Words

Minor Earthquake in England

Earthquake Safety
Photo by videocrab

Of all the places, I really didn’t expect Preston to suffer from an earthquake! It happened at 00:55 and lasted for about 8 seconds. It shook the floor, and I could definitely feel it on the second floor where I live. I couldn’t actually believe it, but I looked out the window, and there were quite a few other puzzled faces peering out of their windows across the road.

There was also the obligatory car alarm going off, signifying the end of the earthquake! Probably measured 0.01 on the Richter Scale, but then again I’m fortunate enough not to live on a fault line!  Well that’s tonight’s exciting news over!

Edit -News travels fast (thanks Facebook – you have one use at least), and apparently this wasn’t just limited to Preston. People as South as London felt this tremor, which must mean that it was actually fairly large to shake most of the UK. Hopefully it wasn’t anything like a nuclear bomb, and just a harmless earthquake!

Edit 2 – Just found out that the magnitude of the earthquake was a whopping 4.7!

Reusable Code

Zen
Photo by Buddha327

It is often said that good coders write code from scratch and that great coders reuse code. If that’s the case then it appears I’m a great coder. I have about 4 or 5 different xHTML/CSS layouts which I am constantly reusing because they are just solid, cross browser layouts which can be modified and tweaked to suit most designs.

Most designs follow similar principles; a header, 2 or 3 columns and a footer. Therefore there really is no need to reinvent the wheel. As well as being time-saving, it is also a matter of consistency and ensuring that the quality and backwards compatibility is built into the templates.

This ability to manipulate templates really comes down to separating content from style and harnessing the power of CSS. Being able to keep underlying xHTML code exactly the same, and to change the design through just CSS is something that even today, some designers can’t grasp. All too often I see in-line styles where it’s not necessary and this makes updating a site very laborious, tedious and time consuming.

To see what I’m getting at, a great project by Dave Shea called CSS Zen Garden was started to really flex the muscles of CSS. Although this project is relatively prehistoric in Internet terms, it still attracts a lot of attention. This is how the web should be built, with semantics and accessibility in mind, however there are far too many Web Design companies that just don’t care about the ethics of the work they do, just so long as they get paid.

Who is The Stig?

Anyone that knows me will know that I am an avid Top Gear fan. The topics they cover, the way they are shot, edited and produced are often spectacularly breathtaking. However one of the longest running mysteries surrounds the aura that is “The Stig”. Mysteries still remain about the identity of the new Stig after the first Stig, Perry McCarthy, revealed himself in his book, “Flat Out, Flat Broke” in 2003.

Today however, I can reveal the true identity of “The Stig”. Photo’s of the Stig have been published, and thanks to the use of flash photograph his eyes were visible. Out of all of the candidates which are a possibility for the Stig, the only person that this can be is Ben Collins. He is a highly acclaimed driver, although relatively unknown outside of the racing circles, but he is an awesome wet weather driver.

Williams the bookmakers have Ben at 8/1 that he’s the Stig. Russ Swift is currently the bookmakers favourite, being 2/1 on, but there ain’t any crows feet on this Stig. Obviously I can’t be held liable if you make a bet and it turns out to be wrong, but you can make your own judgment, from photo’s online!

Web-Hosting Analogy

Meeting in Second Life
Photo by > ange <

When dealing with clients and speaking to prospective clients I have always found that they appreciate being told technical details in a way in which they are able to deal with. Take hosting for example. The client doesn’t need to know that their website will be on a server located in the Gnax datacenter on a clustered Linux server running the latest Apache 2.2.8 version, with PHP 5.2.5 pre-installed.

The clients do however need to know the principles behind how their website is run. I’ve found that simplifying hosting into an analogy of a house really helps clients to understand the workings of a website a lot better. In effect the server just acts as is a place to live, it is where all the files reside, and when someone knows our address (domain name) they will come to the house and we can show them around. Every once in a while we either have to clean the site (maintenance) or we have to do some D.I.Y (server downtime) which prevents people from coming in to look at our house.

All too often (and it’s very easy to do) technical folks forget that 99.8% of the population have no idea how a website works, and nor do they want to. It’s this that keeps people in work on the Internet, but at the same time those working in this field have to recognise that being a geek will mean that what you say will go straight over a clients head. This doesn’t lend itself to a good client relationship, and so therefore a more human approach is always favoured.

This touches on the principles behind communication. Communication is a two-way process, consisting of a speaker and a listener. It is always the role of the speaker to ensure that the listener understands the message. That art of communication is tough to master, but simply knowing the target audience and tailoring applicable communication methods to them plays a vital role in ensuring that the listener fully understands the message which is being communicated.

Windows Vista

Vista Joke
Photo by mringlein

Although upgrading Vista from XP about 6 months ago was initially a pain in the ass with compatibility issues and the like, as soon as updates came out, I have loved working with Vista ever since. It is a beautiful creation, and to me just far more intuitive to use than a Mac. I’m not saying you should buy Vista, I am simply saying that it works for me and my needs.

That’s what I love about competition as a consumer. We are free to choose between XP, Vista, Leopard or even Linux. I think this is a broad enough choice for all people needed an operating system, and I don’t understand the need for fierce fanboy rivalry which I see so often on the likes of Digg.com.

I mean this morning when I was about to start work, I turned on my laptop and managed to tidy my whole room, make my bed, sort the bins out before I had to enter my password on the login screen. I mean what other OS allows you that kind of personal time to do other things! I can’t wait for the Vista SP1 to be rolled out in a few weeks time. Apparently it fixes a lot of the bugs which I notice on a daily basis, and is a welcome upgrade!

Now I’m up and running, I suppose I’ll have to get on with some work!