Imported From Epistula linux web development

The Iceweasels Come

The Mozilla Corperation don’t want people to change the source code of Firefox, recompile it with extra bonus bugs and possible API incompatibilities, and release it – as Firefox – to people who might use it and blame them for bugs that aren’t their fault.

Linux distros – such as Debian and Ubuntu – routinely maintain their own forks of open source applications with security updates backported from newer versions of software, without the associated functionality updates that the full new version has. This is why we call the current release “stable”, functionality doesn’t change.

Firefox the application is open source, Firefox the brand is decidedly not. Firefox the brand is the protected property of the Mozilla Corperation and they really don’t want people messing with it.

People produce systems on top of Firefox, hundreds upon hundreds of extensions. These rely on the version of the browser being reported being accurate. If the browser says it is version X.01, but it is really X.01 with the security patches from X++, then even if it reports itself as X.02, it doesn’t know if functionality it is relying upon is working. Or if it will segfault if it tries. It doesn’t even know to check, because as far as the extension is concerned, it’s running on a minor patch level advance on its target version.

Enter the iceweasel concept.

Iceweasel is a way around this problem. It is not Firefox, but it is mostly compatible. It is, in fact, Firefox with a different name and logo, and with the patches that the package maintainer applies. It isn’t called Firefox, so gets around the branding limitations. It is compatible with most firefox extensions, as it happens.

Then the GNU foundation go ahead with an actual product called Iceweasel which is not just Firefox with the serial numbers filed off, but a seperate maintained branch with new functionality. This (the name, at least) is a really silly idea, as it confuses the concept of “iceweasel” as suggested in the Debian-devel discussions last time this came up as an unbranded Firefox with an actual product.

So Firefox – the brand – isn’t quite free enough for Debian, and Iceweasel isn’t actually 100% compatible with Firefox.

So stop fucking telling me it’s just an argument about the graphics.

Cantrip Imported From Epistula


Dear Futureme, and anyone else who cares the least bit:

Today is the day I started redeveloping Cantrip in Django.

Cantrip fell over a couple of years ago, mostly because I loaded up the specification with so many things I didn’t understand (yet), that just getting a single result from a few hours work was absolutely impossible. There was no low hanging fruit, and before I got something I could use I was going to need to do three weeks solid work with no payoff.

Time to take a couple of steps back.

aqcom Design Imported From Epistula

AqCom13 – The New Design

Unlucky for some, AqCom13 – the thirteen major redesign since I started – is a lot more image intensive than most designs I’ve used.

The three common elements to the Aquarionics “Brand” for want of a better phrase has been the typeface – Trebuchet MS since 2002, the blue “swish” curve in the top left corner (Since 2002 also), and the black and yellow Aquarius sign in a circle logo. All designs since v4 in 2002 have featured one or more of the above, and once or twice all three.

For v13 I’ve gone back to the idea of the big banner across the top, because I like creating them and it’s a quick way to change the “look” of the site. I’ve been somewhat put off this in recent designs, because the number of people actually seeing the designs regularly – with LJ feeds and RSS readers and such – has drastically decreased. I tend to ignore the fact that most of my visitors come from people searching Google for a single bit of information, who rarely bother to see past the page they get to.

This design doesn’t have the site title in it. Well, it does, but it’s in a very light effect in the top banner. Instead I’m relying heavily on the Aq-circle logo for “branding”. It removes one of the constant elements of the banners, too, which may make making new ones easier.

No more text based navigation – The big images down the left don’t look a lot like navigation, but that’s what they are. I’ll be making incremental changes to make that more obvious, I hope.

Back to the three-column layout. Can’t really escape it, it seems.

I’ve kept the mini-bio bit at the top right, and even added a photo. Narcissism, really, but it provides an answer to “Who wrote this”. If I ever get multiple authors, that’ll change depending who wrote what you’re looking at.

I’ve not provided a link back to older diary entries still. The archives are scary, I’d prefer navigation though search or relevant to this (i.e., the categories of the current item, the date links). Though I’ve also taken out the search box, that’ll be back.

The actual content design hasn’t changed much, although the thick, boxy look comes straight from v7. I don’t muck around with that too much, because text on white – or in this case very light grey – was put there for a good reason in the first place, plus there’s a number of custom styles that rely on it.

A more photo based than illustraty or designy layout, and one I quite like. The photos for the left nav came from MorgueFile, except the last from iStockPhoto. The banner and me images were taken by me. The default top banner is a view of a Cambridge sunrise from the top end of Mill Road (the building to the left is the swimming pool)

The Favicon is still my old glasses. Must fix that sometime…

Oh, side effect of the banner system being back, old banners are displayed with their entries. There was a new banner most weeks thoughout 2004

Imported From Epistula Movies

Suicide is painless

Wilbur wants to kill himself

Wilbur, as the title suggests, is suicidal. It’s not working, though. Every time he attempts to kill himself, someone rescues him, or it doesn’t work, or something. Damn people just keep saving him.

Harpur is Wilbur’s brother. He runs the second hand bookshop their dad used to own until he died.

Alice is a single mother. She works at the hospital, pinching books to sell at the bookshop.

The film is darkly, subtly funny, well written, well acted, and generally well done. You should watch it.

aqcom Design Imported From Epistula

Something Changed

I got bored of lack of colour, spartan design, and especially grey.

It isn’t perfect, but it’ll do until I invest some more time in it…

I’m not sure what’s causing the weird gaps in the left image in IE and Safari, but in Safari it appears to vanish with a reload, which is weirdness.

Back to a reasonably standard three column layout with the big banner over the top, though the left nav is a bit prettier than my usual fare, I’m not sure it looks enough like navigation. I may underline the words as a better visual hint.

…yeah, the About links aren’t properly done yet, holistic is down for a little while due to the host shuffle. The little blank grey bar on the front page (local navigation on all other pages) will eventually become a linklog feed, once I get around to implementing it. I’m not entirely happy about Pictures going off-site either, so that may become a link to a magical ajaxy world that pulls in the latest images.

Current Affairs Imported From Epistula


An inquiry has been ordered by Met Police chief Sir Ian Blair after a Muslim constable was excused from guarding the Israeli embassy in London. [ BBC News ]




The policemen – to all evidence available – asked politely if they could avoid placing him on guard at a place where he’d prefer not to work. They said that they would avoid it. At no point did he – apparently – say “I will not”, and at no point did they even place him at the place he didn’t want to work. There is no reason to suggest this was ever anything more than a policemen expressing his preference, and the higher powers, on this occasion, being able to work within the officer’s preference.

In the above, I have completely – and deliberately – ignored all specific political circumstances, because they should be ignored. This isn’t a political issue, it’s an employment issue, and at no level is it actually news.

2006 Imported From Epistula

Moving Swiftly On

So, the game is up, the announcement is made, the paper handed in. As of 4th November 2006 I am no longer an employee of Those Who Evolve (I am not allowed to mention their name, because whenever I do AqCom comes as second match for it. I get in trouble for that).

Hire This Geek.

I am a sysadmin, I develop, I research, I slice! I dice! I can save your company making expensive mistakes, whilst keeping you doing things – like WAI, XHTML, CSS and UJS – The Right Way. I speak PHP, Python, Perl and other things beginning with P, do Linux, Mac OS X and Windows, and am capable of explaining anything to anyone, providing I understand it myself. I understand how the Internet works.

I have a CV over here, should you want such.

I live in Bedford, but am planning to move to Cambridge, and will commute to London if I need to.