December 2003 Archives

Weblogging cycles


FBI Issues Alert Against Almanac Carriers


As seen on Yahoo!...

This is possibly one of the stupidest alerts in a very long line of stupid terror alerts. What's next? Arresting people for being able to read? For reading the wrong books?

"He was carrying a copy of the Qu'ran, your honour."

"Clearly Guilty. Send him to Guantanamo bay."

Update: There's a great discussion of this over at Teresa Nielsen Hayden's Site. (Have I mentioned how much I like that site?)

Some CSS goodness


I've been doing some web design for a friend of mine. The previous design she had involved all sorts of bletcherous IE specific stuff and a metric buttload of javascript and cack to get image popups working.

I've recreated that effect with pure CSS on Vicky's pages. It wasn't easy to get IE to play along, but I got it in the end. If you look at the CSS, the key to the image popups is:

DIV.thumbnailbox A SPAN { display: none; }

DIV.thumbnailbox A:hover { display: inline; }

DIV.thumbnailbox A:hover SPAN { display: block; position: absolute; top: 0em; right: 0em; z-index: 102; }

/*Hack to stop IE being a pain in the butt*/ /* This moves the popups over to the left because IE gets it wrong.*/ *html DIV.thumbnailbox A:hover SPAN { right: 15em; }

This turns off the SPAN, which is itself an image, until you mouseover it, when it appears in a fixed location.

The key to getting it to work in IE involves the A:hover declaration and the hack selector at the bottom. without the first, the images don;t appear at all, and without the second, they get absolutely positioned to the parent element to the actual containing element, for some strange reason and need to be repositioned with the hack.

It works perfectly well in Mozilla without those hacks, but IE is what most people use, so it has to work in that steaming pile of cack.

Closing Entries


I closed off the last entry — it was just ranting on my part about something that almost no-one who reads this would ever find interesting.

Currently trying out Movable Type. Seems a lot slicker than Greymatter.



Having used Grey Matter for a few weeks now, I must day that I really don't like the interface. Typing into a webform just feels very, very wrong to me.

This just feels wrong, dammit!Not being able to break up entries with proper HTML also feels wrong, although it is possible, as the callout shows.

I really got used to being able to edit entries with vi, and having a nice, solid Makefile to regenerate the whole site. By contrast, Greymatter seems to take an age to regenerate the site. It takes five minutes or so, as opposed to the twenty or thirty seconds which my Makefiles did. OK, Greymatter is doing quite a bit more, but it still feels very awkward.

I also stand by my earlier comments about the sheer mind-boggling stupidity of the storage format. Why oh why is the data not stored in XML files? What possible reason could there be for storing the date in eight fields when one would do just as well?


I'm looking at MovableType at the moment. Maybe that'll be closer to what I want and I won;t have to go and develop something from the ground up.

Site Down


I've been trying to upgrade this webserver to Linux 2.6.0 over the last few days, but I've had very little success. I've had to spend a few hours tonight recovering from a corrupt root partition, and trying to get the server to actually boot again, despite having a good spread of RedHat kernels, home compiled kernels and the new kernel. If you've been trying to access the site tonight (28 December 2003), it's largely been powered down and disassembled

Strangely enough, I had 2.6.0 booting or a bit, and my ancient laptop will boot it with no problems, but I had persistent creeping failures when trying to get Gizmo (the webserver) to boot it.

I guess the lesson is that production machines shouldn't run the bleeding edge stuff. I'm sticking to the stock redhat kernels until Fedora 2.0 comes out, with the 2.6 kernels as stock.

Speaking of the ancient laptop - it has some weird problems with the PCMCIA cards - I have a wireless card for it which is a genuine PCMCIA card, but I keep getting "Bad Vcc" errors due to the weirdness of the PCMCIA interface. Toshiba Tecras are not a good choice for a Linux Laptop - they're just chock full of proprietary hardware which doesn't work with anything except Windows. Not to mentions that the processor is welded to the chassis, and has a heatsink welded on top of it. It's is not possible to upgrade the damn thing! I fondly remember my old Olivetti, with a Socket 7, so that I could keep uprading the processor.

Return of the King


I woke up this morning and blearily shuffled into the computer room to check something. The 11:30 showing of Return of the King in Pacific Place had seats available which were acceptably far back from the front. I saw the first movie from the front row. Man, did those hobbits have big feet!

I arrived at the cinema just in time to get a drink — a small one, it's a loooong movie — and got to my seat. Some slouching Neanderthal was blubbering on his phone next to me, but mercifully didn't use it during the movie. He inexplicably left about an hour and a half before the end too, which seems a bit strange. Maybe it was the way I'd growl whenever he took his phone out...

Happy Christmas!

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It's that time of year again - the Earth has tilted on it's orbit and the days are getting longer. The sun has shone into the burial chambers at NewGrange, the ritual music has been played (and played, and played), Google's gone all seasonal, and Americans are trying hard to not offend anyone by their words (by saying "happy holidays" instead of "happy Christmas"), while their government offends the entire world by their actions.

Here's some Christmas Urban Legends to while away the time with.

As seen on the ever unlinkable SCuMP this morning:


Michael Jackson became a member of the Nation of Islam shortly before he was formally charged with child molestation yesterday, the New York Post tabloid reported.

Jackson's first scheduled court appearance in January was also delayed by a week. His passport would be returned to allow him to travel to Britain, sources said yesterday. The change in plans to arraign Jackson, 45, on multiple counts of child molestation came as prosecutors were poised to file formal criminal charges against the star in Santa Maria, near his Neverland ranch in California.

The newspaper quoted sources as saying Jackson became a member of the black Muslim organisation led by Louis Farrakhan on Wednesday night.

"The King of Pop is re-styling himself Jacko X," the tabloid said.

Mr Farrakhan's organisation would not comment. Fox News reported that Jackson's brother, Jermaine, brought Mr Farrakhan's chief of staff into Jackson's inner circle as "a bodyguard".

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Content Management Software


I've just been poring through the source code for Grey Matter, the software which manages the bloggier aspects of this site and I have to say I'm stunned by some of what I see. 'Music', 'Mood', 'Emoticons'. It makes me want to barf. There's a lot of things, well, not wrong, but which could certainly stand improving.

Conor heui yum cha

There are some new pictures of Conor over on Conor's Page.

There's also one new picture of Roxanne at this page.

In a World


Ever wondered about who does those Movie Trailers?

Here's a trailer making fun of trailers. Apparently the guy doing the voice over is one of few guys who do most of them.

Site Down

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Hmmph. My DSL line went down last night just after one, and needed a good kick to get back running, which is why the site was unavailable.

I must really get around to writing that Perl::HTML module to keep an eye on the router...

Oil firm 'overcharged' US in Iraq


Oil firm 'overcharged' US in Iraq. Yet more crony-capitalism.

Join in the Google™bombing meme: unelectable

The Environment


There's an excellent article by Robert F. Kennedy Jr about the environment and the way the Bush administration is rolling back years of progress. Crimes Against Nature: By Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

The Language Hat


I just noticed a fascinating site about languages:

Monstrous Regiment


Some time back, I mentioned that I'd picked up a copy of the latest Terry Pratchett book, Monstrous Regiment.

On first reading, I didn't like it very much.

I read it again this week, however, and my opinion's changed somewhat

A few changes

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You may notice a few changes...

Update 10/12/2003: right now, the styles are a bit of a mess and the layout is a bit busy. I'll try and sort it out soon as I can. I can't get at the guts of the site when I'm not at home.

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