March 2007 Archives

Miami Vice


TV1 has moved on from their 2005/2006 Star Trek fascination, and now features Miami Vice.

It's curious how flat the lighting is. Everything indoors is very well lit, with no deep shadows. it's bland and antiseptic and looks very fake. Was it a limitation of the equipment of the time or a deliberate stylistic choice?

Oh, and the music's too loud, the plots are clichéd and the cars look dull (although this is because they're still on the fake Daytona, not the Testarossa).

Mind your U's


Mind your U's

I note that there was an error in the spelling of "favourite" in the full-page advertisement for your newspaper featuring Lan Kwai Fong Holdings chairman Allan Zeman.

That the error was not discovered and corrected is somewhat of a surprise, given the very large size of the text. There is no humor or honor when yo drop the "u" from words such as flavour, colour, harbour and rumour.


There is little more tedious that the whinging pom who thinks that everyone should speak and spell the plummiest of Oxbridge English.

This lamentable subset of Englishness manifests itself as hysterical gibbering against those Americans who spell certain words without a U, as the loonie twit above demonstrates.

Sodom and Begorrah


It's St. Patrick's Day today, and the sun-baked streets of Brisbane are strewn with men in kilts and the skirling of the bagpipes fills the air. Pubs are advertising green beer, people are wearing green wigs, green shirts, green pants, and ludicrously over-sized shamrock.

It's nothing like St. Patrick's Day in the Ireland I grew up in. Then, we went to Mass (it was a holy day of obligation), went to town to watch a parade, get wet and went home to watch other places with sunshine have bigger parades. It was usually raining too.

The parade in Brisbane reminds me of the New York parades we used to see on the evening news.

Grumpy Check In


I had an interesting check-in experience the other day: a Cathay check-in person tried to tell me that I needed proof of an Australian visa before he'd check me in.

A little explanation. The Electronic Travel authority is a tag in the Australian visa system that you can register for over the Internet. There's no stamp in your passport, just a tag in the Aussie Immigration system and in the online system the airlines use to check visas. When you arrive at the immigration counters, your passport is swiped, and you proceed to baggage reclaim where beagles sniff your socks and you take bets on your luggage appearing in one piece.

To get on the plane in the first place, the airline has to be sure that you have a visa for the place you're going to, so they have to check things. And that depends on the name on your ticket being exactly equal to the one in your passport. The apostrophe in my surname confuses the booking system for most airlines, so it sometimes gets left out. The only way to check it in that situation is for the check-in droid to type the name in manually, but apparently Cathay Pacific's procedures call for a verbal haranguing of the traveller first.

Just what you need before a long flight.

As my daughter is now in primary school, she has a web-based system for checking homework, and also some homework to be done online. While I happen to think that this is really cool in some ways, I also think it's appalling. Six year olds are expected to be let loose on the public internet? Are they mad?

What's worse is that the website used, which is run by is strictly Internet Explorer (IE) only. It won't work on anything else*. She can't do her internet homework on the Mac, which is a pretty safe environment, but only on my Linux box, which is powering this webserver and mail server. Or I could put a 6 year old with IE on Windows free to browse wherever she wants. That isn't a good idea.

* Actually, it does work on Konqueror (the KDE browser Safari is based on), with user-agent spoofing, but I hardly think that a six year old can be expected to figure that out. This means that the browser tells the webserver that it's really Internet Explorer on XP, not Konqueror on Linux. A site that checks for the user-agent is the antithesis of the open internet. It says "I only work with the following browsers", but then makes no allowance for other browsers being improved (or made more compatible with IE's rendering quirks). It's a sure sign of someone who's learned webdesign on IE, and refuses to develop to standards.

IE is a very insecure browser, with no popup protection. Modern browsers, like Firefox, have good popup protection and, with add-ons like adblock-plus, it's possible to restrict certain users to safe sites. It's not possible to do that with IE, as far as I am aware. IE is also a primary transmission vector for viruses, trojans and assorted spyware. Plus it's a poor renderer of webages, doesn't support the various web standords properly, and lacks basic features like tabbed browsing.

While I do have some protection on my Windows box, I largely use common sense and many years of experience to avoid dodgy sites.

Seeing as how BroadLearning have no contact addresses on their website, I sent this to, which was the only email address I could find online, but it was bounced.

I have a query in regards to the eClass Junior web-based education package. My apologies if you are not the correct person for this enquiry, but I was unable to find any other contact addresses on the website.

Currently, the eClass Junior website appears to only render correctly on Microsoft Internet Explorer, and will not render certain elements (such as popup menus on Firefox, Safari or Konqueror.

The javascript which powers the popups appears to be checking the browser identification string, as changing that string from Konqueror allows the popups to work. They won't work on Firefox under any circumstances however, as there appear to be a lot of errors in the HTML.

As the computer my children use to do their homework on the eClass Junior system is running Linux, you can see that this presents a problem.

Is it BroadLearning policy to only code for Internet Explorer on Windows? Will the eClass Junior system be modernised to be cross-platform compatible like any modern webpage?

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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