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Automatic table of contents for RDA Toolkit workflows

Below is described a way to add tables of contents to RDA Toolkit workflows automatically, i.e. without manually adding anchors and creating a list. You can see an example of it action on this workflow (although of course I can’t guarantee that this workflow will always be around or look like this).

It uses some Javascript but requires no knowledge of it as it can be dropped in. It is 95% a script written by Stuart Langridge (@sil) with some minor amendments to get round some strange internal linking behaviour and to provide links to the top of the document throughout the workflow.

Instructions follow and some caveats are below.

  1. Open an RDA Toolkit workflow for editing
  2. Click on Source
  3. Insert the following snippet of HTML where you want the table of contents to appear:
    <div class="generate_from_h2" id="generated-toc"><a name="top"></a></div>
  4. If you have access to a local web server:
    1. Copy the Javascript file generate_toc_rda.js and put it somewhere sensible.
    2. At the very end of the workflow, put the following HTML snippet, changing the URL to where your copy of generate_toc_rda.js now lives:
      <script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>
  5. If you don’t have access to a local server:
    1. At the very end of the workflow, put the following HTML snippet:
      <script type="text/javascript">
    2. Copy the complete contents of the Javascript file generate_toc_rda.js and paste it on the next line. There will be a lot of it.
    3. On another line underneath, i.e. right at the end, put the following snippet of HTML:
  6. Save the workflow.
  7. Click on the workflow in the Toolkit to refresh it.
  8. Buy Stuart some beer next time you see him, e.g. some gueuze, or give him some custom.

Caveats: it is not official and while the script was designed to work on any web page, these things always depend on the approach taken by the encompassing page to be logical and consistent over time, and this can be particularly unpredictable in a CMS, which the Toolkit basically is. I am also unsure of the publisher’s attitude towards dropping Javascript into workflows, although cannot see why there should necessarily be objections to this. Lastly, using this approach also means  removing any existing apparatus of table of contents or links to the top. It would be advisable to back up everything, including the source of generated tocs, although in the worst case, it would probably be possible to move the contents of a workflow to an external file, run the toc script on it, then re-import the HTML source.

Please do let me know if you try this and how you get on. I might be amenable to making changes to it, time and circumstances allowing. Stuart released the original toc script “under an X11 licence. What this boils down to is: do what you like with it. You can use the script in commercial environments, you can use it on your intranet, you can use it anywhere you like.” Sounds good to me too.

Grasshoppers in Sandy, 2012

I don’t recall as a child ever seeing a grasshopper or cricket except for some locusts in the school science lab. Like most nature I assumed I didn’t live in the right place, or that these things were too scarce, too shy, or hard to find. I’ve always been useless at spotting birds, even when pointed out to me. Trailing my own children round the countryside and waste ground round Sandy and trying to find where in the grass some insect noises were actually coming from, I discovered that these things are not that hard to find. Grasshoppers and crickets (orthoptera) are actually quite common, distinctive, relatively large, and also very inclined to stay still, which makes photography a hell of a lot easier. Although common, there are not that many species (36 breeding species*) in the UK, so identifying them is not impossibly difficult.

That said, grasshoppers are problematic to identify as the differences between species can be subtle (e,g. shape of the pronotum behind their head, wing length, bulges on wings, and the shape of the antennae), even with a decent photograph. However, I have started submitting records to the Orthoptera & Allied Insects Recording Scheme. I like schemes like this as it means I can contribute something to SCIENCE (especially in view of climate change which seems to be having real effects as some crickets in particular are quickly spreading north) while also getting expert confirmation of my identifications.

After getting the bug** in 2011, I was really looking forward to summer 2012 as I knew the good sites around Sandy and had a good idea what I was looking for. I was also hoping that I might know how my camera works by now. However, 2012 was a notoriously bad year for insects. I don’t think grasshoppers are in quite the same bad situation as they don’t feed on nectar like butterflies and bees, but I didn’t see too many, possibly more due to the rain stopping me going out to look for them as much as I would have liked. I did get loads of pictures of young grasshoppers (nymphs) so they must have been around.

I only saw two confirmed species of grasshopper. The first two pictures below are confirmed by the recording scheme. All photos were taken in Sandy, Bedfordshire.

Meadow grasshopper (Chorthippus parallelus)

Meadow Grasshopper, Sandy

Female meadow grasshopper (Chorthippus parallelus

This is a relatively distinctive grasshopper, although don’t ask me to explain why (parallel pronotal keels and short wings are a start). The ones I’ve seen have all had the good manners to be green which this species tends to be: grasshoppers have a tendency to be all kinds of colours, even pink (photo by buzzbee4826). This one has the misfortune to only have five legs, which seems to be a relatively common affliction.

More on this at the Orthoptera & Allied Insects site and Wikipedia.

Field grasshopper (Chorthippus brunneus)

Field grasshopper nymph

Field grasshopper nymph (Chorthippus brunneus)

This seems to be the most common grasshopper in Sandy. When I think I’ve found something a bit different it normally turns out to be one of these. If nothing else, its wings are generally longer than the meadow grasshopper and the colours are normally all over the shop, none of which helps with identifying the nymphs. However, this photo was confirmed by an expert. The other photo is an adult, on a fencepost next to some vegetation growing over a path a stone’s throw from the house. Once you start looking for these things they turn up all over the place.

More on this at the Orthoptera & Allied Insects site and Wikipedia (although not a lot more).

Field grasshopper

Field grasshopper adult (Chorthippus brunneus)

* Evans and Edmondson. A photographic guide to the grasshoppers & crickets of Britain & Ireland. 2007. p. 7.

** LOL!!!

Territorial Mercenaries discography

Over the weekend I came across the recorded musical output of my first band: the Territorial Mercenaries. The Mercenaries consisted of me and my friend Simon. I played the keyboard (and Spectrum loading sequence, etc.) and cobbled together the music;  Simon did the singing and wrote the lyrics. We took our inspiration from a number of sources, in particular an Island Records compilation tape and a Public Enemy song that someone was playing in a school lunchtime revision session that sounded like someone torturing a donkey (hence all the Dobbin/donkey references). It was all recorded on a tape to tape player, using ancient microphones that were sellotaped to the speakers of the keyboard so they didn’t jump and bang. The earlier ones used all manner of sophisticated layering using the tape to tape player’s full potential, but these songs ended up being nothing but 90% hiss, which is probably merciful to be honest. Later songs were generally done in one take.

Below is our discography, including Simon’s cover art. Technically speaking, it is not a discography as these recordings only exist on cassette (and I no longer have a player). There is also in existence an additional compilation I made for a over-curious university friend. He did say he was going to put it onto CD at some point. Maybe it’s best for all concerned if I don’t remind him. I’ve been meaning to put this up somewhere on the web since about 1996 when making lists of bands’ output on the web was the thing to do (those were the days when I made a few HTML lists and had arguably one of the best Radiohead sites on the web).*


In Bed with Dobbin (1992)

In Bed with DobbinSide A

  1. Indeedy
  2. Chinese Water Torture
  3. Viel Vergenugen
  4. Locomotion (Twin Peaks Karoake Mix)
  5. Sit
  6. Spot the Song

Side B

  1. Full Woolen Cardigan
  2. Full Woolen Cardigan (Reprise)
  3. Famous Ladies
  4. 1812 Underture
  5. Toxin in Loco Parentis
  6. The Last Political Waltz
  7. The Krypto Factor
  8. In Bed with Dobbin

Donkey Mafia Records DM1 (1992)

Dobbin sans Frontiers

Dobbin sans FrontiersSide I

  1. Epilogue
  2. Dobbin sans Frontiers
  3. Entice the Judicature with Dough
  4. Dobbin to Q4
  5. The One to Blame
  6. Nightmare
  7. Pump up the Aussie
  8. Stop the Snog?

Side II

  1. Tipping the Balance of the Scales
  2. Over Rated Stoat
  3. Shakepeare’s Second Cousin
  4. Norma Major
  5. Jive Dobbin
  6. Beeline for the Grave
  7. The American Dream
  8. Prologue

Donkey Mafia Records DM2 (1992)


Dobbin Is Dead

Dobbin is Dead1

  • Dobbin is Dead


  • Indeedy (No Song Swansong Remix)

Donkey Mafia Records DM2 1/2  (1992)

Indeedy (No Song Swansong Remix)

Full sleeve notes explaining the works would doubtless be beneficial although unwanted. As a taster, Indeedy is a reference to a maths teacher’s catchphrase. Full Woolen Cardigan is a Cagean concrete poetry-style piece using a knitting pattern. Dobbin to Q4 is a follow up to the latter with obvious chess inspiration. Chinese Water Torture is roughly what you would expect…

If you would like to hear any of this, you will need a means of converting cassette to CD, and an awful lot of persuasion.

* At my first successful library job interview in 1997 (I’m still here) I was asked something like whether I thought the web was any good for academia. I said no, as it was just full of things like band websites. LOL.

Test for brackets in captions

Example without square brackets:


Example with square brackets:

This is a [longhorn] cow

Revamped cow pages on

I have overhauled the cow pages on They now look nice and cow-like in the same style as the cow games page, which looks a bit like this page too. In particular, there is a new cow jokes page, based largely on the cow Christmas cracker jokes post I did on this weblog just before Christmas, and a revamped cow songs and poems page. The list of cow pages is now as follows:

  • Cow games: a list of cow-themed games playable on the web.
  • Famous cows: a list of famous cows of myth, legend, history, and culture.
  • Cow jokes: a collection of cow jokes.
  • Cow songs and poems: a list of cow songs and poems.
  • Breeds of cow: information about breeds of cows and links to further information.

I am always interested to hear of new entries for any of these pages, but particularly for the latter, which is still quite short, although I am being picky: I would like poems or songs where the mention of cows is not incidental, which are preferably classic or by classic authors, and which are not simply doggerel (cowwerel?) for children. There isn’t a lot, as far as I can see.

Cow Christmas cracker jokes

As an addendum to yesterday’s post, here are some cow Christmas cracker jokes, of which there are many. Based on a trawl of the web, I think it is fairly authoritative. I can’t guaratee they have actually come from a Christmas cracker: some of them are just clearly short jokes, but I think they are worth including, if nothing else to kickstart the sad barely started list of cow jokes elsewhere on this site. I have given the source of each joke, at least where I first found it. I have, however, performed minor editing on them to standardize the formatting, tidy up punctuation, correct spelling, and so on. I did think about putting them in some kind of meaningful order, but they are instead in the order I came across them. I would, of course, be interested to hear any more you have to offer.

The last joke is a little intellectual: I have put a link to Wikipedia next to it which might help elucidate it for those of us without a head for physics.

Two cows stand in a field.
First cow: Are you worried about this Mad Cow Disease thats going round?
Second cow: Not really, I’m a chicken.
Source: PC Pro Interactive Forums

Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?
A: To get to the other side
Q: Why did the cow cross the road?
A: To get to the other side
Q: Why did the sheep cross the road?
A: To get to the other side
Q: Why did the farmer cross the road?
A: To get his animals back
Source: PC Pro Interactive Forums

Q: What do you get when you sit under a cow?
A: A pat on the head.
Source: Ice In Space Forums

Q: Why did the cow jump over the moon?
A: Because the farmer had cold hands.
Source: Ice In Space Forums

Q: When do you know it is time for the cows to go to sleep?
A: When it is pasture bedtime.
Source: Ice In Space Forums

Q: Why do cows lie down in the rain?
A: To keep each udder dry.
Source: Pure FM Forums

Q: What goes boo boo boo?
A: cow with a blocked nose.
Source: Digital Spy Forums

Q: What goes ‘oooooooooooooooh!’?
A: A cow with no lips.
Source: The Forums

Q: What do you get from a pampered cow?
A: Spoiled milk.

Q: What’s the difference between roast beef and pea soup?
A: Anyone can roast beef.

Q: Why did the cow ring its bell?
A: Because it’s horn didn’t work!!
Source: Wrexham Today Forums

Q: What do you get when you put a cow on a trampoline?
A: A milk shake.
Source: Some Christmas Cracker Jokes compiled by Owen Williams

Q: Where do cows go for a night out?
A: To the Mooooo-vies
Source: CPFC BBS Forums

Q: How do cows subtract?
A: With a cow-culator
Source: CPFC BBS Forums

Q: Where do cows go on holiday?
A: Moo York!
Source: Gamestyle Forum

Q: What do you get if you cross a cow, sheep, and a goat?
A: The milky baa kid!!!
Source: Natasha Bedingfield Forum

Q: What goes oom oom?
A: A cow walking backwards.
Source: Forums

Q: What game do cows play at parties?
A: Moosical chairs.
Source: Forums

Q: What do you get when you cross a cow with a duck?
A: Milk and quackers.
Source: Forums

Q: How do cows move house?
A: They call the Mooooovers.
Source: Gush Forums

Q: Why did the milking stool have only two legs?
A: Because the cow had the udder one.
Source: Christmas Cracker Jokes compiled by John Dubery.

Man in butcher’s shop: I bet you five quid you can’t reach the beef of that top shelf.
Butcher: No, the steaks are too high
Source: BBC Radio Lancashire (Google cached version)

Q: Why was the butcher worried?
A: His job was at steak!
Source: Observer Magazine

Q: What did the great explorer eat in the jungle?
A: Steak and pygmy pie.
Source: H2G2

First man: Do you want a game of Darts?
Second man: OK then.
First man:Nearest to bull starts.
Second man: Baa.
First man: Moo.
Second man: You’re closest!
Source: Zedge

Q: What do you call a tiny cow?
A: A Moo-on. *
Source: BioWare Forums

Lastly, I forgot to say happy new year yesterday, so merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Merry Christmas

Tradition is traditional at Christmas so, to continue the tradition of previous years, I offer you more Christmas cracker jokes! This year there are three, one of them written by me. A special prize* if you can work out which one:

  1. Knock, knock.
    Who’s there?
    Wayne who?
    Wayne in a manger.

  2. Why does Father Christmas have three Gardens?

    To Ho-Ho-Ho

  3. Why didn’t the lawyer get any Christmas presents?

    Because of the Santa clause.

Sources (in no particular order): Telegraph, me, Susan Hill. Those of you who like bad puns like these may also be interested to read about the Punic Wars.

Lastly, to complete your Christmas joy, why not look at this page through the Lolinator (via Tom Roper).

* Christmas goodwill.

Queen of cheese

To us it is a glorious theme
To sing of milk and curds and cream

While cataloguing some poetry books I came across a book called Pegasus descending : a book of the best bad verse / edited with notes and an introductory dialogue by James Camp, X.J. Kennedy and Keith Waldrop. In it is a superb poem, written in Canada in the 19th century by James McIntyre, called Queen of cheese. It was written about a prize 4 ton cheese made in Ingersoll, Canada, which later went on a tour of Toronto, New York, and Britain. The third stanza particularly appealed to me:

Cows numerous as a swarm of bees
Or as the leaves upon the trees
It did require to make thee please
And stand unrivaled, queen of cheese.

Now that’s poetry! McIntyre became known as the Cheese Poet. Wikipedia quotes one of his other poems about cheese in Canada called Oxford Cheese Ode:

The ancient poets ne’er did dream
That Canada was land of cream,
They ne’er imagined it could flow
In this cold land of ice and snow,
Where everything did solid freeze
They ne’er hoped or looked for cheese.

Interestingly, the last stanza of the Oxford Cheese Ode also re-uses the comparison of many cows to a swarm of bees:

Cows numerous as swarm of bees
Are milked in Oxford to make cheese.

If you want to read more, which I am sure you do, Poemhunter has the full text of James McIntyre’s poems, including the two above, although beware of pop-ups, even with Firefox with the pop-up blocker on.

New coffee shop in Sandy

Hooray, there is a new café in Sandy, Archie & Mabel’s. We went in there on Friday to see what it was like, and again on Sunday in order to make sure they are encouraged to stay open on Sundays, there being almost nothing else to do on a Sunday in Sandy, excepting the pubs and Budgens. I also made this point to the proprietor, although there seemed to be enough people in there at the time to justify some hope. In addition, there were lots of people floating past the window while out walking who looked interested.

Anyway, the cakes are lovely, the coffee is very nice, and the people/person (Archie and Mabel’s mother according to the menu) is very friendly and, along with the decor, gives the place a very welcoming air, especially for families. There are toys, a chalkboard, and books, and so forth. We now have two children so descriptions like “child friendly” are a good thing. One lady came in on Sunday asking if this was a creche or parents’ morning, such is the clientele and ambience. There is also artwork for sale from the Artists Network Bedfordshire, although not really my cup of tea or price bracket, as well as a selection of gifts and things, which I predict will be replaced by a chiller cabinet at some point in the future.

The only real problem (aside from the slatted tables that make balancing cups difficult) is that they don’t serve lunch, although in an overheard conversation the owner suggested that she was aware of this. Perhaps she wants to get the basics working right first.

I would recommend Archie & Mabel’s. Go there on a Sunday!

There is of course another recent eatery, Gaffneys, which I haven’t tried yet. It aspires to be fine dining, which the prices on the menu appear to confirm. It might be wonderful for all I know and I would like to try it; however, I wonder how such a place will thrive or survive in Sandy. The most high-brow place in Sandy before Gaffneys was China Express which, although also expensive, has an extremely popular, high quality, and not particularly expensive take-away business on the side as well as Sandwich Express, another busy café round the corner. Whereas China Express often seems busy, Gaffneys looks empty at Sunday lunch time, unless there is more seating hidden away from the public gaze somewhere. I predict Gordon Ramsay will be paying a visit…

Water and information shortage

There was a water cut in Sandy yesterday. I thought the shower had just conked out. We had some water in the tanks for the bath and so forth so I didn’t think much of it and went to work. It was then interesting to see how far I could follow developments at work. I first found out about the cut, and could tell my wife about it, as the RSS feed I have set up for Biggleswade Today had the information in my feed reader when I came into work. Hurrah.

To follow developments, I looked up the Anglian Water site. A search for Sandy gave me an incident page which, although grammatically awful and low on detail, at least had the main points and was time-stamped. I had a meeting from about 2 till 4. When I got out, Biggleswade Today had triumphantly added another news item saying that the water came back at 3 (again, I could tell my wife at home and she could start actually using the water); the Anglian Water page just disappeared: there was nothing to say there ever was a problem and had that been my only source of information, I wouldn’t have known what that meant. A bit rubbish. As for the BBC, they had eventually put an article via RSS saying that there was a water cut. It still says so now and they haven’t issued any updates yet.

Conclusion: hurrah for Biggleswade Today; almost good but boo for Anglian Water; ho hum for the BBC.