Imported From Epistula While You Were Out

While You Were Out – RSS

RSS (Really Simple Syndication, Rich Site Summery, RDF Site Summary, RDF Site Syndication, Really Stupid Situation) is a format originally designed for placing the salient headlines of popular news sites on another site. The theory ran that the RSS file contained the headlines, links, and a quick description of the items on the front page.

I’m not going to go into the detailed history of RSS, because it’s something of a minefield, with various different personalities involved. More details can be found in the cross references.

With the Weblog Revolution, RSS has found a new niche as a method of syndicating your latest musings to anyone who happens to want them, a defined format that can be automatically got by a suitable client (Say, SharpReader for windows, NetNewsWire for MacOS X, Straw for Linux, or AmphetaDesk for anything that can run perl) that will re-download the RSS feeds you specify every hour or so, bringing your favourite blogs (Or news (the BBC news site does RSS feeds)) to your desktop.

Moveable Type & LiveJournal users get RSS feeds automagically with their software (MT users get it at bloghome/index.rdf usually, and LJ users tack “rss” to the end of their URL to get it, e.g. or, Blogspot users have to be paid users, and Blogger Pro users have a switch to flick. Every other blogging system has a plugin somewhere).

RSS has three major versions, all mostly compatible, but with some subtle and really annoying differences between them. RSS2 is the latest and now frozen version, it supports XML Namespaces, which means it is possible for any random developer to extend RSS2 to include any information they deem necessary for their blog. It’s also been used – to my knowledge – as a weblog export format, a display format, and a political tool. More details on this can be found in the cross references.

RSS was developed by Dave Winer from versions above 0.9 to 2.0, with the notable exception of the released “RSS 1.0” which was developed by the Yahoo Group RSS-DEV without Mr Winer’s participation. This was the most popular of the various attempts to convince Mr Winer to develop RSS as an open format or replace it in the process.

Currently, a format to replace RSS is being worked on in a wiki.

This is the first in a series of articles designed to introduce Geek-Weblog concepts to a less technically minded audience. Feedback on it’s patronisation level – or lack of same – and over “techiness” – or lack of same – as well as corrections are both welcomed and encouraged.

Imported From Epistula MotW

Aquarion And The Start Of The Grand Tradition

MP3 of the WeekSo, a new thing for a new week then, and the start of a grand tradition whereby I introduce you to tracks you never ever would have even have considered listening to. In this case, you probably shouldn’t, but you will anyway, because you should be too intriged not to.

The first track is an offical, chartered, _disco remix_ of the Star Wars soundtrack medly, and this is what it is from:

The Star Wars Holiday Special

(Nov 17,1978) The most infamous 2 hours of Star Wars programming ever to grace television sets! This show was so bad that it was never re-aired or released to video, and has become a cult classic among Star Wars fans.

The story surrounds Chewbacca’s family preparing for Life Day back on their home planet. The show features all of the major cast members from the movie(Luke, Leia, Han, R2 & C-3PO & Vader). Carrie Fisher even makes an attempt at singing! It’s so bad that it is fun to watch! Also features Art Carney, Bea Arthur, Harvey Korman, Diahann Carroll and the Jefferson Starship. The show is most noted for the 1st appearence of Boba Fett and the Holiday Special Cartoon. The program even included a classic Kenner Star Wars toy commercial with R2D2 & C3PO.

From TimewarpTV‘s page

George Lucas […] did once state in an interview that he wishes he could track down and destroy every last copy of the Holiday Special, which isn’t that great a condemnation of the special itself, considering this is the same man who wants to track down and destroy every last copy of the original version of Star Wars before he added all the digital effects, extra jawas, and made Greedo shoot first.

From Teleport City‘s page

The holiday special is what happens when an exec at Lucasfilm decides to do a Holiday Special. Lucas hates it, it’s available on E-Bay, and one of the best things to come out of it was the remixed sound-track, which (while not containing Carrie Fisher singing the lyrics (There are lyrics?!) to the Star Wars theme) does contain a funky remix of it.

The MotW files will only be available until the following MotW is launched, so if this post is over a week old, you’re out of luck.

Download the MotW: Star Wars Remix
Too late, folks

food Imported From Epistula

Tea and The Aquarion

So far this month, this weblog has been about many things. Tea, hithertofore, has not been foremost among them, but it is this subject I must draw upon this evening.

I have this reasonably well known thing about tea. Real tea. At this moment within this house there are six separate types of tea, from Earl Grey, Pear and Pineapple, Strawberry tea, Old English Fruit tea and Sticky Toffee flavoured tea though to the standard PG Tips tea bags, plus three separate varieties of green tea (Which I don’t drink, but LoneCat does).

For the process of brewing ideal Tea, there are Teapots. There are, in fact, seven teapots, from the big black one when we have Visitors (which is currently under my bed) to LoneCat’s delicately patterned china teapot, the Useless Silver one (where the handle is always too hot to pick up) and a teapot of CCooke’s which we took with us by accident when we moved out of Cambridge, which is somewhat unfortunately shaped like a white cat. This is unfortunate because the tea is expelled from the mouth of said cat, making it look like the cat is vomiting tea. Plus, it’s a bugger to clean.

But the teapots that get used most are my little ones, of which there are three. A blue one, a green one, and the Red One that has never been used and will be given to Supermouse when I remember to do so. These teapots are nice. They include built-in strainers, are just enough for two mugs of tea (with a bit left over for the dregs to swim in) and have never been known to explode.

You may find the presence of the idea of an exploding teapot to be somewhat of a surprise in the above paragraph, teapots not generally being known for their excitable personality, but you would still not be quite so surprised as I was several minutes ago, when one of said teapots belied the previous trend and decided now was the time best chosen for exploding whilst in my hand.

Fortunately the teapot was not currently carrying any tea, due to it’s explosion being whilst I was carefully washing it, and attempting to realign the spout (which is part of the glass globe of the teapot) with the handle (Which is part of the plastic base, to which it the globe is held but not attached) and must – assumably – have squeezed the glass globe slightly beyond it’s optimal holding weight, leading to said explosion.

Did I mention the teapot was glass? It’s glass. It shattered into one large, two medium and many small pieces, several of which were gentlemanly enough to leap point first into my waiting skin in order to assist later retrieval.

Thus my blue teapot has perished, and will be a teapot no more. No great loss, as said teapots cost an entire new English pound to replace.

So I’m recovering, slowly, nursing the lacerations to my hand with care

and, of course, a cup of slowly steeping tea in front of me.

Imported From Epistula UKBlogs

Meet & Drink

Okay, so Karen wants a meet, and damnit I do to. So:

Some weekend between the 15th of July and the 1st September, I am going to hold a UK Blog meet in central London (Probably in the Green Man, because I like it and it’s cool and serves good beer).

Now. The first weekend in August is a no-go (Because I’m somewhere else that weekend), and I’ve had this “Pick a date” problem before.

So, if you would like to come to said event, comment on this post, and note any weekends you won’t be able to make, and I’ll try to pick a date without too many people not being able to come.

(If you leave an email addy on your comment, I’ll mail you when a decision is reached. If you don’t, I won’t). So comment, people, and pass on this plan via your own weblogs 🙂

Imported From Epistula Personal


This day, I have been mostly…

Playing The Sims. I’m abusing a friend’s Off-Site Backup of The Sims (and six expansion packs – less Deluxe) in order to find out how much difference it makes. The answer is not a lot, though having five million floor tiles instead of just one million is a little confusing, plus it takes six times longer to start up than my old Sims+Deluxe did. Ah well.

I also upgraded to WinXP. My computer now goes from naught to desktop in just over 20 seconds, and things respond when I click them. I always forget how much difference a clean install makes…

Mostly, though, I’ve been doing something I hate doing, which is mucking around with my CV. Current thinking states that since I’ve had no interviews from the old version, best idea is to completely rewrite it completely differently and see what happens. After all, it’s only my future.

Current thinking dictates that I’m confusing the recruiters by being a Web Developer and a Junior Sysadmin, so my best bet is to cleave the CV in twain and create two seperate CVs which take important stuff (like the personal info, the Education and the Experience) from each other.

Because I’m me, it’s going to contain a little geeky evil as well.

So today has been spent doing it. Go look at my new CV (The site navigation links are 50% broken, since I haven’t writen the complemetory pages yet).

The CV page is totally self-reliant. This may be obvious to IE users, but Moz users might want to take a look at the evil I’m using to make that true…

(Comments & Suggestions gratefully accepted)

Imported From Epistula music

Singing Lawyers

This evening I tripped over some singing lawyers.

That is, while waiting for the updates for my brand new WinXP install I was wandering around the internet and discovered MoFonics the band of the copyright specialising legal group MoFo.

And then it hit me, the voice inside my head:
“Where are you going to? Why’d you get up out of bed?
Was there a purpose for all those years at school?
To make the world a better place,
While doing something cool?”
All I wanna do is sue, sue somebody;
It might well be you, so do you have some money?

And, much to my suprise, it not only doesn’t suck, but the song is actually quite good. Scary.

You can listen to it (Real Audio or MP3) at this web site

Accessibility Imported From Epistula useability

Design Blind

The RNIB has launched it’s new site.

I’m appalled.

The RNIB are one of the people behind the UK’s recent push for web-accessibility, including full support of the WAI standards. The RNIB site is a prefect example of a site that, whilst filling most of the technical criteria for an accessible website, is terribly implemented.

The first thing is the worst. The internal URLs are broken. Some of the urls are using backslashes instead of forward slashes, meaning that whilst IE (Which is broken in this regard) displays and links properly, Browsers that actually support the standard (Like Mozilla) get links with backslashes, which don’t work. (An example of this, this page, is the link to “Sarah’s Story”) (The page linked to is mirrored in the link at the bottom of this article, just in case the thing is updated).

The second is the link colours. They define the background to white and the default text to black, but leave all other links alone. If someone (as many Vision Impaired People (ViPs) do) set their text colour to gray and the background to black for ease of reading, with the links as white, the links become invisible.

The menu system breaks at 800*600 resolution, displaying broken lines where none should be. I’m not even going to mention 640*480.

It doesn’t validate. Not even by a little. There is no DOCTYPE specified, and even if we override it there are 83 errors, including tables that aren’t closed properly.

The design also breaks at 1600*1200 resolution, though not by much.

The code is horrible. They’ve defined arbitrary meta tags, half the page is commented out.

In their defence, they’ve provided alt tags for every image on the page. In attack, they’ve also put in transparent pixels with alt-tags to signpost the page. Ten for idea, Zero for implementation, There are far better ways of doing it. display = hidden, for example.

The actual design, as far as it goes, isn’t bad (for me, as a slightly-colour-blind person with poor eyesight) and makes good use of colour, the menu system would be good if it worked in Mozilla.

They didn’t entity encode the symbols.

And the last, because it’s a personal issue, is the table-based design. The entire design is a table, CSS is used for styling the occasional link only. The site is filled with table & font design.

The entire web development team of RNIB should be forced to read Dive Into Accessibility at least twice.

aqcom Imported From Epistula Personal

This entry has no title

So, nothing is happening.

In a bun dance. Yup, nothing beyond waltzing danishes is happening within the Aquarionic universes. The closest thing to anything happening was last night, when we had Strawberries and Cream, and managed to get it everywhere, but I can’t actually describe the event without getting even more strange search referrals than I already do. The idea of getting cream everywhere seems to be facinating to people using Yahoo.

Minor updates to the design have happened, including grouping entries by date and progress towards the Great Standards thing.

I hate – with a vengance unholy – the idea of clicking on a link and getting a “404”, since 404 is supposed to be a client error. The correct responce is supposed to be “410 – Gone” if it was once there but is no longer or “303 See Other” if we know where it’s gone. The ultimate aim – to get every URL I’ve ever used for the site to work. I think I’ve managed it now (with the exception of the pre-Klind Blogger links, but since I don’t think anyone linked to any particular entry before I switched off blogger (Quite a feat for a year and a half’s weblogging) I think I’m safe.

Also, all error messages also send back the appropirate HTTP//1.1 errors. Meaning that my award-winning intelligent 404 system is once again completely invisible to IE6 users with “Friendly Error Messages” turned on.

Minor design stuff too, the postpost bar has been cleaved in twain due to the new date stuff, and various admin stuff has been rewritten.

I’m bored. I haven’t had so much as a returned phone call from a recruiter in three weeks.

Imported From Epistula Personal


Yesterday, I got an email saying I won $100 worth of gift voucher from an online survey I completed three months ago.

Today my DVD drive decided to die. Slowly. And at fifteen minute intervals.

Balance in all things.

Imported From Epistula media

Harry Potter And The Infinate Sequels

At 13:00 I started to read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

At 18:00 I finished it.

’s good.