Monday, 27 May 2013

Skieltan aahjioogh clouit

Ta fys ayd, s'cosoylagh, dy vel anaase aym er cooishyn slaynt as aachuirrey. Shoh cooish noa: ta fir-lhee er chur aahjioogh noa da lhiannoo as aahjioogh faase echey. Ta çhingys goan ec y lhiannoo, myr shen ta lungane ny h-aahjioogh feer 'aase, as t'ee jee-volgey ny keayrtyn rish ennal. Shen cooish ghaueagh dy liooar, as son y chooid smoo cha nel ad feddyn magh ny ta taghyrt roish my dooar y lhiannoo baase.

'Sy chooish shoh, hooar magh ad y çhingys dy leah. Va ollee Glen Green as Scott Hollister, ec Ollooscoill Michigan, ronsaghey aght dy yannoo aachuirraghyn as stoo plastagh, polycaprolactone, ta lheie ersooyl beggan er veggan 'sy stoo kirpey. Cha row peiagh erbee er nyannoo lheid yn ymmyd jeh hannah, agh er y fa dy nee cooish vea as baase v'ayn, hooar ad kied egin jeh Reagheydys Bee as Stoo Lheeys ny SUA.

Ren ad jalloo-cronneyder jeh aahjioogh y lhiannoo, as kiaddey skieltan lane chooie jee. Eisht chlou magh ad y skeiltan aahjioogh ass polycaprolactone, as eh y 'uailley mygeayrt yn aahjioogh do nagh dod ish jee-volgey. Va'n lhiannoo ass y thie lheeys dy leah, as cha nel doilleeid erbee echey neayr's shen.

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Shalee lhaih 2013: Shiaghtin 21

Jerrey kied shiaghtin as feed ny Shallee Lhaih. Shoh ny lhiah mee yn çhiaghtin shoh chaie:

Yn Gruffalo (Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheffler, Natalie Nic Shìm)

Lioar vie. She skeeal neuchramp t'ayn (lioar phaitçhyn!) as er lhiam dy nee ryddim as cummey y skeeal cur taitnys da paitçhyn. Ta Nic Shìm er vreayl aitt y lhieggan Baarle, as y vardaght v'ayn myrgeddin - obbyr chreoi, ta mee shickyr, as wheesh scansh grammeydagh as liurid focklyn eddyr y daa hengey, agh jeant dy mie. Ta caslyssyn Scheffler fondagh da'n skeeal; ta blass rieughid orroo, agh t'eh co-lheie dy mie marish ny cretooryn gollrish deiney as fansee y skeeal.

Strawberry Marshmallow y.l. 3 (Barasui)

Mie foast.

Astro Boy y.l. 1-2 (Tezuka Osamu)

Ghow mee ish er y fa dy nee "ayr manga" t'ayn, as by vie lhiam fakin ny ren eh as y chummaght hug eh er screeudeyryn elley. Ta'n skeeal shoh çhaglym kuse dy skeealyn Astro Boy ass y mooarane ren eh. Er lhiam dy vel ad mie dy liooar. She aght baghtal t'oc: ta enney ayd er y noid hoshiaght son y chooid smoo, as cha nel ny skeealyn cramp. Ny yei shen ghow mee soylley jeu. Ta blass spotçhal meein nish as reesht, agh t'eh çheet er cooishyn trome myrgeddin. Cha noddym gra dy nee y red share lhaih mee rieau t'ayn: my t'ou cur genre noa er bun, cha cosoylagh eh dy jean uss yn obbyr share aynsyn. Agh t'ee mie dy liooar.

The end of week twenty-one of the Reading Project. Here's what I've read this week:

Yn Gruffalo (Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheffler, Natalie Nic Shìm)

A fun book. The story's simple enough as a children's book, but I think the rhythm and shape of the story will appeal to children. Nic Shìm has managed to retain the fun of the English edition, while also keeping it in rhyme. That must have been tough going, given the grammatical differences and variation in word length between the languages, but nicely done. Scheffler's illustrations seem ideal for the story, with a loose realistic style that blends nicely with the anthropomorphised creatures.

Strawberry Marshmallow v. 3 (Barasui)

Still good.

Astro Boy v. 1-2 (Tezuka Osamu)

I picked this up because I wanted to see what "the father of manga" had actually done and some of his influence. This book contains a collection of Astro Boy stories, and I found them decent. He has a pretty straightforward style, so typically the plot or the bad guys are clear from the beginning, and it's about the resolution. A gentle (and often slapstick) humour runs through the stories, and I felt like I recognised that influence from some later manga I've read. At the same time he deals with relatively serious topics at times, so the stories don't adhere to the child/adult distinctions Western audiences tend to expect from comics. I can see how people were confused by this at the time. I can't say it's the best thing I've read; the problem with starting a new genre is you're only starting to explore its possibilities. Nevertheless I enjoyed it a lot.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Shalee lhaih 2013: Shiaghtin 20

Jerrey feedoo hiaghtin ny Shallee Lhaih. Shoh ny lhiah mee yn çhiaghtin shoh chaie:

The Armchair Naturalist (Johnson P. Johnson)

Lioar feer vie ren mish y aachooinaghtyn er y ghraih aym er najooraghys. T'eh screeuit dy mie ass towse, lane aitt meein as ynseydaght imlagh. Cha nel Johnson insh leaght dhyt, agh t'eh soilshaghey cooishyn as cur beggan fys dy baghtal as caarjoil. Ta ny caslyssyn jesh as fondagh, as t'eh maylartey bun-chooishyn nish as reesht do nagh gaillee uss anaase. Lioar yindyssagh da sleih aegey as aasit. Share dhyt lhaih duillag ny ghaa y cheayrt; cha nel lheid ny lioar cooie dhyt roie ny trooid. Cheau mee queig meeghyn taitnyssagh lhee.

Corvus: a life with birds (Esther Woolfson)

Bea-skeeal ben as ny h-ushagyn t'ee er gummal maroo. Ta'n lioar caghlaa eddyr skeealyn er cliaghtaghyn ny h-ushagyn, beggan bea-skeeal, as smooinaghtyn er ushagyn, "ushagys", deiney, bea and ny kianglaghyn t'eddyr ocsyn. Ta bea-oaylleeaght ayns shen, chammah's fallsoonys. Ghow mee soylley jeh, agh shegin dou gra dy row eh ro-liauyr er lhiam, as dennee mee nagh row ee lane shickyr er cree ny lioar, agh foddee dy screeu ish ny va foee as cha nel eh cooie dooys! Smooinee dy vel ee daa wheesh ny smoo na lioaryn Gerald Durrell (agh lhisin goaill rish nagh nee skeealeenyn t'ayns shoh). Veagh ee ny share as laue reagheyder elley currit 'sy chooish, foddee, dys keyllaghey ee dy meein. T'ee mie dy liooar as anaasoil gyn ourys, agh nel mian aym ee y chur da carrey erbee çhelleeragh.

The end of week twenty of the Reading Project. Here's what I've read this week:

The Armchair Naturalist (Johnson P. Johnson)

A great book that reminded me of my interest in natural history. It's written very well, full of mild humour and quiet instruction. Johnson doesn't lecture, but he illustrates and explains clearly and amicably. The art is pleasant and very skillful, and he alternates topics fairly well to avoid you losing interesting. A fine book for readers of any age. Best for patchwork reading, not something to plunge through (it's taken me five months).

Corvus: a life with birds (Esther Woolfson)

A mixture of autobiography, bird anecdotes, as musings on birds, birdhood, humanity and its opinions of birds, life, and the interactions between them all. There's a fair dose of biology in there, and a dash of philosophy. I enjoyed this book, but I have to say at times I found it long-winded and skimmed over some of the longer dryer passages (especially things I already knew), or the semi-lyrical prose sections that sometimes crop up. I felt like Woolfson didn't have a firm vision for the core of this book - although possibly it's exactly what she wanted to write and that happens to be too mixed for my taste. At times I got the feeling that the hand of an(other?) editor would have been a boon, gently thinning out the essence of the book. It's twice the size of any Gerald Durrell book in my collection, for example; though in fairness there's a difference in style. Decent, and genuinely interesting, but not something I feel the immediate urge to press on anyone.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Bardaght Tang


Screeu mee y daan beg shoh rere aght ny h-eash Tang. T'eh çheet er ny vaik mee rish shooyl thie ec jerrey laa obbree. Shoh lhieggan Gaelg dhyt:

Grian arree daaghey thalloo airhey
Awin lhiastey clamey ellan veg
Coar ny hastan fuirraghyn fo droghad
Scuirr mee as deaisht rish ushtey tutleragh

Monday, 13 May 2013

Shalee lhaih 2013: Shiaghtin 19

Jerrey nuyoo hiaghtin jeig ny Shallee Lhaih. Ta mee er screeu rouyr er ny lioaryn er y gherrid; ta shen soo ram traa as bree assym, ny smoo na ta mee son ceau ad er lheid y chooish. Neeym eab ny coontaghyn y yiarraghey jiu. Shoh ny lhiah mee yn çhiaghtin shoh chaie:

Estrys (Sian Lewis)

Lioar mie dy liooar bentyn rish sleih aegey, sollaghar as shickyrys. Er lhiam dy row ny sleih soilshit magh dy mie, as chreid mee ny h-eddyrobbraghyn eddyr oc. Cha nee yindys ec jerrey ny folliaght - ta ny cowraghyn baghtal dy liooar da lhaihder - agh ny yei shen ghow mee ram soylley jeh'n aght feayslee eck as arganeyn cagh bentyn rish y chooish.

Strawberry Marshmallow y.l. 4 (Barasui)

Cha nel monney faagit dou dy lhaih nagh vel foawragh as trome, as ren mee briwnys dy chionnaghey red aasagh ny ghaa. Chionnee mee SM4 as ish y lhaih 'syn un laa - s'tappee eh manga y lhaih, agh ta'n lioar eddrym shoh myr palate cleanser lhiggee dou lioaryn elley y lhaih. Shen ny ta mee garganey, aghterbee... rere y 'traih, ta'n ym-lioar shoh foast lane aitt as eddyr-obbraghey taitnyssagh paitçhyn ta beggan neuchadjin. Ta'n ellyn foast mie, ga nagh vel eh lane vaghtal ny keayrtyn er cre'n chaillin ta Barasui dy tayrn.

Alice in Waterland (Mark J. Davies)

Coontey covestit jeh Lewis Carroll as yn awin Thames as Alice in Wonderland. Ta reddyn anaasoil aynjee, as veagh eh ny share dy beagh anaase mooar aym er Carroll; agh cha nel dy feer. Ny yei shen, as mish cummal rish yn awin hene, ghow mee soylley jeh. As ta'n lioar shoh jannoo baghtal cooish ny ghaa bentyn rish y skeeal as rish Carroll hene.

The end of week nineteen of the Reading Project. Recently I've drifted into writing longer reviews, but honestly that takes more time and energy than I really want to expend on this little self-motivational project. Here's what I've read this week:

Estrys (Sian Lewis)

A decent book about young people, pollution and certainty. I found it well-done, with believable characters and well-observed interactions between them. I particularly liked the older Bethan's friendship with Meirion as one of the few people who'd tolerate her more eccentric behaviours. The solution to the mystery was no great surprise, but I enjoyed the unpicking of it and the way the characters dealt with their discoveries.

Strawberry Marshmallow v. 4 (Barasui)

Since nearly all the books left in the pile are huge and heavy-going, I fancied grabbing something lighter. It's like a delicate sorbet to cleanse your palate before the next monster. As with the rest of this series, it's a light, fun read with charactes I still enjoy, and consistently solid art (just the occasional tendency for the girls to look too similar).

Alice in Waterland (Mark J. Davies)

An interwoven account of Lewis Carroll, the Thames and Alice in Wonderland. There's some interesting bits of information in there, and it clears up a few things about Carroll and the story, as well as giving me a bit more idea about life at the time. As I live near the river I found it quite interesting for that too. It'd probably be more rewarding if I had a big interest in the whole Alice thing, which I don't really, but never mind. Decent.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Shalee lhaih 2013: Shiaghtin 18

Jerrey hoghtoo hiaghtin jeig ny Shallee Lhaih. Shoh ny lhiah mee yn çhiaghtin shoh chaie:

The language instinct (Stephen Pinker)

Stoo trome, son y chooid smoo. Va ny cabdillyn çhengoaylleeagh casley rish ny ta mee er ny lhaih hannah, as er lhiam nagh row ad ny share. Dennee mee nagh row Pinker shickyr my v'eh son screeu oaylleeaght ny lioar ny theay, as t'eh lhiemmey eddyr mynphoyntys as neuvaghtallys. Cha nel eh soilshaghey magh kuse dy hampleyryn dy mie: myr sampleyr, hoilshee eh dy vel ""I haven't done any work" y red cheddin as "I haven't done no work" nagh mie lesh sleih ennagh; agh cha dug eh geill erbee da'n phiyr elley, "Have(n't) you done any work?" as "Haven't you done no work?". Er lhiam nagh dod oo gra dy nee "obbalagh" eh "ayn" 'syn tampleyr shen myr t'eshyn dy ghra. Ayns buill elley dennee mee dy row eh jus meechiart, as ren shen brishey'n argane dou. As eh screeu lioar bentyn rish Ooilley-Ghrammeydys, er lhiam dy lhisagh eh er ngoaill stiagh ymmodee sampleyryn ayns çhengaghyn elley, agh she beggan beg t'ayn. Cha nel shen cur barrant aym er. Obbyr woal, dy firrinagh. Ta mee coardail rish arganeyn Amorey Gethin son y chooid smoo.

The Difference Engine (William Gibson & Bruce Sterling)

Screeu Gibson Neuromancer, as ta co-vlass orroo. Ta taghyrtyn breeoil as cleaynagh ec y jees, as screeueeaght vie, agh ta'n aght screeuee neuhickyr as t'eh goll 'sy voglagh ny keayrtyn. By anaasoil dou yn eie oc er Lunnin elley - she eie cadjin t'ayn nish, agh cha row eh ec y traa shid - as beaghyn as kiarailyn ny karracteyryn. Ta'n lioar rheynnit ayns tree, as dagh trass bentyn rish karracteyr elley 'syn un chooish, as ta kiangley faase eddyr oc. Er lhiam dy vel y bree lheie assdaue dagh keayrt, as ta jerrey ny trassyn moal. Chammah's shen, ta Gibson as Sterling covestey skeeal contoyrtys, far-hennaghys, coontaghyn jeh'n far-Lunnin shoh, as cochialg cramp, as cha nee eiyrtys fondagh t'ayn. Ta'n stoo sheshoil lane çhaghnoaylleeaght as broid, as ta'n cochialg lane sleih gyn sheeanys erbee, ny monney elley. Gollrish Neuromancer, ga dy nee cree ny lioar t'ayn, ta'n cochialg hene jus lheie ersooyl gyn cooilleeney. She dhossan dy "artyn pabyr-naight" as y lheid eh jerrey ny lioar, stoo dree nagh vel cur jerrey fondagh urree. Dennee mee nagh ghow mee veg assjee agh soilshaghyn sollagh as eie cochialg nagh ren ad hene rieau feaysley dy slane.

Cha nee lioar ghennal t'ayn noadyr, gyn jerrey mie da peiagh erbee. T'ee lane ymmyrkey olk as taghyrtyn olk. Foddym cur neuhastey da shen er y fa dy vel ad far-Victorianagh, agh cha mie lhiam ad. Er y laue elley, ta Shapaanee ayns shen, as fer gorrym: y chied nyn lieh-ninja lane yindys as graih er reddyn Sostnagh, as y jeh elley ny 'leab gyn fa erbee dy ve ayn, choud's hoig mee. Cha nel ad cur red erbee da'n skeeal, as ta blass meehaitnyssagh oc: agh she blass 1970 t'ayn, cha nee blass 1870.

T'ad gra dy nee lioaryn ard-smooinaghtagh t'ayn, agh erreish dou lhaih Neuromancer as The Difference Engine, er lhiam nagh vel mee son lhaih lioar Gibson erbee elley. Cha nel ad feeu; ta red ny ghaa feeu ayndaue, agh t'ad dree, chaarjyn, dree agglagh. As shoh doilleed adsyn ta jannoo reddyn noa, foddee: nee y nah fer obbyr ny share lesh ny h-eieyn v'ayds.

The end of week eighteen of the Reading Project. Here's what I've read this week:

The language instinct (Stephen Pinker)

Dry. The linguistics-heavier sections are similar to what I've read before, and didn't seem especially well-done. Pinker seems unable to decide how pop to be - getting quite technical in some places, but failing to flesh out interesting examples. For example, I was interested by his note that "I haven't done any work" is functionally equivalent to the oft-deplored "I haven't done no work", but Pinker didn't continue on to consider "Have(n't) you done any work?", which only has a non-standard equivalent in the negative "Haven't you done no work?". Amorey Gethin has mentioned a number of other issues with the book as a whole. I also disagreed with some of his grammaticality judgements, which caused some problems. For example, "mice-eater" is just not correct in my English, sorry Pinker. The interesting question is not "why is an irregular plural permitted in this compound, but not a regular plural?" but "why do children make this mistake?". Pinker's whole idea is to support Universal Grammar, but he seems to rather jump at evidence; at the same time, I found the dearth of non-English examples a crippling weakness in such a project.

The Difference Engine (William Gibson & Bruce Sterling)

This book is in some ways very similar to Neuromancer. It has some striking passages, evocative ideas, and the earlier stages of each of the book's three main divisions are quite gripping; although the style is uncertain and occasionally a slog. I was drawn in by the (now familiar) vision of a mechanical London they'd created, and by the lives and schemes of the characters. However, the early spark of each section seemed to fizzle out, and it became harder-going. Gibson and Sterling mix together an adventure plot with pseudohistory, with exploration of their fictional London (complete with really quite a lot of technicality), and with an increasingly convoluted conspiracy full of (towards the end) blandly-unlikeable characters. Most tiresomely, they pull the same non-ending as Neuromancer did, but even more so: one of the major characters gets an actual ending, but the conspiracy plot that they (misguidedly?) decided to centre the story on just drifts off into nothing, and the book concludes unsatisfactorily with a motley collection of in-story news clippings and extracts that add remarkably little and are quite hard work.

It's not a cheerful book either, with no good coming to anyone, and is riddled with attitudes and situations that are probably a decent approximation of Victorian, but none the more welcome for it. The petty prejudices of all the characters leave a nasty taste in the mouth but I can overlook them; on the other hand, I could have perhaps done without the only Japanese characters being ninja-approximations with a worshipful attitude to everything British, and the only black character being a slave with no apparent point at all. Neither were necessary, or even relevant.

Ground-breaking they may be, but the duo of Neuromancer and The Difference Engine seem enough evidence to confirm that I wouldn't enjoy reading any more Gibson. There's cool bits in what he writes, fair enough, but heck can he be tedious. Maybe that's one of the problems of originality - the next person to come along can grab onto some of your ideas and do something better or more elegant with them.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Bad assignments

So recently I've been doing a part-time university course. Programming, specifically the MIT OpenCourseWare course Introduction to Computer Science and Programming 6.00. And I'm a bit torn at the moment, because in some ways I'm really enjoying it - filling in gaps in all my self-taught programming knowledge, solving problems, learning stuff - and at other times it's incredibly frustrating. Sometimes, that's simply because I can't do something, let's be fair. At other times, though, it's because the assignments themselves throw up arbitrary obstacles.

Several times, I've run into assignments that seem to have been written by someone studying the code of their own program and basing the specs entirely on what they see. Questions give you information that's technically accurate, but deeply unhelpful in working out how the success of failure of your solution is going to be measured. On other occasions, you're building something that'll plug into a larger bit of code rather than working by itself, but the assignment doesn't make it easy to work out the mechanics of what it's doing and the ultimate purpose of the component.

Each trigger class you define should implement the following interface, either directly or transitively. It must implement the evaluate method that takes a news item (NewsStory object) as an input and returns True if an alert should be generated for that item. We will not use the implementation of the Trigger class (which is why it throws an exception should anyone attempt to use it), but rather the function definition that specifies that an evaluate(self, story) function should exist.

Implement a word trigger abstract class, WordTrigger. It should take in a string word as an argument to the class’s constructor.

WordTrigger should be a subclass of Trigger. It has one new method, is_word_in. is_word_in takes in one string argument text. It returns True if the whole word word is present in text, False otherwise, as described in the above examples. This method should not be case-sensitive. Implement this method.

Because this is an abstract class, we will not be directly instantiating any WordTriggers. WordTrigger should inherit its evaluate method from Trigger. We do this because now we can create subclasses of WordTrigger that use its is_word_in function. In this way, it is much like the Trigger interface, except now actual code from the class is used.

Let's pretend for a moment that this is an engineering course instead. It's like giving out an assignment like this:

In this assignment, you will design a vehicle capable of carrying four people and half a ton of luggage hundreds of miles by oxidising hydrocarbons in an exothermic reaction. The skeleton code produces a road and designates Driver, the person in charge of the vehicle: you do not need to understand this code.

1) Build a function Wheel that will rotate through 360 degrees in a single plane while maintaining contact with a surface. The function takes a single input, Axle.

2) Build a function Turner that will rotate an argument Turnee +/- 0-360 degrees around a pivot in a plane 90 degrees to the plane of Wheel's surface. The function takes two inputs, Rotation and Turnee, but cannot be used directly.

3) Build a function Steering, which will change the direction of travel of the car when a user moves their hands in a roughly circular motion. At this stage, your work should pass stages 1-6 of Vehicle Inspection.

4) Build a function Body, which assembles four Wheels, two Axles, your existing Turner and Steering code, and the module Engine (you do not need to understand this module). Now you have a functional car.

Now imagine doing that if you've never seen a car before, and if no details of Vehicle Inspection are publically available. At each test, you receive only a brusque statement like "Failed test 4 because the function turned right when it should have turned left." You must analyse these statements to establish exactly how it is the tester expects your function to operate, then rebuild and retest. You don't really know what kind of data is being fed into your functions, or how exactly they're supposed to relate to each other. Most of the time, you can't perform testing yourself, because most of the functions don't work in isolation.

While it's possible to eventually work things out, the requisite information is spread over several pages, and you really need to reread things multiple times - and possibly draw out secondary notes of your own - to find out what the question actually is. This is not good design.

At other times, they're wildly variable in how much support they offer. An early question suggests several (basic) methods you can use to solve (basic) difficulties, all of which have come up earlier. The final question entirely fails to mention that in order to achieve their requirements, you actually need to build a completely separate function that can build components for you and store information about them in an archive; a technique which has never been mentioned during the course. I eventually found that one out when I got the suggested solutions, having given up when I couldn't find any way to build items in a loop with names based on a variable to meet their requirements.

I don't mind writing programs, or solving problems. Those are fun things. I do mind when my progress stalls because I can't work out what's expected of me, or when a problem must be solved in a particular way, but this relies on secondary work that isn't even mentioned. I do mind when I can't really work out whether my code's doing what it needs to, because I neither fully understand what that is, nor am I able to test the code myself.

So yes, I'm really quite grumpy at the moment.