Month: March 2005

Top Trumps

Wandering round a local store I spotted them, hanging neatly on the rack. Instant flash back…

~~ wibbly ~ wobbly ~ wibbly ~ wobbly ~ wibbly ~ wobbly ~~

… memorising which performance car had the fastest acceleration, which plane carried the most passengers, which warship was the longest and a whole myriad of since forgotten trivialities which were almost a matter of life and death for me as a young boy.

~~ wibbly ~ wobbly ~ wibbly ~ wobbly ~ wibbly ~ wobbly ~~

I glanced over the display and the Star Wars edition caught my eye. It was too good to be true, my inner geek reacted and pushed all reason aside. In a similar fashion I found myself pushing over the small child standing in my way, grabbed the lovely silver packaging and headed to the till with my pocket money in hand, where I excitedly purchased my first set of Top Trumps cards in twenty years*.

If you played it you’ll remember the time stretching abilities of Top Trumps. The games could go on for days, the tension building as your stack was whittled down to the last few only for a dramatic comeback on the last card to switch the game in your direction. Such a simple game yet so addictive. Like Tetris. Maybe.

As soon as we were home I demanded a game and, after I threw a tantrum, Louise agreed. An hour later I emerged as the victor after an epic struggle where, as in yonder days of olde, I was down to my last card before fighting back and royally kicking her ass!! YEHAA!!!

Ahem.

Top Trumps, gone for so long, welcome back into my life. I think it’ll be the Simpsons edition next.

Today’s post was inspired by the one that isn’t scary nor a duck.

* Parts of this sentence may not have happened as depicted. Some call it distorting the truth, some call it lying, some even call it artistic license. I say the kid deserved it for getting in my road.

Get a grip

I’m finally getting to grips with WordPress, it’s that “click” moment I always (eventually) get with most things.

The final puzzle has been solved, in no small thanks to Stuart of foolfillment fame who left a link to a WordPress plugin in a recent comment. The plugin allows you to have a different number of posts displayed here on the ‘home’ page, on the search page, and in the various levels of archive page.

If you do want to use it, just edit it with a text editor, setting the limits as you desire, then upload it to the WordPress plugin directory, activate it et voilà! Go on, try it out. Search for something, or head into the archives. The search will return 25 posts, the archives will show 50 posts for each month and ALL the posts if you choose a year (might be advisable NOT to do that). The main page (that you are reading) is currently set to show the last 10 posts, but that can be changed if it’s causing the page to load slowly.

I’m still bemused as to why this isn’t standard functionality mind you.

Technorati

Some of the more observant of you may already have noticed a new addition to this site. Namely Technorati tags after the posts. I’m not entirely sure this feature will hang around (one more thing to remember to do each time I post) but as should be oh-so-very-obvious by now, if there is a bandwagon passing I never hesitate to thumb a ride.

Now, if I can just get the CSS to play nice and get the links and text the same size as the rest of the post footer stuff…

HaloScan

Just a quick note for anyone who uses HaloScan for their comments.

You have probably noticed some differences in the appearance of your comments and there may be other glitches over the next couple of days as the BETA testing continues – including downtime, no email notifications and the like. The HaloScan forum is full of people mentioning each and every foible so a quick search there should answer your question.

Well Read

Today is World Book Day.

In honour of this day, celebrating all that is good in the world of our paper based cousins (blogs and books, same family, different parents), I present to you my list of unread books and invite you to tell me which one I should read next. Should it be one of the ‘classics’? Or a more contemporary novel, should it be a novel at all? You decide (said in a Big Brother style).

Of further interest will be the World Book Day Online Festival which will have interviews with authors, chat sessions and much more. Should be worth a gander at some point.

So, my little bookworms, what should I read next, and what are you reading at the moment?

Old Bag

For future reference.

When you are walking along with your bag over your shoulder it is most likely that the bag will protrude slightly from your body. Please be aware of this fact, particularly if you are walking down a narrow(ish) pathway which has room for two people to pass, side by side.

This is a friendly reminder is so that, the next time a bag clouts me in the arm, leg or side, I won’t have to fight the urge to throw the bag into the River Clyde. Possibly with you still attached.

That is all.

De-sign

It’s not working. I can’t put my finger on it but it’s just “not right”, and it’s beginning to annoy me.

It may be because I’m working on other designs for other sites (two at the moment), it may be because my tastes are changing or that I’m spending more time at other sites, other sites which appeal more, that hit the right buttons. Or it may be that I’m never happy and enjoy the process of change more than the stationary aspects of this thing we call blog.

~

In a somewhat related note, and this is also related to the previous post, I’ve been wondering about common design standards for a blog. For example, I would guess that by NOT having my ‘logo’ (my name, up there on the left) set as a link to the root of the domain, I’m breaking some sort of unwritten yet agreed blog design rule.

Where does someone new to blogging go to find these rules? Do they exist? SHOULD they exist? Maybe as a set of guidelines? There are plenty of articles that focus on the content side, discussing better writing techniques and the like but very few that discuss what a blog design is and what it should contain.

The most obvious is some way of contacting the owner/author of the site. I lot of people are loathed to put any personal information online but given the proliferation of free email addresses it always amazes me that people don’t use one as a point of contact.

Then of course there are the more ‘advanced’ issues; setting up a robots.txt file, installing some form of statistic tracking scripts, a search facility, considering accessibility issues and so on. Currently I’m toying with adding technorati tags to my posts as a way to let more people access the content here (in the vain hope that someone somewhere may find it useful).

But then, isn’t that part of the fun, the constant innovation, the constant change masquerading as evolution and all the while the only true measure of a blog is the content. No number of fancy scripts and widgets will ever change that.

~

This is not where I thought I’d end up with this post but hey, I call it as I see it. Speaking of which, Mr. Kottke seems to be publishing at an increasing rate (I wonder how long before it settles down), unfortunately it’s not a lot of new content but he is certainly digging out some interesting stuff. However a lot of it seems to be falling into the category of “stuff that I find interesting but only when someone shows me it”. In other words, it’s good but only as a passing moment of intrigue.

Mind you, given all the vitriol I’m surprised that www.kottkewatch.com hasn’t been snapped up yet.

Thimble

Well it didn’t make much of a ripple (storm in a teacup) but it seems the British Blogs Top Ten has already called it a day. Oh well, I don’t think I’d have even scrapped into the top 100 but then I don’t actually care.

Although I will fess up and confirm that I have, as of yesterday, got Sitemeter tracking hits. I’ve used Extreme Tracking for ages, mainly for the referrers (hit counts are so transitory, you know?) and already can see a huge difference in the numbers.

Right at this moment Sitemeter is reporting exactly DOUBLE the amount of unique visits to my site. That’s quite a difference. Of course I also have access to web stats as provided by my fantastically lovely hosting company, 34sp, but as I can’t make them public (can I?) there is little point discussing them. In fact I hardly ever check them, too much hassle to get to the details.

Anyway, one thing British Blogs Top Ten (BBTT) has achieved is to bring some other British Blogs to my attention, a couple of them are now on my “auditioning” blogroll but I’d imagine they’ll make it over into the public one pretty soon. I guess the anonymous person behind BBTT will be happy about that as it was one of the stated aims of the site. However I think it’s safe to assume that it was an idea borne from good that just wasn’t really that well thought out (er.. that’s supposed to be a compliment, honest!). Kudos to him/her for doing it though, guess someone had to try.

It seems that Tim Worstall has picked up the baton and has started publishing a BritBlog Roundup, which might be worth keeping an eye on, or of course you can stick with the tried and tested Updated UKBlogs list.

Stop the bus

Hang on!

It’s March. MARCH!! How the chuff did that sneak up on me?? That means Mother’s Day, father-in-laws birthday and.. er.. some other ‘family’ things that Louise will remember. Anyway I have a complaint to make:

I want an extra day.

We had one last year, why can’t we have one this year as well? In fact why can’t we just add a day to the year EVERY year? What’s to stop us? WHO will stop us?? Well apart from the Catholic church of course, but let’s be honest here. What power do they have these days? The days of the Inquisition are long gone even if it would seem that a large portion of the aforementioned church are still living their days with that mindset. I digress, this isn’t supposed to be an anti-Catholic rant.

In fact as we didn’t adopt this calendar until 1752 aren’t we owed .. er .. 639,480 days. Can we get a petition together, maybe start a campaign? I’m sure we can find a politician to give it some backing, just tell him that for each day he gains back, he’ll get a vote.

March.

Blimey.

He said

Whilst I was waiting for 24 to start last night, well whilst I was waiting to watch it in ‘chase’ mode, I did a little channel surfing stopping at some red carpet footage from the Oscars. Admittedly it was merely to see if I could catch some of the more beautiful ladies in their best bibs and tuckers (yes yes I KNOW the ladies wouldn’t be wearing the bibs and tuckers, I’m not a complete idiot, not yet anyway. Still practising though.).

Now whilst I think she has a certain attractiveness Maggie Gyllenhaal isn’t high up my list. Neither is thin Oprah (neither is fat Oprah but she wasn’t there), nor Samuel L. Jackson’s wife. In fact bar a fleeting shot of Penelope Cruz, not really my type either, it was a complete waste of ten minutes.

Apart from one thing.

I’m not sure if they are new, or whether the American TV shows I watch just don’t use them, but there are a few phrases I’ve heard over the last few days, and last night in particular that have me perplexed.

1. “My bad”
Whilst I understand the meaning behind this, where does it stem from? Is it a shortened form of a longer sentence, and if so what? Surely “I’m bad” is sufficient? Or is this just a backlash against Michael Jackson (by the way have you seen that ‘item of evidence’ email that’s been going round, yeuch).

2. “… as all get up”
Used generally in a positive sense and tacked onto the end of a statement, this phrase is the one that really perturbs.
What does it mean? As… what gets up? The dog that’s been lying on the floor? Can it only be used when describing an outfit, hence making me presume it’s taken from the phrase “Check that get up” which has completely the opposite, derogatory, meaning.

I’m sure there are others but I’ll need another coffee before I can think of them.

I may not understand why Americans prefer z to s (ize to ise), nor why they find the letter u so offensive as to drop it altogether from words, but that’s just* spelling. This is like some weird lazy language and I demand an explanation.

* pedants please. I know it’s not JUST spelling, I know that there are deeper matters of great importance inherent in the way you choose to spell. (Update, I KNEW the pedants would find fault somewhere!)