Archive: July, 2003


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Thursday, July 31st, 2003

Coming to America

I’m heading stateside tomorrow. I plan to spend three weeks soaking up the sun in Arizona.

On the way, I’ll stop off in Baltimore to see my old pal, Dan Brown.

I should have net access once I get to Arizona. Jessica’s parents have set up a wireless network in their house so maybe I’ll end up blogging from the side of the pool.

I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures and I’ll endeavour to keep updating here regularly.

Hove rocks

Anyone from ‘round here will tell you that the city of Brighton & Hove is split between the hip, sleazy Brighton and the posh, old Hove (actually).

Personally, I think that some of Brighton’s hipness is rubbing off on the population of Hove.

I spent the entire day yesterday in a studio in Hove with Salter Cane, recording a song. The other band members and myself got on a bus in the morning to get there. I guess it was pretty clear that we were in a band, laden down as we were with instruments and amps. As we were alighting from the bus, an elderly, grey-haired lady who was also getting off at the same stop asked me:

"Are you going to a gig or have you just played?"

"Um…", I replied. "We’re going into the studio, actually."

She nodded and said:

"It’s nice to see some life around here."

Wednesday, July 30th, 2003

Brighton Bloggers

Things are afoot in the Brighton blogosphere.

It all started with a post on Pete’s blog. That led to a Wiki being set up. The next step will be a fully-blown website (I’ll help out with the design).

The long and short of it is that the bloggers of Brighton will be getting together for some good old fashioned meatspace face-to-face interaction.

The venue hasn’t been set yet but I’m betting it’ll be somewhere with the winning combination of Wi-Fi and beer.

Monday, July 28th, 2003


The Skillswap talk is over and I’m recovering with a drink at the Wi-Fi’d Grand Central pub (Andy Budd on one side of me, Jon Hirsch on the other).

There was a nice American chap at the talk that I got to talking to afterwards. It turned out to be Ryan from BD4D.

It turns out there’s going to be a BD4D event here in Brighton in September. Hopefully I’ll get to do a three minute madness.


I’m at the Skillswap event on PHP Objects and Patterns (mostly a sneak peak at PHP5).

My brain is full already.

Canterbury Gallery

My trip to Canterbury was a great success. Not only did I get to explore the magnificent cathedral grounds in depth, I also posted my first moblogged entry to this journal (using GPRS over Bluetooth).

Here’s a gallery of pictures from Canterbury cathedral I put together.

I also wanted to record some of the sounds of Canterbury. Specifically, I wanted to record the choir that was practicing for evensong. But on reflection, it would have been too intrusive to whip out a laptop in a church.

I had no such qualms about doing some field recording outside the church, however. At least, I didn’t until it started to rain.

Still, I managed to record the distant sound of church bells calling the faithful to service.

Sound File

Sunday, July 27th, 2003


I’m in the lovely town… sorry; city of Canterbury.

On the plus side, it has an amazing cathedral and an old pedestrianised town centre.

On the minus side, it has a somewhat anti-social attitude towards buskers.


Saturday, July 26th, 2003

Blog Change Bot

I’m trying out a new service called Blog Change Bot.

Here’s the gist of it: you need to have AOL Instant Messenger or iChat. You then send a message to an AIM account called “blogchangebot” with the following contents:


Whenever that blog gets updated, you should receive notification via Insant Messenger or iChat.

Sounds pretty cool.

The service gets its information from which gets pinged by countless blogs. This very site sends a ping whenever I add a new journal entry.

So if you’d like to receive a notification whenever there’s a new entry here, just follow this link. I’m also adding a permanent link to my sidebar.

There’s one caveat with this: if you’re using a dot mac account, it just won’t work. You can still use iChat but you’ll need to sign up for an AIM account.

Friday, July 25th, 2003

Beach Guardian

Here’s the Guardian article about writing Guardian articles from the beach in Brighton.

The condensed version is: the Wi-Fi connection was kind of flaky, Olivia from Yummy Yakame was interviewed and some aggressive drunks threatened to make off with the laptops.

Thursday, July 24th, 2003

No fun in the sun

I’ve been completely snowed under with work today. That’s why I wasn’t able to make it down to the beach to greet the team from The Guardian who are putting together tomorrow’s edition using the free Wi-Fi provided by Pier to Pier.

So you won’t see my face in the group picture on the front of tomorrow’s G2 section.

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2003

Wireless Workshop

I’m sitting downstairs in the Grand Central pub in Brighton enjoying the bandwidth.

There was a Silicon Beach event on upstairs earlier. Jessica and I showed up fairly late. Normally these things never start on time but tonight was the exception.

We walked into a “workshop” on “The Creative Process”. People were divided into groups drawing pictures with crayons.

It was all very… Brightonesque.

Luckily it didn’t last much longer after we showed up and everyone adjourned to the bar downstairs which brings us back to where I am now, blogging wirelessly surrounded by some people from the Brighton New Media mailing list.

Well, the event may be have been not quite what I was expecting but I’m glad I finally got to check out the wireless access here at Grand Central.

It’s a nice pub too.

Redesigning Ben Hammersley

Seeing as I can’t afford a Volkswagen (not to mention the fact that I can’t even drive), I’m trying to get my hands on an iPod by other means.

Ben Hammersley is offering an iPod as a prize for redesigning his site.

I’ve been hacking away at it and I think my entry is ready for submission. I’ve included some background information on the hows and whys of the design.

Now all I can do is cross my fingers and wish really hard for that iPod.

Maybe I’ll sacrifice a few chickens just to be on the safe side.

Monday, July 21st, 2003

Sound and vision

I’m trying something new here.

Actually, I was originally trying to post my first journal entry via GPRS over Bluetooth. I tried it earlier today as I was sitting at a beachfront cafe but for some reason, I just couldn’t connect.

So instead of this being the first moblog entry, this will instead be the first entry with audio enhancement.

That’s right; I’m going to try to attach a sound file. I’ve been testing this all evening and I think I’ve got it working now (but I really do need to clean up my little homegrown CMS sometime).

I downloaded a few different audio applications from VersionTracker: Audio In, Audio Recorder and Audio X. I tried out each one and they all pretty much do the same thing, namely record snippets of audio.

I also upgraded to Quicktime Pro so that I could edit the soundfiles afterwards.

I just used the built-in microphone on my iBook to do the recording. The quality is surprisingly okay.

The sound file is a snippet of saxaphone played by a busker plying his trade on the seafront. You’ll also hear the sound of passers-by.

The picture was taken at the previously mentioned beachfront cafe where Jessica and I stopped for tea and scones.

How very English.

drinking a cup of tea

Sound File

Sunday, July 20th, 2003

This is just a test

This is not the journal entry you were looking for. Move along, move along.

I’m trying something new here. I’m going to try to attach a sound file.

Here goes…

Sound File

Saturday, July 19th, 2003

On the beach

After setting up my Bluetooth GPRS connection, I was all set to post my first mobile journal entry when I went to the beach yesterday evening to have a few drinks with Andy Budd.

Unfortunately, due to the fact that I am a moron, I forgot my Bluetooth adaptor.

The Loose Connection Wi-Fi hotspot at Bar De La Mer was also giving me grief so my evening remained resolutely unconnected.

On the plus side, it was an absolutely beautiful dusky evening and on the way back home, the tide was so far out that Jessica was able to kick off her sandals and walk on sand.

walking on the beach at low tide by the remains of the West Pier

Friday, July 18th, 2003

T68i Bluetooth GPRS Bluetooth connection with OS X on Orange

Please excuse the unwieldy title for this entry but I want to make sure that Google can point other souls in the direction of the helpful advice I am about to dispense.

Admittedly there won’t be too many people with an Orange pay-as-you-go account, a Sony Ericsson T68i and an Apple Bluetooth enabled laptop running OS X but if you are such a person and you’d like to be able to connect your laptop to the internet via GPRS on your mobile, here’s what you need to do.

The very first thing you’ll need to do is pair your devices, i.e. your ‘phone and laptop. This is very straightforward in OS X.

Open up Systems Preferences and select Bluetooth. Click on "Pair New Device". You should then see your ‘phone as a possible device to be paired. Select it.

You’ll have to enter a string of digits as a passcode, any string will do. Then your ‘phone will ask you for the same passcode. Enter the same string.

When the Bluetooth connection wizard asks you what you’ll want to do with your ‘phone. Select "Access the Internet using your phone’s data connection" and then choose "Use data connection" (not "Use dial-up connection").

Press Continue to complete the pairing.

Okay. Now your devices can communicate with one another. Let’s set each of them up.

Make sure that your T68i is configured for GPRS. You can do this by calling 451, option 2.

Better still, use a land-line and call 07973 100451 so that the cost of the call won’t be deducted from your pay-as-you-go balance.

Someone at Orange will sort out the GPRS for you. You’ll be sent an SMS which you delete, then turn the T68i off and on.

Assuming you’re all set up with GPRS, use your ‘phone’s menu and navigate to: "Connect" > "Data comm." > "Data Accounts" > "Orange GPRS Internet" > "Edit" > "APN".

Change the APN to: "payginternet" (all lower case, no quotes).

Note that is for the pay-as-you-go account only. If you have a monthly contract, don’t edit the APN.

Okay. Now your T68i is configured so all you need to do is set up your Mac.

Open Systems Preferences again and this time select Network. From the drop-down list, choose "USB Bluetooth Adaptor".

Under the TCP/IP tab, set it to configure manually and put an IP address of in the box. Leave everything else blank. Under the PPP tab, set the telephone number to *99***1#

(Note: the 1 refers to your CID number on your phone. That’s the default number that your ‘phone is comes with. You can always check this using your T68i’s menu.)

Under the Bluetooth Modem tab, select "Ericsson Infrared".

That should do it. Apply those changes.

When you want to go online, just make sure you have "USB Bluetooth Modem Adaptor" selected in Internet Connect.

I hope this information comes in handy for some budding road warrior out there.

I have to say, I never would have been able to get this thing set up if it wasn’t for the knowledgeable guy at Orange who I talked me through the tricky bits (forget the website; it doesn’t acknowledge the existence of OS X) and also Pete Barr-Watson who has a similar tutorial on setting up a Nokia 7650 over Bluetooth on a monthly contract.

I’ll be testing out my GPRS connection for blogging in the near future. Pete is still the moblogging king of Brighton, though.

Speaking of Brighton mobloggers, Cathy Jones has a site up and running where she posts a new picture from her mobile every day: The Hidden Room.

Thursday, July 17th, 2003

Ego boosting

There’s a great interview with Eric Meyer over at DMX Zone.

Any interview with the CSS guru is always worth reading. This one has reader-submitted questions.

I particularly like Eric’s answer to this question sent in by Matt Mills:

"Who, in your opinion, are the most exciting, cutting-edge, web professionals at work today?"

Eric’s response:

"Dave Shea, Doug Bowman, and Jeremy Keith are the three names that come immediately to mind.  They’re all three showing us how lean, validating mark-up and CSS can deliver great visual design using half (or less) the bytes of old-school HTML-driven layout, and yield highly accessible and multi-medium documents in the process. They’re also making it abundantly clear that CSS-driven design doesn’t all have to look the same."

Aw, shucks.

Just watch as my ego inflates in direct proportion to my blushing.

Tuesday, July 15th, 2003

Sunshine and wireless

It’s another beautiful day in Brighton.

I’m sitting in Riki Tik’s where I’ve just been having a good ol’ chinwag with Pete Barr-Watson. I’ve been helping him with some of the CSS on his site.

I’ve also been geeking out, admiring his cool toys. He came back from Japan with some nifty stuff like a tiny but powerful camera and 12" Apple Powerbook… with a Japanese keyboard (how cool is that?).

Of course he also had his mobile ‘phone with camera attached with which he took an unflattering picture of me.

We talked about Japan, Moblogging, iChat and cameras. He’s just about convinced me that I need to get an iSight. Now all I have to is convince everyone else to do the same.

I’ve already played around with the audio in iChat, which was very impressive if somewhat weird. Talking to a computer screen without anything to focus on feels kind of strange.

Great application all ‘round, though. Perhaps even a "killer app".

Don’t believe the hype? Here’s a glimpse of the future.

Monday, July 14th, 2003

Wish you were here

Over the last few days, England has been enjoying something of a heatwave, a beautiful heatwave.

I’ve been enjoying the warmth, lounging around in parks and on the beach. I’ve also been taking lots of pictures.

Today was an incredibly clear day. I could actually see the coast of France, something that’s normally obscured by fog, cloud or haze. The sky was a uniform blue colour that threw every building and object into sharp relief.

I was snapping pictures like crazy. I had to stop twice to download pictures on to my laptop. I was hoping to connect to the Pier to Pier network during one of these stops but, alas, it didn’t reach the café where Jessica and I stopped for iced coffees.

I’ve chosen some of the best pictures from today’s aimless rambling and put them together in a gallery: Brighton beach pictures.

Real Life

I’ve been honing my Quake playing skills lately, but Gamespot have a review of what sounds like a "must have" for fans of first-person, multiplayer adventures. It’s called Real Life:

"There are so many different options and viable decisions for a character to make that it’s just about impossible for any one character to see everything and visit all the colorful and sometimes dangerous locations. Unlike in other MMORPGs, combat actually isn’t a major factor for most players in real life, though players are bound to engage in a few skirmishes early in their lives."

Sunday, July 13th, 2003


My friend Andy Budd, from Message, has just launched a website to showcase his photography.

Check out the fantastic pictures he has taken on his travels in the Orient.

Friday, July 11th, 2003

Science + Tolkien = Geek Heaven

I am so there:

"UK fans of the Lord Of The Rings movies will be able to explore the wizardry behind the special effects at an exhibition in London’s Science Museum from September."


Thursday, July 10th, 2003

I, for one, welcome our new CSS overlords

Everyone’s been talking about the new design over at Adaptive Path. It sure is a beauty; a crisp, clean, elegant design wrapped up in yummy XHTML and CSS.

It’s no surprise to learn that the person behind this great piece of work is Douglas Bowman, the brains behind the Wired News redesign.

But there’s another site redesign that just slipped under the rader today. Local Brighton web agency, Message have launched their new site.

The websites of both Message and Adaptive Path have a lot in common. I don’t just mean that they both look great and take full advantage of CSS and XHTML to maximise download time, search engine ranking and accessibility. I mean that both companies use their websites to present honest, open profiles of themselves and what they do along with useful, relevant articles.

Honesty and quality, two attributes that are sadly underrated and missing from the websites of most companies. Most companies obviously haven’t read the Cluetrain Manifesto.

Message, Adaptive Path and 37 Signals are shining exceptions.

Actually, I’ve been wanting to link to a public beta of the Message site for a while now and I’ve had to restrain myself. They sent a URL of the forthcoming design to the Brighton New Media mailing list and solicited feedback there.

They used the feedback to refine the site design. I’m just glad they decided to keep my favourite feature: the most subtle use of Flash I’ve ever seen.

Go to the front page of the Message site and wait. Stay around long enough and you will be rewarded with a nifty little easter egg.

What decade is your personality living in?

My personality is, apparently, living in the 1990s:

"You’ve always been rational, sensible, even a little cynical, but you’ve never lost sight of the fact that life needs to be fun. You like unpretentiousness but hate it when an obscure artist you like sells out. You’re a ’90s kid!"

Damn, that’s eerily accurate.

Try it for yourself.

Mirror, mirror

I’ve got a new picture, taken on my trip to Dublin, up at The Mirror Project.

That brings my total to five.

Tuesday, July 8th, 2003


I came back from Ireland with my MP3 collection significantly enhanced by Diarmaid’s bounties. While we were both iChatting this afternoon we ended up at one stage listening to the same song.

This gave me an idea for a game.

To play this game, each participant will need:




and, of course, a Mac running OS X.

Each participant sets their iTunes library to play in random order. Using iChatStatus, each particpant can see what all the others are currently listening to.

When the same song is being played at the same time by two different people, send an iChat message immediately, saying simply "Snap!".

The winner is the one who dies of boredom last.

Ireland pics

I went to Ireland and all I got was this lousy image gallery.

Sunday, July 6th, 2003

A pint of plain is your only man

I’m back in Dublin after a week spent down in Cobh.

Jessica and I spent most of the time in Cork taking it easy, sampling seafood and stout. Now that we’re back in Dublin, we’ve been checking out some local bands, sampling the nightlife… and stout.

Just for the record, Murphy’s beats Guinness any day. Mind you, some of the brews at The Porterhouse are pretty impressive.

We’re off to Brighton tomorrow where they fob off warm dishwater as beer.

Tuesday, July 1st, 2003

Gone fishing.

After bidding farewell to Dublin with a trip to Guinness brewery, Jessica and I caught the train down to Cobh.

Since then, we’ve been taking it easy. The weather has been very Irish; warm sunshine and heavy downpours of rain, all within the space of a few minutes.

This evening, as we were strolling along the waterfront, we passed some local lads fishing for mackerel. It looked like they were having a fairly easy time of it. Shoals of mackerel were literally jumping out of the water. They were being fished out, six to a line.

After a little bit of embarrassed haggling with the young fisherman (nobody was quite sure what such an easy catch should cost), we left with four fresh, juicy mackerel.

We took them home and proceeded to behead, gut and fillet the fish. The first few attempts were fairly messy but by the fourth fish, we were producing some fairly decent filets.

I know what I’m having for breakfast tomorrow.

a young fisherman hauling in his catch