Archive: February, 2003


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Friday, February 28th, 2003

Brains of Brighton

We are smart because we are Jedi:

"The brainiest people in Britain live in Brighton, according to an internet quiz."

The Horror of Blimps

The story of one man’s encounter with horror itself, made manifest in the form of a radio controlled indoor blimp.

"The blimp which was up until this moment a fun toy here embarked on a career of evil."

Wednesday, February 26th, 2003


Before I discovered the web (heck, before the web was even invented), I was a busker.

I played mandolin and, later, bouzouki from Ireland to Canada and all across Europe.

In all that time, I never once played in London.

Reading this account of seven Guardian journalists who did, I think I made the right choice.

You can read their field reports, find out how much each one made and, at the end, listen to a sound sample of each.

I can relate to a lot of the experiences:

"Income is provided almost entirely by toddlers mesmerised by such a silly thing. A tug at mum’s sleeve and she, wanting to bring up a nice boy, coughs up (although one child actually removes money. Should be a critic)."

Jeremy the bear

When I was growing up in Ireland, this television programme used to be on.

The show’s opening had the title character singing the theme song. This theme song was in turn sung to me, the only Jeremy in my town, by all the jocks as they tormented me:

“I’m a bear called Je-re-my,

I can do most an-y-thing,

I can dance and I can sing…”


Y’know, it’s great that you can find just about anything on the internet but some things are best left forgotten.

Tuesday, February 25th, 2003

Happy birthday to me

Today is my birthday, mein Geburtstag, mi cumpleanos, mo bhreathlá.

Two of the gifts I received today are audio in nature. One is the new album from 16 Horsepower spin-off, Woven Hand. The other is the soundtrack to Avalon, a movie I’ve never seen.

My main birthday treat, courtesy of Jessica, was a fantastic slap-up meal of posh nosh at the Hotel Du Vin.

Cheers, readers!

Sunday, February 23rd, 2003

CSS round-up

It’s been a busy week for Cascading StyleSheets.

The big news is that the ESPN website has been redesigned with CSS. Mighty fine it looks too although if you visit using a browser that doesn’t kill pop-ups, you’ll be playing hit the gopher with some extra spawned windows.

Meanwhile, Todd Dominey has been trying to come up with a good way of adding footers to pages using CSS. I’ve been trying to help out as best I can.

When Todd reported on the ESPN makeover, it prompted a classic "why bother?" discussion on standards. Hearing that the ESPN website rendered fastest in Safari, one pundit commented:

"Look ? Safari could be the fatest, coolest standards-based browser in the world. Who really cares?"

This was nicely rebutted by the man behind the ESPN redesign himself:

"Care to guess how much money we spent for QA to make sure our site worked in Safari?

If you guessed $0.00, you are correct."

That’s the beauty of coding to standards. Your pages are future-proofed for any standards-compliant browsing device.

Meanwhile, closer to home, I’ve been tweaking the mark-up and stylesheets right here at adactio.

The site navigation is now, correctly, contained in a list. So, if things look a little weird to you, a quick page refresh should sort it out.

Friday, February 21st, 2003

Wonderful Days

Earlier this week, I mentioned the trailers for the book Robota.

I haven’t come across any other trailers for books but if you’re willing to sacrifice some of your bandwidth for a good ol’ film trailer, Wonderful Days looks pretty nifty.

I hope this Korean animated film manages to avoid some of the cliches of Manga.

Voice Box

In some ways, Voice Box is a pretty neat application. It downloads RSS feeds and turns them into sound files that you can save (and even sync to your iPod).

On the other hand, I can’t help but feel that it might belong on PerversionTracker: a site for apparently useless mac applications.

Thursday, February 20th, 2003

Fun with corporate speak

I sometimes find myself working on websites for typically corporate businesses.

At the same time, Jessica quite often has to translate some fairly buzzword-laden documents.

There is always the danger that this corporate, buzzword talk could spill over into our everyday lives.

After finishing off a lunch of leftovers the other day, we (jokingly) imagined what we would sound like:

“That was a successful lunch.”

“Yes. It was good that we were able to repurpose those lentils.”

“Yes. We were able to really leverage them.”

We ran out of steam then. We’ll never be in the same league as the genius that came up with this stuff:

“Customers leveraging the Asera platform will have the ability to seamlessly integrate real-time product knowledge into their enterprise eBusiness environments. Architected to provide tighter integration and deeper collaboration, the Asera Solution will enable global manufacturers to recognize greater results from collaboration, streamline efficiencies in the supply chain, and reduce costs.”

Wednesday, February 19th, 2003

Planes, trains and broadband

This live, literally on-air, description of Lufthansa’s experimental flights with broadband access mirrors my own frustrations with the ludicrous idea of using a pop-up window as a control mechanism:

"The service is activated about thirty minutes into the flight, so I plug in my PowerBook, and I’m suddenly online. Well not exactly suddenly. The connection to the Internet is made by a proxy server, and requires leaving a pop-up window open. But I’m running Safari with popup blocking enabled, and at first I can’t get online."

I wonder how do they do it on the Gothenburg to Copenhagen Express?

Tuesday, February 18th, 2003

I wonder...

If there was a fight between Angry Robot and Strong Bad, who would win?

Monday, February 17th, 2003

BBC - CNN = 866

Here is the BBC transcript of Hans Blix’s presentation to the UN security council.

Here is the CNN transcript of the same presentation.

The difference? About 866 words.

I guess they didn’t think all that stuff about Iraq’s moves towards compliance wasn’t very important and that’s why they left all those bits out.


CNN have changed their version. Here’s a cached version, thanks to Google.


Here’s something a little bit different: a trailer for a book.

Specifically, an illustrated book called Robota. It’s a collaboration between Orson Scott Card and Doug Chiang.

Card, author of Ender’s Game, is probably the more familiar of the two names but this is mostly Chiang’s baby.

Doug Chiang was the design director for The Phantom Menace. Say what you like about the pacing of that film, but it sure looked great.

Of course, the original Star Wars films also had a great look and feel to them, mostly due to the work of Doug Chiang’s forerunner, Ralph McQuarrie. In this interview with Chiang from 1998, the styles of both artists are compared and contrasted.

Friday, February 14th, 2003

Cre@teOnline Ce@sesCirculation

The editor of Cre@teOnline explains why the magazine is closing.

Strangely enough, he neglects to mention the main reason for the magazine’s slack circulation: it wasn’t very good.

I guess this means they’re never going to get ‘round to fixing those javascript errors on their website.

Netscape DevEdge Redesigns As Standards Showcase

Eric Meyer and the gang have revamped the Netscape DevEdge site with Cascading Style Sheets.

If you scroll down towards "More Features And Benefits", you’ll find a shout-out to your humble narrator’s site:

"The design can change easily as CSS allows separation of presentation from structure. We could just as easily offer wildly different layouts as thematic variations on a single layout. Some examples of this sort of complete restyling include the standards blog at, the journal at, and the search engine"

I got props. Cool.

Unfortunately, the design doesn’t work too well in Safari. In fact in the latest public beta, it causes the app to stall completely.

Overall, the latest public beta is better and faster, especially with Flash content. However, because of an annoying problem with the way it deals with some of the javascript over at The Session, I’ve actually gone back to the previous build for now.

Overall, the more I use Safari, the more I like it. The way the development team have been going after those bug reports is very impressive. I’m sure by the time it reaches 1.0 status, it’ll be a lean, mean browsing machine.

Speaking of version 1.0 releases, congratulations to Brent on the release of NetNewsWire 1.0.

Thursday, February 13th, 2003

Jedi Town

I sense a disturbance in The Force. Census data released today shows an unusually high concentration of Jedi in a certain seaside city:

"The Jedi response was most popular in Brighton and Hove, with 2.6 per cent of census respondents quoting it."

Funnily enough, I’ve been spending my evenings playing Jedi Knight II recently.

Wednesday, February 12th, 2003

Darwin Day

Happy Darwin Day!

It is the birthday of one of the greatest and bravest scientists ever to have lived.

Tuesday, February 11th, 2003

100 stories of unfamous people

Mark Pilgrim has started publishing a series of stories, to number one hundred when they’re all finished.

"They are all original. They are all interrelated. Some of them are over 80 years old."

Some will be familiar to readers of his blog. All of them are good.

iChat country

I just had a chat with Jamie from Message where we went from the Pixies to EmmyLou Harris in just a few degrees of separation.

"Is your iTunes telling the world you’re playing the Pixies?"

"Yes. There’s a neat little app called iChatStatus that grabs the current song from iTunes."

"Ah. I like the Pixies. Cool."

"Dude, the Pixies, like, rocked."

"They like todally invented Nirvana!"

"Totally… hey, I just got hold of Frank Black’s latest solo album. I like it a lot - it has a touch of country to it."

"Good! Today I’ve listened to: Willy Nelson, LeAnne Rimes (yikes!) and a tribute to Gram Parsons. Country (rock) rocks!"

"Ohh.. tribute to Gram Parsons; that sounds good. Gram Parsons, like, totally rocks my country world."

"I only tried him out very recently. Had a day where he got mentioned alot so played a couple of albums Jo had of his. I’m an EmmyLou Harris fan so it fit quite well."

"Yeah, EmmyLou Harris is great. When she and Gram Parsons get together, ‘tis a joy to behold."


Konfabulator is just about the coolest OS X application I’ve seen in a long while.

I take that back. It’s not really an application, per se. It’s whatever you want it to be.

Basically, it’s a framework for little desktop widgets. It’s the range and power of those widgets that’s so cool.

Right now, I have a couple of widgets dotted around my desktop; a bandwidth profiler, a validator, a game and much more.

It’s stuff like this that makes me want to try my hand at being a desktop developer.

Monday, February 10th, 2003

Music for the masses

I’m back from a day in London where I enjoyed the closest thing a geek like me is going to get to culture.

I was at the Royal Festival Hall listening to Howard Shore’s music for the Fellowship Of The Ring performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and two choirs.

The soundtrack has been on heavy rotation in this house lately and it was great to hear the music live.

I’d get up to London more often and enjoy more culcha if it wasn’t for interminable train ride back to Brighton afterwards.

Friday, February 7th, 2003

Don't talk crazy

I had no idea that I had such a crazed look on my face while I was giving my talk the other night.

If you ever find yourself having a conversation with me and the subject turns to web standards, CSS or XHTML, you’ll probably see this gleam enter my eye.

That would be the best moment to run.

A madman with a microphone

He likes it, he likes it

Eric Meyer likes my site:

"Did I mention that the different thematic choices for are really, really impressive when you visit the author’s journal?"

High praise indeed from the leading authority on Cascading Style Sheets.

Thursday, February 6th, 2003

Palace Pire

Here are those pictures of the Palace Pier burning taken by Jamie over at Message.

Wednesday, February 5th, 2003

Yet another pier disaster

Brighton’s Palace Pier caught fire tonight. It was quite spectacular but luckily nobody was injured.

I was in the Sussex Arts Club getting my laptop and the projector to talk to each other in preparation for my little presentation when someone informed me that I might want to nip outside because the pier was on fire.

I watched as glowing bits of the pier fell spark-like into the channel. I tried taking some pictures but my camera isn’t up to night time photography. A friend of mine from another Brighton new media company did have a good camera though, so I’m going to get some pictures from him that I’ll post up here tomorrow.

I felt really bad about the fire until somebody told me that it was basically the Palace Pier people who were responsible for the West Pier not getting renovated sooner. Apparently, they didn’t like the idea of having any competition so they took the West Pier Trust to court.

In which case, this fire has the ring of poetic justice to it, following the partial collapse of the West Pier.

So, basically, tonight I was upstaged by a blaze.

Once it was clear that the fire was under control, people wandered back into the Sussex Arts Club and listened to me waffle on about my websites and how I made them.

Strangely enough, some people actually seemed to get some pleasure out of hearing me speak. I think I should write some of that stuff down when I have the chance and publish it here.

Tuesday, February 4th, 2003

Public Speaking

It looks like I’m going to be taking part in a talk/discussion/chat type thing tonight at the Sussex Arts Club in Brighton.

I’ll probably talk about this site, stylesheets, web standards, accessibility… all the usual stuff.

If you’re in Brighton and you’d like to come along to say hello, heckle or have a chinwag, I’ll see you there at seven.

Bush Whacked

For those of you who missed the state of the union address, here’s the audio update.

Monday, February 3rd, 2003

Photoshop Funny

Pattern Recognition

A new book by William Gibson is always a cause for celebration. I’ll grab myself a copy as soon as I’m done with Cryptonomicon.

It’ll have to be pretty good to compete with Cory Doctorow’s Down And Out In The Magic Kingdom, which I can highly recommend.

Do yourself a favour and download a copy. Reading cyberpunk on a laptop really adds to the atmposphere.

London kills me

Jessica is very kindly treating me to a day of music in London.

We’re going to hear a few different performances ranging from the dodgy-sounding “Lost music of the Gaels” to the great Howard Shore score for “The Lord Of The Rings”.

This will all be happening next Sunday. Hopefully by then the tube will be back to normal and we won’t experience anything quite like Robyn’s recent odyssey:

“No one in my carriage batted an eyelid until there was another crack, our train jolted forward a couple of inches and our driver announced, “I’m sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but we appear to have argh-“, at which point I surmised that Cthulhu himself was upon us and set about making a mental inventory of my achievements and piecing together the snatches of Catholic doctrine I could remember from my childhood.”

Saturday, February 1st, 2003

Lone Star

I’m back in Brighton.

I flew in last night from Dallas (following a short flight to there from Phoenix).

A few hours after the plane I was on left Texas airspace, the state was rocked by a huge bang. Shortly afterwards, pieces of debris began to fall.

This was all that remained of the space shuttle Columbia.

This is very, very sad.

What’s even sadder is that some of the debris appeared on eBay within minutes.