Days: it’s a blog thing

Previous ramblings are stashed away under Replays.

Friday, November 28, 2003 ↓

The world’s gone mad

Or at least, Los Angeles County has, as evidenced by this article from BBC News:

Technology firms supplying Los Angeles County with hardware have been asked to avoid using the words “master” and “slave” to describe their products.

The request follows a complaint by one LA County employee who considered the description offensive.

Suupliers of equipment to the county are now being asked to make sure is isn’t labelled in a way that could be interpreted as offensive or discriminatory.

If this sounds like another urban legend, it isn’t. It’s been checked out by Snopes, and their Master/Slave article includes the full text of an e-mail sent by LA County to its suppliers.

Posted at 8:31 AM

Thursday, November 27, 2003 ↓

Something in the way he moves

When I walk up the corridor outside my office, the rubber soles of my shoes squeak on the flooring. When I walk back down in the other direction, they don’t.

Posted at 2:33 PM

Wednesday, November 26, 2003 ↓

Will work for food

The old saying, “Good artists borrow; great artists steal” (and variations of it) has been attributed to everyone from Picasso to TS Eliot. So, borrowing from the example of Mark Pilgrim, who borrowed from Michael Barrish, here’s my own hire me page, with elaborations.

As for that “Will work for food” thing, I prefer food vouchers. The kind that have Pounds Sterling or Kronor splashed all over them.

Posted at 5:50 PM

You learn something new every day

It’s true, and recently I learned something in the “small but useful” category from a reader in Belgium — so I wrote a few notes about it.

Posted at 8:09 AM

Tuesday, November 25, 2003 ↓

E-mail obfuscation works, apparently

Some time ago, I wrote an article about a simple method to protect yourself against evil spambots harvesting your e-mail address from your web site. I thought after a couple of years experience, the time was right to update the article with a note about how effective the method has proved to be.

Posted at 5:52 PM

Admissions in the Soham trial

In reference to the two little girls he is charged with killing, Ian Huntley admits:

  • Holly and Jessica went into his home at 5 College Close shortly after 1830 BST on Sunday 4 August.
  • Jessica’s mobile was switched off at 1846 BST.
  • Holly and Jessica died in 5 College Close on Sunday 4 August.
  • The only other person present in the house was Ian Huntley.
  • Ian Huntley removed the dead bodies and transferred them in his Ford Fiesta to the place they were found.

When the defence presents its case, I’ll be fascinated to hear his explanation of how two healthy young kids just simultaneously keeled over and died in his house, and why rather than dialling 999 he felt compelled to take their bodies away to a secluded spot and bury them.

Posted at 4:07 PM

Free fonts

Amongst the tweaks I’m making to this site is to set Bitstream Vera Sans in the style sheets as the preferred typeface for body text. You can download Vera from the free fonts page.

I’m also defining fonts in relative sizes rather than fixed pixel sizes as I did in the past. This is better for accessibility generally, and also lets Internet Explorer users change the text size on the page. Unlike some other arguably better browsers (Mozilla, Opera, Safari), IE can’t scale text that has been set in pixels in the style sheets.

Posted at 2:25 PM

Popular Music from Vittula

During my “residency” here in Gothenburg, I’ve become aware of a Swedish novel by Mikael Niemi that has been selling by the truckload. I’ve been meaning to track down a copy, but that became another thing on my long and almost forgotten To Do list. I was reminded by a quote from the book, Popular Music from Vittula, on the lovely Dearbhaile’s site:

Grandad maintained tetchily that electricity was the most ridiculous invention ever to come from southern Sweden, it pampered and spoiled man and beast alike, decreased the mass of muscle in working men and women as well, reduced your tolerance of the cold, spoiled people’s night eyes, ruined the hearing of teenagers and made them incapable of eating rotten food, and was well on the way to eradicating the endurance and patience that were virtues of the Tornedalen people, since everything was done nowadays at breakneck speed by engines. Before long sexual intercourse would be replaced by electricity as it was a strenuous exercise and a sweaty one as well, and that kind of thing was regarded as old-fashioned now, as we all know.

That’s a wonderful sketch, conveying at the same time the distrust of the elderly for anything new-fangled, and the disdain of the northerner for the south of Sweden — from whence cometh all things evil or stupid.

The English translation is published by Seven Stories Press, and I’ve added it to my wish list.

Posted at 12:30 PM

Monday, November 24, 2003 ↓

The highrise

While I’ve been neglecting this place, it seems that Vicky has abandoned her old digs and embraced her passion for high-rise buildings with her new home.

Her “Roots” project seems to have got lost in the move, hopefully only temporarily — it was a nice idea.

Posted at 6:33 PM

Do not adjust your set

There might be a little weirdness around here for a while, because I’ve started a project to tidy up the code and refine the style sheets on the site. Browsers have moved on since I first built this site, and so have I — I know more now than I did then, and there are better ways to do things. I resisted the temptation to launch into a total redesign, because

  • I’m not completely bored with this design yet;
  • it’s an interesting challenge to see how clean I can make the code and style sheets, as well as putting some long overdue accessibility improvements in place.

This all falls into line with one of my original uses for this site, to experiment and try out new techniques.

This is a work in progress, and will be filtering progressively down the sections of the site. The entire Ways section (such as it is) and some ancillary pages (like the contact form) have already been through the wringer. So has this page. Outwardly, it may not look much different, but that was the objective. Underneath, amongst other things

  • menu rollovers are now effected through CSS, not JavaScript;
  • decorative images like those in the header are now pulled in as background images with CSS, and so disappear to be replaced with text in browsers that don’t support CSS well;
  • accessibility features have been added that are explained on the new accessibility statement.

If you’re curious, you can see this page without style sheets — just plain, semantic HTML.

Posted at 6:11 PM

After long silence

No, this entry won’t be as poetic as Yeats, but yes, I’ve been a long time quiet.

The overarching reason has been lack of time and energy. Previous visitors might know that I spent a few years commuting weekly between Scotland and Sweden. This year, I gave up the fight — and to all intents and purposes, I moved to Gothenburg. Not forever, but for an indeterminate time.

Trying to keep on top of jobs for clients back in the UK, while working almost full time on a project here, has been pretty draining. I’ve found little opportunity even to think about maintaining my personal site.

But I’m getting back on top of things. The break has done me good, and allowed me to think about what I’m doing with this space. I know I’ve never really begun to do the things I wanted to do with this site, and trying to make reasonably frequent blog postings probably got in the way. So I’ve decided not to feel bad about posting less often, and to be more selective in what I blog. Meanwhile, I’ll try to cultivate the barren fields that are the other sections of this site, in the hope that the fruits will appeal to somebody.

Posted at 3:03 PM

Sunday, May 11, 2003 ↓


Ah, computers. Isn’t it funny how things that were working perfectly well can get inexplicably screwed up? Jennifer at Confetti Falling let me know there was a problem with the notify list sign-up form for my Blogger templates. I’ve no idea how long it had been out of commission, so if anyone tried to use it and gave up, it’s now back in working order again.

Posted at 9:21 PM

Registry of Design

A quick Hi! to anyone finding their way here from the Registry of Design — a catalogue of web page templates by a number of independent designers — where webmaster Becky has listed a Blogger template of mine, Bloghaus. I know it’s a rather lonely offering at the moment, but it will be joined by other free templates… when I find the time.

Posted at 9:16 PM

You know you’ve really made it when…

your site is so well known that you can dispense with any sort of identifying logo or name near the top of the page. Of course, Jeffrey Zeldman “made it” a long time ago, but it’s only in his latest girly-girl makeover that he has done away with “the redundant logo/home button”. Of course, some people don’t like it. I think it’s purty.

Posted at 9:15 PM

Wednesday, April 30, 2003 ↓

iTunes music store: cheap and legit

Apple has “opened up” the expected iTunes Music Store, and Todd Dominey has a good a good write-up over at What Do I Know?

With over 200,000 digital songs available from all 5 of the big record labels, music lovers can purchase songs one by one for 99 cents, or an entire album for around $10. No monthly subscriptions or ridiculously cumbersome encryption. Once you purchase a song, you can copy the track to up to 3 Macs, and of course, your iPod, to listen to your downloaded music on the go.

Apple has a potential winner on its hands here, but there is one small fly in the ointment picked up in a TidBITS article:

…the iTunes Music Store offers both individual tracks and albums for sale and does not require a subscription, although customers may currently purchase only using a valid credit card billable to a United States address

No luck for us Brits (or anyone else), then. Though I daresay this shortcoming will be addressed in the fullness of time.

There’s more on Wired News.

Posted at 1:04 PM