Writing from February 2003

Using a British/UK Windows keyboard with an Apple Mac in OS X (2)

This page has been superseded by these instructions as of 20 November 2005.

This page was originally at http://www.gyford.com/misc/windows_keyboard_mac.php

For more background information, see also the even older instructions.

If you have a Mac and want to use a keyboard that's designed to be used with a British Windows-based PC, you'll notice that some of the keys don't produce the expected characters. @ and " are generally swapped, for example. In addition the Command (Apple), Option and Control keys may be swapped round. Each of these problems needs to be tackled separately...

Continued…

In Mac on 2 February 2003. Permalink

Felicity

I must admit that I'm a sucker for US TV series featuring teen angst and attractive kids who always seem to glow with the peculiar golden light that only the American networks can achieve. My So-Called Life, Dawson's Creek, Roswell, all that, I'm there. It's bewildering to me that of this genre Felicity has had the least impact in the UK. It's consigned to the digital wasteland that is ITV2 where it obviously failed to find an audience on early Sunday evenings, having now been shunted to the unholy hour of 9.25am the same day.

Continued…

In Television on 4 February 2003. 9 comments. Permalink

Removing evil image links from Movable Type

When Stef first started using Movable Type he cursed the Trotts for making the menus out of images. Not only is it bad for accessibility but if you're addicted to Mozilla's Type Ahead Find feature it's even more annoying. (Type Ahead Find lets you type a few letters and the first text link on the page that starts with that sequence is highlighted; press Return and you follow the link. No more mouse!)

I never used the feature so I just laughed. Ha ha! But now I've started trying it and must agree those menus are hugely frustrating. So I did something about it and you can too. Go to the directory in which your Movable Type CGI scripts are stored. From there go to the tmpl/cms/ directory. The top-of-the-page menu is in logonav.tmpl, the left-hand menu is in mininav.tmpl. Back the files up. Then if you know HTML you can just remove the images and replace with text. You might want to add some cellpadding or spacing; mine ended up looking like this which is far more usable and downloads quicker. It might all be destroyed by an MT upgrade, but it's not a big deal to do again.

In Movable Type on 7 February 2003. 2 comments. Permalink

Pepys Diary traffic statistics

If you're as fascinated by the spread of memes as I am you might find my brief report on Pepys' Diary's traffic stats and linkage interesting.

In Pepys' Diary on 9 February 2003. 1 comment. Permalink

Dawson’s Creek has a cast of one

Exactly two years ago I wrote something about how spookily square kids in US teen dramas are, and how what passes for rebellion is rarely the stuff of true parental nightmares. Today I had another revelation about Dawson's Creek which might have some people slapping their foreheads while emitting a "well, duh!" but whatever: all the kids on the show have exactly the same characters.

Continued…

In Television on 9 February 2003. 2 comments. Permalink

Giving and the Jhai Foundation

Years ago I told myself the reason I didn't give any money to charity was because I was a poor student. After that it was because I was unemployed and still poor. Then it was because I was working for a pittance in London. And then, once it stopped being quite such a pittance, I didn't really have an excuse any longer. But it's still taken me a few more years to get round to actually giving anything.

Continued…

In Personal on 10 February 2003. Permalink

The best thing about Movable Type 2.6

From the changelog:

Changed all visible instances of blog to weblog in the system and in the documentation.

I've hated the word "blog" since the day I first heard it.

Movable Type Pro sounds good too. Especially the bit about allowing users to log in for comments. Pepys' Diary uses huge numbers of comments (around 1,600 in six weeks) and anything that beefs this facility up will be a boon.

In Movable Type on 14 February 2003. 1 comment. Permalink

Protesting the war in Estonia

My sister sent me this photo from a friend of a friend in Estonia and says:

In Tartu the defence league (pretend soldiers) decided they didn't want people peace protesting, so the residents had to get snowmen to protest instead! Someone gathered up loads and loads of snow in front of the town hall and they all made snowmen and gave them banners. Seems there's no way to stop people building snowmen...

In Misc on 14 February 2003. Permalink

Decent UK TV guide

Some things are so simple that almost no site has managed to produce them. One is a decent cinema guide. Every UK cinema guide seems teeth-gnashingly clumsy. A guide to UK TV is another. I just want the equivalent of a newspaper's TV page, nothing fancy. Having given up on this quest months ago I recently discovered the Guardian's TV guide. It doesn't show you what's on lots of channels at the same time. It doesn't let you save your personal channel configuration. It doesn't highlight different genres with different pastel shades. It just describes what's on every channel. It's quite a relief.

In Misc on 14 February 2003. 2 comments. Permalink

HotWired archives

A conversation on The Well about HotWired of old prompted me to Google for the remnants of the mid-90s that I knew were still tucked away on the server somewhere. After finding a few I came across the official HotWired Archives index page which links to all kinds of nostalgic goodness (all unfortunately spoiled by the naff and modern Lycos banner).

In Misc on 17 February 2003. Permalink

Books read and to be read

Lists of books I've read each year, what I'm reading now and what's sitting on the shelf waiting to be read. An aide memoire for me. There are a few gaps unfortunately, presumably resulting from years when I wasn't quite so embarrassingly anal about chronicling my life. I must catch up on writing my reviews.

In Personal on 19 February 2003. 1 comment. Permalink

Aqua on Windows XP

AquaXP.com is devoted to making your Windows machine look like Mac OS X. There's a distinct lack of any explanation about how, or what some of the downloads actually do, but it's interesting. In a "why on earth do I need to do this" kind of way. After a bit of playing, which has given me drop shadows, transparent menus and not one, but two docks (this is the best one), I can report that my PC does indeed now run as slow as my old Mac.

In Mac on 19 February 2003. 3 comments. Permalink

I’ll give them a word burst or two…

Accpording to the New Scientist it might be possible to track societal change by monitoring the frequency of phrases over time.

Kleinberg suggests that the method could be applied to weblogs to track new social trends. For example, identifying word bursts in the hundreds of thousands of personal diaries now on the web could help advertisers quickly spot an emerging craze.

Well, gee whiz, who'd a thunk it?

In Misc on 20 February 2003. 6 comments. Permalink

Sieving spam on the Mac

Spamfire is the most often mentioned spam filter for Mac OS X. It connects to your mail server before your email client and removes the unwanted spam. This makes me a little nervous, perhaps unnecessarily. I really wanted something that would filter messages once I'd downloaded them into Eudora, rather than jumping the queue and deciding what I could download. I wanted something more like the spam filter in Apples' Mail.app.

SpamSieve does the job. It works with most Mac email clients and uses de rigeur Bayesian filtering to weed out spam once it's in your inbox. Running a second application alongside Eudora seems clunky but it does work. I trained it on an archive of 12,000 spam emails and an inbox of 3,000 non-spam emails. In the past three weeks it's looked at around 2,000 messages left behind by my mailing list filters and has divided them roughly 50/50 into spam/good emails. It's made 21 mistakes, an accuracy rate of 98.9%, and it feels wonderful to open an inbox containing nothing but things I want to read. Certainly worth $20.

In Mac on 21 February 2003. 2 comments. Permalink

Micro marketing

If you live in Barnet or St Albans and want to learn to draw or paint then you need Insight. I spent Sunday building the site with my friend Paul, who is Insight, sitting patiently next to me. It's not perfect, but not bad for a day's work.

In Personal on 24 February 2003. Permalink

Broxtt’s blog

This week a few of us at work have been giggling quietly while creating a fake weblog for our beloved friend and creative director. Well, he's the only one not to have a weblog of his own. His utter confusion when he discovered it via the company-wide unofficial mailing list was priceless. More alarming were the people who thought it was real... Anyway, it's probably less funny if you don't work here, and not at all funny if you don't know him. Next!

In Personal on 28 February 2003. Permalink

BBCi’s accessibility report

BBCi, which I assume is all the web and maybe digital TV bits of the BBC, have published their Accessibility study of BBCi (1.7Mb PDF). It makes for good reading if you're remotely interested in this stuff, which anyone who has ever built a website should be. Full of useful tips and insights. However, any confidence you'd have in the findings making a difference is destroyed by the fact it's a PDF, a format criticised within the report!

In Web Development on 28 February 2003. Permalink

Babies galore

In the past couple of weeks Danny, Quinn and Gilbert had Ada, Alex and Becky had Aasta, and Dorian and Trine had Oskar. So far Oskar has by far the best online presence, a fabulous photo-assisted weblog. Congratulations to everyone!

In Personal on 28 February 2003. Permalink