Friday, May 13, 2005

Back on track

Having experimented for a while with my blog template, I think the principal elements are working correctly now in IE (I asked my flatmate to load my blog in both IE and Firefox on Windows XP, and it looked OK). If anyone is still having problems viewing this, please post a comment, including which browser you are using, and what resolution you are running at. I will try to be accomodating.

Can't see through Windows?

Ahem. Well, I have removed the customization of my blog template for the moment, oweing to some complaints from friends using IE under Windows. My blog was not displaying properly. It took me ages to put it together, too. It's not my fault that the IE box model is broken. But since I am a considerate joker, and would like people to read my finely crafted prose, I have restored Douglas Bowman's sublime 'Minima' style (with a few modifications). I dislike having to subjugate my creativity to poorly designed Microsoft rubbish, but that's life.
Of course, one obvious solution is to get a real browser, such as Firefox, which correctly implements the box model for CSS. Really, folks, aren't you getting tired of being shafted by a company that is making millions of dollars providing you with sub-standard wares? Aren't you tired of having to fork out doubly to protect yourselves against viruses because Windows is fundamentally insecure? Aren't you sick of The Blue Screen of Death? Of having to register software that you own legally, at your own inconvenience? As I said in an earlier post:
"If you value your computing freedom, don't be a Microsoft flunkie!"
At least, register your complaints with the company in question. It is your duty as a consumer to stand up for your rights. If someone - anyone at all - is doing you out of your hard-earned cash, you need to stop them. If you don't, then they get away with it, and continue providing poor service and products to your friends and family.
By the way, Firefox version 1.0.4 is available now.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

A day of limbo

[Warning - this will be a random post, with all manner of tomfoolery and shennanigans.]

Today had a strange feel to it. There was definitely something wrong, like it had fallen off the end of the array, and landed in some sort of out-of-body non-existant state, replaced by a counterfeit. You know the feeling - There's something you can't quite put your finger on, but it's there, hovering just out of view.
This can happen in the absence of coffee, and stems from a lack of sleep, I suspect. It didn't help that I had a four hour Electronic Principles lab, starting at 8am this morning. Who in their right mind decided that this was a good idea? Possibly the sort of person who says things like "Stiff upper lip, chaps!" and "Come now, boys, we must confound Gerry at every turn. Tally-ho! It's Peru or blast!"
I suppose that this sort of thing "builds character" and is "good for me".

A bad letter: Envelope bears the mark of the IRD (or other government department).
A good letter: Envelope bears the mark of the IRD, the contents of which state that they owe you money, in this case, an interest write-off on last year's student loan.

There was odd stuff going on in the square today, too. Some guy came along at lunchtime, while everyone was having lunch in the sun. He was wearing an Indiana Jones type fedora. From somewhere on his person he produced a ghetto-blaster and a whip. He put on some Fat Boy Slim, and started cracking the whip. As far as I could make out, there was no box for donations. If he had thought about it, he might have used his hat. I think this was a fundamental oversight on his part... Yup, one seriously fruit-laden cake. (Whip Man retired after a few cracks and a fair bit of abuse from the crowd.)

To whom it may concern;
Please return Tuesday. It's not that it is a particularly good day of the week, but it is an integral part of the week, nonetheless. If you return Tuesday to its rightful position, no charges will be laid. While you're at it, an extra day of the week would come in handy, no? You could slip it in, say, before Monday. No? It was worth a try...

Thought for the day:
"Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana."
- Groucho Marx

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Form & Function

Ahh, that's better. Relaxed, harmonious tones to soothe the eyes. I thank Douglas Bowman for lending me his 'Minima' style for so long, and providing an excellent base on which to build a new look.
I also added a link on the right-hand panel whereby you may obtain the latest version of Firefox in all its multi-tabbable, plug-inable, non-spywareable glory. What? You're still using Internet Exploder? Shame on you. If you value your computing freedom, don't be a Microsoft flunkie! The Good Doctor says:
"Take one Firefox Web Browser before bedtime, and if headaches persist, see your specialist. Warning: Side effects may include compulsion to obtain and install Linux."
Best Regards,


Monday, May 02, 2005

How is this possible?

There was a programme on TV last week about a bunch of English* schoolkids of GCSE age who are being given the opportunity to experience how school was in the 1960's. I nearly fell of the sofa in total disbelief at how these kids of 16 or 17 years old could not spell the words 'remember' or 'tongue', point out where Scotland is on a map (it's a part of Britain for chrissakes, and has been for some time), nor could they - and this left me aghast - point out their own home town, London, the capital city of England, on a map. They could not shut their mouths for ten seconds, or for go for ten minutes without one of them being sent to the principal's office, or being made to face the wall, or write lines. They were cheeky little bastards, whom I wouldn't hesitate to beat the living daylights out of if they had given me the same crap that they gave the teachers. And the sad thing is that in their ordinary, everyday lives, this is what they get away with.
In a similar vein, there was another programme on about a bunch of English kids who have been sent out into the middle of the desert in Utah, America, to a 'Brat Camp'. This is because they are totally out of control, abusing drugs and alcohol, beating up/ threatening/ abusing their parents and siblings, regularly breaking the law and failing in (or in some cases, getting expelled from) school. Their parents had had enough. Again, these kids could not shut up, or follow simple instructions without complaint, constantly trying to dodge the chores they were given. I was gobsmacked. But maybe I shouldn't have been. How did the situation get this bad?
I have a hint of an idea. Interfering social policies set up by soft, apologist, pandering government departments. They have taken the ability to discipline away from parents by passing idiotic laws making it illegal to smack children, and instead advocate negotiation as a means of discipline. Can anyone see what is wrong with this scenario?
"Stop doing that, Timmy, or else I'll... I'll... I'll just have to tell you to stop again!"

Yes, I'm sure that this is effective, and guaranteed to stop poor behaviour. As you can probably guess, my parents were not against smacking me when I needed it, as I often did. The claim made by government to justify this change in law is that too many kids in New Zealand are being after being beaten half to death by their parents. I whole-heartedly agree. But banning smacking is not going to stop this. The violent parents who abuse their kids in this way are still going to do it, and in the same cut, a valuable and effective parenting tool has been taken away from rational, judicious parents. How does this benefit anyone?
Discipline starts at home. I count myself lucky to have been raised by morally strong parents, who taught me right from wrong, and in the process, that if you make dumb choices, you only have yourself to blame when it all turns to custard. You are responsible for yourself and your own behaiviour.
I reckon that in order to succeed in the post-high school battlefield of life, a kid needs the following skills, at a minimum:
  • The ability to reason, and think logically through a problem.
  • The ability to cook a basic meal.
  • The ability to manage a bank account.
  • The ability to read, write and do basic algebra.
  • The ability to empathise with others.
  • A respect for the environment.

These are just a few things off the top of my head, but there are so many kids out there who cannot do these basic things, and who have absolutely no respect for the environment (or anything else, for that matter), and I am disgusted by this.
I don't know what the ultimate solution is, but these things, coupled with a little discipline and perseverance, wouldn't be a bad place to start.

* I'm not trying to single out English kids here, but that was what the programme was about. I am glad to say that Scotland has its own education system which is far better than England's. Scotland has its share of violent, obnoxious punk kids, too, just like any country.