Last weekend we had roast beef with most of the trimmings (there's always room for more trimmings). I made the yorkshire puddings myself with a recipe from a Gary Rhodes book. And they turned out just perfectly if you ask me. Though they do look a bit like horse's hooves.



I've been having a lot of trouble with my Ruby 1.9.1 install on Mac OS X. Mostly it works fine, but I struggle when installing gems that require native extensions. I think this is because the way my install was built causes linkage problems, perhaps due to 32 vs 64 bit issues, or due to linkage with other libraries. I'm not entirely sure what's causing the problems, but recently I decided enough was enough and tried out rvm since I've heard a lot of good things about it. I got the impression that by compiling from my own source I was stubbornly making a lot of my own trouble.

Rvm is trivial to install: it's a gem that installs some of its own executables. I did hack my PATH first, to remove /usr/local/bin (where my custom Ruby lived) so that I'd be using the stock Mac OS X Ruby for the rvm install.

> sudo gem install rvm
> rvm-install

Note that rvm-install added the following to the end of ~/.bash_profile automatically, so I could ignore the instruction it gave me about adding it myself:

if [ -s ~/.rvm/scripts/rvm ] ; then source ~/.rvm/scripts/rvm ; fi

I then used rvm to install a fresh version of Ruby 1.9.1:
>> rvm install 1.9.1

Actually that failed with an error about libsqlite3.dylib being the wrong architecture – perhaps another hangover from my old manual installs, or a problem I'm going to have to solve sometime in the future! For now I moved the old version of that file and tried again:

> sudo mv /usr/local/lib/libsqlite3.dylib /usr/local/lib/libsqlite3.dylibOLD
> rvm install 1.9.1

And that left me with a decent ruby 1.9.1 install. Which brought me back to one of the things that I was originally frustrated by: getting NetBeans Ruby debugging working with the fast debugger. With my old install the ruby-debug-ide gem would not install, but I'm pleased to report that it does with this new setup.

However getting NetBeans to actually use my new rvm ruby required a bit of a trick. The Ruby Platform management GUI in NetBeans doesn't show you hidden folders in its file picker, so you can't navigate to the ~/.rvm/ruby-1.9.1-p243/bin/ruby file that it wants. The trick is to create a non-hidden symlink, so you can then find it from NetBeans (and it's also handy to get at your rvm files from Finder):

> ln -s ~/.rvm ~/rvm

One word of warning: once you're using an RVM Ruby install, do not use sudo for gem installs, as the gems (and every part of rvm) live in ~/.rvm so sudo is not required. In fact using sudo will knacker your gems quite badly as it gets its PATH wrong and its permissions and you end up deleting a bunch of stuff to get back to a known good state. I learnt this the hard way!

We had a particular space to fill next to the sofa in our new house, and wanted a low sideboard to house our extensive and exotic booze collection, which up until now has been gathering dust on the floor in a corner. However the space is only 82cm wide and most pieces of suitable furniture we’ve seen are at least a metre wide, and often too tall compared to the 69cm high sofa.

We set off on Saturday with a medium length list of places to try in our grim search for just the right solution, but we struck lucky at our first stop: Emmaus in St Albans. This place is basically a second hand furniture shop with fairly rapid turnover, but it’s more than just that, being run as a community to get homeless people back on their feet. We’ve been a couple of times before and not found anything for us, but this time round for just £10 we came away with an 84 cm wide cupboard that sits just perfectly in our previously empty space.


Isn’t that 2cm too wide you may ask? Yes, so I had to remove the beading at the edge of the laminate floor to make enough room for a very snug fit.

Our collection of exotic and nauseous booze will now reside within, perhaps lying undisturbed for decades until young teenagers nick it late at night. And so the cycle repeats.

I went exploring on Hampstead Heath over lunchtime the other day, looking for wild things to photograph (see UKNatureBlog for the results). From the top of Parliament Hill I took this photograph looking back towards Canary Wharf and my work office in the nearer foreground. Click for bigger version.


I'm afraid that the nature posts are going to dry up here, but never fear for they're all now going to be on – a new blog specifically for the flora and fauna of the UK and all related things, setup by myself and Mrs C.

Go and have a look, bookmark it, and do please contribute. The cheeky chap below will be over there from now on.


I was very excited to see MacRuby 0.5 beta 1 had been announced, complete with ahead of time compilation via LLVM. It has been long while since the previous update on the MacRuby blog in March, but clearly a lot of work has been taking place. At the moment this beta shows the promise of things to come but isn't yet fit for much more than anticipatory experimentation. If you want to try the macrubyc compiler, Antonio Cangiano's blog post on the topic is a must-read.

The MacRuby notes suggest that compiled ahead of time or not, it uses LLVM for a big speed win, but my own quick experiment showed the macruby interpreter to be about 3 times slower than the standard MRI Ruby 1.9.1. This was with a single small benchmark app only though, just to prove things were working, so I can't draw conclusions. I can't pretend I wasn't a little disappointed not to see MRI blown out of the water though, even though I know it's unscientific and wrong of me!

I couldn't get a fully compiled version to produce any output, though it appeared to run without barfing, so I couldn't tell if it was really working or not. It was notable that the compiled binary was nearly 15MB so there must be a lot of statically linked code being included to swell my couple of KB of Ruby code so much. I'm hopeful that this can be improved in the future in order to support my dream of iPhone apps being written with Ruby hooking into Cocoa. In fact more than a dream – I'm hopeful and optimistic that in the long-run Apple will make Ruby a heavily promoted first class citizen for Mac and iPhone development, sitting on top of Objective-C but hiding it for the most part. The whole world has moved on from primitive C-based languages to higher levels of abstraction and I think Apple really needs a successor to Objective-C within the next 5 years. Is MacRuby it?

05. October 2009 · 8 comments · Categories: DIY

One of the sheds I inherited when I moved into the new house had a bit of a dodgy roof, with the felt rather ragged and exposing the wood around the edges. In the recent strong winds half of the felt actually peeled back and flopped to one side like a bad combover, so with lots of rain forecast for this week I figured I had to act swiftly to keep things dry.

According to their website Homebase don't actually sell roof felt (though they do sell the nails) so it was Wickes that sorted me out: £11 for an 8 metre roll of felt and a couple of quid more for a ridiculous quantity of 'galvanised 13mm extra large head clout nails'. A bargain surely.


It turned out to be surprisingly straightforward to get the old felt off and the new stuff on, even with no access to the side and rear aspects. I was done within just a couple of hours. I had to do most of the work from perching on the roof itself, which was only just robust enough to support me. The special nails are a joy to work with: push them into the felt with a thumb and they stand up on their own, then two whacks with a hammer and they're in. Very satisfying.


The only thing that went wrong was a misdirected hammer blow when leant over the rear, fighting amongst tree branches, which ripped a hole in the felt. I was nearly done at this point so wasn't keen to rip it all off and start again, but luckily the tarry felt could be pudged back together with a thumb in such a way that it's probably sufficiently waterproof. I'll have to keep an eye on that. It was also tough not to damage the felt when climbing all over it, which explains the scuff marks in the photo below.