They are my oldest and deadliest enemy. You cannot trust them.
If Hitler invaded Hell, I would give a favourable reference to the Devil.

Tuesday, April 20


Who Let The Brap Out?

I can't for the life of me work out why the mt-db2sql.cgi program is so slow. I put both the Berkeley DB (the old database) and the MySQL DB (the new database) in a ram disk, and it behaved exactly the same. Moofleglerp.

I'm familiar with Berkeley DB, and I've never seen it behave like that. I'm less familiar with MySQL, but I've never seen MySQL behave like that either. Right now I'm trying it with PostgreSQL, and any moment now... Crunch! As soon as it finishes with the comments and starts transferring the entries, performance drops to zero. It's not CPU bound, it doesn't seem to be I/O bound, it just sucks.

Well, I'll let it finish anyway, and then I'll have more numbers for comparison.

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Monday, April 19


Wash And Wear

I doubt it will surprise many of my readers that I went for the fancy whiz-bang (no, not that whiz-bang) condensing washer/dryer over its cheaper, less whiz-bang competition.

It washes! It dries! It washes and dries! And it doesn't steam up the laundry!

Should have it Tuesday. Since I have (counts) five clean shirts remaining, I expect I'll survive until then.

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Cooking Up A Storm


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Sunday, April 18


Who Writes This Brap?

(Yeah, that's a typo, but I decided to leave it.)

As I've noted before, Movable Type is robust and rich in features, but really really slow.

I've wondered if it's something to do with using Berkeley DB. Some people on the MT support forum have claimed this is the case, but they have not impressed me as particularly knowledgable. Berkeley itself is very fast anyway, so it would have to be a problem with MT's use of it rather than Berkeley itself - though that is quite possible.

Anyway, there's a CGI script available in MT to convert from a Berkeley DB to MySQL or PostgreSQL. Two things to note: It only comes with the upgrade package, and not with the "full" version (minor oops), and it doesn't work (big oops).

Well, if you run it as the docs suggest, as a CGI program from your web browser, it will happily create the necessary tables in your SQL database and report that its work is done. Without, mind you, copying any of the data across.

If instead you run it from the command line, it will copy all your data, only very very slowly. It zips through the first part - I'm not sure exactly what that consisted of, but at least it was quick - but when it starts processing the entries it slows to a crawl. Crawwwwwwwwwl.

Once it's finished, which should be within the next 10 or 12 hours (seriously!), I'll rerun my little stress-test.

Oh, yes: I've written a template which exports your entire Movable Type system in a nice convenient format. Just the ticket if you want to move off MT and onto a more modern and efficient sytem. (Cough Minx cough.)

It takes two hours to run on That's on a lightly-loaded Athlon XP 2500+ with 1GB of memory.

Pfft. But at least it's better than mt-db2sql.cgi.

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Friday, April 16



Stopped by Galaxy Bookshop this evening when I was done comparison-shopping for washing machines. (I'm torn between the low price of the Simpson front-loader - my old washing machine was a Simpson and lasted 14 years without servicing - and the convenience and gadget-value of the Omega condensing washer/dryer - put your clothes in, press a few buttons, and a couple of hours later they are clean and dry! Given that I have a bad habit of forgetting to take clothes out of the washing machine, sometimes for days, this is a good thing. It costs about twice as much as the Simpson, though.)

Well - (Oh, and I was reminded that I have a very small washing machine. Had a very small washing machine. Or have a very small ex-washing machine. Some of the models I looked at were huge. Convenient, I suppose, if you have three teenagers and a dog, but not something I need myself.)

Are you finished? (Yes, do go on.)

Right. Got to Galaxy and there's this huge pile near the door of Neal Stephenson's latest work, Confusion. It's the sequel to Quicksilver, which I hadn't bought previously, and both apparently have some connection to Cryptonomicon, which I never managed to get all the way through.

Stephenson is a good writer - I particularly enjoyed Zodiac and Snow Crash - but one of his points, for good or bad, is to wander off into diversions, sometimes for a dozen pages or more. (Speaking of which, most of my comparison shopping was done at Myers - what was Grace Bros., a fine and traditional name, before the mob from Melbourne bought them up. Actually, they've been trading as Grace Bros. for years even after that, but suddenly decided to change the name... A couple of months ago, I think. I sort of missed it, being occupied with other things. After that I went to Bing Lee, who have a new city store where the Sky Garden food court used to be. Wonder what they did with the food court... There used to be a restaurant there that did wonderful barbecue ribs. Anyway, Bing Lee is in theory a discount chain and Myers a mid-range department store, but the prices there were really no better than at Myers, and sometimes worse, and Myers were offering 10% off the marked price of all whitegoods.

What really struck me at Bing Lee, though, was the number of large-screen flat-panel televisions. They're everywhere. And they're not exactly cheap, so either people are buying these things and the economy isn't doing so badly after all or Bing Lee is about to go broke. I have a perfectly good Sony, a 34" model (84 cm to me) about six years old, which I bought just before the changeover to flat screens (flat CRTs, that is, rather than flat panels). It's vertically flat, at least; it's like a cut-away section of a cylinder, which is much easier to do without distorting the picture than a truly flat screen like my monitors. (Also Sony. Which have this horrible tendency to go over-bright over time - my third and final Sony monitor is not long for the world at this rate.)

I have no interest in buying a new TV, since my old one is both large enough and good enough, unless it is both high-definition and reasonably priced. And I have no real interest even then until high-definition material becomes available. And since I never watch broadcast TV these days and can't get cable because the cable companies are run by morons (I'm sure I've ranted about that here before) that means a new high-definition DVD player (which no-one currently makes) and new high-definition DVDs (see above). In the meantime, I have plenty of other ways to burn my money. I could buy a new washing machine, for a start.)

The diversions in Cryptonomicon, though, were rather too much for me. A friend noted how much he enjoyed the book, largely because of the diversions, which he found both entertaining and educational. For me, though, while they were amusing enough, my mind seems to run too closely to the same frequency as Stephenson's and my reaction after the first 400 diversion-packed pages was either get on with the story or I'm ditching the book.

He didn't, so I did. (One thing I did find, and which I have been looking for for some time, is a small, reasonably priced stereo that will play DVD-Rs full of MP3s. I don't know what appeals to you, but since a DVD-R costs me just over a dollar, and even with 256kb/s encoding will hold 40 hours of music, this seems very cool indeed to me. Pop in a disk, hit shuffle play, and that's music sorted out for the duration of the party.)

Now, though, I seem to be in the possession of both Quicksilver and Confusion, 1700 pages of 18th century diversions. (At least, I think it's 18th century. Benjamin Franklin's in it, I think.) And that's 1700 trade paperback pages, so it would probably be over 2000 in mass-market format. Not that there is a MMPB release yet - that I've seen. They're really milking this one.

Also Dan Simmons' Ilium. Dan Simmons is another writer I have mixed feelings about. His Hyperion is a fascinating work, a spin of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales in a distant future on an enigmatic planet. The books that followed - The Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, and The Rise of Endymion, progressively rubbed away at the enigma until nothing much interesting was left. In fact, I never actually read the final volume, having given Endymion a resounding blah on the Pixy Misa BLO scale.*

Well, the Book Shop Guy recommended it very highly, and I have enjoyed some of Simmons' recent non-SF work (specifically Hardcase and Hard Freeze. Darwin's Blade, on the other hand, was clearly written entirely on autopilot. It made me wonder if he has a word processor with functions to insert 500 words on guns here and ramble on about auto engines for 800 words there.), so I bought it too.

And Steven Brust's Sethra Lavode. I don't really have any conflicts about Brust - He's brilliant! Read him! - but this latest work, the third part of his homage to Dumas (The Phoenix Guards being The Three Musketeers, Five Hundred Years After being Twenty Years After among an elf-like race that lives a lot longer than we humans are wont to do, and The Viscount of Adrilankha being of course The Vicomte De Bragelonne. Viscount is itself split into three volumes, namely, The Paths of the Dead, The Lord of Castle Black, and this, the third. Sethra Lavode, remember?) hasn't grabbed me in the same way, possibly because it is divided into three parts like Gaul, and is filled with garlicky snails.

Or possibly just because the parts of what should be a single novel are appearing a year apart, just long enough for the previous volume to fade in the mind but not quite long enough for it to be an attractive re-read. I didn't finish The Lord of Castle Black because I really needed to re-read The Paths of the Dead to enjoy it properly, only I didn't. Now I have all three volumes in hand, and can do the work justice - and I just need to find the time.

Finally, Guy Gavriel Kay's The Last Light of the Sun. Guy Kay is one of my (many) favourite fantasy authors. Though admittedly his first work, The Fionavar Tapestry, was something of a mess (belonging to the fling fantasy tropes at the page and see what sticks school of writing), he redeemed himself and more with Tigana. His writing has improved since then, with A Song for Arbonne, The Lions of Al-Rassan, and most recently The Sarantine Mosaic, but none of those have resonated with me quite the way Tigana does.

Partly, it's the settings. Tigana has some vague flavour of the warring Italian states of, say, the 15th century, but it's clearly its own world, not just Italy with the names filed off. Arbonne is France, more or less, but again not just a cut-and-paste. Al-Rassan, though, is obviously Moorish Spain, and Sarantium is Byzantium, Constantinople, without any real effort to distinguish or disguise it.

I don't like that very much, even when the writing is good - and in Kay's case, it is.

More than that, though, there's the theme of Tigana: A country, defeated in war, and punished for its resistence by having its name taken away, wiped from the memories of its people by magic. And of the struggle of those few who remember to reclaim the memory of their land for their people. This struck me as a terribly, terribly painful thing - to be unable to recall the name of your own land, the land that you grew up in and loved. If you enjoy fantasy and haven't yet read Tigana, do. Even if you've read Fionavar and have since sworn off Kay's work - which would be akin to reading The Number of the Beast and swearing off Heinlein, as one of my friends did for years.

So, and so; 1700 pages of Stephenson, 600 of Simmons, 350 pages of Brust, who is normally commendably succinct, unless I should decide to re-read the whole of Viscount in which case the number is closer to 1100, and 500 pages of Kay.

If you don't hear much from me in the next few days, well, I'll be in the laundry.

* Book-Like Object. A term used to describe things printed on paper and bound between covers that cannot justly be described as books.

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Thursday, April 15


This Is Still My Blog

There aren't any quite like it, and this one is mine all mine.

Happy 1th birthday Ambient Irony!

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Wednesday, April 14



Gonna be a bonfire tonight, a bonfire tonight, I know, I know...

Gooood evening ladies and germs, and welcome one and all to the Bonfire of the Vanities!

I'm your host, The Extremely Reverend Pixy Misa, and tonight we will be sacrificing our most worthless, our most inane, our most incoherent babblings to the flames! And if things get a little carried away, possibly a blogger or two as well!

Right, who's up first?


Shy crowd, eh? Well, I'll just draw a name out of the hat. Oh, look! It's

Susie of Practical Penumbra, who takes great pride in connecting the dots with... the other dots. Burn for me, Susie!

And now we have John Moore of Useful Fools who tries to contribute by throwing a couple of Democrats into the fire! Don't be silly, John! We all know that politicians are too wet to burn!

Competing in our Inane Remark category is Sean Hackbarth of The American Mind who informs us that the head of the NBA is an InstaPundit reader. Or that someone who isn't the head of the NBA is an IsntaPundit reader. Or something.

In our Put not thy faith in weathermen category we have Kiril Kundurazieff of Sneakeasy's Joint complaining that sometimes it will rain even if the guy on TV said it wouldn't!! We all hate that, right? Right! Into the flames with it, Kiril!

Michael Friedman of Fried Man regretfully informs us that Kevin Drum has SOLD OUT! and is now pimping for the Global Sorority Conspiracy! Hey, Michael, how come we never get invited to those parties? Oh, never mind. Burn, baby, burn!

Can't keep up with what's going on in the sports world any more? Don't worry! Beth Donovan of She Who Will Be Obeyed Or Else Dammit is here to fill us all in on the latest news from, um, Augusta, maybe? I dunno. One of those places.

Andrew Ian Dodge of Dodgeblogium has - Aah! My eyes! Ze goggles, they do nothing!

And while you're recovering from that, we have a competitor in the Non-Sequitur category. Meet Jim from Snoozebutton Dreams who tells us about a show that he cannot describe and therefore, doesn't.

Into the fire with him! Oops, no, just the post... Oh well.

The inimitable Harvey of Bad Money looks for blogging inspiration to Bad Dog Jake - who is, alas, an actual dog and so inspires only more fodder for the bonfire...

Not that that is a bad thing.

Photon Courier, apparently mistaking the Bonfire for the Carnival, sends us a fine post noting the similarities between idiots now and sixty years ago. Let's toss it in the flames anyway!

Alex of Hypocrisy and Hypotheses explains to us the difference between a buffalo's fingers and a buddy... Or possibly not. Burn it anyway! Bwahahahahahahaah - cough!

Ah... Has anyone been putting any, mmm, substances, in the fire? If so, see me after the show stop it right now!

Goldie the Drama Queen has let herself grow addicted to frogs balls. But she tells us she's doing just fine in therapy and will be out in no time!

Meanwhile, Comrade Dave of Blogo Slovo makes it known that he does not want to turn into a giant Iguana. At least, not a small-town giant Iguana. A big city giant Iguana, that's different.

Burn it! Burn it!

Bryan of Spare Change watches The Bachelor. But he tells us he's doing just fine in therapy and will be out in no time!

Is it hot in here, or is it just me? Why did we build the Bonfire indoors, by the way?

Nathan of The Argus manages to link Turkmenistan (which he claims is a real country) and the Cavity Creeps (who we know are real) together in a single post, endangering the very existence of Reality unless we take swift action by throwing it into the fire!

Always works, that. Reality endangered? Into the fire!


The Gleeful Extremist recommends that we all see Cheaper by the Dozen. Uh, and that's about it. Sure burns well, though. Flames, so pretty...

Brian takes time out from his musings to tell us that he is outraged! Absolutely outraged! And if you act now, he'll throw in a free set of steak knives!

Heather, perhaps you could have a quiet word with your husband?

Eric of Classical Values is decapitating chocolate bunnies for peace! And something about Ishtar and Indymedia, but it's already burnt, so we won't worry about that.

The Interested Participant attempts to convince us that snakes evolved from lawyers, when we all know that snakes really evolved from insurance salesmen. Nice try, IP, but it's into the flames you go!

Crackle crackle burn burn...

The Princess of Fools, from the Kingdom of Fools has some very insightful commentary for us, so daddy decides to offer it up for the Bonfire. Just you wait, your Kingness!

In the It seemed amusing at the time category we have contestent Kevin of Wizbang who tells us that Arnold rescued a struggling swimmer. And, well, that's basically it. Arnold rescued a struggling swimmer.

Bill Bulldog, posting from Beyond the Black Hole, explains the Olympics to us. At least, I think he explained the Olympics to us. Not always easy to tell.

And, finally, we have Chapomatic who tells us that he has, indeed, seen everything.

Oh look! The nice gentlemen in the shiny red trucks have arrived! If anyone wants me, I'll be 'round the back!

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Tuesday, April 13


That's Reverend Pixy To You, Buster

As of this morning, I am a duly ordained minister of the Universal Life Church of Modesto, California.

No, really.

Since the tenets of the ULC are human rights, personal responsibility, and religious freedom - including freedom from religious dogma - this is something I take with a certain degree of seriousness. Yes, it's partly in fun, but it's not to make fun of the ULC, more the humour in me (me!) being a priest.


Anyone want to get married? (Not necessarily to me.) Or baptised?

Just so people know, I'm not licensed to perform circumcisions, but apart from that, I'm ready for anything!

Bless you, kiddies!

Reverend Pixy

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Holy Flame

The Bonfire entries are still rolling in, and I'm heading off to work now, so expect the Bonfire to appear in this space about ten hours from... Now.

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Monday, April 12


Bonfires R Us

I'm still splitting wood and gathering tinder, so you have time yet to put your entry in for this week's Bonfire of the Vanities.

So gather up your most inane, nonsensical blather and email it to bonfire at, along with any explanation you may have for its wretched existence. (Your post, that is, not Wizbang.)

Sacrifice your offerings to the Burning Blog!

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 05:44 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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