Monday, February 26, 2007

Creating PDFs for the Sony Reader

Chris sent me a few pretty pictures. He also reminded me about the ebook reader from Sony, which takes a (closed) format known as BBeB as well as a 600x800 PDF. Finally, sourceforge's shell service has been repaired, so I can now upload again to

Tomorrow, there's the first meeting of QISF - the Qatar Information Security Forum. Although it's going to be an introductory talk, with a very general topic, it'll be interesting to see how many people turn up for a get-together.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Slow progress

I spent some of last week with a potential employer; they're into packet radio and need someone to look after a bunch of computers - some of which were familiar and some of which were new to me. Interesting stuff, but they haven't made me an offer, so I won't be counting my chickens just yet.

Sara's been out of the country most of the week, but I managed to get along to the first QSTP tech-talk. It was an entrepreneur who talked about Arab start-ups, venture capital and incubators. There wasn't much talk about the IT side of things, but the audience was full of technologists from the new universities. It was a good place to chat, and I met a couple of people who I'll try to keep in touch with.

Not much has happened with readng. I've been wrestling with font issues on my SuSe system, which are now solved, and I've been trying to put together some sample pages for the site. Unfortunately, mocking up a single page with groff is proving almost as difficult as typesetting a whole book. I keep telling myself that the second book will be easy.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

QSTP tech-talks

Ben Figgis has invited Qatar Perl Mongers to the QSTP tech talks. RSVP to

Monday, February 12, 2007

Unix text processing

My new task is to read the relevent chapters of UTP (1.7MB; source available here) and TUM. In particular, I need to get my head around troff, the Unix typesetting system (now, mostly known as groff). I'm convinced that I can secure groff and use it in the typesetting chain for readng.

Here's what I think will be the sequence: (1) ASCII or HTML; (2) groff mm or mom format; (3) postscript/PDF; (4) PNG image.

I know it's a little nasty, using an image format to display pages of text, but that's just tough. HTML in any flavour doesn't give the necessary control for pretty typesetting, and readers want books to look pretty.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

ReadNG - it's like reading, but without the 'i'

So, out of the much nonsense that was spoken over the past week, the silliest is probably this. After several beers with the camel gang, we decided that readng was the next flickr, and that all we needed to succeed in the web 2.0 world was poor spelling. I've registered the domain name, and written a blurb - let the flood of offers begin. It was Sara who was the first to note that maybe avid book readers might find intentional illiteracy rather annoying. What does she know. Pah.

Camel soup

Chris and Paul have now left. We spent a time in the desert, where we survived on our wits and wild berries. It was touch and go, but when we returned to civilization, we were changed. I was reborn, and dedicated the rest of my life to small-to-medium-sized animals. I salute you, my furry compatriots! Chris and Paul have decided to travel the world as nomadic programmers. And then we went for a chicken biryani, with milky tea, but the smell of the camels remained with us, forever...

Friday, February 02, 2007

Java, Perl and toy planes

Got a few hours work done this morning. Managed to update my java geolocation code for the first time in 18 months. I haven't really done much java in the past few years, so I'm always a bit frightened about changing my old code. I'm not convinced about my abilities to spot bugs any more.

I updated the perl geolocation code at the same time, and fixed a bug that had been hanging around for 6 months. I might have a bash at update instructions - since I became a dad updates haven't been particularly regular.

I was disappointed to receive this email responding to a lecture invitation. What an idiot.

Chris and Paul arrive tonight. Paul emailed yesterday to say he's flying the first leg of the journey in a Fokker 50. I suggested he might have to make plane noises on takeoff. Chris is bringing me a slug, which I'm going to turn into a cheap fileserver.