Photos of me

I expect most readers of this blog are desperate to know what I really look like. The photo at the top of this blog doesn’t really give a good image so I put some better pictures on Flickr, the most representative of which is below:



The caption reads:

Marble figure of a recumbent bull

Probably made in Athens about 400-350 BC. Perhaps from Kerameikos, Athens.

The bull may have served as a grave marker; it is likely that it was designed to be set on a high base and so seen only from below and from the front.

According to Wikipedia, Kerameikos is an area of Athens famous for its potters (the name is related to our word ceramic) as well being the site of a significant cemetery. Presumably the recumbent bull did some service there.


One of the many reasons I don’t post on this weblog as much as I used to is that I have discovered online correspondence chess. My brother and I had always toyed with the idea of playing correspondence chess (CC) by email but never got round to it. This was a shame as the only chess I had really played was with my brother and dad at home as a child, as well as a few games against someone at university. I never really studied chess or was that good at it. I also seem to be rarely around people who want to play.

A few years ago, when the curse of Facebook had visited, I started playing on there against Simon, a friend from school who had moved to the West Country after GCSEs, who I haven’t seen since as much as I would like to have done. Online CC, as opposed to email CC, is a lot easier as you don’t have to have a board set up somewhere,  record all the moves, or bully your opponent not to take too long. We had some good games on Facebook (the chess application is, to be honest, quite good too, although I don’t use it anymore) and I got more interested in chess. Reading around, I got intrigued by the game of Shatranj, which I had vaguely heard of. Shatranj is the medieval ancestor of modern chess: it doesn’t, for instance, have queens or bishops, en passant or castling. I eventually found a few sites where you could play it and thought it worth a go.

By far the most promising was SchemingMind, mainly because it looked a calm non-profit site with no adverts or pop-ups, and friendly people, which it has proved to be. I didn’t get hooked on shatranj too much in the end, but I did get hooked on the site which includes standard chess as well as a lot of different variants. As you can probably tell, I would really recommend the site. I managed to persuade Simon to move our games there- we are now on game no. 11 on SchemingMind, not counting the games we played on Facebook- and my brother and I are also now finally playing some decent games of chess after a long hiatus. Hooray. I think it’s his move.

Let me know if you want a game…

Aurlog safely moved to new host

Although you probably want to read a post about this weblog less than you want to read a post on this weblog, I wanted to mark the fact that Aurlog has now moved host for the first time since it started and seems to be working. Hooray!

I would like to thank Stuart for hosting it for so long, helping me with lots of technical things over the years, and for his help in moving the content to the new server, especially the evening spent as IM technical support in updating WordPress. The new host, eUKHost, have also been very helpful and remarkably patient as I asked them lots of idiotic questions to make sure this blog worked before I made it live on their server. I will be moving another site to their server soon, so that should test their customer care skillz again.

I have finally been playing with the site to move it off the generic WordPress theme (although, again, I suspect you don’t care, especially if you read this through a feed reader). I always planned to do a new theme of my own as I had done with Blosxom but I fear this is a larger undertaking than I realised and I couldn’t be arsed, so I went for Atahuelpa which looked vaguely similar to what I wanted anyway (something like this) and seems customisable to the nth degree, some of which I have done. I would recommend installing it just to see the size of the Save changes button. I really should update the About page as well.

I would like to start posting a bit more. One reason I don’t is that I discovered online correspondence chess, which I play at the excellent Hopefully I’ll post something about that.

Roman dates return!

Following yesterdays lament at the loss of my lovely Roman dates, sil has kindly converted my old Blosxom plugin (get the plugin itself from the Unofficial Blosxom User Group version 2 plugin list: it’s called date_roman-v0i1) to WordPress, so I now have them back. Hooray! Now no-one will know what the date of any of my posts are again!

BTW, if you want to beware the Ides of March, they are on Sunday

Aurlog conversion done

The conversion of this weblog to new software is, as the Emperor would say, complete. It all went rather well in the end, including the transfer of comments, which is a bonus. As a reader I really doubt if you care about any of this, but these notes may be useful to anyone wanting to do the same thing, as well to me, so nerr.

To convert from Blosxom to locally installed WordPress, I tried DeWitt Clinton’s blosxom_to_wp_import programme, but this fell down as the WordPress wiki wasn’t joking when it said it was “picky about html correctness”. I then tried one from Insanum, which worked very well aside from not recognising “../” when it looked for a file in the same directory. I got rid of that bit and it worked fine. You have to do a little bit of fiddling round to set up the template or theme, then it’s merely a matter of battling with Firefox not liking to show updated XML files for some reason. The instructions were generally very good.

Posts came across perfectly except for minor character coding issues, which I think were my fault. They were dated OK (although I’ve lost my lovely Roman dates). Comments also came across although I didn’t expect them to. They have however lost their original dates, which I can live with. I have already managed to delete the 1675 spam messages using the Comments bit on WordPress. This is a lot easier.

What hasn’t come across are the Permalinks, as on blosxom I used multilevel category paths and these were lost in the conversion. This is not exactly the most popular blog in the world so there this isn’t the end of said world. Using mod_rewrite magik (with some hints from Halvorsen), I have however managed to make sure the ten most looked-at posts from the last year or so will redirect. I have also managed to make sure that the old index.rss and index.xml feeds still work as well as the new /feed/ feed that WordPress uses. No-one read my index.atom feed, so screw that: it’s gone. Tags have also gone, but I can rebuild those, at least for the posts which deserve them.

I should also thank sil, who kindly suggested I install WordPress using Subversion, which made it a breeze and who happily answered my various idiotic questions along the way, as always.

Do feel free to help me test how comments work by writing crap in the comments to this post.


Following on from my post entitled Oh dear, it seems I was way too slow in using Google’s cache, or anyone else’s for that matter. However, I’m sure the world will not weep too much, and the one post I did want to salvage was found as a lonely txt file on my computer. This was the Et In Arcadia Ego one, where I spoke of threats to close the site down. Is this any coincidence?