Blog entries from July, 2006

Being self-referential

Sunday, July 23rd, 2006 at 08:05pm

A few weeks ago I droped the day of the month from the permalink structure of this blog as I realised that I would have to post multiple times every single day for it to be any use.

Although I added a rewrite rule to accomodate the existing links I realised that as the majority of links to my posts were from other posts I had made and those should not depend on the rewrite rule. What I needed was a shortcut in making these links that automatically used the current permalink and also simplify my current process of copying and pasting both the url and title of the relevant post.

A google search later and I had found the Easy Post-to-Post Links WordPress plugin. Unfortunately this created the links with the title of the post, not the contextual form that I use.

After upgrading to the latest version the other day I looked into it again and this time I came across AutoLink which is a much more powerfull plugin that lets me use contextual links as I have been as it picks up a special url scheme.

However when I tried to play around with this one I couldn’t get it running on my local server (I need to update the PHP installation as it does run fine on my paid host) I opted for a compromise which was to adopt the syntax used by AutoLink for post to post links but rewrite the Easy Post-to-Post plugin to do what I want.

One of the many items on my list is to update my local host so that it is running the same versions as my paid host and once I have done that I expect I will give AutoLink another try. My immediate need is to not require the rewrite rule for any internal links.

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Taking a plunge

Friday, July 21st, 2006 at 09:33pm

This evening I upgraded this blog to the latest version of WordPress in under twenty minutes with most of that time waiting for the new files to upload. How did I do it so quickly? By spending over three hours on Tuesday evening upgrading the copy of this site that I run at home and finding the issues there.

As well as upgrading WordPress I also needed to upgrade to the latest version of Ultimate Tag Warrior which has also given me a working tag cloud.

The reasoning behind upgrading was not to upgrade for the sake of it, instead it was the bar that I imposed before moving an a couple of ideas I was considering. Ideally I will look into some of them over the coming weekend.

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The irony of legal threats

Monday, July 10th, 2006 at 10:14pm

Yesterday I found out about a cool Tetris clone for OS X called Quinn. How? Via a post on Boing Boing talking about how The Tetris Company has threatened legal action against the clone.

Where is the irony? The first thing I did was search for ‘quinn download‘ in order to find myself a copy. It is pretty good and very addictive, and that is just playing by myself. I haven’t tried the multiplayer aspect yet…

By threatening legal action they have temporarily stopped one source from distributing it but in the process they have given it a lot of publicity and people like me will just download it from somewhere else. What have they really gained?

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To hold a charge

Thursday, July 6th, 2006 at 11:07pm

On my way home from work tonight I made a detour to drop something off that almost doubled my ride from 25 to 45 minutes. That in itself is not an issue, what was an issue was that 30 minutes in the batteries for the front lights on my bike ran flat. Riding in the dark with a very very dim light is Not A Good Thing™.

I rambled on about the lights when I moved them to my current bike but I will repeat it here: I have a set of CatEye ABS-20 which consists of two 10W halogen lights (one wide, one narrow) and two Ni-Cad rechargeable battery sticks. When I got them almost three years ago I didn’t want to spend the extra on NiMH batteries as I could get at least 45 minutes out of the Ni-Cad’s. Skipping ahead to the present day I am now getting just over 30 minutes which, under normal circumstances, is acceptable for my 25 minute ride.

One of the many items on my (long) list is to supplement these lights with a flashing LED light. The batteries in that will last for ages and while it will not let me see where I am riding its purpose will be to make me visible to others. Given that around half of my ride is on well lit streets there is generally enough other illumination to avoid hazards and in those areas there is little point in using the halogen’s just to be seen.

I have been giving this thought for some time now and I believe I have the following options with regard to the halogen’s:

  • Do nothing. The current setup is serviceable and as the days are now getting longer I will be riding home in plenty of natural light if I get to work early enough so I can leave early.
  • Replace the Ni-Cad cells. Each battery stick consists of five C size Ni-Cad cells which should be a straightforward matter to replace with equivalent cells. This means I can use the current battery charger.
  • Build a new battery pack. The second drink bottle holder mounts on my bike are useless for a bottle but it could be a nice location to mount a battery. I would need to determine what battery would be suitable, possibly a NiMH pack, but I would also need a new charger as well as having to make a suitable connection to the existing harness.

Obviously option 1 involves the least effort and option 2 is also pretty straighforward but it doesn’t give me a fallback option if I mess up the battery pack. Looking long term option 3 is the best as it will be a superior battery as well as allowing the fallback position of the current batteries but it is more effort up front.

The ironic aspect of this is that as the days are now getting longer I need the lights less and less…

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The display stand saga

Saturday, July 1st, 2006 at 06:56pm

Not long after I got my 24" display I started thinking that it would be nice if I could replace the standard stand with one that clamped to the back of the desk. Investigations followed which resulted in the ordering of an Ergotron Neo-Flex LCD arm last Tuesday from a place in Sydney for the reasonable price of AU$125.

Over the next day or so I began to doubt my decision after I looked through photos of their setup that people had posted to the [H]ard|OCP forums (specifically the 2005 and 2006 Post Your Workstation threads) and got some ideas about how I could better use the stock stand such as simply placing the centre speaker of a 5.1 system inside the D shaped base. Another prevalent idea as to store items in the base of the stand so I relocated the cradle for my mobile phone to be under the display and put my keys, wallet and digital camera inside the base which frees up some space on the right hand side of the desk where I normally kept these items.

I had just gotten settled into minor change when the stand arrived on Friday. My doubts increased once I saw that the stand was smaller than it seemed in the photos and looked less likely to be able to support my display. Also among my first impressions was that the the plastic clips to hold the cables along the arm were less than ideal as one of them just popped off as I was taking the stand out of the box. My consolation for that was that I could run velcro ties through the slots that the clips used.

Once I had attached the 100mm to 75mm adapter plate and swapped the clamp mount for the grommet mount I attempted to mount it to the desk via the cable hole (after removing the plastic cover) but even this didn’t go smoothly as the fastening nut that came with the stand wasn’t properly threaded so it would not screw onto the bolt. This was easily overcome by getting an appropriately sized wing nut from the garage but that only let me encounter the biggest problem yet. I couldn’t tighten the joints enough to stop the screen sagging so I called it a night and put the stock stand back on.

This afternoon I tried again, included taking out the extension piece, but nothing could support the display properly so I am again back to using the stock stand. From here I guess I will sell the stand and if I try another one I will ensure that the rated capacity is well above the weight of my display and that it doesn’t just rely on a simple friction based mechanism to support the weight.

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