Month: April 2005

Awareness

You know I’m not actually sure who knows about this site. I mean I know YOU lot do, but what about the other people I work with, friends and family that read this but never mention it, never comment, never PASS comment. I know my Mum and Dad read this, and my mate Keith, and a couple of old school friends but I’m pretty sure the rest of the numbers are made up of fellow bloggers, and I’m guessing it’s about 90% in favour of blogdom (I need to find a word to replace blogosphere – blogdom, bloghaven, blogtown, “the internet”???).

I know that several people I work with know about the site but I doubt they are regular visitors (aside from the two who have blogs – and I’m not sure even they visit often – and a certain tall long haired biker dude with big sticks). So who else is out there, eyeballing this, wondering how on earth I’ve got the time to blog (pre-dated posting people!) when I’m as busy as I claim to be.

So let’s take an educated guess. In fact let’s get scientific for a moment, as there is a simple equation I can use to ascertain how many people I know read my blog:

        A x B = Z

where:
A is the number of joke emails about the pope = 50
B is the number of people who’ve read that I don’t give a rats ass about “that old bloke what died” but still sent on of the abovementioned types of email = 0 (I’m presuming, or they wouldn’t have sent me the email)
Z will be the number of people I know that read this blog.

giving:
        50 x 0 = 0

Well, it’s either that or they’re just trying to piss me off, or incite some kind of office email rage incident (which isn’t as bad as it sounds, as all I do is HUFFFF loud enough for a few people to hear, yank my earphones out letting them drop to the desk, and then stomp off to make a cup of coffee).

I’m serious, if I see another email resembling “Pope Idol” or “Car for Sale” featuring the Popemobile I WILL throw a hissy fit!!

And yes I’m sure the mathematicians amongst you will be able to find flaw with my “equation”. Let me remind you that I write for a living, I don’t DO numbers*. I’ll corret your speling, you can correct my englich.

* that sentence is gonna back-fire on me in sooooo many ways.

Incitement

We were driving through to the in-laws caravan on Sunday, along the A811 which is a typical windy country road when, as we approached a blind bend, some idiot in a red Honda Civic decided to zoom up behind me and overtake, causing me to brake to let him back in – lest he be left in the wrong side of the road as, say a large tractor came round the corner and ran over his silly little car. I spotted him starting this maneouver (in some disbelief from both Louise and I given the short distances involved) and voiced my displeasure with an elongated blast of the horn as he zipped past me and narrowly missed the nose of our car.

Of course he took great umbrage about this, slowed down and made a sign that looked like he was auditioning for those old Nescafe adverts, you know, the ones where they put the coffee beans in their hand and shake them. Or he was trying to signal that I was wanker, I’m not entirely sure. I laughed it off. As we drove on, with him “stuck” in front of me, we ended up stopping at some lights. I could see him staring at me in his rearview mirror, and he started with the hand gestures again. All very boring but I felt he’d made his point so I gave him the “hands out shrug” to indicate that he could stop this nonsense any time he liked. I shook my head a little as I did this.

Seemingly this further incensed him, as he spent the next mile or so alternating between braking suddenly and those coffee bean hand gestures. Most tiresome and it was quite obvious that this was a young lad in a high powered car (it was a sports edition) who fancied himself as a BMW driver or something. Yawn.

As we approached our turnoff, I flicked on the indicator. Lo and behold he suddenly turns in, very aggressively, where I was indicating to go. Bugger that, I think (I’m no fighter I don’t mind admitting it) and I flick the indicator off and keep driving. This caused some mirth in our car. We round the next corner and are brought up short by some roadworks. I look into my rearview mirror and round the corner, behind the two cars sitting behind me, comes the little red Honda. Slamming on the brakes he screeches to a halt. Oh dear. I’ve made him angry.

The lights at the roadworks change and I’m now trying to figure out where I can turn around as, frankly, this is very boring. Next thing I know a red blur whizzes up behind us. Now I’M beginning to get hacked off. However he holds his ground, I don’t get any more gestures and as we turn in towards Drymen he flies off up the road out of sight. We turn round and head to the caravan in peace.

Rather than pondering on what could have happened, we decide to laugh it off, especially the inspired “fake turning” manoeuver which I’ll have to remember for the future (I also wonder if he has conceded that I’ve tricked him fair and square and that he was being a bit of an asshole.. but I seriously doubt that).

As for the silly little man in the red Honda, I hope he wraps his silly little car around a very large tree, although I will feel some sympathy for the tree involved.

Sidebar

Firefox question – Anyone know how to display a webpage in the sidebar?

Lyle asks “Huh?” so let me expand on this.

In Firefox, if you select View > Sidebar, you can open various useful things like your bookmarks, or your browser history (where did all that p*rn come from!!). I want to know if there is anyway (manually, Firefox extension, add-on program) to display a webpage there. I’ve tried dragging a URL or shortcut to no avail.

Why? Because it will make editing the HaloScan Wiki much easier, as I’m constantly switching back and forth from the Recent Changes page. If I could have that page in my sidebar… see? There IS a good reason!

UPDATE

Problem solved! With thanks to the venerable diamond geezer who points out that to display a web page in the sidebar you need to:

Find Manage Bookmarks in the Bookmarks menu.
Right-click on any web page and select Properties.
Then tick the box that’s labelled, unbelievably, Load this bookmark in the sidebar.

I post this here to preserve this piece of knowledge. Thank you dg, you’ve just made my life much MUCH easier.

Crossed

The Spoil Your Vote website is hoping to appeal to the non-voter:

At the 2005 General election, we want all those people who think their votes don’t count to get out and spoil their votes.

A mass movement of spoiled votes will broadcast a new message: the choices on offer are just not good enough. We demand something better – a different way of doing things.

They seem to be suggesting that it’s antipathy that is stopping people from voting, rather than just sheer-assed laziness wrongly labelled as apathy. You see that’s what bugs me the most. I’m quite happy for people to spoil their vote because they understand the policies proffered by their politicians (ooooh alliteration.. and it’s only Monday!) and can’t bring themselves to vote for any of them, but there is a danger that this idea will be used by those too lazy to be bothered to find out such things. The danger is, of course, once the election is over and these self same people will declare that they have a voice because they voted!

I am not apathetic when it comes to politics. Sure it may bore me on occasion, I may rant and rail at the ways and habits of the politicians, I may moan about the campaigning tactics but those actions confirm that apathy is not part of my political makeup (now ask me about THAT wedding at the weekend, or that old bloke who died last week and I’ll confirm my complete and utter apathy on those subjects is intact and unswerving in it’s motive).

Voting is more than scratching your mark on a piece of paper, it’s more than trying to get parked in the local school playground, it’s more than the slightly, oddly, nervous wait whilst the clerk checks that you exist and that yes, you ARE entitled to vote (is it just me?), it’s about participating and having the knowledge to make a reasoned decision.

By all means spoil your vote, but please don’t use it as an excuse. If you really ARE apathetic (although you shouldn’t be) then don’t vote, but remember that by doing so you are abdicating your part in the running of the country so no complaining when it gets a bit shit.

UPDATE: I’m not going to blogging much, if any, more on the election. I do follow politics but find the election campaigning particularly jarring – so many lies.

Instead I’ll point you to this post which has just about all the UK election links you’ll need.

Weekender

Survived Saturday. Was a great day, good company, good beer and the Grand National even offered some excitement. Jinty McGintys is a great pub and we made a few new friends – but seeing as we were taking up about a third of the pub some people didn’t have much choice! Anyway, Happy Birthday to Paul, and cheers for a great day out.

Today we were through at the in-laws caravan. Aired it, dusted it, and I dismantled a rotting old fence that had fallen down over the winter. We then went for a walk along the loch side and, what with all that fresh air, I’m completely knackered!

Bed time it is then.

PoshPaws

Right, I’m pretty sure one of you clever types will be able to point me in the direction of a solution, preferably PHP or Javascript based.

What I’m trying to do is treat an image, and an associated block of HTML (text) as one block. I’d like to be able to swap blocks depending on a mouse click on a navigation link.

Clear as mud? Maybe a visual aid is needed:

visual aid

The orange and yellow bits are the “block”, and the “block” should change when I click one of the links. Sounds simple enough, right? Well I’ve been at this since 10pm to no avail. I’ve had enough. I’m off to bed.

When I check back tomorrow night there had better be some answers!! Or else I’ll … errrr… I’ll? … I’ll be left very very much where I am at the moment, stumped.

Mashing

So my Gran is doing fine, still able to talk the hind legs off several donkeys and still willing to admit she’s a stubborn old bitch. All good (there is a draft post about this but I can’t finish the damn thing without bawling my eyes out… might never be posted… ).

~

Completely and stunningly unrelated; iTunes has flipped onto Raiding the 20th Century MP3, a mega mix mashup of bizarre proportions. I’m certain that it’s actually using a track from DJ Dangermouse’s own mashup based Grey Album (which took the Beatles White Album and laid Jay-Z’s vocals from his Black Album on top) – intra-meta-mashing????

Currently I have the Wu Tang Clan (Got Ya All in Check!) over the theme tune from Steptoe and Son. Quite bizarre.

~

I spent a little time reading up on social networks last night, but I’m keen to find more info, any suggestions? I started at plasticbag, Stephen Downes, and Many-to-Many but beyond that I’d rather not have to dredge through squadillions of Google search results.

So any links or thoughts? What does the term “social network” mean to you? If you were a member of a site (you were listed there) would you want to include interests to enable others to find you, and would you want to find others? Push or pull?

The Milk-Eyed Mender

Joanna Newsom – The Milk-Eyed Mender @ Amazon.co.uk

You always remember something unique, and it was on “Later with Jools Holland” that I first heard Joanna Newsom. Sitting with her harp, performing The Book of Right-On, the rhythms of a late night jazz bass underlined the classical sounds of the upper reaches of the harp with both taking back seat to that voice. So let’s get that out of the road first, Joanna Newsom’s voice is unique, piercing, nasal and yes at points reminds me of her highness of weird, Björk. Once you are accustomed to that you then have to contend with the harp being used in a pop/folk/jazz/rock landscape and that’s all before you get to some very very good songs.

The combination of the voice, the harp, and the songs, all meet to produce a wonderful sound, delicate, fragile and haunting all at once yet carrying moments of power and emotion. This is definitely an album for quieter times, contemplating life through the claret in a glass with the rain percussing the windows.

It won’t be for everyone but if you like to think you have eclectic music tastes I’d give it a listen, I keep coming back to this album and the more I listen to it the better it gets.

Diaretic

Thanks to the Metro (the internet; printed) for making my morning already.

Page 3 features a nice photo of the new Dove soap ladies. Real women and twice as sexy as any anorexic Annie.
Page 17 has a look at the latest from Marks and Sparks modelled by the number ONE lady on my “list”, Helena Christensen.
Page 21 reports on the death of Prince Rainier with an accompanying photo, taken in 1956, of the lady that is number two on my “list”, Grace Kelly.

That lot certainly put a spring in my step!

Ohh and I should insert the usual “not treating woman as objects” disclaimer here but I remain unapologetic in my admiration of the female form.

~

A pause for a brief snapshot in my upcoming diary:

TODAY: Happy Birthday Susan, another year wise… older. Can anyone say tequila?
TONIGHT: Off to visit my Gran, see how she’s doing and see what difference having your meals made for you three times a day can make (there’s something to be said for getting old after all Susan!!).
FRIDAY: Emmmm, gosh, nothing planned! Yet. Another couple of birthdays looming though. The next on..
SATURDAY: When my brother-in-law, Paul, hits thirty.. er.. oh god I can’t remember. Not important anyway. Meeting in Jinty McGintys for drinks in the afternoon – the last time we did this I ended up very VERY “I don’t care if it IS the middle of the road I WANT A NAP!!” drunk.
SATURDAY NIGHT: Out for dinner.
SUNDAY: Recovery/Work.

What does your weekend hold, dear reader? Regale me with your plans of exotic trips, lavish nights on the town and glamourous parties.

And yes, I know it’s only Thursday. Humour me.

Technorati

It’s been a while since I added Technorati tagging to my posts, has anyone used them? Found them helpful?

I’m hoping they are providing a few good pointers to other related posts and so saving me the hassle of finding and posting the links myself, thus giving me a CBATG meets Technorati = web-based lifehack style equation.

But there is one thing that’s bugging me (of course).

One of the tags on the previous post – – is, at time of writing, a unique tag. In fact the Technorati page has this to say about it:

Congratulations, you’ve discovered a tag with no posts!

But that’s not right, is it? There IS a post with that tag, MY post! Shouldn’t it say “You’ve discovered a tag with only one post!”?? Or is it simply because it hasn’t “found” my post yet? Yes, it’s probably the latter but I’m sure the clever people there could figure out a way to differentiate between someone clicking a link, and someone searching for a tag through the technorati website.

A quick note to the Technorati guys: If you can’t figure it out, give me a shout. It’s dead easy!

All of this has gotten me thinking on folksonomies which is a big word that means a tagging system that allows people to choose their own tags – as opposed to an index system where someone else sets the tags that are available for use.

Both have their advantages, with indexes working better in a controlled environment with a rigid structure, user manuals is the obvious example, and folksonomies working better across a wide spread of information types and mediums. Hence their prevalence on blogs and photo sites (factiod: currently there are 23901 photos in Flickr that are tagged “photo“).

Of course the one downside to folksonomies is that sometimes what you would choose as a tag isn’t obvious to anyone else using the system, or, as can be evidenced in my own del.icio.us links, you don’t even stick to the same tags yourself (in my case I started out with intentions of add a year tag… er.. once… and surely I should have gone with year and month… I digress) and have to edit them your own tags ending up almost by default with an index of sorts.

The upside results in huge amounts of fun bashing in random words to any folksonomically driven search engine and seeing what it spews forth. And we know how the blogging world enjoys it’s fruitless and entertaining displacement activities.