Octopodial Chrome

Stuff that Made Sense at the Time

The Personal Weblog of Bob Uhl

Sunday, 31 October 2004

The Snow Arriveth

The first snow of this season fell tonight. The world is beautiful under its blanket of white.

Saturday, 30 October 2004

Italian Clothing

I’ve recently created a gallery of my 15th century Italian clothing; here are the pictures currently in it. There’s more information about the clothing itself on the page.

Cloak closed, hood up Cloak closed, hood down Cloak half-open, hood worn as
        a chaperon Cloak half-open, hoodless Cloak open, bearing mace Cloak open, hood worn as

Friday, 29 October 2004

Rumsfeld on the Draft

Donald Rumsfled strongly denounces the lie that a draft is planned. The leftists who spread it should be ashamed of themselves. But, of course, they won’t be—for they have no knowledge of shame, nor the self-awareness to feel it.

Friday, 22 October 2004

Defending the Electoral College

I just discovered this excellent defence of the Electoral College. It explains why the College plays an important role in guaranteeing the stability of our republic.

The Register Reports on Linux Security

The Register has sponsored a comprehensive comparison of Windows and Linux security, and has posted a brief summary as well. The upshot is that Linux—while imperfect—is much more secure than Windows.

Thursday, 21 October 2004

travtrack Subsector Editor

Years ago I started work on travtrack, a database editor for the excellent game known as Traveller; my basic idea was to create a program which would generate star systems per the GURPS Traveller rules (the ones in GURPS Traveller: First In, the supplement dealing with the Interstellar Scout Service). Of course, a generator which doesn't give one the chance to manipulate the generated data’s not very useful, and so I had to write a GUI to display it. The project also server as a learning exercise for me, but a long while ago I ran out of free time to play with it (the latest release of travlib was on the fifth of May 2003; the latest release of travtrack was the eighth of June 2002).

Well, I recently got back into it and as a project decided to try rewriting it in Python. It’s coming along amazingly well: I have a screenshot of the subsector editor available on the travtrack screenshots page.

The Linux Counter

There is a registry of Linux users available; approximately 145,000 users are currently registered. If you run Linux, be certain to register, in order to help contribute to accurate statistics gathering.

Wednesday, 20 October 2004

Why I Don’t Write Any More Perl

The Periodic Table of Perl Operators. Egad—I used to write a lot of Perl, but it has increasingly grown insane; now I’m a Python guy.


Caml appears to be an interesting programming language. Programs written therein are supposed to be strictly verified for a whole slew of potential bugs—and thus they are apparently much more reliable than those written in other languages. That’s the theory, anyway.


Inferno is a cool little OS, the child of the old Plan 9, which itself was a kind of Unix-done-right. It runs anywhere (atop Plan 9, Windows, FreeBSD, Linux, Solaris or Mac OS X), or on its own. Apparently it unifies networking into the OS in a way which no-one else has yet done. Supposed to be mondo capable.


FeedBurner provides RSS & Atom newsfeed services. Looks like it can be a nice solution if you need to proxy your feed, or if you’d like to filter it somehow (e.g. they can toss in Amazon Associate program links and the like). I’ve added a new FeedBurner feed for Octopodial Chrome, just to play with it.

The Great Computer Language Shootout

I recently discovered the Great Computer Language Shootout, a very cool collection of benchmarks for various programming languages. My one quibble is that the guy normalises the results to a ten-point scale, when a twelve-point would be superior. Other than that, quite slick.

Tuesday, 19 October 2004

The Tallil Mutiny

Jed Babbin reports that it appears that there was a mutiny by US soldiers in Tallil on the 13th, but that the US Army doesn’t appear to be treating it with the gravity it merits.

Sunday, 17 October 2004

The Boat-cloak Cloak-boat

In the 1840s Lieutenant (later Captain) Peter Alexander Halkett invented an India-rubber cloth cloak which could be inflated to form a boat. I found it whilst researching boat cloaks—my father recently made a remark which implied that there was a uniform boat cloak in the US Navy within living memory.

And actually, as Chapter Three, Section Five, Item Four of the US Navy Uniform Regulations specifies, there is still a boat cloak specified for male officers and chief petty officers. It is made of dark blue woolen fabric, three quarters of a circle, with a circular bent collar, and extending 2 inches below the kneecap; may be water repellent; [and] is closed at the neck with hooks and eyes and on the chest by one set of silk or mohair fasteners. It is to be worn with all fasteners closed.

Thursday, 14 October 2004

Herbalife MLM

I recently read an interesting story about Herbalife, a multi-level marketing thing. Folks, be extremely wary of MLM: almost no-one makes any money; most distributors have lost money on the deal.

Robin—Remote Operating System Built in Netscape

Robin is a desktop-like interface coded in XUL which runs on Firefox. It is, quite frankly, incredible. Imagine where this could lead in half-a-dozen years…

Fertility Rates

Saw an interesting aside in an article by Peter Augustine Lawler: fertility rates are associated with support for Bush. Indeed, if those states which went with Gore in 2000 were to secede, they would have the same ruinously low birthrate and rapidly aging population as France.

Quite intriguing. I believe that in two centuries the suicide by infertility currently being committed in Europe will be looked back on as one of the more absurd fads in history.

Tuesday, 12 October 2004

Racist Filth

This is the kind of racist filth spewing forth from the American Left these days. It turns the stomach. Can one possibly imagine a conservative penning such an abominable piece of trash?

Monday, 11 October 2004

Spacemen from Cathay

According to Chinese lore, Wan Hu attempted to go into space in about 1500. Apparently, his spacecraft was built around a sturdy chair, two kites and 47 of the largest gunpowder-filled rockets he could lay his hands on. His servants lit the fuses, and there was a very loud bang, and no more Wu. One likes to think that just maybe he did shoot off into the heavens…

Sunday, 10 October 2004

travtrack & travlib

Years ago I started working on a suite of Traveller™-related software; I haven’t really touched it in over a year, but after reviewing the GNOME developer documentation I am newly inspired (plus, I’m growing tired of all the sewing I’ve been doing on my cloak). Perhaps I’ll be able to actually get a working piece of software done sometime before I die.

Saturday, 09 October 2004

The Arrangements of Western Mediæval and Byzantine Churches

I have found a most interesting article on the structure of churches, one of the theses of which is that a mediæval church would have more closely resembled an Orthodox church—this is only natural, since at the time they had not fallen as far from the truth as they have since. A good read and quick.

SCA Heraldry

The SCA is often accused of being ahistorical—and not always unjustly. However, as the Rules for Submissions to the College of Heralds demonstrate, there are strong attempts to avoid and correct this in certain quarters. The heralds are doing their best to ensure historical practise in their realm of influence. Now if only we could get everyone to play ball…

Monday, 04 October 2004

X Prize Won!

The Ansari X Prize has been won by the SpaceShip One team. Civilian space flight is coming, slowly but surely. I expect that it will be several decades before it really comes into its own, but this is wonderful news. I wonder how many centuries it’ll be before we figure out some form of faster-than-light travel.

Lesser-Known Geneva Convention Rules

We all know the stuff about not torturing POWs and allowing Red Cross visits, but there are some lesser-known provisions of the Geneva Convention. Isn’t that more properly called that Geneva Conventions anyway?

Sunday, 03 October 2004

Great American Beer Festival

Well, I attended the Great American Beer Festival for the fifth year running, the difference with past years being that I served as the designated driver. This was an interesting experience—I’ve never actually been the DD.

The festival’s great theme this year seemed to be bourbon-barrel beers—that is, beers which have been aged in old bourbon casks. They all looked quite fine. There was also an interesting blended beer made with beer from three different Colorado breweries; my buddy enjoyed it so much that he ended the night with a glass thereof. I’d have like to have tried that.

As with last year’s festival, there was really quite an amazing number of extraordinarily attractive women there. My buddy kept asking if he was just suffering from a massive case of beer goggles—and I kept assuring him that such was certainly not the case. I don’t know what it is about beer attracting attractive gals, but I certainly do appreciate it.

Next year!

Saturday, 02 October 2004

My Brother Tim

My brother just got back from the Navy’s survival & evasion school, and apparently the big thing now is to google a fellow’s name in order to get information about him. He is thus concerned that I note him my name on my personal page and this blog. Well, he need worry no longer: he will no longer be known on these pages by his given name, but as Tim. Personally, I think it’s all just a bit silly, but if Tim wants to change his name, I’m glad to oblige him. I do love by brother Tim.

His name’s Tim, you see…

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