soft re-launch on movable type 4

I upgraded to movable type 4. It looks vastly different from 2.661 and 3.35; SixApart added more functions and changed the way the indexes and templates work. I’ll write it all up in the technical section this weekend. I did a full upgrade, which even SixApart say is for the brave of heart. I deleted everything except the content and completely rebuilt every single index and template. Using the car analogy, I didn’t just change the brakes and spark plugs: I took every single part out and put in a new one.

The current stylesheet is called Minimalist White and it’s a default stylesheet. There aren’t so many available styles for MT4 and I thought I’d stick to one that works initially. This means that:

  1. the font behaviour isn’t exactly what I want — I use verdana instead of trebuchet, I’d like my links to be a different colour
  2. the customised styles from the old stylesheet (like the float and box elements) haven’t been implemented
  3. some more work needed on margins
  4. some formatting will look kablooey; an example is the ul list at the top left — it will be a tabbed nav bar eventually

I also need to look at all the pages underneath the main index to change default wording, take out unnecessary code etc. The static pages (about, faq, personal pages) have not been converted to the new style yet.

I’m very excited and happy with what I have so far. It’s been hard work and consecutive late nights. Here are some of the new features:

  • quiet thoughts is now the homepage, the preamble is gone
  • both writing sections are merged and stories categorised in an organised manner
  • I’m starting on the recipes section
  • I can now publish static pages like the about page
  • I’m now able to use subcategories
  • tags and tag clouds
  • registration on sections that allow comments means no need to re-authenticate when returning

I’m lucky that I wasn’t a big user of plugins. My favourites like Blacklist and Markdown have been incorporated into the program. I did find the most coolest plugin — Crossposter from Arvind Satyanarayan. Because LJ and Vox are now part of the SA stable, I can crosspost to LJ. No more copying, pasting and reformatting. And this is the first crossposted post.

print away, ahoy!

so at long last I bought a printer. It’s an Epson CX6900f — colour printer, scanner, copier and fax. Very fancy. Easy to set up, just install the drivers and follow instructions.

After I set it up the Epson way, I connected the USB cable between the printer and the Airport, restarted the printer (and Airport for good measure) and whoohoo, wireless printing. Can’t scan wirelessly of course.

The downside is, the installation screwed up my Photoshop. Probably something to do with the colour settings. I can use ImageReady but Photoshop crashes every time I open it. I’m long overdue for CS3 anyway, so I’ll see what alternatives there are.

stream deez music

Ever since Pandora fell under the wrath of money-grabbing selfish music industry dictators, I’ve been missing it. I still have it on my toolbar, in case they make a triumphant return one day.

Not as sleek-looking but there’s now hope. lifehacker calls it Pandora on steroids — formerly known blogmusik.net, deezer is an awesome way of listening to music online. It lets users search for songs, create playlists and randomly stream songs. Though it’s still a little raw — it may not have all the songs one would typically search for, songs in an album aren’t listed in order and the stream is sometimes broken — but these are small things.

With a smart playlist, it will play similar songs the way pandora used to. I haven’t tried it yet — that feature requires registration and I haven’t gotten round registering. Still, the features for a non-registered user are nice enough. I listened to a few albums today.

There are discussions in the lifehacker comment thread, about saving the streamed mp3s. Turns out that the streamed versions are only 32kpbs, okay for streaming but not worth keeping. They seem to have worked out a way of pacifying the music industry, which is a good thing. I do still miss pandora, the recommendations were great and I like how the player popped into a smaller window.

favicon in bloglines feeds

bloglinesfeed

I have about 30-odd feeds on bloglines, which is around average. According to their faq the average is more than 20 (I wonder how more than a certain number can be considered as average). I subscribe to quiet thoughts and pizzaorme — so I can be notified if there’s a comment on my website; and to keep track of mm. 🙂

What’s always been a niggling annoyance is that my favicon doesn’t appear in either feed. I’ve noticed more and more of my feeds getting their favicon “noticed” by bloglines, but it’s been at least 2 years and mine is still blank. I know it’s probably cos the favicon is in the root directory whereas the feeds are in their own folders.

Googling pointed me to a couple of forums but the answer seems to be “email bloglines with your url”. Not satisfactory, and I imagine not bloglines’ preferred method.

It was easy when I found it. I need to Claim my urls first, by going to my profile and clicking on Publisher Tools. I entered the site url and it found the 3 feeds: rdf, xml, atom. I then needed to do 2 things to prove my ownership:

  1. make a new post with a code they gave me
  2. add a code to the index template

Clicking on Verify and it confirmed that I managed to claim 2 out of the 3 feeds. For some reason the rdf feed didn’t authenticate, probably because it’s old. I subscribe to the xml one anyway, so it was fine.

Once verified, I returned to the Publisher Tools page and there was an Edit link next to each feed url. I was then able to specify the location of the favicon in the edit menu.

I wonder why this isn’t in the Help section, or at least more obvious.

not pretty enough

This is Not Pretty Enough by Kasey Chambers.

Am I not pretty enough
Is my heart too broken
Do I cry too much
Am I too outspoken
Don’t I make you laugh
Should I try it harder
Why do you see right through me

Sigh.

simpleviewer prototype page

After yesterday’s musings, I made a prototype page for the gallery using simpleviewer and flickrviewer.

  1. download SimpleViewer
  2. download flickrviewer
  3. get flickr api key
  4. configure api key — the instructions are supposed to be simple but proved to be more fiddly than I thought
    • make a note of the key and the shared secret key
    • click “edit key details”
    • enter details of the application — I put simpleviewer and flickrviewer
    • under callback url enter the location of the simpleviewer application:
      http://invisiblecompany.com/gallery/simpleviewer
    • create a login link in the format:
      http://flickr.com/services/auth/?api_key=[api_key]&perms=[perms]&api_sig=[api_sig]
      [api_key] is my api key
      [perms] can be read, write or delete — write includes read and delete includes r/w
      [api_sig] is the md5 sum of [secret]api_key[api_key]perms[perms], meaning if [secret]=123 and [api_key]=999 and I set write permissions I get 123apikey999permswrite. A simple online tool converts to md5: 3062e84e9b0014d31c5ee946ef4283a9
      my login link is: http://flickr.com/services/auth/?api_key=999&perms=write&api_sig=3062e84e9b0014d31c5ee946ef4283a9
    • enter the login link in the browser and flickr will ask me to grant permission for simpleviewer to access my flickr folders
  5. in Dreamweaver or a text editor edit flickrviewer.php according to instructions in the file
  6. ftp to server
  7. point browser to gallery location
  8. clear cache if necessary

This displays all the pictures in my favourites flickr set. Full screen shot to see the location of the flash viewer.

gallery with flickrviewer

simpleviewer prototype page

After yesterday’s musings, I made a prototype page for the gallery using simpleviewer and flickrviewer. I wrote up the technical details.

This displays all the pictures in my favourites flickr set. Full screen shot to see the location of the flash viewer.

gallery with flickrviewer

Once I upgrade and redo the stylesheets, I’ll integrate this page more fully with the rest of the site.

get flickr put website

Researching into how best to redo the gallery. I don’t have stats but it seems to me that a typical personal website will include a blog and a place to put photos. I’m surprised that there aren’t more integration between the likes of flickr / photobucket and MT / WordPress. May be I’m not looking hard enough, but I don’t think so.

Like many before me, I hacked MT to make it a sort of photoblog/gallery type page. Six Apart say it’s straightforward — witness the number of SA staff using Byrne Reese’s PhotoGallery. But honestly, it’s not immediately intuitive, especially the treatment of thumbnails. There’s the flickrphotos plugin but there’s a fair bit of fiddling needed, it seems to me.

Of course, I don’t have to use MT or a specific CMS. There are several popular solutions:

  1. gallery
    PHP/database, flexible, seems easy to install but I’m not sure how well it can integrate to the MT-based css. Apparently some performance issues.
  2. lightboxphoto
    Full-featured, gallery maker more suited for professionals selling their photos. The most basic license is $399.
  3. pixelpost
    PHP/mysql based, developed specifically for photoblogging. Looks fantastic, allows comments and all that we’ve come to expect of a blogging software.

But I’m not going to use pixelpost or gallery (forget about lightboxphoto) because these require that my images are uploaded and hosted on my server. Not that I haven’t done that, but for the purposes of the gallery I really want to use flickr. Why? The practical reason is because of tags, sets, convenience and not having to upload to multiple locations. They’re neatly organised on flickr, I just want to link them back.

I’m glad I’m not the only one considering the options.

There are quite a few options. My thoughts:

  1. chasr
    Simple app that displays thumbnails of sets, click on one and it goes to a page with the photos, then the photo itself. Includes recent photos and popular tags. In order to view private pictures, add comments and the like, I have to sign into flickr. Feels to me like it replicates flickr feel on my own website.
    comment: not for me. I’m not looking for a flickr clone, I’d like something that looks more elegant. Apparently I can play with the demo to see how my sets look like, but I never got it to work.
    demochasr
  2. pictobrowser
    A flash widget that displays flickr pictures. Simple filmstrip design and interface. Choose a set, tag or group and it generates a block of code to embed into a webpage.
    comment: very easy, no need to worry about design. But it’s for single sets or tags only, and in order to display multiple sets, I’ll need to code it myself. Basic, but I need more functions. Here’s my 26thngs for Sept06.
  3. jetphoto
    More of a desktop photo organiser that happens to generate a flash web album after it’s uploaded to flickr. Has GPS and geotagging. In use, it’s very Windows look and feel. The flash feature generates a pop-up page that has fairly basic navigation elements. For instance clicking on the photo brings me back to the album.
    comment: I don’t want to organise my photos through their application because I use iPhoto on the desktop. The whole point is I don’t want to manage my photos in multiple places. Such a Windows-heavy application won’t make many friends with mac users anyway.
    jetphoto
  4. satellite
    Another PHP application that makes use of flickr’s API. Uses mootools and slimbox for sleekness. Displays thumbnails of pictures of a set; clicking on one dims the set and overlays the picture in question over the set. Looks nice, very nice. Comes with a black and a white theme, so I’m not sure how much it can integrate into a sitewise css.
    comment: nice, worth looking at.
    satellite
  5. flogr
    Similar to Satellite in its use of the slimbox overlay method. Themes are customisable and EXIF data is displayed.
    comment: similar in concept to Satellite, appears to have a few more features. Worth looking at.
    flogr
  6. simpleviewer
    Very popular. Generates a flash slide show with thumbnails of remainder of photos at side, makes it easy to navigate. Integrates with flickr, wordpress as well as desktop apps like iPhoto.
    comment: I like this. Clean and neat navigation.
    simpleviewer

Verdict? At the moment it’s between simpleviewer and flogr/satellite. It’s to do with navigation — do I like the slimbox overlay approach or the filmstrip approach. Ah, decisions.

the household show of nothing

We went to a home and household show today. We expected it to have home decoration designs, ideas, gadgets and innovations. We saw a couple of common designers, the type of gadgets hawked at street markets (vacuum bags, window cleaners) and an exhibition on toilets.

Not impressed.

Had early dinner at the sushi place, we got there about 4.30pm and had to queue up for about 20 mins even then.

mm was feeling headache-y and wanted therapy — retail therapy. So we went to a small shopping mall that was holding a “big” sale. She bought some clothes and a pair of shoes. I bought nothing, I don’t like shopping, but it wasn’t as bad an experience as it could have been.

Quick dessert then home.

omg! numeric keyboard

I changed mobile provider and while I was it I got a new phone. I mean, I love my 7280, it’s fancy, freaky and not many people (still) have it. But the battery is on its last legs and the phone has the annoying tendency of shutting down without warning, in the middle of a call. At the back of my mind I know that I’m waiting for the iPhone, so I didn’t want to get one that is too expensive. I decided on the nokia 6300 quickly. I don’t have that much patience when it comes to shopping. It’s nice — slim and easy to use and omg! numeric keyboard.

nokia6300

movable effect

Started with the cleaning up. It’s easy to copy entries from one blog to another, just follow these simple instructions. I found I didn’t need to ftp the data txt file to my computer because my website’s control panel allows me to text edit. I did it anyway to backup the file.

Copied over entries in delicacies to quiet thoughts — just the few entries on where I lived and odd bits.

Merged both writing sections. Reorganised so there were parent categories and each story / article is a sub-category. Twiddling with the main index template code so it displayed sub-categories the way I wanted wasn’t as difficult as I thought. I took the MT3 default index template, made small changes and previewed after each change. I kept the old code.


<MTTopLevelCategories>
<MTSubCatIsFirst></MTSubCatIsFirst>
<MTIfNonZero tag="MTCategoryCount">
<h2 class="title"><a href="<$MTCategoryArchiveLink$>"
title="<$MTCategoryDescription$>"><MTCategoryLabel></a></h2>
<$MTCategoryDescription$><br /
<MTEntries>
<a href="<$MTEntryPermalink$>"><$MTEntryTitle$></a> |
</MTEntries><a href="<$MTBlogURL$>download.php" title="download">downloads</a>
<br /><br />
<MTElse>
<br /><h2 class="date"><MTCategoryLabel></h2>
</MTElse>
</MTIfNonZero>
<MTSubCatsRecurse>
<MTSubCatIsLast></MTSubCatIsLast>
</MTTopLevelCategories>

<!–original code for 2.661 when there weren’t sub-categories
<MTCategories>
<h2 class=”date”><a href=”<$MTCategoryArchiveLink$>”><$MTCategoryLabel$></a></h2>
<$MTCategoryDescription$><br />
<MTEntries>
<a href=”<$MTEntryPermalink$>”><$MTEntryTitle$></a> |
</MTEntries><a href=”<$MTBlogURL$>download.php” title=”download”>bonus features</a>
<br /><br /><br />
</MTCategories>
–>

I deleted a couple of unused folders. So this morning I had 9 blogs on my installation. Now I have 7, including 2 that will be deleted eventually — I’m keeping them so I can test when I next upgrade. The gallery will be moved away from MT … what to, I don’t know yet. Ultimately I’ll have 4 sections, and pizzaorme.

it’s a long tag way away, dorothy

I’m at the tedious stage of the Great Website Re-design: tagging entries. I must admit I’m not a huge tagger, despite having a fairly long flickr tag list. I mean, I don’t tag a photo with food, food&drink, “food and drink”, lunch, meal, “cold meal”, chicken, salad, “chicken salad”, greens, lettuce, tomato, dressing, “balsamic vinegar”, “olive oil”, “oil and vinegar”, yummy, yum, yums, delicious, “I made this”, homemade, “made in a kitchen”, etc etc nor do I cross post to a pageful of groups.

Anyway, tagging the technical and writing sections was easy. Tagging the main blog, now that’s a task and a half. I can’t filter by category and mass update, there’s more to it because of the variety of posts I have.

I’m going through every single post, all 900+ of them. Yes, tedious. But, the upside is I read them again.

One thing that strikes me, as I’m reading 2003 posts. I was a better writer, a better thinker. And I was happy then. Sigh.

favicon v3.0

I changed the favicon, this is the 3rd version now, and finally a logo that is recognisably as me cos I use it as an avatar on forums. It should be good as general website logo too. This time, I dispensed with the GraphicConverter method. I cropped the image tighter and used a free online favicon generator. Can’t even remember which one, I just googled it. Nicer than the blue blob on black, eh?

favicon

beets and eggs

I read about beet pickled eggs in a story and how delicious they were, so I had to try making it. I had the egg with a salad of tomato, green pepper, avocado, beets from the pickling mix and some sweetcorn. It’s very nice.

beeteggs04

It’s a simple recipe.

  • Hard boil 12 eggs and peel.
  • Drain off juices of canned beets — I used 1 can sliced and 1 jar of whole baby beets — no particular reason for the mix, just thought it’d be interesting.
  • Heat the juice up with 250ml cider vinegar and half the volume of sugar as the vinegar. Simmer for 15 mins.
  • Arrange eggs and beets in an airtight jar and pour hot liquid over them.
  • Leave in fridge at least overnight.

I actually didn’t quite have enough liquid so the eggs aren’t fully covered. The beets do the job of pickling I suppose. In any case, I made the batch on Sunday and I’ve had a few of the eggs now, it’s enough to transfer so one jar is completely full and I’ll finish off the other jar soon. The last picture shows the large jar today, so the batch is 3 days old. I’m wondering if I’ll be able to resist the temptation … I want to leave the eggs in the pickling mix at least 3 weeks to see how they taste like.

beeteggs01 beeteggs02 beeteggs03

I realise I’ve had all manners of “weird” eggs. The not so weird is Scotch eggs. Yum, I miss these. If only I can get decent sausage meat, Delia has a great recipe.

The weird-but-not-to-those-who-know is century eggs, aka thousand year old eggs. These are duck eggs preserved and pretty much fermented. Some posh chinese restaurants serve them as hors d’oeuvre with pickled ginger; normally they’re used in congee. Distinctive black/brown colouring, cheesy smell and soft texture. Pretty nice, actually.

The truly weird are iron eggs from Taiwan. These are sold as street snacks and involve boiling in soy sauce for hours and hours until the eggs have shrunk and become hard … hence the iron. Actually they taste more rubbery than metallic.

flickr
photo courtesy chotda@flickr
centuryegg
photo courtesy wikipedia
iron eggs
photo courtesy Ministry of Economic Affairs Taiwan

mt 3.35 upgrade

Done it. Thanks Elise.

Deleted everything I did yesterday in terms of upgrading.

Create new MT folders
Renamed the final 2.661 mt folder to mt 2.661. Copied 3.35 folder and renamed it mt. This means none of the old files are in the new folder. MT suggests that we overwrite new files into the existing folder — this is confusing, as there is a potential for old files and scripts to stay in the folder.

Renamed existing mt-static file to mt-static 2.661. Copied 3.35 mt-static to the root directory (it must be outside cgi-bin).

Configure setup script
Duplicated mt-config.cgi-original and renamed it mt-config.cgi. Made changes to database parameters. In 3.35 there is no longer mt-db-pass.cgi, the password is in the config.

ObjectDriver DBI::mysql
Database invisibl_mtDB
DBUser [username]
DBPassword [password]
DBHost localhost
DBSocket /tmp/mysql5.sock

Scrolled through the 2.661 final cfg file and copied over custom commands.

#================ CUSTOM SETTINGS ==================
# These are copied over from the final 2.661 cfg file

CommentScript mt-cmts.cgi
TrackbackScript mt-tbk.cgi

DBUmask 0022
HTMLUmask 0022
UploadUmask 0022
DirUmask 0022

HTMLPerms 0775
UploadPerms 0775

The last two were really important. These directives set the permission for archives and pages generated. In the tutorial and default, it’s set at 644. But when I rebuilt the site (more later), I got a 500 error (top). Now that 500 error must be a server side error because I have my custom 500 error page (bottom). Which is what tweaked me to the fact that I needed to specify permissions.

500errors

Upgrade
Once the files were in place, I pointed the browser to the MT admin panel: http://www.invisiblecompany.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt.cgi and hey presto! It automatically detected the new installation. I clicked “Begin Upgrade” and it zipped through the process. There was just about enough time to do a couple of screenshots, and it was done.

mt335upgrade

Rebuild
I decided against dynamic publishing, so not so many additional customisations. All I did was to take out the dirify on uri names and switched to the new (well, new in MT3) basename naming convention. So now pemalinks have the format: /archives/yyyy/mm/dd/entrytitle.php.

Rebuilding was done blog by blog. It was quite harrowing, I deliberately left the 2 most important till last — pizzaorme and quiet thoughts — rebuilding my main journal with 900+entries was scary. There was too much there at risk.

New Look
And for posterity’s sake, the final 2.661 admin screen and the initial 3.35 admin screen.

mt2661final

mt335initial

invisibly new

I spent the last couple of days upgrading my website’s database from mysql 4 to 5 and playing around with Movable Type 3.35. Anyone remotely interested who’s been reading this journal for the almost 4 years it’s been in existence will probaly know that MT is the blogging software that powers 99% of this website. I’ve been using version 2.661 since day one, and didn’t follow the upgrade path when Six Apart released MT3 because they started charging for it. Now that they’ve gone back to no fees for personal user; and having just released MT4 beta, I think it’s high time I upgraded.

I partially upgraded to MT3.35. I will wait till MT4 becomes more stable, or the GPL version is released (supposedly Q307). In any case I want to get used to the new backend, and to watch for any problems for a week or so.

What does it mean for the readers? Not. A. Thing. What you see in your browser is no different to 2 days ago. But there is a big difference for me, when I write these entries — the look is different, I have tags now, I can do sub-categories, I know my website is safer from spam, and good stuff like that.

The only possible issue is that permalinks have changed, but that only affects anyone who’s linked to an entry which … I doubt there are any. The changes are to the naming convention and the doing away of truncation. So before, there may be a permalink like:

individual entry: http://invisiblecompany.com/archives/my_inner_science_ge/0001747invisibly_new.php
category archive: http://invisiblecompany.com/my_inner_science_ge/index.php

we now have:

individual entry: http://invisiblecompany.com/archives/2007/08/21/invisibly_new.php
category archive: http://invisiblecompany.com/my_inner_science_geek/index.php

There’s more to do in the next few months, if I keep at it. Next steps:

  1. Merge both writing sections [ETA23.08: done]
  2. Redo gallery — flickr is a better place for my photos, there are a few plug-ins and software that will display flickr sets as a gallery on websites
  3. Think about what I want to do with Delicacies [ETZ23.08: deleted]
  4. Add recipes section
  5. Add tags for all entries (!!!! that’s over 1,000 entries for the entire site)
  6. Delete unused weblogs [ETA23.08: done]
  7. Site redesign — this design is getting old, I don’t want to look like a 2002 website, I need web 2.0 look

mysql

I’m on an upgrade kick. I downloaded MT4.0 beta, and then realised I had to upgrade to 3.35 first before attempting the upgrade to 4.0. Reason is that there were so many new features in version 3 that it’s probably safer, to make sure everything works.

Spent most of the afternoon doing it, but kept on getting 500 errors.

Turns out, it had to do with my database. Before I did the upgrade, I backed up everything — the website to the mbp and exported the database. My host recommended upgrading from mysql 4 to 5, so I followed the instructions.

Then I had to change mt.cfg so it points to the new database. I changed DBname and DBhost to the new values. Kept the user and password the same. Didn’t work. Hey, I’m no DBA alright! I posted a ticket to suresupport and got an answer back within 15 mins. This is what I needed to do.

In mt.cfg change from

ObjectDriver DBI::mysql
Database invisibleDB
DBUser [username]
# DBHost localhost

to

ObjectDriver DBI::mysql
Database invisibl_mtDB
DBUser [username]
DBHost localhost
DBSocket /tmp/mysql5.sock

The password is in mt-db-pass.cgi, so it didn’t need to be changed.

Works now.

days of little work

The days are beginning to bleed together; I have to stop and think each morning what day of the week it is. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s a luxury and I’m not complaining. The problem is I’ve been home 3 weeks and I haven’t been sleeping as well as someone who has no job/obligations/worries should be. Some days I toss and turn and can’t sleep till 2am; some days I wake up before 8am for no good reason (though, mostly it’s the stupid allergy). This morning I slept till 10.30am, and I was mildly pleased.

I got an email from my friend CL asking about me. I haven’t talked to her for ages, we’re used to talking to each other at least 3-4 times a week in the office. I realised I’ve not been doing much — staying at home, getting unhappy if I have to go out, watching TV, reading, playing computer games. That’s it. Very slackerish.

I suppose I have to start slowly getting back into a working frame of mind. If all goes well I only have 2 weeks of this luxury left.

So it was timely to read, via lifehacker, Tim Ferriss’ not-to-do list for effective working. I really like his reason for having this list: “what you don’t do determines what you can do” — especially in today’s hectic constantly-available culture. Which is interesting, because I “don’t do” a few of these already. The full list, and my comments.

  1. Do not answer unrecognized phone calls
    I definitely don’t answer if it’s a number I don’t know. Sometimes I don’t answer the phone at all. I usually don’t reply to voicemails either.
  2. Do not e-mail first thing in the morning or last thing at night
    I am guilty of this sometimes. But I never give unreasonable deadlines for replies. Usually if I email last thing at night I’m expecting it to be read the next morning.
  3. Do not agree to meetings or calls with no clear agenda or end time
    I’d never chair a meeting or conference call without sufficient preparation for the attendees; but I’ve attended my fair share of calls that were called for no good reason. Sometimes people get 12 people on the phone because one person asked one question that could have been answered by one person. Sigh.
  4. Do not let people ramble—forget “how’s it going?” and embrace “what’s up?”
    Oh yeah, get straight to the point.
  5. Do not check e-mail constantly—“batch” and check at set times only
    I hate having unread emails. At work on Outlook there’s this pesky envelope at the bottom of the screen that I simply must get rid of. At home, I want to keep track of emails immediately, so I check gmail all the time. All my various gmails are forwarded to one gmail, so I’m up to date. I don’t obsess about email, but I do tend to respond to them quickly.
  6. Do not over-communicate with low-profit, high-maintenance customers
    Not relevant cos I don’t have customers. I dislike over-communication anyway. Bullet points and clear next steps, that’s what I try to do.
  7. Do not work more to fix overwhelm—prioritize
    That’s never really been a problem, I work quick and usually don’t get backed up. If it’s something I’m not interested in doing, I won’t do it in the first place.
  8. Do not carry a cellphone or Crackberry 24/7, seven days a week—make evenings and/or Saturdays digital leash-free
    I’ve steadfastedly refused to get a Blackberry. I didn’t have a company laptop till my last month project and I hardly answer my cellphone. I make it pretty clear that work and home don’t mix.
  9. Do not expect work to fill a void that non-work relationships and activities should
    I can understand that sentiment and how people can become too attached to work. I have many friends from work, but that’s not using work to fill non-work relationships. I’ve always maintained that I go to the office for work — that’s it, it’s not a Life for me.

Tim Ferriss is the author of The Four Hour Workweek. Looks like a fad-type book but perhaps there are merits. May take a look at it if I come across it at a bookstore.

next

via bb, someone put a whole NeXT system on ebay. WOW. That brings back memories. 1996. My first job at ex-ex-company, I had a huge NeXT plus a regular monitor (the large ones, not the flatscreen ones we use nowadays) on my tiny desk — I was left with the equivalent of an A4 sheet of paper for writing space. It was a funny system, there was home and objects and it was slow but pretty. The trading floor used it, and there were in-house software written on it, so certain people had to have it. I just remember there were black NeXTs and white NeXTs — mine was black. In terms of computer history, I’d just gotten rid of my LC and was about to purchase the Performa 6200.

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dockables

via lifehacker (who in turn got it from mbw picks and tuaw), my newest download.

dockables is a suite of 12 little applescipt apps that can be added to the dock so that popular system events can be done with just one click. The events are: shut down, restart, sleep, sleep display, log out, screen saver, empty trash, eject media, close applications, hide applications, mute sound and screenshot. Actually the dockables aren’t limited to the dock; they can be added to the menu bar, on the desktop or from other application launchers. Comes in 3 themes: tangerine, colour and midnight.

dockables

Since I have a cleardock (another lifehacker download), the midnight theme suits me best. One slight complaint is I wish the icons are smaller, they’re a bit … I dunno … loud. If that makes sense. I do like them though, very very useful. I wish they have one to turn off the airport as well as close apps.

waterproof

Turns out, my cool yellow raincoat isn’t as waterproof as I thought. It was pissing down with rain and it was almost 4pm, I was watching TV and contemplating taking a nap. In other words I was enjoying being at home out of the rain.

Then mm called about some documents that I had to sign and it was blah blah blah urgent-cakes. I had to go out. I don’t want to talk about it but I was severely annoyed. Yes it couldn’t be helped but it didn’t take away the severity of my annoyance. I dislike leaving home on a good day, and on a day when I had no reason to go out? Blah. Because of the urgency I took a taxi; then watched as the bus I would have normally taken pass merrily in front of the taxi that had gotten stuck in a traffic jam.

And on top of it, I got soaked coming home. At first I thought I’d take the bus home then I missed the bus, and the rain got heavier so I walked back to the taxi stand at my old office. Part of it involved walking up a long hill while a waterfall of rain water poured its way down past me. My trousers got soaked almost to my knees and my raincoat started getting wet all over and sticking to my arms and shirt.

Annoyed.

adium 1.1

I automatically updated to adium 1.1. First of all, it now only runs on Tiger which, with my pb1 still on a combo of jaguar and classic os 9, is kinda sucky. Then again, I don’t chat on the pb1.

Quite a few new features, including the ability to arrange tabs on any side of the message view, not just the bottom. It’s really cool, especially if I have multiple tabs open. I do love the tab feature of adium as well as how it combines IMs from the same contact. Of course, if the same person messages me on yahoo then gtalk I won’t tell the difference, but that’s another story.

Apparently BUZZ in yahoo is now fully supported. I’ll have to ask Car or K to buzz me one of these days, hee.

On ars technica people are saying they can’t participate in yahoo group chats on adium. It threw me at first … I’ve done group chats on yahoo using adium. Then I realise — group voice chat. Ah, the good old days, the reason why I got the dell. shrug Skype works just as well for me.

I’ve said this many times, for a program that’s free it’s fantastic. I would say it’s an essential program for any mac user. Yep.

the game and the job

I spent two days playing jewel quest[/small voice], which gasp I’ve never really played before. I’m not very good at it but I can totally understand the addiction factor.

Oh, and in between, this morning I did something serious. I went to meet the regional chairman at PL’s company. Very nice guy, we had a good discussion. Afterwards PL called me and said he likes me. I’m hopeful. I have a call with her global head in 2 weeks’ time, probably a formality but a necessary evil.

a p-p-penguin of a time

I was playing Club Penguin for my niece. She’s too young to play on her own so I was supervising her. Club Penguin has been described variously as an MMORG for kids, myspace for the braces generation, or IMHO Second Life Lite Lite Lite. She has a free membership only, which allows her to waddle around the icescape playing games to earn coins. Chat is restricted because really, she’s too young for chat. The good news is that Club Penguin takes potential infiltrators very seriously and has strict language filters for chat.

I’ve avoided getting involved in Second Life because I know I’ll become obsessed. I go to myspace for music but I don’t find any appeal in having 300,000 friends. But I like the look of Club Penguin. Like diner dash and the casual games I’ve been playing, it’s a nice and safe environment providing there is adequate supervision.

Sigh. I wish I really were 12 years old.

clubpenguin

job, clean, fit, reset

Went to dinner with ex-colleagues last night, and I was down at PL’s office again this morning which culminated in another semi-business lunch. The long and short of it is that I may have a lead in the job front. But it depends on the decisions of senior management so I’m not going to jinx things by thinking about it too much.

I had vague plans to do a big clean of the apartment — go through room by room and throw out unwanted stuff. But what have I been doing for the last 2 weeks? Melting in the heat, playing the wii, playing diner dash, writing, sleeping, watching tv. Nowhere near starting with the cleaning.

Haven’t done any swimming or running either. argh!

And the vague idea of doing a big website redesign? Forget it. That will involve far too much work. Though now that MT4 is out I really should either bite the bullet and upgrade, or switch to wordpress. Again, too much work.

Basically, I’ve done very little except laze around since I got home.

Purrfect.

pages and numbers

Apple announced (among other new things) iWork ‘08, which now includes Numbers, a spreadsheet function. It compliments Pages (the word processor) and Keynote (the powerpoint equivalent). It’s supposed to work with MS Office and at $79 for a single version is very affordable.

iWork came with the mbp, and I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never tried it. Like 99.9% of the population I use Office at work, and the poor mac version at home until a couple of years ago when I discovered writely. Even though it’s now under the google umbrella I’ve continued to use it. I dislike the newest layout but nothing can beat its portability and clean interface.

So, will I try out iWork? May be. Don’t hold your breath.

roast chicken

I made roast chicken today. Not sure why I’d do that, because it was a fairly large chicken and it’s enough for 6 meals at least. shrug

Being the complete and utter dork that I am, I took photos of the process.

Make the seasoning: mix garlic, shallots, lemon zest, italian seasoning, salt & pepper with olive oil.

rchicken001rub rchicken002rub

Butterfly the chicken by cutting off the backbone. Carefully ease the skin off the breast and fill the pocket with seasoning. Don’t take the skin off, just make sure the seasoning is between the skin and meat. Rub rest of seasoning on thighs and drumstick.

rchicken004spatch rchicken005season

Place over lemon slices and roast at 200°C/400°F for 20-30mins, then turn the heat down to 180°C/350°F. Strain off the cooking juices and baste often.

rchicken007cook

I parboiled some sweet potatoes and carrots then added to the roasting tray about halfway through. The whole dish is ready in about 1-1.5hrs. Let stand for 15-20mins before carving.

rchicken008ready

Made gravy from the cooking juices — added some chicken stock I had in the freezer. And here’s the finished product:

rchicken010meal

um I was playing around with iMovie and made a movie out of the pictures. Problem is the quality isn’t very good. Don’t know why.

new music express

Staying with the music theme, here are some of my recent purchases.

The Invitation — Thirteen Senses
Contact — Thirteen Senses
If You’ve Never Been — Embrace
This New Day — Embrace
Out of Nothing — Embrace
Tin Lily — Jeff Black
Love Travels at Illegal Speeds — Graham Coxon
Another Fine Day — Golden Smog
Blood on the Slacks — Golden Smog
From the Decker House — The Rosewood Thieves
Feeling the Fall — The Village Green

I was also listening to videos of Death Cab for Cutie on youtube. Further surfing led me to barsuk records and a very generous collection of free mp3s of their musicians.

thirteen senses

Yes I’m a britpop and britpop-influence junkie. My iTunes library is full of Coldplay, Keane, Travis, Starsailor and the like. Here’s my newest discovery, Thirteen Senses from Penzance. Their song Into the Fire was featured on both Grey’s Anatomy and the 4400. This one’s called Do No Wrong and it’s really really good.

Do No Wrong

Satellites contain us
Traffic lights control us
Rockets shoot us up into the stars
Rockets shoot us up into the stars

Letters keep us posted
Numbers calculated
Nothing picks us up when we are down
Nothing picks us up when we are down

Complement the atmosphere
Fill the ground with all our tears
Dry them up to make it clear
Do no wrong
Complement the atmosphere
Fill the ground with all our tears
Dry them up to make it clear
Do no wrong

Strange surrounds each corner
Stains pollute the water
Something for us all to think about
Something for us all to think about

Summer sun protects us
Winter rain affects us
Now it seems to me we can’t be free
Now it seems to me we can’t be free

Close the door before it’s late
We were born to love and hate
Turn it down for our own sake
Do no wrong
You fill your ears with every note
Direction seems the only hope
Its crowded lets create now
Do no wrong

Common sense protect us
Everything affects us
To the outside light its paradise
To the outside light its paradise

transformers

We went to see Transformers mainly at my behest. I kinda wanted to see a film and there weren’t so many choices. I’ve heard of Transformers as toys and a cartoon when I was young, but I was never into it. I mean, I’ve seen my fair share of Japanese giant robot cartoons, but I didn’t obsessively follow them, nor found them memorable.

When the film started and the military base was being attacked, mm was scared and I was afraid she wouldn’t like the film.

Then the action got bigger, and everything got bigger. (Come on, it’s a Michael Bay film after all.) I was flabbergasted at the CGI effects — so seamless, to make the solid mechanical transformers move so fluidly. Wow, ILM really did their stuff. mm was getting into it too, so that was a relief.

We thought it was a very enjoyable film, one of the best we’d seen in a while. Yes the dialogue was clichéd and exposition-like at times; some of the human characters were extraneous and parts of the film were plain corny. But it’s not high drama — it’s a action film that’s based on toys! The main characters are the robots, there isn’t supposed to be a great human story there.

Like one of the critics said on rotten tomatoes: “there is so much action packed into every second of Transformers that by the time it’s over, you may be tempted to go outside and give the box office another 10 bucks.”

avocado pasta

I had penne with avocado for lunch today. It’s a dish that K introduced me to, and we had it for one lunch when I was visiting. The avocado I had weren’t as creamy or avocado-tasting as the Hass in Chile, but it wasn’t as watery as I expected.

For one portion I mashed up half an avocado and seasoned with lots of salt and pepper. Then it was just a matter of adding the pasta. For decoration (and a little taste) I sprinkled on some Italian seasoning. I should have also dribbled on some olive oil but forgot. It was nice.

avopenne

three

Alright, I’ll stop complaining about it being so hot after this.

I took 3 showers today. One in the afternoon cos I was tired and wanting a nap but not wanting to get my bed all sticky.

My normal shower after dinner.

I’m off to bed but I’ve gone completely sticky again so I’ll need to re-shower. Now one might ask why I don’t skip the normal shower till just before bedtime. Good question. Except I wash my hair at night and I don’t blow dry it completely and I don’t want to sleep with partially wet hair. I know, I’m lame and anal.

diner dash

I’ve been playing Diner Dash all day. It’s a game that came out like over 3 years ago and I’ve only just found it. I subscribed to the same publisher as Ravenhearst, for $6.99 a month (min 12 months) I get one game — meaning I will end up with at least 12 games. They call these casual games, I suppose as opposed to hardcore games like WoW, GTA, Doom etc.

It’s a time management game where planning and the ability to multi-task is important. The player is Flo who runs a diner. The aim is to serve the different types of customers, get the target amount of money and get to the next level.

I finished, three times actually. The trick at later restaurants is the keep a long line at the podium (returning as often as possible to keep the waiting customers happy) and control the sequence of actual diners.

It’s addictive alright. There are 2 sequels, eeeep.

dinerdash

idvd

Sis was asking me about burning photos to dvd for backup. I told her to back it up to an external hard disk instead because of the capacity. But then I remembered mm making a dvd of her pilgrimage trip and how she said I should make a dvd of my trip.

I mean I have the programs, so I really should make better use of them. Especially since I already use iPhoto to organise my pictures.

Heh. So straightforward with iDVD. Pick a theme, split the trip up to smaller slideshows, add music, add comments, customise the menu and burn. Tested it on my tv, it looks good.

In other news, still blastfully hot.

In further other news, this is entry #888 for this MT installation.