You're Amelia!
You're late!
Amelia Pond! You're the little girl!
I'm Amelia, and you're late.

Monday, August 20


Sleeping On The Job

I'm out of disk space (as usual), so I stopped by my local HiFi store and bought a 500GB Destern Wigital MyBook ES.  'Cause it's actually cheaper to buy that than to buy a bare drive and a cheap external case from my usual online computer store.

It looks good.  It's fast.  It's effectively silent.  It has both USB and eSATA.  And it keeps falling asleep.

That in itself is not a problem.  Having an external drive spin down when not in use is probably a good idea for most people.

The problem is twofold: One, you can't tell it not to spin down.  Two, whenever this happens, Windows goes nuts.  I get a barrage of "Delayed Write Failed" errors, despite the fact that I've disabled write caching on that drive, and the only way I can get Windows to recognise the drive again is to turn it off and on again, which is less than ideal.

So I had to write a little script in Cygwin to access the drive every five seconds.  Originally it was every minute, but that didn't actually suffice to keep the little beasty awake.

I think that part of the problem is USB support on my elderly motherboard, which dates to 2003.  I've had problems with other USB drives, but never a hiccup with my Firewire external drive.

Time for a new computer.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 11:24 AM | Comments (6) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
Post contains 233 words, total size 1 kb.

Sunday, August 19



You can order by a case statement.

Well, why didn't you say so?!

I'm working on the layout & style manager, which supports cascading styles.  So I need to pick up the default style settings, overlay that with the default settings for your blog, and overlay that with the settings for the current page.  There are a couple of tricks on top of that - you can enable or disable the customisation of the style for any block or area - but it at least makes the queries really easy.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 04:16 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
Post contains 91 words, total size 1 kb.

Wednesday, August 15


(Falls Over. Dies.)

Coding on the theme builder is done.

Hmm.  Except for a couple of hooks into the new image processing module.  And the bit where it copies the new standard templates onto your blog when you activate it.  And I need to set an expires header on dynamically-generated CSS, because otherwise it gets retrieved on every page fetch (unless you have a lazy browser like IE or Opera).  And I still need to tidy up the user interface templates.  Then I just have to put in the base font set, and create samples for those fonts.   And create another 138 directories on the site for all the menu items.  Oh, and I need to create 840 logo images.  And then I have to integrate a simplified version into the registration system.  And test it.

But that can wait until morning tomorrow morning.  First I really need to post some more opening creditses.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 11:36 PM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
Post contains 155 words, total size 1 kb.


Little Buggers On The Hillside...

Okay, let's see if them little buggers actually work...

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 01:00 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
Post contains 14 words, total size 7 kb.

Tuesday, August 14


Crunch Crunch Crunch

ImageMagick will reduce those 140,000* images to about half their previous size with barely noticeable changes to the quality.  (It should be able to do it with no changes at all, as far as I can see, but it doesn't.)  After six hours of crunching away, it's up to plum.

* Yeah, the number went up.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 09:58 PM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
Post contains 59 words, total size 1 kb.


Little Captions On The Hillside...

The font I've used in my banner, and on the and sites, is called Horatio.  Unlike the 300-odd fonts I've arranged for use in the banner generator, it's not free; it's owned and licensed by Linotype.  (I think...  Yep.)  I got it with some program or other years ago, possibly Lotus Word Pro, and I've been using it ever since.

But while I have a license, and can do whatever I like with it here at my desk, I can't put it on a server.  So those little words in the menu?  Static images.

I currently have 669 words in my list, including upper/lower case variations and plurals.  That's about 2MB of PNGs per colour.  I can run them through ImageMagick and get a slightly smaller file, but I can't seem to get an 8-bit PNG with working alpha transparency from any programmatic solution, so I'm stuck with 32-bits.  They do have run-length compression, so they're not that bulky.

So, 2MB of black text, 2MB of white text, and anyone who needs more words can just let me know and I'll rerun the program.

But if you need a different colour...  Well, okay.  I just updated the program to cycle through all 140 of the named web colours.  That makes 280MB of PNGs in about 100,000 files.

It takes about two minutes to generate a complete set for one colour - about five hours in total.*

I hope you're happy! eek

* Why so slow?  Well, there's a slight bug in the graphics library I'm using, and it can't keep the baseline of text even at small font sizes.  So I'm doing what amounts to 4xFSAA on the fly in Python.  Also, it's anti-aliased, composited, shadowed, defringed and all that good stuff.  And I'm running on a four-year-old Athlon XP.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 03:46 AM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
Post contains 307 words, total size 2 kb.

Monday, August 13



The CSS positioning attributes go clockwise from top - top, right, bottom, left.  I'm always expecting it to go top, left, bottom, right, and then wondering why the hell my site has gone stupid.

Tip: Think tribble.  Or trouble.  There, easy! grin

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 02:35 PM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
Post contains 43 words, total size 1 kb.



I have found Nerdvana - a Javascript WYSIWYG editor that looks good, works well, and supports Safari and Opera.

It's called SPAW, but I won't hold that against it.

Downside - of course there's a downside.

A lot of the functionality is wrapped up in back-end PHP code, and I'd have to rewrite all of that.*  But that doesn't look to be overly difficult; it mostly seems to be configuration options and language support, so I can throw up one or two configurations and English-only to start with.

And it costs €250 for an Enterprise license.  But I can start with the GPL version: Since Minx is a hosted system, and the application itself is not distributed, I can do that.  At least, I think so; and if not, I can do a proof-of-concept with the GPL version and then buy the license once I know it will work.

Mootools - the AJAX library used in Minx 1.1 - also works across Firefox, IE, Safari and Opera.  The only other browser-side thingy I'm using is Flash, which again works on all major browsers.

So yay!

Update: Bum.  It generates hideous standards-based HTMLCRAP.  <span style="font-style: italic;"> my arse.

* That or set up a PHP server for the editor, which is also a possibility.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 02:14 PM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
Post contains 214 words, total size 1 kb.


Error Message Errors

When Minx coughs and dies (which is rather less often these days, and usually due to network hiccups when it does happen), it produces a detailed error dump.  Not so helpful to the end user, but it also gets emailed to me automatically.

This error that I just got from Ars Technica is less useful:
479004966831 is an invalid value for m.
Um.  Okay.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 12:06 PM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
Post contains 65 words, total size 1 kb.


CSS Does Something Right!

Here's my new banner, starring Floofy McFloofersons, a lynx kitten.  (Or at least, new banner #1; I'm going to tweak the banner code to give me multiple banners in random rotation again.)

Now, with the new layout, banners are divided into four sections: An ad area (for ad-supported sites), either 60 or 90 pixels high; a system menu (optional for paid sites), 25 pixels high; the main banner image section, which is however big you want, and a site menu, 25 pixels high (plus a 5-pixel margin for the drop shadow).

So I was going to have the software slice the image up into four segments and load them individually.  Not perfect, but not a huge pain either.

But this is something CSS actually does right, of at least, right enough.  You can't specify a particular section of an image as the background for an element, but you can specify the position of the background image within the element.

Which wouldn't help much... except that the positioning can be negative.  So for the system menu, I just position the image at y=-60 (or -90), fix the height of the div at 25px, and viola!

Makes it a lot easier to manage things.  Each banner is one image.  If you don't quite like what comes out of the banner generator, you can just pop it into a paint program and tweak it a bit; no worries about keeping four different images lined up.

So score one for CSS.  This time.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 03:06 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
Post contains 253 words, total size 1 kb.

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