Month: <span>March 2009</span>

I don’t comment on current events all that often, as I’ve said before I rarely feel that I’ll be adding anything new or particularly insightful so I consider it best to avoid the topic altogether.

That and I can usually see both sides of every story so can find it hard to find a position for myself.

The recent death of Jade Goody is one of those examples. I’m not particularly interested in her as a person, but what does both intrigue and disgust me is the way mass media has treated the past few months of her life. Granted she’s allowed open access and welcomed them in but, from where I’m sitting, surely there was a point where someone, somewhere, must’ve thought “ok, this is enough”.

Apparently not though. I’ve read a few blog posts about her, opinion pieces that add little to my understanding of either her or the perception of what she ‘stands for’ – which is a bit rich I think, given that I doubt she ever considered the fact that she was representing anything other than herself at any point in time, more power to her for that.

So I’ll simply quote the best blog post I have read on this topic, and let you go and make up your own minds, although I’m sure you already have.

My impression was of someone who didn’t know all the answers – or indeed, many of the questions – but wasn’t going to let that get in the way of having a good time and making something of herself. Who loved life, even if she didn’t quite understand it.

Clearly others saw a different reflection: someone ugly, stupid, small-minded, who thought very little of themself and took delight in venting their frustration on a weaker member of society in the most ugly, bestial way possible. Kill the pig, cut her throat, spill her blood. Put her head on a pole, teach others to fear and revile her.

From The Queen of East Angular, over at Hydragenic.

News

In my usual style, just when I should be doing something else I find the spare minutes and hours (which aren’t actually spare) being whittled away by something completely different.

And I don’t mean in the Monty Python sense.

Speaking of which I missed a Python reference the other day, but thankfully re-gained some geek cred by asking if anyone else knew how C3-PO got his name (or R2-D2 for that matter).

So, despite the fact I’ve got a website to build for a client (I HAVE started it, honest!) I find myself, once again, with Photoshop open, working through a variety of potential options for reworking the banner of this website. I’m a bit stalled on this and, as it will affect the my other websites, it’s kinda crucial that the whole ‘brand design’ thing works.

No, I don’t think of myself as a ‘brand’ but I do like things to be neat, and lined up and uniform and have a sense of design to them. Yes, it’s a bit anal and weird, no I’m not apologising for it, and yes I will be making similar changes to all my other websites.

However, as I’m stalled on this, I thought I’d open this up to you guys and gals. I’d like your opinion on the following, please. Leave a comment with your thoughts.

Blogging

aka, you have been warned.

Random thoughts pepper my day. The would salt it if they knew how but then would lack sufficient bite and leave me parched. Random thoughts hate leaving someone parched so they pepper rather than salt. Simple.

The unfortunate fact is that I don’t like pepper, preferring the prickly build of a chilli than the all-consuming thwack of a pepper. Another unfortunate fact is that I need to watch the amount of salt I consume, given that it raises my blood pressure, and, having cut back a great deal, it’s surprising what an impact it has on ones tastebuds.

Outside it is a glorious day, the morning fog has burnt off and the sky is a lovely powder blue. Not sure why I wrote that.

Since getting a laptop at work my back is noticeably sore, it’s the crouching over to read the screen, need to get a screen stand but not a pressing issue really. It’s a familiar pain, as is the people who sit in the outside lane of a dual carriageway even when they aren’t overtaking anyone.

How much water do you drink a day? I drink a few cups of coffee, a can of diet juice, and a couple of glasses of diluting juice most days.

I once had a daydream that was so lucid it took me some hours to realise it hadn’t actually happened. Yet, like most dreams, I don’t remember the detail, nor even a broad sweep of what it involved, which is a shame. There was a rhythm to it, an incessant drum being beaten, and everything was a similar shade, but beyond that the detail is lost.

Personal Musings

Comments closed

Apologies for the silence, as ever life is making posting to this blog a ‘challenge’. I’ve not forgotten about it, and I will get back to more regular posting soon. I’ve a few posts almost completed that I’d love some feedback on, not to mention a few outstanding questions that have been asked in the comments to answer.

So, as the sign says, I’ll be back.

Work

Comments closed

It was a normal evening. Arrived home, fed the cat, started dinner, ate dinner, watched a bit of TV. Ordinary, staid, perhaps even boring.

With a couple of things to do I turned on the PC. I checked my email, skimmed some RSS feeds and pondered what I’d do next. Perhaps a blog post, perhaps I’d see if the writing muse had bothered her pretty little arse to turn up, or maybe I’d push on with my current mini-project (er… noodling about in Photoshop trying to rework the banner graphics a little).

At this point I turned to my current “what can I do that will divert my brain from the fact that I’m still not sure what I want to do” service. You may also know it by its proper name, Twitter.

It was at this point that everything came tumbling down, the lights dimmed, the room vibrated with the tremor and, somewhere, the sound of a helpless baby crying could be heard. Trees were uprooted, cars overturned and lumps of debris were launched into the air, terrorising all as they landed with sickening crunches and thumps.

I had no internet connection.

The eery silence was unsettling at first, punctuated only by the incessant click click clicking of a mouse button and the almost silent cursing of a man who knows some rather choice swear words.

I checked the flashy lights on the modem, the other flashy lights on the wireless router, and I even turned on the strobe light just so I could check another flashy light. After realising that the strobe was just giving me a headache and didn’t, in fact, have any impact on my lack of internet connection (and for the sake of clarity it also has no impact when I do have an internet connection) I turned it off and checked all the cable connections.

Everything LOOKED a-ok so I fired up a web browser to go and check the status page handily provided by my supplier. It’s a great idea, it shows any outages or planned maintenance across all of the services they provide. With a quick click I can check whether I have broadband or not. Brilliant.

What I did do at this point was connect my iPhone to a certain Wifi connection that could, may, possibly, be coming from next door and which is open to the world. Lo and behold the status page showed a red dot (this is a bad thing) next to the word BROADBAND. Next step is to phone and be told, by recorded voice, “if you are in the ML postcode area, you may be experiencing broadband conn…”. I hung up at this point.

And you know what I did then, dear reader?

I read a book. Ain’t NOT having the internet wunnerful??

Life Work

For the past few days I’ve been noodling about in Photoshop, trying to come up with a revised banner graphic for this blog (and, subsequently a theme I can take across the other two ‘one man’ websites). It’s been quite educational, mixing general research with photoshop tutorials on what is probably pretty basic stuff but is all new to me.

Whilst the change won’t be radical it will add another colour to the theme, and generally make the website a bit richer. I’m all for minimal but I do think the design needs something … else … a little more … oomph …

I’ve also been playing about with Yahoo Pipes, largely inspired by http://www.gregorsmith.com/. If nothing else it’s something to do with my name domain website (that’s www.gordonmclean.co.uk, if you were wondering).

What all of this means is that, for the moment, my writing mojo is in short supply. I do have a couple of things drafted I want to publish but I don’t think I’ll be doing that here in the first instance, mainly because I’m determined to publish something to the excellent Writer’s Bloc; you have been to visit, haven’t you? Some wonderful, wonderful writing there.

In fact, it’s a little daunting, submitting something to another website in the hope that it might get published. What if they said “No, it’s rubbish, you are rubbish, never go near a keyboard again your horrid horrid word mangler you”? I don’t know if I could stand it.

Perhaps I’ll just go back to faffing about in Photoshop, it’s much nicer there.

Blogging

The varied pace of life has, once again, caught me off guard. From a fairly slow, languid week last week (not without its moments mind you), the past few days have been a helter skelter rush of getting things done.

Mockups for a new website were sent off, designs for another were started, and requirements for a 3rd and 4th have all started to trickle into my inbox. Yet, such was (is!) the efficiency of my inbox handling I even managed an entire day of Inbox Zero (hint: for those using GMail, the Archive button is your friend).

I’ve even managed to renegotiate my car insurance – and I’ll pause here to thank the excellent Customer Service team at Elephant.co.uk, very efficient – and I have even started reading a book, American Gods by Neil Gaiman if you must know.

Ohh sure, I’ve not done any exercise for a week and, after bingeing somewhat over the weekend, I have put on several pounds but in the midst of everything that is going on I’m willing to take that as an acceptable byproduct.

Naturally I don’t blog about everything that happens in my life (frankly, dear reader, I’d scare most of you, disgust the others and if anyone did hang about after that… well I don’t think I’d really care who they were or what they thought…), but suffice to say that things are moving forward as life is wont to do, and, as ever, I’m taking a perverse pleasure from the bumpy ride.

Life

Using Author-it to produce Word documents is easy. The tricky bit is distributing them.

Without running any post publishing macros, the Word document that is generated will be using linked images. So everytime you need to distribute the document you’ll also need to remember to include the images as well.

I frequently forget this, hence why I’m posting this, so, if all else fails, I can at least search my own blog to find the solution. If you look at a document with linked images, you’ll see that the filesize for the document is quite small, and there will be a number of images in the same folder (although this works fine if your images are linked from another folder).

UPDATE: You can also do this automatically after publishing using an afterPublish Word macro, the Author-it Knowledge Centre has the details, thanks to Derek Tomes for pointing it out. Read on for the manual method.

You can quickly and easily convert linked images to embedded images in Word 2007. Here’s how:

  1. With your Word document open, click the Office button*, top-left of the window.
  2. Select Prepare > Edit Links to Files.
  3. Select and highlight the images you want to convert from the list.
  4. Select the option to Save picture in document.
  5. Click the Break Link button.
  6. Click Yes to confirm.

The links are removed, and the images are now embedded in your Word document. A quick check of the filesize of the Word document should show a marked increase and you can now distribute the Word document, and the Word document only, safe in the knowledge that the images are embedded.

Tech