Philip Newton's Journal|
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|Saturday, May 4th, 2013|
|Thursday, March 28th, 2013|
One of the very first things we learned in chemistry (it may even have been on the first day) was the difference between chemical compounds and mixtures, and how the properties of a mixture are a combination of the properties of the components but the properties of a compound may be very different.
The example we used was iron filings mixed with bits of yellow sulphur, compared to iron sulfide. Another good example is water, which is liquid and non-flammable, unlike hydrogen, which is gaseous and flammable, and oxygen, which is also gaseous.
Yet today, I saw a repost on Facebook warning about brominated vegetable oil and claiming that "The main ingredient, bromine, is a poisonous, corrosive chemical".
So should we also warn that the main ingredient of table salt is "a poisonous, corrosive chemical"? Chlorine is no joke... but sodium chloride doesn't act like chlorine gas any more than a Hindenburg filled with water would be able to burn.
Feh. Current Mood: annoyed
|Tuesday, February 26th, 2013|
I just found out that Czech has “1 kráva; 5 krav” while Slovak has “1 krava; 5 kráv” with exactly opposite vowel length distribution in those two forms. Amusing :)
|Wikipedia: access to languages by country
Wikimedia stats: pages views per country
Interesting statistics about which language versions of Wikipedia are accessed in various countries.
Unsurprisingly, the official language of the various countries tends to do well (if there is just one); also fairly unsurprisingly (since it's probably the most complete), the English version tends to do well, often better than the country's own-language version.
I found it interesting that Polish appears in the stats of a few countries such as Ireland and Jersey.
And I'm guessing that the accesses to German Wikipedia from Afghanistan are probably from German soldiers stationed there rather than from permanent inhabitants.
|Thursday, February 21st, 2013|
In German, “Stelle” means “place” and I sometimes have occasion to type that… but what usually comes out is “Stella” (the name of my wife). A kind of auto-complete that my fingers do without thinking, once they “notice” what word I’m beginning to type :)
What are your most common finger macros, where you keep having to correct yourself with certain words because your fingers expand them into other words?
|Monday, February 4th, 2013|
|LJ often unusable: LJ's fault or Opera's?
Today, LiveJournal often doesn't react to keypresses (such as page-down to scroll, 2 to go a tab to the right, or even Ctrl+W to close a tab); it seems to be more or less random (if I open ten tabs, three might be wonky and the other seven work).
I wonder whether that's due to the Opera update I installed this morning or whether it's just LiveJournal getting flakier and flakier.
If that kind of thing keeps up, it'll be more hassle than it's worth to check LiveJournal, which is kind of a pity; I had a good several years there, and a handful of the friends I made still update there regularly. Current Mood: annoyed
|Thursday, January 31st, 2013|
|V.90 modem handshake diagram
The Sound of the Dialup: an Example Handshake by Oona Räisänen (2500×1301px JPEG, cc-by-sa 3.0)
A fascinating, annotated image of what a modem handshake (V.90, apparently) looks like when split up into frequences (is that called a spectrogram?), and what the individual bits mean.
A pity that my modem days were so long ago that I don’t really recall what the handshake sounded like; it would have been even more fun to correlate the sound I heard with the visual description in that image. Current Mood: geeky
|Tuesday, January 29th, 2013|
|Friday, January 4th, 2013|
I seem to have discovered swap-bot, a site which organises swaps between people.
I found it while idly googling for “we swap snacks”, while waiting for assignments on the recent we_swap_snacks swap. (Signups are probably still open due to the low number of participants by the original date! Join now so that we have a goodly number of participants!)
The main focus on swap-bot seems to be on swapping arts and crafts (I got bombarded with a whole host of terms I had never come across before, such as “ATCs”, “twinchies”, and “SMASH books”) but also has frequent swaps for postcards (which is right up my alley given my long involvement in Postcrossing) as well as other things—including the occasional snack swap and a number of electronic-only swaps such as blog followers, profile comments, or uplifting emails.
I’ve already taken part in a couple of swaps so far and have received my first rating—whee! Seems fun, and a bit addictive :) Current Mood: giddy
|Tuesday, December 25th, 2012|
We spent this Christmas in Borstel again at my sister’s: a family get-together, as usual. My second sister couldn’t be there in person with her family, at least partly due to the recent birth of her youngest son, but she was there virtually for part of it by Skype.
We exchanged presents in the morning, ate dinner (and later cake) together, and just talked. The children played with one another a fair bit.
It was interesting to see who spoke which language with whom :) All the children are growing up with at least English (for my youngest sister’s children, the father speaks to them in English, too; for the others, the spouse speaks German to them), yet some of them spoke German to each other. But not necessarily to everyone!
For example, Amy speaks German with her cousins Emily and Frederick but English with their little sister Lucy—and Lucy speaks English with Amy but German with cousin Tamino.
I think part of it is what “category” their cousins fit into in their minds; most know that most children only speak German and so when they meet a new cousin, they assume that German is the appropriate language to speak to them. But I presume that Amy speaks English to Lucianne because when Lucy was small, she spoke only English, and so I guess she got put into the category “people to speak English to”: even now that Lucy speaks quite reasonable German.
I got a number of books: a couple of Calvin and Hobbes ones, some language-related ones and a maths-related one.
|Monday, December 24th, 2012|
|Of ships and trains
If an opportunity has passed, you might say in English, “That ship has sailed.”
In German, it’s “Der Zug ist abgefahren” (That train has left).
Interesting that the metaphor is quite similar, except for the choice of vehicle.
|Saturday, December 22nd, 2012|
|I has English food!
My parcel with English food has arrived! Yay!
All wrapped very carefully.
So now I have some English cereal and some English Christmas goodies, as well as miscellaneous other stuff that’s difficult to get in Germany. Current Mood: giddy
|Friday, December 21st, 2012|
|Thursday, December 20th, 2012|
|Wednesday, December 19th, 2012|
|Wednesday, December 12th, 2012|
|Sunday, December 9th, 2012|
|Using exiftool to modify PDF file timestamps
I generally like to have my file timestamps represent the real date of last modification, rather than the time at which I acquired the file.
To that end, for example, I generally try to download files using a method that preserves the file’s timestamp (such as using GetRight or curl rather than my browser).
However, sometimes I do use the browser, or I get the file from a source which had not preserved the file’s timestamp itself.
With PDF files, though, I find that most of them have a modification timestamp in the file’s metadata itself (and those that don’t often have at least a creation timestamp). So I occasionally update file timestamps based on that timestamp saved inside the file.
I used to do that manually, by looking at the “PDF” tab of the file’s properties and then modifying the file’s timestamp in my file manager.
But then I found that I could use Phil Harvey’s exiftool to do so.
Exiftool was designed to work with EXIF metadata in images, as the name suggests, but it can read (and sometimes write) metadata from other file formats as well, such as PDF, MP3, and others.
So I found I could use it to copy the metadata modification time to the filesystem modification time, with an invocation something like this:
perl -S exiftool "-FileModifyDate<ModifyDate" *.pdf
(Depending on how you installed it, the
perl -S exiftool bit might be merely
The operative bit is the
"-FileModifyDate<ModifyDate" bit (in double quotes due to the presence of
<, which would otherwise have a special meaning): it copies the “modify date” metadata field to the file’s modification date. (If the PDF file has no modification date but does have a creation date, then use
CreateDate instead of
And presto! All PDF files in the directory have “proper” modification dates.