Month: <span>September 2004</span>

Working from home today to allow me the option to go and stand over a bank manager to MAKE him process our new mortgage application in time. This should save me having to make a payment to both the old mortgage AND the new one this month (if that happens I’ll be offline for the month as we’ll have no money to feed the meter, and we’ll be living off beans on toast. That’s one can of savers beans and one slice of toast borrowed from the neighbours… to last the month).

Presuming that everything goes well today, I can look forward to a weekend of peace and quiet. Louise is away from Friday morning to Sunday afternoon on a hen weekend in Edinburgh, that strange far away land of salt and sauce. I’ve taken tomorrow and Monday off, so will have plenty of time to get some stuff done. This may, or may not include:

  1. Cutting the grass.
  2. Finishing the fireplace in the living room.
  3. Watching Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi on DVD.
  4. Finishing the “His Dark Materials” Trilogy.
  5. Playing Pro Evolution Soccer 4 (recently ‘acquired’).
  6. See what BitTorrent goodies I can grab.

(See what I did there? Ordered them by importance to try and influence myself.. in reality I’ll start at the bottom of the list and work up but hey, every little helps, right?)

It will also involve chinese takeaway, a wander round the shops at MY pace, and some pondering of the coming month of October.

For October is my favourite month. Mainly because it’s my birthday month (what? you want to buy me something? How kind!), but really because it’s always the first proper autumn month. Granted September has done a good job this year but you can never really trust it not to throw in the odd hot muggy summer-like day. October does it’s job properly, bringing in the first morning frosts, the bulk of the trees finally realise what is going on and start burning their leaves, and I no longer have to worry about being too hot (a constant problem for those with their own additional.. er.. ‘insulation’).

So, it’ll be quieter here for the next few days, but I have something in mind to keep you all going. Nothing major, but could be fun. I’ll post more details later today.

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Koyaanisqatsi – borrowed from a friend, watched last week.

“If we dig precious things from the land, we will invite disaster. Near the Day of Purification, there will be cobwebs spun back and forth in the sky. A container of ashes might one day be thrown from the sky, which could burn the land and boil the oceans.”

The Hopi Prophecies are sung throughout this film, and I guess sums it up quite well.

The movie itself has no dialogue and, and this is to belittle the impact it has, is little more than a series of moving images set over music (provided by Philip Glass). As the first part of a trilogy, released in 1983, “the film is an apocalyptic vision of the collision of two different worlds — urban life and technology versus the environment.”

Now, I don’t want to over analyse this movie (for I fear the wrath of dg) but it’s hard not to discuss it without resorting to very descriptive and emotive language. Those images, and the haunting music, soon drag you in and I found myself transfixed, pondering life and my place in the grand scheme of things. It’s rare that I get so absorbed in this kind of art, and I think it’s very much something to watch when you are in the right mood, and even then many people will dismiss it as ‘nonsense masquerading as art’, but it is certainly unique.

I was moved by many of the scenes, some are quite brutal, some poignant, and the way it’s filmed seems to help you blend your own emotions into what you are watching on the screen. I’d love to see this on a cinema screen where I think the visual impact would be breathtaking. Not for everyone, but definitely one to watch.

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tee hee, heh… teee hheeee…. hehee….

Ohhh how she laughed. Well it was more of a giggle to be honest, a muted little murmuring. I wasn’t even sure what she was laughing at…

I have a routine, some would say ritual, when I’m in bed trying to get to sleep. Lying on my right side, in an adapted recovery position (my right arm is tucked behind me rather than in front), I ponder what tomorrow holds, making a mental note of things I need to get done. As I relax I start semi-dreaming – a sort of cross between dreaming and projection I think – and next thing I know the alarm is going off.

Or, as was the case last night, I’m woken at 2.47am by my beloved wife. Laughing. In her sleep. This was followed by an “annoyed growl” at 3.28am, and at 5.02am she had a short conversation with herself about, seemingly, her shoe: “My shoe… mumble… all of them … mumble.. not me…”

She remembers nothing. Of course.

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Is it just me? God, I hope it isn’t, I THINK it isn’t. But what if it is? I’m gonna sound daft….

How old do you feel? I know that no-one really feels the age they are, most people being ‘stuck’ somewhere in their mid-twenties; personally I’m still 23. I have no earthly idea why that age in particular, but it was a good time in my life so it could be worse. I’m not sure that’s the best reason mind you but hey, I didn’t choose it… did I?

OK, now let’s reverse things, does anyone ever feel ‘mature’? I don’t mean a long standing feeling, or knowledge, that you are level-headed or just not ‘silly’ anymore or anything like that, more that you are struck by something, usually a trivial silly thing, and for that moment you feel “all grown up”. I get it now and again when Louise and I are driving somewhere, the moment comes and goes in a flash but sits in my brain long enough to be registered: “Look at us, driving in our car, all grown up.” It’s an odd sensation. Almost ‘out of body-esque’ for want of a better term, and it kinda throws me every time. Most odd.

Anyhoo, I’ll leave you with this final thought: Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

This post was brought to you by the letter q, and the residue hangover of two bottles of red wine last night.

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OK, not gone to bed yet, just downloading some photos off the camera, taken on Friday morning last week. It was a lovely morning, don’t you think?

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Back to work tomorrow after a fairly productive day today. Fireplace is 3/4 done. Should get it finished either tomorrow or Wednesday evening.

Mind you I’ve got a long weekend coming up so might leave it for then.

Anyway, not even sure why I’m sitting here as the two bottles of Ruby Cabernet are telling me I should be going to bed.

I think I’ll listen to them.

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How on EARTH did it get to 8.30pm on a Sunday night so quickly? Lemme see…

Saturday morning, in Glasgow by 9.30, breakfast, then haberdashery, Debenhams, Toys R Us, Asda, Dumbarton. Lunch in the Abbotsford. Check holiday details with sister-in-law, get mortgage papers signed and witnessed. Meet up with my parents. Out for dinner to new Bar Buddha. Asda again on way home. Bed at 11.45pm.

Sunday morning, get up, leisurely breakfast. Drop Louise at friends for baby shower/nightout. Start fireplace, measure, measure, cut, think, measure, cut, think again, measure, cut, compare, measure, cut, glue, nail, cut. Check clock. 8pm. Stop for dinner. What happened to lunch?

No wonder I’m so knackered on Monday mornings. The thought of having to go into work… isn’t one I need to entertain as I’ve got tomorrow off. Now where’s that nice Zinfandel I bought?

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Get Firefox!

UPDATE: All of the extensions have been checked and are compatible with Firefox 1.0.

Thanks to Adrian and Thom for some additional suggestions.

I’ve recently introduced a couple of people to the Firefox browser. I have to admit to getting quite a buzz watching their faces light up as you show them the basic features (efficient popup blocker, tabbed browsing, excellent FIND function) and how fast it is compared to IE.

The next thing I do is show them the extensions I have installed, and I figured some of you guys might appreciate these too – you HAVE switched to Firefox, haven’t you?

On with the extensions then, and I should note that there are many many more extensions available, and that the following are the ones I’ve found most useful over the past couple of months:

  • Tab Preferences – this is the second Tab extension I’ve used and is very easyto use (the other is called TabBrowser Extensions, does much more but is a bit confusing). I’d recommend this one for most people, an excellent way to get to grips with tabbed browsing as well.
  • Paste and Go – Subtle one this. Copy a URL, right-click the address bar and select “Paste and Go”. Saves you pasting THEN bashing the enter key to load the page*. Simple but you’ll wonder how you ever got by without it.
  • Gmail Notifier – If you have a GMail account, this is the better of the notifier extensions. Nicely located in the statusbar too.
  • ForecastFox – RENAMED from WeatherFox. Adds a configurable weather display, many options.
  • Statusbar clock – currently being updated for 1.0 – simple enough I think. Configurable display. Time and date in the statusbar.
  • FoxyTunes – For hardcore surfers this one. If you just CAN’T focus away from your browser, then use the highly configurable statusbar controls to do so. Supports just about every media player I’ve heard of.
  • Web Developer – OK, maybe not EVERYONE needs this one but if you do anything even remotely related to web design then install this. I can’t really say more than that as it has so many features I’d be here all day.
  • Bookmark Synchronizer – excellent tool if you have your own FTP space. Easy way to move bookmarks between two PCs.
  • Sage RSS Feed Reader – an RSS Feed Reader that sits in your sidebar.
  • Session Saver – Remembers what tabs you had open, and reopens them when you reopen your browser.
  • BugMeNot – Bypass compulsory web registrations, useful if you view a lot of news online (NYTimes is the best worst example)
  • Spellbound – a spell checker. Simple.
  • IEView – some pages REQUIRE Internet Explorer (IE). This extension allows you to view them through Firefox.
  • Tab Clicking Options – (scroll down the page) – adds … er.. Tab Clicking Options (double-click to close and so on). NOT compatible with TabBrowser Extensions.
  • TinyURL – lets you create tinyurl links from a web page.
  • Foxylicious – Integrates your bookmarks into your browser bookmarks.
  • delicious: – Save stuff to
  • Livelines – Add RSS feeds to Bloglines or Sage with the RSS icon on the status bar.
  • JustBlogIt – Allows easy right-click posting to a weblog.
  • GooglePreview – Inserts preview images (thumbnails) of web sites, Amazon products and stock charts into the Google and search results pages.
  • User Agent Switcher – Adds a menu to switch the user agent of the browser. Handy for developers.
  • MiniT – Allows you to drag and drop tabs.
  • DuplicateTab – Allows you to duplicate a tab to a new tab or to a new window,. Also allows you to merge different windows in one window.
  • blanklast – Makes the last tab blank when closing it, and prevents the tab bar from hiding.

* Or you can add a “Go” button (a la IE) by selecting the ‘View’ menu then ‘Toolbars’ and then click ‘Customise’. From the window which opens, drag the ‘Go’ button to the toolbar next to the address bar.

Then there are Live Bookmarks. Sort of like a site monitoring tool, if you see the RSS button appear in the statusbar (if you are using Firefox you should see one now), click it and select the RSS Feed to use. Now when you select that Bookmark from the bookmark menu, you should be able to go directly to any of the last 15 entries of this site. Clever stuff. Not quite an RSS Reader, but a handy tool to quickly see if there is new content.

Top Tip: To remove an entry from a ‘remembered’ dropdown list, highlight the entry, and press SHIFT+DELETE.

So there you go, everytime I come across a minor irritation with this browser I find someone has already created an extension, many of which will migrate into the product itself. So, aside from people curtailed by their corporate IT policies, why haven’t YOU switched yet?

UPDATE: Maybe this articles will help you decide: Firefox 1.0 explained is a very good article which explains everything in clear, simple language. If you aren’t sure what a browser IS, then head here. I’d also point out Why I don’t recommend Firefox which makes some very valid points and, contrary to the title, promotes the best points of Firefox very well.

FURTHER THOUGHTS: If you work between to computers and use Sage as your RSS reader, I recommend you also use install the Bookmark Synchronizer. Sage stores the feed addresses as bookmarks, meaning you only need to add a new feed once. The next time you sync your bookmarks the new feed will be pulled to your other computer and available via Sage.

I should point out that there are some websites that do not function correctly when you use Firefox. Unfortunately it means you will need to have a copy of Internet Explorer available. This is not the fault of Firefox, but because those websites are using code that only Internet Explorer can understand. In other words, they’ve not been designed f
or everyone to use. Only Internet Explorer users can access those sites properly.

It is also noticeable that there is a new version of Opera, which has been simplified a lot. I’ve tried it, but still prefer Firefox. Internet Explorer – Your time is up!


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