Delicious + Twibble

Last year I described how I used Delicious and Twitterfeed to post bookmarks to Twitter automatically.

Since then, I got more and more fed up with Twitterfeed. In theory, it ought to check my links twice an hour, but often it would leave three to four hours between updates, which meant that my links sometimes got posted at 3am when nobody was around to see them.

I was starting to think about writing a Twitterfeed replacement myself, when I discovered Twibble, and it’s much better.

It has many more options — for instance you can specify posting times so that it doesn’t tweet anything during the night, and it can check for new links much more frequently.

There are a couple of minor flaws — for instance, the posting times have to be specified in PST — but it’s nothing you can’t live with.

The main problem is that Twibble isn’t totally stable yet: It has stopped posting twice since I started using it, but the support team is normally really responsive and helpful (during California daytime).

I would definitely recommend Delicious + Twibble as the best solution for tweeting your bookmarks at the moment.

Lingua dorica in bocca glasgoviana

The most prestigious variety of Italian has been described as lingua toscana in bocca romana, or the Tuscan language in a Roman mouth.

I wonder whether a similar formula would become appropriate for unified Scots (if somebody tries to create a prestige variety after independence), given that Doric (Aberdeenshire Scots) in general has preserved more words and grammatical structures than the Central Belt dialects that have been heavily influenced by English, but where Doric pronunciation has some features that are quite divergent from other dialects, e.g. /f/ for <wh> instead of /ʍ/, or pronouncing <ui> as /(w)i/ (for instance, guid “good” is /gɪd/ in the Central Belt but /gwid/ in Doric).

To be concrete, I wonder whether the best model for Scots would be lingua dorica in bocca glasgoviana, or Doric pronounced by Glaswegians.

Of course there are words that are restricted to Doric and wouldn’t be appropriate in a unified language, just as Glaswegian isn’t perhaps the most euphonious variety of Scots, but I think it would make sense, especially given that there are many more speakers of Scots in the Central Belt than anywhere else, but most of these are mixing it up with English.

Or would la lingua di Burns in bocca dorica provide a better model?

WordPress/Flickr Helper

arsp_046
arsp_046 by Anthony Ryan, on Flickr.
Flickr recently removed their WordPress sharing support, so all you get now is some generic HTML code that’s not ideal for WordPress. (Mind you, neither was Flickr’s old sharing code, which didn’t work well out of the box — I described how to fix it in this old blog post.)

I’ve now written a wee webpage that uses some JavaScript to correct Flickr’s HTML.

Just go to Flickr, find the sharing code, select “Small 240 x X“, then “HTML”, and paste the result into the text box on the left and click the button. The WordPress-style code will then appear on the right, and you can copy it and paste it into your blog post.

It’s not quite as convenient as Flickr’s old system, but it gets the job done.

Whit and all that

When Iain Banks died, Phyllis and I realised that we had never actually got round to reading anything by him. We decided to order a few of his books to rectify this issue.

Since then I’ve read Consider Phlebas, The Wasp Factory, Complicity and Whit (in that order).

I didn’t like Consider Phlebas at all, I must admit. I love some science fiction novels, but not all, and this was definitely in the latter category (together with for instance the Red/Green/Blue Mars trilogy and Doris Lessing’s Canopus in Argos books).

I then turned to Banks’s non-SF books. The Wasp Factory wasn’t at all what I had expected, but it was rather enjoyable in its own way, and it definitely made me want to read more of his books. Complicity was good, too, although surprisingly different.

However, in my opinion Whit is far superior. It’s a book about a small religious sect in Scotland, seen through the eyes of the founder’s granddaughter. The religion was invented by Iain Banks and he manages to make it very believable, which is no mean feat.

Perhaps it’s just my upbringing as the son of two theologians, but my main complaint about this wonderful book is that at 450 pages it is far too short. I thoroughly recommend it.

I am a man and I’m wearing a hat

My old friend Kakha from Georgia was visiting us last week, and at one point I asked him whether Rabbie Burns was well-kent in Georgia.

“Absolutely, we love the song about the man and his hat,” replied Kakha.

“The man and his hat?!?”

“Yes, you know: კაცი ვარ და ქუდი მხურავს (‘I am a man and I’m wearing a hat’),” said Kakha. He started to sing: “კაცი ვარ და ქუდი მხურავს //ქედს არ ვუხრი არავის. // არც არავის ვემონები //არც ვბატონობ არავის.”

I managed to find a YouTube clip of Georgians singing this:

At first I couldn’t find any poem by Burns that matched the lyrics, but the line “არც ვბატონობ არავის” (“and I don’t rule over nobody”) gave me a clue. It must be “I hae a wife o’ my ain“:

I Hae a wife of my ain, 
I’ll partake wi’ naebody; 
I’ll take Cuckold frae nane, 
I’ll gie Cuckold to naebody. 

I hae a penny to spend, 
There — thanks to naebody! 
I hae naething to lend, 
I'll borrow frae naebody. 

I am naebody’s lord, 
I’ll be slave to naebody; 
I hae a gude braid sword, 
I’ll tak dunts frae naebody. 

I’ll be merry and free, 
I’ll be sad for naebody; 
Naebody cares for me, 
I care for naebody. 

Georgians love this song — they feel it describes them. It’ll never cease to amaze me how Burns was able to write songs that reach out to people from all countries at all times.

Hårdtarbejdende studerende?

Aarhus University Aula
Aarhus University Aula, a photo by Gammelmark on Flickr.
Der er flere artikler i de danske dagblade, der påpeger, at danske studerende i realiteten studerer på deltid:

På sundhedsvidenskab svarer de studerende, at de bruger i alt godt 34 timer om ugen på undervisning og forberedelse, hvilket dækker over 19 times undervisning og 15 timers forberedelse. [...] På humaniora bruger de studerende i alt godt 22 timer om ugen på at være studerende, og den tid går med knap 8 timers undervisning og godt 14 timers forberedelse.

[...]

Lykke Friis, der er prorektor for uddannelse på Københavns Universitet, siger, at hun havde forventet, at arbejdsugen var længere:

»Der er brug for en kulturændring blandt de studerende, for det skal være et fuldtidsstudium at læse her. Jeg ved godt, at de også har erhvervsarbejde osv., men det at læse skal være hovedbeskæftigelsen,« siger hun.

[...]

I 2011 viste en tilsvarende undersøgelse af studieaktiviteten blandt studerende på Aarhus Universitet, at de brugte 28,5 timer om ugen på deres studium.

Man skal her være opmærksom på, at et fuldtidsstudium kræver ca. 45 timer pr. uge, når man tæller timer pr. år og tager de lange ferier i betragtning. Det burde derfor ikke være realistisk for de fleste studerende at passe et arbejde ved siden af studiet — lønarbejde burde være en ferieaktivitet.

Men jeg må så sige, at jeg ikke har meget tilovers for Lykke Friis’ ønske om en “kulturændring”. Studerende er — som mennesker flest — dovne af natur, og de vil arbejde så hårdt, som det er nødvendigt for at bestå deres eksaminer med et tilstrækkeligt højt gennemsnit, men ikke hårdere.

Men andre ord er det nødvendigt at dumpe de studerende, der ikke arbejder hårdt nok. Man kan ikke på den ene side kræve af universiteterne, at de studerende skal færdiggøre deres studier på normeret tid og at frafaldet minimeres, og på den anden sige, at de studerende skal arbejde hårdt.

Hvis det for en studerende med en for en studerende normal intelligens var umuligt at bestå deres eksaminer, hvis de brugte væsentligt mindre end 45 timer pr. uge, ville de da også bruge den fornødne tid på det. Men i en overgangsfase må man nok forvente, at det store flertal ville dumpe en eller flere eksaminer.

Hvis man vil have en kulturændring, må man gøre det meget sværere at bestå. Så simpelt er det.

Thomas Widmann's blog about politics, linguistics, programming, food, kids and life in general