Feet up!
Monday, September 30, 2002
Is it a bird, is it a plane?
No, it's Concorde!

It's just flown directly over the office here in Bromley, heading NE and banking to port, on an approach to London Heathrow airport which is to the West.

I see Concorde maybe once every couple of months, it's 30 odd years old, and it's still a gorgeous piece of engineering, but it's damn noisy! What a lovely beast, it's a shame we still haven't got anything faster in commercial service.
Deadline madness
Paraphrasing Russ: I'm working my "donkey" off for a mad deadline, so my blogging will be even slower paced than usual for the next few days.
Friday, September 27, 2002
Auntie Oggs Again
Good news! It seems that the BBC will be streaming their radio stations out in Ogg format again. Announced here.

I loathe the sibilance that RealPlayer adds to voice, Ogg (and mp3) encoding sounds far more pleasant to my ears, I can't wait for this to go live!
RC5 project completed
distributed.net yesterday announced the completion of the RC5 project after 1,757 days processing by countless thousands of PCs.

Hell I've run the project on at least a dozen different PCs over the last few years, what am I going to do with all my spare cycles now?
Wednesday, September 25, 2002
URL changes ahoy!
No immediate panic, but this weblog will be moving to www.feetup.org/blogger.html in the near future, more info when I get the hosting sorted out, and I'll keep a redirect going on this site for quite a long time anyway.

The new url is live now, but it's only being done by a nasty framing redirect to the original address so I wouldn't get too excited. What I really need to do is to track down a hosting comany who'll do what I want (which isn't much), without charging mega-bucks. I found one the other day that looked ideal, but I've lost their address. Doh!
Tuesday, September 24, 2002
Uncle Jim!
Yep, you can now call me Uncle Jim, well in fact you could for the last five or so years, but I've now got a niece with whom I've got real genetic links.

Congrats to my "little" brother Phil and his wife Nicky, and a big hello to Emily Charlotte Hughes born 2am 24/09/2002.
Monday, September 23, 2002
BlogAgent update
It seems like ages ago I posted about running BlogAgent here, and I never did get to sort out what was causing it to fail. However, late last week I tried a new version of Jabberbeans and that seems to have sorted out the prescence problems that it was suffering.

I'll also have to grab the latest version of Agent from Russ's manywhere site and see if there's any new features to play with :-) Watch this space!
Friday, September 20, 2002
Music business are you listening?
Hear that noise? It's laughter, people are laughing at you.

Via Mark Pilgrim BBSpot: Ford testifies to stop ride sharing. "These 'pool pirates' are depriving Ford of rightful income."
Crack (smoking) lawyer nonsense
If you ever thought the GPL was a little impenetrable, maybe this is the sort of licence it should have been, then again probably not...
How heavy?
Sitting on the train last night we pulled up alongside another train at a station, I was opposite the end of a carriage and there was the usual plate of dimension information. Something like 20m long, 2.80m wide, 60 seats and 45 tons, nothing too sensational. Then I thought about it, 45 tons to transport 60 people?

750kg per person? Given that an average person probably weighs less than 70kg this seems a little excessive.

To put it in perspective I've had a few cars that have weighed 750-850kg, they've all seated 4-5 people, and they could still reach 200km/h (120mph), why would I want a 4 seater car that weighed 3 tons?

Watch this space, I've got some friends in train design, I'll ask them what's going on.
Smart alarm clock
Neat device, this alarm clock has a 'net connection and it checks traffic reports to see if you need to be woken early or late. Of course I don't need an alarm clock as I've got three small children and the chances of all three oversleeping are less than zero...
Thursday, September 19, 2002
CSS learning curve
Advance warning, this blog is probably going to look very broken for the next week or so as I get to grips with sorting out the layout. I'm not overly happy with the current "design", so I'm trawling the blogosphere for ideas.

One thing that's very apparant is that 99.99% of my layout is done using tables and other 90s html tricks, and I've really got to bite the CSS bullet. Separating content and layout is a very sensible thing to do.
Jabber client redux
Chris asked me the other day why I use more than one Jabber client, one reason is that they all suck (not much but enough to sometimes grate), a better reason is that they all do some things in different ways and some are more appropriate for the occasion.

Anyway over the last few months I've used about four different clients in anger, and here's a breakdown of my opinions (YMMV of course):
  • JM - Jabber Messenger from Jabber Inc, simple and basic, does exactly what it says on the tin, I'd certainly recommend this for use by my Mum or anyone who wants something simple, the only downsides are that it can crash on an unreliable internet connection and multiple Jabber accounts can be a bit tedious to handle (I think I use 7 different Jabber accounts on about 5 servers on a regular basis). Actually from looking at Jabber Inc's site it seems that I've been using an old version, the new one seems well worth a revisit.
  • WinJab - from the guys who wrote Exodus, this is its predecessor, very ugly but solid and functional, I find some of the UI pretty strange and the handling of transports to other IM systems is a bit odd. One for the masochists.
  • Exodus - tidier and cleaner than WinJab, but this is still very much a beta and it sometimes does odd things, however despite that this was my favoured client until two weeks ago.
  • Psi - cool, cute, cuddly, etc. This is supposed to be similar to ICQ client, but I've never used ICQ so I'll have to take their word on that! It's written in C++ using the Qt toolkit so it's multi-platform too. Very nice and easy to use, you might guess that I like this one!
This is only a few of the Jabber clients available, have a look at JabberCentral's big Jabber client list to see a few more.
Enetation "Pro"?
Enetation (the commenting system that this blog uses) are looking for donations to fund future development and ongoing running costs.

As they're only asking for 10 quid it's a bit of a no-brainer as donors will be hosted on a separate server and get first access to new developments like XML comment feeds, nice!
Wednesday, September 18, 2002
Not sure how a I stumbled across this, but what a story: Tale of the Stupid Maids

Executive summary: Maids turn up to clean a house and find they haven't got the right keys, so they break in and clean it for four hours (badly). The reason they haven't got the right keys? It's the wrong house...
Tuesday, September 17, 2002
Cheap wireless network cards

Some of the chaps on the consume.net mailing list are co-ordinating a bulk buy of rebranded Orinoco wireless network cards, and they're talking about a price somewhere around 30 pounds a card, which is very keen.

I'd point you to the postings in the archives of the consume-general list, but the archive seems to be broken, so the best thing you can do is join the list and see for yourself.
Vanishing Mobile Phone masts
Interesting story from the BBC about hiding mobile phone base station antennae, I wonder what would happen to the nimby protests about placing masts near schools if the masts weren't even visible...

The Undetectables also have a site about hidden masts, but it's currently slashdotted.

If you really think that a base station is more dangerous than a phone, do the maths! Radiation exposure diminishes with distance on a square law relationship, i.e. if you double the distance you quarter the exposure. Hence a 1W mobile phone 10mm from your brain (10,000W/m2) exposes you to 10,000 times the rediation that a 100W mast could generate at 10m (1W/m2)! I'm guessing a little at power outputs whilst 1W is a typical value for a GSM phone, I'd expect a base station to output far less than 100W, maybe as little as 5-10W.
Friday, September 13, 2002
Directories eh, doncha just love them...

I just updated the web page for the ACCU's mentored developers Python project, and inadvertently dropped it right over the top of the "About Me" page for this weblog, and I didn't have a backup here. Fortunately IE shits temporary files all over the place and I had an old copy lying around. What did people do before grep?
Aussie Rules Finals
Week two of the bizarre final stages of the Aussie Rules season.

Why bizarre? Well, there's sixteen teams in the AFL, and the top eight after 22 games (why 22?) then go into the finals. In any other competition this would be a straight knockout stage but no, the top four teams get a second chance after the first round, so we get round one with eight teams, round two (the semi-finals) with four teams (2 losing teams from positions 1-4, and the 2 winning sides from positions 5-8), round three (the preliminary finals) with four teams (2 round 1 winning teams from positions 1-4, and two winners of the semi-finals, and finally the "Grand Final".

All very odd, this chart explains it a little better than I can.

Today's game (Port Adelaide vs Essendon) seems to be a cracker (live coverage fom RealFooty), it looks like Power (Port Adelaide) are finally getting a grip on the game
Happy Birthday Smiley :-)
Well nearly, it'll be twenty on the 19th Sept... Possibly the World's first smiley has been found on backup tapes in the depths of Carnegie Mellon University, The Register has the story here.
Thursday, September 12, 2002
NoCatAuth or how to let only the people you trust use your wlan
I went for a beer (or three) last night with Chris Clancey, and discussed world domination, pool, and wireless networking. The conversation bumped into NoCatAuth, it turned out that Chris hadn't heard of it and I'd only skimmed the subject. So I've had a quick look at the docs and the O'Reilly Network overview and it looks pretty damn good, let's hope it's not a complete sod to set up...
Hurrah for Jabrss
Good news, Jabrss is back online. For those of you who don't use it, this 'bot works a bit like Simon Fell's blogToaster or Russell's blogAgent in that it tells you when someone has updated their weblog, but even better it gives you a snippet of their RSS feed, so you can see what they've posted.

And the best bit is that it uses Jabber rather than one of those oddball proprietary instant messaging systems!
Wednesday, September 11, 2002
Thought for the day
Edwin Starr "War! What is is good for? Absolutely nothing"...
Tuesday, September 10, 2002
Around the World in 80 blogs
Russ has an interesting new idea, it's a game to pass messages from one blog to another, a sort of blog in a bottle. Now I wish he'd chosen someone whos weblog gets read a bit more than mine to be a guinea pig, but I certainly don't mind getting some extra traffic so let's give it a shot:
ForwardTo: Ben James
By: Jim Hughes
From: Russell Beattie
This is an Around the World Message. Copy this text onto your blog and leave this message for someone else. Eventually you'll read a blog someday and there will be a message for you and you might be able to "follow" the links back around the world! Cool hey?

Ben, I know you read my blog, go for it mate! Jim.

Stats time
I've just been running this site's logs through Analog, nothing too exciting, but I was surprised that the RSS is now more popular than the html, is this template really that bad?

On second thoughts, don't answer that question. I'm also getting fed up with this template, a redesign is on the drawing board.
Monday, September 09, 2002
Different music today
Yep, I'm listening to something other than my usual rag-bag collection of MP3s. As the start of the cricket looks likely to be rain delayed I'm not listening to Test Match Special, instead today's music comes courtesy of Radio Paradise. So far it's been pretty good; I've not heard the Gypsy Kings for ages, although I'm not sure where Duran Duran fit into the station's title of "Intelligent eclectic rock", maybe eclectic. Anyway for a taste of what's been playing today have a look at their playlist.
Network install
Whilst I'm not having quite as much fun as Russ seems to be having I've been starting to get the home network sorted out, first step was to get the network extended from the office to the dining room cum playroom where the kids' PC is. As they're on opposite corners of the house it's a bit non-trivial, so I'm aiming to do the job almost "properly" to make installing other points around the house far simpler.

The current plan is to put a switch and patch panel up in the loft and run cables from there to the rooms below, dropping the cables down the inside the walls where possible, although I'm going to have to drop some down the outside of the house.

On Saturday morning I had a few hours to spare to start bashing things around, so first off I installed a socket in the wall in dining room, hours of chiseling and cursing later it was in without too many extra unwanted holes in the wall. Step two, run some cable up the side of the house into the loft. I looked outside and it was pissing down with rain, so there was no way I was going up a ladder with power tools. Then the kids came home, so I've got one useless socket which is connected to nothing else to show for my efforts...
Thursday, September 05, 2002
Le God goes hi-tech
"Le God", Matt Le Tissier, Southampton FC's recently retired star player is being immortalised on a free CD-Rom. Saints fan site On The Cross has details about the CD here. Or for instant gratification click on the button below.
Matt Le Tissier CD Rom
Not the best British blog
Well that certainly sums up this site!

Like many people I didn't sign up for the Guardian's contest, not because I thought their judging system was odd (it's certainly not representative of bloggers), but because I didn't think this blog was that great.

It's primarily a sandpit for me to play with, a medium to rant in, a place to throw chunks of code at the seething masses, and somewhere I can feel (self) important. But it's certainly not great blogging, journalism or whatever you want to call it!
Wednesday, September 04, 2002
Gadget of the week - USB fan!
I've seen a few silly uses of USB ports, like mobile phone chargers, but this has got to be one of the best to date.
Small World
I've been Jabbering away to Chris Clancey, who's got a speculative consume.net node less than 600m from my equally speculative node. Anyway in the next few months Chris and I might be getting our respective acts together, watch this space, but FFS don't hold your breath...

Bizarrely, Chris is also the chap responsible for setting up the webcam in the computer shop at the bottom of my road!
Tuesday, September 03, 2002
Passport to the pub
An instructive guide to the British cultural icon, the public house. Passport to the pub is almost essential for visitors to the UK, and wryly amusing for locals. Snippet:
Another baffled visitor asked "What is it with you British? Why do you have to play all these silly games? Why can't you just go to a bar and have a drink and talk like the rest of the world?"
Thanks to moof for the link, his original post is here.
Monday, September 02, 2002
Go to work on an egg
Or how to cook an English breakfast with an Athlon, stage one fry the egg.
ZinfBlog, take 2 or 3...
I've made a few changes to ZinfBlog, nothing too earth shattering, but it now also generates a presence indicator, based on the following rule of thumb: If the computer is playing music I'm probably sitting near it. There's some rather nasty Javascript that does the magic of deciding how recently I've been seen, which saves on doing something on the server side but I'm not 100% happy with it.