Archive: January, 2003


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Friday, January 31st, 2003

How the west was left

My time here in Arizona is coming to an end.

Tomorrow I’ll be enduring the long journey back to Blighty. I have some hefty reading material to help me through the flight.

It’s been fun. I even had the opportunity yesterday to visit Tombstone. The town motto is “The town too tough to die” which is only marginally less sinister than Sierra Vista’s “Where visits last a lifetime”.

I reckon I’ll prove that there motto wrong and mosey on off into the sunset.

the wild west, yesterday

Thursday, January 30th, 2003

Trout Thursday

Tuesday, January 28th, 2003

Seattle pictures

For your viewing pleasure, some new pictures from Seattle. Mostly seafood.

Lost Weekend

I’m back from Seattle.

Jessica and I had a grand old time hanging out with my brother-in-law, seeing the sights of Seattle and watching the superbowl.

We also found time to go and see The Two Towers again.

While we standing in line at the cinema we noticed Dave Matthews waiting in line right behind us.

I guess that’s the Seattle equivalent of seeing Nick Cave buying cheese.

Thursday, January 23rd, 2003

Jim Page

Standing in front of what is supposedly the original Starbucks (not true: the original building was demolished) Jim Page sang a song about Seattle:

"They used to call this town Seattle,

Jewel of the Puget Sound.

They used to call this town Seattle,

Now they call it Paul Allen Town."

Seattle singer/songwriter

Wireless in Seattle

I’m in Seattle and I’m blogging wirelessly from a Starbucks.

This would be a wonderful experience if T-Mobile hadn’t made it so damn infuriating.

I signed up for their pay-as-you-go wireless service and then logged on via my browser using my new username and password. After surfing around for a bit, I began to wonder how I would log off. I finally found the answer buried in their troubleshooting section. It said that there should be a pop-up window with the log-off link in it.

Now, my web browser, like me, hates pop-up windows so there was no link for me to log off.

I tried disconnecting from the network by turning off my airport card. No luck. I had to restart the iBook.

How stupid is that?

Anyway, I’ll grit my teeth and allow pop-up windows to be spawned for the duration of my stay in Seattle. I don’t have any choice. (Oh, and the default log-in page for the T-Mobile service also abuses JavaScript to maximise my browser window. Grrr…)

Apart from that, Seattle is just peachy.

The flight here was nice and empty. Jessica and I left Tucson at an uncomfortably early time but that means we now have the whole day to explore Seattle. We just need to combat our tiredness with plenty of coffee, of which there is no shortage here.

While exploring the wonderful Pike Place market, I heard the unmistakable sound of a folk-singer strumming his guitar. He sounded like Jim Page, a very talented songwriter whose concerts in Ireland have always been memorable.

I thought to myself "Hmmm… Jim Page lives in Seattle. I wonder?"

Sure enough, it was the man himself.

I listened to a few of his songs and then had a chat with him. He was extremely pleased to meet someone from so far afield who knew his material.

He gave me a copy of his new CD. What a nice guy. What a nice place.

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2003

A gallery of travellery

As I prepare for my next ‘plane trip, I thought I’d share these pictures of an airplane journey.


Jessica and I are headed to Seattle.

We’ll be catching a very early flight from Tucson on Thursday morning which necessitates an overnight stay in a motel near the airport.

Once we get to Seattle, we’ll be hanging out with my brother-in-law, Jeb.

Jeb has just moved into a new apartment in downtown Seattle, which is great but I don’t think he has a ‘phone line yet. That means I’ll be relying on the generousity of others for bandwidth.

I have the hardware. I have the software. Here’s hoping I’ll be able to do some wirless blogging from the hi-tech home of evil.

Of course, to be really hi-tech, I should be posting from the airplane.

Monday, January 20th, 2003

Brighton pier collapses again

Is this going to happen every time I leave Brighton?

Sunday, January 19th, 2003

Taking it easy

I’m still in Arizona. I’m just taking it easy, lounging around watching movies.

When I venture out, it’s usually for food. Either it’s a trip to the supermarket or a visit to the finest restaurants in the region.

Last night, we paid a visit to the old mining town of Bisbee to eat at the Cafe Roka. Tonight, we’re heading out to the middle of nowhere to eat at the Cafe Sonoita.

All in all, a nice way to spend a holiday. And the weather’s still great.

Tuesday, January 14th, 2003

I've seen fire and I've seen rain

…but mostly rain.

Which is why it’s such a pleasure to be in Arizona right now. It’s January but I’m able to walk around wearing sunglasses without a jacket (a jacket for me, that is; not the sunglasses).

The journey here was long and not quite as uneventful as I would have liked. Suffice to say that the stop-over in Dallas was more of a dash-over, as in "dash over to this gate because we’ve suddenly decided that your flight, which is leaving in ten minutes, is going from there and not the gate we told you when you first got through the half hour spent waiting in line at emigration".

Still, after one good night’s sleep I’m fully recovered from the journey and I’m able to enjoy the warm climate of southern Arizona.

It’s hard to believe that just yesterday I was sitting in an aeroplane on a frosty, cold Gatwick runway watching the wings being de-iced.

de-icing the airplane wing

Sunday, January 12th, 2003

Here I go again

I’m off to Arizona.

I have to get up early, get to the train station in Brighton, take a train to Gatwick airport, take a plane to Dallas for ten hours and then another plane to Phoenix.

Once I get there, I’ll try to take pictures than I did in Ireland.

The next entry will be posted stateside.


Friday, January 10th, 2003

Reading on the move

Now that I’m getting ready to head off to Arizona, I’m faced with the usual dilemma of choosing the right reading material for the trip.

I’m in the middle of reading Pilgrim by Timothy Findley but it’s a bit too bulky to be convenient airplane material.

I was faced with the same problem when I was in Ireland. I ended up reading The Pleasure Of Finding Things Out by Richard P. Feynman which is a conveniently pocket-sized collection of essays and interviews.

Before that, I was reading the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman which was okay. It’s been turned into a rather good radio play on BBC radio 4.

As I’ve said before, I like to read cyberpunk when I’m travelling. Unfortunately, the only cyberpunk book I have right now is Distraction by Bruce Sterling which I find incredibly dull.

I do have a PDF of Down And Out In The Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow but it isn’t so convenient to whip out out the iBook every time I want to read a few words.

Luckily, I picked up a second-hand copy of Weaving The Web recently. A book written about the web by the man who invented it. Sounds perfect.

Surfing Safari

It looks like I made it back just in time to witness the birth of a browser. It’s a nifty little app from Apple called Safari.

My first impressions are pretty positive. It’s certainly very fast - a lean, mean, browsing machine.

Standards support is also pretty good - it’s based on the Konquerer engine.

Mark Pilgrim has been extremely quick off the mark in tracking down problems with Safari. As quick as he finds them, the developers are patching them. One of them even has a blog where he posts up to date bug fixes.

Bearing in mind that this is just a Beta release, it’s remarkably good. There’s even a built in bug-reporting button so that everyone can help to improve the browser. I’ve used it myself already to report what seems to be a problem with the CSS “overflow” property (which you can see in action on the hi-tech theme here at adactio).

The Google search bar is terrific, you can block pop-up ads and the bookmarks are very easy to manage. However, there’s one thing that Safari lacks that will stop it usurping Chimera as my browser of choice: tabbed browsing.

Once you get used to tabbed browsing, it’s very hard to go back. I never used to understand what all the fuss was about when Opera users would rave about tabbed browsing but now I know. It really does kick rear-end.

Hopefully by the time that Safari is out of Beta most of the bugs will be ironed out and maybe tabbed browsing will be introduced. If that were to happen, Safari could well become my browser of choice.

One other thing worth mentioning, and Zeldman already has, is that standards compliance is no longer an optional extra - it’s a requirement. If you’re bringing out a new browser, it needs to have good standards support to stand any chance of surviving.

The message has gotten through to the browser makers. Now it’s time to take it to the web developers.

Thursday, January 9th, 2003

Home again

I’m back from Ireland.

The last few days there flashed by in a whirlwind of friends, music and drink.

Jessica and I went up to Galway for a few days. We stayed with my friend Daria, who I hadn’t seen in about ten years. We had plenty of catching up to do.

The weekend was spent catching up with other old friends, soaking up the fantastic music in the pubs every night and subsisting on the wonderful seafood.

We made it back to Cobh in time to catch one last session at The Roaring Donkey and then it was time to wing our way back to Brighton.

The journey was mercifully uneventful, which is just the way I like it, and I am now ensconced in my little Brightonian flat, sitting in front of my iMac, browsing the web to see what I’ve been missing while I was away.

I won’t bother unpacking my suitcase. On Sunday, Jessica and I are flying to Arizona for a couple of weeks.

I hardly have time to stop and reflect on my Christmas in Ireland.

Galway at night

Wednesday, January 1st, 2003

Happy New Year

It was a somewhat subdued New Year’s celebration for me this year. I’m nursing a cold which has dampened my party spirit a little.

It’s probably for the best, though. I’ve been doing enough celebrating over the last week. I’ve been meeting up with some old friends, including my very good friend Diarmaid, who I haven’t seen for seven, eight… I don’t know how many years. Donkey’s years, as they’d say here.

Jessica and I, together with my friends Diarmaid and Gerard, also managed to see The Two Towers again, this time in more condusive surroundings. It was in a different cinema, at a different time of day with a different audience.

When the film started, however, there was still something spoiling the viewing experience. The curtains hadn’t been drawn back all the way so the left and right parts of the picture were being projected onto an annoyingly uneven surface.

By the time Gandalf and the Balrog were plummeting towards the waters under Moria in a ball of flame, I couldn’t take it anymore. With many apologies to the people I had to squeeze past, I made my way down to the usher and asked him if he could do anything about the curtains. By the time I was back in my seat, they had been pulled back and I was able to relax and immerse myself completely in Middle Earth.

Diarmaid said he felt like applauding. Gerard said that the curtains were bugging him too, but he knew that it would be ten times worse for me.

Ah, roll on the DVD release when I’ll be in complete control of the viewing environment.

In the meantime, I’ll settle for Irish television while I try to fight off this cold.

You haven’t really experienced The Muppet Show until you’ve heard Kermit’s voice dubbed into Irish.