Colin's Journal

Colin's Journal: A place for thoughts about politics, software, and daily life.

July 31st, 2003

Back again

I finished up my latest client trip last night, flying back home this morning. The latest VPN software that our company uses now works through a NAT firewall, which is great because I’ve now got connectivity at home that is almost as fast as at the office.

This optical illusion posted by Donald cheered me up – it’s nifty indeed. Which reminds me, I need to catch up on Sluggy….

July 26th, 2003

Going here, going there, but probably not

It’s been a week of travel and meetings this week. Overall things went fairly well, the hotel was pleasant enough, and we made some significant progress. Sunday was meant to be the start of a trip to Mexico, but I heard last night that I’m not going. I will probably be travelling at some point next week, but I don’t know when.

All this means that I haven’t done much outside of work, so I’m behind on email, and out of the loop on news. Last night we celebrated Shana’s birthday at Grappa with a group of our friends, coming back home for birthday cake and champagne. More breaking news as and when I find or make some…

July 20th, 2003

How to get Windows 2000 to use a CUPS printer over IPP

I’m doing a little bit of work this weekend from home, and I wanted to be able to print out a document that I’m working on. We have a small travel printer connected to my Linux machine, managed by CUPS. CUPS supports IPP (Internet Printing Protocol), which in theory Win2k also supports.

It took about an hour of configuration tweaking and ‘net searches before I finally got it working. There’s lots of information on how to do this via Samba, but I wanted to use IPP directly instead (less work I thought!). It works now, and to save anyone else similar pain I’ve noted down how I got it working. So if you want to do a similar thing read up on How to make Windows use CUPS IPP.

July 16th, 2003

Mozilla movement

AOL has finally decided to stop employing Mozilla developers, closing down (at least) the browser side of their business. On the bright side this happened at the point where we have a high quality free web browser already available.

Additionally there is a new foundation funding continued Mozilla development (in addition to all the unpaid work done by volunteers). With the huge importance of Mozilla to the open source world its safe to say that the project will carry on improving.

July 16th, 2003

Travelling again

Travel seems to come in clumps. I haven’t been travelling much for work recently, and I was starting to miss it. Now I’ve just come back from a quick trip to St. Louis, and I’ve already got another two trips lined up. It’s almost as though busses and travel have got something in common…

Talking about transport, the article in the BBC’s News Magazine about how to cool down the tube is pretty interesting. In the comments there are the inevitable silly suggestions on how to solve the problem, as well as some more plausible ones. Unfortunately I doubt the £100K prize is likely to be claimed any time soon as this type of problem requires a lot of detailed knowledge regarding the technical and financial restrictions. The London Underground’s FAQ on the subject indicates that some work is being done on the issue, but holds out little prospect for a full solution.

July 12th, 2003

Release 3.4 of SimpleTAL

Release 3.4 of SimpleTAL is now available for download. This release brings a slew of enhancements regarding the handling of XHTML. A DOCTYPE can now be provided for the resulting document, and XML singletons are maintained in the expanded template if they can be.

The unofficial, but useful, ?varname TALES syntax is now supported, the template cache should work under Win32, and the problem with DummyLogger is now fixed.

All of the changes made in this release are the result of people giving me feedback, so many thanks are due to those who sent in bug reports, provided patches, and tested out development versions.

July 10th, 2003

A rock and a hard place

According to the BBC the UK government is planning when to admit that there are, and were, no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. That this is happening is of no great surprise, after all if there really had been weapons present they would have been found by now.

At this point however I find myself stuck as to what my preferred outcome would be from this mess. On the one hand we have a PM that has mislead the houses of Parliament, and the country, into supporting a war on false pretences. On the other hand I’m not sure there is anyone who could put together a competent government that didn’t feature the tainted members of the current one, and the alternative of a change in governing party is equally unattractive.

To top it all off, I’m not actually against the outcome that has been achieved in Iraq, it’s the process by which we got there that I find worrying and distasteful. If the current leadership does survive this episode it will inevitably set a precedent for others to follow, and that is probably the most worrying aspect of all.

July 7th, 2003

Traditional post-weekend update

These “what happened to my weekend” posts are becoming a habit. This week included a July 4th barbeque on the deck (complete with thunderstorm!), a trip to listen to some music played during the Yonge street festival, and dinner and anime with Donald.

On the technical side of things there’s been:

  • A fix to my backup script to be able to delete symbolic links correctly.
  • Limited Photo album support added to PubTal (scheduled for version 1.1)
  • Numerous fixes to XHTML handling in SimpleTAL (scheduled for version 3.4)

July 4th, 2003

Speed walking

The BBC has a great article on the trottoir roulant rapide, an extra fast moving walkway currently undergoing trails in Paris.

The animation is neat, and the description reminds me of the moving walkways described in Isaac Asimov books. It only goes up to 9km/h at the moment, but that’s still a pretty fast way of getting around stations and airports.

July 2nd, 2003

Post long weekend, the dull stuff

I design my website for CSS1&2 compliant web browsers. In practise this means I design for which ever version of Mozilla I happen to have installed at the time, although I try and avoid anything Mozilla specific. Once I have a design I try and get it working in Internet Explorer 5.5, and thanks to help from Robin I also get some feedback on IE 6.

My original design didn’t work well in IE. The page contents were being laid out underneath the page subject, rather than next to it as it should have been. This, it turns out, is due to flaky support for floating boxes and the clear property in IE. After some considerable messing around I found a work around (only using three instead of four floats) that seems to work in IE 5.5 OK, and the pages still draw fine in Mozilla.

Now I’ve found that IE is putting random white space between some lines on some pages. Not most, just two that I’ve found so far (for example About SimpleTAL), but it’s still very irritating.

So I either need everyone in the world to upgrade from Internet Explorer to a browser that can layout and display basic CSS pages, or I need to find yet another work around for a bug that is best described by the phrase “IE randomly inserts white space in my content when using floats”. I’m not entirely sure which is more likely to happen…

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