Saturday evening and night in an orgy of present-wrapping for our respective extended families. It was also my sister Rachel’s birthday today. Sunday was Jeremy’s sister Ellés Xmas party, so we got to offload the first one-third of the christmas booty (Jeremy’s sisters and nephew Tiimu), leaving me with the sack that goes south to my father’s family and the sack that goes north with us to visit my mother on Mull.

I am at least 13 years old

14 December 2001 #

Google have extended their archive of Usenet postings back to 1981. Thus I have found evidence of myself posting during my summer placement at Hewlett-Packard in 1988, and as a graduate student (briefly) at the PRG (as it then was), and offering advice on HTML usage in February 1994 (before HTML was fashionable!). But that is probably enough ego frenzy for now.

Quiz: How tall are you?

6 December 2001 #

A new on-line quiz for all you people out there: How tall are you? I have added Javascript code to the page so that it works out the answer for you (if you have Javascript disabled in your browser you should still be able to read the page, you just won’t get any help counting your answers). I have also taken the liberty of decorating the page with SVG doodles. This may or may not give your browser conniptions...:-)

SVG notes. I have tested it on Mozilla on Linux sans SVG; the fall-back PNG images display correctly. MSIE 4.0 on Windows NT with Adobe SVG plug-in 3.0 displays the SVG correctly—you can zoom in and view SVG in another window etc. And at work I verified (in MSIE 5½) you can print the page, in which case the pictures are rendered with the printer’s resolution, not the screen’s. Cool! MSIE/Mac 5.0 on my decrepit Performa sort of goes loopy while the SVG files download, then each doodle turns blank when you scroll the page; frobbing the the zoom or quality causes the image to redisplay. Weird.

I want my, I want my SVG

5 December 2001 #

As noted below, I have been experimenting with SVG. So far I have been forced to borrow Jeremy’s NT box because I cannot get any of the Linux-based SVG viewers to work. Mozilla with SVG (Alex Fritze’s build #6, based on Mozilla 0.9.3) cannot run on my RedHat-6.1-based desktop, because I lack some libraries. I have downloaded Mozilla+SVG for Windows NT, which annoyingly does not display (1) the examples in the W3C recommendation for SVG, (2) the SVG test suite, (3) Adobe’s SVG samples, or (4) my hand-written SVG files. I’m not even going to try to install any of the Java-based SVG viewers until I have thoroughly upgraded my Linux box. Sodipodi sounds attractive, but again I need more libraries. (I understand Debian GNU/Linux’s package manager will automatically acquire missing dependencies—is this true?) So for now I will have to do my cross-platform development on a borrowed Windows NT box...

Keeping Sunday Special

2 December 2001 #

I took Thursday and Friday off so I could catch up on all those chores I have been neglecting—repairing the puncture that has kept me off my bike for a month or so, starting Christmas shopping, captioning for the Caption 2001 photos, buying train tickets for visiting my mother on Mull, and so on. Instead I wasted Thursday doing the SVG demo (a reaction to frustration at work), and spent Friday lying in bed sick, and wasn’t up to much on Saturday either. So today Jeremy and I finally tackled the garden a bit, finished the repairs to my bike, and then walked to the train station (there being no useful busses on account of an anti-war march), bought the tickets, and continued down Botley Road to Toys ’R’ Us where we tried to find toys to suit our respective nephews (no nieces yet). Since my brother Mike’s son Darren is not quite a year old yet (born 03-02-01), he’s something of a challenge to find suitable toys for. Then on to Habitat to check out this season’s fairy lights and try out sofas we could not house even if we could afford them. On the way home we dropped in at the local Odeon to watch The Others, an excellent ghost story in which Nichole Kidman does very good mad starey eyes.

World AIDS Day

1 December 2001 #

Today is World AIDS day. I found a reference to Link and Think on Dave Winer’s weblog Scripting.com... My experiences with HIV/AIDS have been mainly through working with organizations like London Lighthouse (since absorbed in to the Terrance Higgins Trust) and the Immune Development Trust on behalf of my employer. Well, before that I had bought Strip AIDS (which funded the founding of Lighthouse), and of course I was at university in the late 1980s when discussion of AIDS, safer sex, and celibacy was at its peak. It was partly because of that that I was so pleased that OCC’s membership of the SEAHORSE project gave me a chance to contribute something to HIV/AIDS support, even if (like most European R&D projects) the main result was an obscure web site. I thought I knew a reasonable amount about HIV, but meeting real people and visiting the Lighthouse makes it real in a way book-learning. I was slightly in awe of the guys who had been living with HIV for a decade or more—they don’t get much mention because everyone’s concentrating on supporting the newly diagnosed and educating the uninfected masses, but they do have their own different needs.

An experiment: Annotating images with SVG

30 November 2001 #

Here’s a simple demo of using SVG to annotate an existing (raster) image. To view this you will need a web browser which groks SVG; so far I have tested it with Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 for the Mac, and MSIE 4 for Windows, using Adobe’s SVG Plug-In 3.0.

Caption 2001 photos

29 November 2001 #

It is a tradition of Caption that the photos of the event take months if not years to appear. This year is no exception—I am still working on indexing the pictures nicely... but the first cut of my Caption 2001 photo album is now on-line, and not before time. I’m even trying to munge several of the photos together in to animations.

Another reason to not use webclasses

15 November 2001 #

I forgot one of the biggest reasons why the webclasses framework should not be used for collaborative web development: it does its best to prevent you from using a source-code control system to co-ordinate your developers’ changes!

Parts unknown

10 November 2001 #

We were going to go see the Moscow State Circus, but then several of us collectively decided it was far too cold to sit in a tent so we went round to Jo’s to play Cheapass Games instead. Jeremy and I haven’t played Parts Unknown since we binged on it with Adrian and Alex at Aviemore (it is possible we have too many Cheapass games, since we don’t play them often enough to work through them all faster that that). Jeremy also read out Martin Hand’s account of Caption 2001. It seems Caption 2001 succeeded surprisingly well at fostering romance amongst the attendees. We’ll have to ask him if it is OK to add it to the site...

Webclasses considered harmful

8 November 2001 #

After a hiatus of a couple of years, here is a new essay about web development. I’m afraid this time the experience I am drawing on is negative rather than positive: Just say No to webclasses. OK, I admit this is something of an obscure topic for a rant—you probably will never have heard of this particular web-application framework before today. But it is sadly occuplying all to much of my working life these days... :-(

Emacs macro for making Entries

7 November 2001 #

I now have a command I can invoke in GNU Emacs to create a new entry in this work log. All it does is visit the entry file (each entry in this weblog has its own source file) and create a skeletal entry for me to type in to. Since I don’t mind typing in HTML myself—and always have an instance of Emacs running—this is enough for me to make entries easily. I have a similar set-up at work for my on-line work-log—nowadays it is the only application I still use Emacs for at work...

New format!

4 November 2001 #

I’ve been envying my friends with all their Livejournal sites (such as cleanskies and tinyjo) and other web logs (such as Dave Winer’s). Given that I already have to struggle to keep my work log up to date, I don’t think I’m up to keeping a journal of my own, but I did want to ape the layout for my own pages.

In particular, I have gone from a vaguely chronological list of stuff to a strictly chronological order of short paragraphs, with pointers to longer articles or photo albums. This style allows for me to add short notes on whatever takes my fancy without special effort as well. I also have permanent links for each entry (the # links next to the date). Given the snail-like pace of progress in my area of my site, my archives are annual rather than monthly...

This is all cobbled together in a semi-automated fashion (using TclHTML)—not quite as mechanized as a proper weblog, but simpler to implement. Entries are kept in spearate disc files on my home PC, and assembled in to the HTML pages automatically. Now the display of entries is sorted out I plan to partially automate the creation of new entries.

Welcome to caption.org

25 October 2001 #

We have created a new web site for CAPTION: http://caption.org. The CAPTION material on this site has all been moved across, and on this site will be replaced with redirections to the new site. This is just as well, as the Alleged Literature site had used up 20750438 bytes of its 20971520-byte quota—that’s 98·95% full!

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