November 2004 Archives

It's Snowing!!!

It's the 18th November and it's snowing!!! Really heaving. Looks cool - might go outside and build a snowman. Wouldn't mind but I have to drive across 3 countries tomorrow. Doh!

Belfast Potty Talk

Fantastic news. Belfast is to host the 2005 World Toilet Summit, very near to where I work.

According to Hosted by The British Toilet Association, the Summit is being supported by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Belfast City Council, the International Fund for Ireland and Belfast Visitor Convention Bureau, along with The World Toilet Organisation (WTO).

BTA Director Richard Chisnell told CHT: "We are busy planning a memorable four days for delegates"

Sounds to me like they plan to go on the p**s and talk crap...

Comments in RSS

Just found out about the various extensions to RSS 2 that allow information about comments to be included in the RSS feeds.

I have revised my feed to include the full article along with links to the comments in it, numbers of comments etc. For more information on supporting comments in Moveable Type see this excellent HOWTO by Oleg Tkachenko.

The only caveat I would add is that you must remember to add the following namespace declarations to your RSS feed file (index.xml):-


Mork Freebies

The Register have published the results of an important benchmark test - what is the best free rucksack. No matter how boring the presentation, everyones eyes always light up when the contents of the marketing cupboard are raided.

A simple but particular favourite of mine is my rather solid BEA pen - much better than the pack of crayons or USB power laptop light. I know many a BEA consultant who are fond of their watches. Sometimes I wonder what normal people place under their mice and where they get mouse mats from. Their are plenty of alternative uses for CD's (any probably a few websites devoted to the topic) but I don't know any other uses for mouse mats - so mine live in the back of dark drawers, hibernating.

My Interwoven pen-knife got me in a bit of bother when casually left it in my laptop bag and then tried to get on a plane. Clothing is always a favourite. Because I am of a somewhat unusal physique I have never been given a freebie that I can actually fit in to. To take revenge I get great pleasure in giving reps clothing belong to that of their competitors and make them wear it.

While not strictly manufacturers free crap, the best freebies of all have to be the wash bags and pyjamas you get in First Class on BA flights. They make great Christmas presents.

Numbers Anyone

Interesting article in Wired about "Numbers Stations" that broadcast on Shortwave. These are high-powered transmitters across the planet are are broadcasting strings of numbers, letters, backwards music, or even the noise of a fruit machine.

Spectrographic analysis of the signals has revealed that modulated data bursts are sometimes contained within the transmissions. A subculture of obsessive listeners has built up around the stations, despite the fact that they have little hope of ever decoding the signals.

Undoubtably some are used by intelligence agencies around the world for transmitting one way signals to agents, but another use is probably to reserve the frequency for emergancy use. By broadcasting noise on a particular wavelength it prevents others from using that signal.

The tactics involved in the use of the EM spectrum can sometimes be quite fascinating. Recently there was quite a bit of fuss about the EU's Galileo system broadcasting it's unencrypted positioning signals too close to the frequency used by the US for its encrypted GPS signals meaning that the US would not be able to jam the EU signal in times of war). During the recent US led attack on Falluja in Iraq, mobile and satallite communications were jammed in the area.

All this just goes to show how much electronic warfare goes on and how little we usually hear about it.


I've recently come across Podcasting (or blogcasting as it is sometimes called). Basically it makes use of a feature in the RSS spec called enclosure that allows links to downloadable content - in this case audio content. Tools such as ipodder have come out that allow a user to have the contents of the RSS feeds downloaded to their hard-drive for offline listening. Combine this with syncronisation with your iPod or other MP3 player and you have the ability for automated pushing of subscribed audio feeds to your MP3 player for listening to at your convienience.

Though podcasting is a fairly new trend (<2 months old), it is certainly getting a lot of media attention, with articles in Wired and Internet News. Wonder how long before the BBC and the Guardian run a story?

My first podcast subscription? DotNetRocks, an online talk show for .Net developers. You would expect nothing less ;-)

Update: While checking the derivation of the term, I found this article in the Guardian from Feb 2004. Looks like they were ahead of the game again.

10 x 10

10x10Ten by Ten is a new interesting project to capture the words and images that are making the news every hour of every day. The top 100 word and images are placed in a 10 x 10 grid for you to browse. The site has been produced in a developer friendly fashion so the possibility of site plugins is a possibility I may investigate. Worth five minutes of your time at any rate, plus it is an interesting experiment in information architecture.

Visual Studio Auto Complete Error


Been using Visual Studio 2003 lately, not a bad editor (no where near as good as intellij for Java for pretty good). Today, all of a sudden the autocomplete feature - called Intellisense (TM - M$) stopped working. Now normally, this is because of an error earlier in the code, not yet displayed to you (dumb). However this time my project was building fine, just no auto-complete. After much scratching of heads, the following seems to work:-

  • Shut down Visual Studio .NET

  • Open the project in explorere

  • Delete the bin and obj directories from within the project that is causing problems (or delete all of them if in doubt)

  • Start up Visual Studio

Alternatively, you could install Resharper, which is also from Jetbrains and seems to put most of the stuff that was in IntelliJ into Visual Studio, and so far works a treat. Infact I think that Ctrl-Shift-N could well be the new Ctrl-Shift-N

L.E.D. Cats Eyes

| 1 Comment

As I may have mentioned to anyone that will listen to me - I am currently getting up at a daft time of the morning to beat the traffic into work. On my journeys I have noticed a completely new invention that I have never noticed before but one that is such a good idea.

On certain high speed bends on the un-lit road, there are now LED Cats Eyes lighting the way. I first noticed them when I was coming out of a junction and looked to my left to see the cats eyes were lit even though my headlights were not on them. They had a slight stobe to them bit were perfectly clear lighting the road ahead. What a great idea, just an incremental improvement on Percy Shaw's original idea, but what a good one.

Found a bit more about them at a company called Relfecto, along with some interesting toys...

World Wind

So, how about a desktop application that allows you to zoom in to any part of the world, move around and view in 3D? How about the appliation coming from NASA, which means you have a NASA directory in your Program Files, and a cool NASA icon on your desktop? How about the application in question being Open Source and written in C#?

If like me you think this is really cool, then download World Wind from NASA. The project is in SourceForge if you also would like to help. The software is really cool. Works a treat! Unfortuneately the server seems quite busy and you get lots of errors saying so, however when it is working it is soo worth it. The picture here is of my journey to work, nice... I can virtually fly to work in less than a second...

Venus meet Jupiter in Ballycastle

venus_jupiter.jpgWhat a fantastic morning it was today. I currently have the rather sad misfortune of getting up at 6 o'clock in the morning to drive to work, however it was an absolute pleasure today. Walked out the house to see this view (looked better than this rather poor picture taken on my phone shows). Anyway, Jupiter and Venus are really close to each other in the sky at the moment and it is stunning to see. There were no clouds in the sky and the sunrise this morning was just fantastic. Almost a pleasure to be up so early.

Needless to say the astrology pages are probably full of mumbo-jumbo about the event, but for some actual information on the conjunction see this article in Sky and Telescope or this article in the Scotsman.


Creative Commons License
This blog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.