Friday, 31 July 2009

99.9% Finished

My 'other' WIP:

This is nearly, nearly, nearly (maybe already) finished. I've done all the knitting to be done and tucked in the ends. I just need to decide how it will fasten (I picked up a piece of black cord today that might do if I decide to use a tie) and whether I'm doing the crocheted edge. The edge wouldn't be in doubt but for the fact that my shoulders are a tad too narrow and so making this even a teeny bit wider is a little questionable.

Bit grumpy that I'm skinnier even than I thought. I did try the sample in Natural Stitches which seemed passable and at every possible measuring point this matched the instructions close to bang on... I wonder what the gauge of the sample was :o) Still, the yumminess of the yarn by far overshadows any size qualms - I absolutely love this colourway!

As to the project I should have been knitting when I was finishing this off? It's getting there. I've completed the right sleeve and have managed to get my way through the first repeat on the left - just have to find plenty of knitting time so I can move it along again.

PS - My work project is also in the 90-something% done stage. What a productive me! (Just don't remind me that I've only got two working days left before I leave).

Books I Read in July

Total: 9 books

Daughter of Regals & Other Tales (Stephen R. Donaldson)
All He Ever Wanted (Anita Shreve)
The Girl at the Lion d'Or (Sebastian Faulks)
A Walk Down the Aisle: Notes on a Modern Wedding (Kate Cohen)
Great Expectations (Charles Dickens)
The Shadow in the North (Philip Pullman)
The Ruby in the Smoke (Philip Pullman)
Life Skills (Katie Fforde)
Stately Pursuits (Katie Fforde)

Daughter of Regals & Other Tales (29/07) begins with an explanation of how the short story must demonstrate a greater skill than the novel - unfortunately as short stories go, these aren't fine examples. That's not to say this book is full of rubbish short stories, but I've read some fine short stories and these aren't those. Mooched from Lee Hwang (USA) and later abandoned somewhere on CMU to be found by a lucky reader, or cleaned up and added to a mustering pile of lost property.

Mooched from eacook (UK) after reading The Last Time They Met, All He Ever Wanted has the same lovely descriptive style.

The Girl at the Lion d'Or (23/07) was one I mooched at around the same time as Great Expectations. I decided that whilst I was out here and mooching arbitrary books to read, I could try picking some off the Book list instead of simply reading all the chick lit I could find. This book isn't on the list but I already have the Faulks books on the list (somewhere - probably with bookmarks halfway through - not because they were bad books but simply because I got distracted/lost the darn thing). Anyway, this was inspired by the book list even if it wasn't actually on it. Shorter than many of his other novels but still great. Received from Jehannette de Lille (USA).

A Walk Down the Aisle - it was about weddings so I felt the need to mooch it. Not as academic as I might have liked but some interesting musings nonetheless. Received from cassiejane (USA).

Surprisingly easy to read (I always forget how easy Dickens actually is, the word 'classic' makes me assume difficult), I've been reading Great Expectations (16/07) in tiny pieces over the last month or so. I don't think I 'get' the original ending so it's a good job he didn't use it! Mooched from hmrakes (USA). This book features on the 100 books list, taking me to 46.

I read The Shadow in the North (12/07) and The Ruby in the Smoke (12/07) in close succession (finishing one and immediately picking up the other). Exactly what I'd expect from the author of Northern Lights, these are really nice little books if shorter and more obviously for a younger audience. Mooched from mel7996 (USA) and Priscilla Kraut (USA) respectively.

Life Skills and Stately Pursuits follow a very similar pattern to each other although set in somewhat different contexts. Slightly more refreshing than your average chick-lit, maybe. Mooched from Amy Watts (USA).

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Friday, 24 July 2009


My current primary WIP:

It's going to be one of these done in black and gold to match this dress - maybe even in time for the wedding I plan to wear it to :)

I'm using two yarns, a plain black (Malabrigo Sock [colour: Black]) and a yellow/cold multiway (Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock [colour: Steelers Pride]).

I started this project (after a number of false starts) on a smaller needle but had some gauge issues. Much happier with the way this looks on the larger needle (although I'm now having the opposite gauge issue, if rather reduced) and with the Steelers Pride colourway spread out a little more by the Malabrigo (in the first incarnations the bell of the sleeve was entirely done in the Steelers, I now do alternate rows - or thereabouts). There’s a bit of colour pooling on the very end of the sleeve, but never mind. Compare the above photos to this one showing the quantity of gold in the original:

Hopefully the end product will roughly fit, roughly match and be ready in time.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Do I 'despise' God?

I've been working on my workshop for XF a bit tonight. I'm looking at David after he sleeps with Bathsheba and has her husband killed to hide the resulting pregnancy (the Bible is full of these amazing Coronation Street type tales). Anyway, I'm picking up at 2 Samuel 12 when Nathan (a prophet) comes to tell David that what he's just done wasn't really all that great.

Rereading 2 Samuel 12 v 9 and 10 the way Nathan describes David's actions makes me feel slightly uncomfortable. 'You have despised the word of the Lord... you have despised [God] by taking Uriah's wife' [NLT].

The words despised God aren't something I'd like to be used to describe my actions and it's this that makes me feel uncomfortable. I know (head knowledge) that sin is bad, and I know that when I sin it's primarily against God that I sin (which isn't to say I haven't done someone else wrong by it too) and yet... despise is such a strong word - considerably more than the ‘you did a bad thing, have a smack on the wrist’ mentality I can often find myself using when I consider myself to have 'trivially' sinned in some way. Once again, head knowledge says there are no trivial sins, but in all honesty, that's just not how I see it in my everyday life - I probably rank sins a bit like this:
Murder (I'd never do it)
Rape (I'd never do it)
Adultery (I'm pretty sure I wouldn't do this either)
Stealing (I did try this as a kid I'm sure, but I probably didn't mean much by it, and I wouldn't do it now)
Lying (well I might do this occasionally, but they're small lies and I don't mean much harm by them)
Swearing (I wish I didn't do this and I don't do it often)
Yes, not only do I rank sins, but I also try and justify them and myself as I go. I know that in God's eyes all Sins are equal, but with human eyes that's awfully hard to see. Much easier is to line all the Sins I can think of up, large to small, feel pleased that I can say "I don't do that" to a great swathe of them, and so consider that those times I do say or do* something I shouldn't have to be excusable with a quick 'sorry' and a 'Thank you that you are a forgiving God'.

Going back to the passage, the language in these verses points to Sin being a way of showing a hatred for or devaluing God -- something that makes me feel a lot more uncomfortable about the things I do wrong. I know that when I sin I sin against God, but how often do I think about what that really means? :s

* It's also much harder to challenge myself over those things I think rather than do or say despite the fact that these are undoubtedly more numerous and would probably sit higher up my Sin list.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Friday Fill-In

This week's Friday Fill In:

1. The last thing I ate was a breakfast crepe (sausage, egg and cheese) and side salad.

2.Yarn is something I recently bought. (Actually, I've not bought any this week - but I can't think what I may have bought since)

3. When it rains, it's always the weekend - sunny in the week, rainy come the weekend. Typical.

4.Tracy (my supervisors PA) was the first person I talked to today.

5. Hugs are ...

6. ...extra comfort. (read with #5)

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to doing laundry, visiting the supermarket and maybe getting in a few rows of knitting - cardigan or scarf?. Tomorrow my plans include visiting Riverfront park and Sunday, I want to find a 'Y' geocache!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Dynamic Module Loading using Python

Suppose I have a number of supported database engines which I keep in a dictionary like so:

db_libs = {
space0: 'psycopg2.psycopg1',
space1: 'psycopg',
space2: 'MySQLdb', 3: 'sqlite3'

My user can then select the engine they prefer to use and I now want to import the appropriate library. I could, of course, do this...

if user_choice == 0:
spaceimport psycopg2.psycopg1
elif user_choice == 1:
spaceimport psycopg

Made even more verbose than it would be in any other language because of the absence of a switch statement in Python.

Clearly this is not a great solution. Everytime I add support for something new then I must write another elif clause - not cool! After I bit of playing around with eval, I got to...

Database = eval("__import__('{0}')".format(db_libs[user_choice]))

And after a little further investigation I also discovered the imp module:

from imp import find_module, load_module
fp, pathname, description = find_module(
Database = load_module(
db_libs[user_choice], fp, pathname, description)

More code, but it feels a bit safer for those cases where the dynamic element is coming from the user more directly.

#EDIT (July 10th) - imp.find_module() doesn't seem to support the two part module name (e.g 'psycopg2.psycopg1') although it works for my other examples. The eval works fine even in this case.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Using the Enumerations provided by VirtualBox's SDK with Python and XPCOM

Because this was surprisingly difficult to find out - thanks to Benjamin who provided the answer :o)

So... the VirtualBox SDK allows you to control VirtualBox programmatically. In particular from a selection of languages using either XPCOM or SOAP. I've been working with Python using the XPCOM method, which looks a bit like this...

vbox = xpcom.components.classes[";1"].createInstance()
session = xpcom.components.classes[";1"].createInstance()

default_id = "00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000"
mach = vbox.createMachine("my_new_vm_name", "Ubuntu", None, default_id)

All good so far... and indeed for quite a long while. Still, this last week Hobnob and I have been pushing the SDK a little bit futher and discovered a need to use some of the built in enumerations. For example, to register a hard disk within VirtualBox using the SDK you'll need the openHardDisk() method provided by the IVirtualBox interface. This takes, as one of it's parameters an enum AccessMode (which does the obvious), the documentation tells you that this is provided in VirtualBox.idl and looks something like this:

Looking good? Well almost. It's just a shame that there's no good examples around to show you how to do this. After some experimentation, Hobnob and I settled for looking up the values and then dropping them into the code I was trying to write:

AccessMode_ReadWrite = 2
hd = vbox.openHardDisk("/vm_disks/mydisk.vdi", AccessMode_ReadWrite, False, "", False, "")

Clearly this is not the way this was meant to be done. So how do you use the built in enums? Answer... like this:

ifaces = xpcom.components.interfaces
hd = vbox.openHardDisk("/vm_disks/mydisk.vdi", ifaces.AccessMode.ReadWrite, False, "", False, "")

Easy when you know how, huh :) So now I can remove these lines from my code:

AccessMode_ReadWrite = 2
HardDiskType_Immutable = 1
HardDiskVariant_Standard = 0

And replace them with:


And it turns out I wasn't using HardDiskType_Immutable anymore anyway :) You never know what you'll find with a quick code tidy.

"God, that's Good!"

I've blogged about this before when I first heard, but I've once again been reminded about Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland film. Found these fantastic concept images via via That's No Moon via Kards Unlimited. As an aside - I do like Kards Unlimited... if I was buying books over in the US they would be my first port of call, I've bought a few cute cards from them though and maybe I'll check their more oddball stuff out at least once more before I leave :)

Back to Tim Burton... whilst it may not be my nostrils "aquiver and tingling" I'm still quite excited about this film. And indeed, any Tim Burton really (especially if it included the ever-lovely Johnny Depp - that man should have a little "Eat Me" label all of his own).

(Image from - check it out on their site, these mini versions do not do them justice. Also, see more Alice in Wonderland concept art in their original post here and a slightly earlier post here)

And what a luscious green that is for the background - reminds me of the Burly Spun (in Kiwi) I've just cast on for my French Girl Knits cardigan (not the one in the any of the pictures on that page but if you click additional images, the one I'm knitting is the top-left image on the page labeled 5-8). Mmmm... yummy!

$85 for a charger??

The plastic covering over the wires in my Macbook charger has torn. Sometime between Hobnob arriving and him departing the tear has become more and more noticeable until last night I realised that the thing is about 30 seconds away from being two separate bits of plastic coating. Furthermore, my paranoia now prevents me from leaving the darn thing plugged in without my immediate supervision just in case the place burns down.

Decided to buy a replacement charger today on the way into CMU as Hobnob so wisely advised.

Slightly discouraged when the Apple Store on Walnut didn't open until 10am, but did get a chance to cast on a new knitting project (had to go back for a spare knitting needle when I realised I'd struggle to cast on over two needles if I needed one of them to do the cast on!) and to wake up a little more.

At a minute or so after ten I wandered into the store. I'd planned on finding the thing myself but the staff always seem to insist on helping you out so I let the bloke take it off the shelf for me. Got to the checkout to discover that the thing was almost $84.53 with tax - ouch! (So much ouch I had to go back to upgrade my wallet from the $65 I'd come out with).

Wonder what the profit is on those things? Pretty darned good I'd bet.


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