I before E except after…

i before e,
except after c,
or when sounded as a,
as in ‘neighbor’ and ‘weigh’,
or when it appears in comparatives and superlatives like ‘fancier’,
or when the c sounds as sh as in ‘glacier’,
or when the vowel sounds like ee as in ‘seize’,
or i as in ‘height’,
or when it shows up in compound words such as ‘albeit’,
or when it shows up in -ing inflections of verbs that end in e, like queueing,
or occasionally in technical words that have a strong etymological link to their parent languages such as ‘cuneiform’ and ‘caffeine’,
and in numerous other random exceptions such as ‘science’, ‘forfeit’, and ‘weird.’


Gravatar Images on GitHub

I was having trouble getting my gravatar image to appear against my profile in github. Searching around the web suggested this was down to caching – either locally, at github or at gravatar, but logging in and out of accounts and clearing caches wasn’t getting me anywhere.

I took a closer look at my github profile settings at https://github.com/settings/profile and there it is at the bottom “Gravatar Email (Private)” – which was empty. Once I put my email address in there, boom, the gravatar appears.

Obvious when you look at it.

Two reasons why (some) cyclists run red lights (sometimes)

Conservation of energy.
The cyclist’s body supplies, and feels, every joule supplied to the vehicle. Repeated stop/starts in busy traffic increase the work load and, sometimes, some cyclists avoid the energy bill that the red light demands. For me it’s a no-brainer: city cycling is a sprint affair and I love powering off a fresh green, and therefore require the reds for recovery. I recommend the Waterloo bridge to Oval main road for this: my thighs had grown impressively after only 2 months of savage interval training commute on this route.

But if you really don’t like stopping, learn the back routes. I can’t speak for every town in the UK and I know there are some shockers but in most places through which I have cycled – London in particular – there have been superb alternative cycling routes. Tip: don’t follow the buses.

Poor brakes. Bikes with poorly maintained brakes are frighteningly commonplace and cyclists with reduced braking power are forced to ride dangerously – caught out by light changes and appearances of unexpected objects, even though they may try to ride in an anticipatory fashion.

Simply put: this should not be permitted.

Servicing the brakes is straightforward on any kind of modern bike. Do it yourself, get a mate to help or there will be a bike workshop near most everyone. All riders should ensure their brakes are in working order before setting on on their machine.

Hard-biting brakes are a joy to feel on a bike.

Go Live Using `git Push`

My general ambition is never to use ftp ever again.  Of course, that isn’t going to happen in the foreseeable future but the general ambition is to work exclusively with SSH and a DVCS – like git.

I was looking for a good technique to update a live web server.  I found this great concise blog post here.  Very elegant, thanks Gareth!


Unix-style command line work is a central component of Web development.  The power available with a single well-crafted line entered into a bare text terminal is awesome.  Combinations of stalwart commands like find, grep, xargs, sed can do incredible things.

Here’s one I used this week: I wanted to truncate a file to the last 1000 lines in a cron script  to keep a log file in check: no problem:

 cat file.log | tail -1000 > file.log

But it’s knowing how to use all the options available to the commands that separates the Ninjas from the hacks.  I am hack but today I was reminded why it’s always a good idea to check the man page even for common commands.  Today I found this

mkdir -p ~/non/existant/path

There it is.  -p is –parents.  RTFM

-p, --parents
 no error if existing, make parent directories as needed

Of course, I shudder to think how many times I built a new path slug by slug in the past, but never again.

Incognito – David Eagleman

This is a great book I have just finished reading.  It’s an interested layman’s overview of current neuroscience and a fascinating tour around what it means to be conscious.  The main insight is just to what extent we aren’t really in control of ourselves.  The entity that you perceive as “you” is a merely and awesomely a happy assembly  of countless sub-systems in your brain and body, all working more or less cooperatively and almost all completely out of our conscious reach.

I found the sections on human vision and how it is processed in the brain particularly fascinating.  It’s really mind-blowing to consider that our vision is artificial, that it is a construct made inside our heads.  What we see we don’t see.  Can you find your optic nerve blind spot in your vision, right now? It’s actually before you, all the time, in the picture of everything that your eyes take in, but you never get to “see” it.  Beautiful.  Go look at something now, really stare and wonder.