Feb
23
2005
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Web Page Egg Timer

Building a Better Busy Box (Processing… Please Wait)

or just click to the demos.

Nice bit of code that displays an egg timer kind of widget. Would be useful for some of the credit card submission pages we have….. should make the user happier to wait for the thank you, you’ve been charged page.

Broke my old version of Opera though. We just need to test how well this code degrades against our users.

Written by Guy in: Cosmic |
Feb
23
2005
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IE7 weblog

A Blog from the Internet Explorer team.
Guess I’m late to this party – but I’ll blog it anyway.

We’ve heard loud and clear that many people want a better connection with the IE Team. We’re happy to do something about it.

When Microsoft do stuff like this – I can forgive the army of nerds that focus purely on the Microsoft platform. Unfortunately, these nerds do build their careers around Microsoft because it’s easier to do so, not because Microsoft is now maturing into a great company. This evolution though, has been forced by a kick in the nuts from Linux and to a lesser extent Apple.

Written by Guy in: Cosmic |
Feb
23
2005
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2 months in husky

2 months on, and our fabulous puppy is not so much of a puppy anymore. He’s also taking up more room on the bed and getting close to a few hard lessons on life from his other buddies in the pack.

December 2004
Mookie in December 2004
February 2005
Mookie in February 2005

With Elvis
Mookie and Elvis

Written by Guy in: Influences |
Feb
18
2005
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The Real Nerd Club

Viral Video – The Real Nerd Club
So need to do a viral campaign like this when we launch the next biggest thing to rock a certain disreputable industry. just watch this space…

Written by Guy in: Milestones |
Feb
18
2005
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Ecademy – Switched Off

Ecademy – Business Notworking
As a freeloader, you can no longer read the content on ecademy. Not that I’ve ever read anything memorable.

So today I switched off my daily ecademy newsletter, cos there’s no point, I can’t read the content it’s promoting. So how will ecademy ever get the chance to strike up a conversation with me again? oops – they just burnt that bridge, didn’t they?

Written by Guy in: Rants |
Feb
18
2005
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Bread – It’s the new Rock and Roll

Aparantly, there’s laboratory at Panasonic UK, full of bread making geeks, where they keep trying new bread recipes to ensure that their bread maker is the best in the world. You can phone them with questions about your bread machine and get lots of help – just as long as your question is about bread.

Myth or truth? Well I read about it in more than a few places…

If you ever think of buying a bread machine and like the type of bread we have in the UK – make sure you buy a Panasonic. The bread police won’t allow any windows on their device because this makes it difficult to maintain the constant heat for good bread. There’s a healthy export market too… People want that UK type loaf on the continent… blah blah blah…

I was looking for a Christmas present for my wife to go with her Marc NewsonDish Doctor. I read a few web pages about bread makers and quickly discovered that there are some very bad ones and a few good ones. Hence the reputation for bread makers living at the back of cupboards, gathering dust. I researched a little further and bought into the notion that Panasonic have a team that’s mad about bread, complete geeks and hence produce the only bread maker worth buying.

How cool is that for a brand entity. I don’t care if it’s a myth. I bought the machine on the basis of great reviews on Amazon, numerous awards, various fan pages and also my own respect of Panasonic as being rather good. And hey, it’s all true. The instructions are crystal clear, the recipes are plentiful and our first loaf took only a few minutes of measuring into the tin. Four hours later we had a perfect loaf.

Since then we’ve tried 4 different types of flour, replacing butter with Olive oil, a few high speed loafs and every one’s been a winner. The instruction book tells you what each ingredient will do, and how you can change it. Good bye additive ladden supermarket bread.

Panasonic would sell more of these things if they spent a little time on educating people on how these machines work. Everybody seems to think you have to mix the ingredients – they don’t know that you just tip it into the machine and then switch it on.

Break that myth and you’ll sell alot more.

Written by Guy in: Influences |
Feb
17
2005
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Why clients want everything

Independent Days

a good hairpiece costs a lot of money, and for a lot of money, the customer wants to see a lot of hair.

So now you know why most rugs look funny. And on the back of that, why most websites end up unusable. The client is paying good money and they want every bell, whistle and dangleberry on their site.

They [the rug makers] wanted their customers to look good, not silly. But time after time, despite their best efforts to steer customers toward something subtle something along the lines of Bruce Williss Moonlighting-era topper their customers insisted on more.

So next time you see a bad hairpiece – just spend a moment thinking about your wesbite.

Written by Guy in: Cosmic |
Feb
16
2005
1

Thanks Apple

Big thanks to Apple for wasting 2 hours of my life today.

I’m trying to set up some cgi directories for some virtual hosts on an Apple xserve. To do this, I have to use VNC for the essential, mundane things like restart the webserver, create virtual hosts (you can’t do this by hand). Then I need to ssh into the box, to edit the conf files the gui creates. It may be bsd unix running apache – but it’s a right royal pain in the rear to configure.

This would be a 5 minute job on linux and everything just seems to be slightly different on this operating system. Surely it’s not too much to ask that each virtual host would have it’s own cgi bin? Surely you gui should do that task? I haven’t cracked it – will come back tomorrow and see what’s wrong.

It’s like working in a china shop. Sure I can go edit the normal config files to behave like a proper unix version of apache – but how much of the gui will I break in the process?

Written by Guy in: Rants |
Feb
15
2005
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Kontraband – est 1999

Kontraband – almost TV Adverts
Very funny/crude adverts from some big brands that you won’t see on tv. put your headphones on and watch in your tea break.

Written by Guy in: Noise |
Feb
11
2005
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Unhappy customer

Last night we lost everything on our Skyplus box. The nice people on the sky helpdesk just made us go through a long process of checking if things were plugged in etc…. then got us to do a factory reset…. which wiped the hard drive and our settings. I’m not a happy bunny…. We’ve lost everything recorded, including a program about racing huskies in Wales with me in it. They blamed it on power cuts and surges – but everybody has them. It’s now working – but on parole.

This is the major problem with SkyPlus being a closed system. All you can do is press the buttons and loose everything. If the hard drive on your computer failed – you could run a range of disk doctor tools on it. I love SkyPlus, has changed the way we watch TV for the better. I now don’t trust it. Shame there’ll never be an open standards based media server/PVR that will work with Sky. I’d install one tomorrow.

To make matters worse, our new fridge is now making a huge noise. Don’t think I’ll ever buy Hotpoint again. Apart from the thing always making noises as it expands and contracts through out the day, they also didn’t ship the thing with the correct number of trays as listed in the catalogue. Somebody in the company has decided to ship the fridge without these trays based on some assumption that only a few people will notice and when they get stock levels back up, they’ll be able to ship them to those that notice. That’s a brand mentality I’d rather avoid. And now the fan is on the blink.

On the inside of the freezer door, there is a sticker for the customer care line…. nice touch I thought. After working my way through the disclaimer and options, I needed to provide a receipt number. I went back to my emails and found the reciept as an attachment from Comet (we ordered it online). I phoned Hotpoint back and they said the transaction number was too short. But she accepted it and then said I needed an authorisation code from Comet to get an engineer out to it. So I phoned Comet to hear that my transaction number is not correct…. I guess their online ordering and internal systems are not quite singing from the same hymn sheet. We then worked out that we needed a store number to make the other number work. Great eh? To cut a long story short – Comet are sending one of their repair people next week to look at it. It’s all crazy and didn’t give me a warm feeling.

When things go wrong, it’s a great opportunity for a company to have great conversation with an old customer. Get it right and you’re well on the way to building a long term relationship. Get it wrong and you’re burnt.

Written by Guy in: Rants |
Feb
10
2005
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Carly moves on

Carly parody
I’ve never met Carly Fiorina – now ex ceo of Hewlett Packard. I’ve seen her in action on a few webcasts and thought well of her. I think she once ‘mis-behaved’ in a presentation about PC tablets with Bill Gates. She was annoyed and didn’t hide it. She’s now moving on and I guess she will go do something great somewhere else.

The satirical parody above is rather funny though.

Written by Guy in: Noise |
Feb
10
2005
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Ecademy – my weekly rant

Ecademy continue to loose the plot. There’s a new pricing structure where those that don’t pay, can do very little. I think this is a huge mistake – but maybe their tipping point allows them to cull the free loaders. Can you imagine a hotel foyer that allowed business people to use it, only if they wore handcuffs or were part of their business club? It wouldn’t work. People would feel uncomfortable, they’d always be one in your group who isn’t a member and has to wear shackles. It’s the ‘open to all’ aspect of Ecademy that got it off the ground, and now they’re turning their back to bite their roots. I don’t think ecademy should be free, there should be a basic level that is useful to all, so that the network will grow and be useful to all, with a membership plan that is value for money. I have a sneaky feeling that some of this culling of freeloaders has to do with keeping the service alive from an infrastruture point of view. In 2004, they went through a significant period where the website was too slow, taking over a few minutes and several ‘page refresh’ button hits to just to get the home page on your screen. At the time I was paying my full monthly fee and asked if there was anything I could do to help them with the infrastructure problems. (I always offer to help people before filing complaints) To which we got the classic denial of any problem, go away kinda thing. It was only at the local meetup where you found everbody else was having the same problem. To which one ecademy advocate/leader stated that you don’t need to use the website, it’s the gatherings that are only useful.

I think I was well within my right to get annoyed that I couldn’t access the website that was costing me 10 pounds a month to use. It’s not the amount – more the principle. When you’ve got tousands of people paying ten pounds a month, investing their time for free to build a network – where exactly was all the money going?

Anyway – in the ‘testimonial’ part of their website they list a few people happy with the service. Well dig a little deeper and it once again demonstrates it’s just a pond full of accountants, life coaches and recruitment consultants.

I can honestly say I’ve already made a not insignificant sum of money directly linked to Ecademy, for which I am thankful

Of course you have, you’re one of them head hunters. Why would I join a network to meet you? I know why you need to meet me.

Written by Guy in: Rants |
Feb
07
2005
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419 Scammer caught on camera

www.scambuster419.co.uk
Rather funny website about a rather serious problem.

Reminded me of when this group scammed the scammer and mocked up a portable computer out out of a folder, to sting an ebay fraudster. They staked out a cafe and then sent the scammer a box that would have a large customs & excise bill. Very clever!
p-p-p-powerbook

Written by Guy in: Noise |
Feb
07
2005
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Upgrade your users, not just your product

creating_passionate_users

Could be titled – ‘Smarter Conversations for Beginners’ – just go read the article!

The more you learn, the better you are at something. The better you are, the more engaging it is. If you can help people have more of that feeling, they won’t talk about how good you are — they’ll talk about how much they kick ass.

I bought a Nikon Coolpix 5700 because I wanted to get a little more serious about my photos–to do something a step beyond point-and-shoot. I wanted to learn more about photography. It’s certainly in Nikon’s best interest to help me get hooked on photography, because next thing you know… I’ll be buying the extra lenses, and then pretty soon I’ll have to get a better camera, and on it goes. IF they can get me to become passionate not about the camera, but about photography.

I recently bought a new camera – upgraded my aging Nikon coolpix for a new Panasonic with Leica lense. I did this because I got hooked on photography again by reading DeviantArt – a stunning collection of digital art. I think this was the photo that started it all off again.

Go figure.

Written by Guy in: Cosmic |
Feb
03
2005
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Tell Your Story

www.tellyourstory.co.uk
Back in the dot com boom, one of the fellow directors of a company I was involved with, was searching for new-media-gold-rush things we could quickly build and sell. That’s why it went boom – people just wanted the money…. Anyway, one of his ideas was an online cemetry – they’re getting big in the usa, so we should do one for the uk. hmm, I thought not. But this did spark a thought about how web/multi-media should be used not as an epitaph, but as a personal record to hand down the family, share with the world.

Our herritage is important.

When people are taken away from us, I think it’s a crime to loose their perspective on history.

Get your digital camcorder out, fire up imovie and start archiving your heritage.

Written by Guy in: Cosmic |
Feb
02
2005
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Dancing Queen

Make the royal family dance.
Yeah it’s been done before – but like Fawlty Towers…. it’s still funny.

Written by Guy in: Noise |
Feb
02
2005
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VentureWhere?

Made it to VentureFest for all of 30 minutes – that’s nearly as long as I spent in the Dentist chair this afternoon. The race course carparks were rather full, hinting at a killer event, but that was the peak of my excitement. Why are these things full of accountant, banker and solicitor stands. I think you’re supposed to attend the seminars – but it wasn’t obvious, so I wandered around twice, spoke to a few people about offices and business angels but nothing to write home about.

There was a floor with what looked like lots of young entrepreneurs exhibiting on behalf of their schools. This looked interesting – but again it wasn’t clear what you were supposed to do. It reminded me of how much of my drive and ambition was forged from the 2 year ‘product enterprise’ entrepreneur project I did at University, many years ago. This stuff is important – planting the innovation seed to create the next generation of business leaders. Heck, if asked today, I’d have volunteered some time to mentor these kids.

Anyway, it wasn’t just me that came away a little numb. I’ve heard similar mutterings from other venturefest first timers. Maybe you needed to be part of the first wave to understand what it’s all about.

Written by Guy in: Rants |
Feb
01
2005
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Rendezvous – 1976

The Movie: From the Porte Dauphine to Sacre-Coeur in less than 8 minutes in a Ferrari 275/GTB. Top speed in excess of 200. Count the number of red lights the car is running.

Early one Sunday morning in 1976, Claude Lelouch, the French film director best known for Un Homme et une Femme (1966), and other soft-focus romances with a distinct whiff of Pep le Pew, took a 35mm camera for a high-speed drive around the streets of Paris. The result of this adventure, an eight-minute film entitled Rendezvous, has been the subject of amazement and speculation ever since. Did the car really blast from the Champs-Elyses to the heights of Montmartre at 200mph? Was Lelouch behind the wheel, or was it the Formula One racer, Jacques Lafitte? And did the breakneck journey result in the director being propelled straight from the driving-seat into a police cell?

Background to the footage

Written by Guy in: Noise |
Feb
01
2005
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Battlestar – wow

So we got back from our annual husky racing pilgrimage to Aviemore to watch the final episode of Battlestar Galactica on Sky Plus. What a huge cliff hanger – think I even shouted ‘no’ at the tv right at the end…. Last time I did that was another sci-fi classic Babylon 5 – when the centauri Londo sold out to the Shadows to wipe out the Narn…..

Back to BSG – I love this series – challenges so many fundamentals about how we live, delivered in an amazing sci-fi wrapper. It’s shot like a documentary, the camera’s zoom and shake like a fly-on-the-wall documentary. There is no sound in space, so the fight scenes don’t have big bangs….. and when your enemy is a robot, it just keeps coming….. I can rant for hours about this show…. hope they commission a second series!

Why is this important? This show has moved a genre into another league. I can’t stand ER but understand it’s importance – BSG just does it so much better.

Written by Guy in: Influences |
Feb
01
2005
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ModSecurity

An interesting security mod for apache. Something to play with later I feel.

Written by Guy in: Pixie Dust |