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Terry Jones

Random thoughts on tech, books, programming, etc.

Last Build Date: Tue, 26 Sep 2017 23:07:29 +0000


A BLAST puzzle

Fri, 25 Aug 2017 21:25:52 +0000

Re-posted from my internal Cambridge notebook. I have a strange situation. I have two almost identical BLAST databases (20170821 and 20170824). They both contain a certain subject sequence LC074724. I query them both, using BLAST’s default search, with an identical query, Q. In one case (20170824) there is a very strong match but in the […]

Do stuff on things, in parallel

Sat, 05 Aug 2017 17:10:13 +0000

Most people don’t really know how to use the tools they spend the most time using: the shell and their editor. It’s worth stopping once in a while to teach yourself new things. Sometimes you find something so powerful that it has a huge impact, in which case it’s even worth stopping other people so […]

Thoughts ahead of the 2017 Transcontinental Race

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 03:14:19 +0000

Last Sunday I did my final training ride before the Transcontinental Race (TCR), which starts in Geraadsbergen (Belgium) at 10pm this Friday night, July 28, 2017. In February 2016 I happened across Joe Todd’s extraordinary TCR blog. I was captivated, and stunned to learn that people went on 4,000km cycling races across Europe, riding with […]


Mon, 05 Sep 2016 02:42:52 +0000

Yesterday (Sept 3, 2016) I did an Everesting ride on my bike. As a concept, Everesting is dead simple. You pick a hill, any hill, and ride up it enough times to equal or exceed the vertical height gain of mount Everest (8,848 meters). Here are the rules. There’s a Strava blog post, The Ultimate […]

Trump After the Inauguration

Mon, 13 Jun 2016 22:17:38 +0000

Try listening to William S. Burroughs reading his Roosevelt After the Inauguration piece and everywhere you hear “Roosevelt”, think “Trump”. Burroughs is probably highly NSFW, but Trump is even less suitable for the presidency.

Knog Milkman bike combination lock security flaw

Sat, 04 Jun 2016 12:51:08 +0000

[Note: This issue has been fixed by Knog – see final paragraph.] I have a Knog Milkman combination lock for my bike. It’s not supposed to be high security – it could be cut through very easily compared to a robust D lock. It’s for when you leave your bike outside a cafe and you’re […]

I go shopping for a compass, then my Sonos decides it needs one too

Wed, 10 Dec 2014 16:12:00 +0000

Last night I spent some time online looking to buy a compass. I looked at many of the Suunto models. Also yesterday I installed Little Snitch after noticing that an unknown gamed process wanted to establish a TCP/IP connection. Anyway… a few minutes ago, 10 or 11 hours after I eventually bought a compass, a […]

Learning jQuery Deferreds published

Tue, 07 Jan 2014 21:24:37 +0000

Nicholas Tollervey and I have written a book, Learning jQuery Deferreds, published by O’Reilly. If you’ve been a reader of this blog over the years, you may have noticed that I’m very fond of deferreds (also known as promises or futures). I’ve mainly been using them in Python with Twisted, and a couple of years […]

txdlo – a Twisted deferred list observer

Mon, 30 Dec 2013 20:46:27 +0000

Last night I wrote txdlo, a Python package that provides a class called DeferredListObserver. As you might guess, it lets you observe callback and errback events from a list of Twisted deferreds. You can add observers that will be passed information about deferreds firing. You can add deferreds to the observed list at any time, […]

Promises are first-class objects for function calls

Thu, 12 Sep 2013 00:14:56 +0000

Have you ever programmed in a language without functions as first-class objects? You can’t return a function from a function, can’t pass a function as an argument, and you certainly can’t make anonymous functions on the fly. Remember how liberating, empowering, and flexible it felt when you moved to a language with functions as first-class […]

The mockery pervading human affairs in all their aspects

Thu, 05 Sep 2013 22:22:29 +0000

From Tacitus, on the eventual rise of Claudius to Roman emperor, from The Annals of Imperial Rome (Penguin Classics, p127): The more I think about history, ancient or modern, the more ironical all human affairs seem. In public opinion, expectation, and esteem no one appeared a less likely candidate for the throne than the man […]

1793 viruses!

Tue, 30 Jul 2013 00:23:34 +0000

In case you missed it, I spent ten days in hospital this past May (2013). When they took the skin biopsy from my arm, I got them to take 2 samples. One of them, along with a throat and skin swab was later sent to the virologists I do some work with in the Viroscience […]

jQuery-when2 – a more flexible way to work with jQuery deferreds

Sat, 27 Jul 2013 20:01:26 +0000

I’ve often been frustrated by the limited functionality of jQuery.when. You give it some deferred objects and it fires when all the deferreds are finished. The trouble is, if any of the deferreds is rejected the deferred returned by jQuery.when fires immediately. So you can’t use it to collect the results of all deferreds including […]

Yet another cancelable Twisted deferred class

Thu, 20 Jun 2013 22:15:04 +0000

I’m posting this (completely untested!) to illustrate how one could write a class to provide a Twisted deferred-like class, identical to the twisted.internet.defer.Deferred class, but which lets you call callback, errback, or cancel on the instance yourself. Hopefully that will make some sense. If not, let me know in the comments and I’ll try to […]

Ten days in hospital

Thu, 23 May 2013 13:01:30 +0000

I’m about to check out of Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge after a 10-day stay, 8 of them in isolation. The short story: I got a rash, and it took over my body. Below are some notes on what’s been going on, along with a few images. You can see the full set of images at […]

Daylight robbery: Barclays skims €170 off a 5K EUR -> GBP transfer

Tue, 05 Feb 2013 12:23:24 +0000

Last month (on Jan 18, 2013) someone I’m doing some work for initiated a transfer of €5,000 into my UK bank account. According to the mid-market rate that day was 1.1937940679 euros per pound. So you might innocently expect to receive about 5,000 / 1.1937940679 = £4,188 minus any transfer fees. The transfer went […]

Secure per-site passwords with no encrypted blob

Sun, 03 Feb 2013 15:45:55 +0000

Last night I read a Guardian article, Online passwords: keep it complicated. It’s a surprisingly good summary, given that it’s aimed at the general public. The author concludes by telling us he decided to adopt LastPass, and also mentions 1Password. The comments section on the page gives similar solutions, like KeePass. The security-conscious people I […]

CEL, a Chrome Event Logger

Sun, 27 Jan 2013 15:50:19 +0000

Last night I wrote CEL, a Chrome Event Logger, a Google Chrome extension that logs all known chrome.* API events to the Javascript console. Example use cases are: You wonder if there is a Chrome API event that’s triggered for some action you take in the browser. Rather than guessing what the event might be […]

A chrome extension for examining tab events and ids

Wed, 19 Dec 2012 16:31:25 +0000

Yesterday I was on a call with a friend who told me that when he enters a URL into an existing Chrome tab, the tab id changes. He asked if I’d ever seen that happening, and I said no. I told him his code was probably to blame :-) Anyway, I wrote a quick Chrome […]

Omit needless parens

Tue, 18 Dec 2012 14:41:19 +0000

The famous 17th commandment in The Elements of Style is “Omit needless words”. There should be an equivalent in programming, but for parentheses. Every time I see needless parens in a program I want to rip them out (unless they’re obviously there for formatting/readability reasons). Community service message: Omit needless parens. When in doubt whether […]