Category Archives: Sites

Moving the blog back home

This is the last blog entry here on WordPress. The archives have been moved back to my main site and my new blog entries will be moving there, too.

I’m going to leave a copy of the archives here because they’re well-indexed by search engines, but if you want to keep up on the latest, go here.


Notes on Safari

I think I’ve found the killer features of Safari Books Online, and they’re two of the most obvious, for once. They are the bookmarks and notes features. Bookmarks are great for keeping your place in the book or tracking a very few places of interest in a book. They are not terribly fine-grained, though — they mark specific chapters, rather than pages. Notes have the same resolution but give the ability to store a note with a title and about a quarter of a KB of text. So far I’ve used this functionality to make longer-term, more specific bookmarks and to note where I see blog fodder.

It’s funny how two tiny features with only the bare minimum of integration can push the relative worth of the subscription from “worth it” to “addicted”.

Responses to search queries

Something I enjoy doing every now and then is looking through the search terms that bring people to my site or my blog. Many are rather mundane, but there are always a few that are interesting. Here are my responses to a couple of them.

hiveminder windows mobile 6: I just got a new mobile with Windows Mobile 6 Professional on it, so I was actually able to try this out. I haven’t tried anything too fancy, but it seems to work just fine, so long as you are using the Hiveminder mobile interface. I haven’t tried the desktop interface on my mobile yet, and probably won’t.

opera 8.65 is too expensive: No, it’s not. It’s a very well-designed browser, and USD25 is a pretty good deal for software on most mobile platforms. I tested the software for over a week before I bought it and made sure it did all of the things that I wanted it to do. I ran into very few problems, which is another thing that sets it apart from much other mobile software — I seem to have a knack for killing pieces of software others have no problem with. I’ve been using Opera for months on my mobile with very few hiccups.

If you’re really dead-set on the opinion that Opera isn’t worth the money, simply use the browser that came with your device for a while longer. It won’t take that long to convince yourself. The only stock mobile browser that I have found to be worth its weight in gold is Safari as shipped on the iPod Touch (and presumably the iPhone), but even that has the price of the mobile device attached to it.

Finally, if you’re absolutely sure that a USD25 browser is a travesty, write your own. That’ll show ’em.

On Safari

Today I signed up for a paid Safari account, as the five-slot basic account I get with my ActivePerl Pro Studio is completely full. I considered one of the limited accounts, but the all-you-can-eat Safari Library subscription costs less than a regular computer book per month, plus it saves me having to lug them back and forth to work and buy new editions when they’re released. It seems like a reasonable deal.

I was less than impressed at one point because the process of activating my account was acting wonky. I’d try to sign in and it would put me at the start of signing up for the current ten-days-free promotion. If I filled all that out and gave it my credit card it would complain that I already had an account and should sign in. When I clicked “Sign in” it would kick me back to the start of the promo sign-up. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I got on the support portal and tried chatting with the support reps, but no dice — they seemed to be completely ignoring me. After the second time I hit “Exit” to leave the chat and received one 400-class HTTP error or another I began to suspect something was up. I hunted down the phone number for their support and called. This turned out to be a good move.

A CSR answered the phone after about thirty seconds, and I explained I had just had a very unpleasant experience trying to get some assistance from the CSR chat on the portal. At that point the rep called me by name and explained that she had just tried to figure out what was up with that, as the folks in India had started checking to see if the chat system was on the blink. I tried to give some information that might be of use to whoever is stuck debugging whatever happened, then we moved on to the reason for my call.

After I relayed what was going on and a few minutes of debugging had passed the reason for the problems started to become apparent. My account had originally been an O’Reilly portal account that I had used for registering books I bought back in 2006. A little later that year I bought a book that had a Safari promotion and had transferred my account from O’Reilly. Apparently something went wrong there, because she described my account as looking half O’Reilly and half Safari. In the end, we agreed it was best if she just deleted the account so I could sign up again.

Three minutes later I was signed up again and was prowling through the book list. While I was angry at the beginning, I was won over again by the end. A big thanks to Diane at Safari for that!

(Disclosure: I work for a Safari Books Online reseller (you get a basic membership with your Pro Studio subscription), but this blog entry is about my experience and opinion, and something I bought on my own dime — not anything related to work.)

Hiveminder replaces Trac

As part of my plan to use my VPS to host development and glue applications and delegate tasks I’m not interested in elsewhere I have decided to transition from my own private Trac instance to using Hiveminder. So far, it looks like a good bet.

I did have some problems trying to sign up to Hiveminder before, and that’s actually a good part of the reason I installed Trac in the first place. I don’t want the maintenance and security hassles, though, so it’s time to push those on someone else. Hiveminder looks like the best bet.

The Beeb tubes

As usual, the BBC is full of surprises. Some of the first resources I found on my mission to learn Gàidhlig were An Litir Bheag and Litir do Luchd-Ionnsachaidh. Tonight I hit the treasure trove at Foghlam, which lists more resources for learning Gàidhlig. Now I’ll have to get a bigger mini-SD card for my Q to hold it all!

I announced my intention to learn Gàidhlig to Chris tonight, and she seemed happy — but it’s hard to tell in a five-minute conversation late in the evening. I feel it’s important to learn for my own reasons, but I am awfully curious as to what my families’ takes on it will be.