Month: March 2004

Rubber

Anyone know where I can get a sheet of rubber, about half an inch thick should do it…

It’s our washing machine you see (I know what you were thinking, perverts…) I’ve tried wedging it with bits of woods and all sorts but ultimately it ends up shaking them clear. It’s set to spin at 1100 rpm which isn’t that high I don’t think, and we Louise is very careful not to overload it…

It’s driving me nuts to be honest, I’m hoping to deaden the vibrations by standing it on some rubber, because at the moment it’s spinning away and I can feel the vibrations through my seat in the next room (ohh for goodness sake, stop snickering).

So, any suggestions?

This reminds of a conversation my mates and I had in the pub a few years ago.. something about washing machines anyway … we all paused at the same moment, knowing that we’d finally hit ‘middle-age’ – we were having a conversation about washing machines!

Connected

So the nice Telewest man came out, did something outside and now my phone works.

He also checked the digibox (TV) and my cable modem. Good idea that, I’d have hated it if he’d buggered them up whilst fixing the phone.

However he did something to the cable modem, not sure exactly what, something to do with the incoming voltage I think (“attenuated it”) so I’m off to figure out what he did… better not affect my connection speed.

Ohh and whilst I remember, thanks to Brian and Richard for their previous comments. It’s always good to know that there are people out there who know more about things than I do… ehhh… I think that’s a good thing…

Jack of all Trades

If you’re eating enough fruits and vegetables, you must not give a damn about protein is Jeffrey Zeldman’s response to (amongst others) Standard Angst by Greg Storey.

Zeldman’s point is one I can empathise with. It’s very similar to my professional job in approach, as these days, designing for the web encompasses a myriad of distinct skills. A site must be visually appealing (graphic design), must follow various usability rules (user interface design), must be unique (creativity), must load quickly (technical understanding), must be easy to navigate (information design), must… the list goes on.

Add to this list the ‘standards’ argument and you then need to be able to understand and code CSS layouts, and your code should meet with W3 compliance. These days coding a website is rapidly approaching the state where you could class yourself as a programmer.

My job is the same. As a Technical Author you need to be able to write to a high standard, understand technical information, design documents to meet differing audience knowledge levels, create diagrams that remain simple whilst conveying complex concepts, understand HOW the software is structured which invariably requires some degree of knowledge of the underlying coding structure… and so on.

In essence I agree with Zeldman’s point, just because you are focussing on one area doesn’t mean you are letting your knowledge of another area slip. However Greg does have some valid points, and I guess it was only time before this happened.

As with any idea which is thrown into the (main)stream many people latch onto it and are quite happy to float away, still clinging to that idea. Other people will swim over, check out the idea, maybe tag along for a while and the head off to find something a bit large, a bit more stable.

I guess this is my way of explaining why I’m not THAT bothered if my coding doesn’t pass CSS and XHTML validation. I believe the use of standards is important, but until such times as the BROWSERS support the standard, it’s always going to be a fudge to make your site appear the same everywhere. My response is that I don’t bother. My site looks similar in IE 5.5/6, Opera, and Firefox. If anything was seriously wrong in another browser I’m sure someone would tell me.

Hmmm, that was a bit more than I’d planned to say on this topic. Suffice to say that I’ve done a little tweaking and will hopefully update things here later today – as I said previously “Ask and ye shall receive”.

Ask and ye shall receive

No, I’ve not been to see the Passion of the Christ, this is much more unholy than that.

I’ll warn you all now, this may not be pretty. However I’m determined to make this site more personal and if that means responding to a request here and there then so be it. With that, I’ll firstly let you know who to blame for this.

In response to this post, Zed of My Boyfriend is a Twat responded thusly: could you also add pictures of naked men ?

Ladies and Gentlemen, some of you may want to avert your eyes, indeed very few of you should actually click the link that follows (yeah right, I know what you lot are like, you’ve probably skipped ahead already, in fact you’ve probably already looked and are only reading this now.. well in that case don’t say I didn’t warn you!! Only got your impetuous selves to blame!).

A picture of a naked man.

DVD Player

For those who have asked. The cheap DVD player I bought was a “COMPAKS” (sic) DVD 800. It was bought in Woolworths. The one advantage of these cheapers is that they play most formats, and are easily made to support multi-region DVDs.

This means you could, possibly, although you’d be aware of the (il)legalities of doing so, download an episode of… say.. 24 series 3, burn it onto a CD, and watch it in your DVD player. Or you could fill a CD with MP3s and use your new, cheapo, DVD player to play the MP3 CD – giving you some 300 odd songs I think. Finally, it’s usually a case of following the instructions provided (or found) to make your DVD player region free, meaning you can order DVDs from anywhere in the world. My Japanese version of Donnie Darko works fine.

My advice is, if you spot a cheap DVD player, pick it up, chances are it’ll do all of the above (and may also support JPEGs on CD as well give you an electronic slide show viewer as well). However if you are more cautious than me, and presumably have a bank balance in the black (what a weird thought that is) you can always check the capabilities using the DVD Player Compatibility List.

Simple. This is the reason I laugh at my mates who have the latest Sony DVD player/surround system having spent, probably, a few hundred quid AT LEAST. I’ve spent £154 on two DVD players. One includes a surround system with inputs for both the digibox and my Playstation, the other is a teeny tiny unit which fits perfectly with the 15″ TV in the bedroom. MY DVD players both play CD-R, DVD-R (and R+), MP3 CDs and display JPEGs. Theirs don’t *snigger*.

Now I just need to get some decent porn on DVD and I’m sorted.. ohh hang on.. I can just burn my own!

Bravo Communication

I’m not a Moveable Type user, nor do I use TypePad, but that’s not the point.

Having just read: Mena’s Corner: Where did those 22 other people come from? I’m struck by the honesty and courage it took to write it. It’s an honest appraisal of personal and company failings, and I’m sure it will be reflected on in the months and years to come, hopefully in a positive manner.

It’s a lesson that other companies could learn from, and not necessarily just small ones. It’s so much easier these days to communicate with your customers, to give them an insight into your company and create an emotional bond. The Abbey National is a good example of refocussing their company as more ‘user-friendly’ (well, marketing it as such anyway, I’ve no experience on the actual workings of the company). It all falls into that ‘brand’ loyalty idea, Apple being one of the prime examples.

Are Apple computers BETTER than any others? For my needs my PC does what I need, as would an Apple. The same can be said of this site, Blogger does everything (almost) I need, as does Moveable Type. Does that mean Blogger is BETTER than MT? Well for me, possibly yes. For others, probably no. Each to their own. I’ve no real idea why I stick with Blogger, other than I feel some affinity to it, I kept up with company developments via various blogs, and had a real emotional connection. It was like watching a kid grow up, I guess…

Anyway, BRAVO Mena Trott and everyone at Six Apart. You’ve reacted the right way to criticsms and that can only help bolster both your position, and people’s affection. I guess NOW might be the time to switch?

Twuntage: Take 2

They did phone.

The engineer will be out on Wednesday to fix the problem. You see somehow the ‘switch’ lost our details. So if you rang our number, it rang. Just not at our end. The engineer requested the details from the ‘switch’ and found it was blank (presumably except for our telephone number) so had to get that remedied before they can fix the fault that was there all along, between the box in the street and the phone socket in our house.

If you understand what I just typed, please explain it to me, as it reads awfully like: You had a problem, we spent a few hours faffing around. You still have the problem. We will fix the problem on Wednesday.

Mind you, at least the customer service woman said that compensation would be offered, saved me having to throw a hissy fit (but as I’ve not had one for ages I felt kinda cheated).

Anyway, bugger this – I was going to talk about favicons, discussions in comment boxes and highbrow ‘web’ stuff like that but I can’t be arsed. Got me Horlicks, I’m off to bed.

Stage 2

Thank you all for your flattering comments about the re-design. I’ll let you in on a wee secret though, all I did was change two graphics, and two margin settings in the stylesheet. So the horizontal background image (repeated across the page previously) was replaced by a vertical background image. The banner was the other change. Then it was off to the stylesheet to make sure the background repeated vertically, to remove the ‘auto’ left margin and make the content column a little wider. Total time – 15 minutes. Sorry. It IS a good advocate for CSS design though.. sooo easy to change things.

Not finished yet, ohh and whilst I remember, for those STILL using 800×600 (you know who you are) I apologise for the horizontal scroll, however my main aim was to ensure the content remained visible at all times as that, I think, is the most important thing.

So onto the next phase of tweaks:
1. Add a little more room between the posts – possibly re-introduce a graphic between them?
2. Show/hide for the blogroll and the archives.
3. Figure out a way to make the miniblog stand out.
4. Make a decision concerning the URL – I’m swaying towards gordonmclean.co.uk as the MAIN domain, with the .com and snowgoon.co.uk as redirects.

Of course I’m far too busy to do any of this… no really.. I’ve got real work to do, but well you know how it is.. put things off until the last minute… scared of failure… not confident in abilities… yadda yadda yadda… Oy! enough with the psycho-analysis already!

Twuntage

(thanks for that word Lyle)

A quick bit of background: We are with Telewest who also supply my our broadband connection and cable TV package. We’ve been with them since we moved in here, about 2 and a half years ago. I’ve paid every bill by direct debit.

So, Friday afternoon I realise our phone line is dead. I phone customer support and they arrange an engineer for Monday (today) between 11a.m. and 2p.m.
Doorbell goes at 1.02p.m. I’m not surprised by this having had Telewest engineers out 3 times since moving here and they’ve always appeared on time.

Come on in, I say. The engineer says that there isn’t any need as he’s been trying to fix my problem for the last two hours but hasn’t been able to get anywhere.

Confused I ask him what he’s talking about. He explains.

Basically, seemingly (ridiculously) Telewest have ‘lost’ the fact that I have a phone account with them. So they disabled the service. This is despite the fact that on Thursday last week, the monthly bill came through, and I checked it to see how many international calls we’ve made (to Spain to Louise’s Mum and Dad) to see if the International calling package I’d had added to our account the previous month was saving us money (which it is).

GRRRRRR – surely there is some step in their procedure that states: if the person has been paying for a phone line, and has made calls USING the phone line then they are entitled to have the phone line. I mean it’s not like I was trying to cheat them but using a phone service I hadn’t paid for…

So they are going to phone me (!) to clarify the issue. I’m not sure if they will contact me on my mobile (which should be fun as the reception in the house is lousy) or if they will re-enable the phone line to do so, either way the matter of three days of lost service will be discussed!

If you believe..

Was thinking of heading to bed early last night, decided to take a last flick through the channels and was rewarded with the opening scene for Man on the Moon. This was a movie I’d wanted to catch when it was at the cinema, and never managed it, I guess I could’ve picked it up on DVD but it kind of slipped my mind.

The film deals with the life of Andy Kaufman, best known as Latka Gravas in Taxi (you know, the one that spoke in a funny voice and wore white overalls). If you’ve never seen Jim Carrey in a serious role I’d suggest you watch this movie, he handles the role extremely well, handling the demons that came with Kaufman’s character with some empathy.

Rumours abound that Andy Kaufman staged his own death, but I doubt that.. although the film does hint at this in the final shot. Needless to say, when the movie ended I decided to find out a little more about the man, and came across a very good Andy Kaufman site (thanks Google).