Bog Roll ::

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

31 May 2004

Site Redesign

Taking advantage of the long weekend generated by the Spring bank-holiday, I've done some redesign work on this site. I've implemented a new navigation structure using my revised navigation tool, and added a little extra content


29 May 2004

Kate

Today I used Kate to do some work. I've used it now and then in the past, but I've yet to settle on a graphical text editor yet. Tomorrow I'll play with KEdit and Kwrite Advanced Editor (also Kate based) to see if I like them any better.

If I can't find a graphical text editor I like, I'll go back to using a console based one. Editors are a very personal thing, and while there are good arguments for many of them, familiarity is a very strong reason for sticking with the one you like...


Perl From Scratch

Today I decided to do some Perl coding. I took a number of old navigation scripts, and merged them into a single properly designed one. The originals were written to be simple and quick, but over time as features were added or removed they grew into unmaintainable spaghetti.

The new application is still not perfect, but it's designed to do a fixed number of tasks, and the code is much cleaner and more flexible that the originals. Tomorrow I shall implement the tool on a number of mini-sites, and that should solve some problems.


27 May 2004

Swimming

I try to swim in the local pool twice a week, aiming to swim about 1km at a go. I normally swim in a "medium" lane where I'm about in the middle of speed range. I recently improved my technique and this has made me faster, though not fast enough for a "fast" lane.

Today the medium lane I was in was fairly empty, just me and four others. I was by far the fastest person in the lane, which is unusual. I don't mind people who are slow as long as they let you pass, but when you have people swimming like ducks, and they never let you pass it's a real pain. I don't know how far I actually swam, but I gave up as I kept running into their feet. To add insult to injury the really slow pair today were swimming slower than most of the people in the slow lanes...


25 May 2004

Mozilla 1.8α

Mozilla

No sooner Mozilla 1.7RC2 is released, than the fine folk at Mozilla.org release 1.8α. Mozilla since the 1.3 era has been a fantastic browser suite, and the more recent releases have been smaller and faster, as it's code base gets a jolly good clean and optimise.


23 May 2004

Payment in T-Shirts

This morning I went through a drawer of T-shirts. I was quite surprised how many were corporate hand-outs from my last employer. If only I'd been paid in something useful like money, I'd be much richer now...


22 May 2004

Leaking Coolant

Today I decided to make some ice cream product. We got the ingredients from the village shop, and I mixed everything up, and placed them in the ice cream churning machine. The cardamon flavoured yogurt and cream looked jolly nice when I spooned it out an hour or so later into a tub to place it in the freezer.

All was not well. When I was washing the basin, I discovered that it had ruptured and was leaking coolant into the basin. We had to throw the ice cream maker away, and the just freezing ice cream. I'm not sure what is in the basin, but it's probably not a good idea to eat it. I don't actually know if it had actually leaked into the ice cream mix either, but better safe than sorry.


21 May 2004

Pro Microsoft Bias

On the way home today, I picked up a magazine to read, mostly for the hardware reviews of portable music players such as the iPod and the Rio Karma. The magazine in question claims to be a PC magazine, and to me that means computers built round the x86 family processor and other similar systems. In my mind an Intel PC running Linux or BSD is still a PC, and while it may be very shiny and very fast a G5 running OS X, is still a PC.

It's very clear that there is a strong pro Microsoft, pro Windows bias running through the whole magazine. As an individual, once you move out side the narrow confines of the Windows world, you realise how stifling and restricted it is. You start to notice a strong pro Windows bias ever where, it's almost as if you have shifted into another dimension...


20 May 2004

Web Server Stats

This site is small and personal, it doesn't get a lot of traffic, mostly me looking at it myself, tweaking this and that. It's not intended as something to be slash-dotted.

Even though it's mostly me that's been browsing the site, it's surprises me how many people are browsing from sub-optimal browsers (IE) and sub-optimal operating systems (Windows), given the site's obvious Unix/Linux bias.

I suppose Windows users need something to browse with before they upgrade to something sensible. The number of hits from Windows/IE users shot up when I asked my local LUG to look at something for me - that did surprise me.


18 May 2004

Corrupt Disc Response 2

HMV's position is that BMG have been producing copy protected disk for over a year without any problems, and that they (HMV) are just a retailer, so it the problem is nothing to do with them. I'm sure if I were BMG and I was selling damaged goods, I'd claim to have had no problems too.

HMV don't seem to grasp my request that the disk are not CDs and should not be sold along side genuine CDs. I shall try trading standards next - not that I expect much there either, but one can but try.


17 May 2004

Mozilla 1.7 RC2

Mozilla

Mozilla.org released the latest release candidate of the Mozilla Browser. It's a few days late, but in the scheme of things it hardly matters now that IE is so dominant. It's a good browser, in particular the Firefox sub-variant, so I shall try it out when it goes final.


Corrupt Disc Response

To my surprise HMV replied that they would investigate my mis-labelling complaint. I don't actually expect them to do anything, but at least they know that they lost a sale because of the copy protection rubbish that turns a CD into a non-CD.


14 May 2004

Opera 7.50

Today I noticed that Opera 7.5β has evolved into 7.5 final. I downloaded it at work and replaced 7.23 and 7.5β and when I got home I upgraded by 7.23 version too. Compared with 7.23, the registered Linux version is only mildly different, you get a few extra options, and a few things that have bugged me for a while have been fixed. Compared with the unregistered windows version, 7.5 has less intrusive adverts, and the on screen appearance is much improved.

I now await the imminent arrival of Mozilla 1.7, and Firefox 0.9...


Corrupt Discs Spotted

Today on the way home from work I had a look in a local music and video retailer, to see if they had anything interesting in stock. They didn't have what I wanted, but I had time to kill so I had a look at thee stock on promotion.

I did find a CD I thought I would buy, only it wasn't a CD, even though it was in the CD section. It was some BMG copy protected thing, which won't play on a computer CD player unless you have Windows running (I don't) and has a notorious reputation of not playing on many CD players full stop. Not only does this piece of nonsense cost BMG money to do, but it puts people off buying products, and doesn't actually stop large scale copying. I will be writing to HMV and BMG to complain.


13 May 2004

SAP

At work we use a SAP system to run our business on. It's big, expensive, incredibly powerful, and quite complex. One of the nice features is a c library that SAP provide as part of a SDK that allows you to talk to the system with any programming language you want that can talk to the c library. Piers Harding wrote a nice Perl module that uses this library, and allows you to talk to SAP from Perl in an easy way.

I mentioned that we were doing this at work and it was going well in a recent use Perl; journal entry and the following day I got a request on Perlmonks for explanations and example code. Not only is talking to SAP from Perl easy, but it now seems everyone wants to do it!


Windows != Unix

I don't like Microsoft Windows. It's over priced, unreliable & insecure, bloated and worst of all a nightmare to administer & maintain. While I accept it has some uses as a client system, in a controlled environment, it beggars the imagination that many people this it is a suitable platform for to run a business on, or to locate in a hostile environment.

I'm not naively advocating everyone rushes out and installs the latest eye-candy inflated Linux distribution, or buy a commercial closed source Unix, but as Gartner recently said, all enterprises should plan to phase out Windows in favour of a Unix/Linux solution.


10 May 2004

OpenOffice.org

Over the weekend I was using OpenOffice.org quite a bit. It's a bit slow to start on my ancient Linux box, but once it's up and running it's okay. Comparing it with MS Office is quite interesting, I'm more familiar with Office 2K, though we still use Office 97 at work, so it's not a totally fair comparison.

OpenOffice.org can export to PDFs without any third party tools, which is quite useful, it also costs a lot less. Functionality wise I'd say it's probably better than MS Office 97, and looks better. MS Office 2K may have the functionality edge, and I'm very familiar with it, but it's a close call really, until you take price into comparison - then OpenOffice.org is a clear winner.


CV

Over the weekend I was working on my Curriculum Vitae for my "training file" at work. It was fairly basic stuff, put things down in the way reflects most favourably, and try to order things in a logical priority manner.

I was struck with two things, my CV looks like alphabet soup with so many acronyms, and that I have been working with web pages for over a decade!

Ironically enough when I got home today some head-hunter type was trying to offer me a Unix/Linux job in London working for some bank. Don't want to work in London, so I'm not interested, but it's been a while since I heard from them, so the job market must be picking up.


06 May 2004

Blind Leading the Blind

In my recent use Perl; journal I passed a comment about our awful village web site, and the equally awful web site of the company that has recently been awarded the contract to develop the site.

At work our graphic artist almost fell out of his chair laughing at the sites that the company has done - they are so awful. I hadn't bothered to look at them when I wrote my journal, and they are well worth looking at if you ever need an example of bad design...

Interestingly someone commented on my use Perl entry that I could legitimately complain about accessibility issues. The site is virtually unusable if you are not disabled, but if you are forced to use a screen reader, or any other kind of assistive technology then the site is an utter joke. Under UK legislation you are not allowed to discriminate against disabled users, and this applies to web sites too.


Walking on the Isle of Wight

Over the Bank Holiday weekend we went on a short walking holiday on the Isle of Wight. The weather wasn't perfect, but we did get two decent days of walking, and one shorter walk. Most of the people on the holiday were affluent recently retired people - who were a jolly good laugh.

I was away from TV and the Internet and missed the latest Microsoft virus outbreak. Apparently work was hit badly too - strange given that we supposedly have a secure system...