Archive for July, 2008

Quod illi principi …

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

From “Reflections on the Revolution in France” by Edmund Burke:

Quod illi principi et praepotenti Deo qui omnem hunc mundum regit, nihil eorum quae quidem fiant in terris acceptius quam concilia et coetus hominum jure sociati quae civitates appellantur.

Can anyone tell me what this means or where it is from?

Trans Fats vs. Salmonella infected Jalepeños

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

California has just banned trans-fats from being used in restaurants:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080725/ap_on_re_us/california_trans_fats

At the same time, the FDA has discovered the source of an outbreak of salmonella that has hospitalised more than a thousand people and killed two. The agency advised consumers to avoid raw jalepeños:

http://www.wkyc.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=93745

In my mind, the FDA has behaved sensibly with regard to the jalepeños. Even the most Randroid libertarian would be hard pushed to argue for food hygiene to be completely regulated by market pressure. Of course, consumers are going to choose to eat in restaurants that look clean, so market pressure does enforce standards of hygiene. At the same time, finding the source of a bacterial infection is not something that the typical shopper or diner can do, so government agencies and regulations have a clear role.

However, I don’t agree with a ban on trans-fats. Whether a food is infected with salmonella or not is not something that can be discerned easily. When you go into a restaurant, you hope that you are going to eat food is free from germs. If it is not, then this is not something that you do knowingly. You cannot make an informed decision. That is why government inspectors are needed. When you go into a restaurant, it is possible to know whether a food has been made with trans-fats or not. It is possible to make a decision. Therefore the ban seems unnecessary. Clear labelling would make more sense in this case.

Snippets of Latin

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

I’m currently reading Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France.

I find the text very interesting and feel that a lot of the content pertains to open source software. Repeatedly, Burke argues for gradual improvements to existing systems that have been constructed over time and shaped by actual demands rather than sudden revolutions of men of ideas but little experience. At its best, the open source movement offers software that has evolved in the gradual way, with bugs eroded over time. Something that attracts me to free software more greatly recently is that it can’t be taken off the market. Microsoft have stopped selling XP, sort of. I don’t want to be forced to move Vista. The designers of the original UNIX probably never thought that that OS would still be in such widespread use in the 21st century but here we are. Are there better systems? No doubt. Do I want to “upgrade” all my servers to anything else? Not on your nelly.

Of course, many in the open source movement might see themselves more like the revolutionaries, sweeping away a corrupt monopoly and replacing that with a free utopia. Reality doesn’t reflect that. Where the advocates of free software have presented themselves this way, they have succeeded the least.

A problem that I have encountered whilst reading has been translating the frequent quotations in Latin. Although I studied Latin for six years at school, I can’t remember much more than to parrot off “Bellum, Bellum, Bellum”. A typical problem of a language education focussed almost exclusively on syntax. I cut and paste the sentences into google but more often than not the only results returned are other copies of “Reflections” (of which there are plenty).

Does anyone know of a good repository of Latin quotations? It could make quite an interesting CRUD page (e.g. quotation, original text, original author, texts in which it appears, possible translations, votes for translations and so on). But I don’t want to build such a page as I don’t know enough Latin and I’m sure that something similar must exist already.

Photos from COEX

Saturday, July 19th, 2008
2008-07-19-coex

Capitalisation TEFL Activity: Herb’s Herbs

Saturday, July 19th, 2008

Here’s a little TEFL activity that might help as a warm-up exercise or to review capitalisation:

herbs-herbs.pdf

Here’s the .ODT original, in case anyone wants to make any changes or additions:

herbs-herbs.odt

Niche Link Aggregators

Friday, July 18th, 2008

Having just read:

http://anarchogeek.com/…communities

my interest in working on logical-fallacies.net has been rekindled.

I have to admit that my time has been somewhat taken up recently, what with moving to a new country and starting a new job. Any time that I have been able to devote to computers has been spent on Haddock CMS or Oedipus Decision Maker and a couple of other smaller projects.

The plan with the logical fallacies site is to collect examples of Logical Fallacies.

I’m not sure that I agree completely with the author of the article linked to above. There will probably be a shifting focus for the general purpose link aggregator communities. That’s inevitable because the services that is the most popular is by definition is aimed at the lowest common denominator. This means that the functionality of the software has to be the most limited and general.

I don’t want to use existing software for logical-fallacies.net because I want to tailor the site to the problem of identifying logical fallacies. The case may be that there are no specialised needs of this problem and that a generic sollution (like a forum or a wiki) would be a better solution. If that is the case, then I will have wasted my time. I don’t think this will be the case.

Table names beginning with numbers in SQLite

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Dontcha just hate it when you spend ages debugging a program only to find that your error was something silly like you were trying to create a table in SQLite with a name that begins with a number instead of letter. I guess that such a convention is common enough and I should have RTFM’d. Annoying, all the same.

Day out in Sinsa, Seoul

Monday, July 14th, 2008

Assunta and I went to Sinsa yesterday to meet up with JiHye, Keren and Gina.

2008-07-13-sinsa

Common Language Errors

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

I recently started working as an EFL teacher in Seoul, South Korea. I like this work a lot and I am planning to work as a teacher for the foreseeable future.

However, you can’t go from being a web programmer to another career and leave everything behind. You see possible computer programs wherever you go. I can see the need for Haddock CMS (or RoR or whatever…) projects all over the place. My new employer’s time-tabling system and vocabulary database would be a lot more simple if they were web based system rather than MS Access and Excel based.

Another project that I thought might be quite interesting to start is one to track common written language errors. From marking book reports and tests, I’ve seen quite a few common errors in language already. For example, “The mother was see the child” and variations along those lines are extremely common. I don’t know enough about the Korean language to be able to say why so many of my students should make that mistake but my assumption is that there is probably a grammatical structure similar to that in the students’ native tongue.

If I get time, I would like to start a project that allows EFL teachers to log these sorts of errors on a web site. There are EFL teachers in every corner of the world now and they a grow online community. It would be interesting to see a student’s native language affects his production of English. This might help teachers to decide on which areas of language to focus their classes.

CLI Script to allow access to a directory in Haddock CMS projects

Monday, July 7th, 2008

I’ve added a little script that allows developers to allow access to a directory that is relative to the project root directory of a Haddock CMS project:

PublicHTML_AllowAccessToDirectoryOnTheServerCLIScript

I refactored a bit of existing code from:

PublicHTML_RestrictAccessToDirectoryOnTheServerCLIScript

into an abstract CLI script class:

FileSystem_ExistingDirectoryRelativeToProjectRootCLIScript

If you ever need to write a script that does something with a directory that exists and is relative to the project root, then extending this class would probably be a good place to start.