Blog Origins

I thought I might mention the origins of this blog and how it became to be published. This is not my reasoning for creating a blog (those are that I was copying Kat and Vivek, my friends who are also first year PhDs at Birmingham), but for what I did to put it on the internet.

Choosing my software

So I decided that I ought to do this first, as it might change my implementation specifics. Where do you start? Google seemed the obvious answer, so I decided to Google for the best blogs around. There doesn’t seem to be a comparison of these, or at least my search for one was inadequate. Therefore I decided that the one that just looked quite good would suffice. I found beeblog, which is now not under development and then I found Serendipity. I like PHP and the ability to add plugins from a large repository sounds good.


I’ve got a virtual server out there in the world somewhere, I don’t care where… it just works. Currently this just forwards email around so I decided to use it for hosting my blog rather than keeping it on my home based server, I don’t want you all to use up my bandwidth. I had Apache, PHP and MySQL installed already so all I needed was Imagemagik and GDLib. My distribution of choice is Ubuntu so an “apt-get install imagemagik php5-gd” quickly solved those dependancies. Then I loaded the index page, this asked me a few simple configuration questions which weren’t too hard, although I did have to SSH in and “CREATE DATABASE serendipity” and “GRANT ALL on serendipity.* to [email protected] IDENTIFIED BY “wouldn’t you like to know””.


How should I publish my blog (I thought)? I considered registering a domain, and nothing really came to mind, then I remembered I had a few domains that weren’t doing anything. There’s, I like this name, but I have some stuff on there already. Next I had, this sounds a bit like sin-topic which would kind of describe the page. In the end I just opted for as it is me and therefore the easiest to tell people, also it’s just a blog about me so it’s best I think.


There are lots of plugins as I mentioned earlier. I installed a few, notably one for mobile viewing (Markup: Mobile Output). I have an iPod Touch and it specifically mentioned it on the description. After installation the site worked fine, but I tried to view the page on my iPod and was confronted with a PHP error message: “Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in serendipity_event_mobile_output.php on line 308”. Being a keen PHP programmer I have attempted to solve this bug myself (while I’m writing this post).

The problem is that I don’t have any categories defined on my site as yet. This was easily solved by adding if (is_array($categories)) before the foreach on line 308. But it still does not seem to work at all, I think this may have something to do with setting the style template, but I’m not sure… I’ll report back if I ever find out any more.

Start of a blog

Right, well this is the first post. I should have started one of these a long time a go to keep track of progress and details which I would have otherwise forgotten and have done so.

The main aim of this blog is to keep a record of all my work performed while I am learning how to research (i.e. take a PhD), but no doubt I will go off on rants about all sorts of other things which I have read in the Metro. My mind tends to wander a lot, and as such I think it’s about time I wrote much of it down so that I can refer back to it. There will also be some how-to’s posted for Linux based things (projects I’m hacking away at) so when the machines die I have a way of recovering the data. This seems a very good idea, but the machine that I’m writing this blog on is not backed up in any form and therefore is just as likely to die as any other.

Today I have been in a healthy mindset with my lunch, this is mainly due to the lack of bread in the fridge, so I spent a whole half and hour cooking and cooling pasta before mixing Tesco own tomato pasta sauce, and this time for a little variation I added cheese with a half price Muller (cherry) yoghurt for desert. Also, Dairylea Dunkers are on special offer again and therefore I’ve had one of those for breakfast.

While shopping I came across an offer 3 chocolate fondant filled eggs for £1.09, with Mars, Galaxy Caramel and Dairy Milk Caramel next to each other. Being a huge fan of caramel I had to get one of each. My findings so far are as follows: the Mars eggs have the nougat and caramel as with the bar, but both are significantly more viscous and do not taste the same at all, still enjoyable. The Galaxy Caramel is almost identical to that of the bar, but the chocolate is not as smooth. The dairy milk I have not eaten yet, but if it is like last years they will not be able to contend with the taste of the chocolate-mixed caramel in the Galaxy egg, but wins points for being the original.

So far as work goes, I am making little progress today since I have been setting up this. I have updated my timetable and organised my trip to London to visit SEBASE. This is a bit of an organisational nightmare as people keep on coming up with different ideas about when we are leaving and how long we are staying for, eventually we have been granted the money to stay in a Hotel on Sunday night for the meeting on Monday morning. I have to prepare a five minute presentation and try not to make a complete arse of myself in front of people who actually know what they are talking about. Rami has given me some pointers as to some papers on Search Based Software Engineering (“The Current State and Future of Search Based Software Engineering” by Mark Harman), the author of which will be attending the meeting. There has been a whole papers worth of jottings about how I can adapt search based techniques towards contextual based advertising.

My visit to Vodafone is all arranged for Wednesday now, driving down to Newbury in the morning and back in the afternoon. It seems a long way to go for a few hours, but the previous conference call was a complete waste of time so hopefully I will be able to get some interesting information from them. I’m looking to find out what Vodafone actually want from me, since they are paying for some of my time. I hope to gain insight into what kinds of information they currently gather and whether my ideas of offsetting user privacy for reward will be of any interest to them what-so-ever.

Later you may look forward to my how-to make a postfix mailserver with all the trimmings.