Archive for February, 2005

The Most Ridiculous Thing…

February 11th, 2005 No comments

I’ve just seen something absolutely ridiculous on Channel Five, sorry, I mean “Five”. The Gadget show have just had “a quiz show” between three supposed boffins (hey, it included 2 Doctors from Birmingham University, so you know, they must be smart) and Google.

Questions were along the lines of “What is the ninth decimal place for the number Pi?” which most people aren’t going to remember anyway – you ask how many people know their mobile phone number.

One of the next questions was ridiculous, “How old is the Queen?” OK simple question, but Google gets this wrong because chump-man doing the searching types in “How old is the queen?” (with quotes) and gets loads of pages of dead queens, and old information.

The final one that annoyed me, where the boffins won and Google got it wrong wasWhat is the national flower of Turkey?So what does the guy use to search for? “Flowers Turkey”. That to me sounds more like a recipe for a romantic dinner in! And then they blame Google for turning up loads of shopping links. Egits.

OK, so my searches for the above points would have been “Birthday Queen Elizabeth” for the Queen’s birthday (and then worked it out in my head), and “National Flower Turkey” respectively.

Whilst I am aware that most people probably couldn’t string together a suitable search string which will succintly and succifently narrow their results set, it would be at least a good idea to find somebody who could to do the searching effectively – that’s where the real power of Google is – once you separate the wheat from the chaff.

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Something Odd In Firefox

February 11th, 2005 No comments

I discovered something on in Firefox the other day at work.

Firstly, I have to say that I have the “Tabbed Browsing” configuration options plugin installed – this gives you greater options of control as to how the tabbed browsing works. I must say that it is just perfect, and I would recommend anyone who has Firefox installed to use it.

Anyway, I have the option “Load URLs from the clipboard on middle click” activated. I discovered if I have the text “(OUTPUT vContinue)” in the clipboard (with the brackets, but without the quotes), the tab will be directed to this page:

Can anyone explain this? Have I discovered some bizarre hidden feature, or something else? Does it have to be exactly this text, or is it some property of the text that sets it off (such as starting and ending with a bracket?). I’m not sure. If you know anything then please get in contact!

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Quick Note About Blogging

February 11th, 2005 No comments

Warwick University have “done a Microsoft” and have given their students and staff their own blogs that they can maintain. Check it out at I’m sure that you will be able to find something sufficiently interesting on their!

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February 9th, 2005 No comments

I was trawling through my web stats today, and I noticed a new user-agent string that I had never seen before. It simply described itself as “grub crawler”

I decided to Google for it, as most other crawlers will provide a link back to a site where it describes the operation of the crawler; except this one didn’t.

I came up with a lot of information about this. There are some people who believe it just to be a harmless crawler, and there are others who believe it to be a comment-spammer trawling for victims.

I’m not too convinced about the last one, but people are entitled to their opinions. Once you read the official description of “Grub” then you can see that this could just be a Grub user.

The idea of Grub, hosted at, is to be a distributed web trawling system, designed to keep tabs on every URL, every day. Kind of like SETI@Home, and other distributed processing projects.

However, the people over at Slashdot have other ideas, and have pointed out some of the bad points about Grub. Such as, may have started as an open source project, but it is now a commercially owned entity, so why donate your bandwith to a “for-profit” company with no form of return for you donation? And what happens if your client is given the task of scanning a URL for child pornography? Certain police forces (e.g. Scotland yard, FBI, etc) would be alerted and (in this instance) it wasn’t your fault.

So, my take on the project is this:
It started out as a good idea; but as soon as it became part of a commercial company, it became unworthy of my bandwidth; and the ramifications of having to unwittingly scan for items that are illegal in your country may the project too damn dangerous to consider running

In short: Don’t use it. It you have it installed already, then uninstall it.

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Firefox and ActiveX

February 9th, 2005 No comments

I had a small amount of time at work today, and I was wondering about whether anybody had managed to create a method for ActiveX controls to work in Mozilla Firefox.

I’m fully aware that ActiveX is a Microsoft proprietary system, and many people think that Firefox should never support such a system, but some people do find uses in the technology for things like custom applications and Intranet pages.

Anyway, I pretty much stumbled across this page in the first few seconds of looking for an answer, and the Google search on that page seems to provide a good set of links.

This page seems to provide a good answer for the problem. It appears that I’m not the only person to ask this question, and some people have made some good headway into solving the problem. For starters they have identified 3 different uses of ActiveX technology and the way that it can interact with Firefox or Mozilla.

  1. Mozilla ActiveX Control
    Embed the Mozilla browser engine (Gecko) into any ActiveX application. This control implements the same APIs as the Internet Explorer control making porting of existing applications reasonably straightforward.
  2. ActiveX Control For Plug-ins
    Embed plug-ins in any ActiveX application. This control can host most Netscape Plug-in API (LiveConnect) plug-ins, allowing them to use them in your existing ActiveX applications, including Internet Explorer.
  3. Plug-in For ActiveX controls
    Embed ActiveX controls in any NP API application. This plug-in hosts ActiveX controls allowing them to be used in browser such as Netscape 4.x/6.x, Mozilla and Opera.

I must admit that I am most interested by point 1 – they have packaged the Gecko engine as an ActiveX control, in the same way that Internet Explorer is also packaged as an ActiveX control, so that it can be used in custom applications. They have even gone as far as duplicating the APIs and interfaces to the controls, so that the amount of code changes needed are absolutely minimal. Well done peeps!

Whilst I was looking for stuff on Firefox and ActiveX controls, I also came across this page, which lists a load of different tips and tweaks for Firefox. I’m gonna have to spend a bit of time working through them all just to see what is fully there, but the all read like good little tips to bear in mind!

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Legally Download MP3s

February 9th, 2005 No comments

Yes, legally.

This site, is selling MP3s for 88 cents (US) a piece. They are all legal downloads.

The downside to this DRM-Free download site is that there are no big labels on their listings yet, and therefore the songs that they have may not be to your taste. But, if you’re in to your little-heard-of artists, then this may just be the site for you!

And as they say,Works with all players.

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Another Piece Of Genius

February 7th, 2005 No comments
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What A Weekend!

February 7th, 2005 No comments

I am soooooo tired.

I did not stop at all, all bloody weekend. I must have driven so many miles that I reckon I spent more time sat in my car, than anywhere else (I was literally on my feet for most of the weekend).

It all came to a bit of head last night, when I fell asleep on my brother’s sofa having gone there (for the fourth time in for four days!) for a family dinner. Oops

Still, Saturday night was amazing. I drove all the way up to Guildford to see my friend James perform in a National Stand-up comedy competition. It was the first time that I had seen him perform as a comedian, and I must admit I was a bit worried that he would be crap, but he wasn’t; in fact he was bloody amazing! So good, in fact, that he made it through to the next round of the competition. Well done Jim Bob!

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Text Messages From The Dead!

February 2nd, 2005 No comments

OK, so I’m not too much of a belie ver in this, but that’s not important. The question remains though, where was George’s SIM Card at the time? And besides, you can delay messages from sending.

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Solaris 10 Source Code Available

February 2nd, 2005 No comments

Sun have finally released Solaris 10 for a free download (as in beer) as they stated they would. It’s still not quite free (as in speech), but hey, it’s better than nothing.

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