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Liverpool GeekUp and the new Upcoming.org

I just discovered that the new Upcoming.org site has been released and very nice it is too. The first feature I used was to change my location to Liverpool rather than London. I’m not a particularly practised Upcoming user but I’d never managed to tame the ‘metro’ thing on the old site.

With my location changed to Liverpool I was pleased to see the Liverpool GeekUp spring up on the ‘front’ page.

We’ve had a Manchester GeekUp for a good while now but Stuart and I thought it was about time we got a Liverpool version going and with Andrew’s blessing we have done.

So, on the last Thursday of every month we will be holding a ‘GeekUp’ at 3345 Parr St in Liverpool, from 6pm onwards. If you have an interest of any description in all things Internet and are local to Liverpool, come along…

Make yourself look like Pete Townshend

Look at yourself in the back of a spoon.

Note: whilst I thought this was funny, I unfortunately didn’t make it up. I also am not sure of the original source so apologies to the author.

CSS Padding and Width…

Is it only me that thinks that the ‘padding’ value of html elements getting added to the width value of html elements is stupid? ‘Margin’, yes that should be added because it is on the outside of the element but if I set a div to be 750px wide I don’t mean it to become 770px wide when I add 20px of padding.

Whose bright idea was that?

Adding “Open with Console” to the context menu…

The other day I discovered that if you hold down the ‘shift’ key whilst right clicking on a directory in the Vista explorer you get a ‘Open Command Window Here’ entry in your context menu. You can do this on XP with a PowerToy or some registry jiggery-pokery but it was nice to have it out of the box in Vista.

Having picked up on the excellent ‘Console‘ from Ben’s post the other day I was back to having to ‘cd’ into directories again so set about rummaging in the registry. So… the fruits of my labours:

Add the key – HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\shell\open_console

Set the value of that to whatever you want to appear in the context menu e.g. Open Console Here

Under that add the key HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\shell\open_console\Command

Set the value of that to the path to your console.exe with the parameters -d %1 In my case that gave me C:\Program Files\Console 2 Beta\Console2\console.exe -d %1

There you go… You should now have the context menu entry. Right click on a directory and open Console on that directory. Coupled with e – texteditor’s “Open as e Project’ you can have your rails set up running in a jiffy.

I would like to add the ability to open a few tabs in Console from the context menu with the same command and maybe start a server running in one and have another ready for commands but I can’t seem to get that going at the moment as I’m no great shakes in the registry. If anyone could point me in the right direction for that I’d be most obliged… In fact, it would be nice to open the ‘e’ project and the Console tabs avec server etc with the one context menu command, perhaps ‘Open Rails Environment’ but maybe I’m getting carried away there…

Windows Rails Environment

I have been aware for some time that TextMate is the defacto standard editor for Rails folk but have also been aware that there isn’t really a Windows equivalent. As I don’t have a Mac this has been an issue. I have tried loads of editors and all have their good and bad points but I have yet to see anything close to the stuff I have seen done with TextMate.

Yesterday, Dave Verwer posted a Windows alternative on the GeekUp mailing list. I dutifully downloaded it as I always follow Dave’s advice to the letter 😉 . Bugger me with the wide end of a rag man’s trumpet if it wasn’t exactly what I was after. The editor in question is ‘e’ which you can get for a snip ($35) at  http://www.e-texteditor.com/

It supports TextMate bundles, has a built in file explorer that can be set to project folders and other goodness and can even be set to have a black background which was the clincher for me.

This morning on my daily peruse of the blogging world I stumbled upon a new post on http://softiesonrails.com which in turn led me to an excellent post by Ben Kitrell which outlines the steps to achieving an all singing all dancing Rails environment on Windows. Nice one Ben… I’ve still got a few bits to add but that sounds the business.

Note to Reader: I have deliberately avoided phrases like ‘Mac-esque’ and the like. Those sanctimonious f’ers are smug enough without giving them further encouragement.

Dell Support – is this a joke?

I just got off the phone from a call to Dell Support. Here is my problem… As I have mentioned on a couple of occasions here I installed Vista on my M90 laptop pretty much as soon as it was released on MSDN. Installing this early left me with a few driver issues but undeterred I soldiered on. Slowly but surely the drivers started to appear on the Dell site and I installed them with varying degrees of success. The sound driver still gives worse performance than the XP one I tried and a few other issues….

I was just setting up another new Dell laptop when I noticed that the Notebook System Software utility was running (on Vista) and was periodically checking for updates from Dell having scanned the system to determine the hardware. That sounds about the cut of my jib thought I and off I scurried to install it on my M90. Having run the installer 3 times I still haven’t got it working, hence the call to Dell support.

After the usual switchboard tennis I got through to the person I needed to speak to.  I explained that I had upgraded my operating system and that the Notebook System Software (NSS) wasn’t working. “I don’t think we are going to be able to help you” he told me. Why, because they don’t know if that application will work on my machine with Vista. “So”, I argued, “why does it appear in the Vista 32-Bit Drivers and Downloads list and state in the release notes that it applies to the Precision M90”. “Err…”, he replied, “that is only with the operating system that we supplied the machine with.” After a bit of pointless to-ing and fro-ing I capitulated and hung up.

During the call he also suggested that I ‘try the Internet, you know blogs or newsgroups’. Obviously, I had already done this but his suggestion to try ‘blogs’ was a good one, hence the post 🙂

So, the moral of this story is, once you upgrade your operating system you are screwed as far as any Dell drivers or system software is concerned. You are on your own…

IIS & MIME types

Having been confounded by this before I new exactly where to look when I couldn’t get a PowerPoint 2007 file to download via IIS. (Properties/Http Headers/MIME Types… to be precise).

What I didn’t know is what the MIME type of a .pptx file should be which led me to this list of files and their MIME types. UPDATED LINK: list of mime types Excellent, comprehensive and up to date list beautifully rendered with some nice Comic Sans and a matrixesque page background 😉

The Hazards of Being a Nerd

I finally got around to doing a short talk at the February GeekUp meeting in which I covered some of the Health & Safety aspects of working at a computer. I didn’t know a great  deal about this prior to researching the talk and was quite shocked to find how prevalent things like RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) are amongst computer workers with some sources suggesting as many as 1 in 4 people having some symptoms.

I was equally surprised following the talk at how many people in the group had some symptoms, pretty much everyone I spoke to in fact.

So, be warned…

The slides are available here in pptx, ppt or pdf.

Thanks to those who attended and thanks to Andrew and Code ComputerLove for arranging/supplying the venue.

Vista Launch Presentations

The presentations from my Vista Community Launch talk (21 Jan 2007) at the Manchester VBUG meeting held at Manchester Digital Development Agency

Thanks to all those who attended and congratulations to the lucky Vista winners… You know who you are.

Yahoo – you gotta love ’em

Having heard about the release of Yahoo Pipes I was keen to have a look at what it was all about as it certainly sounded the business. Unfortunately by the time I got around to paying them a visit earlier this afternoon the site was down.

I just thought I’d have another look and the url is currently displaying this:

Yahoo Pipes Clogged

You’ve gotta love ’em…


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