Because I forget stuff. Part of

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December 2005

Posts made in December 2005

Is This Bad?

It’s some silly time in the morning but i can’t stop reading Computer Stupidities while drinking Jack Daniel’s. Possibly worse I keep thinking of sending the link to my mother and telling her to ask me if she doesn’t understand why some of these are stupidities. And I know she knows where my blog is… Is this a Bad Thing ™?

PS I have a cold if that’s at all mitigating…

Treacle Moon, Bum De Bum De Bum

I feel that Treacle Moon ought to be a song (like Blue Moon I suppose, but tastier). It’s actually a restaurant in Newcastle upon Tyne, at which I ate last night (with Rachel—yes that Rachel—well, if your going to dinner then go to dinner with the best company, that’s what I say). This is a sort of rambling review to mention that it’s nice, but not cheap.

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Microsoft Should Sing

Via Download Squad, John Dvorak suggests that Microsoft should buy out Opera. I think this is actually a bloody good idea, for both companies. Microsoft has an awful lot of work to update the outdated Internet Explorer for the current century and no matter how hard they try are basically going to piss people off by not being able to produce all the bug fixes and feature enhancements needed on such a short timescale. Opera on the other hand already has all the features (even if the UI isn’t my cup of tea, and it seems top heavy). It also handles proper (i.e. standards compliant) web pages a hell of a lot better (and I think Dvorak’s wrong when he says it pretends to be IE. I can’t be bothered to check right now but I seem to recall the latest version actually has it’s own user agent string rather than mimicing IE). Oh, and it’s cross platform. Opera has the problem that basically it’s playing second fiddle a lot. It’s losing out to Firefox (which is after all the best browser around ;-) ). On Macs and linux boxes it has even more competition than under windows. If it were Microsoft Opera though it would suddenly be catapulted to main player.

The benifits to users and developers are obvious. Users would be getting more stable features and modern web standards support than Microsoft can realistically hope to provide, in a package which is probably more secure. Microsoft would gain a damn fine development team and a “finished product” (OK, they’d probably want to still work on integration into Vista because they have some bizarre idea which says integration like that is in some way a good idea). It might even be one up on Google.. Developers would no longer have to worry about supporting yet another quirky IE (so the whole * html debate goes away as just supporting a legacy browser).

Go on Microsoft, buy Opera. It”s cheap (by your standards) good and useful.

Mince Pies!

Mince PiesEach year my mother makes a whole load of sweet mince pies. Unusual they have icing on the top. The photographs show this year’s batch. They’re very nice!

Big Brother UK Edition

The Independent tells a scary story. This is typical of the UK government’s current obsession with controls which do little to protect against real threats (surveillance doesn’t prevent—it’s main use is in investigation of crimes which have already been committed) but instead simply continually invade the long held privacy of the individual. Perhaps they’d like me to also stick my ID card in the window, or maybe just tattoo a number across my forehead so they can track when I’m not driving (what—that crazy? Why, it would bring the same benefits, wouldn’t it…)

Not Tagged Test

So what’s with all the testing I hear you cry (what, nobody’s reading this? Don’t be silly). Well, Technorati just introduced some new features. The bit particularly relevant here is point number 4 on that list—enhance profiles, particularly that tag cloud (Aside: the link David Sifry gives to his own profile in that post is wrong. He’s missed the d off the start of the username—he’s dsifry not sifry). Aha, I thought. Somebody else can do all this tag work.

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Why does not pick up my

Can’t it tell I’m trying to tag this

This is a still test, in case you can’t tell.

So I Lied

I lied. Hopefully this really is the final test though.

One last test

One further test of something or another

Tag Test


Yet Another Test

Once more into the test dear friends, once more

This Is Still A Test

It’s another test, just like the last one

This is a Further Test

I’m just fiddling with something (oh er). Just ignore me.

This is a Test

This is testing Performancing, a Firefox extension for publishing to blogs which supports a number of blog engines. I doubt I’ll actually use it (and will probably uninstall after this) simply because I’ve never found it hard to just open Moveablte Type’s backend in a new tab to post. Also, this doesn’t seem to have a way to handle the extended entry and keywords fields which I use quite a bit (extended entries actually hides the mood information for a post for instance). But hey, Ed it’s supposed to handle Livejournal too (though again, if it handles mood etc there I don’t know).

Edit: Had to edit the post because (despite the fact I’m pretty sure I’d checked the appropriate box) Performancing seemed to fail to add the category (despite the fact that it managed to detect them perfectly).

Edit: I think I may come across as a little harsh to the extension. Blaaah it doesn’t work…To be fair it is a first release, and probably will improve (then again, it’s carrying a 1.0 version number and no beta tag…) For right now though it lacks features I need, therefore wouldn’t get used and hence gets uninstalled (it’s not like I don’t have enough extensions to start with).


Anybody looking at my main site (OK, so that’s rare but hey) will notice the main menu now has a link to the previously mentioned photograph albums. In doing that I played around with the album search and discovered that, basically, it’s not working…I’ve no idea why. It was working when I set the whole Gallery install up and hacked around with it but since then something seems to have broken (to the point where the script core dumps). For now I’ve removed the search boxes and links until I have a chance to have a proper look. The best bit is though, I tried turning on debugging to see what was happening. With debugging turned on, everything works fine. Ahhhhh!

Update: Still don’t actually know what was going on but it seems the breakage was due to having flipped the switch on Dreamhost to move up to PHP 5. I can’t remember why I did that, so I’ve just reverted to PHP 4 which has fixed the problem (of course if I remember why I’d upgraded I might find something else is broken but for now). Search has been reinstated. Woo!

I Can See The Pub From Here

Google Earth has recently (sometime the beginning of December) updated it’s high resolution satellite imagery to include more cities. So their
image of the house Google Earth Image of House (and wider area) is now better than the
aerial picture Multimap Aerial Picture of Houseavailable from Multimap, at least for Newcastle/Gateshead. York still isn’t there Google Earth Image of Yorkthough (Multimap version for comparison). Judging from various landmarks the pictures were taken a few years ago but are still more recent than Multimap.


The much promised International Mozilla Store (based in the UK and serving Europe) has finally arrived. Just in time for Christmas!

More Broken Telewest

Not so long ago I gave a write up of the experience which is using Telewest TV based email. Turns out that on reflection it itsn’t just the email interface which is broken.

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I’ve Got Feedback For You

The Uk based New Scientist weekly magazine is a pretty good general science mag aimed at the educated lay reader. It’s always worthwhile picking up if embarking on a train journey say—it normally has a good selection from various fields and articles aren’t too challenging—or if one of the cover stories catches the eye but it’s not exactly something I’m going to read every single week especially when I have all these internet feeds pouring in on a minutely (is that a word?) basis. Frankly though one of the best regular sections has always been what comes at the back. The Last Word is a reader driven question and answer column (dealing with the serious and not so serious topics) but better is Feedback, which is a page of strange, vaguely science related tales with a lot of reader interaction. Now the point was these back page items used to be freely available online, just like their breaking news is. Turns out that whilst the news still seems to be free, the backpage stuff now gives a brief preview followed by a subscribe link. Damn it. I like Feedback with an irrational attachment that probably goes back to days (shock horror) before the net. Now obviously this is their content and they can do what they like—locking this up might well sell a few more copies to us back page addicts—but it does seem a little mean.

Update: Seems this must have been a mistake. This week’s Feedback is freely up there as usual.

It’s LEGO Not Legos

Graaaa. OK. I thought about writing this post then decided against it. I mean, this has been debated before after all here for example. But then this title pushed me over the edge. What is going on with the bloody yanks. It’s LEGO. No f**king S. I remember that used to point this out but they have a friendlier notice these days. All right, so we’re also supposed to always do LEGO® which is a bit extreme but still. Only the Americans seem to think it’s legos, even if the rest of the world tells them it’s wrong. I mean, is it sheeps? Bhaa. Think about it. LEGO is the collection of the bits and pieces (bricks etc). So one has some LEGO. If one has two such collections it’s still not legos because two collections of bits is just, well, a larger collection of bits. I suppose the problem that the Americans don’t notice is there isn’t such a think as a lego. It’s a LEGO something (as their website sort of points out). You play with LEGO, not legos. Now, where’s my LEGO?

Should Cancel Be Default

I wrote this a while ago but it’s been sitting in draft status for sometime—I think I had the intention of doing a bit more research but I’m just putting it out there as a poorly formed thought.

I was thinking about this because I was thinking about the order of the OK and Cancel buttons. Since starting to use Linux I haven’t really noticed the buttons being the other way around to what I was used to under Windows. In fact I didn’t notice until the other day when I was briefly using Windows and got confused by the order. I’m not sure why I should have noticed the problem more on Windows (maybe my brain just intuitively more expects the Linux order) but I think part of the reason I haven’t been bothered is that a lot of the time I don’t click those buttons—I just hit enter. Realising that got me to thinking—why is OK a good default?

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Telewest TV Email Broken Interface

I was a bit bored but couldn’t think of much to write about so I had a hunt around in the drafts for other things I got bored of writing. This stood out as I’d already taken photos of various things and I’d sort of mentioned it already. Anyway…

Until this trusty internet connection arrived in Gateshead, I was relying on communication to the outside world mainly on email performed using Telewest’s TV services. This was not a pleasant experience. So bad was it, I’m compelled to write about it, complete with pictures. Hopefully some sort of Telewest designer might stumble across this and realise what a complete mess the system is.

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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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