Eric Lindsay's Blog 2005 September

Thursday 1 September 2005

Kodak EasyShare DX7590 Digital Camera

I'm looking for a replacement for my Pentax Optio 330GS digital camera. I needed better than the 3 times optical zoom (DX7590 is 10 times), and a faster first photo time. The DX7590 has the zoom, but not the fast first photo, but then things go downhill. Custom Lithium battery instead of AA rechargeable means you have no choice but to carry a custom battery charger. Plus spare batteries are proprietary. The body style is chunky, unlike the Pentax, so you would find it hard to drop the camera in a shirt pocket. It may be that you can't avoid that if you need the greater zoom. The DX7590 does 5 megapixels rather than the 3 megapixels I have. That doesn't concern me, as I'm photographing for web pages where I will never use great resolutions. It appears to use a docking station rather than a USB cable - more junk to carry. The camera cards are SD, but I would greatly prefer to stick with Compact Flash. The camera doesn't have optical image stabilisation, so I wonder how you would cope with high magnification photos. I'll give this one a miss.

Friday 2 September 2005

What happened to Science Fiction?

I was reading the August Asimov's Science Fiction. Harry Turtledove leads off with a fine alternate history story relating to 1960s civil rights activists, which turns out to be a dream. Nothing to do with science fiction. Neal Asher has a hunting story, plus twist, with added gadgets to fit it into the SF category. Liz Williams does a mood piece, contemporary. Catherine Wells does a badly burnt firefighter looking for an arsonist story. I'm starting to wonder where all the SF has gone.

Kevin Dillon

Sydney fan (and long-time member of the Sydney Futurians) Kevin Dillon was found in his flat on 2nd September. Apparently he had died there a couple of days earlier. Kevin was 73, and had an older brother.

Graham Stone later advised me Kevin Dillon was cremated on Monday 26 September. A secular service was held, attended by Ian Driscoll, Don Lawson, John Masters-Brown, Margaret Blinco, Ron Ward, Chester Graham, John August, Doug Nicholson, Gary Dalrymple, Brian Walls, Blair Ramage, and Graham Stone. the last four spoke at the service. No will was found, and the estate is being handled by the Public Trustee. Kevin was reported to have had several garages full of books scattered around Sydney, but their fate is unknown.

Saturday 3 September 2005

Airlie Beach Market

The markets were crowded with locals and tourists, since we finally had reasonable weather. A large P and O liner had arrived the previous evening and was anchored a few kilometres offshore outside Funnel Bay. About 1000 passengers were expected ashore at Airlie Beach, while others were headed for the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef. A helicopter flew slowly over the foreshore, trailing a giant banner welcoming people to the Whitsundays.

Today was also the HotFM Whitsunday Fun Race, starting at 11 a.m. Lots of yachts entered again in this long time traditional race. The usual racing, topless figureheads, and late night parties. The prizes are bottles of Bundaberg Rum, so you can imagine how serious it all is. We watched part of the start from our balcony at the Whitsunday Terraces, overlooking Airlie Beach.

Sunday 4 September 2005

Fathers Day

Fathers Day? What a piece of commercial hogwash!

We were so busy that we didn't manage to take our evening walk to Cannonvale until nearly five. Good pace at the start with Jean running (for small values of run) down the hill and for a short while on the flat to the main street. We saw the bus home well before we reached the shopping centre, and had a very lengthy wait for the next one. Jean thinks she may be able to manage the walk home by next week.

I'd tested my neighbour's portable TV, and found that having a really stout set of leads to my 12 volt battery did make it run without rolling. This was unlike his experience on his boat, and when tested with a car battery. It had us confused, because the mains power supply only provided 12.25 volts, and the batteries easily matched that. He plans to make up a much better set of leads for the boat.

Monday 5 September 2005

Adrienne Visits

If we can locate Adrienne we can give her the supplies we collected for her at the Saturday market. Finding her would be greatly enhanced if my antique mobile phone worked, so I finally got around to finding the charger and starting the last working battery replenishing.

Tuesday 6 September 2005

Hurricane Katrina and USA Natural Disasters

Usually natural disasters in developed countries do not take a great number of lives, although property damage may be high. This is partly because fewer people live in risky areas in developed countries. However this is changing. California and earthquake risks (which are actually relatively low) have led to strict building codes. Florida and low areas there will always be at risk from hurricanes, and more people keep moving there.

Then we have New Orleans. What ever possessed people to build below sea level? This is outright stupid. Having built badly, why did the city not gradually make codes prohibiting developments below sea level? Plus why support this infrastructure by levee banks, except to supply political patronage via the Army Corp of Engineers? They even saw what would happen, and in 1965 built the levees up to handle a Category 3 storm. However that is an outsider's view, and I don't know the history of why New Orleans was built in a swamp in a river delta. Scientific American pointed out the flood disaster problems in 2001, and it was only one of many doomsayers.

So Bush will be blamed, especially by overseas Lefties, because they blame the USA and Bush specifically for everything. However contrary to popular belief, the US President isn't a dictator. Only the states can initiate certain actions, like sending in the National Guard.

First will be the claim that if Bush had signed Kyoto, Katrina wouldn't have happened at all. Well, look at the actual figures for green house gas reduction from the countries that did sign Kyoto. It is a great piece of paper, but if it doesn't translate into action, it remains just paper.

Did refusal to spend more on levees cause the disaster? The section that broke had just been repaired, so that seems unlikely.

The Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco asked Bush to declare a state of emergency on Saturday 27 August. Bush did. Bush also asked relief agencies to prepare. The National Hurricane Centre was warning of disaster by then. Meanwhile New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin didn't suggest the public take the storm seriously until the Saturday afternoon, and suggested a voluntary evacuation at 5 p.m. He suggested people going to the Superdome shelter of last resort bring a small quantity of food for three or four days. Both Kathleen Blanco and Bush called Nagin asking him to order a mandatory evacuation. The order went out less than 24 hours before Katrina hit, however hospitals were not evacuated, extra police were not sent to help remove people, and school buses were not sent to collect people. I'm astonished that so many people got out, a tribute to the convenience of the automobile. As long expected by disaster planners, about 100,000 were still in New Orleans.

Was the whole thing a mess, especially the official response at all levels? Sure looks like it from here, although news reports bring a natural bias towards making things sound bad. However that is what happens during disasters. Anyone who expects the government to help immediately is ignoring the lessons of history. Take some responsibility for your own lives. I understand that some people don't have enough money to even stock up with tinned food or even essential medicines. At least stock up with some water in plastic bottles, and have some plastic bags for when the sewerage system goes out. That sort of thing isn't rocket science.

Wednesday 7 September 2005

National Business Roadshow

We left the Whitsunday Terraces resort at Airlie Beach at 6:30 to drive to Mackay. As usual when we had an early start, we stopped at Bloomsbury to have one of their big bacon and egg breakfasts. The Roadshow had travelled through 32 regional and city centres over six weeks, doing a couple of seminars a day on business information technology. The sponsors included Quicken, Microsoft, Telstra Big Pond, Hewlett Packard, American Express, and MyBusinessTV. Harvey Norman had a stand selling software at the Expo, as did Tim Delahunty of Mackay Computer Services. We arrived about an hour before the 10:30 start, and had time to talk to people at the associated Expo stands.

The first presentation Get I.T. Together, was by Microsoft, mostly on using Publisher to quickly do themed stationary from their many templates for a small business, with nods of the head to Big Pond (html email from Publisher) and Hewlett Packard (HP 2600N colour laser printing). Lots here on streamlining and automating business needs, plus the need to avoid virus, spyware and adware, and to backup your business. By this time the presentation was very well tuned. I could certainly see the value of the approach used.

The second presentation, at around 12:40 was QuickBooks can save your business. Tips on pushing QuickBooks more easily, none of which we were aware of (seemed a common audience reaction). Quicken were making all manner of buy software get hardware with it offers at the show.

What the show mainly reinforced was how out of touch we had become with the potential of modern business software.

We stopped again at Bloomsbury on our way home to the Whitsunday Terraces, for chocolate milkshakes for dinner. For some reason our weight loss program didn't work today.

Thursday 8 September 2005

Hewlett Packard HP 2600N Colour Laser Printer

Since we saw the HP2600N color laser printer at the Business Roadshow at a very low price, I thought I would check how a network printer could possibly be the same price as my non-networked HP 2550L. The answer is they left things out that I consider crucial. The 2600n has dropped PostScript emulation in favor of host-based GDI, which (like an inkjet) relies on your computer to do the image processing. It also cut the installed RAM from 64MB down to 16MB. However, the standard paper capacity has been doubled from 125 to 250. I personally would never buy a host based GDI printer. I think it is a sure way to have problems. I'll stick with Postscript, even if it means paying a premium.

Friday 9 September 2005

Smart Folders and Spotlight Searches

Spotlight search easily finds comments you have applied to a file. I thought I could use that in a Smart Folder to lump all the files I was working on in any project together, while still having them reside in the appropriate folder in my web site.

I finally got it through my thick head that if searching in Others for Comments wouldn't work, then maybe the Raw Query method would. I'm searching for a Spotlight Comment that includes the word Current

Using a Raw Query kMDItemFinderComment == "Current"wc seems to work. However it sure seems a complicated method of doing what should be a simple search in a Smart Folder. Looks like Apple didn't get around to completing all the features in Tiger.

Luckily Apple had a developer page which listed a bunch of ways of handling their Spotlight query expression syntax

Saturday 10 September 2005

Smart Folders and Spotlight Searches (2)

It turns out that Comments ain't Comments! What I needed to search for was Spotlight Comments, which seem to be a different thing entirely. Spotlight Comments seem to be the comments that you can manually add to Finder's file information.

Comments by itself include the comments that you have put on photos in iPhoto 5, or on music in iTunes. It also includes the Keywords metadata in HTML from web pages.

Author returns the author as listed in PDF and Pages, and may return the composer from iTunes music. It also returns the metadata on author from HTML web pages.

Composer returns the composer of songs in iTunes.

If looking for documents, use Author, Creation Date or Project Name. For graphics, perhaps Image Size or Resolution may narrow your list. File and document contents are automatically indexed, so you can perform powerful full-text searches.

In addition to searching on traditional file properties, such as name, text content or file extension, use new keywords like Document, Image or Movie, Text, PDF, Music, Presentations, Folders, Applications. Indicate relative time periods using keywords like Today, Yesterday and Last Week. this way Date:Yesterday If you are not sure of an item's file format, use kind in a Finder search for Kind:Movie, Kind:Image, Kind:Document

Sunday 11 September 2005

Smart Folders and Spotlight Searches - Metadata (3)

Meta-data is data about data. A description about the data contained in a file. It may include its height, width, size, creator, copyright holder, title, editor, created date, and last modification date. The what, when, and who of a piece of data.

File modification dates, ownership, and access permissions are kept external to the file by the file system. The most interesting metadata are found inside the file. Digital cameras embed exposure information and whether a flash was used plus much else, into the image files that they produce.

Monday 12 September 2005

Telstra Phone

After not getting around to it for something like three months, I finally got around to putting my Telstra phone line at the Whitsunday Terraces onto Homeline Budget instead of Homeline Plus. This cuts the line rental from about $30 a month to about $19 a month. Call costs are considerably higher, but since I no longer use dial up internet, my local calls have dropped to one or two a month. I hardly ever make trunk calls, perhaps a few a year. I am not a phone person.

The only inward calls seem to be people trying to sell me better phone plans. I hate that. If possible I stall them, to make them waste as much time as possible. Adding to their costs is the only way to reduce the number of calls.

Why don't I dump the home phone entirely? You means besides not having a reliable battery for my mobile phone? I might want another DSL connection sometime in the future. Well, actually, I'd like a high speed one right now, but Telstra seem to be continuing to try to convince people that 256kbps or 512kbps is high speed (what a fraud - ptui!). I want something like 24 mbps! I fear that if the phone line is abandoned, the wiring in the Whitsunday Terraces resort might get split into a pair gain line and get unreliable for DSL if reactivated. Neither of the other people on this floor have home phones.

Tuesday 13 September 2005

Video Killed the ... lots of stuff (1)

I've never been into video cameras, so checking out how you set up an IP addressed camera is all new to me. I'm not at all sure where to start.

I had a little black box with inadequate instructions (well, none) and no labels. It had four RCA sockets in a row on one side. OK, those are probably video inputs. On another side it had a power plug, a small switch, an RJ45 port, and another RCA socket.

I had a 5 volt DC 2.5 amp power pack, which probably came with the black box. Five volts seemed a reasonable supply for something doing video switching. Rated power output seems way too high for a miniature black box, but who knows. Couldn't see any LEDs or power indicators on the black box.

The lone RCA socket on the black box was probably video out, so I plugged it into the AV input on the TV for testing. I plugged the yellow RCA lead from a dirt cheap miniature pinhole camera into the left hand RCA in the set of four on the black box. Yellow usually means video, so the white lead on the camera was probably audio.

Power for the camera? It was also unlabelled but the third socket looked like a 2.1mm power socket. No indication of polarity. I looked on the web and saw a bunch of cameras seemed to like 9-12 volts. Then I blew things. Found a couple of different 12 volt power bricks, none of them labelled. Later investigation showed two were AC, and one was negative tip. I'm pretty sure the camera wanted 12 volts positive tip. Anyway, I never did get the camera to work, so I looked for some other video source for testing.

The VCR seemed an obvious source. Rearranged the wiring so the line output went to the black box. Flipped the TV to video in and started a tape playing. Well look at that, it works! Well, your TV would probably work too if you also had an antenna connection via the VCR. Unplugged the antenna passthrough. It doesn't work. I finally found that the correct input on the black box was at the right hand side, not the left hand side of the row of four. Later in the evening, when I wanted to watch the news, there was furious scrabbling to reconnect all the disconnected wires.

Wednesday 14 September 2005

Scott Parkin Against Globalism (1)

Anti-globalism activist Scott Parkin was allowed a visa to enter Australia from his home in the USA. After he had been here for a few days, ASIO decided he was to be thrown out of the country, after being chucked in jail (without charges as far as I can see). Attorney General Philip Ruddock apparently agreed with this, because Parkin was deported.

If our screening is so good, and Parkin such a threat, how come he got a visa in the first place? If he is not a direct threat, then what is the problem with him being here, and presenting his viewpoint. I am in favour of globalism, and think it has great effects economically. However there are many who disagree. I can't see why they can't put their own view, and present their evidence for their view.

This is yet another instance of security theatre and nanny state protection, linked with a total disregard for human rights. At the moment, I wouldn't trust the Liberal Government, Philip Ruddock or ASIO as far as I could kick them. This country needs a bill of rights, and it needs it right now. If the government thinks everyone is going to put up with the sort of abuse of individuals that has been apparent in Immigration over the past few years they need a reality check. The government can be replaced. I haven't voted for Labor since the days of the Australia Card, but the present Federal Government is being way too careless about human rights.

Thursday 15 September 2005

Ocean Liner

Yet another large P and O liner had arrived and was anchored a few kilometres offshore outside Funnel Bay. They seem to be more frequent this year. Seems there is even a schedule of when they arrive and all that. We could see it well from our balcony at the Whitsunday Terraces resort in Airlie Beach.

Security Theatre a Waste of Money

The intense activity involving airline passenger and luggage searches, and all the rest of the security theatre to make us feel we are less likely to get killed are probably not making us any safer. Will all that activity decrease the chances that a terrorist will kill us? I certainly hope so. Will it eliminate the chance of a terror attack. I doubt it. Terror attacks are a highly unlikely event.

However even if all terror attacks are stopped, spending the money on that is almost certainly less cost effective than spending the same amount of money preventing deaths from common diseases, preventable accidents and poor lifestyle. We know how to reduce deaths from poor diet, from tobacco, from alcohol, for car accidents. Yet instead we waste money on a highly unlikely cause of death.

Friday 16 September 2005

Telstra Service Fault

I got an SMS message on my mobile phone. It didn't make any sense to me.

FROM 434293 Please call "024943xxxx" This message was sent by Telstra GCDA.

What is Telstra GCDA? Google didn't have it. A search for GCDA on Telstra didn't find any results. Plus, I don't have the number they are asking me to phone in my address book.

I figured it is probably some advertising crap, but did anyone actually know? Luckily some of my friends did know.

Apparently if you don't have call diversion to Message Bank, and someone tries to phone your mobile phone, Telstra diverts it and turns it into an SMS.

Personally I'd have thought it was more sensible to simply list it as a Missed Call and provide the number. That was what I used to get when a message turned up in the Missed Calls section of my phone.

However these new GCDA messages are an SMS. The phone number they contain is NOT the number of the sender.

If that is considered an improved service then I wish Telstra would go back to the old method of giving me the confounded correct phone number when I miss a call. Or act like the phone system used to act, and simply report to the caller that the phone connection wasn't available or wasn't being answered. That way the caller would not have some half hearted indication that maybe sometime somehow their message was getting through.

After all, if I don't have my phone calls diverted to Message Bank, or whatever Telstra are trying to flog, then it is probably because I didn't want to have them diverted. I certainly didn't want a voice message turned into a confusing SMS, which is a totally different thing to a voice call.

Now, if I knew just who had my mobile number, and why they wanted to contact me, maybe I'd consider getting back to them. As it is, I'm simply going to delete all such SMS.

Saturday 17 September 2005

Coal is King

Whatever the chattering classes say about greenhouse gases, when it comes to spending money, cost becomes the most important issue. This is reflected in recent surveys showing petrol prices are considered more important than terrorism.

Electricity production is where Australia produces much of its greenhouse gas. Use of electricity rose 5% in 2003-2004, with the eastern seaboard state rising 6% on 2002-2003. The eastern seaboard states, plus South Australia, are now connected to a national grid. When BassLink is complete next year, Tasmania will connect. However the generating capacity of 45,000MW has increased only 1% in 2003-2004. There is only so much advantage you can get from better distribution. Sooner or later you have to also increase the number of generators, and the industry has been reluctant to spend, especially when they can meet regulatory figures by better distribution.

In Queensland, the A$1.1 billion 750MW Kogan Creek generating unit at Chinchilla will be complete in 2007. That is the largest single generating unit in Australia. Naturally it is a coal fired station, using black coal.

In Victoria the Labor state government continued development of West Field in the Latrobe Valley. This coal field will extend the life of Hazelwood power station, which supplies 25% of Victoria's electricity. International Power Australia, owners of Hazelwood, will attempt to cap carbon dioxide emissions at 445 million tonnes while the station continues.

Is anyone in Australia using anything except coal? Look to Tasmania, Northern Territory and West Australia, the only places where coal may not be cheapest. Tasmania has a lot of hydro electric power. In August, West Australia decided to spend A$400 million on a 320MW gas power station for baseload. This is at Cockburn Sound, south of Perth. Greenhouse gas emissions should be about half that of coal. Generation costs should be 13% lower than coal, despite Collie coal being nearby.

Sunday 18 September 2005

Flash Paper Organiser

Pocketmod Flash Paper Organiser is very cute. Instead of an expensive organiser, take a sheet of paper with you, not unlike a pocket diary made of a single sheet of paper. Cheap to do. The Pocketmod program is written in Shockwave Flash, so you can run it from the web site (if you have the Flash add-in for your web browser), or you can download your own copy. You have a range of templates for each of the 8 areas that you print on the page. Various lists, various diary pages, various organiser pages, even games and graph paper. It is a great idea. Better yet, it looks like it will continue to get even better.

Monday 19 September 2005

Government Rent Art

I didn't realise that the government rented out art to businesses (or anyone else who can afford it). Artbank have 9000 pieces of art, renting from as little as A$110 a year. It was founded in 1980 by the Fraser government to support new artists, and became self funding from rental fees in 1992. It buys about a half million dollars of art a year. It targets young and emerging artists, buys direct from them, and has a reasonable record for spotting artists early. The A$20 million dollar collection has works by around 3,000 artists. Art rented by business is tax deductible, just like office furniture is.

Tuesday 20 September 2005

Not a CD

What is a CD?

When is a CD not a CD?

So if it isn't a CD, but some sort of copy protected crap, take it back to where you bought it and return it. If they won't refund, take the replacement, and the next day return that. And so on until you get tired of it. The only way to handle copy protection is to refuse to buy it. If accidentally stuck with it, return it for a refund.

Wednesday 21 September 2005

How Do You Write a Web Page?

I'm not exactly in the write it with vi category, but pretty close to it. I've been doing these blog notes with TextEdit, the standard text editor that comes free when you have a Macintosh. If I were using Windows I'd be using NotePad. Well, no, actually I'd probably be using The Semware Editor. The trouble is, these don't give you any help at writing HTML, checking it is correct, or at handling your web site. I do all that manually.

When writing a web page, there are enough obscure HTML commands that something that helps get them correct could be helpful. Plus you probably need even more help to get the CSS correct. Having written the page, you need to validate it to ensure it meets W3C web standards (most pages do not). You need to check that all the links work. You need to upload to the web server. Doing these all manually isn't all that difficult, but after you get enough pages, they basically get out of control.

Thursday 22 September 2005

HTML table maker in bash shell

Faced with unwanted data entry to add a table (or perhaps many) to my blog notes, I spent much of the evening writing up an HTML table generator in bash shell. It peaked at about 65 lines, but is fairly general. You do have to tell it how many columns of data you will be using, but can keep adding rows until you run out of data to enter. I set up odd and even classes for the rows in the table, but have not as yet added the CSS code to colour them when displayed in a browser. Just remembered, I should also see about right and left justifying data in cells, according to whether it is numeric or alphabetic.

Friday 23 September 2005

HTML and CSS Editors (1)

Writing my own HTML table maker took more time than I hoped but less than I expected. However I have to wonder how long it will take me to write enough little routines to generate my web pages automatically. There should be lots of existing solutions out there.

I did a little bit of searching for a replacement for TextEdit, as an editor. I have a little list.

Good Page
Simple CSS
Stylemaster CSS
Taco html
Text Wrangler
zend Studio

Saturday 24 September 2005

Stylemaster CSS Editor

I got diverted into Western Civilisation, where John Allsop presented a number of tutorials on writing CSS based web pages. He is the chief architect of the Stylemaster CSS editor mentioned above.

No point in my finding new tools, and revising my web pages, until I have a good idea of just where I want to go with them. This revision of what I am doing is rapidly getting out of control.

Sunday 25 September 2005

HTML and CSS Editors (2)

There were a whole heap more HTML and CSS editors than I expected. I have only worried about those that could run on a Macintosh or Unix system.

Adobe GoLive CS2
Commercial, US$400. Web site creation and management with CSS support. Too rich for my tastes.
v8, Cocoa Universal binary Commercial US$200. Well regarded general editor reported to have excellent HTML support. Given the price, I didn't evaluate it. It looked somehow old-fashioned, which isn't a very fair complaint.
1.5 Beta, Carbon GPL. HTML text editor written in REALBasic. I am not sure when this will convert to Cocoa, so with MacIntel due, I did not evaluate it.
v1.7, Shareware US$25 (free up to 2499 characters). CSS source code and visual editor, with preview. Preview styles in outline or extended modes. Group styles in sections as folders. Extract CSS from web sites, and change user agent. Style and font favourites. Seems to cover the essentials of CSS editing. You would probably already need to know what you are doing to use it effectively.
v1 Shareware US$25 30 day evaluation Manage web sites projects with multiple pages. Syntax highlighting, CSS, find functions, clipping file.
Commercial, US$400 Visual XML and CSS authoring. Good reputation, but the price is probably too high for non-commercial web sites. Did not evaluate it.
Shareware US$26. Shareware editor for web developers. Brisbane based architect. HTML support, including indicating which tags are deprecated, plus allowed attributes. All seems very reasonable. Lists CSS tags, but doesn't give a lot of CSS support.
I had a very quick look at EWord Lite, which is what I first found in my downloads. This seems much more closely aimed at people wanting a word processor. Note the different name. Available for 30 day evaluation. Seemed a perfectly reasonable lightweight word processor, on a quick look. However at that superficial level so does Text Edit. Back to the site for the correct web editor.
v4 Shareware Express US$89, Pro US$239. Graphical website designer, with templates. Works like a desktop publishing package, custom binary format for the entire site, internal so links are always correct. Graphic support is extensive.
v1.2, Shareware US$100 30 day trial. Graphical HTML CSS editor and site manager, with W3C validation. Interesting approach, with no manual because of claimed ease of use in graphics mode. It did give a clear view with the html code hidden, and the folding of the structure.
HTML Creator
v3.5 Carbon Shareware US$15. HTML editor with wizards FTP support by student Aram Kudurshian. I'm not trying Carbon based programs, as they may not get ported to universal binaries.
v1, Open Source Freeware. WYSIWYG and HTML editing, multiple tabbed pages, integrated FTP, support for CSS via CaScadeS, XML, online validation support. Based on Gecko, tuned for Linspire.
v4.6, Shareware, 21 day trial, Carbon, US$30. HTML editor with CSS support, plus FTP support. Scriptable. I am pretty sure I tried this on my previous Mac, without moving to it. I tend to look at Carbon applications last these days, since the chances they will be ported to universal binaries is somewhat lower than for Cocoa applications (the author says he is moving from Code Warrior to XCode, so the intention is to move). Page Spinner lists some nice abilities.
Rage WebDesign
v2.6, Shareware US$30. Canadian company. Syntax colouring, HTML, CSS image maps, text folding. I had a lot of trouble with the editing approach used. The help material seems to be third party online stuff. Looks comprehensive, but I never felt comfortable trying to use it. For example, I never did find the wizard to start doing a page! They had a solid amount of introductory material included with the application.
Rapid Weaver
v3.2, Cocoa Shareware US$35. Valid XHTML and CSS, themes based visual editor, smart publishing, iPhoto integration. Some time later (October) I saw a little web site that looked very clean, so I opened up the source (as you do). That was very clean, all valid code, and tidier than I do by hand (which is generally pretty clean). It was made by Rapid Weaver. I think I'll need to take another look at it to work out why I rejected it. Oh yes, tables were used.
v2 Shareware US$30 15 day trial and freeware (Mini). Colour syntax, link checker and creator, tag editor, templates, snippets. Sven E Olsson.
Simple CSS
Freeware. Create cascading style sheets from scratch, modify existing ones. CSS2. Linux, Mac, Windows. If you already know CSS this would be pretty handy. Difficult if you didn't know CSS.
Site Studio
Shareware US$35. Graphic interface, WYSIWYG editor, blog support, image gallery, HTML syntax, comes with themes. Site not updated in a while.
v3.5, Cocoa Shareware US$20 25 days demo. Site view and navigation, integrated SFTP, HTML Tidy. Seems pretty comprehensive and expandable HTML editor. Written by Sean Kelly.
Open source Cocoa, command line utility, HTML preview, multidocument find and replace, syntax colouring, supports ODE Editor Suite for use as an external application to FTP, etc. Written by Peter Borg.
Stylemaster CSS
v4, Shareware US$60 30 day demo. Wizards, 30 templates, CSS tutorial, excellent website support, validation, preview any document. Written by CSS specialist John Allsopp.
v2.2, Cocoa and Universal binary, Shareware US$35 for commercial use. Collaborative distributed editor for multiple computers, command line utility, scripting support, syntax highlighting. XML structure of syntax files is documented. Not really an html editor, but may be your only choice for collaborative editing. Not what I wanted however.
Taco html
v1.7 Freeware. HTML editor with syntax highlighting, preview, multiple clip, HTML wizards, batch find and replace, project management. Written by student Raj Doshi to learn OSX programming. Opens with a valid page so you can fill in the text, or you can supply your own template page. Line numbers available. Auto indent. Menu for special characters. Preview via most browsers, plus live preview. Shifts block text right or left. Code clip support. I didn't notice line numbering, but the blank doctype was Strict.
Shareware US$20. XHTML editor, live preview, syntax colouring, snippets, autocomplete. Requires Tiger.
v1.1, Cocoa Universal binary Shareware $50. Tabbed window, project interface, macros, shell commands, code snippets, column editing, file templates, code folding, bookmarks, project wide regexp replace, web preview, word completion.
Text Wrangler
v2, Cocoa Freeware. Free general text editor from maker of BBEdit, but not customised for HTML. Grep search and replace over multiple files, incremental search, sort lines, file differences, Unicode character support, uses Mac spelling checker, multiple clipboards, split editing windows, syntax colouring, access to Unix scripts, function scanner, Applescript support, ftp support, display invisible characters. Considering it is free, it makes a very nice text editor. However it is not primarily intended for html or css.
Tumult HyperEdit
v1.5, Shareware US$20. HTML editor with live preview, live W3C validation, by Jonathan Deutsch. Has snippets, Javascript testing, php support, allows linked CSS style sheets, shift left and right.
v2.4 Shareware US$100. Publish database on server as HTML using template, and automate action. Generate text file from database, create a template with specific markup for each field to be used.
v1.1, Shareware 10 day trial, US$15. Analyse and debug CSS cascades and show effects. Not an editor, but may change to CSS editor later. Jurgen Schweizer and Oliver Marquetant.
XML Editor
v2.1 beta, shareware 7 days of trial use. Graphical XML editor with valid check and points out conflicts with DTD, by ElfData in REALBasic.

Monday 26 September 2005

What Am I Doing On The Web? (1)

Scientific communication was the origin, when Tim Burners-Lee devised the web, with the big innovation being the hyperlink. HTTP stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol. At the time regular computer staff at universities got to the internet, it was for geeks to look up computer things (this preceded the web). The biggest use was email. When they went public, most web sites were academic. Lists of staff and courses. Plus staff putting their computer interests on the web. In 1996, you couldn't put product names on the web in Australia.

The web changed this, although it took a while. Business decided they also needed web pages, and that the web should be commercial. A lot of them were not sure exactly what they were doing with it, so sites went in a whole bunch of directions. Especially home pages.

Maybe people would stop and look at the front page.
Straight advertising and information, with spin.
Cover of magazine
An imitation of news stand magazines, designed to be visible and stand out, although visitors to a web site have already decided to view it before they see the first page.
First impression
Maybe you need to really impress a first time visitor with a magnificent structure, all flash and image.
If they walk in, they need great signs and directions, because a lobby is not a destination.
Give an overview of the news, with more detail inside.
Greet visitors, help them find what they seek. Welcome returning visitors.
Table of Contents
Get you to the destination you want. Hierarchical overview, with lots of links to elsewhere on the site.

Notice that business sites mostly followed older traditions. Only a few went and found good new reasons for their web sites. The ones that did find something new, and a way to make money from it, are now well known. Amazon, selling books and other long shelf life products. eBay, online auctions. PayPal, small payments without cash. Google, making searching pay.

In contrast to a business site, my own pages started in the early to mid 1990s, and were pretty much notes about computers of various sorts. Then I put copies of a paper magazine for science fiction fans up, with a very light conversion to html. Basically a cheap way to publish something I once did with a mimeograph.

Tuesday 27 September 2005

What Am I Doing On The Web? (2)

Where do I go next? A print magazine no longer makes economic sense. It hasn't for some time. If we assume I get 5000 copies from a laser printer cartridge, at a toner (12c) and paper (2c) cost of 14c per page, then a 14 page magazine (maximum weight for lowest postage cost) costs A$1.96. Postage outside Australia costs about the same. So if you send out 100 copies you have blown around A$400.

It may also not make any sense to continue publishing the equivalent of a print magazine on the internet. I assume here that everyone has a computer, or wants one. It isn't true, but fewer than 10% of the people I know don't have access to a computer. I am however biased, because I wanted a computer from around 1976. I also assume that everyone has a phone line. Again, this is not true, but of people I know probably less than 1% do not. The cost of internet access via dial up is between A$15 and A$30 a month. The cost of an always on connection (it isn't broadband) via a phone line is between $30 and $100 a month. My address book lists 69 people without an email address, but for many this simply means I lack the information. Less than 10% of the people I try to contact remotely lack internet access in some form.

I mentioned an always on connection, but that it wasn't broadband. The International Telecommunication Union Standardization Sector (ITU-T) recommendation I.113 has defined broadband as a transmission capacity that is faster than primary rate ISDN, at 1.5 to 2 Mbit/s. In general that is not available to the public in Australia at this date. FCC defines (2004) broadband speeds to be upstream/downstream data flow of a minimum of 200 kbps. That upload speed isn't available. You notice the lack of speed if you ever try downloading a H.264 movie.

Always on connections change the nature of how you interact with the rest of the networked world. The change from a dial up modem making a call only rarely is massive. Photos on the web are no longer something to avoid. Low cost voice over IP phone calls. Downloading music. Podcasting. Voice messaging instead of IM, even video messaging.

Does a static magazine style web site continue to make sense? Especially when digital photography is a big hit worldwide, when video cameras are common, when editing software is cheap.

Wednesday 28 September 2005

Macintosh Weather Widget

The Apple Weather widget doesn't update very often when set to obscure towns in country Australia. Daring Fireball's weather widget hack adds the time your weather data was last updated. Very handy so you can quickly see how out of date the weather is. You need to copy Apple's widget to your own widget area before editing it. You do need to edit the html, the css, and the js files. Pick an editor that lists the line numbers, as all instructions are by line number. The instruction are pretty clear and work fine.

Macintosh BOM Radar Weather Widget for Australia

BOM Radar shows Australian weather radar obtained from static images at the Bureau of Meteorology. It saves you the trouble of keeping a bookmark to less often used radar installations, as it can potentially show a total of 16 sites. I thought it was pretty handy, so my thanks to the (anonymous) author.

North East coast coverage skipped from Cairns to Brisbane, so I took advantage of empty table cells on the map to add Townsville, Bowen and Mackay, these covering my location. You need to add an html file for each of these cities to the locations folder in the widget (right click the widget in ~/you/Library/Widgets to get a context menu that will open the files that make up a widget). I modified the html table in the widget to add these extra locations. I also added to each of the url a title attribute for each city. This means that when you hover the mouse over one of the tiny maps, you get a popup showing the name of the city.

Thursday 29 September 2005

Sugar Cane Crush at Proserpine

Proserpine mill crushed its highest weekly figure for the season, with 105,992 tonnes, and a CCS of 13.69, up from the season average of 13.26. The mill lost only 5 hours crushing time during the week. The mill has crushed 1,140,549 tonnes this season, with a strong season predicted.

Friday 30 September 2005

More Security Theatre Crap

Matthew G reports BTW, on the 'stupid laws' front, apparently in Italy, it's now required for all Internet 'cafe' type places to take a copy of all users passport/ID papers, note the time of access and forward the documentation to the Police. (In the name of prevention of terrorism). Thus all the Telecom Italia phone card operated Internet points have been disconnected. There are dead internet points all over the place ...

They don't seem to have also disconnected all the pay phones and it appears you can still buy pre-paid SIM cards for mobile phones, so this seems to a pick on the big bad internet thing.