Month: August 2005

Counting

Thundering at the window. Rain slams into glass. A million impacts. A staccato beat of tiny sharp flat…

Ohhh bugger that, too tired to be creative…

It’s chucking it down, blowing a gale and keeping me awake. Rather than lie in bed and wonder if that new dripping noise is a drip or, um, something non-drip related… ohh it’s just stopped. Phew.

Dammit, a new one has just started.

My home is my castle and my mind keeps me awake lest I miss any damage reports from this whooshing groaning screaming building.

Now, I think I got a couple of hours sleep as the last time I saw on the clock, before I got back up, was 11.54pm. It’s now 3am.

At a push I can function(ish) on around 6 hours sleep. But, of course, tomorrow morning is THE ONE AND ONLY MORNING THIS WEEK when my alarm is set early. It goes off in 3 hours and 30 minutes.

But I’m sitting here. I’m not in bed. I’m not sleeping. With each passing sentence my sleep quota for the day decreases.

I can’t believe I’m blogging this.

Enough. To bed, perchance to dream.

Hang on! I know why I’m blogging this… because it’s likely to be all you get from me today. If you want more please scroll down, there’s plenty more nonsense if you seek it.

Guilty Pleasures

Sometimes I loathe our TV, despite paying for the “all the channels, yes even the poker ones” some nights there is just NOTHING ON! Quite frankly it’s ridiculous and it’s all that Murdoch’s fault, sometimes I wish I wasn’t addicted to Sky+…

Mind you at other times it offers day long TV marathons and next thing you know you have to lever yourself up from the sofa (always a slightly painful experience when bare skin has been in close proximity to a leather couch for nine hours) and you are wondering why it’s gone dark. Of course, they never EVER broadcast day long marathons of good TV shows, no no, if you are going to spend all day in front of the TV it’ll be brain-numbingly awful stuff that you’ll be watching.

Ohh yes, it will.

Don’t deny it.

So, what programmes yield such power over me? Well in an effort to clear my soul of some of it’s burden (I’d like it to be nice and trim for when I get sent to hell) here is a short sampling of my guilty TV pleasures:

  • Extreme Makeover: Home Edition – An American house DIY/design show where they, sometimes, knock the house down and build a new one. It’s all done for “needy” families and is a mixture of OTT Americanisms and heart-wrenching stories. If you have a soul you’ll have tears in your eyes at the end of every show, if you don’t it’s worth it just to see what they put in the houses.
  • The Best – the only made a couple of series of this but we still enjoy watching it. Three chefs, well two chefs and a cute food scientist, cook a meal based on a given theme which are then judged by three members of the public in secret. A running score is kept through the series and the banter between the chefs is half the fun.
  • U.F.C. – late night on Bravo, amongst the titillation and … er… whatever else they do, is the Ultimate Fighting Championship. In the same vein as boxing I’ve always believed that if that’s what these guys want to do, and it’s as safe as it can be then why not? Often bloody, always exciting, but I wonder if it’s just the shock factor that drags me back?
  • Friends – yes. That’s right. We still watch repeats (re-runs for my American reader) of Friends. They are simple, easy to watch and light-heartedly funny.

They are the most common culprits the ones I’ll happily embrace along with my dressing gown, a jumbo bag of minstrels, a mixed selection of (generic supermarket brand) crisps, and copious cups of coffee (surely the reason advert breaks were invented). Couple them with a very laisse faire attitude to personal hygiene for the day, and I’m in TV heaven.

It’s so bad that I only allow myself one of these days every two or three years lest my brain rebel and force me to stab myself in each eye with a blunt spoon, for if there’s something guaranteed to make me want to stop watching TV it’s a sharp pain to the eyes inflicted by a rounded metal eating implement (but each to their own of course).

Now, it’s over to you dear reader, time to fess up! What’s your guilty TV secret? What’s your ideal “TV loafing day”? Share your techniques and let all of us slobs benefit.

Ohh and I’ll pre-empt the wisecracks about “nekkid ladeez” or any reference to Jude Law naked, daytime TV only guys and gals!

Careful

Just got my first “phishing” email which alleges to have come from PayPal. It doesn’t.

The subject line reads: Your account will be suspended!

It reads:

Dear Paypal User,
In accordance with our major database relocation, we are currently having major adjustments and updates of user accounts to verify that the informations you have provided with us during the sign-up process are true and correct. However, we have noticed some discrepancies regarding your account at Paypal. Possible causes are inaccurate contact information and invalid logout process.

We require you to complete an account verification procedure as part of our security measure.

It then asks you to click a link which, I can assure you, has nothing to do with Paypal. I’ve let them know about it, but I’d advise you to be careful if you receive something similar.

Top tip: If you use Thunderbird as your email client, the REAL email address is displayed, in this case whilst it looks like it’s coming from service AT paypal DOT com, it’s really coming from service AT mythtv DOT lan. Alternatively, switch your email client to use a plain text view as most of these “phishing” emails come in HTML format. You’ll soon see the real details hidden away behind the “click this link now!” text.

Nonentity Bloggers

Apparently this idea is all my fault.. or at least the fault of the fine readership of this very site (ok, I can’t really lay claim to this at all but that won’t stop me trying!!).

I like the idea though but have to admit that, and I’m not sure why it’s only struck me now, but as when Vaughan mentions “those self-important bloggers who like nothing more than discussing their own self-importance are utterly tiresome and painfully dull” I suddenly “got it” (it may be catching, beware).

Creating a “blogosphe…” (ick) to help them feel more accepted and less of an outcast is why the A-list exists – the stereotype of a pizza munching, Gatorade slurping geek is true!!

Except it isn’t really but hey, it’s a nice thought.

Anyway, I see that www.nonentitybloggers.co.uk isn’t taken… yet… and I guess a button would be nice too, right? Or is that kind of against the spirit of the thing? (I was going to call it a “movement” but don’t want to attach any labels).

Linkeroo

So I’ve been trimming that big ole’ blogroll (on the left), trimming the chaff/dead and adding in a few that have been on my “Auditioning” pile for a while.

Which means I need to find some new sites to “audition”. But who? Over to you, dear reader, anyone I SHOULD be reading but don’t have linked? Anyone you think I’d enjoy, anyone you think would be a good addition to the list? Quality rules (with the exception of some of the layabouts whom I link to purely for historic reasons and not because they bribe me).

One site per commenter please, but not your own site!

Weekender

Grass cut – check
Weeding done – check
Long walk round Balloch Park in glorious sunshine – check
Lunch and lounging in the sun at my parents – check
Dinner at sister-in-laws with Louise’s Mum & Dad – check
Arsenal vs Chelsea – check
Count of Monte Cristo (the film) – check
Started new book (Lanark) – check
Completely bloody knackered but had great weekend – check!

How was yours?

Upgraded

What I did (for Lyle and anyone else).

Usual caveats apply, if you’ve done a lot of hacking then YOU need to know what YOU’VE changed. This is all taken from the WordPress Upgrade documentation. Worked for me.

The Preparation
1. Backup your database and the files on your site.
2. Download the WordPress ZIP file for 1.5.2.
3. De-activate all plugins on your site (will make your site look funny until the files are upgraded). I’d suggest taking a note of them as well, just in case you need to upgrade them too (I didn’t have to).

Note: It is NOT necessary to run install.php or upgrade.php as no changes are made to the database. As with all WordPress upgrades, the contents of your /wp-content/ folder should remain intact and unchanged.

The Upgrade
1. Delete /wp-admin/ folder.
2. Delete /wp-includes/ folder
3. Delete all the wordpress files in the root directory where the root index.php file is found. DO NOT DELETE wp-config.php. Note: My WordPress install is in a separate folder, I deleted all the files in my “WordPress” folder, leaving the remaining folders intact.
4. Download and extract the new version.
5. Upload the appropriate folders – /wp-admin/ and /wp-includes/ – and the files they contain.
6. Upload all the files in the WordPress root directory to your WordPress folder.
7. Re-activate your plugins.

Done. Hopefully. Was a breeze this time round, the docs could still do with a little “dis-ambiguating” and I guess it’s about time I used my membership of the doc team to good effect!

Snippets

R.I.P. Mo Mowlam. Sad news indeed, one of the “good” politicians. I won’t say anything about who should be attending her funeral, but he had better!

~

Thanks to all who commented on yesterdays Top 100 post. Despite it being a subject many don’t see any value in it has still managed to stir up the most comments of the week. I’ll stop there rather than read anything into that…

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Extras. Getting funnier, even though the “star” of last nights appeared for all of 5 minutes. Has to be the most cringeworthy thing on telly at the moment, and has managed to up the “laugh out loud” count (or LOL for our txt spk redrs). Even the small lines are improving – particularly the throwaway “Pig” insult. Subtle.

~

HaloScan news. There is now HaloScan News and HaloScan Help will be formally announced soon. I’m preparing myself for some backlash once the help pages are opened up but they should help people. If you want a brief sample of what I do as a part of my day job have a gander.

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Forgot to record “Ever Wondered About Food?” last night, which Graybo says was quite good. It’s presented by Paul Merrett who I know from the “The Best” cooking show, which is something of a guilty pleasure (what an awful photo of the lovely Silvana that is…). Another guilty pleasure is …. no no, I’ll save that for another time.

P.S. Graybo – I did look but how the hell do I get that SPEWS thing to let me leave comments? It just blocks ALL blueyonder IP addresses, surely there is a whitelist or something?

~

That’s yer lot for a couple of days. Busy weekend ahead and an upgrade to WordPress to fit in somewhere. Have a good weekend everyone.

New music

I’ve been ripping some more CDs to my PC recently, and thanks to an iTunes smartlist I can confirm that today I will mostly be, randomly, listening to tracks from the following albums:

Blimey, that was a longer list than I thought it would be, should be an eclectically interesting day. I’ve listened to some of these ages (years) ago, others are brand new (why don’t ALL CDs come with that little pull tab to help get the cellophane off?), but having spent all day re-listening to “The Seahorses – Do It Yourself” I’ve been feeling a tad nostalgic.

Now, there’s a great album. Whatever happened to The Seahorses?

Editor’s note: I should really link all these through my Amazon Associate and see if I can earn more than the £1.43 I already have in the past three years… but that’s an awful lot of work. We’ll see if I get the time later… in the meantime, if you DO decide to buy one of the above, any chance you could just paypal me 30p or so? Ta. DONE. And of course you can check I’m being true to my word.

Top 100

There seems to be a bit of a brew-haha gathering on blogland. Well sort of, but unless you read certain sites you’d never know so let me summarise for you.

Technorati are trying to establish themselves as THE auditors of the web, amongst other things they maintain a “Top 100 blogs” list which lists all the top linked sites. It’s currently questionable that this “A list” is reliable and accurate, with others spring up in competition – Feedster’s Top 500 for example (500 does seem a little OTT mind you).

BlogHer, the conference (movement?) aimed at increasing the standing of women in blogging, and featured the following debate topic: “The BlogHer Debate question for 2005 is this: Women bloggers, how do you want the world to learn about what you’re creating — if at all? Do you want to play by today’s rules or change the game? … Does the current link-based power structure matter to you?

The link will take you to a more detailed discussion of how we got to this point.

The general idea, and something I’ve discussed here before, is that the current way of ranking the A-list gives the older blogs more prominence than may be accurate and discounts the inputs from new blogs – the female angle at BlogHer stems from the early adoptance of the internet by male dominated establishments I.M.O. – and is gathering momentum.

People have started de-linking A-list sites (I have some in my blogroll on the right) and while it’s easy to think of all this as yet another storm in a teacup and nothing that is of real importance, and while it gives more credence to the “navel-gazing” charge given to a lot of blogs by the mainstream media, I think we may be at a fundamental point in blogging’s evolution. I’m not unique in this thought, far from it, but I’m not sure the ground swell of reaction is focussed in the right direction.

Instead of discounting the A-list shouldn’t we be challenging them? Saying to them “come on, you are in a position of influence, use it wisely”? The people who are linked to the most wield a lot of “link-power” and yet few (any?) use that to promote new or upcoming blogs. Part of the problem may be a question of recognising which blogs to link to, but as has been demonstrated elsewhere, if someone has a mind to it, and with a bit of self-promotion, you can place yourself on their radar quite easily.

There is a lot of talk surrounding this and other similar issues at the moment – top 100/500 lists, ranking stats, and so on. I think they are being given undue focus though, it’s almost as though some people forget what blogging is about. Distilled to it’s core, blogging is about content. Those with good content will prosper, those without will not. It really shouldn’t be any more difficult than that.

Should it?