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Exercises in usability, Number {many}

I just opened a recent version of Media Player. Funky UI. Looks
cool. Marks for consistency. It's like it almost resembles anything
else I know how to use. Nowadays, changing UIs radically just to make
them prettier at the expense of usability, comes under my favorite
User-Interface 101 topic of "Moving Shit About". Yay for pretty shit.

Challenge: Given the URL of a stream, it took me a noticable amount of
time to work out how to open it. I first tried clicking the biggest most
obvious button there, and it took me to a windows media-realted website.

I mean, everyone knows I'm not really a pointy-clikky genius, but as
someone who's never touched this system before, I shouldn't have had
trouble opening a URL.

Of course, that's probably my bad for having the URL on a clipboard
instead of e-mailed to me, since I'm sure Outlook would LOVE the
opportunity to helpfully open it for me. [Yay for e-mail inboxes full
of .pif files.]


"The most interesting thing about King Charles I is that he was 5'6"
at the start of this reign, but only 4'8" tall at the end of it"

Amuses me every time I hear it.


Obviously, I have a different opinion on a lot of movies to most people.

I just finished watching American Beauty. Again. Not quite as many times
as Fight Club, but hey...

For those who already know, a great many things in my day haven't been
working out too well recently.

But this movie just...

You know, it has one of the happiest endings of any movie I've ever
seen. I watch it, and it just makes me smile & feel good about a great
many things. It's soooo not a picker-upper kinda movie, but the ending
always makes me feel better, generally, about the whole world.


Today is financially an unexpectedly OK day. I went to the AAA to see
if I could make my car insurance cheaper, and the nice man told me that
I was already saving 800 bucks this year [no accidents and no tickets;
other people's insurance and driving school are two wonderful things]


Joy! I'm going to Linuxworld. Leaving at some godawful hour on Sunday
morning, then helping with setup in the Canon booth. I'll be there
all week.


1) Has an option for the number of concurrent connections to a
server. Defaults to 4. That's really cool.

2) It obeys the width attribute on td elements. And I mean, "OBEYS". My
normal hack for saving bothering working out image widths is:
<td width="3"><img src="blah"></td>
All modern browsers simply expand the td to fit the image. NS3? Nope. It
obeys it. Now will you people please stop whining that Mozilla never
obeys width tags, wheras IE does? NEITHER do.

Meh. Now, if only I could find libc5 compatability libraries for
Slackware 8 or 9, I could actually test seriously in NS3, as opposed to
forwarding an X session from a slowish Solaris box.

In other news, it seems that my anal HTML coding habits have produced HTML
that worked perfectly in NS3 and 4, Lynx, and everything newer. And in
sizes down to about 603 pixels wide [NS3], 618 pixels wide [Firebird],
and 617 pixels wide [NS4].
Which, being well below 640, is more than enough to satisfy me.

It should be said at this point that a lot of my HTML is copied from
DreamWeaver HTML. Notably the <table> elements, including all thir
guff. There's a bunch of them and they're nested. I'm VERY impressed
with DreamWeaver.

My DVD of Withnail & I just arrived. Happiness abounds. I fouled up a
few other things. Happiness desists abounding.


I win.
Apple just announced Mail 2.0, including funky stuff like using the
Safari Core [gratiate it with it's real name, kids; KHTML], and being
muchly improved. It's not based on Ximian, but who cares. I was right.


Charlie Croker NEEDS to have an English accent. That's what makes him what
he is. I actually didn't associate the names with the original people
[any of them] - until someone actually said "Charlie Croker", I hadn't
realised who that "Charlie" was. The accents are just too far removed.
"Mr Bridger" is "Mr Bridger", not whatever-his-first-name-is [Donald
Sutherland]. I didn't associate them until long after he died, and they
started talking to his daughter. [not much of a spoiler, given I saw
him die in the trailer]

Other than that, I really enjoyed it in the same way I enjoyed Ocean's
11 - it's not MEANT to be a new version of the original. It's an almost
completely different story, and should be looked upon as such.

Edward Norton's one of the best actors to have appeared recently, IMHO.

I really enjoyed this film, but it's not the original. Read into that
whatever you will.

On completely another topic, a two foot high wall kept the Scots out of
England for several hundred years. Here's a direct quote I just received
from one of my Scottish friends:

(10:19:44) ***bob successfully knocked himself out this morning
(10:20:18) bob: woke up at 8:45, saw the time, went shit, I'm late,
jumped out of bed and banged my head off the wall... fell unconsious
back onto bed


Interesting advocate for pirating music; I was watching TV the other day,
and saw the Nissan Frontier advert. The CD being pushed into the CD
player is only visible from the underside... and blue.

In other news, I lied. I got heavy on a LinkSys access point the other
day and was so impressed that I bought one. It has lots of security
measures in place, so long as you actually turn them on. It also has
the ability to act as a client to other access points, which would be
the real reason I bought it.


Quick prediction:
Now they've effectively ousted IE from their desktops, by simply creating
a massively superior product, Apple will go on to create a rocking
mail client.

I'm guessing it'll be based on Evolution, that they'll license Ximian's
Connector, and it will blow Entourage way the hell outta the water.


OK. I know everyone's bored of this topic by now, but:
I've just finished reading Fight Club, on Ryan's recommendation. It's
a good book.

Lots of things in it are very different to the film. Like, say, Marla
Singer's presence through the whole thing, and, oh, I dunno... the ending.

I definitely recommend reading this.


It's funny. I spend so much time whining about how pathetic the drivers
here are. Which they really are.

But suddenly, when I'm on a bike, everything changes. I get LOADS of
leeway from passing traffic. They're noticably more wary around me,
and careful of my presence. It's really really nice. People hang well
back if they can't get around me, and when they do move to overtake me,
they make sure they're way the hell away from me when they do it.

At this point, I could turn this into a rant about libellous societies
again, but you know? I think I'll just quietly appreciate the fact that
I feel safer on the road on my bike than I did in the UK. Which is
completely the opposite of what I was expecting.

I also have a nice bike path that goes about halfway to work from where
I live, which is basically going alongside the road next to some grass
and flowers & stuff.

There's another bike route, but apparently it goes through some crappy
neighborhoods going workwards [although going marinawards it's quite
nice. Little detour along a river thing, ending up going around the
Marina. It's purty.]

These are the exciting things in my day.


To clarify, once-and-for-all:
If you've ever been to a Farscape convention, you are so much more dorky
than I could EVER be.


Way to go, Linksys. Man, I ain't NEVER buying a Linksys piece of hardware.

I've just upgraded someone's wireless access point for them. Using
crossover office [good] and a program called "tftp.exe" [bad]. From work
while they're at home [bad].

To clarify, tftp SHOULD have a ttl of 1, and it's unauthenticated.

I've also done a couple other administrative tasks through the web
interface. My bad, that's going through...
<quickly checks>
more than 20 hops from here.

I hate to be harsh, but completely consistently, every time I'm messing
with a wireless router, if it's made by Linksys, it simply horrifies me
how insecure it is.

Yes, I'm fully aware that the "remote administration" thing is a setting
that you have to turn on. But IMHO, it simply shouldn't exist.


OK. So I like lots of random skill type things. Magic, Juggling, Making
Chainmaille, Solving Rubik's Cubes, pretty much whatever takes my fancy.

I've also recently been taught to do do cross-stitch. Yay!

I finished my first piece the other day. Something small and fairly
inconsequential, but I think it's pretty cool all the same. My week now
includes an embroidery group every Wednesday. That's kinda depressing
when I think about it.


Remember how I said the other day that tin snips are a little piece of
chainmaille-related heaven? Well, it's still true.

That picture right there would be the whole reason I learnt to make
chainmaille. I saw online various people wrapping juggling balls in it,
and thought "sounds cool, plus it's a new random skill to learn".

Take one normal cheap juggling ball, and wrap in chain.

Completely changes the whole feel of the ball, makes is somewhat larger,
more resilient to hurt, heavier... lots of things. And muchly personalised.

Very cool.


Hmmm. I was just looking at my CV, and two horrific things came to
my attention:

1) Every time I've worked with Macs in a really-I-mean-it kinda way,
  I've been in a small windowless room housing 4 computers and either
  two or three people. Usually at least one of my roomies smokes.

2) All of the paid jobs I've had so far have involved me, in some way,
  relegated to webmonkey. Be it search engine developer or more
  general-purpose monkey. And my personal webpages are still ugly
  as sin. Perhaps I oughta do something about that.

Sensing a theme, I've also just realised I've ended up as a DBA to go
with the webmonkey stuff, oftentimes.



Note to self: When people online talk about using Aviation Snips to
create the rings for ChainMaille, over a pair of normal wire croppers,
and how they're a little bit better...

They mean it.

This weekend I was wandering by Sears at some point, and thought

So I bought some Aviation Snips [for Brits, "Tin Snips"]. And suddenly
I'm finding I can make a small mountain of rings in remarkably little
time. With remarkably little effort. And when I take a pair of pliers to
them, the rings actually meet cleanly at the end. And don't come apart
when two rings are meeting at their respective joins.

Anyone else considering learning to make ChainMaille [not as hard as it
looks, by the way], spending 15 bucks on a set of Aviation Snips over
8 bucks for a normal pair of croppers, it's COMPLETELY worth it. By
several orders of magnitude. Think "Difference between night & day"


Yet another browser sounding-off session.

There's a reason that HTTP headers exist. That MIME types exist. And
the reasons IS NOT that the browser knows better than the server.

By way of example:
Content-type: text/plain

If you're Mozilla, Netscape, Opera, pretty much anything except IE, then
it's rendered as plain text. Even if it's HTML. That's a Good Thing,
there's a reason for things like that. [eg, serving up source code to
HTML in-line scripting langauges]

And that's where my usual ranting finishes. IE sucks, Mozilla rocks.

But no.

Mozilla, in it's infinite wisdom sees the following, and renders it,
if it's been served up as text/plain:
Content-disposition: attatchment; filename=something.clf

Having flicked through RFC2183, the above should be interpreted as
"ask the user what to do with it", which IE actually manages successfully.

Of course, not to let IE off the hook, it does helpfully append a ".txt"


You see, I'd really hoped to avoid that whole application/octet-stream
thing for a simple text file. But no.

<mozilla> When I grow up, I want to be IE

When this .plan was written: 2003-09-01 18:00:46
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