Because I forget stuff. Part of

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April 2005

Posts made in April 2005

What Was I Going To Say

I know earlier this afternoon I thought of something I was going to blog about but I absolutely can not remember what it was now. I hate it when that happens, like a little moment of thought lost alone, perhaps never to be recovered.

Comments Fixed

Ed “helpfully” (he knows what I mean) pointed out comments were broken. Indeed they were. Should be fixed now.

Update: No they weren’t! It helps if I edit the correct portion of the template. They should be now.

Update: Nope, still completely fooked.

Update: Aha. As the comment to this post proves, they are working now :-) Ahhhhh.

Please Hold (On To Sanity)

If your a call centre and have to put people on hold while they wait to reach “the right department” (indiscernible to the costumer from the last department) then you should really warn them if they might have to hold for, say, over half an hour. Especially if there’s not even a nice occasional message saying “please hold”. Especially if you’re going to play them jazz (there must be a rule in call centre design somewhere which states jazz is too unstructured to actually offend anybody. I hate jazz). What you really, really shouldn’t do though is have you music set up to be a poor quality recording of a live jazz performance, which has long periods of silence and near silence (have they answered? Have I been cut off? No, just a pause); and then answer with no warning, no ringing sound, just a demand to know who you are. Ahhhhhhh.

Sat Missing You

Because Rach is busy cat sitting for her parents, and isn’t around much right now. Because other stuff too. Warning, very bad poetry follows; if nothing else it serves to show why I’m a scientist ;-)

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This Isn’t A Test

MoveableType of course supports extended entries. I’ve never made use of it though—until now. I’ve begun to feel that I occasionally restrict the length of entries because I didn’t want a huge treatise appearing on the front page, so using the extended entry part is an obvious solution made harder by the way I have this blog set up. No matter though, it seems to be working now.

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Test Post

This is a test post, please disregard in its entirety

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Another Extension

Somehow I’d missed Aardvark until now. That’s quite neat. It kind of complements a bunch of bookmarklets I have living in a folder on my toolbar. And the authors are right, it could be useful for getting rid of annoying elements before printing.

Local Google

The UK is finally beginning to catch up with our Atlantic cousins in terms of what the all powerful Google is offering us. Having watch with jealousy the US excitement over their innovations, Google have announced the UK version of Google Maps. There’s also Google Local and SMS services. The maps interest me for no other reason than the UK overview shows my home town of Gateshead rather than its neighbour Newcastle. No cool satellite imagery (yet) though :-(

Firefox 1.0.3

Upgraded to the latest Firefox yesterday. It’s a maintanence release but fixes several security issues so is well worth having (and of course one of the many beauties of Firefox is its small download size). Given the huge number of extensions I have installed and the warnings over some extensions breaking I was surprised how painless this was. After installing Firefox I went through the extension list and upgraded most of them to the latest versions. Seems that anything that was broken by 1.0.3 has already been fixed by the wonderful extension authors :-) The only trouble I had was that at some point in the process I lost some settings (mainly those set by about:config). As I had backed up my profile before upgrading I could just compare the old prefs.js to the new one and restore anything important (with the browser shut down of course). Happy again (especially given that my profile is probably a horrible mess by now, to be fair. Think it may be time for a clean one when Firefox 1.1 arrives!)

Blogroll Update

Maintaining a blogroll was something I never really had time for. I’d added one when I built the blog but it was really just an almost random collection of links to a few pages. I’ve updated it now to be a “real time” up to date list of the feeds I’m reading. I use Bloglines which allows for the exporting of my feed list. Coupled with the neat Outliner MoveableType extension I was able to quickly rebuild the blogroll to use that bloglines output (when I say quickly, the whole process was quite simple but rather complicated by a Bloglines outage just as I moved from using a “test” template to the live version, which caused some initial confusion). The only tricky thing was maintaining the XFN information in the links, as there’s no way to incorporate that into the data grabbed from Bloglines (it would be nice if Bloglines exported the description you can give each feed but they don’t seem to). In the end I’ve got a kludgey regular expression solution to insert the values for the rel attribute—it works but its not very pretty.

Firefox Extensions

It’s been a while since I listed the extensions I have installed in Firefox. So, because I feel like it, here’s the big list. I’ve included a quick (not thought about too much) double rating, both parts on the scale of 1 to 5. The first gives how cool I think the extension is, the second how often I find that extension useful (in the form coolness:usefulness). I’ve also emphasised those I probably would always wasn’t installed at a minimum:

Adblock (5:4)
Filters ads from web-pages
Advanced Search Sidebar (4:2)
Enjoy searching through multiple search engines with one query, sorting the results and having results conveniently listed in the sidebar again.
All-In-One Search button (4:3)
Two search tools in one button for the searchbox
Autofill (3:1)
Automatically fill out HTML forms
AutoForm (4:3)
A tool for automatic form filling
Basics (2:5)
Adds a new tab button on the tab bar.
Bloglines Toolkit (3:5)
Browser utilities for use with Bloglines
BugMeNot (5:2)
Bypass compulsory web registration with the context menu via
BX (3:3)
Close or open all folders of the bookmarks
Calculator (2:1)
A calculator with advanced features. Installed in the tools menu.
Checky (4:2)
Easy to use interface to many free and commercial online validation and analysis services. Validate and analyse HTML, XHTML, CSS, RDF, RSS, XML, WAI, Section 508, P3P, hyperlinks, metadata and many more. Adds a context and tools menu.
ChromEdit (5:3)
A Simple User Profile File Editor
ColorZilla (3:2)
Advanced Eyedropper, ColorPicker, Page Zoomer and other colorful goodies.
Context Search (4:3)
Expands the context menu’s ‘Web Search’ to use Mycroft Search Plugins.
Customizable Toolbar Buttons (2:1)
Dedicated To Extension Geeks. (3:2) is a social bookmarks manager. It allows you to easily add sites you like to your personal collection of links, to categorize those sites with keywords, and to share your collection not only between your own browsers and machines, but also with others.
Delicious Delicacies (4:1)
Restores our favorite placeholder text.
DerBrowserTimer (4:5)
Timer/Clock/Alarm add-on for Mozilla FireFox.
Digger (5:5)
Dig through URLs from Go button’s context menu
Download Statusbar (5:1)
View downloads in an auto-hide statusbar.
Duplicate Tab (4:3)
Allows you to duplicate a tab, or to merge the windows.
EMbuttons (3:3)
Buttons to invoke the Extension and Theme Managers.
Enhanced Bookmark Search (4:3)
Flexible Bookmark Search
Enhanced History Manager (4:3)
Flexible History Management
Ext2Abc (3:2)
Alphabetizes your extension manager list.
External Application Buttons (5:5)
This extension enables you to create a application launcher button on the toolbars.
Fangs Screen Reader Emulator (3:1)
Renders a text version of a web page similar to screen reader output.
Favicon Picker (2:1)
This extension adds UI for replacing bookmark icons.
fireFTP (3:1)
FTP client for Mozilla Firefox.
Flat Bookmark Editing (5:5)
Edit bookmarks in the bookmark manager, without opening the properties window.
FoxyTunes (5:3)
Control any media player from Firefox and more…
FxIF (3:1)
View EXIF data in image properties
Go Up (5:5)
Easily navigate ‘up’ a level in a Web site
Greasemonkey (5:5)
A User Script Manager for Firefox
Hide Searchbar (4:1)
This extension allows you to hide or show the search bar when Ctrl+Shift+S is pressed.
Hit-a-Hint (3:1)
Click links by hitting hints!
InfoLister (4:2)
Lists vital development information about Firefox (helped produce this list!)
JabberZilla (4:3)
Jabber IM Client for Mozilla.
JavaScript Console SideBar (3:2)
Shows the JavaScript Console in the SideBar.
JavaScript Debugger (4:2)
Debug javascript
keyconfig (4:3)
Rebind your keys.
Launchy (5:5)
Open links and mailto’s with external applications like Internet Explorer, Netscape, Opera, Outlook etc
Link Toolbar (4:3)
A site navigation toolbar
Linky (3:2)
Open/download/validate links and pictures in tabs or windows
LiveLines (4:4)
Add RSS feeds to Bloglines or Sage with the RSS icon on the status bar.
MiniT (5:5)
Adds a few tab related functions
OpenBook (4:5)
Allows for customization of the Add Bookmark dialog
Outliner (2:1)
Adds a sidebar that displays an outline structure of the current document. Open the sidebar from View - Sidebars - Document Outline.
Pithy (3:4)
Restores the page-info shortcut ([Alt]+[P]).
Popup ALT Attribute (3:4)
Popups alternate texts of images or others like NetscapeCommunicator(Navigator) 4.x.
PrefBar (5:3)
A toolbar for quickly accessing and changing common preferences, run scripts and many more…
QuickNote (4:3)
A note taking extension with advanced features
Quick Templates (4:2)
Quick templates for text area
RadialContext (4:5)
Replaces the standard context menu with a radial one.
ReloadEvery (3:2)
Reloads webpages every so many seconds or minutes
Resizeable Textarea (4:3)
Resize textareas to your needs.
ScrapBook (4:2)
This extension helps you to save Web pages and easily manage collections.
SearchBox AutoUpdater (3:3)
Autoupdate the searchbox content
SessionSaver (5:4)
Magically restores your last browser session
Show Failed URL (3:3)
Displays failed URLs in the Location Bar when XUL error pages are enabled.
Single Window (4:3)
Single window mode for Firefox and Mozilla.
Small Screen Renderer (3:1)
Turn your Firefox into a cellphone browser. See View menu.
SpellBound (5:4)
Composer Spell Checker ported to Firefox
SurfBook (2:1)
Organize in chapters the session history.
Tab Clicking Options (5:4)
Select actions for clicking events on a tab or the tabbar
Tabbrowser Preferences (5:4)
Enhances control over some aspects of tabbed browsing.
TargetAlert (4:3)
Provides visual cues for the destinations of hyperlinks.
Text Link (3:3)
Allows URI texts written in webpages to be loaded by double clicks.
Things They Left Out (3:3)
All the things an Options panel shouldn’t be
Translate (3:2)
Translate web pages and/or selected text to different languages
Translate Page (3:2)
Adds a Translate Page option to the Tools menu.
undoclosetab (5:4)
Adds Undo Close Tab.
URI id (5:5)
Allow use of page-/site-specific userContent.css.
User Agent Switcher (4:2)
Adds a menu and a toolbar button to switch the user agent of the browser.
WeatherFox (4:3)
Get the weather in any toolbar or statusbar!
Web Developer (5:5)
Adds a menu and a toolbar with various web developer tools.

I Want to Abstain

In case you haven’t noticed, the UK holds a general election on the 5th May this year. We get the chance to register our vote for who we believe the best candidate is. Except I don’t want to—or rather I want to officially register that I don’t believe in the difference between candidates, or the system much. The problem arises because if I vote along political party lines that vote is pretty much meaningless in a seat with is “safe” for a different party. Not only won’t the candidate of my party be elected, but my vote is essentially then disregarded. If however I’d lived somewhere which is a safe seat for the party I’m voting for, then the vote counts more, as my candidate get elected. I’ve never seen much logic in this (badly expressed) scenario. But the larger problem is that I simply fail to see enough difference between parties, or even between individual candidates (actually, the larger problem is that I’ll agree with one party on one point but with another party on a different point—there is absolutely no way to register this in our “democracy”, your supposed to take the good with the bad).

My gripe isn’t really the system (though I dislike it), however. It’s that on May 5 when I don’t vote I’ll be classed amongst the lazy and apathetic. This isn’t really true. Certainly I’m not lazy. What I want is a box to tick saying “abstain”. I want to register my not voting as an official vote. The only vague way to do this has always been to “spoil your ballet paper”. I’ve never been satisfied with that idea; for a start I’d then be lumped with those who do that accidently. I also remember student union elections always had Ron as a candidate. Ron was Reopen nominations, showing you weren’t content with any of the available options. I suppose the chaos and embarrassment caused on this happening in a “proper” election would be too much though…

English Heritage Website Redesigned?

The English Heritage website has annoyed me lots by its complete inaccessibility. Not only is it a kludgey frames monster but using Firefox dumps you (ironically) to the text only accessible site rather than allowing you through to the graphics site. Not only that but spoofing the user agent string to appear as Netscape allows the site to be used and everything works fine (really annoyingly the insane javascript doing the browser check explicitly excludes Firefox from counting as Netscape). Well, there seems there may be a much better version on the way. It’s all valid (transitional) XHTML and CSS (though the markup does make one wonder if they haven’t directly converted a table layout into a soup of divs. Still a whole lot better than it was). The strange thing is that site has a news article dated 9 March 2005 about the launch of the new site. Although the news articles roughly tally with those on what appears to still be the official site, there’s no mention of this on the normal site. That article mentions teething troubles. So did they launch and then revert, or what? And more importantly, when’s the much, much nicer site coming for good?

Things, Stuff, Miscellanea

Haven’t posted for a while it seems. What have I been up to, I hear you cry (er, you are shouting at your monitor aren’t you now). Well, let’s see. Not much. Packing for the up coming house move. Boxes all over the place and we haven’t even started the major part of the packing. It will probably spring into serious action when we actually have a date (which should be soon—both when we have it and the date that is).

I’ve also been looking at some old maps of York and Newcastle (and for Rachel a couple of Norwich.

I’ve always liked old maps. I suppose it’s linked to my castles obsession really. The social pattern of a city is partly formed by its buildings, its fabric (of course this is very much a two way process). In the case of castles they were for centuries perhaps the most important buildings in this process (my home town for instance is at the head of the gate to the place where the new castle is). It’s also just strangely fascinating to see how things change to accommodate the passing of a city’s time. Turns out the internet has many, useful resources.

York is interesting because it’s changed so little (the layout is very recognisable to anyone living here). Newcastle on the other hand has changed quite a bit (a fun exercise is to work out where its medieval walls were in relation to the modern city—of course I could cheat a bit because I know where the few remaining bits are). If I remember I might post up some of my favourite discoveries, with commentary and everything.

On a completely different note, the new printer seems OK, and the thesis is in for binding at York Bookbinding, which is basically one man working out of his garage. He does them all though, so hey, good luck to him.

Didn’t notice any outstandingly good April Fool’s day jokes this year. Shame.

Ohh, new Doctor Who started (officially, the first episode having made it to the net before then). Finally something worth watching on a Saturday night. Thought the first episode was pretty good, as an introductory kind of thing. Typically silly in places but well done and with style. The second episode I wasn’t so keen on. The storyline felt weak and the aliens had the feel of having seen it all before (this probably affected me more having read and watched a lot of science fiction). It felt too much like a vehicle for some special effects, which is a shame because in there were important additions to the Who universe mythos. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, just I felt it could have been done better. It was probably a bit undermined by Ecclestone’s quitting too (come on, he must have known the typecasting risks when he asked for the role). Next episode is a historical Earth adventure. When are we going to leave the blue-green planet!!

h, on a final note I installed TypeMover today, which quickly and painlessly give me a backup of this entire blog thing. Always a good idea.

Diary of a Fan

For some time I’ve had another blog, about Newcastle United Football Club. That sort of stopped getting posting to around last christmas. First christmas itself got in the way, then other things (like thesis) and finally there were some hosting problems. So I’ve moved everything over to my main domain, and relocated the Diary of a Fan.

The whole shifting process was actually pretty smooth. That blog is powwered by Blogger and it was almost as simple as changing the ftp location in the blogger settings. I did have to adjust a couple of url’s hard coded into the source, but not too many. It all seems to work anyway. Not sure how much it will get posted to (when it was active it was more or less after every game), but certainly more than it was when sat doing nothing.


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This Crazy Fool

Dr Ian Scott
Croydon (and Gateshead), United Kingdom
Bullding Services Engineer (EngDesign), PhD in Physics (University of York), football fanatic (Newcastle United), open source enthusiast (mainly Mozilla)

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