November 2006 in the Life of Ben (Blog)

  1. January
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  5. May
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  10. October
  11. November
  12. December

Myriad Islands Publicity (25th November 2006)

Jordan, owner of Planet GTA sent me an intervie.w to help publicise the project and provide some encouragement for the participates. He sent it on 2006-11-16 I created the Interview for PlanetGTA topic. It’s since been retitled [PR] Interview for PlanetGTA since.

It’s now been running over a week and a half. I hope to finish off our answers and send it back to Jordan during Sunday.

End of Hemmorrhoid (25th November 2006)

It has finally gone, presumably getting absorbed back into me. My arse has now returned for it’s former glory. The cause was almost certainly from delaying my bowel movements to complete programming tasks. This is a habit I’ve decided to break!

I often delay the start of cooking meals, which offsets my eating and sleeping cycles. I often forget to check my food as well and it ends up overcooked by the time I eat it. During times when I’ve got a lot of work (such as this week) I don’t shower, which is plain icky. So I think there’s a bigger lesson for me here: life involves many things other than coding.

Lots of Work (25th November 2006)

I had a very important job during this week (2006-11-20 to 2006-11-24) helping with an accessibility audit. I don’t think I say who for. It involved lots of staying up all through the night writing issues and fixes in the Microsoft Word report.

I got the work through Phil Smears of sdesign1. When he first suggested I help I was really dauted by it. The size of the client and the detail required in the work seemed beyond my ability, but Phil encouraged me and it turned out fine. We went checkpoint by checkpoint through WCAG 1.0, which broke the report into bitesized pieces.

I’ve got a new job lined up for Monday, too. This will be a new build for a website which has been in the visual design phase for the past couple of weeks. It’s a very complicated and graphically intesive plan which I think is much too extravagent to be usable on the web. However, if the final design remains as heavily loaded with graphics I’ll do my best to make it as efficient and scalable as possible.

TextStudio Development (10th November 2006)

I quite like TextStudio. It doesn’t have snytax highlighting, or UTF-8 support, or a whole of other things you’d expect in a modern text editor. But it does have some neat features for working with lots of files at once. It uses a classic MDI setup which seems to have dissappeared from everything except Opera...and that has big tabs as well.

I originally built it to work with hundreds of static web pages at once, before I even heard of PHP and include(). But even now, I still find myself sometimes working with several text files and find most editors don’t provide the range of simple window management features I need. Sure, they’ve got flashy interfaces and stacks of useful features, but they are missing things I like.

So I’ve continued developing TextStudio privately, adding new window management stuff and lots of HTML editing shortcuts. I haven’t released a new version of it for ages since it really needs a major rewrite to modularise the code and tidy the whole thing up.

But I added a file list sidebar in the last two days, integrated it with the preferences system. It’s resizable and even collapses to a narrow bar like really fancy editors have. I’ve also done some successful tests with Regular Expressions, so I think TextStudio can continue to be progressively enhanced and remain my editor of choice. Even though nobody else would like it, it’s my baby. c{:¬)

Internet Explorer 7 (7th November 2006)

I decided to install IE7 on the upstairs and downstairs computers now it’s available from Microsoft Windows Update. Seems alright for the most part but the upstairs computer has hung twice:

In the latter case, there were a couple of error messages from Adobe saying the application failed to terminate or something. I clicked OK to both of them and it got to the blank blue screen after hiding the current desktop, but didn’t progress any further. This had better not become routine.

I’m very surprised with how n00bish the user interface is in the final release is! I thought that was just what they were using whilst it was a beta. Calling it n00bish is no understatement. Saturated blue circles for Forward and Back; crazy popdown menus which feel like a novice coder’s First App. And the low-end gradient effects on the tabs? Plus, some parts are really unresponsive, such as the updating of the statusbar when mousing through the Favorites [sic] menu.

It feels like a badly lumped together collection of hacks rather than a properly implemented frontend. I’m shocked.

I hope they see sense in version 7.1 for Windows XP do the following:

But these are exactly the comments on the IEBlog, which have been echoing around the blogosphere for months. Microsoft have usability labs and all their operating systems have distinctive conventions for interface design. How did the IE team manage to ignore all this wisdom without a higher-up telling them off?

Internet Explorer is not a geekish plaything like their PowerToys are. This program has to be used by about one billion internet users. It should follow the conventions of the operating system it runs in.

Hemmorhoid (7th November 2006)

Somewhen around 2006-11-01 I got a hemorrhoid. I’d been delaying my bowel movements quite a lot the previous week while working through the new code for CFG Studio 2. It causes incredible itching on the skin around that area and can be really painful at times. Luckily we have some ointment for it here which eases the discomfort a lot. I’ve been taking things easy since, as that seems to help as well.

On 2006-11-06 I went to see my GP. Wasn’t the doctor I normally see, this one was a bit younger and geekier which was nice. We actually had quite a chuckle about it; apparently my one is a textbook example. She prescribed me some more ointment and said it’ll probably be a couple more weeks until it absorbs back into the body.

One of her suggestions was to try and ease it back inside as that would stop it irritating the external skin. “If it won’to then don’t force it,” she advised. Well, I tried and it was quite defiant about the whole thing, so I’ve gave up after a while. But has mostly retracted during last night and is now a lot more comfortable than it was, so I guess it was worth trying.

Anyway, I’m documenting this because I’ve now learnt my lesson the hard way: Do not delay your bowel movements, even when working on interesting code projects!

The Past Fourteen Days (7th November 2006)

I don’t feel obligated to keep this blog up to date, I know very few people read it. But I want a digital record of the things I do for posterity; it’s quite nice looking back at old entries, such as Vice Page Opened from 2003 when I added the GTA Vice City section. Also things like getting my head around CSS. And my rebuilding of Invision’s templates to make them more efficient!

Seems like another lifetime ago. Without this blog I’d forget about the past events in my life. Yay blogs! So now to catch up on the past fortnight.

Visiting Fliss (3rd November 2006)

I had intended to visit Fliss during November but with my ‘condition’ I’m going to wait. If it clears up quickly then hopefully I could see her at the end of November, after the week-long job from Phil.

Small Website Job (3rd November 2006)

Phil Smears sent me a job doing remedial work for a University website last Friday. Was working with the developers via Windows Messenger to make the CSS produced by their designer interoperate in their four target browsers:

I had been awake all night and started the work at 10am. It went on until 8pm and I was bloody knackered by the end!

They asked for another small fix on Monday (2006-11-07) because the clickable regions of some adjescant links were obscuring each other. It was due to the hackish layout techniques which I’d been rewriting all through Friday, so I was able to fix it and make it pixel-perfect in all the target browsers without hacks.

All in all, I’ve invoiced for 12 hours work at £15 per hour. That works out at a nice £180. And I’ve got a seven-day job from Phil scheduled for the middle of this month.

Calthorpe Update (3rd November 2006)

I’ve been having meetings with Warren from Calthorpe Park School about the next development cycle for the website. We’ve settled on having some tabs across the top for primary navigation and the sidebar will be used for secondary navigation. As the website is growing steadily and has lots of distinct sections, we think this is a better idea than having one massive sidebar.

Also, we’ve changed the sort of content which goes on the homepage. We now put small snippets on the homepage which link to a longer entry in the News & Events area. Although the section has been called that for ages, but this is the first time it will be carrying news about upcoming features, policies and suchlike.