Anybody who knows me understands that I am a little bit mad about penguins. My mantlepiece is littered with them and I even have a life-size cardboard cutout nailed to my living room wall (to the horror of some of my friends). So, when I was informed a week ago about the existence of a book about a man who has a penguin as his best friend, of course I was obliged to seek it out.
The short story by Andrey Kurkov, a Ukrainian author from St Petersburg Russia, centres on the life of Viktor Zolotaryov, a failing writer who works as an author of Obelisk, obituaries for a local paper, and his pet penguin Misha whom he adopted from the zoo a year previously.
The obituaries that Viktor writes are for persons still alive and are intended for use at some unspecified future time when the dignitary to whom they belong has departed from this world. The problem, however is those dates always seem to come too soon.
Early on in the story Viktor is befriended by a local mob boss who requests the use of Misha to attend a number of funerals. Viktor is uneasy about this request but concedes when he hears the price for a single appearance. This uneasiness is later emphasised when Viktor learns who the funerals are for.
The story is a wonderful parody of mystery and intrigue set in post war Soviet Ukraine and Andrey’s style keeps you enthralled right through to the very last word although I did feel some of the details could have done with being embellished a little. For instance we never find out what kind of penguin Misha is other than he is depressed and has a bad heart.
Overall this is a must read for anyone who has a penchant for black humour and a love of penguins and I am very much looking forward to reading the sequel ‘Penguin Lost’ as well as other works from this author.
Yesterday I was asked a question as to whether it would be possible to automate a task such that when a file is saved locally, an action is triggered by the system to automatically transfer the file to a remote machine.
My answer to this is that is should be possible as every time a file is saved, an event is raised to update other applications and systems so it should be fairly trivial to implement. Continue reading
So it’s been all over the news the last couple of days about the tribunal between Apprentice winner Stella English and Lord Sugar.
Now normally I’d be less public about commenting on such a case, after all it’s not really any of my business but I’m a great admirer of Lord Sugar and thoroughly enjoy his show and I sometimes wonder that if I’d applied myself 10 years ago, if today I wouldn’t have been in his place. After all, back then I had plenty of ambition and plenty of time but then I lacked drive and had absolutely no real direction. Continue reading
Shell scripts are notorious. It doesn’t matter which way you look at them they are usually quick, dirty, thrown together to suit a particular purpose and then forgotten about 10 minutes later in favour of something more sparkly.
That being said, shell scripts are the backbone, the nitty gritty of any server environment. Many of our quick and dirty scripts are in service long after we’ve moved on to bigger and brighter things binding parts of the server environment together like duct tape and superglue. Continue reading
Error logs are every developers saviour when it comes to finding out what has gone wrong with a system, but on systems which can generate thousands of log events every second, finding the number of errors in a given time frame can be a complete nightmare.
The most powerful tool for searching log data is of course the unix grep command which offers a way of quickly filtering out only the information you need and when used with a combination of sed and awk will give exactly the information you need. Continue reading
Looking over the web, there seems to have been a very mixed reaction to yesterdays announcement of facebooks graph search, on one hand people are asking “Why do we need this”, whilst others are saying it is long overdue. Continue reading
The firewall rules on some web-hosts prevent the use of fopen even if allow_url_fopen is turned on. This post documents the issue found in WP Supersized XML API.
The solution to this is to use either cURL or fsockopen. Continue reading
Whilst building this website, I chose to use NextGen as an album and gallery system for my photography. I also decided that the only way to view photographs is to have them take up as much screen real estate as possible. This meant utilising the plugin wp-supersized. Continue reading