Non Standard UI features

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:00 am by Toby

After a couple of days of using firefox, I have switched it to my default browser. MYIE2 will remain as a backup moving forward, but I’ll see how I get on with firefox for a while.

However one this I have noticed about it already. The developers seem to have decided that OK buttons to close dialogs are superflous. OK buttons, or even Done if you wish are a very fundamental part of the Windows UI experience. Not all users are aware of the fact that you can click the X in the right top to close a window.

This is the download dialog in firefox. We are being asked if we wish to clean up.

So we do, but now what.

A ‘Done’ button here beside the cleanup button wouldn’t go amiss.

Joel has a lot to say about trying to change Standardised UI.


Another Reason

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:55 am by Toby

I remembered another reason why I origionally changed to myie2. When I was testing web pages etc, if you open a url from within an application, it opens the url in an already open browser window. This is really annoying if you have something in the browser window that you wish to look at. Myie2 opened a new tab when asked to open a url as your default browser.

Another Browser Story

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:09 am by Toby

Here comes another boring browser story. You know the kind,

“What are all you idiots doing using browser X, browser Y is so much better in every way that you need to be in bed with browser manufacturer Z to actually use their rubbish browser, in fact I can tell you’re so stupid purely based on your choice of browser, that I’m not even going to talk to you anymore.”

Well actually no. I’ve found firefox thanks to public virtual MemoryStream: Firefox again a short blog post by Luke Hutterman telling the world why he is using firefox, and what extension (more about those later) he uses to make it the finest browser he has ever used. See the problem with most boring browser stories is the bit about ‘in every way’ which is completely untrue, there is always a reason why a new browser is worse in some way to our old browser, whether it works differently when you ctrl-click, doesnt display your favorite site quite right, doesnt have multiple tabs or just looks silly. This has been the case up until now for me, so let me take you on a short browser journey.

I’m guessing at the dates, so no doubt some will be wrong.

1984 – Never heard of browsers!

1994 – Studying Artificial Intelligence in college and get my first view of a browser it was NCSA Mosaic, I knew this was funky. (side note: I’ve always firmly believed that it was not Tim Berners Lee who was responsible for the web and all its associated benefits. It was the team at NCSA who came up with mosaic. The web had been around for a long time before they produced mosaic, but it was only when the web got given a friendly face that things really began to happen)

1994 – 1997 – Due to the appaling state of modems 14.4 k being the norm at this time didnt do much browsing outside of college. When I did though, it was with the netscape program.

1998 – Still on Netscape. IE 4 was the most hurrendous browser to ever be developed, primarily due to its desire to take over your entire windows machine and crash it on a regular basis.

1999 – IE 5 released, and despite my desire to continue to use Netscape, they seem to have abandoned me. Microsoft has finally realeased a working browser and Netscape have run away (not to be heard from for about 4 years!)

2000 – 2002 – Move through successive versions of IE 5 -5.5, 6 . I thought they were a fine browser, but what really annoyed me was having 15 windows cluttering up my start bar and screen.

2003 – I find MYIE2

2003 – I wax lyrical about myie2 (now Maxthon for some reason). MYIE2 is my browser of choice and still is. It is IE with tabs. That for a long time was all I needed. IE rendering so I can develop my sites knowing that what they look like in myie2 is what they will look like in IE, but with multiple tabs so I can have 15 sites open (not an uncommon occurance) but only have one window shown in my start bar. If a site opens a new target windows, it opens as a new tab. And more than anything else, and the one this that I now could not live without having in a browser is a system of displaying favorites that means you actually use them. It may not have been the first browser to do this, but it was the first I came across. All your favorites are provided as menus on your toolbar.

This as far as I’m concerned mean that I use my favorites, whereas before I never did.

2003 – During my love affair with myie2 (sorry guys I refuse to call it Maxthon) I has a brief flirtation with firebird, but it didnt do some things right. It had an annoying habit of opening new window links in a new window rather than just a new tab. Also it never really grabbed me. Myie2 continues to be my browser of choice.

Nov 2004 – I’d been hearing a few people talking about firefox (and I couldnt quite remember whether that was different to firebird (whats with all the fire anyway)). And then I read the article above. And what caught my eye, was not a new browser hurray, but the extensions. These seem to be bits of code that anyone can write that extend the functionality of firefox. Primary among these he points out are a web developer extension which allows you to do all sorts of funky things like edit the css for any page your viewing, highlight table cells, view form fields – loads of really cool things. And once your download a tabbing extension it handles new windows and tabs, fairly much the same was as MYIE2, and it allows you to have your favorites sitting on the tool bar (a little bit more cumbersome to set up though).

All in all firefox is looking fairly promising, though it will need a bit more testing before it knocks myie2 off its perch as my default browser.


A bit better today

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:22 am by Toby

The fog is begining to clear today. 5 days without a wiff of nicotine, and my brain is begining to get back to normal. Its begining to seem like less of a struggle, a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.


Lack of Nicotine getting me down.

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:04 am by Toby

For anyone who has never smoked, this series of rambling, drug induced, hazzy observations on life on either side of the nicotine divide will seem most not only bizarre but also quite pathetic. To an extent you would be right. It is bizarre and pathetic, but also tragic.

I can’t help feeling over the last few days that I am missing something. But I can’t put my finger on what.

Just a general feeling of anything I do in life is somehow deminished by the lack of nicotine, which is obviously nonsense. However to the addled brain of a nicotine addict denied its nicotine it seems a perfectly reasonable assumption to make. The trick is to reeducate your brain so it no longer associates almost everything you do with smoking cigarettes.

Slowly but surely

Stopping Smoking

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:00 am by Toby

I went to a seminar on Friday by a lady working for ‘Alan Carrs easyway to stop smoking’. I went with the full intention of walking out a non-smoker, and indeed I did. The easyway method works by doing nothing more sophisticated than convincing your brain that smoking is a really stupid, disgusting, useless, pleasureless and expensive trap that every smoker has fallen into. Nicotine combined with psychological conditioning, virtually unnoticable physical withdrawl symptoms an overactive sub concious trained into telling you ‘I want a cigarette’ at lots of moments throughout the day, get us all (well all of us that smoke) trapped.

It is a strange fact that due to the physical withdrawl symptoms of nicotine being so slight, the mental symptoms seem so much greater; and it is these that alan carr and his easyway method focus on.

By the end of the session you smoke your last cigarette and walk out of there a happy non-smoker – indeed you are a non-smoker from the moment you put out your last cigarette, with a bullet list of mental armour against the odd ‘I want a cigarette’ popping into your head.

  • Relax
  • Acknowledge (Dont ignore it)
  • Figure out why (why is your subconcious saying you would like a fag)
  • Tell the truth (I used to need to smoke on this cocassion but now I’m a non smoker)

Anyhow the reverse brainwashing is fairly effective, and I’m a happy non-smoker for a few days now and planning on being for a lot longer. However there are strange feelings I get as a side effect of stopping. Most (as with most things about being a smoker) are completely ridiculous.

1. What Purpose.

    Since smoking is really a chain of addiction with the first cigarette creating the need for the next and on and on and on, when I gave up somewhere in the back of my mind was the feeling of ‘Well that was a waste of time’. All those years of inhaling smoke, spending money and having to excuse yourself in awkward non-smoking social gatherings has been for nothing. Smoking serves no purpose. At least if you dont give up you can fool yourself into believing it has some purpose.

2. What Use

Its interesting that the only ‘smoking memories’ that you allow yourself once you have stopped are the ‘happy’ ones, but really think about those memories, was it the smoking that made them happy. Remember the catch in your throath, the smell on your hands. All the little things that make smoking just a bit silly.

I’m not home and dry yet, and although I dont completely fall for the ‘no willpower’ claim of the easyway offering, its not the kind of impossible feat of will that the other methods ask you for. Hopefully by blogging about this, it will help me to keep it clear in my head, and remain a happy non-smoker for the rest of my life.

Here’s a piece of software I wrote recently to keep track of how much money I spend on fags, and then how much I save once I stop.



Bush Wins!

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:35 am by Toby

Is this a disaster for democracy. Many in my part of the world were hoping that Bush wouldnt make it to a second term. We weren’t hoping that Kerry would win, we were just hoping that Bush would loose, and maybe thats the problem. Democracy has been done, more people voted for Bush that wanted him than didn’t want him.

Surely in the long run it makes sense to get someone you want, than to just get someone else who you dont want, but dont want him less than the other guy.

(Brought to you with the Donald Rumsfeld school of English).


John Peel

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:38 am by Toby

I’d like to add my voice to those who have been saddened by the death of John Peel.

I was a Home Truths listener on BBC radio 4 rather than a listener to his Radio 1 stuff, but his voice will be missed.

I always had a love hate relationship with Home truths, I was always a bit pissed off on a saturday morning to find it on, but his voice was so nice you’d listen to it anyway, he always made it sound more interesting than it was.

Now I’ll miss his voice every saturday morning.

Listen to a tribute program on BBC Radio 4 site


Teaching Kids how to program.

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:00 am by Toby

anyone out there know of a good set of lessons for teaching kids 6 -10 years how to program computers? Is it possible? With computers now an essential part of our lives, I’m interested in teaching my kids as soon as I can how to use them as effectively as possible.


Google Desktop

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:47 am by Toby

Today while listening to another chat with the Gillmor gang on the excellent itConversations, about the Google Desktop application, I went and downloaded it.

So far I think its great. There is a certain amount of controversy from the privacy weirdo’s about whether or not it is a good thing for google to be able to get information about what, how often and how long you look for specific things on your own machine. But boy is it fast, its google on your desktop (Doh!!).

But the reason I’m writing this is because of something that was said in the gillmor gang conversation. Part of the discussion was about why microsoft hadnt done something like this, and various options were gone through – privacy, problem with removing the dominance of the office product. But in my opinion the main reason is because Microsoft just dont get search.

In the early days of dos, we had the “dir *.doc” command, that would show you all the doc files in a certain directory. It was very fast. With a few extra / you could refine or increase the number of files returned. Yes you needed specialist knowledge from the dos world, and it was superceeded by the open or save dialog box, but it was still fast.

In Office 97 (possibly 95) if I remember correctly Microsoft introducted their first attempt at indexing and searching, and the only thing I remember about it, is that it made the open dialog box really, really slow. And to my knowledge that has been the trend every time that microsoft have tried to create some kind of search engine built into windows or office. The search function in Windows XP is a bit of an improvement, but is still fairly slow considering that its supposed to be indexed. Maybe it uses Jet!

I am looking forward to being able to search my machine in a simple and quick way using Google Desktop, and I think as with many things microsoft have noone to blam but themselves for not being the defacto standard for search.

ps. Lets hope they dont buy google.

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