Cinderford Music Festival fundraising gig

This afternoon, I did my first solo gig. Up till now, I’ve done a few gigs as a part of combos (including as a jazz singer, bizarrely) and plenty of short solo spots at folk clubs, but this was the first time I’d done a complete set, with just my guitar and voice.

It takes a certain amount of courage.

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Some insurers just can’t take a hint

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Don’t you get it, Direct Line? I’m through insuring my car with you.

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Desert island albums #1: Joni Mitchell — Hejira (1976)

In BBC Radio 4′s venerable programme Desert Island Discs, a guest is invited to imagine themselves cast away on a desert island, and allowed to choose eight pieces of music to take with them. (The quaint “discs” in the title of course refers to gramophone records; I for one welcome the BBC’s refusal to retitle the programme Desert Island Digital Audio Files.)

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I think this is a fascinating exercise, and one that I’ve often toyed with doing myself. Continue reading

New free software for drawing diagrams of vertebral columns

I already blogged about this over on Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week, but since it’s a software release, I figure I ought to mention it on my programming blog, too!

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Matt Wedel’s and my 2013 paper on bifurcation in the neural spines of sauropods included the figure above, which shows in schematic form what we know about split spines in the vertebral columns of various specimens. Rather than draw this by hand, I wrote a program to generate it from a simple textual description. Continue reading

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C++: the good parts

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JavaScript hashes that inherit from a parent

For a JavaScript program I’m working on, I want to have hashes that can inherit values from a parent. Specifically, I have many widgets, each with a (usually small) hash of configuration parameters; when I access such a parameter and it’s not defined in the widget I want to get the value from the configuration of the team that the widget belongs to; and when that’s not defined I want it to get the value from the global configuration.

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Seriously: shop around for your car insurance

The insurance renewal for our main car (a 2005 Saab 9-5 estate) came through yesterday. I was about to pick up the phone and renew when I was struck that the premium seemed higher than I expected – £823.62 for the year (plus the extra 10% they charge you for paying monthly instead of up front). Sure enough, when I checked last year’s renewal, I found it had been only £569.22. So they’d tried to slip a 45% increase past us.

The insurance company in question, in case you want to know to avoid them, was Direct Line.

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