Nightfall ONE (Isaac Asimov)

No need to go rushing out to buy this one, it’s not available any more. I found it in a second hand bookshop and bought it because I’ve enjoyed Asimov’s previous work.

This is a collection of 5 short stories (Nightfall, Green Patches, Hostess, Breeds There a Man…?, C-Chute) written in the 1940’/1950’s and originally published in Science Fiction journals of the time, re-published in a collection in 1970. Over 60 years later and these stories are still a joy to read. I want to tell you what the stories are about, but to do that would spoil them.

If ever I create Rootie Ratings(tm), this book will get top marks 5 times over (once for each story, they are all superb).

How much do books weigh?

How much do books weight?
Why would you want to know?

Well, at work ( we are frequently asked to supply book shelves. Remembering that every book is different, a typical selection of cookery books (at least, the selection I had to hand at the shop) weighed a total of 2.25Kg and occupied 100mm when standing on edge. Therefore, 1 metre of books would weigh 22.5Kg and our shelves and (when rounding) brackets would need to support a minimum of 25Kg/m.

Remember though, that’s a minimum because:

  • their books may weigh more
  • they may stack books on top of books
  • their books may be shallower than their shelf and all on the front edge
  • suddenly find a new home and be replaced by heavier cast iron sausepans

Shelf brackets (decent ones anyway) will state how much weight they have been tested to safely hold. This is normally given as an evenly placed load around the mid point of the bracket. For example, if a given bracket will support 20Kg and is 300mm long, the 20Kg is taken as acting from the middle – 150mm away from the wall. Therefore if you put all of your 20Kg weight at the far edge, 300mm away from the wall you can expect the bracket to fail.

Also be aware that some brackets give Safe Working Load when used as a pair, whilst others will be based on each individual bracket. Remember your shelf also has a weight and you may need to take this into account.

As a rule of thumb, if a customer says they would like to use a shelf for books I would look to find brackets that would support a minimum of 35Kg/m for a shelf 300mm deep. Therefore a 500mm long shelf would need to be able to hold 17.5Kg, and so on.

The other thing worth thinking about is bookends – some of those can be heavier than the books! Perhaps you can find some that can be permanently fixed to stop books falling off.

Almost two years! – Say hello everyone

Did you know it’s been almost two years since I created this site? Well, it has. About a year ago I revealed some of my top secret* page view statistics. Then the monthly page view totals looked like this:

Month: Pages Viewed
Nov 2005: 1599
Oct 2005: 1180
Sep 2005: 676

Compare and contrast the following then:

Week: Pages Viewed
17/Sep/06 1989
10/Sep/06 2053
3/Sep/06 1929

Yes, you read it correctly. There are now more visitors each week than in a whole month from last year. Another example from the logs is that 821 “Distinct Hosts Served” during the last week – say hello in the comments everyone! (see this entry for more detail about what web site stats mean).

What are you all coming here for? Well, according to the search logs – most of you are still looking for this entry although flavour of the month is Steve Irwin – he got a mention in our holiday photos. For those who don’t know, Steve Irwin became famous from his TV programmes on wildlife (he became known as “The Crocodile Hunter”). He had a Zoo near Brisbane but was killed recently by a Sting Ray while filming a new series.

The question you’re probably all desperate to hear the answer too is “How much have you earn’t from the Google Ads?” (written about here). Well, it’s safe to say that I haven’t even reached two significant figures. That’s another way of saying less than US$10.

*OK, they’re not that secret it’s just I don’t process the log file often.

Sharpe's Enemy (Bernard Cornwell) & Sharpe's Sword (Bernard Cornwell)

More Sharpe! This is a big series (21 Novels not counting 2 extra short stories) and I seem to be working my way through it. The trouble will be when I can’t remember which books I’ve read when I see them in the second hand book shop. I guess I’ll have to keep a list on my PDA.

Anyway, the story continues. In Sharpe’s Enemy Sharpe finally defeats his original enemy from the first books. Sergeant Hakeswill has deserted and joined a band of renegades formed from all opposing sides (the historical note actually says there really was a band of deserters at the time!). The deserters capture a village and the wife of a British nobleman and Sharpe is sent to rescue her. That would be far to simple a task for Sharpe so of course it gets a little more complicated. He makes the first successful battle use of rockets in this book and gives Napoleon’s forces a surprise or two.

In Sharpe’s Sword he begins by capturing a French officer who says he is a Captain but is really a much feared General. He escapes and Sharpe’s duty is to capture him once more. There are a few twists and turns, some clever camouflage, yet more romance and yet more misery. I have to wonder what rank Sharpe ends up as – I seem a good number of books away from Waterloo and I’m not sure how many ranks are left! I’ll let you know when I get there.

Harlequin (Bernard Cornwell) & Vagabond (Bernard Cornwell)

I enjoyed Uhtred in Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Series, go forwards several hundred years and join Thomas of Hookton on his equally enjoyable adventures.

Thomas is an English Archer who’s father was a village priest. The story begins with the death of his father and the destruction of Thomas’s home village by European raiders and follows his journey first for vengeance but equally to discover the truth about his family’s origins. He discovers his family was said to be the keepers of the Holy Grail and circumstances conspire to make him search for it. There are plenty of twists along the way, a dash or two of romance, death (well, he is an archer in the middle of a war) and valour.

Uhtred from the Saxon series was a sometimes like-able, oftentimes detestably violent person. Thomas is much more like able as a character. Perhaps even more pleasant that Richard Sharpe in the Sharpe series. He is no less realistic though and I can’t help but look out for the third book in the series “Heretic” – Does Thomas find his Grail?

As I read more of Bernard Cornwell’s books I am impressed by the historical settings. The end of each book puts in place some divisions between fact and fiction making reading his books a little bit of education as well as a pleasure.

creating a new column in a MySQL select query

I’ve been really busy since my last post (a whole month without a post!). Work is exceptionally busy and work comes first. Even my reading has slowed down a bit. I have several things waiting to be posted when I get time to write about them – including the first ever competition for this blog! You’ll have to check back over the next week or two to find out what that’s all about, in the mean time this post is all about…


“creating a new column in a MySQL select query”

So, here I am manipulating some data from a supplier to make it work with our internal business systems. Essentially I had to work out how much a kitchen cabinet would cost given an “assembly list”, “component list”, “decision list” and of course “cup of coffee”.

Assembly list tells me that each unit needs a cabinet and a door. There are lots of door colours and lots of cabinet colours. These options are all in the component list which tells me the price of each door. The decision list is my own creation and says “build me a unit using a Maple door and a Maple cabinet”. “cup of coffee” feeds my habit while I code. So far, so good.

Once I’ve created a list of units using maple doors and maple cabinets, I then want to create another list of oak doors and oak cabinets. Join them all together and I have a complete list of cabinets that customers can buy. I needed a way of identifying which cabinet was built with which options and for the life of me I couldn’t remember how to do it. I needed to create an additional column in my query that would record what “decision list” row had been used for this build.

The answer is of course obvious once you know it:
Select “StevesDecision” as StevesColumnName, FirstBuildUpStaticTable.Material, SUM(`Gross weight`) As GWeight, and so on.

“StevesDecision” becomes the content of each row and “StevesColumnName” becomes the column name. All the rest of the select… line remains the same.