Dopplr vs Tripit

When arranging trips I used to manually enter the main details (dates, times, confirmation numbers, hotel addresses and phone numbers etc.) into iCal and forward confirmation emails to my wife so she’d have a copy if she needed them.

Then I discovered Tripit. Now I simply forward confirmation emails as they arrive to plan@tripit.com – something I could easily automate. My iCal automatically sync’s with a feed from tripit that has much more information than I’d ever enter manually, including links back to tripit.com for the full details. That then syncs to my iPhone so the information is always at hand. Perfect, and perfectly simple.

As I’ve found the service very useful over many months and many trips, I recently sent tripit invites to a bunch of people, mainly Perl folk. Many joined. A few pointed out that they already used dopplr and wondered if tripit was the same. I didn’t know, so I took a look.

I signed up with dopplr and was happy to see that, like tripit, I could forward confirmation emails to dopplr. So I forwarded the flight and hotel emails for my upcoming London Perl Workshop trip. Just like tripit, dopplr parsed the emails and worked out I was making a flight from Shannon to London and staying in a hotel in London.

That was all it did, though. It hadn’t noted my confirmation codes, flight times, hotel address. It had remembered nothing that would be useful to me.

All it had done was noted that I’d be in the same city as a few other people I know who use dopplr. tripit does that, but also let’s me control who sees which trips and who can collaborate with me on trips.

I did a quick search and found another review that reached a similar conclusion. It seems that dopplr are better at publicity, but tripit has the features I find genuinely useful.

To give it tripit a whirl, all you need to do is forward some recent confirmation emails to plan@tripit.com – you don’t even need to signup first.

An “Indian Summer” day of domesticity

Today was a great day.

An ordinary domestic weekend kind of a day, but blessed with great weather and no engagements for any of us.

house last afternoon.jpg

A chance for me to catch up on many of the long neglected house and garden chores, and for our family to enjoy some chilled-out time around the house.

We’ve been burning more wood on the fire recently and the chimney was overdue a sweep. So I blocked up the fireplace with a bin bag and some foam, then climbed on the roof and swept down from the chimney pot. It was my first time sweeping a chimney and this method made it very simple. I just left the fireplace sealed up for a few hours for the dust to settle before opening it up and shovelling out the shoot along with the old ash.

fireplace sealed.jpg  soot in fireplace.jpg

My wife had seen a recipe for “Hedgerow Jelly” by Elisabeth Luard in a magazine, so she, and our two daughters, walked out down the local lanes to find the ingredients: 1kg crab apples or Bramleys; 250g blackberries, 250g sloes or bullaces or damsons, 250g rowan berries or elderberries, 125g hawthorn berries (haws), 125g rosehips (wild or cultivated), plus about 2 litres of water and about 2kg of granulated sugar.

chopped fruit in caserole.jpg

(Our eldest daughter decided to take photographs of the process, which ultimately led to this blog post — I normally rarely post about home life.)

fruit into muslin.jpg fruit in muslin.jpg hanging muslin.jpg
ladling fruit juice.jpg sieves in sink.jpg hedgerow jelly jars.jpg

Meanwhile, after clearing gutters and sweeping the drive, I was working down by the lake front thinning out some trees. A few months ago we had a group of big old trees one corner of our garden cut down. Mostly pine with some silver birch and hazel. (You can see in the photo the large pile of wood I still need to chop, chop, chop.) That gave us a view of the lake again. Something we’d lost over the years since we moved in as the trees have grown up and bushed out.

Having got that narrow view of the lake I wanted to extend it through the trees to the right by thinning out their lower branches.

view to lake.jpg

The summer weather in Ireland has been pretty poor the last few years. We seem to get a few lovely weeks in spring, then summer is a mostly washout with grey skies and regular showers. Then, just after the kids go back to school, we get a few bright weeks again—the Irish “Indian Summer”—around September/October. Fabulous days like today.

There’s a reason Ireland is so green. It rains. A lot. Especially in the west were we are. Despite the bright sunshine today the grass was squelching under my feet. The logs need to be stored or they’ll rot over the winter. I shifted a few wheelbarrow loads today and started clearing a space off the grass to store them.

A friend and I wielded axes a few weeks ago so we’ve a reasonable stockpile of split logs now, which I finished stacking today. I’ve been told the wood gets harder to split the longer its left, and I don’t fancy trying to split logs on dark wet winter nights, so I guess I need to keep at it.

log pile.jpg

Back indoors the domesticity continued with our eldest daughter making the topping for an Apple Crumble.

making crumble.jpg

Our eating apple tree is still recovering from the pruning I gave it last winter (it’s first for many years) but our cooking apple tree seems very happy this year.

cooking apple tree.jpg

Yum!


That was the glossy edited version of the day. The uncut version includes me falling off the ladder into the lake, our youngest daughter having a tantrum and throwing handfuls of apple crumble onto the floor, and me pouring scalding hot Hedgerow Jelly over my hand. Ahh, domestic bliss!

Arithmetic, Population, and Energy

Dr. Albert Bartlett is emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder, USA. He has given this lecture on “Arithmetic, Population, and Energy” over 1,500 times.

“The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.”

A challenging statement. Having seen the lecture now I can understand why it has been so popular, and is so important. I came across it recently and felt it was worth sharing.

You can watch it on YouTube here as a series of bite-size 9 minute clips.

(After that you might like this unrelated take on applying risk management.)

The Italian Perl Workshop

Pisa Cathedral Wall.jpgI spent a very pleasant few days in Pisa, Italy, last week. I’d been invited to speak at the Fourth Italian Perl Workshop. The workshop was a great success. In fact calling it a “workshop” is selling it short. It’s more of a mini-conference:

“2 days of conference, 2 simultaneous tracks, more than 30 talks, 120 attendees, 20 sponsors and many international guests”

The whole event ran very smoothly thanks to a great team lead by Gianni Ceccarelli, Francesco Nitido, and Enrico Sorcinelli. I’ll echo the compliments of one attendee “Complimenti sinceri agli organizzatori! Bravissimi! Tutto perfetto!

I gave short talk on Gofer on the Thursday, and then two 40 minutes talks on Friday: Perl Myths, and Devel::NYTProf. I hope to upload screencasts and slides next week. The talks were all recorded on video so I imagine they’ll be uploaded at some point. I’ll add links here to them when they are.

The majority of the sessions were in Italian so, since my Italian is practically non-existant, I had plenty of time to work.

Or at least try to. The one disappointment of the trip for me was the apparent poor quality of the Italian internet. Using mtr I’d regularly see over 20% packet loss within telecomitalia.it and interbusiness.it from my hotel room. Occasionally over 50%. It got much better at night, so I’d do more work then. At the conference venue the Italian academic network (garr.net) also regularly had over 20% packet loss at its link to the internet. All this was, of course, outside the control of the organisers.

The “corridoor track” at perl conferences is always good. I had a chance to talk to Rafel Garcia-Suarez (and meet his lovely wife and new baby son), Matt S Trout, Hakim Cassimally, Michel Rodriguez, Marcus Ramberg, and many others.

I had opted to take a very early fight so I’d have a day being a tourist in Pisa before the conference started. The weather was beautiful and I had a lovely time strolling though the streets of this ancient city.

Pisa Knights Square.jpg

I didn’t take my camera with me, but I did take my iPhone so I was able to capture a few snaps as I strolled around and climbed the tower. (Yes, it really does lean in a disconcerting “it must be about to fall down” way. All the more dramatic when you’re up close and can appreciate the massive scale of the tower.)

Pisa View over Cathedral.jpg

Hey, my own TV channel!

It felt strange when I first set up this blog. What would I write about? Who would care?

For several years now I’ve been giving talks at conferences and workshops. I’d generally upload a PDF of the slides somewhere, or at least email them to anyone that asked. I’ve now added a special page on the blog where I can list all the talks I’ve given. That now acts as a single location to find all my talks and links to slides any related materials. (It’s currently a work-in progress. I’ll be filling it in from time to time. Any major updates will be accompanied by a blog post.)

Slides, no matter how good, miss much of the real event. No ad-libs, no questions and answers. When writing slides I’m always caught between the desire write little, so the audience can pay attention to what I’m saying, and to write lots, so people reading the slides later still get a reasonably full picture.

There’s also the problem of notes. I often use ‘presenter notes’ on the slides to give extra information. Both to myself, if I may need it while presenting, and also for links to data sources and credits for images used. I’ve uploaded some talks to slideshare.net but I have to include a separate version with notes (which is useful for download and print, but almost unreadable in their viewer.

I tried making a video of a talk on a camcorder. The results weren’t great. Grainy, noisy, hard to read, and massive video files.

Then I decided to try using screencasting software. I bought a great wireless USB microphone and the amazing ScreenFlow screencasting software. Now I can to capture everything in fine detail and edit it easily afterwards.

Great. Now what? I needed somewhere to host the (very large) videos. I looked around and tried a few, like vimeo, but wasn’t happy with the results. Vimo, for example, transcode to quite a low resolution and don’t let viewers download the original.

Eventually I found the wonder that is blip.tv. A whole laundry list of great features. If you produce videos of any kind, give them a look.

So, now I have my own TV channel.

Strange world!

Leonard Cohen Live

If you enjoy his music and can possibly get a ticket for one of his world tour dates, do. Now. Stop reading and go buy them now.

I crossed the country to see the concert in Dublin on Friday night. I’m struggling against the urge to write a stream of superlatives. Others can do that better than I.

Got your tickets yet?