Archive for December, 2007

The Quiz is on

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

In fact, has been since a little while before Xmas, but I only got around to looking at it today.

The King William’s College quiz (PDF). It’s quite tricky. I find it somewhat akin to crossing University Challenge with a cryptic crossword. Have at it. Google won’t help you (until, perhaps, you figure out exactly what to Google). But if one is sufficiently well-read, one may make some impact.

Xmas is almost over

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

It took us most of the day to get through mini-Elbeno’s haul of gifts. Many books and toys. Big items were a desk for colouring etc, Tonka truck, Fisher Price Learning Zoo, mini-kitchen with play food and pots and pans, and a wooden railway set (Melissa & Doug). The poor little chap has a cold today, so hasn’t been feeling too well. Hopefully he’ll be over it soon.

Mrs Elbeno and I just went for a few little gifts this year. I got a DS game (LoZ: Phantom Hourglass) and a couple of books (including How To Solve It and SICP). Mrs Elbeno got a Reader’s Digest songbook and Remington Steel season 1 on DVD.

Bizarre event of the day was finding someone else’s gift in the pile. All of the Amazon deliveries from my family were wrapped, so I had just put them under the tree without even looking at the tags. It turns out that Amazon sent me one that wasn’t meant for anyone in my household! I’m not sure how it got to me – it was for Samantha in PA, but it must have been packaged with one of my other deliveries. Luckily Amazon also sent me the gift receipt, so I was able to look up the person who bought the gift for Samantha (her uncle, from the tag) and gave him a call around 4pm to let him know about Amazon’s weirdness, wish him a Merry Xmas, and reassure him that I would be sending the gift on to his niece.

Christmas dinner at 6.30 (just didn’t fancy a big lunch) was Honeybaked ham, sweet potato and mixed veg. Simple, delicious, and we didn’t spend a lot of time fixing or clearing up.

Stairways to Heaven

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

So, in the wake of the Beatnix’ version of Stairway to Heaven, I discovered Stairways to Heaven. I’ve listened to quite a few of them (or at least the beginnings of quite a few) and so far they roughly fall into the following categories:

  • People mucking about doing something vaguely related to Stairway. Null points to the clip of the yodelling Australian lady.
  • Plain covers with almost-identical beginnings. One wonders why they bothered, as with so many cover versions.
  • Novelty covers that are different and decent (the Beatnix are the best, and I think Gilligan’s Island also qualifies).
  • Covers in a style that just doesn’t work. Sorry, but chip music really doesn’t cut it for this one.
  • Covers that are actually quite well done, and probably to someone’s taste, but not mine. e.g. Dolly Parton, London Symphony Orchestra.
  • Covers that totally nail my musical prefs. Bellanova, Jana, where have you been all my life? (Skye, you should check these out too!)

I’ll keep you posted of any further standout versions.

Happy Solstice

Friday, December 21st, 2007

In approximately an hour, the sun will be directly over the Tropic of Capricorn. Mark the southern solstice* as you will, and I wish you a peaceful and prosperous season.

* I use this term rather than winter solstice out of a desire to be hemispherically neutral.

Beatles geek

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

I showed The Beatniks (an Aussie tribute band) playing Stairway to Heaven to Mrs Elbeno. She liked it, but remarked: “their Paul plays right handed though.”

Lisping towards enlightenment

Monday, December 17th, 2007

Me: a C/C++ programmer of 12 years (professionally), a Lisp dabbler (programmer is too strong a word to use here) of, let’s say ~3 months. I’ve done enough functional stuff to be comfortable with that side, but I haven’t (hadn’t) yet written a project big enough to get me used to Lisp syntax.

The project: an LL(1) parser. That is, given a suitable grammar and set of legal lexemes, produce a function that will (top-down predictive) parse legal strings of said grammar. This isn’t rocket science by compiler standards, and I’m not sure it’s even likely that the grammar I have in mind to parse can even be made LL(1), but I have implemented precisely this in C++ before, so it’s a good test. Straight out of the Dragon Book section 4.4.

So far I have completed Lisp functions to produce a parsing table, using appropriate algorithms to construct First and Follow sets. This is about 110 lines of Lisp. Looking at the old C++ code (about 5 years ago) it comes to about 230 lines. From this I conclude that even a newb like me can gain immediate benefit from Lisp, and that I don’t yet know enough Lisp to make this about half the size it is (e.g. I’ve used no macros).

Time taken to get this far in Lisp: about 2 days. Time taken to get this far in C++: unknown, but the entire thing (grammar design, lexer, parser, bytecode compilation & VM execution) took on the order of a few months. The C++ version is production code that shipped in a real life game. Make of that what you will.

Even after 2 days, I’m already fine with the brackets. They really do not bother. The code is readable through indentation. I do sometimes run into problems with misplaced brackets when editing code, but it’s akin to a syntax error which is immediately found and fixed. I expect this to go away as I get more proficient.

Xmas cards have been sent

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

This year’s tally was:

38 to the continental US.
23 to the UK.
3 to Australia.
1 to Germany.
1 to Japan.

My Stuff

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

A new link section on the sidebar for my stuff – I finally got around to putting up my books & games, as well as RotateAVI, which rotates motion JPEGs (from Canon cameras and probably others).

Xmas Ornaments from the Elbeno household

Sunday, December 9th, 2007

Xmas Ornament

Xmas Ornament

Happy solstitial celebration!

Xmas Playlist Highlights?

Sunday, December 9th, 2007

Anyone got any yule tune recommendations?
My current playlist (which is cool as far as it goes, but not v. seasonal):

  • Who Am I from Les Mis
  • Lay All Your Love On Me – ABBA
  • These Words – Natasha Bedingfield
  • White And Nerdy – Weird Al Yankovic
  • La Femme d’Argent – Air
  • Toccata and Fugue in D minor – Bach
  • Mother Nature’s Son – The Beatles
  • Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
  • Slight Return – Bluetones
  • Chemical World – Blur
  • Tracy Jacks – Blur
  • Subterranean Homesick Blues – Bob Dylan
  • Immigrant Song – Led Zeppelin
  • Tales Of Brave Ulysses – Cream
  • Back In Black – AC/DC
  • Highway to Hell – AC/DC
  • Paranoid – Black Sabbath
  • Smoke On The Water – Deep Purple
  • Sunshine Of Your Love – Cream
  • I Want You (She’s So Heavy) – The Beatles
  • Blackbird – The Beatles
  • In My Life – The Beatles
  • If I Fell – The Beatles
  • True Love Ways – Buddy Holly
  • In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida – Iron Butterfly
  • Mandelbrot Set – Jonathan Coulton
  • While My Guitar Gently Weeps – The Beatles
  • While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Acoustic) – George Harrison
  • Those Who Fight Further (FF VII) – The Black Mages
  • Manmachine Plays Jazz – Mikio Endo
  • B4U – Naoki (from DDR soundtrack)
  • V – Taka (from DDR soundtrack)
  • The Sound Of Goodbye (full version) – Perpetuous Dreamer (DDR again)
  • Burning Heat! (Full Option Mix) – Mr T with Motoaki.F (Could it be DDR?)
  • Sonic the Hedgehog GreenHill (Euroclub ’95 Mix) – from
  • Baby One More Time – Britney Spears
  • Oops!…I Did It Again – Britney Spears
  • Toxic – Britney Spears
  • Under Attack (7″ Single) – ABBA
  • Sympathique – Pink Martini
  • Stranger on the Shore – Acker Bilk
  • Put A Spell On You – Sonique
  • Die Another Day – Madonna
  • Jumping Jack Flash – Rolling Stones
  • Ride On Time – Black Box
  • Sing It Back – Moloko
  • Shape Of My Heart – Sting
  • Vincent – Don McLean
  • Tears In Heaven – Eric Clapton
  • Xanadu – Olivia Project
  • Till There Was You – The Beatles (cover)
  • For No One – The Beatles
  • Across the Universe – The Beatles
  • Revolution – The Beatles
  • Here Comes The Sun – The Beatles
  • Killing In The Name – Rage Against The Machine
  • Sympathy For The Devil – Rolling Stones
  • O Tannenbaum – Vince Guaraldi Trio
  • Tank! – Yoko Kanno / The Seatbelts (Cowboy Bebop soundtrack)
  • Stairway To Heaven – Led Zeppelin
  • Texas Flood – Stevie Ray Vaughan
  • Crossroads – Cream
  • Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns n Roses
  • Luv Foundation – Mikio Endo
  • Life Between The Wars – Al Stewart
  • Year Of The Cat – Al Stewart
  • Wake Me Up When September Ends – Green Day
  • Basket Case – Green Day
  • The Winner Takes It All – ABBA
  • Doin’ the Do (7″ Radio Mix) – Betty Boo
  • Bang On! – Propellerheads
  • Hazy Shade of Winter – The Bangles (cover)
  • Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Diana Krall