Whenever I’m interested in a new area, my first reaction is to hit the web. Usually, I find what I’m looking for not on wikipedia or about.com or any organised information site, but on various blogs. My next reaction is to acquire as many books on the topic as I can, but I’m trying to go for the library option on that instead. The latest interest to get hit this way is gardening, and specifically what I consider to be real gardening - herbs, fruit and vegetables.
So here are some of the blogs that I’ve been reading and enjoying over the last couple of weeks.
My Tiny Plot details the progress from a small allotment plot up through several more plots of land, to the current series on landscaping a garden for food production. There are plenty of photographs, and a good bit of useful and encouraging detail.
Henbogle deals with hens, woodwork, recycling, and gardening - a solidly interesting mix.
Future House Farm has similar topics, and a bit more emphasis on fruit.
One Straw: Be The Change deals more specifically with sustainability, both in farming and in the wider world. It’s fascinating reading.
Tiny Farm Blog deals with organic market gardening. There’s a post a day, regular-like, and I’m particularly enamoured of the pictures that have deep snow and cold. Not that I’m going to have to deal with that anytime soon…
Total time in work: five and a half hours. Total useful work done: ten minutes. I hate days like this.
So, a wee while ago, Google bought Doubleclick. As the rest of the market realises what’s happening, there’ve been howls of indignation, and the amusing notion of Microsoft complaining that that’s anti-competitive. The Financial Times, however, first took a while to notice, and then produced this article, which has got to be closing on award level for incoherency and poor research. For incoherency, I give you:
Google plans to acquire the oddly named Doubleclick - most web adverts land you in an online casino with one or sometimes zero clicks - for $3.1bn.
and for poor research or perhaps complete loss of contact with reality:
The real questions are why Google wants to be in advertising, and whether agencies such as WPP should be worried. Google is good at wacky stunts and has unusual office furniture, both advertising staples, but its laid-back computer engineers probably lack the necessary lunching skills.
That’s a hangover-written article if ever I saw one, and the editor must have still been drunk.
In Firefox, and now Internet Explorer as well, you can open a new tab by holding down the “Ctrl” key and hitting “t”. In Dreamweaver - my production environment of choice - open files look like tabs. So I keep on hitting ctrl-t in Dreamweaver, when what I mean is either ctrl-n for a new file, or ctrl-o to open one. The nearly-the-same-but-not-quite tabs are driving me nuts.
The Cumbrian tourist folk have decided that Wordsworth’s poem about daffodils needed updating. Hence, they’ve repackaged it as a rap video by a giant red squirrel. You really need to see it to believe it (needs sound). While I’m thoroughly boggled by it, I have to admit that it’s damnably convincing as rap.
This is aimed mostly at Dubliners, but if you live anywhere that I might turn up, feel free to tell me about your local purveyors. I’m planning a series of collage-style projects, and I need stuff to go into them. I’m thinking of old postcards, newspaper clippings, doorknobs, hinges, toy soldiers, cogs, old hand tools, railway tickets and, well, similar junk. Does anyone know of “antique” shops, flea markets, car boot sales, or the like that sell this kind of stuff? Ideally, I’m thinking of rummage boxes marked “Any thing in this Box £1″, but that might not happen anymore.
So we were having some trouble in the new residence with the plumbing. Namely, the toilet was backing up. This isn’t pleasant. We had a plumber, who’s a friend of the landlord’s, and familiar with the pipes, come out and look at it. He expected it to be a pretty simple job, since it had happened before, and was a fairly quick fix. So he scooted out into the back yard, pulled up a cover, and attacked the outlets of the junction there with a plunger. Nothing moving.
More tools, he said, and came back the following evening with same. He attacked it with such vigour that the tools (plumbing rods, with a plunger on the end, for those familiar) got stuck. Badly stuck, as in, he had to call a burly relative to come and help him extract it (I was stuck in work). He scratched his head a bit - as did I when I got back in the evening - and we tried to figure out what the hell could be wrong with it. Some water had come up through floor tiles in an unexpected part of the premises, so we figured that would be a good place to start the next time. Armed with that, and information from the landlord that there was a manhole cover in an alleyway behind the garden wall, we went at it on Saturday morning.
I met more neighbours in one morning there than I did in four years in Hollybank. We went in and out of alleys, people’s backyards, over walls, peering down into manholes and shores and vents, and learned more about the plumbing of Portobello than anyone should ever know. Nothing moving.
We pulled up the tiles where the water had come up, and some more tiles hidden under them, and some cracked tiles under that, and arrived at an unknown and buried vent. We plunged that and checked the outflow from various drainage systems, and tried to figure out what the hell was happening. There was clearly a connection between the cover at the back and this newly-excavated vent, because if you plunged the back yard one, the other bubbled and spat - but not vice versa. Water run into the new vent drained without trouble, and every single waste pipe in the place, except the toilet, was fine - but there was equally clearly no problem between the toilet and the underground plumbing.
On the verge of giving up, and muttering vengefully about Dynorod, compressors, and advanced spelunking, we wandered outside to poke once more at the original suspected source of the problem. One touch of the plunger, and suddenly, it began to flow, and was clear within seconds. Triumph!
It was aliens, mysterious Victorian sewage valves, or a masochistic plumbing system which just wanted to be beaten for a while. You choose.
It’s a minor quirk in what’s otherwise a much improved browser, but I’d love to know who took the decision to move the “refresh” button from the left of the URL bar to the right in Internet Explorer 7. It means that I lose a few seconds looking for it every single time I go to use it - and then when I get used to it, I can’t find the reload in Firefox or Opera. At least F5 still works…
I’m a complete neophyte in the world of cars, but I would have thought something as complex would come with an owner’s manual. You get manuals with can openers and teapots. But there wasn’t one when it arrived, and searches on eBay and indeed, the web in general, are telling me that no manual exists for a Seat Ibiza after October 1999. The car in question is a 2000 registration, though.
For that matter, the manuals I’m finding for older models are published by Haynes, not Seat. Am I using the wrong term? “Owner’s manual” seems pretty simple…
For what it’s worth, I’m not looking to take it apart, or anything - just how to check the oil, set the clock, and other simple stuff.
The new office, now that it has blinds and we can take down the cardboard radiation shields we needed (the southwest-ish curving wall is all glass) is getting better. There’s still a lot of white and steel around, though, leaving it looking very cold. We’re considering getting some plants in.
My immediate reaction is to look for a bonsai tree, but they’re hard to take care of. Anyone got any recommendations for something pleasantly leafy, which requires very little care, and won’t trigger allergies? We’ve a lemon geranium at home I could snag some cuttings from, but I know it’s a common allergy plant.
So it’s getting decently autumnal out there, and I’ve finally given up on the sleeveless jacket. However, I’d like to get a decent look at this autumn thing before it goes away, and therefore Nina and I are going to take a walk up the Dodder as far as Bushy Park this Sunday. You’re welcome to come along.
The plan is to leave the house at about 12:30, and walk down Sandford Road, then through Milltown to the Dodder. After that we’ll be following the north bank right down to Bushy Park, and poking around there for a while (there’s a peculiar little hexagonal folly in among the trees there). If we’re feeling energetic, we might walk back as well, and if not, public transport will be availed of.
It’s about a three, four mile walk, and most of it is right by the river. Anyone interested, drop a comment here, or turn up at the house at 12:30 on Sunday 5th of November. We’ll be trying to leave fairly well on time, but if you’re late, jog after us.
And indeed, where in this part of the city is good for lunch? There isn’t the same selection of sandwich and coffee shops as Dun Laoghire (or if there is, they’re cunningly concealed). The ideal is a baguette and coffee for five euros or under. A sandwich will do instead of a baguette, and other options will be considered. Somewhere I could sit down for an hour would also be useful, as eating in the office means eating at my desk; we don’t have the nice kitchen table from the old place.
Operation Move completed successfully while I was away, and the new office seems to be entirely bearable. We’re in Harmony Court, on Harmony Row, which is about three blocks east of Pearse Street Station. Therefore, if any of you fine people are available for purposes of lunching (I believe I can meet employees of the Great AI somewhere halfway) in the area, do let me know. Within sane parameters, I can decide myself when lunch should occur, although appointments later than 13:30 are likely to include me staring silently and hungrily at you until food arrives. Usual contact methods apply - or since I have a very fine window seat, you could just stand outside and wave.
We’re back, alive. Very tired, and have acquired colds. Fantastic trip. More details when brain clears. If anything significant has happened in the last 18 days, please let me know, as there’s no way I can catch up on that length of LJ and blogs and such.
Yesterday, after lunch, winding down through a long series of formatting problems on the current project, I found some odd gaps in table cells. For some reason, places where we had nicely formatted tabular data with images in some of the cells, there was a gap of two pixels at the bottom of the cell. I flexed my (by now, reasonably well developed) CSS muscles, and went to work. Some hours later, I was still staring at it. I cut it down to a bare bones test case. It still happened. I ripped out every single bit of CSS individually, margin, margin-bottom, padding, padding-bottom, and it still happened. And eventually, trying ridiculous things, I found it.
It was the gods-bedamned doctype. 6 hours work. One line of code.
I spent a total of about 12 hours trying to get some oddities of CSS in IE - z-index and stacking order - to work as I wanted them to in Internet Explorer. Essentially, any block element in the code defines its own stacking context for z-index purposes, if it has a position set. So if you’ve dropdowns from a menu bar across the top, they’ll vanish behind any divs with position: absolute or position: relative defined later in your HTML source. And since those two are pretty nearly essential for any kind of layout, that causes problems.
The solution? Rearrange the code so the menu is in the html source after the content, and use CSS to position it correctly. Brute force and ignorance, yes, but it works. And it has the added benefit of placing your content further up the code for search engines, if you consider that important.
I award myself 100 DKP and a biscuit, and proceed to the next problem.
I used to have a love-hate relationship with insomnia. I used to hate being tired and unable to sleep, but I used to love the stuff I produced when I wrote in that state. Now nothing’s appearing, writing-wise, and I still can’t sleep. Here, for you edification, is a list of things I have done recently.
- Produced an excellent Yorkshire Pudding
- Eaten an excellent Apple Crumble
- Started to download Anarchy Online to give it another try
- Got a link to dukestreet from cheapassgamers.com
- Begun building a new area of my campaign world
- Talked to a lot of people online about world building
- Read a huge number of Doctor Who novelisations
- Drawn some fine maps
- Started doing a rather technical perspective drawing
- Realised I need a t-square and some set-squares, and have neither
… and I’m still not sleepy.
Working with cross-browser CSS is like being released, blind-folded, into a large maze with mobile walls. While you make your way through it, you are occasionally beaten with sticks. Sometimes, the beating stops. You can’t always identify why.
I enjoy working with CSS. I must be a masochist…