Something New Every Day

A record of doing a new thing every day in 2011

Octave (286/365) Thursday October 13, 2011

Pressing on with the Stanford Machine Learning course, and this week’s exercise involved learning about a new bit of software for me - Octave.

It’s a really nice piece of software for doing numerical calculations, and I expect will be heavily used by the course as it has a nice way of doing matrix arithmetic. If only they’d had software like this when I was a lad…

Polish Deli (285/365) Wednesday October 12, 2011

Still felt a bit rough yesterday and left work a bit early, so I thought I best do something new on the way back to the flat before I flaked out.

What I did was go into the Polish deli near Seven Sisters tube station to see what it was like. There is a big Polish community in the area, and as you’d expect the shop was basically full of Polish food items. There were lots of interesting things to try, but in my slightly fragile state I decided to go for some mango flavoured green tea in a can for medicinal reasons.

Not sure if it was the green tea that did the trick, but I do feel a bit better this morning.

China Daily Weekly (284/365) Tuesday October 11, 2011

Not a great day, as I finally succumbed to the bug that’s been going around our office recently. I went straight to bed when I got home from work, but luckily earlier in the day I’d been given my first ever free copy of the weekly China Daily paper.

It was actually quite interesting, and appears everything is going very well in China. I am now thinking of moving my business there as there are lots of opportunities and helpful government officials too.

No sport pages though. No idea how they forgot about those, as that’s clearly the most important bit of any paper.

DART (283/365) Monday October 10, 2011

Tech post alert: Yesterday I played about with Dart, a new “language for structured web programming” from Google.

First thoughts are really around the question of what is the problem this language is trying to solve?

I can defnitely see why you might want to implement an object-orientated wrapper over the general horror that is JavaScript to make it more manageable. However I’d be very interested in the performance overhead of running this wrapper code client side, and their other goal of running on the server seems unlikely to ever interest me. 

If I don’t worry about the why, the language itself looks quite nicely designed with lots of low-level building blocks that are generally missing in regular JavaScript. For a non-JS expert this could definitely be useful if I did want to ever program anything client-side more than a few basic event handlers or some Facebook integration :-)

I haven’t got any ideas on how I might use this for real yet, and the lack of current support for IE9 means it’s not production ready as yet, but definitely something to keep an eye on.

A redesign using Bootstrap (282/365) Sunday October 9, 2011

I was chatting to my friend O yesterday and he was telling me about a web page toolkit he was using called [Bootstrap].(

It was made by a couple of designers from Twitter and looked quite nice, so I thought I’d have a play with it. The results can be seen at the latest incarnation of my Brave Location website, and looks quite decent even if I say it myself.

The only pain was that initially it didn’t work properly in IE9, and it took me ages to figure out that a DOCTYPE tag was essential or the whole thing didn’t render cleanly at all.

Will definitely consider using Bootstrap in the future, as it’s really easy to get a nice design without too much effort or CSS skills (of which I don’t have many!)

Sensational Crisps (281/365) Saturday October 8, 2011

It was a very wet day up here in the North, but despite that Hilary was out in the wilds of Northumberland on the Haltwhistle Walking Festival. That meant we decided to have an evening in catching up on TV, and as it was “feast day” I decided to get some crisps in.

My previous favorite flavour has been Walkers Sensations ”Vinegar and Onion”, but after trying the new “Mexican Fiery Sweet Chipotle” flavour I may have changed my mind - definitely recommended (especially because Tesco has the on 2-for-1 right now!)

Machine Learning at Stanford - again (280/365) Friday October 7, 2011

If you’re following closely, I had a similar post to this back in August when I started looking at the online lectures on machine learning at Stanford.

Not long after I posted that, Stanford announced a proper online course with lectures, questions and help especially designed for the Internet, so I’ve switched to doing that instead. It’s actually really good, and my new thing was completing the first set of modules.

I’m not sure if they’ve closed entry yet, and I know many of you are also doing the same course, but if you do get a chance to get on the course it’s definitely recommended.

Python Tools for Visual Studio (279/365) Thursday October 6, 2011

I’ve been doing more and more Python programming, both at work and at home, so it was good to learn about some nice Python Tools for Visual Studio, that I tried out for the first time on Thursday.

I haven’t had time to use them much yet, but it’s nice to be able to use a lot of the familiar functionality of Visual Studio when hacking away in what for me is still a reasonably unfamiliar language.

Full Of Beans (278/365) Wednesday October 5, 2011

3 meals, beans in everyone of them.

That’s the story really. Breakfast of scrambled eggs and beans at work, bean soup for lunch then more beans for me tea. Never done that before.

Surprisingly, none of the obvious post-bean symptoms.

Hoping it all pays off in my latest weigh-off at the weekend.

First Class for Free (277/365) Tuesday October 4, 2011

I finally started reaping the benefits of my East Coast railway “frequent fliers” program with my first ever free first class train journey finally booked yesterday.

It’s been really hard to spend my already extensive collection of points, because the trains I need to travel on up and down to London are almost always unavailable. I’m going to the US in a few weeks time and will be flying back to London and not going directly home, so it was a good opportunity to book a “return” on my trip home a few days later even if I won’t actually use the free return :-(