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October 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11

I finally got around to seeing Fahrenheit 9/11. In case you've been living under a rock or something, it's basically an anti-Bush documentary by Michael Moore.

I found it funny. And, in parts, thought-provoking. I'm not so sure about claims that it's manipulative and deceitful. Moore shows extremes rather than what might be the average situation, but this is done for a reason. He's trying to shock the audience, and in cases get a laugh, it keeps people interested.

Moore is relying on the audience to understand when he's exaggerating and to understand why he's exaggerating. I don't know about the average American journalist, but I could tell.

The point is, even if you ignore the humour and the occasional biased sample, he still has a point. A very strong argument, and one which I think everyone should listen to, whether they agree or not.

Firefox bann r

I finally gave in and added a Firefox bann r to the homepage. One by Keith Gable (Ziggy), found on his Spread Firefox blog. And it fits in quite nicely.

I'm not sure about these ideas going around Spread Firefox about spreading a "cloud of mystery" about Firefox's release date. The bann r I'm using is a bit mysterious, and it mentions the release date, but I have decided to make it a link to the Firefox anyway. If someone see the bann r today, and it isn't a link, they might forget about it, and keep a memory of this funny fox thing that's just being annoying on a website.

If I make it a link, they can click it, and then they're obviously much more likely to actually get Firefox. The whole Firefox development and marketing effort is leading up to November 9th, but getting it now is still good.

Another thing that annoys me: affiliate links. I don't know about anyone else, but seeing the word "affiliate" in an URL with a big id number next to it make me less likely to click the link. I know, people are trying to get credit for what they're doing, which is good, but caring about the points too much is silly.

Downloading Free with Free

I like free software, but all this time I've been downloading it with FlashGet, the shareware/adware download manager. Which I realise is slightly hypocritical. So I've mostly stopped using FlashGet now, in favour of wxDownloadFast

wxDownloadFast is a Brazilian program, but it has language files for English, Portuguese, and Italian. At first glance, it's clearly less feature-rich than FlashGet, but I don't think that matters. All I want is a manager that supports large files, supports pause/resume, and works with the DownloadWith Firefox extension that I use. And wxDownloadFast does that. It also has archives and basic statistics, which are also nice.

What I don't want in a download manager is Internet Explorer integration, banner adverts, and nag screens. I don't want unexplainable bugs that make my downloads stall at 99%. AmazeSoft may want to do business this way, but as long as someone else is providing a free alternative, I won't have to.

I'm an ex-customer of...

It's been a long time since I registered this domain. In fact, it was almost two years ago, just after Christmas 2002. FreeServe, my ISP at the time, was selling domains in partnership with domainnames.com, and had a special offer of £24 a year with the second year free. Incidentally, domainnames.com was taken over early in 2003 by VeriSign, and I became a customer of a VeriSign company called AMEN (yes, they are French, and their slogan is the incredibly cheesy "In web we trust").

As I'm looking at the AMEN homepage, it's showing an advert including the logo of a French telecom company called Wanadoo, which later took over FreeServe (who rebranded as "freeserve"), and just recently got rid of the FreeServe name altogether, mainly because the service they now encourage you to buy most has nothing free about it.

But that didn't matter, because I'd already moved to Karoo, a local ISP who hold something of a monopoly on dial-up Internet and broadband in the Hull area.

So, back to 2002. My domain was a redirect to an account on Brinkster, who used to be called eWebCity. They provided no-ads Windows hosting at no cost, which was useful as I knew ASP.

I got bored of their instability and crappy ASP support, so I bought hosting from Qbic (a reseller for services from DonHost) after a month or two. However, I eventually got bored of their instability and crappy ASP support, so I learnt PHP and bought a Linux account from Silvernet UK in November 2003. A few months ago, Silvernet was taken over by Transnexis, who used to be called CodeRedHosting. And this hosting expires soon, so I might move again.

Can you remember who holds my domain name? AMEN? VeriSign? Network Solutions? Well it's actually all three, but I'm not going to bother explaining that. Fact is, AMEN wanted a £24.99/year renewal fee, and they're not getting it. I just renewed transferred rdmsoft.com to PlanetDomain for £4.90. Bargain.

And PlanetDomain happens to be owned by an Australian ISP called Primus. I'm tired now.

Firefox: less than 10 blockers

"THE LIST" is getting shorter...

With 7 bugs at the moment, it's a list of things that are stopping Firefox 1.0 Final from being released. Not long now...

General Error

There was a general error loading this page.

We could give you some details on why the error occurred, and how to fix it, but that wouldn't be as much fun.

Aargh! OpenOffice.org just did this to me when I opened my MySQL database. I knew something had gone wrong, because it wouldn't connect afterwards, but the message box with "General Error" didn't help.

This "General Error" thing did stop me from signing up for an AOL Instant Messenger account though, and for that I'm grateful.

"Better" Mobile Phones

My phone at the moment is a Siemens MC60. It's often referred to by "industry experts" as a 2.5G phone - it doesn't have bluetooth or play videos, but it does take photos and play Java games. Which is nice.

But today it crashed and deleted all my text messages. Having fancy features is nice and I suppose it does sell handsets, but phones really need to "just work" first. My mum's old Motorola m3788 (which strangely isn't listed on Motorola's Show ALL Phones page) never crashed, it did what it was supposed to and locked itself when I forgot the pin. But that's another story...

(A side note, the siemens-mobile is much better than most similar sites I've seen as far as accessibility is concerned. Valid XHTML and CSS mean that the page loads faster and people using any browser can access the site.)

Get BZFlag

BZFlag is a free, online multiplayer tank game. Playing freestyle, team battle, capture the flag or rabbit chase, tanks pick up flags that either give special powers or punish them for taking the risk.

For a game that's often considered below-average in the graphics department, BZFlag is an amazingly well-balanced and fun to play game. It's system requirements are, well, 4 megabytes of disk space and 16MB of RAM.

That doesn't matter. It's both free and fun, and you should try it.

Go on. Get it now (Windows link). Because the kitty says so.

My T-Mobile

I'm a T-Mobile customer, and apparently I MUST move over to "My T-Mobile". After logging in...

You will then be required to:

  1. Set up 3 new security questions and answers. These will be needed if you forget your username or password in the future.
  2. Check that your details are correct.
  3. Follow the steps until completion and you will then be able to login and use the service immediately.

Simple, eh? Well, not really, since I can't even get logged in. The site's really slow, won't accept my password, and when I put my mobile number in it says it's been deactivated. However it says that no matter what number or email address you put in.

And their text-only site is a bit shoddy - it may not have any images, but it still has plenty of JavaScript and tables. So, not really useful for a disabled person.

Meh, I'll try again later.

Windows XP Performance: 99 tips

PCStats article

A very useful resource, some things I did ages ago, some things I'd never thought of, and some things I've been meaning to do for a while...

Found via ForeverGeek.

Edit: No HTML in comments. Yes, that means you.

Jamtris

Jamos Games is a project to create free/open source Java games for mobile phones. Their first release is a tetris clone called Jamtris, and it's quite fun.

Download Jamtris and put it on your phone with a data cable, or point your phone's wap browser at http://jamos.sourceforge.net/wap.php.

NASA is watching, erm, me.

It looks like someone at NASA has been interested in what people think of World Wind, which I wrote about recently. A Google Search for "world wind" blog appears in my referrer logs with a NASA IP address.

I think it's good that NASA, or at least one of their employees, is looking for feedback from blogs. My post didn't include any criticism, but to be honest I can't think of any.

And the other good thing: NASA has at least one Firefox user!

Halo 2 - Gone Gold

Not being an Xbox owner, I'm sort-of watching this from a distance, but Halo 2 just went gold.

You can also hear part of the soundtrack. Sounds good, but I'm not too sure it fits with the game.

OOo 1.9.54

There's a new testing build of OpenOffice.org out. The only thing I've noticed so far is that they changed the file extensions again.

  • .oot - Open Office Text
  • .ott - Open Office Text Template
  • .oos - Open Office Spreadsheet
  • .ots - Open Office Spreadsheet Template
  • .oop - Open Office Presentation
  • .otp - Open Office Presentation Template
  • .ood - Open Office Drawing
  • .otd - Open Office Drawing Template
  • .oth - HTML Document Template
  • .oom - Open Office Master Document
  • .odb - Open Office Database
  • .oof - Open Office Formula

Let's face it, they just sound silly.

Not listening to you

People keep asking me what music I'm listening to. I'm not really the sort of blogger that posts my entire mp3 collection one file at a time, so below is the track listing for two CDs I've burnt, all downloaded legally using iRATE Radio.

  • CD 1
    1. Ministry - Animosity
    2. The Fakes - You Again
    3. Electric Frankenstein - New World whore
    4. Bastian - Skunknuts
    5. No Loving Place - Sleep
    6. Glassjaw - Ape dos mil
    7. Cellar - Reach
    8. TAR - Phrate Train
    9. Elemental X - Legend
    10. Carv - Slipbackinto
    11. Vainglory - The Lost and Found
    12. Bella Luna - Done
    13. Brushfire - Fire from the Hill
    14. Your Disease - Stranger
    15. J Booth - More
    16. Mercy Drowns - Killer Clowns
    17. Zeroday - Cold & Numb
    18. Mythic Force - Dawn of the Dragon
  • CD 2
    1. Molasses - My Way Down
    2. N2O - Friend
    3. Novocaine - Pure
    4. Relapseband - Vascular Push
    5. Sifter - Glitch
    6. The Undertow - Sleeping Days
    7. The Infinitely Indexed Memory Bank - The Senseless Game
    8. Velveteen - Canopy
    9. Walloflesh - Build a Wall
    10. Nubrium - Better
    11. Yellow No 5 - Cosmic Riddles
    12. One April Day - America
    13. PUNCH - 137
    14. VIRII - Is it going to happen?
    15. Toxic Virgin - Broken Wings
    16. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - Not me
    17. Kid with man head - You and Me
    18. Caniva - Lost
    19. Lyndon Wesley - Inevitably Yours

Does how I feel at the moment affect my taste in music, or is it the other way round?

Phew, Google.

After about a month of being more than just a coming soon page, Google has started to index this site. This is a relief, as I'd designed this site to be a bit more friendly to search engines than most php-based sites.

Yahoo has picked up a couple of pages so far, whereas MSN... nobody cares about MSN.

Fried is back!

Ben Paddon's webcomic, Fried, is hopefully back to a normal update schedule. The new strip, The Wisdom Of The Elderly, makes me happy: I'm not the only one...

So go visit it. You might smile, or something.

Firefox - Extra tabbed browsing settings

I currently use the Tabbrowser Extensions add-on for Firefox. Although I like the detailed control it gives me, it's just a bit too buggy.

I was glad to hear that tabbed browsing has got even better in Firefox, with an extra set of options added for tabs. In the next release, users will be able to force all links to open in a new tab and not a new window.

That's the first main reason I still use TBE. The second was fixed last month by bug 248987. The third, switching tabs with a scroll wheel, is one I haven't seen a fix for yet. I'll keep looking.

NASA World Wind

This is an amazing program.

From NASA, makers of, well, big rockets and stuff, comes World Wind for Windows. It's a 3D model of the Earth, which allows you to zoom in to view fairly high-detail satellite images.

You can overlay animations from past satellites, air temperature, ozone layer information, sea temperatures, barometer outputs, night photographs, and more.

You can search the whole planet via place name, view US road maps, and observe the effects of El Niño. And it's all free and open source.

If your connection can handle the initial 250MB download, and retrieval of extra overlays as you use the program, I'd seriously recommand trying it out.

Download World Wind 1.2, extract and install.

Macromedia Central

Call it a cynical plot to get Flash onto your desktop if you like, but Macromedia Central is actually quite interesting.

It lets you install mini Flash applications and have them run on your desktop whether you're connected to the Internet or not.

Applications available for free in Central 1.5 at the moment include a blog reader, an astrology clock, and a couple of games. US users can install weather and cinema times applications.

Central isn't much at the moment, but what it could turn out to be is very intriguing.

Visit the Central website to try it out.

tH