Archive for July, 2005

Woohoo! Welcome to XHTML land!

July 30th, 2005 No comments

I’ve finally managed to finish my updates to this site, and now everything is in XHTML (please don’t try and validate it just yet, I’ve got some data issues to work out first!)

Firstly, a lot of things are now driven by CSS, so the site should look fairly similar now in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Konqueror (at least those are the browsers that I have tested the site with!)

I’ve also made more use of categories, and (using the link on the nav bar on the left hand side of the site), you can look at the last ten posts in each category, as well as subscribe to an RSS feed for that category.

I have also added comment and trackback feeds for each post, so you can subscribe to those as well.

Finally, I’ve made more use of friendly URLs, and there are several bug fixes on the site.

In the future, I’m planning on introducing some “automatic” features (like Technorati pinging), and ATOM feeds.

If you have any problems, then please contact me and I will see if I can sort them out.

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Damn Spammers!

July 29th, 2005 No comments

I’m starting to get annoyed.

In the past, I have been the victim of comment and trackback spammers, so I starting vetting all comments and trackback submissions (which is why if you leave a comment, it may not appear for several days).

Anyway, this worked quite well, because spammers seemed to send them in bulk (i.e. 50 submissions at a time – lets assume 50 for ease), and then realise that they were not getting posted, and give up (and I would subsequently delete them).

But lately, there is a less competent person at work (it seems like they are all coming through with non-latin character sets, so may be from Asia/China?), who doesn’t post in blocks of 50, they do it one at a time about once a day. They are still getting stopped because of my harsh filtering, but it’s getting annoying.

It’s annoying because I go in and check everyday, and have to delete one or two comments, and not write a blanket query to delete all 50. I am now thinking about finally implementing my own bayesian filtering, with white lists and black lists (the white lists would make it easier for Richard to post without me having to approve him!), plus I’m thinking about adding the ability to close comment or trackback submissions after a certain amount of time.

It’s a good job I’m currently rewriting the back-end code of the site!

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“Cain” Parts List – The Case

July 28th, 2005 No comments

OK, so starting the parts list for “Cain”, we have the case.

My requirements for the case were fairly restrictive – it needed to look like it fitted in with all my other AV stuff (which is silver – although the colour didn’t matter too much), and because of the cabinet where it was going to be housed, it needed to be no higher than 15cm (about 6 inches).

This severely limited me as to what I could buy. I did find some really nice looking cases, but most of the time they were either:

  1. Really expensive (£300+)
  2. Not available in the UK
  3. Had a sideways riser card for expansion (which limited the amount of cards that I could place in the system)
  4. All of the above

I was originally planning on getting a full ATX case, but I soon realised that I was limiting myself too much, and so starting looking at MiniATX cases.

I eventually found the “Enlight 7473”, which looks like two DVD players stacked on top of each other, looked decent, was silver (added bonus!), was reasonably priced, and is just under 15cm high!

I found a set of reviews for the case, and the reaction was (on the whole) generally really good. One post did put my mind at rest by saying that although the pictures make it look plasticky, the real product is a lot better.

Using Froogle, I found the cheapest place to buy the case from, but then realised the site looked a bit dodgy, so eventually bought it from SpecialTech (Product Page).

My advice for case buying:
Go for something that you like the look of – unless you buy a really cheap case, the quality isn’t going to be too bad, and it is not as if you are going to be moving it too often anyway.

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“Cain” Parts List

July 28th, 2005 No comments

As promised I have uploaded a components list for Cain, my media centre pc that I am building, and every so often, I will give details of why I opted for each component.

I have to say now, that I am no way connected (or endorsing) – All but one of the components (the case) has been ordered from there, and the reason being the price. I did shop around at, and, but I always found that eBuyer was always cheaper. There is also a slight hidden cost when you shop around – if you order from two sites, don’t forget that you are paying for two lots of postage, which could tip the balance in the direction of a more expensive component – think before you order!

Anyway, the Excel file is here, and I have placed a price next to each item. Some of the items are estimated (the values highlighted in orange), and some I have since realised that I may not need to buy (highlighted in green). In the “Actual Cost” sheet, you can see how much each item actually cost me, compared to the planned cost (e.g. once you include delivery, etc), and therefore the difference from my planned budget (this sheet is no way near complete, as I have not had all my deliveries yet!).

If you are interested, have a look through, and see if any of it helps you in your decisions! (My apologies, but Excel seems to want to save it as a 5.4MB file! Jesus!)

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“Cain” Components

July 28th, 2005 No comments

I should really update you on my media centre PC. Last weekend, I decided on the main components that I wanted in my new MythTV box (called “Cain”), and finalised everything on Monday night.

I then went and ordered everything, which practically melted my credit card.

I’ll provide a full list of components (as promised) and a justification (again, as promised) for each piece. So far, only the case has arrived, it came yesterday, (which is not surprising as it was bought from a different company to the rest of the bits), and I’m dead pleased with it (even though it weighs an absolute tonne!). Hopefully the other bits will arrive today, but I couldn’t get them delivered to work, so I have no idea if they have turned up at home yet.

I’ve also found some good resources for building PCs. Oh, and as a side note, seeing as I have never built a PC before, I felt like I needed a guide before I did anything stupid – so I bought this month’s (or it might have been last months) issue of “Personal Computer World”. It seemed to cover everything I needed to know when I was working out what components to buy, so I would highly recommend it if you are planning on doing the same.

My other piece of advice is to shop around (or use FroogleUK Version) to get the best prices – more on this when I post the parts list.

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July 23rd, 2005 No comments

I’m beginning to truely understand now the real power of Object Oriented Programming. I’ve known about objects and reuse and all that stuff for ages, but I don’t think that you can truely grasp it until you end up doing what I’ve just done.

I have just added 2 new pages to the next version of this website (one of which was an RSS feed), with about 5 minutes work on each page. Everything just worked. Brilliant.

What makes it even more enjoyable, is the fact that I designed and created everything myself. God, I’m good!

P.S. Next version of website is coming soon – similar look and feel, more features, fewer bugs and XHTML.

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July 20th, 2005 No comments

OK, so after months of thinking about it, I’m finally almost at the point of biting the bullet and building my media centre based around MythTV. I’ve never built a PC before, and seeing as I’m more interested in the software side of computers, my knowledge about hardware variants is fairly lacking (as in, I could give you a very good description of what each section of a computer is for and how it achieves this, but I couldn’t explain the difference between DDR and DDR2 memory).

When I was looking around the t’interweb, I couldn’t really find a good description of how somebody (in the UK, at least) was able to put together a MythTV system, so I think that this could be a good place to start.

What I’m going to do then is to use this blog as a place to put progress updates, and as much information as I can. I’m even going to create a new category called “Cain” (this is the first post in the category!), which will be the name (and machine name on my network) of the completed article.

As a starting point, I can tell you that I am planning to use Fedora Core 4 (I’ve already built a machine based on FC3, using Jarod’s guide (, and seeing as it was a brilliant guide and he’s planning to update it for FC4, I’ll hang around until he finishes that!), and that my machine will probably be fairly stacked in regards to CPU speed, memory, and hard disk space. For what I need, I’m not too interested in a top spec graphics card, but I will explain all of my hardware decisions once I’ve made them.

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July 20th, 2005 No comments

Christ, I’ve just spent a hell of a long time updating this blog. I need to manually change links (so that they appear at the bottom of the post when looking at the post along with comments and trackbacks), and to add categories to each post. Unfortunately, I hadn’t done this for some time, so I’ve had to change the links on about 10 posts, and add categories to about 30!

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Race Results!

July 20th, 2005 No comments

Not too much to say: “Damn, we lost!”

Actually, it wasn’t a very good piece of rowing at all, so no wonder. Still, I got to spend Saturday sitting down enjoying the sun (and going bright pink!)

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And So It Starts….

July 15th, 2005 No comments

I’m racing again tomorrow, and the nerves are beginning to come out again. I’m no way near as nervous as I was first time around (back at Twickenham), but that still doesn’t mean that I’m not bricking it.

The chances of us winning this week are a lot less than last week (officially we had a 1 in 4 chance, but this week, it’s more like 1 in 12), and there are a lot more heats involved, so by the time the finalists get to race, they are probably going to be knackered. Apparently, the guys we are in our first heat with are good, but not unbeatable, so hopefully we won’t do too bad (they got into the final of the Novice Double Sculls and the Senior 4 Double Sculls last week at Bedford, so they aren’t going to be crap!)

Oh well, we’ll just have to wait and see how John and I do!

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