Bog Roll ::

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

28 Feb 2005

Work Blog

Nearly a year ago I developed a Blosxom blog for a project at work. Events prevented it from being launched, so it sat idle, in a corner of the intranet gathering dust. This week I opened my mouth, and the new boss wants it properly launched, so I've been brushing dust of the xhtml/css to make it fit the new corporate colours.

Work Blog

Nearly a year ago I developed a Blosxom blog for a project at work. Events prevented it from being launched, so it sat idle, in a corner of the intranet gathering dust. This week I opened my mouth, and the new boss wants it properly launched, so I've been brushing dust of the xhtml/css to make it fit the new corporate colours.

24 Feb 2005

Hand Written Code

This week has been pretty hectic at work, but today in a temporary moment of calm I had a chance to work on an old web page from our web site. I never liked the page, it looked good, but wasn't very functional, and there have been complaints about it. I didn't create the page, a graphic designer using Dreamweaver did, and as a result the HTML is awful machine written spaghetti. Rather than try and make changes to the page I re-wrote it from scratch.

The revised page looks very similar, I was able to re-use some of the style elements, and in other places copy the look'n'feel via the style sheet. On the design side I opted for a clean modern design using DIV tags for the large chunks of page, and the main content in a single un-ordered list. The result is 50% the file size of the original, and includes the design improvements.

While machine written code is faster to create it's usually less optimal than properly hand crafted code, and worst of all, machine generated code is virtually unmaintainable without the tool that created it.

22 Feb 2005

Another Corporate to Ditch IE

According to reports on the INQUIRER, Scandinavian telcom giant, Nokia is to remove Microsoft's IE from 55 000 desktop systems, replacing it with Mozilla Firefox.

Eventually IE will get replaced or upgraded, it can't be allowed to hold back the web indefinitely.

21 Feb 2005

Blocking (more) Adverts

It now seems that advertisers are aware that people are blocking their various pop-up, pop-under, and in-line adverts. Users of Opera, khtml based and Mozilla based browsers have largely been free of adverts for years, but since MS added limited anti-pop-up features to IE and various third party tools arrived, the number of advert blocked users has grown to a point where the advertisers have started to fight back.

According to various sources, various nasty pop-under adverts are starting to surface, that defeat the basic built-in anti pop-up/under features of modern browsers. Now is the time to install more powerful tools, and properly configure them, if you want to stop the advertisers stalling your bandwidth.

Step 1 is to install a real browser, take your pick from anything that isn't IE, I suggest Mozilla Firefox. Step 2 install a full-strength junk-filter, and download some advert filters. For most people that's it, but you can even add a privacy protecting proxy, and custom host file for that extra layer. See Blocking Adverts for more basic instructions.


We had snow in the village today. Apparently on the eastern side of the UK there has been quite a snowfall today. I didn't see any at work all day, and there was none in town on my way home, however when the train arrived in the village, just 12km to the west of town, there had been a snow fall.

Tomorrow the whole country will grind to a halt, it will be the main story on the news, and chaos will ensue...

20 Feb 2005

Printing From MS Word

Today we came across a printing problem. A print job from MS Word wasn't printing properly. We tried several times, and nothing came out of the printer, there were no errors in Samba or anywhere else on the Linux print server.

After some testing, I concluded that there was no problem with the Linux side of the equation, and a quick test from the Windows box showed that it was able to send jobs to Samba okay, and they came out okay too. That left only Word as the guilty party, and sure enough if we printed pages 2 and 3 at once, nothing happened, but if printed them one at a time, they came out okay.

15 Feb 2005

Linux Admin

In a conversation with someone over email they said that Linux isn't read for the desktop because it's too hard to install, and the retraining is too expensive. While I agree that Linux/Unix isn't suitable for everyone's desktop now, it's plenty good enough for most.

However, I do agree that an average user can't install Linux and that retraining is expensive. These are not valid arguments against Linux though.

I don't think that Linux is that hard to install, and the current crop are very much easier than than versions of only a few years ago, but to properly set up a computer, and by this I mean any computer including one running Windows, you do need to know what you are doing. It's a myth that "installation" is holding back Linux, the average person in the street has no more idea how to setup a Windows box as they do Linux.

I also totally agree that to change operating system and application set you need to have training. However to change from Windows 95/98/Me to Windows NT/2K/XP requires training, as does skipping a version, such as NT to XP. The different Windows versions are quite dissimilar, and the change is of the same order of magnitude as switching to KDE/Gnome on Linux. As with installation, training is not a barrier, as so few people have any training at all, as their exceptionally poor use of Windows demonstrates.

09 Feb 2005

IBM eServer OpenPower 710

I want an IBM eServer OpenPower 710. It's got an IBM 1.65GHz POWER5 processor, somewhat faster than the Intel PentiumPro 0.2GHz I have at the moment. It has 2GB of system RAM, a tad more than my current system's 128MB, it even has 36MB of cache RAM! It has two 73.4GB Ultra320 10K disks compared with my current 3GB IDE and 4.5GB SCSI drives.

On the IBM site that lot comes out at US$4713+tax, which is only £2550+VAT in real money. My current Dell cost over $3000 when new, and with upgrades to the monitor and various sub-systems probably cost more than $4000 overall. The march of progress...

I'm almost tempted to email IBM, the eServer sales team is in Basingstoke and ask them about it. I wonder how you get Debian Sarge onto it?

08 Feb 2005

Strange Searches

Most search engines are very nice in passing through the search terms that the user uses when they link through to your site. A quick grep though my access logs shows up the strangest things.

Blocking adverts is clearly the most popular request, but after that XMLTV feeds come up quite a bit. Some of the searches are most peculiar, but they evidently find something worth clicking through to.

06 Feb 2005


I've uploaded a new version of XML::RSS::Tools to CPAN. There isn't much different about the core module, but some of the dependent modules have changed, so the tests needed changing. There is also a bug in some versions of XML::LibXML that I'm trying to work round.

05 Feb 2005


I've started to learn about AIX this last week. The version I have been using is some what antique, and doesn't come with all the mod cons one would expect in a modern Unix OS like Debian GNU/Linux, but with the kind help of others it's possible to install the extra bits that are missing.

A little hunting around the IBM site shows that the later versions are a lot more civilised than our version. The sad thing about AIX is that IBM are going to let it gradually fade into obscurity in favour of Linux. One can only hope that some of the good bits do leak out into Linux, no matter what SCO say.

01 Feb 2005

Web Server Stats II

Since Google found this site and started to index it, my traffic figures have risen quite considerably. The most popular page by far has been the Blocking Adverts page, which is highly ranked by Google.

Google is also the most dominant browser of my site, making quite a few visits as it indexes every possible permutation of the Blog, something a real user wouldn't bother to do.

Mozilla Firefox is the most popular real browser, followed by it's parent Mozilla, and then Microsoft's Internet Explorer. I See quite few Safaris, Operas and Konquerors, the odd Links/Lynx, and then right at the bottom some poor soul using Netscape.

Since opening up to search engines the site is now visited mostly by Windows users (planning to upgrade to Linux I hope), but Unix/Linux systems are still showing a good third of all users.