In my Simulating Typing in Perl post I included a small chunk of perl for varying the typing speed of a fake user. While it works it did have some oddities that were noticeable by a sharp eyed viewer. Thanks to a pointer from Mark Fowler I’ve now revised the script slightly and included String::KeyboardDistance. This nifty module knows how far away keys on the keyboard are from each other and so helps to smooth the delays out a little; for example the string ‘aaaaa’ is now typed much faster than before (because there is no travel involved) where as ‘qpqpqpq’ will be slower due to the finger movement - although I’m not bothered enough to make repeated sequences faster. Read on →

Marooned In Realtime was the first Vinge book I read and it has prompted me to start looking for all his others. A small number of time travellers (that can only go forward) awaken to find out humanity is gone. Amid a plan to gather all the other travellers together and kick start the human race one of the more powerful techs dies in odd circumstances, a 9000 year old traveller returns, aliens might be waiting to finish us off and an ex-detective is ordered to lead a manhunt to find out just what happened to the projects architect and biggest supporter (who may have been murdered by old age). Read on →

This is more like it, True Names by Vernor Vinge is a great mix of sci-fi and fantasy. Technical wizards join forces in cyberspace to oppose the “Great Adversary”. When one of them is compromised and turned in the real world a hunt for the most dangerous of the online personas is launched, leading to a great chase and some nicely described online battled. I’m not doing it justice, just click the above link dammit. Read on →

I’ve been on a sci-fi novel kick again recently and despite its short page count Blood Music by Greg Bear was the one I found slowest to finish from my first batch. A rogue biotechnologist starts his own experiments in to biological computers based on his own lymphocytes while on the company clock. He gets caught, ignores all precautions and injects himself with them. They then become intelligent and start spreading. Read on →

Here is another one for the sysadmins in the audience: How … … many of your servers have multiple network ports in the back? … many of them have bonding (teaming for the Windows people) enabled? … do you know when one interface goes down if the machine stays connected? … long does it take for you to be notified? … do you know if they start flapping? … many have their bonded interfaces plugged in to different switches? Read on →

While we’re a Xen shop I’ve always been a VMWare fan and I had the chance to take a look at the free (as in beer) VMWare Converter Starter today. We’ve got a couple of old Windows machines with no installation documents or run books so when working towards making them reproducible grabbing a whole system image is a great first step. The first machine I tried it on has a very unhappy hard drive (yes, it’s my work laptop) and the converter refused to play past 5% of the disk; me thinks it’s time to verify my backups. Read on →

You’d think it would be easy - have a program type a previously written program at a human speed (minus the typos). Vim has record and reply functionality but it’s done with typical vim efficiency: yes, instantly. At EuroOSCON a couple of years ago Damian Conway handed out a presentation tidbit, he uses the hand_print function from IO::Prompt to make himself look like a master typist. Well, he could just have been saying that to make us feel better, maybe he can type that fast… Anyway, I tried a simple example using the module: #!/usr/bin/perl use strict; use warnings; use IO::Prompt qw/hand_print/; hand_print("I am not really typing this..."); It works but the typing speed is so uniform it makes it obvious over past a handful of lines. Read on →

I’ve been in bed for most of the last week and a half (apart from two very short staffed days in the office) with the cold / flu bug that seems to stalk through our office on permanent rotation. Apart from the general feeling ill and lots of sleeping I missed a GLLUG and the first London Puppet Muppets meeting. But I did decide to go to the 2007 Nordic Perl Workshop, an event I’ve managed to miss for the last three years. Read on →

I’ve never read the comic, I didn’t recognise any of the cast and quite enjoyed 300 as a not very challenging film. Lots of very cool fight scenes, an acceptable amount of plot and a great ‘arrows blotting out the sun’ scene. Oh, and a war rhino. What else is there to say? The fight scenes are bloody but not especially gory, the Spartans are portrayed with the right amount of bad-ass nature and it had a number of Sin Cityesque deformed villains in it. Read on →

Digg People: Please note that “Top $FOO of all time lists” should not be completely comprised of $FOO’s from the last two years. You should also dock points for all uppercase words, txtsp3k, leet speak and every use of ‘AMAZING!!111’ and its ilk.