May, 2004

May 04

Some cool flash and animation stuff

Here are a few of the better ones I’ve seen recently:

  • Samorost – listed first because it’s the best. Awesome and beautiful, if only there were more like this.
  • Little flash playground – by the same guy as Samorost. Quirky fun.
  • Glasgow Survival – these flash animations are essential viewing if you’ve ever been to Glasgow. I was going to link directly to the flash section, but that is accessible in the ‘Toys’ section and the rest of the site is worth a wee look too. Fair play to the boy on the bike though, decent effort.
  • I love acid – very cool little video for the trippers. Thanks to Andy D for this one.
  • Switch Maestro penguins – cool advert from TV.
  • There’s always Coinbird, if you dare.
  • Just watch this one. Sound needed, thanks to Pedro for pointing this one out.

May 04

Sony Ericsson T610 problems

This was going to be a post all about the cool features of my new phone, but it’s not. Yesterday I ‘upgraded’ my phone as my year long contract was finished with Orange. The upgrade was a free Sony Ericsson T610 phone, which looked pretty cool feature-wise. I took this phone rather than another Nokia 6310i because I fancied a camera and a new wee toy to play with. I do know at least two people with T68i phones who have had no end of trouble with them, but decided that it was just a problem with that model. Oops.

Today my phone died, aged just 23 hours, most of which was spent charging or switched off! As I was editing a contact the phone completely crashed and completely froze. I removed the battery and reset the phone, expecting all to be well. However, while all of the number keys continue to operate, all the others were goosed. Further resets did nothing to improve the situation.

Using the phone up until that point had not been trouble free. I’m going to avoid getting into my dis-belief about the lack of thought that goes into phone operating systems (and some ATMs on a sort of related topic). Although I realise there are lots of things that need to be crammed into the software, the menu system was slow and hard to navigate and everything just seemed to be a wee bit more complicated than it should have been. Added to the fact that the signal strength was noticably weaker than my Nokia and I’m one pissed off bunny. I still fancy a camera, but at the moment I don’t think the trade off is worth it. Poor decision, Mark.

Tomorrow I’m off to the shop to try to get another Nokia. John was right – Sony make shit phones.

May 04

Migration to WordPress

After some more time playing with WordPress nI’ve got some more spraff.

Documentation isn’t that good IMO, so prepare to do some searching.
Knowledge of PHP is very handy if you want to do much with it.

One final thing – they have “CODE IS POETRY” next to their valid xhtml and css links. Geek cool.


RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^categories/(.)/(feed|rdf|rss|rss2|atom)/?$ /wp-feed.php?category_name=$1&feed=$2 [QSA]
RewriteRule ^categories/?(.
) /index.php?category_name=$1 [QSA]
RewriteRule ^archives/author/(.)/(feed|rdf|rss|rss2|atom)/?$ /wp-feed.php?author_name=$1&feed=$2 [QSA]
RewriteRule ^archives/author/?(.
) /index.php?author_name=$1 [QSA]
RewriteRule ^archives/([0-9]{4})?/?([0-9]{1,2})?/?([0-9]{1,2})?/?([_0-9a-z-])?/?([0-9])?/?$ /index.php?year=$1&monthnum=$2&day=$3&name=$4&page=$5 [QSA]
RewriteRule ^archives/([0-9]{4})/([0-9]{1,2})/([0-9]{1,2})/([_0-9a-z-]+)/(feed|rdf|rss|rss2|atom)/?$ /wp-feed.php?year=$1&monthnum=$2&day=$3&name=$4&feed=$5 [QSA]
RewriteRule ^archives/([0-9]{4})/([0-9]{1,2})/([0-9]{1,2})/([_0-9a-z-]+)/trackback/?$ /wp-trackback.php?year=$1&monthnum=$2&day=$3&name=$4 [QSA]
RewriteRule ^feed/?([_0-9a-z-]+)?/?$ /wp-feed.php?feed=$1 [QSA]
RewriteRule ^comments/feed/?([_0-9a-z-]+)?/?$ /wp-feed.php?feed=$1&withcomments=1 [QSA]

May 04

Movable Type vs WordPress

After all the furore over Six Apart’s announcement regarding the Movable Type 3.0 licenscing, I’ve started to consider other blogging tools. I quite like MT, but Mike and I both agree that there is much room for improvement. The need to re-build entries/templates is my major bugbear with the software (although with our current host’s crap MySQL server it can be quite handy!). WordPress appears to be the best alternative to MT for ‘power users’ (crap term, but you know what I mean). If you know of any others that are worth considering, please let me know.

Fortunately, I’ve got plenty of hosting, domains and MySQL databases to play with so I’ve installed a test version of WordPress and have had a wee shooftie. Here are some quick first impressions:

  • Installation is much easier than MT, in this case at least.
  • Importing MT entries was pretty easy, one error for me that should be easily rectified.
  • General feel of the admin panel is not as nice/finished as MT IMO.
  • The write/edit page in the admin panel doesn’t display correctly in Opera, grrrr. Still usable.
  • Multiple level categories look pretty cool.
  • Links management feature could have potential.
  • Templating system doesn’t seem as powerful as MT, but I’ve not checked it out properly.
  • Will definitely be more hackable, for me at least.
  • Uploading images is better in WordPress, assuming I can get rid of the error message.
  • I like the permalink settings, mod_rewrite is cool.

So, I think I quite like WordPress and will probably make the swap. It’s not worlds better than MT, some things are worse, but it does have more features and no damned re-building. Of course my current version of MT will continue to work just fine, but I do fancy a new thing to play with. For this site I think I’ll wait until I get round to doing a re-design before I do any swapping.

May 04

Sporty trips and wee adventures

It dawned on me the other day that, what with one thing or another, I haven’t been out of central Scotland for about nine months! This is very unlike me, and I’m really hyped to escape up north for a while soon. The real trouble is that I only really go somewhere to do some sport there. I quickly learned that I don’t enjoy holidays, no matter how nice a place is, unless I’m doing something I’m into and now that I’m starting to do more active stuff, I can’t wait to get away again.

While walking to work this morning I reminisced about some past trips that I’ve been on and realised that the best ones have all been climbing trips. It’s a bit of a cliche, but there really was a lot more to these trips than just the climbing. I used to hitch and bivvi a lot around the country for climbing and every trip up north felt like a wee adventure. Sleeping under boats on the beach, under fish crates at the harbour or getting lifts from eccentric old boys in shonky cars was good fun. No, it was better than that – it was absolutely wicked.

When my final exam at uni was over, my coursemates all went out on the piss. I went for a quick pint then headed to bed so that I could get up and go hitching and climbing in the north-west with Alastair for ten days. It was one of the best trips I’ve been on – the weather was great, we had a great laugh, saw some lovely sunsets and even got some trad climbing done.

Since getting into kiting I’ve also been on plenty of trips and they have been great fun, but none of them have captured that adventurous feel of some of the climbing missions. Of course one big difference is that you can’t very easily hitch-hike with four kites and two boards (although I did manage to hitch the four miles to the beach every day in Fuerteventura – very lucky), but there’s more to it than that. With kiting it seems too easy to get sucked into just going to the same beaches every week, just because you know there’s wind and it’s the safe option. Once I’m back into kiting I’m going to focus on getting away from that – find new spots to rides, both on water and land, and recapture some adventure in these things.

May 04

SPKA event this weekend

Just a wee note to say that John and I from Wind Things/Flexifoil will be at the SPKA event at Stevenston this Saturday to give out some free kiteATB coaching to whoever wants it as well as to judge the freestyle event and offer as much feedback and advice as possible.

We’re bringing along the Wind Things PA system (thanks Pedro!) and a case of Red Bull for some loud entertainment, and of course some of the rest of the team will be there too so come over and have a chat. It’s a totally free and friendly event where everyone’s invited, so get yourselves there.

Let’s hope I have a better day than the last time I was there…

May 04

Book shopping list

Here are a few books I’m quite keen to buy/read. This list is as much for myself as anything else, but I’m always open to suggestions.

May 04

Why it’s bad that Dreamweaver exists

I dislike WYSIWYG HTML editors. They generally create poor code (although the most recent version of Dreamweaver has made steps to improve this), but this is not the real basis for this post.

WYSIWG editors allow almost anyone to very easily create a web site. It will very possibly be complete rubbish, but it will be a web site. WYSIWG editors, no doubt helped on by other factors, have created an image of web development that makes many (non geeky!) people think that it is childsplay to create a web site, and consequently don’t see the worth in contacting a proper web design company. Most people haven’t heard of standards, accessibility or usability and don’t think about fluid designs, link consistency and browser compatibility – yet these are the some of the many little things that can turn a great design into a great web site. Most web users, and many of those responsible for sorting out company web sites, haven’t heard of, or don’t care about, some of the issues that make the difference between the good, the bad and the unbearable.

I have a friend who is a graphic designer and who has just been given a freelance web site to do for one of his clients. Although his graphic design skills are very good, I find it scary that he will be getting paid to create this site – something he very clearly doesn’t have the skills to do. Images will be sliced in photoshop and stuffed onto the screen in Dreamweaver until it looks right in Safari. Different browsers, screen resolutions and standards won’t even get a thought. I’m not saying this as a way of knocking him or his work and I’m certainly not saying that he shouldn’t do the work (I would if I was him), I’m just illustrating my point. Web design is not graphic design, it’s just a shame that people don’t realise it.

If this post sounds like I’m a little bitter, then maybe I am. Mike and I at Visual Output wouldn’t take a job where we had to create and prepare a brochure for print because we don’t have those skills. It’s a pity that very often the same doesn’t seem to apply in reverse.

May 04

Blog redesign time

Freaky – I’ve been thinking about redesigning my blog for a while now, then Mike goes and posts something about him wanting to do it. Guess we’d better get on the case then.

OK, so we see each other loads and it’s not that freaky.