Mark’s Blog

  • Hashing Flickr Photos

    I used to host my photos with a simple set of CGI scripts that basically worked well enough for my simple requirements.  Such web applications are easy and fun to write, but in the end I decided that it wasn’t worth it because: Hosting large amounts of data on a generic shell account is typically […]

  • Most “Controversial” Guardian Crosswords

    I contribute to a collaborative blog called fifteensquared (under the name mhl) where each day people explain the clues for the Guardian, Observer, Independent, and Financial Times crosswords, as well as a number of more difficult and specialized crosswords. This is a great way to improve at cryptic crosswords – each day you have your […]

  • Replacing my iPod with a Sansa Clip

    Eventually, I reached a point with my long-suffering and much-repaired iPod where it didn’t seem to be worth continuing to pay to get it fixed up again, especially since I could reasonably switch to a device with solid-state storage instead of a hard disk.  Since I’m trying to avoid using Apple products because of both […]

  • LyX Tips for Thesis Writing

    LyX is a lovely bit of software for preparing beautiful documents – you get the high quality output of LaTeX and the advantages of logical document description in a usable interface and without having to remember TeX syntax.  There are a few aspects of using LyX that puzzled me while writing a certain large document, […]

  • Thesis Visualization

    I submitted my PhD thesis over a month ago now (on the 11th of September) and I’ve still not recovered properly from the experience.  Perhaps that’s to be expected after 5 years of it.  At some point I’ll have to try to write something coherent about what it has been like, but all I can […]

  • Fastest-Talking MSPs

    I recently made a change to the Scottish Parliament parser in ukparse so that it would preserve as accurately as possible where the timestamps occur within the text of the Official Report. (These are now in <placeholder> tags throughout the XML.)  One of the things this lets us do is get a rough estimate of […]

  • Avoiding Crossword Applets

    This post discusses a script that converts one frequently used crossword file format into another one with the advantage that it can be loaded into a free software crossword client. The brilliant cryptic crossword in The Independent is available for free online, but only in the form of a Java applet, generated with the non-free […]

  • Cryptic Crossword – Numpty / 3 (Answers)

    This post discusses the answers to the last cryptic crossword I posted on this blog.  This one also has a “ghost theme” relating to one of my favourite films – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. There are quite a few things I wasn’t happy with in this effort, but I’ve noted these below. Across: […]

  • Public Whip for the Scottish Parliament

    Summary You can now use The Public Whip to track the voting record of MSPs (Members of the Scottish Parliament) on the issues that you care about.  If you’re interested in this, please help out by creating “policies” on the site that represent how an imaginary “single issue MSP” would vote.  This will enable us […]

  • Cryptic Crossword – Numpty / 3

    This is another cryptic crossword that I’d been writing clues for in dribs and drabs for ages.  I’m not very satisfied with this either – my impression is that it’s mostly rather too easy, but for a couple of slightly obscure words.  However, there are a few that I’m quite proud of. Anyway, comments and […]