June 2006 in the Life of Ben (Blog)

  1. January
  2. February
  3. March
  4. April
  5. May
  6. June
  7. July
  8. August
  9. September
  10. October
  11. November
  12. December

New Photo of Me (23rd June 2006)

Finally I can put up a photo which is slightly less creepy than the one on my passport:

Ben ‘Cerbera’ Millard

My mum took it with her new camera in our back garden. Although the amount of leafyness in the background makes it look like it’s in the jungle!

Simplified my URLs (20th June 2006)

By adding a little rewrite rule to my .htaccess files, the www. part of the URLs on my websites are now removed. The method I’m using is this:

# Turn on URL Rewriting:
RewriteEngine On

# Remove "www" from requests:
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} .
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.projectcerbera.com$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://projectcerbera.com/$1 [R=301,L]

This has now been applied to all my websites (obviously using the correct domain name for each one):

There is even a website for other websites doing this. It only takes a few minutes, so maybe you’d like to join the party and simplify your own URLs?

Returned from Fliss’ (11th June 2006)

From Tuesday 6th to Friday 9th I was over in Farnborough with Fliss. During the stay we:

This seems to be the first properly hot week of 2006. We had the fan running in Fliss’ bedroom nearly the whole time we were there!

Blog Links Fixed (6th June 2006)

I realised that by moving the blog archive pages into yearly folders, all of relative URIs used by Blog entries for other pages on Project Cerbera were broken. This included the main navigation! A recursive link scan using the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Checklink Service located all the errors and I think they are now all fixed.

No pain, no gain!

CFG Studio Updated (6th June 2006)

After nearly three months, CFG Studio has received lots of small improvements. Changes include:

I’m thinking about making it support more files, including:

There won’t be any special features like a colour picker or a mods catalogue. The grid interface of CFG Studio should make editing these files easier than using Notepad due to the column and row headings, as well as having Bookmarks, Backups and Recent Files functionality.

CFG Studio already has a sort of ‘Content Sniffing’ algorithm for determining which edition of handling.cfg is being opened. It also detects when a file is too different from handling.cfg to be recovered and goes into a Format: Unknown mode which is a bit like the ‘Quirks Mode’ some browsers have. Extending this to detect other file formats seems possible in theory.

I hope to have a stab at it somewhen next week, after I get back from Fliss’. I might make a topic about developing a Content Sniffing algorithm for GTA text data in the Editing Discussion > Misc area of GTA Forums.

Entry Permalinks Tweaked (5th June 2006)

Now that I’ve restructured this section into a properly indexed blog with one folder per year, I’ve become unhappy about the values for my permanent links to entries. Yes, I probably do have better things to spend my time on. But this is interesting; this is fragment identifier tweakage!

The old format for a permalink was this:


There are many bad things about this, described below.

Parts of the date present in the main URL are repeated in the fragment identifier.
Portions of date are not seperated
The year and the month are part of the filename when the year should be a ‘parent’ of the month.
‘Entry’ is no good
This keyword should be followed by the title of the entry. Since that would make long fragment identifiers, something different is needed.
Also, several entries are often filed for the same day.

My new format looks like this:


This fixes all the problems mentioned above but still contains a file extension. That means it isn’t technology neutral but at least it has improved.

Long Weekend with Fliss (4th June 2006)

From Friday 26th May to Monday 29th May I was at Fliss’ house in Farnborough, so this entry is somewhat late. I met her while on a training course in Basingstoke in 2004 and we’ve become friends. It was quite an eventful few days, compared to what I normally do!

Friday 26th May

I tried to call Fliss at 17:30 to confirm I was on target to arrive at 18:00 but she wasn’t answering. I decided to get some things ready and try again after that. My mum tried calling while I was doing this and Fliss’ mum answered. Fliss was washing her hair and expected to be ready by the time I got there. This was the first of many small dramas!

When I arrived, we went upstairs and I left my bags in her room. She mentioned that her sister, Angela, needed her to babysit while she went to the pub to meet her friends. We had about half an hour until we had to leave, so we went back downstairs to the living room.

Fliss started tidying up some things from around the computer and I joked about this:

“It’s like an archealogical dig! We should probably get Time Team involved! I can just imagine it: ‘Here in Trench 3 we’ve found had some great finds, such as this filter tip and an empty packet of Rizzlers.’”

This caused a chuckle and we chatted about other stuff lying around. Realising that time was getting on, we got our things together and were just about to go when Fliss got a call from Angela, who was wondering where we were. We quickly left and walked to Angela’s house. She was waiting in the garden and after a hurried introduction left to meet up with her friends.

We put our things down, turned on the television and helped ourselves to some crisps. Fliss found a pink ball with elastic tenticles and we had an impromptu game of catch. This developed into a sort of volleyball, with much giggling. The sillyness escalated when we decided to take turns saying vaguely related words while knocking this pink ball back and forth.

Later on Angela’s daughter, Rhia, called out and Fliss went up to check on her. She calmed down quickly and Fliss returned. Angela’s son, Rhys, was not upstairs and it was starting to get dark. Fliss went to get her phone but didn’t have it. Angela’s landline didn’t work, so we had no way of contacting Angela to check if Rhys was having a sleepover somewhere.

After some deliberation, we decided that I should go back to Fliss’ mum’s place to get her phone and call Angela. I didn’t know the area and the light was fading, so we wrote down directions and I headed out. I wrote down landmarks I passed and after a few wrong turns, found my way to the correct house.

I knocked on the door, waited about a minute, then knocked again. Fliss’ mum answered and I explained that we were worried that Rhys had not returned. She explained that Rhys had gone camping and was suprised that Angela hadn’t mentioned it to us. She gave me Fliss’ phone and I went back to Angela’s house, relieved.

When I go back we noticed some crane flies had taken up residence in the far corner of the living room, so we decided to evict them humanely. Fliss got a cup from the kitchen and I picked up a brochure from the living room. The method we used to capture them was one Phil Jupitus described in his Quadropohibia stand-up comedy set for catching spiders:

  1. Carefully placed the cup over the creature.
  2. Gently slide the brochure undearneath to avoid trapping its legs.
  3. Pull both items away from the wall without them seperating from each other.
  4. Head to the nearest exit (Fliss opened it for me).
  5. Walk away from the house for several steps (further is better).
  6. Hold the items together some way in front.
  7. Seperate them swiftly while pushing them away.
  8. Shake both items thoroughly to ensure the creature has escaped.
  9. Return to the house.
  10. Shrieking is optional and may be added at any stage (usually stage 7).

We did this for three crane flies, all of which were released. I commented on our success:

“Hey, this babysitting is going pretty well. We’ve removed several insects and havn’t lost a child.”

Angela returned at about 02:30 and apologised about not telling us Rhys was away. We assured her it was alright and left without mentioning the ball or the spiders. We arrived at Fliss’ place (she rents a room in a shared house), ate some junk food and went to bed. We fell asleep while watching television.

Saturday 27th May

I got up around midday, while Fliss was half awake. I went downstairs and made us both some breakfast, which I took up to our room.

Since Fliss was getting low on groceries we decided to go shopping. The weather was changeable, with intermittant drizzle and sunny spells. I thought we should go as soon as possible before it got any worst, but instead we watched television for an hour or two while we woke up fully. We put a shopping list together during advert breaks.

When we went to leave, I wanted to take a coat but Fliss thought it wasn’t necessary. We headed outside but by the time we reached the end of the road a cold wind was blowing and the drizzle had started again and was getting heavier. We argued viciously about going back before agreeing to.

When we got back to the house, Fliss told me to wait by the door while she got the things we needed. She came down with a jumper for me but I insisted that I needed a coat, complaining that I could have gotten it myself. She went back upstairs and returned angrily with my coat. We headed back outside.

The drizzle had become full rain now. After a while our tempers had cooled and we made small talk about the absence of any other pedestrians, which we agreed was a positive thing.

As we entered the town we stopped under a large tree which overhung the pavement. It was growing from the cemetery and the pavement was dry beneath it. The gate was unlocked and we noticed another gate at the far side, so we decided to cut through. When we reached the far side we found the gate was locked, so we had a quiet walk around the grounds and tried to find the oldest gravestone. I think it was from the 1890’s.

When we got into Farnborough, we were greeted by the irressistable scent of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). We hadn’t eaten lunch before leaving, so we crossed the road and I ordered us an Original Recipe Meal with a Pepsi Max each. It came to about £7.

We sat at a counter which ran along the front window, looking out onto the road. After a while the rain stopped and the pavement began repopulating. We noticed that as people walked past, they saw us eating in the window and this caused them a dillema. Should they:

The queue gradually built up until people were waiting in the doorway. We joked that we should be getting paid for being KFC’s newest advertising models. It was funny seeing the expressions and body language of each person as they tried decide whether or not to enter. Several drivers even turned around at the nearby roundabout and parked on the pavement to buy food!

After we finished eating we binned our rubbish and continued to Asda for groceries. The rain had stopped now and the sun was breaking through the clouds. We hadn’t gone far before Fliss met a woman she knew. We stopped and chatted for a short while but she had to leave for work, so Fliss and I continued on our way.

When we got to Asda I carried the basket and Fliss navigated to the various items we required. The checkouts were very busy but we found a fairly clear one and were soon outside. Fliss had bought some blister plasters to cover where her trainers were rubbing the backs of her ankles. She sat on the railings for a trolley park and stuck it on. She smoked a roll-up while watching a guy clean the shop windows before we left.

The sky had cleared by the time we got to the playing fields near where Fliss lived. We stopped in one and look at the clouds. A flock of birds swooped around in the sky overhead while jet airliners passed thousands of feet overhead.

We got back home, put the freezing away and went upstairs. We had some food and got ready for bed. We started watching Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban but fell asleep before it finished.

Sunday 28th May

We woke up around midday, had breakfast and woke up slowly in front of the television. As the weather was nice and the forecast was good, Fliss had a great idea of us going for a walk in the sunshine.

We took some food and headed outside. We walked down the road to a path which ran alongside a brook. We followed this for a while before crossing over a wooden arched bridge. We continued through a series of playing fields which were largely deserted. I remember thinking that most people where probably indoors on their computer or watching television, like I would usually be doing.

We headed back onto the roads and went to a small set of shops to get sweets. There was a light, warm breeze and the sun shone warmly through large gaps between the white clouds overhead.

Fliss led us to some woodland and we followed various paths through it. Many of the flowers were in bloom and the air was filled with their scent.

We ended up on a main road near the railway. Fliss remembered there was a nice spot nearby with a view across a field towards a monastery. After some confusion and doubling back, we found the right path, lined with hedges and trees. We followed it until we found an opening on the right. It led to a little fenced portion of the field Fliss remembered.

I had brought a beach towel with me in case we decided to sit somewhere, so I lay it down and we took the weight off our feet. The snacks we brought along were quickly opened and slowly munched through while we admired the landscape. There was a white peacock on the other side of the field, something neither of us had seen before. It looked like it should be in an RPG rather than a field. We managed to glimpse it displaying its tail to a blue peacock which was about fifty meters further away.

After an hour or two the light began to fade and the clouds began closing in. We had demolished the snacks and been thoroughly relaxed by the calmness of the scenery, so we pack up our stuff (making sure we didn’t leave any litter) and headed home. We cooked a pair of cottage pies with loads of vegetables for dinner, which we gladly scoffed after all the walking we’d done during the weekend.

We finished off the last of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and went to sleep.

Monday 29th May

The day started much like the two before it, except we put on music after breakfast instead of the television. We were going to pick up a small fridge for Fliss’ room from Angela but by the time we left it was already mid afternoon. We went to Fliss’ mum’s house and sat on the sofa together watching movies on television. I got picked up at 18:30, showered as soon as I got home, made some dinner then brainstormed this blog entry.

All in all, it was a very eventful and fun weekend compared to how mine usually are! We’re going to be meeting again from Tuesday 6th to Friday 9th of June but I won’t blog about that in quite so much detail.