Month: June 2005

Blogger bug fixed

So it seems that Blogger have a solution for their recently introduced layout problems.

  1. Log in to Blogger.
  2. On the dashboard, select your blog.
  3. Select the Settings tab.
  4. Select the Formatting option.
  5. Scroll down and set Enable float alignment to No.

This will stop Blogger adding those nasty <div clear:both> tags. Everything is explained in this post although I think they might have been better advised broadcasting it a bit further.

Snippets

Well done Canada and Spain.

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That other site I run has just hit a landmark, 300 members. Wow. It’s been a fun couple of years and I’m hoping the next couple will be even better (irons in fire, etc etc).

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Now, I have to admit I feel slightly guilty* when I go on holiday as I would hate to deprive my dear reader of my nonsense carefully considered posts, so I’ve scheduled a few posts to be published whilst I’m away.

Upcoming posts

(Awww c’mon, you didn’t think I’d give you the post titles, did ya?)

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Not got time to fix the miniblog (after Blogger started adding in extra code without being asked!) so Keep an eye on my del.icio.us account for the meantime. anyway…

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And yes, the HaloScan is playing silly buggers, hassles installing a new database server I believe. Sorry.

* no not really

Handling Referrer Spam

Thankfully this is not an area I’ve had much experience in, so I’ve done a little Googling and come up with some interesting ideas and ways to handle referrer spam.

Firstly it helps to know if you are being hit hard by it, and for that you’ll need access to server logs or a basic statistics package for your website. If you start seeing odd names in your referrer logs and your bandwidth usage starts to skyrocket then read on.

Rather than waffle on at length I’ll quickly point you to a couple of articles, one short one “why are they doing it and what should we do about them?” and a more indepth article that also includes some proposals for handling referrer spam.

There is one simple way to handle referrer spam, that’s to block access to your site for the domain name that is being used. A lot of referrer spam will use sub-domains so blocking the top-level domain name handles all the sub-domains as well. For example:
If you are receiving refferer spam from naughty.example.com, bad.example.com, spammers.example.com and so on, then blocking “example.com” from accessing your site should block those other referrers.

Obviously the people behind referrer spam are aware of this and so use .com, .us, .tv and anything else they can get their hands on. For this reason, manually adding and blocking referrer spam sites is laborious, time-consuming and ultimately a losing battle.

However if, like me, you are only experiencing a small amount of referrer spam then here’s an article that explains how to create an “.htaccess” file to block referrer spam (scroll down to the “How to do this” section).

WordPress users try Referrer Karma (now running on this site), or bad behavior, and then anyone can use WannaBrowser to test if they are working.

So, hopefully I’ll be referrer spam free(ish) from here on out, ohh and if anyone gets a message along the lines of “Please click on the following link if you are not redirected automatically (sorry for the inconvenience)” then let me know.

Yen Rotunda

Off to dinner at Yen Rotunda, a yen oriental & teppanyaki restaurant, where 20 or so of us will be dining in the teppanyaki section. It’s my first time in that restaurant and my first time experiencing teppanyaki and I’m quite looking forward to it. The fact that the company is stumping up the lion share of the bill may also have something to do with it.

Only problem is that it feels like my holiday begins tonight, meaning dragging myself out of bed tomorrow morning will be quite a challenge.

We went, we saw, we ate
God damn that was a great meal!

The food was superb, the staff were efficient if a little bossy at times (but then we were a party of 20 and we do get a little noisy), and I’ll be going back there again!

Naturally the chef is the star turn, clanging, flipping and twirling his spatulas, flicking bits of food up in the air for you to catch or, in the case of one of the ladies in our party, to lose down your top… but despite all the showmanship everything was cooked to perfection. Eight courses in all, a small starter of oriental beef and suriyami, then salad in a sesame dressing, miso soup, then the first “meat” course – I had king prawns – then fried rice, the second “meat” course – I had chicken – then some fried vegetables, and finally a lovely dessert (PDF of menu), and whilst I felt full I didn’t feel stuffed to the gunnels.

Next time I’ll be more adventurous with my choice of “meat” dishes but I decided against the lobster tails as it was a company dinner and one doesn’t want to be seen to be extracting the urine, and personally I think it’s just bad form when you are out in a group of people to be that selfish. I digress.

The photos of the evening don’t do it justice, and there are only a few as the rest are mainly of the people I work with and, frankly, they’re not the prettiest bunch…

Update – If you decide to eat at the restaurant, and this review has been helpful, please let me know via email: gordon AT gordonmclean.co.uk

Torquay

So on Friday we head for sunny Torquay, the place where the world’s most famous mystery writer, Agatha Christie, was born in 1890.

Torquay as we know it dates back to the end of the 18th Century, with the source of the name still offering some confusion. It’s either the “little harbour” (Torre Quay) or roughly signifies “Thor’s Harbor” (cognate to Tórshavn, Faroe Islands and þórshöfn, Iceland), but a more likely root is the Devonian word “Tor”, a hill or outcrop, especially common in placenames on nearby Dartmoor (thanks Wikipedia).

So what to do, what to do. There are a few well known tourist attractions which we’ll try and squeeze in alongside trips to the Quay West water park, the reading of books and the quaffing of wine – Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, Cockington village, Torre Abbey, Babbacombe Model Village, and a wander round Torquay Harbour (you might even spot us on the webcam!) will all feature I’m sure.

Alas no Fawlty Towers as that wasn’t actually filmed in Torquay (bar one of the few outdoor shots of Basil outside a restaurant in Torquay), but what else is there to do? I warrant some wandering on beaches and along cliff top paths would be desired, but if anyone has been on holiday or lives in the area I’d appreciate some suggestions.

Referrer Spam

Well it looks like the buggers are at it again. Anyone else getting huge numbers of referrer links from the likes of:

  • potassium-rich-foods DOT ipupdater DOT com
  • topamax-side-effects DOT ipupdater DOT com
  • ambien-side-effects DOT ipupdater DOT us

And will someone PLEASE tell me what they are trying to achieve with this? Is someone actually paying people to do this?? Don’t we understand the internet yet people!!

Snippets

Remember to download Beethoven’s 6th Symphony (Pastoral) from the Beeb today. Thankfully I’ll be able to get them all before we go on holiday. Symphonies 7, 8, 9 are released over the coming days.

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Blogger have admitted, as suspected, that they added some code to support their new offering of “Blogger Images”. They do offer a fix but it presumes you are using one of their templates, which frankly isn’t good enough. I know that it’s impossible for them to cope with all the differing layouts and uses but in my opinion their code changes are far too invasive and spanks of being a quick hack rather than something they’ve thought out properly.

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In further blog related information, HaloScan is currently having three new servers installed, so the service will be a tad flaky until they are up, running and synchronised. Hang in there folks, it’ll settle down soon (hey, whaddya expect for free!).

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Scheduled posting. I’ve a few posts lined up to publish when I’m away, but I always find it trickier thinking of topics ahead of time than pulling on current events, news, or comments for inspiration. Odd that. How do YOUR posts come about?

Planning

Dragged the suitcases down from the loft last night and started compiling lists of things to be taken on holiday. Clothes, towels, toiletries, books, shoes, camera, various electrical chargers, and… well that’s the thing. I keep thinking we’ve forgotten something, I’ve got travel directions, booking confirmation codes, AA membership (which I thought had lapsed but doesn’t expire until 1st August, bonus!), sunglasses, hat, suntan lotion (ever hopeful), travel sweeties (the ones in the tin all coated in white magic dust)… what the hell are we forgetting about?

Friends are going to pop in and water our plants, my Dad has offered to cut the grass, there is nothing I need to get done at work, nor any other “projects”… yet still there is a nagging voice, picking away at my brain.

I wonder if it’s things like plug adaptors, passports and whatnot, as this is the first time we’ve taken a UK-based holiday (other than the odd weekend here or there), maybe my “holiday mode brain” hasn’t yet realised we’re stopping when we hit the south coast of England, or rather the English Riviera (chortle).

Anyway, further planning of the days ahead are now crucial. Firstly I have to consider what clothes I’m going to be wearing, not because I’m a fashion icon or anything (come on people, you’ve seen the pictures) but by and large because my wardrobe doesn’t have a work/play split. The clothes I wear to work are similar to what I’d wear at the weekend, and barring the addition of shorts and flip-flops, what I wear on holiday. So tonight the careful selection of t-shirts begins, bearing in mind that I’m out for dinner tomorrow night, what will I take, what will I leave behind, what will I be wearing tomorrow and Thursday (I’m off on Friday).

Then there is the small matter of a couple of movies that we want to see – Batman Begins and War of the Worlds – but I don’t think we’ll be able to fit them both in to our schedule. Louise is out tonight, I’m out tomorrow night and Thursday is “last pack” night, but I’m hoping we can sneak one of them in on Thursday. The alternative is to go when we are down there, and given the vagaries of the British weather system that might well be an option.

Nope, this hasn’t helped. I had hoped that posting about this might jog the old brain cells into action, what the hell am I forgetting?

Summer Burn 2005

Yeah I signed up again, my third year (I missed 2004 because Louise was in hospital I think) and this is my playlist:

01 The B52’s : Love Shack
02 The Beach Boys : Sloop John B
03 Bran Van 3000. : Drinking in L.A.
04 Chungking : Come With Me
05 The Kinks : Sunny Afternoon
06 Luke Vibert : Slipped Disc
07 Jill Scott : Spring Summer Feeling
08 Go Home Productions : Shannon Stone
09 James Brown : I Got You (I Feel Good)
10 The Zutons : Confusion
11 Ian Dury & the Blockheads : Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick
12 Bebel Gilberto : So Nice (Summer Samba)
13 The Polyphonic Spree : Hangin’ Around
14 The Shortwave Set : Slingshot
15 Dusty Springfield : Spooky
16 Mylo : Sunworshipper
17 Marlena Shaw : California Soul
18 Nouvelle Vague : Too Drunk to Fuck

Your too late to sign up now I’m afraid but if you HAVE and you haven’t confirmed your address then you’d better do it soon!

I wonder what I’ll get on MY CDs?

This and that

Blogger is being an arse. As zoe recently found out they’ve started adding extra code to each post, thereby screwing up her site and (for a short while last night) my miniblog. So until they sort it out the miniblog is on hiatus.

UPDATE: Fixed zoe’s site thanks to this forum post. Will look at my miniblog later.

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Not sure if it’s an extension of this story but having heard yet another report along these lines over the weekend, I have to take issue with the current reporting of these “Happy Slapping” incidents. There is a world of difference between assault and rape and the news agencies reporting the story should really be calling it what it is. Ditch this “happy slap” tag as it’s only serving to trivialise these matters.

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Venus, Mercury and Saturn are putting on a bit of a show this evening, hopefully the cloud cover will lift later on today and give us a fairly unique celestial display:

These three planets are destined to crowd into a small spot in the sky, making for a very distinctive and eye-catching formation that is sure to thrill most sky watchers. Think of it as “The Great Celestial Summit Meeting.”