End of an era: New home page, blog, email address


I have a new homepage, it’s http://tola.me.uk


Thanks LiveJournal for years of faithful service but it’s time for me to fly the nest, if Drupal is good enough for Tim Berners-Lee then it’s good enough for me.

You can add my new Drupal powered blog to your LiveJournal friends list by going here and clicking “Add this feed to your friends list” (thanks mchicago). For all other RSS readers, there is a feed here. If you don’t want to syndicate all of it you can choose one of Personal, Technology, Art & Culture and Travel (they’ll work better when there’s something in them).

If anyone has successfully imported a LiveJournal blog into Drupal, please get in touch with me and tell me how!

Email Address

My new email address (for personal mail only) is ben at tola.me.uk (substitute the @ sign). Please don’t enter it into any spammy social networking sites 🙂

The future of hippygeek.co.uk

http://hippygeek.co.uk has being going for five years now and it isn’t going to disappear. The site will shortly be undergoing a transformation into hosting and a software repository for projects I’m working on.

mChicago: Content Negotiation

As Advogato’s trust metric does not appear to trust me enough to allow me to post a reply, this is in reply to mchicago’s post about .Net and Browsercaps:

As someone who is currently in academia and will not qualify as an engineer for quite a while, I feel qualified to give you an unhelpful answer which has no practical application to your current real world problem.

Trying to keep up to date lists of every mobile device is like chasing the wind.

This is what Content Negotiation in the HTTP specification is for, in this case Server-driven negotiation would probably be preferable. A user agent should send an Accept header as part of the HTTP request which specifies which formats the user agent can render and the server should respond accordingly.

Unfortunately a lot of browsers send a wildcard instead of a real argument in Accept headers and claim to be able to render all formats, which of course they can’t. Apache has partial support for Content Negotiation and if you’re using IIS you’d probably have to write it yourself.

So the answer is to get manufacturers of mobile devices to get their web browsers to send proper Accept headers and Microsoft to think about Device Independence for their server products. Good Luck.

In other news…

tola.me.uk is nearly ready to roll, despite accidentally looking uncannily like Elliot’s web site. That’s what happens when you use stock themes! Once I’ve moved over, then hopefully interesting things will happen with hippygeek.co.uk

I’ve ordered a Nokia 770, I have evil plans for it.

Me and Sam spent several hours today trying to fix the BurnFM web stream, the web part is fixed but we can’t get the sound engineering part right. I blame poor sound engineering kit. A poor worker always blames his tools. Sam’s planning to swap out the server with one running slackware and icecast, I’ve almost convinced the station manager it’s a good idea. ‘Cept I vote for Ubuntu Server.

University are making me use Access 🙁

Now of to Tom’s to see how many people we can fit in his house, I reckon about 130.

In between homes

I’ve half moved into my new house in Birmingham with samwwwblack, Debs and Frankie and my parents are in the process of moving to Colsterworth. The day I moved half my stuff into my new house, I opened the front door to let my parents out and Big Man Paul (from school) walked past, weird coincidence. He’s the first person I’ve met in Birmingham from school, though I’m sure there are others.

In other news…

I talked my way out of a £42 library fine today 🙂

Shaking that Ass, Bourne Grammar Style.

It seems that the IT department are still the most fun people at Bourne Grammar School. Shaking that Ass, Bourne Grammar Style was recorded on non-uniform day by the “ICT Crowd”. Look out for the teachers, including the entire IT department

I’m pleased to see that despite attempts of senior management to turn the place into a pompous public school, the BGS spirit still lives on!

wonchop.net and the future of hippygeek.co.uk

wonchop.hippygeek.co.uk has a new home! Following his recent dazzling academic success, Wonchop has launced a new site, wonchop.net which has a back catalogue of all his old animations, forums and a cafepress shop.  Me and djkoa are lucky to have been the inspiration for the characters “b3n and wez – the IT geeks”, two members of the wonchop family, and we’ve now even been made into t-shirts, mousemats and clocks! Go along to wonchop’s cafepress shop and buy some merchandise (like I just have) to support his work 🙂

Wonchop was the first project to start off life nestled in the bosom of hippygeek.co.uk, back in 2003, and has now well and truly flown the nest. In this spirit, I hope that hippygeek.co.uk will be the home of lots more new ideas. Over the coming weeks I am going to be moving my personal homepage to the new Drupal powered tola.me.uk (still in its very early stages) and hippygeek.co.uk will solely become a home for new ideas, mainly providing trac hosting for software projects. The hosting for hippygeek has been kindly provided by FFDesign, and then Moose Computer Services up until now, but it will probably now move to its own Debian box, leaving tola.me.uk in its place.

Watch this space.

This mundane, plain English blog post is dedicated to bouncykaz.

I’ve finished my summer placement and am back home in Bourne, though “home” may soon be moving. My summer placement was spent writing web based business software for things like accounting and project management.

I spent today filling out a boring tax form, paying a cheque into the bank (yay!), and fine tuning my new bike. Then I visited a couple of houses, one in Colsterworth and one in Pointon, and then got my car started to go and see lauperr for a serious chat.

Unfortunately my main PC didn’t survive the journey from Coventry and now has a dead hard disk, luckily it wasn’t the hard disk with my half backed up important data on.

I’ll be at home for about three weeks before heading back to uni. I need to sort out the Internet connection and visit samwwwblack before I go though, so a swift trip to Birmingham may be in order. I’m not looking forward to living in the new house as much as I was, having lived in lauperr‘s house for two months, it will just be like moving in all over again. Did I mention I’m doing a lot of moving around recently? Can’t seem to stay in one place for very long.

Apart from that, I’m just sat here at 2 in the morning drinking Guinness.

Article in the Birmingham Post, Moving House

Newspaper Article

There’s an article about mine and Paul’s summer placements with Senokian in the Birmingham Post, it’s a good write up for Senokian and the dead tree newspaper version had a photo which made my head look really big.

My placement has officially ended but I’m stopping on for one more week next week. The new version of EGS is really starting to take shape and I have my final presentation on Tuesday (argh).


When I’ve finished in Coventry I’ll be home for three weeks until term starts, mainly packing my life into boxes again. Only this time it’s literally everything because not only am I moving into my new term time house in Birmingham but my parents are moving house about the same time. The house in Bourne has been sold (it was only on the market a few days) and if all goes to plan we’ll be renting a cottage in Little Bytham. Bearing in mind that I’ve lived in Bourne all my life and so has my dad, it’s really a big step (albeit only a 7 mile long step). I’m going to miss my custom built garage-conversion bedroom loads, but I really don’t spend much time there these days. I don’t spend much time in any one place these days.

PlusNet down, blame Telehouse power outage

An announcement (not a permalink) from PlusNet says that their Broadband connectivity, Webmail, CGI, MYSQL, Some mail Relays and wait for it…. “The Phone System” are currently suffering downtime due to a power outage in Telehouse!

After the recent email data loss fiasco where I lost two years worth of email archives I’m starting to get a bit irritated. If I can’t rely on telehouse for uptime, what can I rely on?

Improving my paper writing skills

I think it’s interesting to compare the feedback from judges on my past two entries to Paper writing competitions…

2005 Entry:
The Judges felt that, although this entry was not of degree standard, it
contained a well developed argument with a clear purpose and a natural
flow, was interesting to read, with a good structure. On the whole the
Judges were impressed with this entry and the thorough research that had
gone into the essays production. The Judges noted that the topic was of
general and wide interest and, although the essay is not particularly
it offers quite a grand vision and suggested that, with some
editing, the paper may be suitable for publication.

2006 Entry:

  • Well-written but without a great sense of interest or excitement
  • Good technical material (although a little dry for a general audience)
  • Figures not of a high quality.

I seem to have tipped the balance too far in the other direction this year after last year’s feedback, next year I need to pitch it somewhere in the middle. Apparently this year’s winner of the IET Write Around the World competition has entered for the past three years. If I can combine “good technical material” with “interesting to read” next time perhaps it could be my turn 🙂