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Stack Overflow B2evolution plugin

February 8th, 2012

I spent quite a while looking for a B2Evolution plugin that places a Stack Overflow Flair widget on my blog. I couldn’t find one so I started writing one. If the Flair widget just required your user name then it would’ve been ok because everyone can remember that. Unfortunately the widget needs your user id which you will almost certainly not know. The only way to find this out is to log into Stack Overflow and go to the Flair’s page. The user identifier is embedded in the HTML code. So once you’ve got to this point you might as well just cut and paste the HTML code you want. A plugin isn’t worth writing if it doesn’t save you any time or effort.

So here is how you create a B2Evolution Stack Overflow widget on your blog.

  1. Log into B2Evolution back office.
  2. Go to Blog -> Settings.
  3. Select the Widgets tab.
  4. Choose the area you want to install the widget. (In my case Sidebar).
  5. Click Add widget.
  6. Click the Free HTML link.
  7. Add Stack Overflow to the Block title so that this widget shows in the list as Stack Overflow (Free HTML).
  8. Paste your Flair code in the Block content.
  9. I have checked Allow caching because the caching caches the code and not the image at the end of the code.
  10. Finish with Update.

Currently I’m using a hand rolled version of evopress which is one of B2Evolution’s built in skins. I had to adjust the width of the image from 206 to 205 so that it didn’t overlap the edge of the page.

Hybrid image gallery

February 7th, 2012

Hybrid images change interpretation as a function of viewing distance. Created by Aude Oliva.

Learning new words

February 5th, 2012

I think my vocabulary is pretty small compared to my contemporaries. In order to fix this, I’m making more of an effort to listen out for new words. Now when I hear a one that I don’t understand, I take the time to look it up; even if it means pausing the telly. I’ve even started to do the crossword, it’s only the Daily Mail but you have to start somewhere, right? It’s a welcome break doing them in the canteen after lunch. It separates my playtime from the stresses of holding down 2 full time jobs at the same time!

Some of the words are strange and difficult to remember so I’ve decided to record them here. I intend to try and make a sentence using my new word during a conversation in the coming days. It’ll help me keep them in mind.

I was getting a bit tired of only having 5 words to describe all my emotions. I’ve survived okay so far on “Ace", “Brilliant", “ok", “crap” and “shit” ordered in levels of okness. See what I mean ?

New words to be used

rubric:      [roo-brik]

  1. a title, heading, direction, or the like, in a manuscript, book, statute, etc., written or printed in red or otherwise distinguished from the rest of the text.
  2. a direction for the conduct of divine service or the administration of the sacraments, inserted in liturgical books
  3. any established mode of conduct or procedure; protocol.
  4. an explanatory comment; gloss.
  5. a class or category.
  6. adj. written, inscribed in, or marked with or as with red; rubrical.
  7. adj. Archaic . red; ruddy

invective:    [in-vek-tiv]

  1. vehement or violent denunciation, censure, or reproach.
  2. a railing accusation; vituperation.
  3. an insulting or abusive word or expression.

monastic:    [muh-nas-tik]

  1. of or pertaining to monasteries: a monastic library.
  2. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of monks or nuns, their manner of life, or their religious obligations: monastic vows.
  3. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of a secluded, dedicated, or austere manner of living.
  4. adj. monastical

New words entering vocabulary
None so far.

Monitoring U.K. Public Services

February 3rd, 2012

Many of our (U.K.) utility companies and public services produce data feeds or mapping information. There are even publicly available real time graphs of that data. I think it’s pretty fascinating and so I’ll be using this blog to collect them.

Electricity demand and current generation levels from various sources
Graph showing National Grid Status of energy produced by Coal, Nuclear, Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT), Wind, Hydro and how much we import from overseas. It also graphs the usage of each of those sources annually, monthly, weekly and daily.
Raw data used:

National grid balance
Power balance of the UK electricity grid. 50% means we are using what we are producing. Below 48% will result in blackouts because more power is needed. Above 52% will result in blackouts are generators will start to trip because they are working too hard. The meter actually shows the grid’s “frequency", which is related to the speed of rotation of generators all over the country.

Public Service Monitor
Monitors the internet for articles relating to Fire, Health, Housing, Police and Council. It breaks them down into areas and decides whether the News items, blog articles or forum posts were positive, just mentions or negative.

Local crime and policing website for England and Wales
Information about crime and policing in your area.
Raw data used:

World statistics
Featured on BBC2’s Dara O’Briain’s Science Club, this displays real time information on everything from the number of deaths this year from HIV/AIDS to how many cars were built this year. There are several running totals under each of the following headings: World Population, Government & Economics, Society & Media, Environment, Food, Water, Energy and Health.
There is also a sister site set up for statistics relating to the United States of America. Everything from the number of obese people to books sold under the headings of: Population, Economy, Society, Media & Entertainment, Health and Energy.

World economy
While this is strictly not a real time feed, it is a visualisation from one. It shows the distribution of the 15 trillion dollars of the world economy in 100 million dollar chunks. Splits it up into industry and products showing how they are related to each other across the different countries of the world.

The Internet in real time
Not technically a public service but on-line services we all use. Everything from number of Facebook likes to items bought in Amazon.

If anyone knows any other publicly available feeds from bus/train locations to whatever then please leave a comment below.

Beginnings and endings

February 2nd, 2012

I was given the synopsis to Brave New World as follows:

Set in the 7th century AF (After Ford). Brave New World paints a grim picture of a future world in which human embryos are hatched in incubators and conditioned to collectivism and passivity. Bernard Marx, an unorthodox and unhappy ‘alpha-plus’ returns to London with a ’savage’ from New Mexico. Having educated himself by reading Shakespeare and the like, the savage believes in individual freedom and in this new world goes berserk and kills himself.

and asked to choose a style of writing (SciFi/Comedy/Horror/etc) and create an opening. I’d never heard of Brave New World which probably helped because I only had the synopsis to go on. I chose Science Fiction and here’s my beginning:

New beginning of Brave New World
“What’s the current percentage split?”
“55% male.”
“Ok, we’d better make this batch female then, pass the oestrogen supplement injector.”
Jones leaned over the counter and passed a thick hypodermic contraption to Doctor Marx who squeezed the contents into the vat and gave it a stir.
“That ought to do it. Set the timer for 6 hours and we’ll call it a night.”

Dr. Bernard Marx had been working at Fry’s People Farm for 12 years and the crushing responsibility was slowly getting to him. Each batch could only be pushed towards a gender and it was tough keeping the balance. Only a few millilitres out could result in a wasted generation. He needed a break. Science was a single man’s game and he needed something to distract him from the monotony of the Farm.

“Goodnight Jones, see you tomorrow.”
“Goodnight sir".

Marx was tired. His head was hanging like a puppet with broken strings. He dragged himself into the airlock separating the sterile laboratory and entered the Aplha’s locker room.

Next we had to create an ending to The Living and the Dead. I’d never heard of this book either, so I had no pre-conceptions. Didn’t have time to copy the synopsis but I’m sure you can find it on the inter-web.

New ending to The Living and the Dead
Eden wept. Tears rolled down her face. It had been 10 years since her mother had died, but the grief was still as real now as it was when the bombs dropped. Eden still had her mother’s name so from that respect she was different but she couldn’t help feeling like a failure. She had made her choices and she had to accept them now. It looked like another war was coming but in spite of everything she was happy.