Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Layout fucked up by

They said I could get my old layout back if I tried a new one. They lied. Now I have a stupid ugly navbar and I can't get the old one back, and now I miss it. Stupid ugly narrow design. Stupid ugly Trebuchet (oh, no, please, name >all< my fonts after the medieval siege engines their ugliness resembles). Stupid ugly header. Stupid ugly spacing. Double stupid doubleplus ugly "interface" for editing the stupid ugly layout. Stupid ugly stupid

Edit: OK, I have vented and am tinkering. Stupid me for letting them do it, stupid me for trusting them and not saving a copy of my template, stupid me for not being able to figure out how to fix it. (The navbar is now an iframe, which save having to hide the individual bits, but they've used variables in the template which makes it hard to edit the file externally, and browsers are shit for that kind of thing work with the auto-resizable textatreas which are fashionable now (and generally nearly work). I was very close to deleting this blog out of anger, both of your personalities will be relieved to find I didn't :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Catastrophic security idiocy

So, a CD with 25 million sets of personal details of child benefit recipients has been "lost". We will be on this. How tragic! I have never known such fear: anyone who knows my name and address will be able to look me up in the phonebook or the electoral roll! If they know my bank account details they will be able to deposit money in my account! If they know I have children they might paedophile them!

Friday, November 16, 2007

The end of Safari and other browsers

The new version of Safari on OS X Leopard still doesn't have a "New Tab" button in it's toolbar options and the hacks that used to let you do it don't work anymore and aren't being re-developed. This is no good for me as I always customize browser toolbars to stick a new tab button just to the left to the location bar where the web address is, always have, always will (where possible of course, Mr IE.). I'm a big user of separators as well, back/forward, separator, refresh/stop (I don't really approve of integrating the two, especially as Ajax style apps often make them redundant but not consistently enough to do without the functionality of both), separator, print on it's own, and new tab. I can live without everything else customizable, but not without new tab: you can't double click the tab bar to get a new tab in Safari like you can in Firefox (Edit: you can now do this in Safari 3.1) and you can't drag a bookmark to the tab bar to open it like you can in Firefox (as Safari deletes it, and there's no Undo available!). I use Camino myself but the rest of the family use Firefox, it was my baby daughter's word for "Computer": having more than one browsers installed is always handy (especially as none of them are any good at identity management).

The sky is not falling in, and it is not onerous to cmd-T and click/type or command-click a link in your Safari bookmark bar to open it in a new tab. Using modifier-key commands don't really scale though: I can substitute cmd-c for ctrl-c easily enough using Stuart Logic (i.e. "always get it wrong the first time") as ctrl-c was 'break' for me long before it was 'copy', but remembering what variant to use for UI operations is annoying cross=platform. What's command-click going to be in Safari for Windows (control-click, but I don't want to have to think about it, that's the point of usability, plus I have to remember which browser I'm using and make it a special case)? What if I'm using Parallels Desktop to run Windows within OS X, which is it? If I am running programs via remote desktop, which isn't good at all at recognizing the differences in keyboard layouts? Not exactly Jane User maybe but not rocket science.

The other annoyance is that switching from mouse to keyboard or keyboard to mouse is what you might call a "high cost user activity" - it takes time, and attention - you have to look for the device, orient to it, use it, and then return to the task. When I watch people using programs I often feel myself wanting to say "You could just press enter" as they switch from text entry or selection to using their mouse to click the OK button in a dialog. I don't, though, as the first 500 times I did it made no difference.

Usability means offering as many ways to achieve your user goals as possible, in the hope you find the right one for a given value of 'user'. Why can't Safari have a new tab button I don't know (Dave Hyatt adamantly doesn't want one, is my guess, but why?)

It's a shame, as Safari has fantastic CSS support for exciting new capabilities, and is the browser du jour as regard iPhone development. Ho hum.

Another thing that annoyed me about Safari was that I couldn't configure it to search with what I typed from the location or address bar. Firefox by default does a semi-optimized "I'm feeling lucky" ("I'm feeling useless" more like) search, but I always set the keyword.URL preference to in about:config (keyword.enabled needs to be true, but that's the default anyway) to always search as searching from the location or address bar is just so obvious to me, it's a textbox, you can type in it, let's search. I have nothing against the location box (which ironically I have started enabling after all these years of address bar searching and I had even trained myself to type cmd-c cmd-t tab cmd-v enter instead of old faithful cmd-c cmd-t cmd-v then enter when I wanted to search for selected text from a webpage. Most browsers now have a context menu option to search for a selection using the default search settings.

Oh, when you type text in the location bar in Firefox 3, it searches the full text of your history URLs as well as the title of he web page, so when you type foo it matches " - my foo web page" as well as - it's much easier to find what you're looking for.

Got to be quick..

My employer has introduced new rules: you are allowed three 10 minute sessions on "social networking" sites like Facebook or blogger, and I've already used one slot playing the movie quiz on FB (access is completely blocked from 10-12AM and 2-4PM)

Anyway, I've found a whole new way the BBC is deceiving and manipulating viewers: you know on the weather forecasts they seem to be standing in front of the UK - it isn't real, it's a fake! People should be told.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Tog On Interfaces for £6 delivered. Thank you Amazon! You can get very good prices on popular books secondhand.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Shooting fish

Core Image Fun House is a lot of fun, installed with Xcode from the Leopard CD. The Edit menu's a bit obscure though..

Monday, November 12, 2007

Not on the Radar

Radar is Apple's bug tracking system, but you have to be a paid member of ADC to access it, and I haven't made that plunge.. yet. If I did, I could report this error which is consistently reproducible, updating Camino from a disk image as a non-admin user: first the update fails to request my credentials to authenticate the update (the copy fails) then as a bonus the existing version fails to run until the copy failure sheet is dismissed.

Edit: seems to be fixed in 10.5.1

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Time Machine

In order to make Time Machine complete a backup on my G4 before the heat-death of the universe I had to disable Spotlight indexing on both of my drives as well as the drive I am backing up to. Now it's running nicely (albeit still slowly). This will be the first system backup I have ever made in more than 10 years of personal computing, which says something about Time Machine (as well as me).

I need to get it to run at a reasonable speed (ie one that will complete in my lifespan) as I can't just leave the disk connected, as I could only get it to work with no actual enclosure, so currently it's just the naked hard disk and external IDE connector, and I don't want Monsieur Garcon getting hold of either. Serves me right for buying cheap shit enclosures, I am finally learning the lesson that the 3.84 unit is no good and I should always buy the 20.84 unit - when I finally bought a proper USB2.0 card to support my iPod touch it worked out of the box, but the 3 other cheap ones I bought never worked properly.

Incidentally, is there a nerd in your life??

(Edit: it worked eventually, but it took 3 days. Then it took Spotlight another day or so to reindex the volumes..)

Friday, November 02, 2007

Looking for a Wii online?

My Wii was stolen along with my MacBook, dead iBook and iPod in a recent burglary. It's been tricky to replace: my local Blockbusters had them in stock straight after I got my insurance settlement, but I really hate them so I didn't buy one. Then I regretted that particular decision, and couldn't find one anywhere: step up to the plate the realtime 'Wii In Stock webpage', which I kept open in a browser tab yesterday lunchtime. After only an hour or so it popped up with Amazon having stock, and although it seemed to be being drip-fed onto the site - I kept trying to buy one but it was out of stock by the time I reached the checkout - I got one eventually, and I just got the email to say it's been shipped so it's non-virtual and will arrive next week. I paid £1.69 for delivery, which I frankly couldn't care less about: there were websites selling the basic Wii package for £279, a premium of £100 over the usual selling price. I bet they sold them, as well.

Just in time for the release of Super Mario Galaxy! While I can't believe it can be as anything like as good as Super Mario 64 it will be fun finding out, though Becky has persuaded me to wait for my birthday: fair enough, it's only one more month and I've waited a long time.. I need to build up my Wii Sports tennis rating to something respectable first, I think I peaked at 2200 or so on my old one. I thought about buying Tiger Woods golf because I am an old fu- sorry, because I enjoyed the Wii golf game, but I'm not sure - have you tried it? Is it good?