Writing from November 2002

A new home

This site is now nestling comfortably in its new home. Many, many thanks to Danny, James, Lee and Yoz for their work, and to Instant-Web for the previous hosting.

In Personal on 10 November 2002. Permalink

The same but different

This site's new server isn't the only change here. While the site looks much the same almost everything behind the scenes has been rewritten. Inspired by the redesign of Wired News and by the need to make my old code more flexible I ripped everything apart and started from scratch...


In Web Development on 11 November 2002. Permalink

Fun with firewalls

I've spent more than several hours attempting to configure the firewall on my new ADSL router. This post, I admit, is not likely to win me any prizes for riveting content, but it might be very useful to a few people. Especially given that the forum I've been contributing to is poorly indexed by Google. By the way, go up a directory from there and you get the only decent guide to configuring the Alcatel Speedtouch 510 firewall anywhere. Given that ADSL routers are fast heading towards the realm of consumer-level kit, this is pretty shocking, especially given the close-to-useless guide offered by the manufacturer (PDF). Anyway, on with the fun...


In Mac on 14 November 2002. 20 comments. Permalink

Newton: back from the dead

While I haven't been to a computer fair for several yonks they always seem to feature a table in the corner where men in beards exchange anecdotes and spare parts about their customised Sinclair QLs or BBC Micros. I am now slightly concerned I'm heading that way, having recently subscribed to the NewtonTalk mailing list...


In Newton on 15 November 2002. Permalink


I just installed SmartyPants, a little plug-in for Moveable Type that automatically replaces a few text characters with more attractive and correct typographic entities. Double-quotes turn into "smart-quotes" (as do apostrophes), three full-stops turn into ellipses (...), and -- turns into an em-dash ( -- ). How lovely.

On a similar theme I really wanted to try out Gill Sans as a font for this site, inspired by Matt's and Aaron Swartz's new designs. This elegant font would only show up for people using Mac OS X, although this wouldn't be a problem, as CSS would just fall back to my second preference font for everyone else. However, compared to fonts such as Verdana, currently this site's default, Gill Sans is very narrow and also looks pretty small (a small x-height?). So any careful choice of font sizes and column widths (for example, the right-hand column's width) would only be correct for one of these fonts. To be honest, I wonder if Gill Sans is really a good font for bodytext on screen, despite its alluring elegance.

By the way, I'm not entirely convinced about my current choice of Verdana. I went off it some time ago, but recently read a site which I thought looked clean and readable, and then discovered it was set in Verdana. I think the site looks OK now -- I lack the vocabulary, but everything seems to hang together quite well. But I feel I'm committing some terrible faux pas and trendy typography buffs are probably sniggering at me.

In Movable Type on 17 November 2002. 6 comments. Permalink

The mouse’s debut

In 1968, at the Stanford Research Institute, Douglas Englebart gave a public demonstration of the computer system he and his team had been working on which included the first outing for the mouse -- "I don't know why we call it a mouse. It started that way and we never changed it." He also showed off hyperlinking, collaboration over a network and a method of inputting text by chording, among other features. You can watch a video of the presentation at Stanford's MouseSite. Even if you're not particularly techy, it's fascinating to see this 34 year old video of what was then the cutting edge.

In Misc on 19 November 2002. 1 comment. Permalink

Keeping up with the Newtons

This week there's been some good stuff on the NewtonTalk mailing list that I mentioned.

I wasn't convinced by the description in that last one, until they then posted some links to a previous project. Forgive my tech lust, but that does look cool. Not US$175 of cool, but still cool.

In Newton on 22 November 2002. Permalink

"Sounds secure to me!"

Tom's helpful advice there. This morning I installed the 2002-11-21 Mac OS X Security Update. All went well and I restarted the PowerBook only to be confronted with a BSD login screen. Black background, white text and login prompt. The login and password of the only account I've created on the machine don't work. Yes Tom, it's pretty secure. Nnngggghhhhh.

In Mac on 25 November 2002. Permalink