back in the saddle!

I think I’ve finally cracked the various PC issues I’ve been having – last night I reinstalled XP on my laptop (again). I’d done a reinstall last week, but I’d neglected to format the HDD first; the upshot of which was my hard disk was almost completely full of folders XP wouldn’t let me delete.

Now I have a lovely clean install of the OS and the system seems to be running a treat, I slowly installing all my software and running Windows update many many times – I should be totally back to normal soon. All that really remains to be done is a restore of all my important data from back up.

Orange “Live Box” ADSL modem / wireless router

At the weekend I installed the Orange Live box for my in-laws. They were already on Orange broadband, and their old netgear wireless router had died so the FIL decided to take a deal from Orange & upgrade to the Orange live box.

As soon as I popped the installation CD into the PC I hit a problem, it didn’t matter what option I hit the cd opened the help box. After much swearing and head scratching I discovered that the software on the Orange installCD is not compatible with the Adobe Flash 9 player. This is frankly ridiculous, I can’t believe that Orange have sent out a disk without testing it against the latest version of the player. I think that’s unacceptable.

Anyway, once I’d un-installed flash 9 installation is a doddle, the wired connection is (if I remember correctly) automatic. For the wireless installation, you first install a client on the computer you want to connect wirelessly, then put the Live Box into “pairing mode” by pressing a button on the router and then search for the wireless network and enter the WEP key printed on the bottom of the Live Box. All pretty straight forward.

The Live Box has a USB port for connecting to a PC, I used one of the two Ethernet ports. It also has a phone socket which allows you to connect a telephone and use the Live box to make VOIP calls,this is something the in-laws may want to do later.

Overall, I was quite impressed with the Live box; I like the way that all the admin & set up stuff is handled automatically, for most home users that’s be great. I’m not sure if it’s possible to do more advanced stuff like reserve IP addresses or set your own SSID, I’ll have a look into that next time I’m at the inlaws. I think it could also use a couple more Ethernet ports, we used the two available up straight away by connecting to the desktop PC and a netgear printserver.

Adobe announce Creative Suite 3

I’ve been waiting for ages for CS3 to come out, and Today Adobe have finally released some details about it on their website. Although there’s not a lot of substance to it yet, there’s an awful lot of marketing speak on there and no trial versions yet.

I’ve been using Fireworks CS3 beta and it’s pretty good, certainly an improvement over earlier versions. I’m keen to see what improvements there are to dreamweaver, specifically to do with how it deals with C#. Dreamweaver 8 can write pages, but it doesn’t put the code into code behind pages – it does it all in line which is not great, this is something I’d definitely like to see sorted in DW CS3. There are a few things that do look interesting in dreamweaver CS3. The CSS support sounds like it has been improved dramatically and there’s the new “Spry” Ajax framework. Unfortunately, I think I read that Spry uses invalid inaccessible code. I’ll withhold judgement on whether it’s worth upgrading (I’m currently using CS2) until I’ve been able to play with trials of Dreamweaver and Photoshop.

Fisher Price Digital Camera

It was Isla’s and my Birthday yesterday. My sister Anna bought Isla a Fisher Price “Kid Tough” Digital Camera which she gave her on Saturday when we all met up in London after going on the London Eye.

Isla was thrilled to bits with her camera, and actually she’s taken some pretty good photos (considering she’s just 3). I’ve put some of the photos she took up on flickr. The camera isn’t great in low light, so some of the photos are pretty under exposed but I think her composition is really good.

I think that this camera is a great introduction to photography for a small person and I’d recommend it to any parent who’s toddler is showing an interest in cameras.

Hopefully it’ll stop Isla running off with my phone to take pictures with it!

Creating your own wordpress theme

It was never my intention to use an existing wordpress theme for this blog. My original plan was to build a theme myself, however a combination of time pressure & a creative mental block meant that I ended up with a theme that I’d downloaded (albeit slightly modified).

My biggest stumbling block was that all the WP themes I looked at were pretty bloated and it was very difficult for me with my limited php knowledge to sus out what I needed to keep and what I could throw away. I searched in vain for “blank” wordpress theme after a couple of weeks I gave up.

A few days ago I stumbled upon an article by Ryan Arrowsmith which has a link to that elusive blank theme and step by step instructions for creating your own theme! (Thanks Ryan)
So now I have a blank theme sitting in the background on the server. Now all I have to do is decide how I want this site to look.

@media 2007 registration is open!

I just got this email from those lovely folks at vivabit:

The @media 2007 web site has just been launched, and you can now register to attend:

Taking place on June 7th and 8th, this year the bar will be raised and web design and development best practices will be pushed that one step further. Providing an unparalleled educational, inspirational, and all-round enjoyable experience, @media will once again demonstrate why it has a reputation for being the foremost web design conference in Europe.

The last event sold out, so be sure to register soon – we hope to see you back this year!

Damn I wanna go! I guess I’ll have to sweet talk the boss.

Anyone got recommendations for blog stats packages?

At the moment I’m using google analytics, which is frankly overkill; plus it doesn’t tell me things like how many comments I’ve had in a given period.

I’m also trying’s metrics which do have more relevant reports for blogs but (and this is very irritating) you can’t change it to display in your local time.

I’d really like to try measuremap, but they’re not currently accepting new signups. I’ve emailed them to see when they’re likely to offer the service to new users, but so far no response.

Does anyone have any suggestions for other services to try?

Make Windows XP look nicer

Start button

If like me you spend a lot of your day looking at a PC then you want it to be as easy on the easy as possible. The standard Windows XP look does get quite boring after a while, so for the last year or so I have had the Royale themeinstalled on both my PCs. Royale makes the interface look quite a bit sleeker than the standard Windows theme with a shiny almost glassy look to windows and buttons; I much prefer the Royale theme to the standard XP one.

Yesterday I discovered that MS have released a new theme to co-incide with their new portable media player “Zune”. It’s very similar to Royale except it’s black and orange rather than bue and green. It really is very pretty, and better yet, the colour scheme matches this site! Go and install it now, your eyes will thank you for it.

my first wordpress “hack”

xhtml compliant flickr widget

I’ve made some changes to the flickr sidebar widget. When I installed it I didn’t realise that it used tables for layout, then I validated my page and found there where a number of issues in the widget; so I took it upon myself to sort out the xhtml.

I have:

  • Fixed the img tags
  • Removed CSS rules from the widget (you can’t have a <style> tag inside an li)
  • Removed the table markup and replaced it with a single div
  • Written new CSS rules for the Theme’s style sheet

You can download the revised widget here.