Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Liking Vista, mostly

I've got no sound, Visual Studio 2003 is a bit unsure of its new environment, it took me an hour to fix up my source control installation due to Vista clobbering file permissions, UAC is crap (I have turned it off and turned off the warning telling me to turn it back on) and SonicWall VPN Client doesn't work but... Vista is actually pretty good. Search works quickly for the first time ever in Windows (and searches emails as well!), the new UI is actually quite beautiful (something that could never be said about the XP Fisher-Price look), IIS 7 is a damn fine upgrade (although it took a while to get my ASP.NET 1.1 apps up and running) and performance seems to be pretty much the same as XP, which is quite remarkable given all the visual additions and extra services that have been added.

No doubt the Mac did it better two years ago but the Mac doesn't have any apps I need. My Mac OSX box sits unloved in the corner with nothing to do...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Vista headaches

I'm a bit of a fool when it comes to new software, if I can get a copy of something cool for free I'll probably install it. So, since the company I work for now has an MSDN license I thought I'd give Vista a spin.

So I pretty much ignored the warnings the installer gave me about the problems I might have and went ahead and installed it. And the warnings were pretty much spot on. I now have no sound and I can't play videos. I have no idea why but I guess it's a driver problem. Hopefully Dell will fix the problem PDQ because sound is kind of important for me since I use Skype all the time...

Other than that Vista seems to work fine. I'm not sure at this point whether the upgrade was worth it, nothing has jumped out at me as an aboslutely must have feature.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

FireFox and IE differences

Often when I'm reading up on support for particular HTML or CSS features, I'll see something along the lines of "Most modern browsers support this feature, Internet Explorer doesn't". A loose translation of this could be "if you use this feature it won't work for 80% of your users".

I do most of my testing in IE then go over to FireFox to make sure it looks OK and probably because of this it always seems to be the other way round, FireFox doesn't support a lot of stuff that IE does.

FireFox doesn't have a way to render text vertically. OK, there's no official way to do this, so IE has come up with it's own CSS attribute, but I'm kind of surprised that FireFox hasn't come up with some way of doing it, it seems like quite a common thing to want to do.

Another problem is hiding and showing rows in a table. FireFox kind of supports using 'display:block' but the row gets taller and taller with each hide and show. So I have to use 'display:table-row', which doesn't work in IE. Not sure which is standards-compliant but 'display:block' seems like the more consistent approach.    

Friday, November 17, 2006

XSLT not completely insane

I've played with XSLT before and never quite got to grips with it, but over the last few days I've finally got a basic understanding of what it's all about. It still seems like it was designed by somebody who was an XML/HTML addict and could only think in terms of tags when developing a programming language. Like the old saying goes, when the only tool you have is a hammer, every job looks like a nail. But the thing is if you have an XML document and you want to transform it to some other flavour of XML or HTML then XSLT is a fine choice. I'm still not sure if my XSLT is any good or not, I've not seen any coding standards for it anywhere. Should I be splitting things out into multiple templates? Should I be doing anything in particular to make my XSLT more maintainable? Dunnow. But I've got 1000 lines of it and it produces quite a nice HTML document so that's good enough for me at the moment.

Currently listening to Love Less by New Order from the album Technique

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Well done Ken

Chelsea Tractors are going to be hit by another tax soon, as the London Congestion Charge will be increased to £25 for band G vehicles. Well done Ken!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Breaking news: No-one buys Borland's IDE tools

However they try to spin it, it's fairly obvious that Borland were unable to find a buyer for their IDE business. So my prediction was right. Is it good or bad news for Delphi and their other tools? It doesn't look great but at least they can hopefully stand on their own two feet and won't have their income sucked away to finance the ALM business.

Currently listening to The Only One by Billy Bragg from the album Workers Playtime

Crude awakening - Peak Oil

Found a couple of interesting videos about peak oil and some of the possible solutions

Part 1

Part 2

Saturday, November 04, 2006

IE7 take-up

IE7 hasn't been released as part of Windows Update yet, but its usage is up to 6% of all IE users on the Random Pub Finder. Saying that, FireFox 2 is being used by 38% of all FireFox users. I reckon that is down to the techy nature of most FireFox users. Funnily enough 20% of our visitors are now using FireFox, which is pretty astounding. I'd guess we've had quite a few techy people visit recently due to the coverage we've had.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Build it and they will come

After five years, the Random Pub Finder has finally become an overnight success. Google seems to have started re-indexing pages, although there's still a random nature to its indexing. We were up to 300 pages indexed, now we're back down to about 150. But the main reason for the sudden surge in traffic has been appearing at Programmable Web. Thanks to that, we've been covered on a couple of other sites. We've never had so many hits.

Now I'm actually getting traffic here as well, thanks to this post. Seems I'm one of the top results on Google if you search for directmailchat. Clearly I'm not the only one suffering from this spam.