Month: January 2005

Scrapbook

If, like me, you struggle to keep a track of this snippet of information, that website, the quote you wanted to use, the thought that prompted a post or article, then may I suggest (and if you are using Firefox as your main browser) you install the Scrapbook extension. Once installed you can start it from the Tools menu.

It allows you to capture either URLs, snippets of websites or entire web pages. It probably does more than that, to be honest, but I’ve only been using it for a few hours (since this afternoon) and I’m already blown away. It’s just SO DARN USEFUL!

Now, how would you do this in Internet Explorer??

SITE NOTE: With thanks to Lyle and David for their helpful suggestions I’ve managed to implement a stylesheet switcher. It’s over their on the left. Not a huge choice at the moment but I was concentrating on getting it working first before worrying too much about the actual “style”. Cheers for your help guys, turns out that I’m a numpty and forgot to give the correct directory path to the CSS files (David I’d started with the ALA PHP switcher and went back to it and spotted my mistook). Suggestions for ‘new’ styles are welcomed.

Slimline

Itchy feet has advantages. For a while Louise and I were moving house every year (or less). It was just the way things panned out when we were down south. We rented at first, then bought a flat and then a year later decided to sell it (not sure it was a full year either), so back to rented accomodation we went.

The advantage is that we don’t have much in the way of ‘extraneous stuff’. Other than the trappings of materialism – DVDs, CDs, books and the like – we aren’t hoarders by nature, or at least not long term hoarders. Eventually the emotional tie to an object will be broken and it’ll get turfed out, maybe to Oxfam if it’s still in good nick, maybe sold in the local paper or maybe just taken to the skip. We both seem to run on a similar ‘purge’ schedule meaning that when one of us decides that they are going to tidy out their books, the other will think “Yeah I should go through my wardrobe and do that too”.

And so we did. Most of Sunday was spent deciding, sorting, tidying, binning, and collecting. All sorts of stuff. Oxfam will get a nice big bag of clothes and a box of books, all in good order. The recycle bin is now full, as is the regular bin. The house is tidy and organised, and I’m now noticing that we’ve yet to put photos in THAT frame for above THERE, and those shelves for THERE are still sitting up stairs waiting to be fitted. Plenty of time for that though.

Sometimes I do wish we held onto a few more things, sentimental things, the type you find in most attics and lofts across the land. But we don’t, a box of photos and a few old toys is about all the sentimentality we can muster. They lie in the loft, carefully boxed, waiting to bore future generations. Relics of a time gone past, where REAL things held our attention. “Let me show you a photo” I’ll say. The child will turn to the nearest screen and watch for it appearing, only to be bewildered when I produce a paper like rectangle with a picture on it.

Stylesheets

So I’ve implemented a small stylesheet switcher (over on the left). Well when I say implemented I really mean that I’ve TRIED to implement it but, for some reason, the damn thing won’t work. I can’t even get Firefox to display the alternate stylesheet. Summat dodgy is going on. SORTED!

Anyway, this evenings task – before I start a mockup design for another website, and write up a piece comparing information mapping techniques to current web design trends – is to write down all the books I’ve got, sitting on three different bookshelves, that I’ve still to read. Whilst I’m not promising to buy NO books this year, I certainly don’t want to buy any more until I’ve gotten through some of the dust gathering tomes already lining our walls and that includes the three books I currently have on the go.

How many unread books do you have?

Snippets of life

On the train on Friday night, a father and his toddler take their seat. The young boy is fascinated by the speed of the train, gazing out at the blur of buildings and lights that whizz past. Suddenly, without prompting, starts singing “Happy Birfday” (to his mummy) finishing with three muted Hip Hip Hoorays, after which he falls silent again and watches the world speed by.

A quick glance round the carriage and everyone has a little smile on their face; their weekend journey home suddenly made all the more bearable.

24

Series 4 has started. Alas it’s on Sky and that means adverts and that means the fast paced editing loses ALL it’s impact.

So we recorded it and zipped past the adverts. I’m sure it’ll be repeated but it already (two episodes in) looks like it’ll be another cracking series. I don’t watch much TV but do NOT get in my way when I’m watching 24.

Ohh and we are 4 episodes behind the States so will any American visitors please refrain from adding any spoilers to the comments. Ta.

Scruples

Friday evening was spent celebrating our Christopher’s, our oldest nephew, 18th birthday. It was a very good night, a good meal, good company and we finally got to meet his best friend Ryan. Ryan got very drunk. Very VERY drunk. Thankfully he’s a friendly drunk though so wasn’t too much hassle (hope the hangover wasn’t TOO bad Ryan!). Snippets from the evening – our godson Mark declared that, having drank 5 cans of Coke he would be awake until Tuesday (it was very funny at the time!), bumping into an old friend’s brother and subsequently having a mobile phone thrust in my direction with aforementioned friend on the line. He’s now in London and is about to start work on Saturday Night Fever – well done Malcolm!

Anyway, for fear of embarassing him too much I’ll just say that it’s my honour to have known Christopher (sorry mate, still can’t get used to calling you Chris) for most of his life, and I hope that his and Ryan’s plans to take on Microsoft come to fruition. Actually Louise and I were talking about that and, between them, they have the makings of a good team. Both are smart although I think Ryan would concede that Chris (see I’m trying!) is the brains, whereas Ryan would most definitely be the mouth of the operation. One with the clever ideas, one to sell the idea and talk the talk. Hey, stranger things have happened and I’ll take this moment to point out that I’m giving them my full (non-financial) support and best wishes with any future venture (just remember your old Uncle Gordon when you make your first million!!).

Introspection

Some questions.

1. Anyone having a problem with my Site Feed? It SHOULD be listing the full post but doesn’t appear to be working. This is a WordPress issue (I think) but I’ve no idea how to fix it. The WordPress Support Forum is quiet on this one and don’t even get me started on the documentation. DOH DOH DOH. Why didn’t I think of that?
Many thanks to Ian and David for their prompt, and correct, responses. I just wish it had been a bit less obvious so I wouldn’t feel quite so thick. Anyhoo, FULL Site Feed is now available and if you used the link on the left you shouldn’t have to change a thing.

2. Greyscale (grayscale) – I’d LOVE to have those Flickr photos on the left there available in greyscale – is it possible? CSS (yeah yeah I know, IE only filters are available) what about a clever PHP script??

3. Is there a specific reason why my comments level has dropped off so dramatically? Is it the content? Actually, don’t answer that one, I know the answer. You guys are really hard to please!! 😉

EDIT: OK, this last one spanks of “Validate me!” so much I was gonna delete it. But I won’t. I want to remember the day when I SANK THIS LOW!!!

Christ, I need a beer.

A letter

Dear Lloyds TSB,

Firstly I’d like to thank you for giving me a mortgage at a great rate. I’m saving over £100 a month by switching to you and I’m truly grateful.

However you might want to take a look at your internet banking facility. I’m sure a lot of people have no problem using it, but I think I’ve found a flaw. See if you mistype or forget your password, and your “memorable information” has to be, by your decision, an alphanumeric combination (which isn’t ever going to be memorable now, is it… pet’s name and birthdate or something? I mean, come ON!) then the chances are you may forget that as well. Up to this point the system works fine, you can create a new password, and phone a support line to have it activated. Perhaps this is a bit much but hey, I’m all for a secure system.

Only problem is that the only way I can be ‘validated’ is – after confirming my name, address, inside leg measurement and so on – to describe some transactions that have been through the account. Ohh but they have to be real transactions, you know, not direct debits or anything (I did ask the jolly support lady why a direct debit wasn’t deemed ‘real’ and, of course, she explained that “that     was    how    the    system    worked” – yes she said it slowly so I’d u n d e r s t a n d) so I’m stumped as I only use the account to transfer money into to pay my mortgage.

I was given two options, either make some ‘real’ transactions with the account or I could get a letter delivered which would require further phone calls. What a wonderful system. Thank you.

Yours in bewilderment,

Gordon McLean

———

OK, so I should have remembered the login information but I’ve only accessed the site once before. I can tell them the account number and password (but they won’t let me, you know, for security, they are obviously worried that someone hacks their phone system or that they can’t trace calls coming into their.. CALL centre), how much should be in it, how many payments I’ve made into the account but no, they weren’t ‘real’ transactions. Fuckwittery of the highest order if you ask me.

I’ve use several other secure online facilities. If I forget details at ANY of those I can have the system assign a new password, send it out by email, and require validation on the site. If they can do it, WHY CAN’T LLOYDS TSB!

/rant

Always Remember

Whilst I didn’t post about it here I was aware of the services and memorials going on to mark Holocaust Day. I wonder if this is a better way to remember war and all it’s atrocities, rather than Remembrance Day. Whilst I have absolutely no idea what it was/is like to be in a war, it might be better for current and future generations to be focussed on stopping anything like the Holocaust from happening again but what have we learned from Auschwitz?. Hopefully to always remember.

The Aviator

Movie info from IMDB
Movie reviews from Metacritic

Took some time out tonight to head to the cinema to catch Howard Hughes story, The Aviator. Jolly good it was too (as Katharine was wont to say). The acting is delivered well, the pacing whilst slow in places pulls you through the movie at a comfortable speed and the whole thing just felt very very well done.

Almost in tribute to the perfectionist that Hughes was, the joy here is in the detail. The visual impact of the movie is well handled – moving from two tone Technicolor at the start through to full colour towards the end – as is the sound – the sequence when Hughes is eating lunch with Senator Brewster is aurally enough to make me slightly repulsed as Hughes is – and the special effects are so well handled that, for possibly the first time in a movie, I easily accepted them into the flow of the movie (I think that is a sign that whilst the eye can still tell when special effects are being used, we are becoming more accustomed to them and don’t jar as much as we used to… maybe).

Nominated for 11 Oscars and from what I could see they all deserve the nomination, particularly for Best Director and Best Cinematography. They might not all deserve to win one, mind you, but this is very much a film that is greater than the sum of it’s parts. Won’t be for everyone but if you enjoy a well made movie, catch this one.

Film details from IMDB.