home

Archive for October, 2005

EssentialPIM Halloween offer

Monday, October 31st, 2005

Just popping in quickly to say that EssentialPIM are offering free licences to the Pro version today only – 31 October 2005.

I’ve been using the free version for months now (having tried oodles of free/cheap organiser, diary softwares) but this is the one that’s stayed on my desktop and actually gets used, along with Microsoft OneNote. ‘Course I don’t often get done the things on the To Do list but that’s not the fault of the software. I just need a good kick up the arse.

Why is this software so good?

  • It’s free
  • It’s very easy to use
  • It stores everything you could possibly want to store (text, pictures, links)
  • You can import contacts etc. from Outlook (not just on installation)
  • Includes 128-bit encryption on password protected files (I haven’t tested this yet)
  • You can view (and print) your schedule by day/week/month or year
  • Notes are stored in a tree hierarchy and you have lots of formatting tools (colour, font, etc.)
  • Did I mention that it’s free?

Better than a list of features, take a look at the screenshots.

So how does it work? You download the Pro version, enter your name, email address and country (you’ll have to select “Not applicable” for “State” if you select a country other than the U.S.) and the registratation key will be emailed to you in 48 hours (but you can go ahead and start using the software right away).

Is it worth upgrading from Free to Pro? Absolutely!

Happy Halloween!

[Later addition: Apologies to Maccies and other OS users, this is for Windows only.]

I just deleted a post

Thursday, October 27th, 2005

It was a silly tale involving the names of chocolate bars, including Turkish Delight and the fact that it arrived just after our conversation about C.S. Lewis made me blind to (a) how silly it was and (b) the fact that google would pick up on it and I’d not want a young child coming across it while searching for curlie wurlies. But I thought I’d better mention it because it will have shown up in rss feeds etc.

So in place of our scheduled programme, we will have A Short Interlude.

Talking of spam

Monday, October 24th, 2005

As I was clearing out the email trash folder last week, symptoms this made me smile.

One Lone Star

Monday, October 24th, 2005

When Time magazine published its list of 100 Best Books in the English language ( from 1993 to the present day), who would have thought to scour Amazon reviews looking for alternative reactions from the great unwashed public? Matthew Baldwin (of Defective Yeti fame) did just that over at The Morning News in an article called Lone Star Statements. Simple but brilliant.

It’s hard to pick a favourite but here are two that had me laughing out loud.

On The Lord of the Rings (1954) by J.R.R. Tolkien:

“The book is not readable because of the overuse of adverbs.”

On The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) by C.S. Lewis:

“I bought these books to have something nice to read to my grandkids. I had to stop, however, because the books are nothing more than advertisements for “Turkish Delight,” a candy popular in the U.K. The whole point of buying books for my grandkids was to give them a break from advertising, and here (throughout) are ads for this “Turkish Delight”! How much money is this Mr. Lewis getting from the Cadbury’s chocolate company anyway? This man must be laughing to the bank.”

[Thanks to Adrian]

Is it too soon for a Katrina joke?

Friday, October 21st, 2005

Q. “What does President Bush think about Roe vs. Wade?
A. He doesn’t care how people get out of New Orleans.”

The very best of the internet: An Ask MetaFilter thread starts off as a search for a Vienna phonebook from circa 1938 but goes on to a sweet ending that’ll have you choking back the tears.

And a quote for the day:

“The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose”

— Hada Bejar

Meanwhile back on the ranch

Friday, October 21st, 2005

Hopefully, a spiffy new look is starting to take shape, thanks to the scrumptious relaxation theme from Clemens.

Before I start hanging pictures and getting fresh paint on the walls, I’m still fixing validation errors, especially one that seems to be caused by the “more” tag (that puts part of a post in an extended entry). But that’s for the morrow. There’s also truckloads of accessifying to do with the graphics brought over from typepad. Remember I said how easy the export of posts was from typepad? Hmm. That’s true. But graphics are another matter. It’s bothered me for a while that even as a Pro user, you don’t have any kind of global access to files. I can see that for the most part you don’t need that access and I trust Six Apart to keep backups of everything on a regular basis so having my own backups wasn’t necessary. But when I started to look for an easy way to download all of the graphics from the past two years I realised that they were scattered in many a folder and the only solution was to go through them all, saving each graphic individually. Hah! I even opened a help ticket for confirmation but the sad fact is that I needed a faster way to get hold of all those pictures.

So the first solution was to use a Mozilla extension called DownThemAll. Starting with March 2003, I simply downloaded all graphics on that page, then on to April, May, June etc. It took about 40 minutes all told so I was quite happy. But then I realised that this didn’t catch all graphics – when you create a thumbnail image in the Typepad interface, a corresponding html page is created for the larger size graphic and that of course wasn’t being picked up by DownThemAll.

Second solution was to use a website copier, HTTrack. This has done the job rather well I think. But now I have to go through every post and make sure that they all fit, have alt tags and generally doesn’t mess everything up. Oh boy.

Meanwhile, enquiring minds might like to know that the blogroll is now themed by tea types – there’s Caravan, Keemun, Earl Grey, Darjeeling and Oolong, all of which have their own special flavours. As do you. The old lists started out reflecting frequency of updates (daily, frequent, etc.) but that went out of the window as folks suddenly started post like fury or slowed to a standstill.

Anyway, the plan is to take some pictures of tea cups this weekend and add them as little icons above each category but I’ve a feeling my camera will not be recovering any time soon from being dropped from the landing so I’ll end up scouring my favourite free image sites for alternatives.

Across the web there are some lovely novelty teapots and some pretty teacups. There’s even a Darjeeling tea caddy and a teapot font so I’m not short of inspiration.

Unless… would anyone like to contribute pictures of teacups, mugs and teapots? It would be lovely to make it a group effort. Photos and drawings (hint, hint) are all welcome. How about a maximum file size of 50x50px?

And the prize? How about a special edition “Music to take tea by” cd, a compilation guaranteed* to make teatime an absolute pleasure.

There you go. Deadline is midnight BST on Sunday (23 October), you can post them on your blogs or email them to me, it’s up to you.

Good luck!

———–
* usual disclaimers apply, I haven’t made it yet. Ahem.

Update: I’ve added some pictures from Stock Xchng that I plan to use for the blogroll.

7 things

Tuesday, October 18th, 2005

Can’t remember how to blog Busy fiddling with wordpress files and blogrolls so I’ve filched a meme from Joanne.

7 Things I Want To Do Before I Die
Declutter the house
Live by the beach
Learn to draw
Make a perfect clafoutis
Give up smoking
Write a non fiction book

(more…)

The World of Margaret

Monday, October 17th, 2005

I meant to post this last week but what with one thing and another I forgot. Last week’s Woman’s Hour drama was the story of Margaret and William:

Fed up with her limited life after a long marriage to the bowls-playing retired sweet salesman William, Margaret Collins decides to start her own on-line diary, or blog. At first William thinks this is just another of Margaret’s fads.

The first episode will be online until just before 20:00 BST today (about 4 hours from the time of this post) then you’ll have 24 hours to listen to the next episode, 48 hours to the next and so on as they are replaced by daily episodes of this week’s drama, Betsy and Napoleon.

Oh for goodness’ sake, I just deleted a bit of this post. The other news is that BBC Wales are making a Doctor Who spin-off, Torchwood [an anagram of Doctor Who]. Which leads me to today’s quote of the day from Doctor Who/Torchwood writer, Russell T Davies:

“With Doctor Who we often had to pretend that bits of Cardiff were London, or Utah, or the planet Zog,” he said

Hosted v self installed WordPress

Saturday, October 15th, 2005

I was replying to Webby’s comment but it was getting too long and involved for a comment so I’ve moved it here.

Disclaimer: these are first impressions – I’ve been using WordPress for less than a week – more experienced wordpressers are very welcome to chip in with opinions (do, please!) and when I find errors later I’ll come back and update this.

Both hosted services
– Both the Blogsome and WordPress.com interfaces are very similar to the self install wp. You have the dashboard where you write/edit posts, manage comments and so on.

– You can write additional pages (About me, etc.) quickly and easily.

Blogsome.com
– You have a small range of useful plugins but for security reasons these are limited.

– Allows file upload of jpg, jpeg, gif, png files (300 KB per file limit).

WordPress.com
– The dashboard is again familiar but with a different (and much improved) colour scheme.

– Uploading pictures is very easy, I like that it’s part of the writing a post dashboard rather than separate (as with blogsome).

– No adverts (yet).

– No mention of plug-ins but they might be added when it’s out of beta.

By the way, Robert Scoble now has a wordpress.com blog, I think you’ll find this post interesting.

One thing to note with wordpress.com is that I can’t see any way to edit the theme (a dealbreaker for me). Hang on, Robert Scoble has edited the banner so it must be possible. Hmmm. Perhaps he has special privileges or has used a different theme that allows theme edits? I’ll know more when I have a chance to fiddle with my father’s wordpress.com blog (I’m still at the “but yes you DO want a blog papa!” stage) And of course, it’s still in beta.

Aside: another interesting wordpress.com blog – Lorelle on WordPress.

Update: I’ve just been reading the wordpress.com blog, here’s the post on editing themes:

Can I edit my templates?

We are definitely mindful of making everything more customizable for our users, but at the same time we don’t want people to have to look at HTML and CSS code, which is antithetical to the purpose of WordPress.com. If you want complete control over your enviroment, you’re probably better off running WordPress on a great web host of your own, but if you really don’t want to worry about that sort of thing just stick around and we’ll be adding more customizability as time goes on.

Self install

The thing that impresses me most about this self-install is the speed. Blogsome hosted sites can (but not always) be a little slow in page load and TypePad certainly has speed issues so it’s a revelation to see how quickly these pages load – even though all of the graphics are still linked to the Typepad servers (but I’m working on that).

– You can set up any plugin that takes your fancy.

– You can sign up for your own google ads and whatnot.

– You can upload files to your heart’s content (.mov, .mp3, .wav, etc.). If you’re interested in podcasting then self install would be the way to go I think. But of course that could change as podcasting gets more mainstream.

Summary

You know, I have all three dashboards open (WordPress, Blogsome, WordPress.com) side by side right now and I’m once again impressed by how much both free hosted sites have to offer and would definitely recommend either of them to anyone starting up their own blog/wanting to have a look at WordPress before committing.

Of the two, I prefer wordpress.com (assuming that there is or will be a way to make presentational changes to themes as you can with blogsome.com). blogsome.com because everyone wants to make changes, however small. And if they’re limiting it to just 7 or 8 themes then it’s going to get very boring very quickly.

Many people would find that WordPress.com/Blogsome meets all of their blogging needs and they’d not have to even think about paying for hosting and intalling wordpress “proper”. You can even have your own domain name and use redirect. I was going to suggest that you could buy one of the “webby” domain names and use a hosted wp service but the .net/.com/.fr/.de etc. are all taken [webby.be is taken too… wat een mooie hondje ;-)].

There are quite a few WordPress users on the (soon to be transferred) blogroll so if anyone feels like chipping in with advice for webby, feel free!

If you think you’d like to have a go at WordPress

Thursday, October 13th, 2005

Following on from Alison’s comment, if you’re thinking about switching to WordPress but don’t want to commit yet, why not set up a free blog at blogsome.com? You’ll be able to roadtest the dashboard and so on and get a real feel for the interface.

There’s also wordpress.com. It’s currently by invitation only (alas I’ve already given away my invites – fingers crossed I’ll be adding my father to the blogroll one of these fine days) but it could well be similar to gmail, invitees might themselves receive an invite to pass on. If that happens I’ll post here if anyone’s interested. But do leave an email address over at wordpress.com because I’ve no idea how frequently invites are released.

On the other hand… Movable Type and TypePad are both great to work with and I’m not closing the door on the possibility that I’ll install MT here later in the year for a trial.

Right, that’s me done for the day and I’m off to bed. Night, night!

Spotlight on...

Delicious links

These links are updated frequently thoroughout the day. Should you miss any they're all stored on my Delicious pages.

What I'm listening to