Not an End of Year Reflection

I was going to do one of my traditional “reflect on the year” thingies, but it occurred to me that there’s not much point. I have actually done very little this year that I intended to. Oh sure, I finally managed to get NinjaLinks in to a half working state, and rev.iew.me is doing really well, but these two things are a tiny fraction of what I talked myself in to. I guess this goes back to what I said in my last entry about getting on with stuff and making the most of my time. (Although you guys perhaps misunderstood me… I mean to make the best of my “coding time” so that I have MORE free time for relaxing stuff like my gaming, the pets, etc)

Anyway, instead of the yearly recap, I’m going to talk about one of my Christmas presents. Karl bought me an Acer Aspire One. I had initially wanted the Asus EEE, but having spent some time with Rachael‘s when she came down last I found myself struggling with the keyboard. The AA1 keyboard is much more similar to that of my Dell so I can switch between the two effortlessly.

The whole idea of me getting a netbook is that it’ll help with this efficiency thing. I can code stuff on the move (in otherwise useless time) as well as more frequent access to my e-mail. I hope this helps me get my inbox back down to a more manageable level, especially as the e-mails I made promises about this time last year are still at the bottom of my bloody inbox.

So… the Acer. It is the Linux version (+5 geek points), with an 8GB solid state drive (means I can chuck the thing around!) and 512MB RAM. I’ve ordered an 8GB Micro SD card which — in the M-SD to SD adapter — I can slot in to the side using the specifically made expansion slot. I can also use the card minus the adapter for my mobile phone… not that I ever actually do anything with that.

I’ve already tweaked Linpus (the OS) about, but haven’t made any major changes. I installed Firefox 3 (it’s better behaved under Linux, I’ve found), ditched the unnecessary apps to free up drive space and added a custom desktop wallpaper (this probably sounds like no big deal but I am a Windows girl and it took me a while to figure out where to go!) Those of you interested in the process of tweaking Linpus may find my acer-tagged delicious bookmarks of use.

Of course, if I get too used to Linux, this can only mean one thing for the Dell…

New Year, New Habits

As 2009 is fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about new years resolutions. It’s about now each year that I groan and decide that resolutions are not for me, knowing full well that any promises of exercise and healthy eating would be down the pan before the first week is out. I want to try a different approach for 2009 though. I know I’m not going to eat less chocolate, no matter how much I promise (although I have just this week cut down to 1 sugar in my coffee instead of 2), so I want to try and attack another bad habit of mine… procrastination and inefficiency.

I really need to pull my act together in the new year and finish off my todo list for rev.iew.me and the quilting bee, and I also need to finish the latest round of updates for my scripts. With this in mind, I’ve decided on the following resolutions:

  1. Complete two things before promising any one script or tutorial. No more “sure, I’ll get that done for you”, only to add yet another trouble to my to-do list.
  2. Work on my scripts. That means releasing the extra spam protection for NinjaLinks, and the collective add-on for BellaBuffs.
  3. Put a little TLC in to my website. I didn’t do much with this site in 2008, and this was reflected in both a half-broken install of WordPress and my slowly dwindling hits.
  4. Don’t be afraid to share responsibility. I’ve got a horde of staff at the quilting bee and several active members of rev.iew.me who I know would gladly help out, but I get paranoid about asking for help. I need to get over this.

I also need to start re-addressing the way I work (at work). I tend to go through ups and downs of productivity, and when I’ve got less on I check my mail and read PHP blogs and e-books. While this isn’t necessarily a waste of time, there are internal projects and dated jobs I could and should be finishing off. Likewise, better prioritisation would help me manage my time when there’s lots to do, so I need to communicate better with my boss and colleagues.

It’s all about working harder, coding faster, and making the most of my free time in 2009.

Ho Ho Ho!

Given that for the next day or so I’ll be rushing around here, there and everywhere, I thought it right that I post today and wish everyone a very merry Christmas, and good luck in advance of 2009. May your days be filled with good food, drink (if you’re so inclined) and festive cheer.

PS. If you happen to catch my website down at any point over the hols, please shoot me an e-mail with rough times (and your timezone).. thanks :)

uploadthingy

I came across uploadthingy.com via Hacker News last week. The idea is that you enter in your domain and a password, and it generates some HTML for you which allows visitors to upload files via your site, except the uploads are sent to uploadthingy. It basically takes away the hassle of having to deal with file uploads (no viruses for my server, thanks!)

The idea itself is intriguing, and I can see straight away where it would be useful. At work, we frequently have clients who need to send us files (such as artwork, proofs, etc) and this requires either clogging up e-mail with huge attachments, or trying to talk someone who may not be computer literate through the process of logging in to an FTP site. Almost everyone who has used the Internet has filled out a form before, and therefore this becomes the easy alternative.

Sign-up to the site was short and easy — I love short and easy — although there was a small bug with the “What’s this?” pop-up next to “Domain it will live on:” (top of the pop-up is obscured by my browser toolbars). I was able to log in and clearly see where I’d be picking files up from where I to receive any. It is clearly not by any means a complicated service to use, making it ideal for “mom and pop” sites who may not have the funds or ability to code up this functionality themselves.

Design-wise I had a few concerns. The purple links remind me too much of the default browser visited link colour, which may confuse visitors in to thinking they’d already clicked on certain things. Likewise, the navigation across the top is the same colour as the text, so it’s not clear that they’re links at all. I’m not entirely sure whether or not I like the little post-it notes everywhere either, especially as the majority of these seemed to have missing alt attributes.

On a personal level, I know I would struggle to find a use for it (and would not want to hand over a monthly fee for something I could code myself) but it’s definitely something I will be adding to my “link toolbox” for professional projects. It does make me wonder though… if we start outsourcing every component of a website, when does the website itself become redundant? ;)

Furry Friday: Guest Furries

This week’s Furry Friday post is brought to you courtesy of my Mummy. These two fine specimens are her boys; both Siamese; Merlin is the silver seal tabby point, Billi the chocolate point. (I’m sure if I’ve got those wrong she’ll correct me in a comment… *hint hint*)

Merlin and Billi; siamese cats

Sure, they were expensive, but they’re not as gorgeous as mine… ;)

Quilting Bee Blog Day 2008

So, Monday was the quilting bee‘s annual blog day. As I’m sure you’re aware by now — either from my own past entries or from other bee’s — the idea is that dedicated members tell you why they love the club, what it provides for them, show you what activities they’ve taken part in, whatever; anything goes!

This year I’m not doing that. You don’t need to read my biased opinions (I own the club, I can hardly be “objective” about it). Instead I’m going to tell you about some new features that will be introduced in the new year. Only a couple of bees know about this so it’s all a big surprise at the moment :)

The Q*Bee has a points system not dissimilar to rev.iew.me’s (surprise surprise). Members can earn points by taking part in (and winning) activities, posting on our custom “BBS” (the forum), referring new bees, nominating bees for awards, donating free*bees (graphics for other q*bee members) etc etc. There are tons of ways to earn points. The only problem is that there is not currently any way to spend points… and this is where the “plans” come in.

An ex-member member, Arien, initially made the suggestion. She thought we should all have some sort of customisable avatar. The idea is that we implement an entire wardrobe of clothes and accessories that avatars can be dressed in, which bees can spend their points on. Clothes can be limited edition, thus ‘collectable’, or generic. Each bee (member) can save their unique wardrobe and configuration, and this is viewable from the bee’s profile.

This opens up an entire new avenue of interactivity that I’m only just beginning to explore the scope of, but as well as that, will require a shop element. It is then through this shop element that we will be able to provide users the ability to customise their profiles (within reason, don’t get any ideas of myspace here!) and buy tangible items such as domain names, web space, custom q*bee produce, etc (funds allowing). It basically means that the more a bee is involved in the club, the more points they earn, and the more they can buy. In turn, having these new features encourages the activity that gets the points and it’s all one big circle of fun (in theory).

It’s all very exciting, and will require major coding time in the new year (with the help of my programmer bees) but I believe the changes will give the club to expand and improve beyond anything it has ever seen or done before. You’re more than welcome to share your thoughts, member or not.

The Blogmonster!

Huh, so how’s about this then. A non-WordPress blog?

As you may have gathered from the swearing yesterday, I had a few problems with WordPress 2.7. The changes they made to the various comments file seemed to disagree with my 16,000-ish comments, and so MySQL kept dying. There was also a faulty redirect causing stupid 404s for no apparent reason.

I did appreciate all the comments of support, and thank you for the suggestions. Yes, I’d deleted everything and uploaded afresh. Yes I’d turned off all the plugins. Yes, yes, yes. :P No, I have no idea why WP failed spectacularly. As I said, I’d upgraded 3 other WP blogs including my local copy this week, and none of those went kaput (admittedly, my local copy doesn’t have all of my comments in there, so still not sure if that’s related.)

Anyway, I’m rambling terribly! This post was only supposed to be a brief introduction to ‘the blogmonster’: aka my new blogging system. Given that I coded it on the spur of the moment in about 3 hours yesterday, there are no doubt going to be bugs. I plead with you all to report any faults you find, no matter how small you may think they are. They may save me hours of headache. Also, please bear in mind that things like archives, search etc are going to take additional time to get up. This was a total recode from the ground up, I’m not recycling code from my old system.

The theme is temporary. My number one priority was getting a working website. I’ll start to make it look half-way decent again tomorrow evening, and then after that I can knock up an admin panel (yes, I’m currently typing in phpmyadmin.)

Before I sign off for the night, I just want to say thank you to Kaylee, Vasili and Jenny who helped me convert my reviews over: cheers :D Oh, and I’ve not forgotten about q*bee blog day. You don’t escape that easy! :P

WordPress 2.7 Can Suck My Balls

At this precise moment in time I’m supposed to be telling you all about why I love the quilting bee. I was going to break the news about the secret upcoming project that’s going to increase the interactivity of the club tenfold and convince all you naysayers to finally get off your butts and join; the secret project that the members don’t even know about yet. Unfortunately, WordPress chose today as a great day to implode on me, and thus, the secret project shall remain exactly that.

I upgraded to the new WordPress yesterday. I like the new admin panel, and had already upgraded both my local copy and a couple of other online projects with relative ease… as easy as it normally is to back-up and upgrade WordPress. Aside from waiting 3 hours for all the bloat code to upload, the entire thing takes minutes, if that. And yet, I finally went to bed some time after midnight last night (partially caused by Lethal Weapon 4, I admit) leaving my blog admin panel in a state of disarray thanks to a lovely PHP fatal error.

For some absurd reason, something went wrong… somewhere. Not only was I incapable of editing entries, or even viewing the Comments / Comments in Moderation pages, I also had a scheduled post due to go up that WordPress kindly labelled as Missed schedule for me. Yeah, thanks for that. How about just publishing the bloody thing next time?

On top of that, I log in and find my error_log full of:

[15-Dec-2008 10:59:53] WordPress database error MySQL server has gone away for query UPDATE wp_options SET option_value = ‘35206’ WHERE option_name = ‘akismet_spam_count’ made by wp_new_comment, apply_filters, call_user_func_array, akismet_auto_check_comment, update_option

…amongst yet more fatal bloody errors.

So now I’m sat here, looking like a fucking idiot because I’m a professional web developer and I can’t even upgrade a simple script properly. I wiped out wp-content with only 04/08-10/08 folder back-ups, which means any image I’ve uploaded in the past 2 months, I’ve lost my smilies again, and I need up poke my theme before I can re-upload it and make my site look like something other than a generic shitty splog.

Fuck you WordPress.

Ranty Update #1: Oh FUCKING HELL. Now comments aren’t posting, and my plugins are all fried. DIE DAMN YOU.

No Lube, Only Oxo

Sorry, we can’t find lube, so why not cover your rudey bits in stock cubes instead…

stock cube lube

Nice.

Furry Friday: Wet n Wild

I was at work today, so haven’t had chance to take any pictures of the boys, so figured I’d post this old favourite instead; back when Karl and I lived at the flat, Hex loved the bathroom sink.

wet and wild

The odd thing is, he doesn’t really pay any attention to any of the sinks here at the house.

Downgrading Firefox

While everyone is busy upgrading their WordPress, I spent this morning downgrading Firefox.

As most of you will likely remember, I upgraded to Firefox 3 on download day and was quite happy” with it. The excitement was fairly short-lived, unfortunately.

I’ve been having problems with Firefox for a couple of months. I’d close the browser — either to shut down for the night or because I wasn’t using it at that precise moment — only to find when I tried to re-open it that the process had hung. This required a manual CTRL ALT DEL -> kill process to be able to try again (sometimes I’d have to repeat this 2-3 times before it’d finally open).

After an hour or so of use, memory usage typically shoots up to the 300,000K+ stage, which is 3 times what I predict it should be at (I very rarely have more than a few tabs open at once; my Firefox is not themed).

Most annoyingly, every time I load a web page that is even slightly “multimedia heavy” — i.e. uses flash, JavaScript, multiple images — Firefox would crash and burn. Earlier this week, after the 9th time of crashing in one day, I used to Mozilla Crash Reporter to send a profanity-filled rant to the Mozilla team. I’d apologise for sending it but it wouldn’t be sincere… I meant every word I said.

So, to cut my rambling rant short, I downgraded this morning. I downloaded Firefox 2.0.0.11 from OldVersion.com, uninstalled 3.0.4 and did an install and upgrade to 2.0.0.18. It’s a miracle… I’ve not had a problem since.

Earning More Bells in Animal Crossing: Let’s Go to the City (City Folk)

Now that you’ve read my first guide on earning bells in Animal Crossing, you’re probably ready to experiment with making bells in a few other ways? Note: parts of this guide are specifically for Animal Crossing: Let’s Go to the City (City Folk) and may not work in other Animal Crossing games.

A Spot of Beachcombing

In all of the Animal Crossing games, bells (money) can be made by scouring the beach for the shells. Although the majority of the shells are low-value, the more often you collect them, the more likely you are to happen across a valuable shell like the Pearl Oyster (see bell values below) or perhaps even a washed up coconut. Cocunuts should be buried somewhere along the beach line, and will then produce 2 coconuts every two days which you can sell for 500 bells each.

Shell Type Value
Pearl Oyster 1,200 bells
Scallop 600 bells
White Scallop 450 bells
Conch 350 bells
Coral 250 bells
Venus Comb 150 bells
Dall’s Top 90 bells
Porceletta 30 bells

Give to Receive

The residents of your town are generous folk. If you send them a letter with a small gift attached — something of low value, like a shell or flower — they will often send gifts of furniture and wallpaper back. Although these are not normally rare items, they can be sold for 2-3 times the value of your original gift.

So that you don’t waste money buying letter paper, check the Lost and Found frequently with Booker at the town gate as paper is often ‘lost’.

Save, Don’t Spend

If you’re the patient type, you may find that saving is for you. Instead of spending your hard-earned bells on items and your mortgage, save it all up in a Town Hall bank account. At the end of every month, you will be awarded interest on your savings. The more you pay in, the more interest you can earn.

Running Errands

If you get a little bored of fishing and bug-catching, try getting friendly with your neighbours in town. Sooner or late they will ask you to run an errand — delivering furniture or letters within a specified time period — if you complete these errands quickly, you will be rewarded with 500 bells or items that you can sell to Nook.


Have you got some Animal Crossing: City Folk / Let’s Go to the City bell making tips that aren’t included here? Feel free to contact me on jem@jemjabella.co.uk