Everything, Everything - April 2008

2018: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2017: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2016: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2015: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2014: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2013: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2012: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2011: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2010: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2009: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2008: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2007: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2006: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2005: J F M A M J J A S O N D
2004: J F M A M J J A S O N D
Superpoked
Wednesday 30th April, 2008 22:04
Has anyone else noticed this? I used Google to see if anyone has mentioned this already, but I couldn't find anything.

Superpoke'd

Yes, that's right, the incorrect use of apostophes. Why on earth do they have a bloody big apostrophe between Superpoke and the "d" at the end? They're using the name of the application and turning it into a verb. Here's how it should work:

poke: I poked the bear with a stick and made it mad
superpoke: I superpoked the bear and the bear flirted back


Seriously, "Superpoke'd"? What were they thinking?
Science And Religion
Tuesday 29th April, 2008 15:54
I laughed at an anonymous comment someone had left on the Men could have kids with chimpanzees - gov must act' article at The Register:

Seriously, to think that you have to be religious to be a good person really grates at me. I'm an atheist, and I don't go around shagging monkeys.
New Design
Friday 25th April, 2008 11:31
I finally wrote a script that took in the (old/legacy) string date and converted it into a more useful timestamp (which I've been storing/using for a while) for all my past entries (basically, the first 1333 posts I made). Now that I have a timestamp to work with, I was able to switch everything from 2004 onwards to use the new 2008 design. Because I was so forward thinking (*smug*) I switched to XHTML back in 2005 and it looks like my content from back then is still "XHTML 1.1 Valid" (feel free to try the link in the bottom left corner, let me know if you spot any pages that aren't green, there may be one or two). I've gone through all of 2004 and fixed about half of the pages, so now they're XHTML 1.1 compliant so the new design works for 2004-2008.

The good news? I can now (probably) ditch all the legacy code from 2004-2007 (including the hideous mess of code that I have/had for comments.php). Which just leaves the really old content (2002-2003) to get rid of.
Facebook Notes
Thursday 24th April, 2008 19:27
In my (vain) search for an RSS feed application on Facebook, I decided to check out their "Notes" application again, which isn't quite what I'm after, but does appear to work (unlike pretty much all of the others). I originally ignored it because it didn't like my website's Atom feed; it only appeared to support certain RSS feeds (even though Atom is far superior to RSS *ducks head to avoid thrown objects*). But all is well, it now supports my feed (although I noticed it doesn't update notes if I update them on my own site), so I can have my blog entries back on my profile.
Windows XP SP3
Thursday 24th April, 2008 17:36
Has anyone else spotted the intentional mistake? I grabbed this from Technet earlier today, this is (meant to be) the RTM version of SP3!

We start off with the nice new splash screen (it probably looks prettier with ClearType enabled, but this is done over Remote Desktop to a test server, as I'm not going to apply it directly to an important XP box!):

SP3 Intro

Then we click the link "What to know before installing Service Pack 3":

What to know before installing Service Pack 3

And we see:

Service Pack 2?

Yes, that's right, it's a Service Pack 2 FAQ page. Well done Microsoft.

Other people have mentioned it here. And here.
CSS (Sucks)
Thursday 24th April, 2008 13:34
I've finally got my site to look the same in Firefox 2, Internet Explorer 7 and Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 (and it works fine in IE5/Quirks mode; although the text is bigger). Some of the quirks I've noticed:

Horizontal rules were a bit weird, I ended up removing them and adding a border to the top of the div tag that was beneath it.

The border-bottom in one place didn't show up in IE8, I think it has something to do with the box model (maybe hasLayout/margin problems?), but I didn't work out a way to fix it properly for all browsers. In the end I removed it, which wasn't what I wanted to do, but it'll have to do for now.

The form for entering comments in IE7/IE8 had too much whitespace above and below, especially compared to Firefox. It turns out, thanks to the Developer Tools, that for some reason IE adds a default margin to the top and bottom (but not the left and right) of the form element. Simply set the form's CSS to say something like "margin: 0;" and all is well again (or at least more consistent between browsers).

I also turned off the border in the same way on the textarea element, which IIRC had a default of 1px, which sorted out my scrolling problem in IE if I set the textarea's width to 100%. Now it should look the same as Firefox (no more 99% :D).

EDIT: It appears to work fine in Opera 9.50 too.
When Is RTM Not RTM?
Friday 11th April, 2008 15:04
When it's RTMa. Yes, that's right. Microsoft originally released the RTM version of SQL Server 2000 as v8.00.194. RTMa is v8.00.311, but it tells you (including in Enterprise Manager) that it's RTM and 194. In fact, it's only certain tools (e.g. Nmap, SQLPing, SQLScan) that will tell you the true version number. The latter tool still reports RTM even when it correctly detects the version number 311.

Why is this important? Well RTMa appears to be the RTM code with patches for the two big exploits (although this doesn't appear to be documented in many places). This can be confusing if you think you've installed RTM and well known public exploits (e.g. Metasploit Framework, THCsql) don't work. Thankfully there is a workaround. You can install SP2 on top of RTMa and re-introduce the vulnerabilities! On the downside, Microsoft no longer distribute older service packs, so you'll need to use Google to find SQL2KSP2.exe (for example). I tried SQL2KSP1, but it seemed to be missing files and couldn't locate things, so installing SP2 seemed like the easier option.
Viewing Figures
Thursday 10th April, 2008 16:50
I noticed that The Register had picked up that "Ofcom notes that viewing for the five main TV channels has declined by 17 per cent since 2003". This is meant to be the the most contentious part of Ofcom's review, the idea of throwing public money after a disappearing audience. Digital TV has increased in popularity over the years, especially now that digital set top boxes are a lot more stable (early ones used to crash) and there's a wider selection of freeview channels (compared to when digital first launched). Increasing numbers are switching over to digital TV (and discovering the joy of Dave... I mean other TV channels) because we're being forced to switch (television services in the UK will go completely digital by 2012; starting with Whitehaven in Cumbria which became the first place to switch in October 2007). And now that we've got around 70 digital channels (and even more if you've got Sky).

I'm actually surprised there's only a 17% decline in viewing figures for the five main TV channels. Why watch BBC One* when you've got BBC Three (better comedy, and big shows are a week ahead), Sky One (for all the American shows, only a few days behind American TV), or even BBC HD (for those with HD televisions)? With the BBC beta testing and officially launching their iPlayer (and possibly for the Wii too?), more people are going to watch it in their own time online. Channel 4 have been making their shows available for years (WMV files of The IT Crowd), and more recently using 4oD. And then there's the other big reason: TV is pretty rubbish nowadays. Panorama has sold out (shorter, more mainstream) and Dispatches mostly covers topical items (Iraq, immigration) rather than provide anything new and interesting. Low quality reality TV has taken over Channel 4 (including E4), mostly related to the now farcical Big Brother, but also including such shit as Wife Swap (4 series?!). It's bad enough that I pay such a high amount to the BBC (although I subscribe to the RSS feeds for BBC News and do enjoy some of their bigger shows; but I tend to buy them on DVD anyway).

If the current business model doesn't work for the commercial broadcasters, they need to fix their own model, not beg for license-payers' money. Which is probably why I agree with ITV that the public service broadcasting obligations should be lifted altogether, so they can compete with BSkyB. Although looking at the rubbish churned out by ITV, I'm not sure they can ever compete with BSkyB. The license fee goes up, the viewing figures go down (although it'd be interesting to see what % drop the BBC have seen, separate from the other 4 rivals). It'll probably become academic once the global online distribution of TV shows, music and movies finally arrives.

Some might claim it's already happening, although in a totally illegal fashion. Which brings us back to the whole argument of why bother downloading a DRM infected low quality video (often a day or more after it's been broadcasted) when you can obtain higher resolution versions that'll play on a wider range of devices (for an infinitely longer period of time) that usually appears on sites within a few hours. The only reason not to illegally download TV shows is the fact it's illegal. And in the UK it's only a civil infringement. Perhaps if they stopped hitting us with a stick and dangled a nicer carrot (hint: 1080p/720p versions of BBC TV shows), fewer people would break the law. But I suppose something like that would impact their DVD sales (hint: sell the BluRay/DVD box sets with something physical, like a cuddly stuffed whale to go with your Blue Planet series).

* Okay, so Doctor Who and Top Gear are on BBC One, plus the season finales of shows like Torchwood and Spooks air first on BBC One.
Must Stop Spending Money
Wednesday 2nd April, 2008 10:01
My motherboard died. At least I thought it had, but I planned on upgrading it anyway as I want to move to quad core, and my current cheap (sub-£50) motherboard isn't good enough. In fact it was never really designed to run Core 2 Duo, but Asrock did some vood magic to get Intel's 945 chip to support Core 2 Duo (and Crossfire). So I replaced it, and my system remained dead. I grabbed an identical PSU from another machine and it jumped into life. A new PSU is now on its way here, to go into the other machine, and at some point I'll take the dead PSU out and put its working (but otherwise identical) twin into the case, tidy up the wires, put the case back on.

At least that was the plan. Me being me, I decided to use the more expensive new motherboard to try and overclock the Core 2 Duo that is meant to run at 1.86GHz (Intel's E6300, with just 2MB L2 cache). I currently appear to have it running perfectly stable at 3.2GHz, and it's still pretty cool (65-ish degrees) under full load (using SETI@home) with the fan on the Zalman heatsink running at just 1000rpm. This might sound impressive, but I am more impressed that my low latency DDR2 675MHz stuff appears to be running perfectly fine (I've only done the Vista memory test so far) at a staggering 914MHz (although I've not checked what latencies that's running at, but I suspect the low latency stuff would probably slip to fairly standard timings at worst)!

So I did all that, mentioned it to Chris, and then he pointed out that the Q9450 (Intel's quad core processor that I've been waiting for weeks to appear) is now available (Intel said Q1, presumably March 31st still counts, with retailers putting them on their websites over the next couple days). So he's ordering one of them today for me (and one for himself). It has an impressive 12MB L2 cache, runs at a nice 2.66GHz to begin with, and I'm quite tempted to try and overclock it like I've done with my Core 2 Duo. At least I know the motherboard and RAM overlock pretty well. If/when it arrives tomorrow, that just about gives me time (I think) to install the new CPU before Vista bitches about wanting to reactivate*. I don't really need the power of a quad core system, and I definitely don't need the power of an overclocked quad core system, but it could help some of the games (e.g. Crysis), and I'm sure I'll find more demanding software/games that will benefit from the faster CPU.

And on a slightly more positive note, with a working motherboard and CPU (and spare soundcard and graphics card), I can think again about building a new system for my parents (or keep a spare one around for myself for testing purposes) - I've even bought a new heatsink for the quad core (and a new one for my graphics card, as it came supplied with a very nice one, but I'm thinking something chunkier might let me run it even cooler and quieter), but I still need a power supply and RAM. I might buy them once my credit card has been given a little rest. And once I get paid again.

* not surprising, as I used an identical motherboard in another system to boot up Vista to backup my data before I switched to the new motherboard. As the hard disk was in the other system, it had different network cards, different graphics card, different RAM, an additional hard disk, and had lost a soundcard and TV card, which it then gained when I moved it all back; no wonder it's so confused right now.
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