Month: <span>February 2005</span>

The rise and rise of products like Apple’s iPod and applications like Firefox and Flickr have gotten me thinking. What do those products have in common?

Simplicity. They aren’t bogged down with hundreds of options and all provide a basic service that people want and provide it well. Flickr is possibly an exception as once you start digging it can be very powerful and complex, but if you just want to upload some snaps and share them with friends it is simple.

So, is the popularity of these products down to their simplicity? Are we all just sick of bloated software that takes minutes to start up, and has hundreds of features we never use? Are we sick of the latest gadget that now has “67 brand new features” that just make accessing the basic functions twice as hard?

Writing

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Prompted by Joshuaink.

This site now has a PICS label. PICS “was originally designed to help parents and teachers control what children access on the Internet, but it also facilitates other uses for labels, including code signing and privacy.”

I don’t swear much on this site, but it’s nice to be nice and all that. If you want to do the same you can use the ICRA Label Generator and the ICRA Label tester.

Ohh and I’m not pointing any fingers, at anyone I think should do this. Honest.

Blogging

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The online status of blogrolling.com is currently changing faster than superman in a phone booth. One minute it’s up, next minute it’s down. I wouldn’t mind but I can’t get the built in “blogrolling-esque” WordPress stuff to work properly (it won’t show when I site has been updated), and considering Bloglines was down for a while yesterday I can’t even tag into that system.

So, for the next few hours, there ain’t no blogroll. Sorry.

Decided something is better than nothing – Other Blogs section now back (on the left) but doesn’t show when a site has updated.

~

Whilst I’m bitching, does anyone know how to STOP WordPress adding paragraph tags where it doesn’t need to? Keeps catching me out but chucking them in where they aren’t required. Will search the forums later. I’m hoping to learn a lot more about WordPress in the coming months, especially as I’ve bitten the bullet and signed up to work on their Wiki. Guess I should finish the first batch of topics on the HaloScan Wiki first though.

~

AND ANOTHER THING!! The search only seems to return the first 10 posts. WHY OH WHY OH WHY!

Blogging Tech

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OK. Time to come clean. It was bound to get out and it’s not like I haven’t hinted about this but.. well given that I’ll be grabbing traffic from here today, I think it’s time to put the record straight.

My name is Gordon McLean. I’m a T-shirt-a-holic.

There. I’ve said. It feels like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders, like I’m finally free of the horrible burden, that terrible secret. You see, unlike some people who collect fancy schmancy shirts I have a passion for t-shirts.

Now, I’ll fully admit that I’ve reigned in this fascination for many years, but recently it’s been taking control. I fight it and fight it and fight it but I know it’s futile, all the while a deep slightly breathless voice whispers in my ear

Give yourself to the Dark Side. It is the only way you can save your friends. Yes. Your thoughts betray you. Your feelings for them are strong.

I really must stop watching Return of the Jedi. Anyway, where was I?

Oh yes, t-shirts. The one thing that has always annoyed me about t-shirts over the years is that.. well you can buy them everywhere! Typically if I’m shopping for clothes I’ll end up at the t-shirts, I’ll spot something I like the look of, and then I’ll realise I’m standing in Top Shop or Burtons (ohh OK, Asda) and that the rack is full of them. Of course what this means is the first time I parade my fabuluously cool new t-shirt in public, some prat with half my street cred will saunter into view at the same time. Now admittedly my street cred isn’t that high, in fact I’m pretty sure it wavers constantly between “not a lot” and “you ARE kidding”, but nothing shatters your “cool factor” like walking past someone with the same t-shirt on*.

So along came the internet and it’s myriad of joys, not only is there all that p*rn (allegedly, I wouldn’t know… ohh come on, gimme a break, I’m hardly likely to admit to my t-shirt obsession AND that I’m a wanker in the same post), but there is something else that sends goosebumps racing over my skin and a tiny electric shiver down my back.

UNIQUE T-SHIRTS.

You see, I have always had this thing for being “different”. Mainly because I was/am – as are you dear reader, remember that now, won’t you – and probably because of the resonance that came with the discovery that, contrary to the opinion held among my twelve year old peers, jeans and a t-shirt were NOT an act of rebellion if we ALL wore them. That simple statement shocked me to my core and ever since then I’ve… well I’ve been wearing jeans and t-shirts as often as possible. OK, slight contradiction there.

But now, as I pass the thirty year marker (do not pass go, do not collect £200, instead collect a mortgage and various other debts that it’ll take you 20 years to pay off) it IS an act of rebellion. For here, today, I sit at my desk. Jeans and my Tw@ed (twatted, geddit?) t-shirt in all it’s slightly faded glory. Yes, no suits and ties and shirts for me. I’m a Rebel.

You are part of the Rebel Alliance and a traitor! Take her away!

Hang on, whaddya mean”her”?? Damn that movie…

And so with the backing of the endless sources available on the internet behind me I can now be reasonably assured that, as long as I’m careful in my choices, I WILL be the only person at the Faithless gig with a T-shirt that says “Nothing is any good if other people like it”, and people WILL notice it and point and the ones who understand it will offer a wry smile. Of course it’s not about the adulation and fame (not unless we are talking about some decent money and hot girls) but it’s nice that my efforts to be unique are noticed.

For, aside from my t-shirts, I AM the definition of “middle of the road, thirty something”.

I’ll stop now as I’m beginning to waffle and thoughts of relating my t-shirt obsession to my tattoos is making my brain hurt.

* There are two actions you can take if this happens. If you have noticed in time you can turn the other way, pause to look in a shop window, and generally avoid any embarassment. However if it’s too late and you’ve both spotted each other the absolute worst thing you can do is point out the fact that “Dude, we’ve got the same t-shirt, aren’t we the COOLEST!!”. Seriously, it may seem funny (in a quirky way) at the time, but it isn’t. It’s embarassing.
Note to self: I must stop doing that.

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The UCAS website has been updated and my sister-in-law has gotten her place on her course!!!

It’s hard to put into words just how happy we are for her, she wanted this so badly and has been working so so hard. Tears of happiness all round!

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A minor blizzard of large soft snowflakes and the backgarden is rendered white.

Next Morning Update: It continued to snow overnight, easily twice this, probably more.

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Imagine my surprise this morning when, upon tuning into BBC Breakfast, I was confronted with the site of people sitting at a table on London Bridge and they were knitting.

Cue “sound bite” from one of the artists (I use the term artist as presented in the piece):

“I like the political aspect of knitting, the feeling of taking things into one’s own hands.”

The political aspect of knitting? I bet democracies across the world felt a small tremor when he said that, dictators peered out of windows wondering why the crows were flocking over their palaces, and across the nation the sound of disbelief echoed through the streets – sounding just like people stifling laughs behind their cornflakes.

I did agree with his second point – that you could also see knitting as a backlash against commercialism – but the order in which he presented his “knitting beliefs” says more about him than I fear he realises.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of knitting – I’ve mentioned all that before though – but I’m not sure I see the appeal of knitting things like lampshades or handgrenades (via) or food (via).

However I do think everyone should have at least one hand knitted garment in their wardrobe. But having grown up with a constant stream of jumpers (in varying colours and designs) I guess I was kinda spoiled. It did stop Aunties giving me knitted jumpers though, always a blessing.

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This has been languishing in draft status for a while – given Jason Kottke’s recent news (see next post) I thought now was as good a time to post it as any.

I’ve been pondering, amongst other things, the recent Bloggies, and the whole “A list” bloggers thing.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll never join the upper echelons of the blogeratti, nor will I receive a Bloggies nomination because I’m not focussed. I waffle about too many things in too disjointed a fashion. Lack of consistency possibly (but you could never fault me for lack of content).

WHY am I pondering this?

Well, at this very point in time I have three rather lengthy posts in draft state. Two are centred round Information Design and the Web, and one is titled “Why we write”. I’ve been adding to and tweaking them for the past two weeks and they are getting to the stage where they could be published. But what then? Do I revert back to the usual miscellany or do I push on for greatness, honing my writing further, creating a unique(r) voice and becoming the site for.. er… ah problem.

What IS the focus of this site? Well obviously it’s me, but then again it ISN’T me as I don’t really talk about myself in that much detail, and I’m painfully aware that my life just isn’t that exciting, certainly not enough to warrant an entire website. I’m not the funniest writer, nor am I particularly insightful, so I’m left with a myriad of topics to deal with, and that’s not to mention the many grammar and typing errors which I’m prone to.

That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy posting this nonsense but I’m naturally competitive, and have a constant need for adoration (and money) so it piques me a little that I’m not “up there”.

I want fame and glamour, dammit. Who do I have to sleep with to get it!

But, as with most things in this life, I’m getting out what I put in. I’ve made some ‘friends’, met some people, and had the chance to help some others on the way. I’m slowly getting more involved in projects I enjoy and having spent a few days trawling my own archives it’s fairly obvious that the content here is both more frequent but (usually) better considered.

Recently I feel like I’ve been starting over, like the New Year is still influencing my thinking. It’s prompted a few changes, both in my approach to this site and my approach to others, and I think it will continue to do so. It’s a cyclic thing with me, and something I’ve mentioned before. Change and chaos seem to both excite me, forcing me to consider new options, new directions, and depress me, the fog descends again (don’t worry I’ve got a big shiny fan to blow it away with).

Either way, the funk seems to ebb and flow, but it’s providing great moments of lucidity at times, and at least these days I’ve learnt how to see through the fog.

So you A-listers, keep on doing what you are doing, and just remember one thing. WHY you are doing it.

Writing

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