Imported From Epistula windows XML

Office XML to be real XML after all

I got an interesting email today.

It being Saturday, this is a rare thing. Well, it’s a rare thing anyway, my email has been 90% spam since january, but this was interesting in a sort of XML-type way, so you get to hear it to.

Last week, Microsoft put a new newsgroup on it’s public NNTP server ( called, which immediately caught my interest. A little while ago, there was some question over whether MS was going to back down on the “Office Will Do XML” stuff, so I asked. I was answered. This is what they said:

From: "Cybarber"

There has been a lot of talk about Microsoft scaling down on XML in the
versions of Office 2003.

Hopefully this rumour is unfounded and XML functionality will be in the
Standard edition aswell.

Is there any clarity about this subject already?

From: "Joe_MSFT"

In short, yes, the Professional version will have additional XML capabilites
from the other editions, primarily those based on how customer-defined XML
schema can be used. This was done because the product editions have been
designed to meet the needs of different audiences. A brief overview is
We will be publishing more details in the coming months.

Can you use XML with all 2003 versions – yes. They will all continue to
have XML Web services support through the Web services toolkit and Word and
Excel will be able to be saved in their respective native XML file formats
that allow for content reuse, transformation, construction and such.

Joe Andreshak, Microsoft Product Manager
This post is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights
Sample code subject to

From: Aquarion

Does this mean that any given Office 2003 file in it’s native XML format
– from any version of Office – can be transformed by, say, an XSLT

It’s possible to remain within XML specs, yet having the main content in
a binary format, and I’ve heard rumours that this is the case.

From: "Joe_MSFT"
I’m not sure I understand what you’re asking, but let me explain.

The binary file format is separate from the XML file format. With
Office 2003, users can choose to save Word and Excel files in EITHER the
binary or XML file format. The binary file formats are similar to what
has existed for the previous versions.

The Word XML format is new for Office 2003. Previous versions of Office
will not know how to interpret the XML and simply open it as a plain
text file. There is no straightforward way to convert old binary files
to XML files, however you could open an old binary file in Word 2003,
for instance, and now save it as XML. This XML file is now usable by
any program that can interpret XML tags.

Hope this helps,

So it looks like all versions will save as XML, but only the high-price versions will have all the XML modification/DTD stuff in it.

Imported From Epistula Metablog

In defense of weblogs

It’s probably fair to say that there is an element of the online population who feel that the recent explosion of weblogs and the publicity it has recieved is undue. Furthermore, it has emerged that All Webloggers Are Teenage Girls.

Well, Most of them.

Well, Most of them that live in poland.

Well, most of them that live in poland and filled out the survay.

I was going to start this article as “There are two types of weblogs in this world” and divide the world into Them (The webloggers who are, as Andrew carefully and elequently describes, a bunch of sixteen year old pop-idol fans gazing at their navels whilst describing how great the macaroni and cheese they had for dinner last night was) verses Us (The cool, level headed Webloggers, who discuss new W3C standards and the direction of them; the future of weblogging; the whys and wherefores of XML development and such), before I did something that stopped me doing this. I read my archives. So I ask this instead:

What is a weblog?

It’s a collection of articles displayed in descending chronological order on the front page, normally archived by month or week. Easy. Does that stop FTrain being a kind of weblog? Not really. Does that make The Register a weblog? Probably not. So, we have these weblog things, where we can safely define Weblogs as “Something I think is a weblog”, and that’s about it. This means that you can make something a weblog by putting it on the web and saying “This is a weblog”, and since weblogs are currently Cool, an awful lot of people are putting things online and calling them weblogs.

Saying that all webloggers act like 12 year olds is rougly equivilent to saying that “All journalists are no-talent hacks with the integrity of a ball of water”. Andrew Orlowski saying that blogs are a waste of bandwidth is roughly equivlant to the classic “All Greeks Are Liars” argument, since his irregular columns are mostly a rant three folds long about whatever is on his mind at the time. But I digress, for this isn’t about attacking Andrew Orlowski.

So, ninty percent of weblogs are crap, depending on how you define weblog.

So far, so normal. Ninty percent of everything is crap. There is still the 10%, there are still people like Stavros, BB, Mark, CavLec et. al. who make wading though the rest of it worth it.

One day I’ll submit something like this to The Register to see if they print it. I doubt it.

aqcom Imported From Epistula

Holy Permalinks, Badman!

I have been convinced that permalinks should be nicer, and so they are now /journal/year/month/day/title. Happy now? 🙂

Edit: I’m not sure Pingback is working on the new permalinks yet. Could someone pingback me? I should also point out that the old permalinks still work too 🙂

Imported From Epistula intertwingularity Projects


Um. Someone has proposed a Perl Module for ESF.


aqcom Imported From Epistula useability

In an attempt to cut down my hits…

robots.txt is a file that ninty-nine percent of all search engines download from the root domain of a webserver and use it as instructions for what – and what not – to index.

This is my robots.txt file:

User-Agent: *
Disallow: /fun/mp3s.html
Disallow: /comment
Disallow: /trackback
Disallow: /logging
Disallow: /attachment
Disallow: /search
Disallow: /archive

See that last one? That’s the odd one out. It’s going to take a while (the top one has been there for a couple of months now, and was only removed for two weeks, and searches for MP3s account for most of my search traffic), but I’ve blocked Google from my date-based archives.

Why? Have I gone insane? Not quite. I’m currently plagued by incorrect search results. Until earlier this week, This Page was the top match on Google for the phrase “I Hate Dominos”. When I mentioned this a couple of days ago, that page became the top match within hours. This is stupid. Not only is Aquarionics defiantly not about my hatred of Dominos, I didn’t even say I did, some random anonymous commenter did.

Part of the problem with this is that every article gets indexed by Google twice (multiplied by the number of sites I get spidered as, now down to just one from six last week) and the top 200 words get indexed once more (The first two are part of the daily and single-item archives, the third is as the monthly archives which only show extracts or descriptions). This means that not only do people search for random things and get my website, when they search for things I do talk about they get the monthly page, where the phrase might be fifteen folds down.

So I’ve blocked search engines from searching archives, and instead made sure that there is a big list of links to every single entry in each section, so the engines can still find them but now will only index the page-per-article sections instead of having four copies of every item.

Which is neat.

computing Imported From Epistula

Another Bad Hardware Day

Today was a bad hardware day.

It isn’t the first one of such. My computer seems to be preprogrammed to die just as I run out of money (See The Bad Fortnight starting there, and reading on until 24th). Today’s exercise, however, was a little more fun…

I bought a new case at Christmas because the old one was dead and I was upgrading everything else anyway. One of the problems with the new case was that the power switch wasn’t seated properly, and so I blu-tacked it into place and ignored it for six months. Last weekend, just before going to see Eurovision, I tried to turn on my computer and it didn’t, because the switch had worked it’s way into the blu-tack and was now stuck.

Sunday, when I was back from Eurovision Meet, I ripped off the front of the case carefully and used the micro switch manually until I had time to fix it. Time to fix it came this morning, when I accidentally broke the switch by pulling out a wire. Attempting to put it back (stripping wires, reattaching them, etc.) didn’t work so I toddled off to Maplin (Electronics Geek Shop. USAians can think “Radio Shack”) for a new wire. Nope, seems my micro switch is special. Bugger. New case then.

So, I have a new case. Not only does it have a front mounted LCD temperature sensor panel, it also has a side-window and a cool blue-lit fan. It’s the cheapest they had, and it looks neat. So I carefully removed all of Maelstrom’s internals from the old case and placed them in the new, built up the power-chains, double checked all the jumpers, plugged it in, and turned it on.

Nothing happened.

I turned it on again.

Nothing happened.

I flipped the switch at the back, turning the power supply on.

I pressed the power button.

Each fan – of which there are four in the box – moved exactly four millimetres clockwise, then stopped.

I pressed the power button.

Nothing happened.

I pressed the power button.

Nothing continued to happen.

Stuck in a somewhat panicked loop now, I pressed the power button again.

Nothing happened.

I started to wonder if I had imagined the whole fans thing.
I waited a little while.
I turned off the power supply.
I waited a while.
I turned on the power supply.
I pressed the power button.

Each fan moved exactly four millimetres clockwise, then stopped.

I logged on to IRC via lonecat’s laptop, and asked for suggestions.
They thought it was the PSU.
I borrowed the PSU from reef – the server – and tested it with Maelstrom.

Each fan moved exactly four millimetres clockwise, then continued to spin.

I went back to Maplin, and bought the only 300W+ power supply they had in stock. This PSU has five important attributes:

  1. It works
  2. It has two fans in it
  3. It is a 450W power supply
  4. It still works
  1. It’s gold plated.

    I’m not joking. The only PSU they had was a gold plated one, I feel like King Midas or something. I also bought 4 AAA batteries to put in my digicam, so you could see the results of all this in all it’s cool blue glory.

    So it’s a real shame my camera takes AA batteries, isn’t it?

    As I say, a bad hardware day.

Current Affairs Imported From Epistula

Room in the handbasket

So, We have on the one hand Oh My God as Blanket calmly ignores the desires of thousands of citizens and moves the ID cards in under a new name and department, that of immigration control.

I’m agreeing with Stuart on this one, they did the consultation, and they ignored us. In fact, even if it was merely a “What sort of things should we consider?” as Nick suggests in the comments, then they have ignored it. They have, as far as I have seen, completely failed to address most of the points brought up by the opponants of such a scheme.

Nick’s counterargument that the government are not obligied to listen to us is well noted, and whilst I agree with the points, I don’t like them. In fact, I really don’t like the idea that any government can produce ideals to make us vote for them, and the only thing we have to hold them to it is four years later. I realise that not all the election promises can suceed, real life gets in the way. And the fact that most of the country will still vote for this particuler set of clowns because they won’t even consider the other options.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the pond, The US Government has found a loophole allowing them to build a floating death-camp with execution, and no appeal or jury. I think I’ll go back to watching West Wing DVDs, then I can live in a happy world where the people in charge of a country actually give a flying fuck about the opinions of everyone.

aqcom epistula Imported From Epistula Movies Personal


I’ve been Spanish-Inquisitioning on this post all day. The draft of it started “I have three types of readers”, which quickly became “I have five” then “I have six”, then the heady heights of “I have seven”. Realising I have more than seven readers, however, I had to expand on this slightly.

Wandering though my stats for the purposes of a Usenet post, I was thinking about the people who are reading this tripe at the moment. If we were to draw a Venn diagram of my readership, it would have $foo circles, where $foo is the number of circles I get when I describe it this time.

  • People who want to know how I’m doing.
  • People who want to know /what/ I’m doing.
  • People who want to be entertained
  • Google
  • Me

    You don’t have to be in any single one of those groups, in fact you may be in up to three (I doubt anyone who is Google is also in the mood for entertainment and I am not Google). The balancing act appears to be keeping category 3, since categories 1 and 2 appear to be catered for. Category 4 something I’m actually going to have to filter somehow, and Category 5 is something of a captive audience.

    Category 4 I have a couple of problems with. Of all the pages on the Geekstuff server where Aquarionics is hosted, Aquarionics is now the biggest. Before Aquarionics was the biggest, a site called “Wibble UK” was the biggest. When Wibble closed down, and we moved servers, the site went away and so now when you go to, you get the default site for the Geekstuff server.

    The default site for Geekstuff is

    Lots of people liked wibble, including Google, so wibble went away with a high pagerank. Net result of this is that Aquarionics is spidered four times as often as it should be, as, and various others. On top of this, people like Dorathea link to me, meaning that Google thinks my witterings are worth anything. Tot this all up, and strange things happen like Aqcom becoming the worlds numberone authority – by Google, the only standard that matters – for the phrase ‘I Hate Dominos’ purely because of a comment that someone made three folds down.

    Anyway, to keep categories 1 and 2 happy:

    This weekend was fun. Saturday we (Me and Lonecat) wandered up to see Pol & Supermouse and watch Eurovision with Añejo, Adrian ccooke, James Green and his other half Nikki. It was fun, it was tacky (Incredibly so. Mouse redecorated the sitting room in glitter and made party-food, and served chicken-inna-basket and such things) and we got Nil Points. A Good Time Was Had By All.

    Next day we went to see Matrix Reloaded which isn’t as good as it thinks it is, but is still cool, had dinner and jelly and went home.

    Today I have been adding things to Epistula, including Descriptions (Short summeries for every post that will trump content-extracts for RSS feeds and Trackbacks), and I’m working on CutIDs and the reviews system.

Imported From Epistula Metablog UKBlogs

At a slight angle to the org domain

In one of those horrible domain things that we hate so much, Vaughan at Wherever You Are let go of his hold on his domain for long enough for an evil search portal to grab it. He has taken this opertunity to rearrange his domain into a more country specific paradiem.

You can now find Wherever You Are at, for your daily dose of fun and frolics and stuff.

Have a nice day.

This has been a public service announcement on behalf of the UKB community. Please return to your seats.

Imported From Epistula tv


Today is Eurovision.

What is Eurovision, I hear you ask. Aha, I answer, it is thusly:

The war is over. The tack has won. This is a celibrarion of the world’s greatest testiment to plastic music: Europop (Listen to that track over the remainder of this post. It’s by the Divine Comedy).

Various countries around “Europe” (Which includes Israel, for some reason) choose a song to enter in this great tournament. Some do it by saying “It’s This Song”, some – like the UK – do a popularity contest to see which is the crapest song and put it forward. On the night itself – Tonight, fact fans – the songs are performed (To several different definitions of “Live”) on stage by their creators. At half time there is a Thing, which could be anything, and has once given the world Riverdance. Be afraid of The Thing.

Anyway, when all the various people have strutted their funky stuff over the stage, they have the big vote thing where all the countries around the world give points to ten of the other countries (That is, they give ten points to the best, then nine eight seven etc. to the rest of the shortlist), the one with the most of the points at the end is the winner, and gets the chance to host the event next year.

Yay, woot, so far, so dandy.

The important point about Eutovision (Which has now been known as “A Song For Europe” for at least five years, but nobody noticed) is the songs, which are universally terrible and include things like last year’s Greek entry, which involved four greeks dressed in black cardboard boxes moving their arms at right angles and announcing that “Sagapo is the password” to a techo-style (Yet still bubbly europop) beat. It’s tacky, it’s terrible, it’s cheap (I swear that last year they were using Winamp pluggins on the back screens) and it’s incredibly fun all on it’s own.

Add in watching the subtitles – where the BBC Subtitling Dept. try in vain to transpose “Laa de la la la” for six lines without a spelling mistake – and the only Eurovision host that matters – Terry Wogan – and watching it with a group of friends, and it’s just fantastic.

Terry Wogan is a radio show host for BBC Radio 2, and for the whole of Eurovision he is the commontator. He sits in his box in London and makes sarcastic comments about the presenters, the songs, the Thing, and the entire Eurovision experience.

Eurovision is fun, tacky, pointless fluff. I wouldn’t miss it for anything.