Feet up!
Monday, June 30, 2003
I had my first exposure to Dano the new Blogger interface at the end of last week, first thoughts are that the UI is much more pleasant (it seems to work under Mozilla which is a big improvement) but mostly WTF didn't they test it?

The stuff I write here is hardly rocket scientist level HTML, it's mostly standards compliant simple HTML 4.01 Transitional, although I keep things simple enough that (apart from XML correctness) it's pretty close to XHTML 1.1 Transitional too.

So on my very first posting it reports that title is an invalid attibute in an anchor tag! Yes, hello? Whilst it's nice that it has a go at validating my html, title has been a valid attribute for anchor tags since HTML 2.0 and is still valid all the way through to XHTML 1.0 STRICT, what do they think I'm writing? Pre-HTML 2.0 or some sort of mongrel markup for obsolete browsers like Mosaic, Netscape 4 or Internet Explorer?

And then there's timezones, I've been playing with these and I've tried three different settings, but I've yet to get it to timestamp a post correctly. I know that some people find timezone calculations difficult, but this sort of thing should have been spotted in testing.

Overall, I'm disappointed, if I can find glaring flaws like these on my very first two paragraph post, what horrors am I going to find when I really try to use it in anger?
Saturday, June 28, 2003
Local News round up
The dry cleaners at the end of my road caught fire last night, the shop is rather ironically named Phoenix Dry Cleaners. It's right next door to this webcam if you'd have been watching it last night you'd have seen a lot of smoke and firemen. Signs up at the shop today proclaimed "Business as usual", hard to believe when half the windows were boarded up and the interior was extensively smoke blackened. My lad kept asking to go into the dry cleaners today to have a look around, he's either got a future in fire investigation or arson...

In other news, Elizabeth had her very first haircut.
Friday, June 27, 2003
FoaF update
I've had yet another minor tinker with my FoaF file, nothing major but I've added a few more hooligans.

If you'd like a mention in the file give me a shout. As Mark once said "Any friend of FoaF is a friend of mine", and as I use the relationship module I can happily add people I don't know in the FoaF-whores category anyway :-)

My FoaF autodiscovery link on this page has been updated to work better with Ben Trott's XML::FOAF Perl module and in my Foaf file, I've also added a section to my FoaF file giving my preferred data for inclusion in your FoaF file and I've added a foaf:weblog property to my data.
Bye-bye Connex....
It was announced this morning that Connex had lost their franchise for the South East of England, so was there wide spread rejoicing amongst the commuters this morning? None that I saw.

Sure Connex have done a lousy job of running the train service, Connex trains are generally late, dirty, over-crowded and slow, but most commuters have long enough memories to remember their journey before privatisation, and that was even more miserable. During their franchise period Connex brought in new rolling stock, and generally attempted to provide a better service, even if they didn't achieve this goal by a large margin.

If there have been mistakes during Connex's reign - and there have been some classics, like new trains that couldn't be run because they required more electrical power than could be supplied - little thought seems to have gone into investigating why mistakes were made and into taking steps to avoid future problems. It's not that complex an environment, there's the Strategic Rail Authority, and the franchisee involved in running railway in the UK these days. Two parties with a common goal, provide and run a train service. FFS why do they make it look so difficult!

So we're stuck with Connex until December, and not just the usual Connex, but now a demotivated Connex with a short term goal of maximising profit with no worry of losing their franchise. And then we have 12-18 months of trains being run by an unanswerable quango. In short, two years of ugarenteed mediocre train service, a brilliant stragic plan, and they wonder why roads in the South East are choked full...
Thursday, June 26, 2003
We were talking about adding adverts to blogs yesterday on the Mobitopia IRC channel common concensus seeming to be that Google AdSense looked like a good deal, especially if you were likely to earn $100 per day like Aaron Schwartz claimed was possible. In a rare moment of synchronicity Russ applied for AdSense for both his blog and Mobitopia. Mobi got accepted but Russ's blog got blown out, I think Russ nailed the reasons for rejection. Strangely enough the Google supplied code for Mobi doesn't seem to work though, I guess we'll find out why later when the West Coast of the US gets out of bed and crawls into work.

I personally like the look of BlogAds but I suspect they haven't really got sufficient clout or exposure to enough advertisers to bring in significant revenue. I'm considering ads on the revised blog - still coming soon - maybe I'll go to BlogAds. I wouldn't mind making a few grand a month from Google, but persuading both of my readers to click on the ads that much would be rather tricky...
Tuesday, June 24, 2003
Towards a better blog
That's a goal I'm always interested in, and it's great to see that Sam Ruby et al are trying to create a better vendor neutral blogging framework, anything that gets us from tag soup buggers muddle that RSS has become would be a good start in my book. Sam's Wiki is a good place to start. Read, absorb, comment, participate, that's what I'm going to try to do.

RDF, FOAF? Yes, I'd like them somewhere in the mix, but it looks like the initial discussion centres on an improved/rewritten from the ground up syndication format. More reading to do...
Monday, June 23, 2003
Spam of the day
Is from Cristina.Sogno@lycos.it who appears to be offering me some form of sexual favours, unfortunately my Italian doesn't extend beyond "due birro, per favore" and "grazi" so I might have missed the point entirely. Here's the text for those interested in this sort of nonsense (for the true spam cognoscenti, the html I stripped this text from was of the usual low quality MS Word style much loved in the spam world, probably for its obfuscating qualities):
Cerco un uomo che desideri conoscermi.
Sono Cristina, ho 27 anni, lavoro in una agenzia di viaggi e sono single al momento. Adoro la trasgressione e uso i mezzi tecnologici per conoscere nuovi amici. Sono allegra e solare. Mi piace la spiaggia sopratutto di sera. Se pensi di essere un valido partner, contattatmi.

Per un rapido contatto quando vedi comparire clica sul. Per conoscermi subito puoi usare internet (video-chat) oppure il telefono cellulare.

Avviso di protezione
Annuncio rivolto esclusivamente a uomini single e maggiorenni ovviamente. Se la miai e-mail di ha dato fastidio clicca qui e sarai cancellato immediatamente dalla mia rubrica.
Still, it makes a not overly pleasant change from the usual "byu generic Viagera hear, cheep!!!" nonsense I normally get, I wonder if the best form of spam filter would be one that filters by basic literacy, I'm sure that would catch 99% of my spam. I wonder, how exactly does Mr Hammersley do his Fog, Flesch and Kincaid readability stuff?
Friday, June 20, 2003
The Wi-Fi glass is more than half-full
Fellow Mobitopian Martin Little tells of how he got involved in providing wireless internet access to the Jolly Judge an Edinburgh public house.

Proper community access, that's what we want! All joking aside though, the whole exercise probably cost less than £200 in hardware, with annual running costs of around £250 for the ADSL line plus a few pennies for electricity. That's less than a tenner a week, and you don't need to sell many extra pints to recoup those sorts of costs.

As I've said before, this is the only way I see Wi-Fi taking off in the UK, I can't see the big name £10/hour setups being successful. I suppose it's the cluetrain in action, if we're smart enough to have a wireless equipped laptop don't you think we're also smart enough to know how much a wireless access point and ADSL connection costs?

Update Real prices from Martin - £140 (+ VAT) for a Netgear DG824M ADSL modem/router/firewall/wireless box, inc. one ADSL filter, and £285.84 (+ VAT) for ZenADSL service for a year.
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
Fathers' Day
Best fathers' day present ever from my offspring - they got me a skateboard!

Someone suggested that they might be hoping I break my neck, and as I haven't been on one for 20+ years I suspect that's quite possible, so I'm going to keep away from ramps and pipes for at least another week or two.

I wonder, has my local hospital got decent 'net access?
Monday, June 16, 2003
Neighbours from hell, part 27...
I have the great misfortune to live next door to not one but two nursing homes, it seemed like a good idea when we bought the house, with thoughts of quiet neighbours and maybe the odd amusing view of a confused elderly person deciding they're in The Great Escape and trying to do a runner.

Sadly it's not been that much fun, yes we've seen a few aborted escapes, but the fire alarms going off repeatedly in the middle of the night are more than a little boring.

Anyway through a subtle piece of media management the home's owners have managed to get themselves in the national press over this story - Eviction threat to woman, 102 Update: Tues morning, I was woken by a TV outside broadcast van for GM-TV (warning: 80s style website, popups and odd colours combos), our kids seem to have become media luvvies...

Something that all the press coverage hasn't picked up yet is that the owners did exactly the same thing about 18 months ago when they closed another of their homes - Bradley Court - where the residents were given minimal notice to move out.

The two adjacent nursing homes Bradley Court and Bradley House are owned by the same company, they received planning permission two years ago to build a new block joining the two buildings together and adding another wing to one of the buildings.

They started building about 18 months ago, and then mysteriously stopped after about six months, word on the street is that the owners have run out of money, but the truth is that no-one seems to know what's going on, in the meantime I'm left with a derelict building site as a neighbour and press crews everywhere, lovely...
Friday, June 13, 2003
Notwork Solutions...
Oxymoron of the week is Network Solutions a fortunately minor domain registrar who have hosed Russ's primary domain RussellBeattie.com for some specious reason, fortunately Russ is a domain junkie and has plenty of other domains at a grown-up registrar, so anyone looking for his weblog can still find it at RBeattie.com

Russ says normal service will be resumed shortly, along with the full gory details...
Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Ginger beer, the secret recipe!
I spent yesterday evening making another batch of ginger beer, and coating the kitchen in liberal quantities of hot sugary water...

Good stuff though, it'll be ready to drink in a week, and I've started on the next batch too.

As I'm in morbid fear of losing the scrappy piece of paper with the "secret" recipe, I'm going to post it here so I can find it again if necessary.

1. Put the sludge (a technical term for a yeast and ginger culture handed down from generation to generation) into a bowl and add 1 pint of cooled boiled water.
2. Every day add 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of ground ginger.
3. After 7 days strain this plant into a bowl (keep the sludge for later).
4. Into another (very large) bowl put 1.5lbs of sugar, the juice of 2 lemons, and 2 pints of boiling water.
5. When this has cooled add the liquid from the plant.
6. Add 5 pints of cooled boiled water.
7. Bottle and store for 7 days before drinking, beware of exploding bottles!
8. Divide the sludge in two and start again.
Monday, June 09, 2003

British 1 Euro Pattern Coin - ObverseBritish 1 Euro Pattern Coin - Reverse

Today looks like being yet another sad day in the history of Britain's patchy relationship with the rest of Europe, if as widely anticipated, Gordon Brown announces "Not yet to..." to UK entry to the Euro.

Why sad? Because it's hindering UK business, but then again, that seems to be the prime game of this Govt. (IR35, 3G license fiasco). As Brown himself has admitted that over 60% of the UK's export business is with other European nations, has he not considered that we are disadvantaged in all of these transactions? I've spent a significant part of the last 15 years doing business in other European countries, and all the time my prices have had to be overly cautious to insulate myself from exchange rate fluctuations and all transactions get "taxed" by the banks when they convert to and from Sterling. Is this really the most effective way to do business? No, of course it's not.
Pub cam
Picture of the GreyhoundThis one's for Moof who expressed surprise that the office was so close to so many pubs, it is a picture of The Greyhound which is just over the road.

Within 100m in one direction are four other pubs (The Partridge, the George Pamphilon, the Royal Bell and the Tom Foolery), and going the other way up the road there are two pubs within about 100m (the Swan and Mitre and the Star and Garter), not that I've ever been in any of them, oh no...
Thursday, June 05, 2003
Sendo MS fallout continues
Interesting stuff, now Orange get caught up in all the legal action, as Sendo sue Orange.

This sounds like the MS SPV breached a Sendo patent, and Orange were thus being naughty by their branding and selling of this device. This court case will probably be in the UK, which might reach a conclusion faster than the MS-Sendo case in Texas, whether the UK case will have a bearing on the US case is an interesting thought.
App of the week
Virca logo

Virca a GPL'd J2ME midlet for IRC, unlike most IM apps for the phone this one is rather nice, and it doesn't bleep everytime you receive or send anything (Tipic take note) which can be hugely embarassing on a quiet train, recommended!

See also Strongweb's Swirc midlet, a fork of Virca which uses a proxy server to reduce traffic and help with timeout problems.
Tuesday, June 03, 2003
IRC fun
Russ decided it would be a good idea to create an IRC channel for Mobitopia, and yes he's right, but it's been a bit mad.

Erik has been bashing an eggdrop bot into shape and I'm in the early stages of getting a Chump Bot and logging bot sorted out.

When it's all done we might have something pretty like the RDF Interest Group's IRC Scratchpad, but I've got a little XSLT head scratching to do first...