Archive for June, 2004

A little about my posting habits.

I’m being told that I haven’t been posting enough on a daily basis, and that I haven’t been posting enough about what I actually do during the day. I have a few points to make about this. First of all, I’ll probably post about my daily excursions if I feel that any of it is remotely interesting, but nothing has actually met that criteria as of late. When there’s something I feel is worth posting, I usually do, and I’d rather not turn my weblog into a scroll of worthless dribble along the lines of “OMG Like WOW me and Dana went to the M@ll and met CUTE GUYS omg LOL w00t party tonite”.

Second, I should be clear as to the way I percieve my weblog, and what I use it for. It’s a tool, like weblogs have a tendancy to be, to speak my mind and talk about things that interest me. Unlike a personal diary, however, a weblog (in theory) has an audience of readers, so my weblog is indefinitely limited to posts about subjects I’m interested in sharing with others. In addition, things happen to me throughout the day, most of which I only opt to share if I’m asked. If something is important enough to me (or not too personal), to a point which I would like to talk about it without being asked; to the weblog it goes. And since I’ve got a lot on my mind, and I’m a large fan of personal expression and conversation, I usually try to be as valid as possible when I do post. The general rule is: If it’s doesn’t impact me to a point where it makes me ponder about it after it happens, It’s not something that should be posted. Those of you who are familiar with the term “Blog Material” know exactly what I’m referring to.

Maintaining a constant weblog is not as simple as it may look, espcially maintaining one for as long as I have. While bringing up the editor into view and typing a few paragraphs is not a difficult task (well, at least not for most of us), forming thoughts into words is not always easy, especially if you’re trying to make a point or lay out a specific subject towards a specific audience. A weblog entry like this one takes between 45min-1hr to complete, including a few trips to the porch to clear my mind and articulate what it is I want to say. Most people I know either don’t have the patience, lost patience after trying, or reduced their weblogs into what I coined before as “scrolls of worthless dribble”.

I realize that those who have requested of me to post more often are doing so because they find what I have to say somewhat interesting. I am honstly very flattered and am glad that I have a reader base. The way I view things, is that in order for me to increase the frequency of my posts, I’m going to have to lower the bar regarding subject matter, and decrease the amount of personal filters I have which dictate what gets posted and what doesn’t. Or in other, gentler terms, I’m going to have to start “writing out of my ass” – something which I would certainly rather avoid, and I’m sure those of you who read my weblog would rather avoid, as well. For me, lowering the bar on my weblog and increasing post count would definitely mark the untimely demise of my webjournal.

Skype for Linux is out.

Skype for Linux is out in beta form. I’m usually pretty cautious of installing proprietary software on my computer, although there are a few exceptions, mainly Macromedia’s Flash Player, and the Realplayer codecs. Skype, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the software, is a P2P telephony protocol and application, allowing user’s to have a “buddy list” or “contact list” of skype-using peers, to chitchat with headphones and a microphone, in what Skype creators claim to be – quality surpassing that of the common telephone. I have a good deal of aquintances overseas, so I make quite a few long distance phone-calls during the month. For me, it’s quite the money saving solution, if it works.

The Linux version is written in Qt, the same toolkit used by KDE, so it picks up on my KDE widget colors and themes, while integrating an icon in the status bar. It looks a lot like it’s Windows counterpart (which I’ve only seen from screenshots, mind you, so I can’t vouch for similarities in other functionality), and where UI is concerned, it well appears like a finished application, and not a beta version. I couldn’t test the telephony due to lack of time (had to rush out of the house to go see comic books!), so I didn’t have the opportunity to check out the actual functionality of the application. That, well, and the fact that I don’t have any users on my Skype buddy-list yet; if you’re using Skype and are an aquaintance of mine, feel free to leave me your username in the comments box or send me an email.

The only thing that bugged me about the application so-far, that it wouldn’t save my password in order to auto-login (regardless of “save passowrd” being checked). I needed to type it in each time I wanted to connect, and there wasn’t any configuration option for “start minimized”, lack of which is an irritant when having the application run on start-up.

Other than that, I’m honestly happy that the folks at Skype concocted a Linux flavor, but I’ll be the first to switch over when an Open Source initiative is able to connect to the protocol from a different piece of software.

The new age of eMail, and a web-browser as window to the web

Good news for those of you travelling abroad, Yahoo Mail has announced that it’s upping personal storage quota to 100mb, effective immediately, and expanding the attachment limit to 10mb. As a response to what’s starting to look like a game of cat-and-mouse, Blogger are inviting all their active members to a Gmail account.

More on the internet front, Mozilla Firefox 0.9 is out with a great new default theme, noticable speed and stability. Why are people still browsing with Internet Explorer? To be honest, I seemed to have a near-hellish experience while trying to make my new website layout compatible with IE. Usually I find myself having to tweak and fine-tune the code when trying to ensure compatibility with Opera. Those of you who were around durinng my last redesign, might also remember a post on the subject. This time around, I’m becoming more and moree convinced as to the incompatibilty and faulty rendering of Internet Explorer. Sure, it worked for us when v6 came out in August 2002, but ever since then, albeit a few bug fix patches, the browser hasn’t been upgraded, and Microsoft have alread issued a statement that besides the periodical issue of bug fixes and security patches, the browser’s rendering engine isn’t going to be developed. We’re talking about a two-year old browser here, the web is developing faster than IE can obviously handle. So why are people still using it? First of all, it’s built in and integrated with the Windows operating system. People will use what they’ve already got. Secondly, people don’t even know that they’re using a beat up ol’ browser, and that web technologies are far more advanced than that specific browser can handle. I’m not just talking about IE’s outdated rendering engine, but also the user interface. Konqueror, Galeon, Mozilla, Firefox, Opera, Safari, Camino, K-Meleon… they all work with browser-tabs, which has turned into a web-browsing standard. And where is IE in all of this. True, there have been applications for Windows which have integrated IE’s rendering engine into a new, tab-capable, themable browser, such as Avant and My IE2, but that’s honestly no excuse for an old, outdated, non standards compliant rendering engine. Even Netscape, which has announced that it will not release new versions of the browser (which today is effectively Mozilla) will soon be releasing a version which is going to be based on Mozilla 1.7.

I will continue trying to do the best I can in order to ensure my website’s compatibility with IE, but I can’t make any promises. It works in v6, v5.5 and v.5, but is completely off in v4, and I’m not quite sure I want to know what it looks like in IE for Mac. Folks – Your browser is your window to the web!

19th Century news going online, and the Sandman gets a blog.

Did you know that the British Library is going to be putting it’s entire collention of 19 century newspapers on line? I find that to be great news. There’s no need for me to satisfy other than personal curiosity (for the same reason I spend nights downloading film clips from along the lines of “duck and cover”), but I think it’s going to be quite a large academic contribution for those who can’t make it over to the UK to see these specific headlines. I’m getting insane flashbacks from standing in the queue at the London Dungeon, while a looping playback of a young boy yells in the background “Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Jack the Ripper strikes again!”. Anyone who has ever been there knows exactly what I’m talking about, and remembers very vividly how annoying it is. I remember that while standing in line, some folks were looking for the hidden voice box in order to pull it out of it’s socket.

Something else you might find interesting; Neil Gaiman, who also happens to be one of my favorite authors, has a webjournal. That gets filed into my blogs-to-read along with Wil Wheaton (yes, yes, he played Wesley Crusher, stop laughing at me for being a sci-fi geek-oid).

Apropos of nothing, I added new icons for my website’s main page, and to each of the major sections of the site. I’ve also uploaded the icons to DeviantART, just in case someone wants to use it on his/her desktop, or use it for a website.

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