Month: June 2005

Phew

What a cracking day, I’m nicely pink after spending all day in the garden (which now actually looks like a garden rather than a collection of plants and weeds), nicely full after a nice dinner out with my parents, and nicely prepared to go away on holiday at the end of the week…

Actually, scrap that last one.

You see there is one crucial thing that I’m having trouble with, it’s not the “what to pack” issue (it’s two weeks in a caravan, I’ll be taking shorts, t-shirts and my speedos*), nor the timing, tickets and travel arrangements, no no, it’s much more important than that.

It’s the music.

Let me explain – I’m driving my sister-in-laws estate (car, not 6 acres and stables) down to Torquay while she and Louise and two nieces and a nephew take the train. Obviously I’m going to be in the car on my own for a considerable length of time (10 hours?) and need a good mix of music. I’ve got an iTrip for my iPod and I’ve been pulling together a playlist. Trouble is that the tracks are of varying volume and it’s driving me nuts. What I NEED is a way to equalise the volume on a LARGE playlist somehow.

Any suggestions?

Music wise it’s a mix of upbeat rock tracks, dance tracks, and good old sing along classics, basically anything that will keep me awake – ohh didn’t I mention? I’m driving down overnight so I’ll have my iPod, and several cans of Red Bull to get me from Dumbarton to Torquay.

So, iPod volume suggestions and any suggested “keep me awake” tracks are welcomed. And yes, this week I’ll mostly be yakking on about my holiday.

* I’m kidding of course, I don’t have speedos. I do have a leopard print thong…

Bye Bye Big Blogger

Ta ta Big Blogger, it was fun. Sort of…

Yes I’ve jumped the fence and left the rest of the housemates to it, just too much going on and I can’t do it justice. If I’m honest it’s just all a bit too chaotic and random for me at the moment, but best of luck to the rest of the housemates, I’ll still be keeping an eye on the proceedings.

I think it’ll be between Vit and mike although Miss Mish has wormed her way into my affections (although I doubt she’s realised it).

Start me up

It’s getting very techie around here isn’t it, last one for a … well… a couple of days at least.

If you are anything like me when you sit down and turn on your computer you really want it to start as fast as possible. You don’t want to have to wait until Windows loads and then wait again until all those other little programs load, no you just want to get right to work.

Of course you can’t because, probably unbeknownst (ohh I love that word, must use it more often) to you, there are several little programs all trying to run at startup. A lot of these will be small programs that you’ll never notice as they don’t do anything except check for updates, but they still take time to start and take system resources whilst they are running.

One way to see what is running is to call up the Task Manager – for XP users, right-click the taskbar and select “Task Manager” from the menu, for other Windows users I think CTRL+ALT+DEL will bring up the required dialog but be careful you only do that once or you’ll reset your machine… maybe… I can’t remember to be honest. In the Task Manager window there is a “Processes” tab and this lists all the programs running on your machine. There will be quite a few in there, as Windows uses around 30 little programs for a variety of different things. Now you CAN close programs from there – highlight the program in the list and click the button, bottom-right, that says “End Process” – but you need to be careful. Again XP won’t let you close anything that Windows NEEDs to have running. As with most things of course YMMV.

Alas Task Manager is only handy when everything has already started, but what if you find yourself continually closing programs just after you start Windows? Where do they come from? How do you stop them!

Enter a little applet which, when installed, you can access from your Control Panel. Mike Lin’s Startup Control Panel is it’s name and I’ve been using it for years. It will list EVERY program that tries to run at startup, with each startup area (user specified (your startup folder in the Start menu), common programs, and any sneaky hidden ones in your registry), and it allows you to stop them from running or delete them from the startup list so you never need to worry about them again!

It’s a simple solution that, over time will save you hours of closing programs, and it can help if you’ve got any nasty programs trying to keep themselves hidden. It’s well worth a look and, best of all, it’s free (donations welcomed though).

Anyway, that’s not why I’m here, in fact I’m not supposed to be here, I’m supposed to be in the garden.

Broadband Baby!

I recently signed up for Odeo, the podcast service, and during the signup process I was greeted with the following message:

Having your subscriptions auto-magically downloaded to your computer is a big part of what Odeo is all about. For that to happen you need to have a copy of the Odeo Syncr. It’s only 6.5MB, and now is a good time to get it…

How times have changed.

“It’s only 6.5MB” it says and I found myself agreeing. Long gone are the days of waiting 20 minutes to download a 6.5MB file, more and more I find myself using web based services, Flickr, del.icio.us, blogrolling, Bloglines, Backpack, Ta-Da, audioscrobbler and so on.

Of them all I think blogrolling is still the one I use the most (several times a day as I use it on my own personal “start page”), which one do you use the most?

Firefox momentum

Almost 66 million people have downloaded the Firefox browser, and whilst I’m sure those stats can be manipulated (lies, damned lies…) it’s still an impressive number, and it’s one that keeps on rising.

I know I’ve been banging on about it for ages now, but evidence that it is being taken seriously can be gathered from the fact that there is a link to a story about it on the front page of the BBC News website, which follows on from articles in most of the American mainstream media.

The story states that 1 in 10 UK websites fail to work properly in Firefox, listing some examples:

  • Odeon.co.uk
  • Jobcentreplus.gov.uk
  • Insurance.co.uk
  • British American Tobacco
  • Mansell.plc.uk
  • Companieshouse.gov.uk
  • Flybmi.com/cargo
  • bssuk.co.uk

I’m sure we could add many more to that list.

However there is one thing I’d just like to throw into this discussion, namely web standards. At present Firefox has the most compliant rendering engine of all the browsers (sharing that claim with Opera I believe) and THAT’S what can make a difference. If sites are designed to be compliant with the W3 specifications then they stand a much better chance of functioning properly across all browsers.

I wonder if the success of Firefox is just the long tail of the WaSP campaign?

Forecast Fox

One of the few extensions that always get installed when I upgrade Firefox is Forecast Fox. It’s subtle, gives me exactly what I want and has plenty of configuration options to allow me to have it running as I like it – with no random popups when the weather changes.

I’ve just upgrade the extension – in two clicks thanks to the clever upgrade applet thingy in Firefox (keep an eye out for those red, green, or blue arrows in the top right of the browser window people!) – and noticed a new feature, a little popup satellite map. Just mouseover that “radar” green circle and there it is:

Forecast Fox Satellite image

Excellent stuff.

A poem

You can blame Shauna for this one.

One word in Shauna’s post instantly brought the following poem into my head. It’s easily one of my favourites and I can remember my Dad reading it to me from Silly Verse for Kids (which someone has naughtily replicated here).

On the Ning Nang Nong
Where the Cows go Bong!
and the monkeys all say BOO!
There’s a Nong Nang Ning
Where the trees go Ping!
And the tea pots jibber jabber joo.
On the Nong Ning Nang
All the mice go Clang
And you just can’t catch ’em when they do!
So its Ning Nang Nong
Cows go Bong!
Nong Nang Ning
Trees go ping
Nong Ning Nang
The mice go Clang
What a noisy place to belong
is the Ning Nang Ning Nang Nong!!

Spike Milligan

I’m not a great poetry reader, nor a great poetry writer (or even a bad poetry writer as I don’t write poems at all), in fact most poems leave me cold but as I’ve hardly read any I’m sure there are some out there that I’d enjoy. So, with my ongoing education in mind, what’s YOUR favourite poem and why do you like it?

Happy Birthday

My darling wife has aged another year. I’m not allowed to tell you what age she is, but anyone born in 1973 should be able to figure it out (they were a particularly clever bunch that year). Tonight I’m whisking her off for dinner, and then home… to.. well get her yearly birthday treat.

Yes, that’s right folks, I’m talking about sex.

OK I’m kidding, I’m washing the car…

Happy Birthday darling, to think we’ve known each other for more than half of our lives…. holy crap, that’s scary, ain’t it!!

Traffic

“We all face the same way, Still it takes all day, I take a look to my left, Pick out the worst and the best”

We got stuck in traffic last night on the way through to see the in-laws. Louise was driving so I got to sate my voyeuristic tendencies peeking into windows and open doorways as we drove through the west side of Glasgow. Whilst not quite as satisfying as people-watching whilst sitting in a comfy chair in a café, the stop/start motion of the traffic not being entirely pleasant and the lack of a decent coffee being the most obvious reasons, it’s always fun watching the world go by, the multitudes of people heading home, to the pub, to the corner shop. Watching them stop to chat with a friend, ask for information at a bus stop, or sit idly on a park bench reading the paper.

Not that being in the car doesn’t have its bonuses, watching your fellow commuters tapping fingers to a song on the radio, wistfully playing with that lock of hair to the side of their face, or laughing along to the “zany” drivetime DJs, all safely cocooned in their cars, oblivious to the world. The couple having an argument, the couple sitting in stony faced silence, or the couple not watching the road ahead as they are lost in each others eyes (get a room!).

And then as the traffic cleared, they were gone, never to be seen again. Consigned to their previous status of unknown strangers, or maybe as friends I haven’t yet met.