Breaking the Boycott

HMV gift voucher
I have a dilema. To thank me for fixing their computer someone today gave me an HMV Gift card with £15 on it. I’ve had a look on the HMV web site and I can’t find anything there which I want which won’t be me giving money to the RIAA. Added to that is the fact that if I buy online there’s no way of opting out of spam going to my email address and Real Life(TM) address. The dilema is that if I buy something I will probably be giving money to the RIAA. If I don’t buy something, they’ve probably already got the money, I just don’t have anything in return.

So, the next time in Peterborough I think I’m going to buy The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy soundtrack, so at least it will be worth it 😀

Physical Exercise!
Having not run anywhere for about 3 years I did the Dyke Village Fun Run last Friday and ran 2.5km (1.5 miles) without stopping! I’m so proud. It took me 15 minutes but I was 131st out of about 350 😛 There’s hope for me yet (tummy is currently slowly approaching massive proportions!)

My legs still ache.

GTDTiddlyWiki and Amazon used items


Lifehacker points to this blog post about how people are using GTDTiddlyWiki to get things done. I might not have spotted thi s were it not for mchicago‘s blog posting on the topic, but it’s very interesting. I’m quite impressed that so many people are doing this kind of thing as it’s something I thought of completely independently. I am in tune with the rest of the human race after all! Well, the extremely geeky minority of it perhaps.

GTDTiddlyWiki is a little different of course, in that you can edit it locally or even carry it around on a USB stick. That’s cool. What would be even cooler would be if you could sync an offline version with an online version. I’d rather have it online and most of the time I’m a few feet away from an internet connection, but for the times I’m not it would be great to have a local cached version. Perhaps a hybrid of GTDTiddlyWiki, an online TiddlyWiki and rsync would work. Perhaps even a client to run on a PDA or a java-enabled mobile phone… or am I going mad? Hey, it’s late.

Amazon used items

If I buy something second hand from Amazon I feel good about buying it because a) I’m recycling (well, reusing) and b) I’m spending less money. So when I was browsing Amazon (looking for David Allen’s book which inspired the uses of GTDTiddlyWiki) and came across a little box on the side that said “Used and new items from your wishlist” I went “ooooh! clicky clicky, go to checkout”. To see second hand items at very good prices which were on my wishlist was just too much to take and I went on a (very rare) spending spree:

Weaving the Web: Origins and Future of the World Wide Web [Paperback] by…, £1.75
Code 46 [2003] [DVD] (2005) Tim Robbins; Samantha Morton; Om Puri; Jeanne…, £6.99
The Day After Tomorrow – Two Disc Edition [2004] [DVD] (2004) Dennis Quaid…, £6.74
A Beautiful Mind [2002] [DVD] (2002) Russell Crowe; Ed Harris; Jennifer Connelly, £3.99
A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes [Paperback] by…, £1.80

The only disadvantage is the postage costs involved in buying second hand items, and of course that it costs money at all, but other than that these are all items that I’d really like but probably would otherwise not have bought.

Congratulations Amazon, you beat me this time.

In other news…

Both lauperr and I washed our cars today, but this was no ordinary wash. For me, it was the first time I’d washed my car since I’ve owned it. Because of this, I was feeling guilty and gave Milliwig the whole works.

First shampooed, then rinsed, then wiped with a damp cloth, dried with a dry cloth, polish applied, left to dry, polish rubbed off and left sparkling, applied glass polish to all glass areas, made windows shiny and nice, applied alloy wheel cleaner and polished, used special blackening cloths for black plastic areas.

It looked so sparkly and nice (apart from the bits of rust) that I took photos for if/when I sell my car on eBay in a few months 😛 Hey, I may even get around to cleaning the interior before I sell it!

Edit: cool, APIs for the BBC

Thought Thieves

The Microsoft Short Film Competition

Can (or should) thoughts be owned in the same way as physical objects, or are all thoughts ultimately the product of “standing on the shoulders of giants” and therefore belong to noone but the human race itself? Discuss.

Trying to see the positive to the former half of this question, I would feel pretty annoyed if a big corporation (or even a small one) saw the ideas I’m currently working on and created something from them that I considered evil. Especially if I didn’t have the resources to create a non-evil version and theirs was the only one which survived. The only way to prevent them using my ideas would be for me to have some power to prevent them using them, i.e. ownership.

I guess it’s how Einstein felt about Nuclear weapons.

Personal Wiki

I commented in my blog a while back that I’ve been using a wiki as a brain extension, to organise my ideas and projects. Well it’s now reached 87 pages and 280 links and is really proving very useful. It sounds like I’m not the only one who’s doing this kind of thing either 😛

I’m currently using PHPWiki which is simple and functional. In the future I may upgrade to MediaWiki or one of the wiki modules for the Drupal Content Management System which I want to use for my homepage.

Recenty 37 Signals (who make the popular Basecamp project management software for the Mac) released a commercial personal wiki called Backpack. It’s essentially a wiki + to do list + image gallery + online file store but I think this could be suprisingly useful (examples). Limited features are free but you don’t get much before you have to start paying a subscription.

So I thought I’d have a quick look to see if there’s a similar project which is free and open source and I can run on my own server.

At first I failed, but found another hosted service which is possibly even better than backpack, JotSpot which is very cool. It comes with a list of ready-made “application templates” to utilize the wiki for a wide range of tasks. It has other useful features like being able to email the wiki and a WYSIWYG for the pages. But again, not something I can run on my own server.

About the closest I found was XWiki, but it only seems slightly more powerful than your average vanilla wiki out of the box. It has optional hosting, but I’m not really interested in that.

Moving wiki

As wikis all use similar but different markup and different storage structures they’re not quite compatible with each other. I think that an export as XML feature for wikis would be useful, perhaps even in DocBook format. This may already have been done, I don’t know.

Catmose Arts finally launched was launched today, it’s the web site I’ve been working on for a long while at work (alongside my other work) and promotes the Theatre and Gallery.

This is the clever bit which I’ve described here before I think. A calendar application which uses the iCalendar specification and supports WebDAV is used to add an event. The calendar is published to the web server where it is stored as a .ics file. On the web site the .ics file is then parsed by a hacked version of the phpicalendar parser and a section of it is turned into an RSS feed of sorts, which is then used by some functions I’ve written in conjunction with magpierss to generate the final web pages based on templates. It all amounts to a web site whose content is managed using a simple calendar application on someone’s (hopefully not my) desktop.

This is a simple MySQL database of local arists and arts groups.

The site is XHTML and CSS validated. The only minor thing I haven’t done yet is write a text only version of the front page, because (usefully) that’s really the only bit which doesn’t transform gracefully into text only.

In other news…
I got 10 Ubuntu CDs through the post yesterday (mixture of x86, AMD64 and PowerPC), and I’m very impressed with Hoary. I did try and do a day’s work using the Live CD on the eMac I use at work, but I soon ran out of RAM 😛 I especially like the simple view of the Synaptic Package Manager and the “Search for files” functionality but there’s a lot more going for it than that.

I’ve ordered a Dual 2.8 Xeon (yes, 64 bit) Dell rack mounted server at work to be my new testing web server with 1Gb of RAM. Mmmmm. As sarge is now finally frozen I think I’ll stick that on it, but I’m still very tempted to try out Ubuntu on a server platform. We’re rackmounting *everything* in the server room this summer (so there’ll be Windows, Mac and GNU/Linux servers all in the same rack), hope they get along OK, especially as they will all be sharing a 12-way KVM switch for when VNC breaks 😀