Monthly Archives: March 2007

moving pains

I’ve moved house. The new house is fantastic. The old house… let’s talk about it. The reason I want to talk about it is that the old landlord is not being nice, and I am fairly angry about that.

I moved into the house in March 2006, and have been having problems with the house since then. The landlord only fixed two problems in that period.

First off, the house was simply not ventilated at all. There was a tumble-dryer in a “utility room” which had no ventilation at all. When you used the tumble dryer, you needed to leave the back door open. This was mentioned by the landlord without even so much as a sheepish look.

The cooker unit in the kitchen had the same problem. All steam, etc, went straight up and ruined the walls and ceiling.

There was a smoke detector almost directly above the cooker. I had to remove it, as it went off every time anyone cooked anything, and Bronwyn was heavily pregnant for a period last year, so couldn’t be expected to climb up on a chair to deactivate it every time she wanted to eat.

There were carpets in every room except the toilet, kitchen and utility room. This, combined with humidity caused by the lack of ventilation, meant that I was sneezing almost constantly while living there. I was on a permanent prescription for strong anti-histamines while living there.

The cupboard doors were all coming apart. The hinges were rusting (again, because of humidity). One door finally fell off completely. I mentioned that the cupboards needed work in an email to the landlord back on March 16th last year. They still had not been fixed by March this year.

Other things I mentioned in that email were that the storage heaters did not work, and that I had to replace the washing machine, as the existing one was broken. The storage heaters were never fixed, and I never received payment for the washing machine.

As mentioned last year, I accidentally burned down the two sheds that were there. I had not mentioned, though, that those sheds must have been at least thirty years old, and that I had to do a lot of work just to get the doors to open on them.

The fire also caused damage to some windows and an oil tank (which had been thankfully empty).

The oil tank was replaced, and I dutifully raised my rent by 50 per month in order to pay for it. The windows were never fixed, even though the landlord had said she would be sending someone around to look at it.

There were originally a few wooden chairs in the house as well. They were all a bit loose at the joints when we moved in. I thought nothing of it at the time. Over the course of the year, though, all but two of them fell apart completely. The looseness had been caused by humidity causing the glue to loosen. Thankfully, a pregnant Bronwyn was not sitting on one of those chairs when it finally came apart.

The lino in the kitchen was permanently stained and always looked filthy.

Mice. Actually, they could have been small rats.

We had to ask the landlord to change the lock on the front door, as Jareth was able to open it easily and walk out into traffic. The job was not very well done.

The mantelpiece above the fireplace was loose. Luckily Jareth never noticed, or he might have accidentally pulled it down on his head.

All of this, I was fine with, mostly. I could live with it all – I had lived in many worse places than that, and was used to the idea that landlords rent out really crap places.

I started getting angry, though, when we started the move into the new house (which is bloody fantastic, by the way).

Our lease was up on the 11th of March. I called the landlord on the 11th of February to mention that we would be moving out (giving a month’s notice). She said she had meant to call me anyway, as she was planning on selling the house. It would have been nice if she actually /had/ called me, as if I had not already been looking for a new place to live, then we would have been in trouble.

To be nice, I tried to organise that we would move out a week or more before the 11th, to allow me some time to clean up the place.

The landlord called on about the 1st of March, asking if I had moved out yet. I was a bit surprised, and said no. She then asked when would I be gone. That was extremely rude. Our lease was due to finish on the 11th. She had no business asking about anything before that time. Up until the 11th of March, the tenancy of the house legally was mine, so she had no business trying to hurry me along.

Anyway – I hurried things along. We finally managed to get everything out of the house on the 5th, and I texted her to say “we’re out”, as she asked me to do…

I haven’t mentioned the deposit. I gave a deposit of 500 euro. the rent was 700 euro. we still owed 150 on the oil tank (she also filled it with oil, which I had not asked for!). By my reckoning, she owed us 233 euro back from the deposit (500-150-117 (5 days rent)).

By her reckoning, I owed her money! She was demanding payment for the sheds.

There is absolutely no bloody way I would pay for those things. #1, I had shelled out money just in order to get the doors open! #2, they were bone dry, 30 years old, and falling apart (there were actually some slats missing from the walls, which I pointed out when we moved in!). #3, the fire was an accident, so should be covered by fire insurance, which I’m sure she was legally required to have. She was probably paid for the oil tank and sheds already by her insurance company, and now she wanted me to pay for them again!

Screw that. She had screwed me already by making me live in a dumphole for a year, without fixing the problems which had been highlighted way back at the beginning of the tenancy.

And to add to all that, she complained that I had left the house in an “unliveable” state. I was at the house every bloody day last week, making sure that all was well. The only “rubbish” (as she put it) that I left, was that I left some things in the sink (hadn’t gotten around to washing and drying them), and we had left some bedclothes on some beds. I made sure there was nothing lying around on the ground, and that I had taken everything I could.

Speaking of beds – we also provided a new double bed for the house, and left behind the new washing machine we had provided as well. None of those were paid for by the landlord.

You know what – fuck her. She made her money from me. She’s not getting anything else.

ah… spring; when young men's thoughts turn to…

robots!

So anyway, I moved house (long story short), meaning that I get to think more clearly, as the house is less cluttered, and the route to work involves crossing less roads.

This morning, I was thinking about my current project – I’m writing a recurrent connectionist network so my new robot can learn to recognise things like grass and rubbish (to cut the former, and remove the latter).

The walk was getting tiring, so I was thinking about segways as well, and wondering how easy it might be to make one.

This eventually evolved into an idea for a new transport system – you get a load of little robots (my gardening ones, for example), and get them to form a platform. Then a load more of them form another platform on top. Then, you stand on the top.

The “carpet” would move in the direction you lean. Of course, the speed wouldn’t be too impressive, but it would be better than walking.

When the lower layer encounters a rock on the road or something, it moves around it. The upper layer robots interlock with each other to allow the lower level bots to do this without having too much pressure from above.

When you reach where you are going, the robots then disperse and continue their gardening around the new area.

You could even form a baggage train using this idea – a few carpet networks would follow each other in marching-ant form.

This would be easier to do than to create a robot which does your gardening for you…

using KFM's functions from within your CMS

I am currently working on a few property websites. One thing common about most property websites is that they include multiple images showing various aspects of a property. When it came to writing that part of the application, I chose to use KFM‘s file management skills, combined with a little AJAX magic to make the work easy for the client.

To see a demo of what I’m on about, click here, log in as “propertydemo” with password “propertydemo”, and click to create a new property, or edit an existing one.

The important thing to note there is the attaching of images – to attach a new image, you click Browse, choose an image from your machine, then click Upload. The page will not be reloaded – your new image will just magically appear. To delete an image, hover your mouse over the icon, then click ‘x’. The idea for this is in part based on how WordPress manages images, but is of course better, as I wrote it 😉

How it works is that there is a hidden iframe acting as the target for the image upload form. When you submit your image, the image is submitted into the iframe, which is attached directly to the upload.php of the CMS’s KFM installation. We supply an “onload” function so that the upload.php then refreshes the parent page’s list of images.

Simple really!

The hard part was in adapting KFM so that I could use its functions from within WebME. I won’t explain all the work that went into it, but just that it’s all done, and a recent copy of KFM has all the necessary code.

To attach KFM to your CMS, you just need to include() KFM’s configuration.php and api/api.php, making sure that the configuration.php has a correct $kfm_base_path:

$kfm_base_path=$_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'].'/j/fckeditor/editor/plugins/kfm/';

Once that’s done, you have access to all of KFM’s functions, as well as the extra API functions which are not used by KFM itself, but are useful for CMS’s.

If there are any questions about how to use any parts of this, please ask them below – I still haven’t gotten around to writing documentation for KFM, but hopefully I’ll be able to get it done based on questions from the great unwashed (ie: you!).