On Browsers

A quick look at my browser usage over time.

I have always been pretty loyal when it comes to web-browsers. I own, somewhere, a fully licenced version of Netscape 0.9 (or was it 1.0) on floppy disc. Since that day I have been a Netscape user and turned to Mozilla when that became the non-AOL enabled version. Netscape/Mozilla has also been my mail program of choice for most of the time – although I did use Eudora for quite a while until multiple accounts became available in a Mozilla release.

Over the years I have had to use Internet Explorer. Primarily I use it for work where the software we develop has an interface optimised for IE.

I had a brief spell as an Opera user (and licenced a copy) but I never grew accustomed to the interface. Yesterday I received an email from Opera announcing the beta release of Opera 7.5. So, I downloaded it and two things struck me about it. Firstly, it’s fast. Despite the claims on Mozilla’s site about 1.7 Opera won (I haven’t run Firefox yet to compare that code). Secondly, Opera’s full-screen mode really is full-screen. No address bars. No scroll bars. Just full-screen browsing. I really must remember that because at times it’ll be very, very useful. And, what’s more, I still like Opera’s small-screen rendering option!

Mayor Of London

June 10th 2004 is the date that we’ll all be voting for the mayor of London. Ken, Simon or Steve are the main candidates. But then there’s Darren, Ivan and – erm – Frank.

The race to be the Mayor of London is on again and it appears that some big names are trying to run the Capital for next few years. Ken Livingstone is, of course, the current Mayor and – I think – stands a good chance of getting in again. For the first few years people wondered what he had actually done (apart from give us bendy busses) but it all seems to have come good for him recently. The Liberal Democrats are fielding Simon Hughes and Steve Norris is standing as Conservative. The Green’s candidate (Darren Johnson) is gay and my financial advisor – Iavn Massow – is standing for some reason. The UK Independence Party cops up every now and then and their candidate is Frank Maloney who, according to this story at The Gay Vote, won’t campaign to areas where there are too many gays. Maybe London isn’t the city for him then.

Honestly I am a torn between a couple of the candidates. Of the three main players, I think they all represent the best bits of their respective parties which is interesting. Still some time to go until I have to make up my mind. Vote for the London Mayor on 10th June.

What Version Control?

I have decided to launch version 5 of Listen to Musak. Why can’t I ever settle on a design that really works for me?

So, I have finally done it and had another re-design of this site. The gray is the new green (sorry Jase) but green may become the flavour of the day again as I am not *sure*. I’ve tried to reduce the amount of effort Movable Type needs to make this site happen and I think I have succeeded in that bit. All the same stuff is here for now but I want to add some new ‘features’ by playing around with Movable Type so now is the right time to do it. Although I have not updated the templates for Justin, Andrew, Dermot etc. in the Man of the Moment section. That will come too.

While working through the final stages I discovered that this wasn’t the third version of Listen to Musak as I had thought but it was about the fifth. If you use Mozilla on the main page of the site go to ‘View’ –> ‘Use Style’ where you can apply the older style sheets. As I have tweaked the templates a little bit they do not render exactly as they used to but it was interesting to see anyway. I have decided that you can not have too many IDs or classes in style sheets and re-using elements where it isn’t the same content is a very, very bad idea.

One downside of this look is that the individual entries really do look better if they are of the lengthier format. Ah well, I really wish I was a designer!

Same-Sex Couples Aren’t So Lucky

Back at the end of February when San Francisco was allowing same-sex couples to marry a bookmarked a link that I wanted to comment on. I never did get to comment but the pictures remain moving enough in their own right.

Back at the end of February when San Francisco was allowing same-sex couples to marry a bookmarked a link that I wanted to comment on. I never did get to comment but the pictures remain moving enough in their own right: http://www.ephemera.org/justly/

Can You Say Verulamium?

It is quite hard to say Verulamium – the Roman Theatre that I visited last Saturday.

sign at the roman theatre in st albansLast Saturday, PY and I went to St Albans to meet some friends. While we were there we went to the Roman theatre of Verulamium (which, I am reliably told was found in 1847).

Built in about 140AD it is the only example of its kind in Britain, being a theatre with a stage rather than an Amphitheatre. Initially, the arena would have been used for anything from religious processions and dancing, to wrestling, armed combat and wild beast shows. From about 180AD the stage came into greater use and the auditorium extended. By about 300AD, after some redevelopment work, the Theatre could seat 2000 spectators. [Source]

The sign amused me – I got to imagining lots of chariots rushing past with urgent messages from the Emperor at some distant end of the road until I was reminded it was a thoroughly modern sign aimed at us!

Web Mail

A quick scan of my webmail services surprised me.

I don’t use branded web mail systems a great deal. All my mail is handled by my hosting provider who does provide a thoroughly adequate web-based mail service for times when I am not using an email client. Still, with all the web ramblings about Google’s Gmail service I thought I would review some of my web-based mail services and see what was in them and realised that most of the accounts have long since been removed or disabled due to lack of use.

To my mind, the premier web-based service is Fastmail which is a very well thought out and usable mail service. If you’re looking for a new mail provider you should seriously consider them and there’s no advertising!

The only other service active is Yahoo Mail – simply because I have had that for ages and it used to be my way of reading normal mail accounts in a browser. Some of my mailing service lists still go here. Today I logged on and reviewed some of the settings and cleared out some of the junk and I realised it is an excellent mail service. I really like their new feature AddressGuard which allows for disposable email addresses that can be removed is they revived too much spam.

So, will I sign up for a Gmail account to compare it? You bet I will.

Please Don’t Shout On Late Trains

Jakob Nielsen reports that researchers from the University of York have performed a study to assess why it’s so annoying when other people have cellphone conversations in public.

Earlier in the week, my fifteen-minute train journey was delayed due to over-running engineering works. Any regular traveller on the South West Trains suburban lines into London Waterloo station will be used to these delays after weekends or bank holidays. I know it to be so likely that I even plan for it and force myself out of bed and to the station a little earlier if I know there have been engineering works nearby.

As always some people are caught off guard by this or, perhaps, they use it as a cover for the fact they are running late. It’s amazing how many mobile ‘phone conversations announce that the caller will be late for the office/appointment/meeting due to how late the trains are when, in fact, there is no more than a ten minute delay (which when using London’s transport infrastructure you should be accounting for anyway).

Earlier this week, however, there was a well-spoken gentleman in my carriage who insisted in calling – what appeared to be – most of his mobile ‘phone contact book to let them know just how late he was. He also said that Justin would have to take the meeting (if Justin ever reads this, the gentleman in question claimed to have confidence that you wouldn’t screw it up which I thought sounded good for you). All very well but I didn’t want to know it.

The conversation was irritaing and irritation is always enhanced when a train is later (even if you have planned for it because other’s have planned for it and civilised behaviour goes out the window). The conversation, however, was loud but each one was brief and to the point and without any pointless small-talk. The gentleman was efficient in his conversations and factual. He was, however, still irritaing.

So I started looking for items on irritation factors caused by mobile telephony only to find that Jakob Nielsen has a some research on ‘Why Mobile Phones are Annoying‘ which implies that, upon testing, conversations face-to-face at the same volume are less irritaing that the equivalent mobile conversation. The research suggests,

Designing phones that encourage users to speak softly will reduce their impact on other people. For example, more sensitive microphones and improved quality on incoming audio will make most users less inclined to shout. [source]

Let’s hope Nokia et al. are listening.

Boyband Back (But Not For Good)

The on-off saga that is the rumours of the Christmas Take That reunion.

In other news, Take That are to get back together for the first time since their split in 1996. The article also notes, Mark Owen has been dropped by his record label.

UPDATE 25 April: Apparently Not.

UPDATE 30 April: It may be on again now but former member Robbie Williams will not be joining the band.

What Did I Miss?

Missing re-designs is one of the down sides of reading sites via Bloglines.

Bloglines makes reading other sites quick and easy – as long as those sites provide a full RSS feed. I use it daily. However, you do miss site redesigns. Jase has had a minor change which looks pretty good.

And just in case anybody is wondering about some of the design looking slightly strange here at Listen to Musak, well it’s because I am doing some re-design work and I’ve had to make some minor tweaks for the new design which has thrown some of this design. If I was better at CSS that that shouldn’t be a problem but I am not!

Of course I’ve also found a good number of problems as I have been going through the site which I am trying to fix as I go along so – hopefully – things will end up working better as well.

I Had Visions Of A Robotic Dog

Amazon launch A9 for searching. No Doctor in sight. Oh and a reference to real smooth shaving – which might generate some inbound links!

On Wednesday I read about the launch of Amazon’s new A9 search service so, of course, I had to go geekwise and try searching on my the word ‘musak‘ to find this site nicely up the rankings. Why did I waste a few minutes doing that?

In addition I searched on some other terms which would link to some of my sites and found a pointer to an entry I made at The Mirror Project. It seems the picture was chosen by a guest curator to be included in the Real Smooth Shave collection. In turn, that reminds me I have a new image to post there.

Bloglines Top Links

That Bloglines service gets better each week.

I have mentioned Bloglines before (here and here for example). Since I acquired a broadband connection this kind of web service is all the more useful and I have discovered many interesting personal sites because of it.

Earlier in the week I received the news that they have now introduced a daypop-like service which lists the most popular links in the sites Bloglines sees daily. Nothing too new (although I suspect there’s a ton of clever code beneath it) . What is nice is that you can reduce the listing based only on the sites you track. You can, therefore, see the most popular links by people who you actively read. This is brilliant because it should really highlight connections between the vast mix of sites I dip into over time.

Looking at today’s mix, however, doesn’t highlight any overlaps! Perhaps the collection of sites that I read are very different from each other. I don’t know if that is good or bad.

Guidance From Nannies

What’s wrong with a fat tax? A guding state or a nanny state?

Thanks to the joys of SkyPlus I caught up with a fascinating BBC programme that was originally aired a week or so ago. If … we don’t stop eating was part of a series that I wan’t following but, I have to admit, I was attracted to this show thanks to a very large billboard advertising it (but, like every one, advertising never works on me).

I hadn’t seen the others in the series so I wasn’t prepared for the mix of talking-head, documentary footage and fiction. If .. we don’t stop eating looked to 2020 in a Britain where obesity is the biggest killer in the country and is predicted to effect one in three people; there are no tested drug treatments and any help from an over-worked NHS relies on your co-operation (failure to co-operate means that treatment is revoked).

It was very, very well done, thought-provoking and, when it came to looking at what over-eating does for us, it was a little unpleasant. And very worthwhile. It discussed medical and political solutions to this growing threat to Britain’s health. I particularly liked the analysis of the fat tax:

NARRATION: By the end of 2020 the Government’s efforts are rapidly going off-course. Consumers won’t be bullied, and the food industry plays on fears of an
interfering nanny state. The idea of a fat tax is history.

And, helpfully, the BBC has a transcript online which allows me to tell you that it’s Tim Land, a Professor of Food Policy, who has one of the best lines in the programme, when in responses to the suggestion that any fax tax will be played up as being the nanny state interfering in people’s lives:

TIM LANG: PROFESSOR OF FOOD POLICY: I say what’s wrong with nannies! Most of the people who criticise the nanny state have actually got nannies! Have you ever noticed that? Anyway, delete the word `nanny’ and call it `parent’ and we’re all suddenly in favour of it! Actually, I like guidance – what’s wrong with guidance? Let’s hear it for nannies!

Are those McDonaald’s salads a sign of things to come?