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Sunset

February 20th, 2020

A few minutes too late. 🙁

Xcowsay 1.5

February 8th, 2020

Xcowsay is starting to show it’s age a bit, and with Gtk2 and legacy GDK fast disappearing from distributions it’s time to upgrade to Gtk3! (Yes I know Gtk4 is out soon…)

Migrating from GDK to Cairo was fairly painless as the drawing API is very similar. The main problem is the removal of the gtk_widget_shape_combine_mask function that xcowsay used to make the background of the cow and the bubble transparent. This took the 2D bitmask and cut an arbitrary hole in the window. In Gtk3 we instead have to use the window’s alpha channel to make portions transparent. The big drawback of this is that it requires a compositing X11 window manager or Wayland or it won’t work at all. If this affects you then you can just use 1.4 as there’s no functional difference. A side effect of this change is that the edge of the speech bubble is now anti-aliased, fixing a long-standing complaint.

The source zip is here: xcowsay-1.5.tar.gz.

Taking out the Rubbish

January 31st, 2020

Yes this will definitely protect me from the coronovirus

On the plus side I got an extra 10 days holiday. Downside is I can’t go outside.

What a waste of a sunny day

Eastbourne to Seaford

December 31st, 2019

Back in the UK for Christmas last week and the weather was lovely. Went for a walk on Monday from Eastbourne to Seaford along the coast.

This area is called the “Seven Sisters” which refers to the seven (?) huge chalk cliffs. You can see the famous lighthouse at Beachy Head below. The area is very scenic but I found cliff edge a bit terrifying. Especially as large chunks of it fall away every year.

I had to take a massive detour at a place called Cuckmere Haven as the way was blocked by a river with no bridge.

Abandoned Wharf

December 24th, 2019

Went out for a walk last Sunday along the Huangpu river, in the direction away from the city centre.

Some industrial ruin

Has a bit of an east-London docklands vibe to it. Lots of abandoned warehouses and docks, with some regeneration and new buildings. Bit gloomy and bleak.

Xupu bridge

A guy fishing

Fuxing Island

December 15th, 2019

Maybe you remember my shame of missing a station when I walked the length of metro line 12 a while back. Well I finally corrected that by going to the lonely stop of Fuxing Island.

There’s only two roads onto the island, and there’s not a lot there except a park and a huge shipyard.

The air quality has been quite bad recently. But every pollution cloud has a silver lining, and the extra particles in the air make nice sunsets.

Huangpu River

December 8th, 2019

Some pictures from a walk last month along the Huangpu river.

Walking along the west bank towards the financial district

I’m really fond of the path along the riverbank. I’ve been here quite a few times before but never so far into the city centre. I’m not sure how far it goes in either direction.

The light in the late afternoon was so good for taking photos. I’m really pleased with how some of these came out.

Nanpu Bridge, which I posted some night time photos of before

Sanya

November 19th, 2019

I spent a few days recently at a company “offsite” meeting in Sanya, Hainan, a island in the very south of China. It’s a bit like a Chinese Hawaii. Not somewhere I’d usually visit but worth going once for the experience.

On the beach

The hotel we stayed in was a self-contained resort and there didn’t seem to be a lot else within walking distance, or even within a short taxi ride. But the hotel did have an aquarium and a water park.

Jellyfish in the aquarium

Carelessly got sunburnt on the first day. In November! But the latitude is similar to Thailand or Vietnam so guess I should have known better…

37th floor…

Shanghai Metro Line 12

November 10th, 2019

I sometimes feel a bit nostalgic for the time a few years ago when I would plan epic county-crossing adventures for the weekend. But there isn’t any reason why I can’t do that here in Shanghai, I just need … a goal. And what better goal than walking the entire length of metro line 12. I pass my local station every day, but where does it come from? Where does it go? Today we’ll find out.

I started at the western terminus Qixin Road. The first few hours were pretty boring as this area is mostly residential and I’ve explored most of it already. My own backyard, so to speak. Anyway things picked up when I got to the city centre after eight miles or so.

Qixin Road station

The air quality in the morning was pretty bad so I did the first half wearing a mask. Bit novel for a hiking adventure.

Start of the northern section

The best part of the route is the section north of the city centre to the Huangpu river. West Nanjing Road to Donglu Road if you fancy following it.

Looking at the financial district from Hongkou

I’ve never been to Hongkou before, it’s a really interesting area: a mix of (relatively) old and very new. There was a large population of Jewish refugees living here during WWII and there’s a Jewish museum I’ve made a note to visit in the future. You also get some good views across the river to the financial district.

My constant companion

The eagle eyed might have spotted I missed a station on the map above, Fuxing Island. In my defence it really is an island and would have required a massive detour to get to, and then double back to catch the ferry across the river. I was tired, had a long way to go, and so I skipped it. Maybe I’ll go back another time to tick it off.

The eastern section over the river was unbelievably dull and ended up in some industrial estate. But eventually I dragged myself to the eastern terminus, Jinhai Road station.

Jinhai Road station

Yes I know it says line 9. It’s an interchange station and I guess they forgot to add line 12 to the sign when they extended it here, *sigh*.

Sheshan Forest Park

October 27th, 2019

Shanghai seems almost totally flat but there’s actually two little hills out in the suburbs to the west at a place called Sheshan (佘山). Just take metro line 9 to the station with the same name and then bus number 92 from outside. The “forest park” is nice enough but the main attraction is a Catholic church and observatory on the top of the western hill.

Sheshan Basilica

This basilica has been here since 1924 but there’s been a church of some kind on this site since 1863. I actually came here last October but the building was closed for renovation. This time there was a wedding. Maybe better luck next time…

Sheshan observatory

The observatory was originally built by Jesuit missionaries. There’s an exhibition inside which is worth looking at around, but it’s all in Chinese.

The photos below are a mix of this week’s trip and my original visit last year which I forgot to blog about.