Archive: April, 2002


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Tuesday, April 30th, 2002

The Trash Compactor Debate

On the Implausibility of the Death Star’s Trash Compactor:

"Why does the trash compactor only compact trash sideways? Once ejected into space, wouldn’t the flattened, living-room-sized, and extremely solid panes of trash that result from such a primitive, unidirectional trash compactor pose serious hazards for Empire starships in the vicinity? "

Apple - eMac

Apple have released a new computer specifically for the education market - the eMac (the "e" is for education).

Physically, it looks like the old-style iMacs except that it’s got a 17" flat-panel CRT display. On the inside, it’s more like the new iMac with its G4 processor.

My school was never this cool.

It looks like this computer might be too good to remain confined to the education market - a lot of non-students want to get their hands on it.

Sunday, April 28th, 2002

NRA Takes Credit for Bush's Win

This report on the NRA’s 131st annual meeting sounds like something from The Onion.

Unfortunately, it’s deadly serious:

"LaPierre said the group "must grow larger and tougher" to fend off attempts to implement waiting periods on gun purchases at gun shows, protect gun manufacturers from lawsuits and defend First Amendment freedom of speech in the form of campaign advertising.

LaPierre said those who would restrict gun rights are engaged in "political terrorism."

"It’s a far greater threat to freedom than any foreign force," he said."

Normally, I’ve got nothing against organizations consisting entirely of whackos. However, when it’s an organization consisting entirely of whackos with guns, it’s a lot scarier.

Saturday, April 27th, 2002


Ah, France.

Faced with the choice between a racist, a crook and a regular Joe who’s just kind of boring, who do they get rid of first?

That’s right: the boring guy.

You can be racist. You can be a crook. But you can’t be boring if you want to succeed in politics these days.

Al Gore could have told you that.

William Hague would agree but then he’d also be kind of deluding himself about the reasons behind his failure.

Wednesday, April 24th, 2002 : bootylicious since 2001

Another one bites the dust. Heather Hamilton will no longer be updating her website.

I find this particularly saddening. She’s one of the best writers on the Web.

I guess her decision has something to do with that whole losing-her-job business earlier this year.

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2002

New 'Zouk

A couple of weeks ago, I had little disaster at band practice. My bouzouki took a nasty knock and the socket for the pick-up was completely bashed in.

It was the last straw. My instrument had been deteriorating for quite a while anyway and I decided there and then that the time had come to get a new one.

I couldn’t really afford it but I ordered a new instrument the very next day at the local music shop. I was told it would take at least five weeks - a reasonable amount of time considering that it was going to be practically handmade.

Imagine, then, my utter joy when I got a call today from the local music shop telling me that my new bouzouki had arrived less than two weeks after I placed my order.

I rushed over, coughed up the dough and took my new pride and joy down to the beach where I soaked up the sun and played some jigs and reels.

I’m happy as can be. I’m also, unfortunately, impecunious as can be.

Well, I’d rather be happy than rich. That said, if anybody’s looking for the services of freelance web developer, you know where to find me.

Kisa Hitlers!

Cats that look like Hitler, past and present.

Monday, April 22nd, 2002

Herman Miller: Aeron Chairs

This room is starting to look like a little dot com start-up office.

First of all I set up a little wireless network. Now Jessica has ordered an Aeron chair.

I’m jeolous. They’re extremely comfortable and lovely chairs.

Equally lovely is the Herman Miller website.

Herman Miller also produce a great website called Jugglezine which they describe "an unassuming e-zine about balancing work and life".

It is, needless to say, lovely.

Sunday, April 21st, 2002

Look, Ma; no wires!

I’ve been trying to get my hands on some airport cards for my Macs for quite some time now. I kept going into the local Apple supplier and pestering them.

They never seemed to have any in stock so they took my telephone number and told me that they’d call as soon as they had some airport cards.

That was over a month ago.

Yesterday, I was near the shop and decided to pop in.

"Got any airport cards?", I asked without much hope.

"Yes, two!".

I snapped them on the spot. So much for calling me.

With a little bit of apprehension, I opened up my iBook and ruby red iMac and inserted the airport cards. It wasn’t long until I was sharing files wirelessly.

Sharing my internet connection wasn’t quite so straightforward. The ability to make a software base station doesn’t exist yet in OS X.

Luckily, an enterprising soul has come up with a little app that lets you do just that. I followed the step by step instructions and had a shared internet connection in no time.

In the spirit of good open source karma, I passed on my experience to help others.

Anyway, the upshot of all of this is that I’m posting this journal entry from my iBook without any wires.


Saturday, April 20th, 2002

Respec' to the Queen Mum

I’ve avoided any mention of the Queen Mother here, mostly because it doesn’t interest me in the slightest.

Still, I thought this anecdote made her sound slightly less cut off from us common folk, luv a duck, Gor’bless ‘er:

"It was two or three Christmases ago, and we were sitting down watching Ali G on TV," said William.

"She saw Ali G click his fingers and say ‘Respec’, and Harry and I showed her what to do."

Prince William Prince Harry, 17, continued: "It was at the end of the meal, and she stood up and said: ‘Darling, lunch was marvellous - respec,’ and clicked her fingers.

Can a Windows guy learn to love the Mac? You bet!

Remember I wrote about the ZDNet journalist who was going to switch over to using a Mac for a month?

Well, that month has stretched into three months but the verdict has finally been delivered:

"Mac, enhanced by OS X, has a level of simplicity and transparency in operation that allows it to get out of the way and just let me work. That’s something Windows never does."

By the way, I’m not posting this to do any comic book guy gloating. I just find it interesting that this all happened at the same time that Jessica got her iMac.

Kaliber10000 { The Good Vibe Provider }

Good news: K10K is back.

Bad news: the new design doesn’t fit my preferred browser resolution of 800x600 pixels.

Good news: they provide a little button that will automatically resize the browser window to an optimal size.

All those sites that automatically expand the browser window on contact, please take note. Attach that functionality to a button. Give your visitors control. They’ll appreciate it.

For anybody who’s tired of dragging the corners of their browser windows to resize them, here are a couple of bookmarklets.

Clicking on any of these will change your browser size to the settings indicated. Just drag them to your toolbar.

640 x 480

800 x 600

1024 x 768

Friday, April 19th, 2002

Abston Church of Christ

Amy Hughes has constructed a 75,000 piece LEGO church.

It’s not a church for people, of course; that would be silly.

No, this is a church for cats.

Wednesday, April 17th, 2002

A thousand words

Jeb has posted some pictures of his trip to Europe.

I’d love to know what I’ve just said in this picture to prompt such obviously shocked reactions.

Tuesday, April 16th, 2002

Best domain name ever

www.We Made Out in a Tree and This Old Guy Sat and Watched

"The site dedicated to odd quotes, strange statements, bad writing and other oddities of the English language."

Speaking of which…

There’s some odd writing to be found at The Back Shop including this piece of good news for mice:

"Aching mouse arms are a thing of the past".

Hard times

I’m flattered to be mentioned in the same sentence as Jeffrey Zeldman. Mind you, I am referred to as being "british and poetic", neither of which are quite true.

Erik Hanson is upset about the harsh reality of working the web. I know how he feels.

There you are, trying to design websites using standards-compliant code. But can you find work? Not likely.

I wrote to Erik and told him that I was pretty much in the same boat as him. In fact, if it weren’t for Jessica’s translation work, I’d probably be out busking on the streets of Brighton.

You know that times are tough when Derek Powazek sums up working the web in 2002 with:

"Golly, it sure is nice to have a client."

To put it into context, that summation comes after a look at web design with the old glass-is-half-full, glass-is-half-empty approach.

Being the logical type, I see the glass as being neither half-full nor half-empty, but twice as big as it needs to be.

Monday, April 15th, 2002

The grocer's apostrophe

While I was in town earlier today, I spotted these stickers posted up on every available surface.

I suppose when you pay "a £ 100 and up", punctuation checking isn’t included.

I think I’ll have to tell Meryl about this one.

Designer Web Site's

Sunday, April 14th, 2002

The Hole In The Wall

Linux Journal has an absolutely fascinating article about an experiment known as "The Hole in The Wall".

An internet-enabled computer kiosk was quietly placed in a slum in New Dehli. No instructions were provided with the kiosk. Nonetheless, the children living in the slum began to use the computer:

"They even invented their own vocabulary to define terms on the computer, for example, sui (needle) for the cursor, ‘channels’ for web sites and damru (Shiva’s drum) for the hourglass (busy) symbol."

Not only that, but a community structure emerged around the computer:

"Shy children are not left out. Girls especially assume organizing roles, throwing screen hogs off the computer to let quieter children have a turn. Kids even organize classes for each other."

The ultimate proof as to just how far the children progressed in using the computer is shown in this message received by the professor running the experiment:

"We have found and closed the thing you watch us with."

I find this enormously encouraging.

Thanks are due to Tristan Roddis for passing on the link.

Congratulations are also due: Tristan recently became a father. : : We're Everything to Everybody

Andyco is a frighteningly good parody of a corporate website.

If you’ve ever worked in one of these companies, or just had to deal with them, you’ll appreciate this.

I especially liked the bit about their website re-design:

"We listened to what YOU wanted, then did what WE wanted!"


I’m completely outraged by the theft of Apparently, all you need to do is send a fake fax to Network Solutions to have ownership of a domain transfered over to you.

I can’t help but breathe a sigh of relief that my host is a reseller for OpenSRS.

Saturday, April 13th, 2002

Celebrity Sighting

I’m sick as a dog right now. I’ve got some kind of cold/flu ailment that involves a raspy throat and copious amounts of phlegm.

That’s why I didn’t accompany Jessica when she went into town earlier. i kind of wish I had, though. She just got back and informed me that she saw Nick Cave hanging around in the North Laine.

Jessica: two

Chris: one

Friday, April 12th, 2002

The Random Masturbation Synonym Generator

Wednesday, April 10th, 2002

The Mirror Project

Needless to say, while I was in Paris, I took the obigatory photograph in the bathroom mirror at the hotel.

City of Love

I’m back from Paris.

It was a short but wonderful visit. Jessica and I managed to squeeze quite a bit into the time we had there.

Our tourist activities were medieval-themed. We went to the Museum of Medieval History, went inside the Saint-Chapelle church and descended into the catacombs.

Here’s a hot tip if you’re planning a trip to Paris: there’s free entry to a lot of places on the first Sunday of each month. We saved a pretty penny on both the Museum of Medieval History and Saint-Chapelle. This meant that we could spend our money on other worthwhile things like wine, cheese, crepes and lots of petit cafes.

As promised, here are the pictures of Paris in the springtime.

Saturday, April 6th, 2002

Paris in Spring

I’m making a flying visit to Paris this weekend.

My brother-in-law, Jeb and some of his pals are on a little whirlwind European holiday. They’ve already seen the sights and sounds of Brighton and London and they’re going to finish their trip with a short visit to the land of baguettes and petit-cafes. Jessica and I are going to join them.

We haven’t made any definite plans about what we’re going to do there but I’ll probably pay a visit to the Museum of Medieval History which is conveniently close to our hotel.

I’ll be sure to take plenty of pictures and post them here when I get back.

Au Revoir!

Web Designer Builds Home out of Flash

It’s funny because it’s true:

"Stepping onto the welcome mat out front sets in motion a colorful display of pictures and music while a soothing voice tells you how happy it is that you are visiting. Five minutes later, you are presented a doorbell in order to actually request entry."

Friday, April 5th, 2002

All dressed up

I had a meeting with a potential client on Wednesday. This meeting was going to be a bit more formal than what I’m normally used to.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a thing to wear (nothing I would really consider "formal", anyway), so Jessica and I went in search of an outfit that would suit the occasion.

Before venturing into the intimidating territory of men’s suit shops we decided to have a quick peek in the local Oxfam shop. It was a fortuitous decision.

We found a complete three-piece wool suit for less than ten pounds. It fits me like a glove.

After that, our quest became a lot simpler. We found a nice tie and a plain white shirt.

Voila! Instant formal outfit.

I thought I’d feel really uncomortable wearing a suit but instead I felt very… dapper. Slick. Downright cool, even.

This isn’t the usual charity shop suit, either. You know the ones; relics of the seventies with collars designed with lift and wingspan in mind. This suit has a more modern cut.

In fact, I know that it hasn’t been in the Oxfam shop for long. In the jacket pocket I found placecards for "Ruth" and "David" at "Claire and Andrew’s wedding, 9th March, 2002".

Now it’s mine, all mine.

Oh, and the meeting went pretty well, I thought.

Me in my new suit

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2002

Diminished Responsibility

Here we go again:

"Shawn Woolley loved an online computer game so much that he played it just minutes before his suicide. The 21-year-old Hudson man was addicted to EverQuest, says his mother, Elizabeth Woolley of Osceola… She has hired an attorney who plans to sue the company in an effort to get warning labels put on the games."

Of course, the mother does not feel the responsibility could also lie with her:

"Shawn was playing 12 hours a day, and he wasn’t supposed to because he was epileptic, and the game would cause seizures," she said.

I guess video games have now officially replaced playing heavy metal albums backwards as the leading cause of youth suicide.

Sony couldn’t pay for publicity like this. Expect sales of Everquest to increase.

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2002

When I Was 12...

I’m doing my first major Flash project right now. It’s going to be a website for my band, Salter Cane.

I want to avoid all the worst excesses and pitfalls usually associated with Flash and try to to use to convey atmosphere and feeling.

When I visit Flash sites as powerful as this one, I don’t know whether to feel inspired or whether I should just give up because I’ll never produce something this amazing and affecting.

Monday, April 1st, 2002

What's That Site Running?

"We have the way out" by Unisys and Microsoft tells you, in exchange for your email address, why Unix is a bad choice for hosting your website.

Guess what kind of system the site runs on?

Google Technology

I love Google, I really do.

They have chosen today, April 1st, to reveal exactly how their patented PigeonRank search system works:

"By collecting flocks of pigeons in dense clusters, Google is able to process search queries at speeds superior to traditional search engines, which typically rely on birds of prey, brooding hens or slow-moving waterfowl to do their relevance rankings."

April fooling aside, do you know where Google emloyees go to work out?

Why, the googleplex, of course!

No, I’m serious. That’s what it’s called.