Many Pies

Many Pies

Monday, July 29, 2013

Open Software and Libre Office

A couple of Open-y related things:

Tim Bray on OSCON 2013
On the age thing, I bet if you drew a graph of people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and older, the 40s & 50s bars would be highest, but it’d be reasonably flat. One person I was talking to raised an explicit concern that we’re not replacing ourselves and are in danger of aging away.
There’s something in that; the first generation of OSS loudmouths is still by and large active, and quite a few of them, er us, end up on the stage at OSCON year after year. I’m not convinced though; there were plenty of fresh faces among the grizzled ones.
If the young people are not so prevalent (and that's not certain) is it a good or bad? Generally it would be bad, but are we approaching a solved problem? Not sure.

I also saw this from Michael Meeks:
So I followed links and saw that LibreOffice is up to 4.1 now. A few years ago I had the intention of making suggestions to improve the Calc software so that it was more like Excel. I was particularly interested in the AutoFilter function, which fell short of what Excel was offering at the time. I can't remember the details, but I remember it requiring quite a lot of time to clearly specify what was needed, when all I wanted to say was "make AutoFilter work like it does on Excel". So I didn't make any suggestions. Since then Office 2007 and later versions have come out and the autofilter function has changed again. I'm pleased to say though that with version 4.1 Autofilter seems to have caught up with Excel 2007 at least.

On the downside though, the database ("Base") is not an Access killer yet. It does offer four different programming languages though.

I opened a document I have been recently working on and was pleased to see that the column layout was preserved well, which has been a problem in the past. It also had photos which were rotated and had dropped shadows (yes, I know, so 2010) and they were not rotated in Writer and the shadow was solid black.

In case it seems like I've got a bit of a downer on Open Source and LibreOffice in particular, let me say I'm very pleased with the way it (a version of OpenOffice before the split in fact) enabled me to create a good report writing setup which took in XML and produced RTF at the end. Also, the Graphite support means that Bibles can be worked on in many complex scripts. Also, for those who can't afford a full legal copy of Office, it's a good alternative.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Our loss is Computers 4 Africa's gain

You can find them at

Changes at the Polder Consortium - not just Identity and Access Management any more

It's a while since I first wrote about the Polder Consortium. At the time it was set up to work on Identity and Access Management issues for those involved in the Bible Translation movement. It's started changing and expanding its focus into other areas, such as business architecture and project management. The wording on the website has started changing to reflect these changes, but there's more detail that will appear over there in the coming weeks. So if you're involved in IT in the Bible Translation movement then it's worth watching that website, or at least subscribing to the blog. It's worth pointing out that project management is not just an IT thing and so the project management stuff may be of interest to non-IT people when there's more detail on the website.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The unique way we're funded (part 2)

I previously posted about the unique way we're funded. A couple of present and future members of the department are facing issues in their funding. I'm not deliberately being invidious in mentioning these having never written anything about the rest of the team, but I thought I'd make use of the tiny readership that this blog has to spread the word.

Peter Oatley is going to be joining us in the IT Department. Over the past 15 years that I've been here we've had a series of interns working for us. We've had gaps of a few months where we haven’t had any. I counted 21 different people in those 15 years. At our new office location we won’t have any accommodation so we’re not able to offer the same opportunity any more. However Peter should be able to provide that fourth full-time member of the Department that the interns have previously provided. He also brings years of IT experience in South Asia, which he will be able to use on the “passing trade” we get.

You can find out more information about Peter and the rest of his family on their page on our website: Peter and Hilary Oatley. Now that they are back in the UK they need to increase their support.

Tim Gaved has been working part-time in the department since the start of the year. As well as being a linguist he’s also familiar with IT and some of the specialist language software that translators use. He set up the virtual environment that is going to be used at Redcliffe college now that our linguistic training has moved there. He’s also doing more general support for the IT Department. He’s married to Maggie and you can find out more about what Tim does with the rest of his time, Maggie’s work and how to support them on their page on our website: Tim and Maggie Gaved.

Friday, July 12, 2013

I bought a number!

I've gone and bought a number - 51682953. Of course there are many versions of this number, such as the BW521255 Yutaka Satou unpublished cDNA library (csga) Ciona savignyi cDNA clone csga063d12 5-, mRNA sequence which has that number as its GenBank gi, and the Salsa Red Pearl / Taupe 2007 Toyota Sienna LE Photo #1 which has that number as the filename for the page. However, mine is a Brooklyn Integer, so it's an artisan-made 51682953.

If I haven't lost you completely by now you should go and read the Rev Dan Catt's explanation of artisan integers. Go ahead, I can wait.

I bought mine from Kellan's Etsy shop and there are a few more available as I type. My number has it's own web page at the foundry's site: You might have thought that a number that's over 51 million like that wouldn't turn up much in the real world. However (although I don't like it when lazy journalists begin an article on X by telling you how many results you get if you put X in a search engine, I'm going to do it because it's relevant, not because I'm lazy) if I put my number into Google I get 1480 results. So it's not as rare as you might think. Why is this? It's because the databases that underpin these webpages need unique numbers to work, such as this picture on Flickr which has my number in its URL.

After a while you get up to 51 million of the things. (Uniquely numbering things predate databases of course, paper invoices have been numbered for years.) For example, the order number for my number is 94650581, so Etsy is nearly up to 100 million orders, assuming they started at one.

So far I've been saying just how not particularly unique my number is, or rather, other versions of the number. What makes my number unique though is that my number will never ever be issued to someone else by the Brooklyn Integer foundry. You can get numbers from other places, such as this online UUID generator, however you'd get more of an Ikea number, than my bespoke number.

Can you see why I'm excited about getting this number?


  • It's nearly two years in seconds.
  • It has three prime factors: 3×7×2461093
  • In hex it's 0x3149E89.

Tangential links and background reading

Bitcoin mining
PayPal galactic
The Penguin Dictionary of Curious and Interesting Numbers (which doesn't feature my number).
The original tweet that started this off: