George V. Reilly

Review: Flashman in the Great Game

Title: Flashman in the Great Game
Author: George MacDonald Fraser
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Plume
Copyright: 1975
Pages: 322
Keywords: historical fiction, humor
Reading period: 16–25 August, 2016
Flashman Papers V: 1856–58

Flashman in the Great Game finds Flashy back to India, sent there by prime minister Lord Palmerston to look into worrying rumors of mutiny amongst the Indian troops and to sweet talk the re­cal­ci­trant Rani of Jhansi. After an attempt upon his life by Thugees, Flashman goes undercover in the native cavalry at Meerut, where the Sepoy Mutiny begins soon after. He then finds himself in the Siege of Cawnpore and the Siege of Lucknow and imprisoned at Gwalior before being almost continue.

Homograph Attacks

During an internal training exercise today, as a sort of one-man Chaos Monkey, I de­lib­er­ate­ly broke a test system by changing a config setting to read:

itemfinder.url = http://test-і

The correct value should have been:

itemfinder.url =

What’s that, you say? There’s no difference, you say?

There is a difference, but it’s subtle. The first i in the URL is CYRILLIC SMALL LETTER BYELORUSS­IAN-UKRAINIAN I’ (U+0456), not LATIN SMALL LETTER I’ (U+0069). Depending upon the font, the two is may be visually in­dis­tin­guish­able, very similar looking, or the Cyrillic i may not render.

This is an example of an In­ter­na­tion­al Domain Name Homograph Attack. There are Greek letters and Cyrillic letters that look very similar to Latin continue.

Flame Graphs and Flame Charts

I was in­ves­ti­gat­ing the per­for­mance of a web app today, and I spent some time looking at the Flame Chart vi­su­al­iza­tion in Chrome’s profiling tools, which helped identify some problems.

Flame Charts are like Brendan Gregg’s Flame Graphs, except that the charts are sorted by time, while the graphs are sorted al­pha­bet­i­cal­ly.

Quoting from Gregg’s recent ACM Queue article:

A flame graph has the following char­ac­ter­is­tics:

Review: Flashman At The Charge

Title: Flashman At The Charge
Author: George MacDonald Fraser
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Plume
Copyright: 1973
Pages: 288
Keywords: historical fiction, humor
Reading period: 7–16 August, 2016
Flashman Papers IV: 1854–55

Flashman At The Charge finds our hero, newly promoted to Colonel, nurse­maid­ing a minor Royal cousin in the Crimean War. Somehow he finds himself in the thick of the Charge of the Light Brigade, which he survives only to be taken captive by the Russians. Sent off to Count Pencher­jevsky’s estate, he luxuriates there for some time, bedding the count’s daughter Valla. When he and another British officer overhear the Tsar discussing Russian plans to invade India, he re­luc­tant­ly escapes. After he is captured continue.

Review: Jason Bourne

Title: Jason Bourne
Director: Paul Greengrass
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Released: 2016
Keywords: action, thriller
Watched: 20 August, 2016

In Jason Bourne, the eponym is back in action, running around the planet in a personal vendetta with the director of the CIA. Bourne’s old ally Nicky Parsons is killed trying to pass him some in­for­ma­tion that she’s unearthed about the Treadstone program that turned David Webb into the amnesiac assassin known as Jason Bourne. The CIA director sends a killer known only as the Asset after Bourne, while the fresh-faced head of the Cyber Ops division does her best to keep Bourne alive.

This is a largely un­nec­es­sary sequel to the Bourne franchise. While the continue.

Opening Vim at the right place

If you know exactly which line you want to go or which pattern you want to search for, Vim provides a couple of command-line options that can help: +NUM goes to line number NUM, while +/PAT searches for the first occurrence of PAT. It’s also possible to execute an Ex command with +CMD, such as "+set fenc=latin1". You can supply up to ten + options.

vim +23 ~/.bashrc
vim '+/ASIN\|ISBN' template.rst
vim "+set fenc=latin1" some.csv

Review: The Murder Road

Title: The Murder Road
Author: Stephen Booth
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Witness Impulse
Copyright: 2015
Pages: 403
Keywords: police procedural
Reading period: 24–31 July, 2016

Detective Inspector Ben Cooper, newly promoted, is leading the team that’s in­ves­ti­gat­ing the murder of a lorry driver outside a remote Peak District village. It seems to be connected to a suicide that took place the same day, but how? Cooper and his team manage to peel back the layers sur­round­ing the dual mysteries.

Booth writes solidly plotted, solidly char­ac­ter­ized novels, and this is another good entry in his long-running Cooper & Fry series.

On Washers

I assembled an outdoor dining table on Sunday, and belatedly realized that I had used only half the washers. The unclear directions had said to place one washer next to the bolt head and the other washer at the far end, just inside the nut. I had overlooked the latter. I don’t feel like undoing twelve bolts and starting over, so it will stay that way.

It occurred to me to wonder what purpose the washer serves. I had a notion that, since it increases the apparent area of the bolt head or the nut, it must reduce the pressure on whatever is being tightened by the bolt in the immediate continue.

Review: Flashman And The Redskins

Title: Flashman And The Redskins
Author: George MacDonald Fraser
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Plume
Copyright: 1982
Pages: 480
Keywords: historical fiction, humor
Reading period: 20 July–7 August, 2016
Flashman Papers VII: 1849–50 and 1875–76

Flashman And The Redskins is the seventh volume of the Flashman Papers, although it opens im­me­di­ate­ly after Flash For Freedom! In the first part, which takes place in 1849–50, Flashman is fleeing from New Orleans in the company of a madam who is taking her entire brothel westward to take advantage of the California Gold Rush. He sees the opening of the West and the beginning of huge changes to the Plains. He is taken captive by Apaches continue.

Review: Fuzzy Nation

Title: Fuzzy Nation
Author: John Scalzi
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Tor
Copyright: 2011
Pages: 368
Keywords: sf
Reading period: 20 July–12 August, 2016

Jack Holloway is a prospector on Zara XXII, con­tract­ing for the giant ZaraCorp. On one momentous day, he is fired, discovers a huge seam of sunstones worth trillions, and meets the first members of a new species, the fuzzies. Since he was fired before he discovered the sunstones, he now has an en­force­able claim—and he’s a disbarred lawyer, so you can bet he’s following through. The fuzzies are delightful and they’re pretty smart—so smart that they might just be sapient. And if they are, that’s a huge problem for ZaraCorp, since the fuzzies continue.

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