Monday, February 19, 2007

Vimeo

Posted by Chris @ 10:04 PM

I've been getting fed up with YouTube recently. It is poorly designed (cluttered), the quality and download speed of the video is poor, and I can't get at my orignal videos so it is pretty useless as a quick way for backing up my original video files online.

So I've been looking around at other video sites, and two in particular caught my attention - Blip.tv and Vimeo. Blip.tv was good, it offered original file storage and download, but there was something about it I didn't quite like, or get, and so it wasn't for me. However Vimeo is much better. The website is well designed and good looking, the quality of the flash video is top notch, download speed seems good, and they store your original files and allow you and your users to download them for free. To top it off they have a really good community user base in the forums, and a site admin who seems to be really involved. The only criticism is that their site is a little on the light side for documentation, and there is no API (but I've made do as you'll see).

So without further ado I bring to you the videos section of my site, powered by Vimeo. I mentioned the lack of an API, but they do provide a feed of user's clips, so that with a bit of XSL my integration was soon up and running. I hope you find the clips of a better quality now, and of course if you want the best quality just head on over to Vimeo where you can download the originals. Magic, a job well done, well done Vimeo!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Windows Vista

Posted by Chris @ 9:16 PM

Installing some Windows XP security updates on Friday evening seemed to cause some major issue for Windows XP come Saturday afternoon when I tried to boot up my machine to upload some photos, from Fountains Abbey. You see as soon as it hit Windows in the boot sequence, it restarted itself. I tried it in safe mode, last good configuration mode, and a few other modes, nothing, every time a reboot. XP had died, long live Vista!

After whipping my HDD out of my machine I stuck it into my Ubuntu box, figured out how to mount the Windows partitions using this very handy page, and copied my data onto my external HDD.

I then started the job of repartitioning and formatting my HDD, and installing Vista, which I have to admit was made very painless by the Vista install. In fact, my whole experiance of Vista so far has been positive. I got it up and working in no time, all the apps I need are working, and it actually has some nice touches, like Media Center being included and a snazzy look and feel. The only downsides, I don't get the full on glass (Aero) snazzy look and feel because my graphics card is deemed not good enough, and IIS7.0 is confusing and doesn't work with .aspx and .asp file, but nothing that a bit of reading won't cure, I'm sure.

All in all I can't be happier with Vista, I'd recommend it!

Fountains Abbey

Posted by Chris @ 5:46 PM

Dawn at Fountains Abbey

For Dawn's Valentines Day surprise I took her for a day out to Fountains Abbey. We enjoyed rambling about the magnificent ruins and romantic walks in the surrounding water gardens (including a quite scary tunnel!), before finishing off the day with an afternoon tea in the nearby Ripon. Photos of the day (the majority of which were taken by Dawn) are in the usual place.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I've given the website a service

Posted by Chris @ 8:38 PM

A website is like a car, every now and again you need to give it a service to help keep it running smoothly. So for the past week or two I've lifted the bonnet on my site, poked my head inside and given it a bit of a going over. Chances are you won't have noticed anything that different (especially if you only subscribe to my feed) but if anything you might have thought it loaded a little quicker, or noticed something different about the sidebar. So without further ado, to help those who don't notice every little change, here's what I did:

  • Removed the Blogger and PayPal image buttons from the side bar.
  • Merged the “Code Projects” and “Mini Sites” sections into “Stuff I've Done” in the side bar.
  • Removed some of the deadwood from the new “Stuff I've Done” section, like the image tag cloud and infobar.
  • Tidied up the various bits of JavaScript that were kicking about in the main source of the page into a single JavaScript file.
  • Used the minified versions of the YUI library.
  • Made sure my CSS file validates, and is as small as possible.
  • Got my entire site validating to XHTML Strict 1.0 again.
  • Removed extraneous html from my templates.
  • Updated my site map.
  • Overall these changes have helped to reduce the overall inital download of my site by a 1/3, to around the 173k mark.

So, all that done, things are a lot better under the hood. The next pages I want to tackle are the search page, and my sitemaps site wide validator. The search page needs updating to get the Google search working again, and the validator needs a complete redesign outside of this sites template, to make it useful and show what it is, not to make it fit in to my site. If you have any thoughts on either of these pages, or any of the changes I've made, please let me know, and I may incorporate them!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Ant's house warming

Posted by Chris @ 7:00 PM

Ant's house warming
Ant has got himself a new pad in Harrogate, so to settle himself in he threw a house warming party. The theme was cocktails, and as the picture above attempts to show, a lot of experimental cocktails were made and consumed. It was a good bash, and his new place is really cool. Suits him perfectly, and is near the centre of town where all the bars are ;o) Well done fella, hopefully you'll have a few more memorable nights there in the months (and years?) to come...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Useless Account

Posted by Chris @ 1:15 PM

Useless Account - Absolute genius.

“Today's web is crazy. Open ID is a pipe dream. Every direction you turn you're forced to create yet another account. Most of the time it's for one of those throw-away web startups created 10 times a day, but occasionaly it's worth the effort. It might be to purchase some fancy threads, order a pizza or see how fat the Cool Kids from high school have become. When it's that important, you can't afford to drop the ball. With a useless account you can practice without fear. So when it comes to the crunch, you're ready! Sign up now!”

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Mac ads

Posted by Chris @ 1:09 PM

If you've not seen them already, watch the adverts for the Get a Mac campaign starring Mitchell and Webb. They really are quite good. [via iain tait | crackunit.com]

Charlie Brooker doesn't like these ads so much, and makes for an interesting read. [via plasticbag.org]

As for me, I'll not be switching to a Mac just yet, I'm too comfortable on XP.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Morzine 2007

Posted by Chris @ 9:24 PM

I'm back! For those I don't talk to as often as I should, I've been away with Dawn's family once again for our now annual snowboarding holiday in Morzine (see 2005 and 2006).

This year, despite the bringers of doom on the news saying there was no snow, they obviously lied, again, because we quite happily snowboarded for a week. Granted, it didn't snow any fresh stuff, and there were some patchy bits, but in the main, enough snow to sustain a few thousand people on the pistes for a week is enough for me.

Not too many photos this year, so you should be able to whiz through them pretty quickly (and for those who've already seen them, did you see my descriptions?) A few videos from our flashy new video camera too. Nothing that interesting I'm afraid, I was reluctant to have it on the slopes when I could have fallen on it, so they are from our last day, when we walked around Avoriaz, and caught a bit of the O'Neill Pro Freestyle 2007 competition.

Anyway, suffice to say we enjoyed it, it was nice to get away and relax / switch off for a bit, and the Alps are as breathtaking as ever.

Finally, in the photos you'll see some photos of me sporting a beard. For those people calling it a bit of stubble, you should know the facts before you go insulting me. I decided not to shave on the third / fourth day of our holiday because my electric razor got damaged, which meant it ripped my face to shreds if I used it. Also, Steven and Martin were being lazy and not shaving, so I thought I'd join in as I had nothing to loose. So given the 5 or so days that followed, I didn't shave, and the result is what is photographed. It's the longest I've gone without shaving ever, and so for me, it's the closest I'll ever get to sporting a beard, as Dawn pretty much didn't like it. And for those wondering, it didn't itch, and I found it quite soft and nice to touch (apart from catching my wedding ring in it). So there.