What’s going on

Lots of stuff circling over Heathrow. I am pretty much coming to the conclusion that I should write about ideas that I have rather than stashing them away in the black hole that is my projects list, because otherwise they’ll never get done. I don’t like doing that; I’m pretty firmly of the opinion that if you think a thing would be good then you should just write it rather than just writing about it; Ade would say that I do that all the time, because I write specs rather than writing code, but I try fairly hard to not do so. Nonetheless, these ideas should live somewhere other than my head, I think. So some posts should be forthcoming about stuff that’s on my mind. Before that, though, a few notes on random cool things I know about. Telewest, my cable provider, have launched a new service called Teleport. It’s very cool indeed. It’s, in fact, the long-promised a la carte TV: you can watch programmes whenever you want, rather than when they’re on. At first, it seemed a bit rubbish: they have a Teleport Films section where you can purchase a film for watching. Now, Telewest already had that with Front Row (now rebranded FilmFlex), but Teleport Films also contains films that aren’t the latest releases; we watched Tango and Cash the other day. After buying a film you can watch it as many times as you like within 24 hours, which is faintly cool. Nonetheless, that’s not all that exciting. We then discovered Teleport TV, which is (again) not all that revolutionary: you can pick TV programmes and watch them, from a pretty limited list. Most of the programmes are rubbish and stuff you wouldn’t want to watch anyway: one exception is Waking the Dead, a BBC murder drama which we’ve started watching and all three series of which are available with Teleport TV. So, again, that’s faintly cool, but the selection’s not up to much. Then we discovered that it has TiVo-like properties of being able to pause and rewind and fast-forward the programmes via the remote control, which was invaluably helpful when Sam and I look at one anotherand say “what did he just say?” or when we want to skip the credits on something. Finally, I discovered Teleport Replay, which has loads of programmes that were on over the last seven days also available for watching (which go away after those 7 days, much like the BBC Radio “Listen Again” service). Including Top Gear, which I shall now never miss again. Well done Telewest. This is a pretty darn good service, although I’d like to see more programmes available for Teleport TV, and the user interface is, as usual for Telewest, dog slow. Nonetheless, nice one. Jono and I moved all the remaining sites from the old version of our server to the new version. Creating each site was pretty easy. For those unsure about how to use Apache2, a very short HOWTO. To create a site www.example.com, I do it like this (either as root, or using sudo for each command):

mkdir /var/www/example.com
mkdir /var/www/example.com/html

(place all files for the site in /var/www/example.com/html)

chmod -R a+rx /var/www/example.com/html
chown -R username /var/www/example.com

(use username that should own the site in line above)

cd /etc/apache2/sites-available
nano example.com

(place the following in the example.com file you’re editing)

<VirtualHost *>
ServerAdmin email@address.of.admin
DocumentRoot /var/www/example.com/html
ServerName www.example.com

ServerAlias example.com

</VirtualHost>

(now back to the prompt)

cd /etc/apache2/sites-enabled
ln -s ../sites-available/example.com .
/etc/init.d/apache2 restart

(and that site should now be working) David Morley on the Wolves LUG list is putting together some video tutorials about how to use Linux from a newbie’s perspective. I’d like to see this: I wrote some instructions on how to use vnc2swf for recording a video tutorial (and see the remainder of the thread for corrections). Now, there already is a tool to do this: Gnome’s Istanbul. It’s got a good UI in principle; starting it drops a “record” icon on your panel. Click the icon to start recording, click it again to stop recording. It outputs to Ogg Theora. I think the UI could be improved a bit, though; for one, it should record screencasts and save them as Screencast1, Screencast2, etc, on your desktop, rather than making you specify a name (as the Gnome screenshot tool does). At some point I’d like to hack on it to make that possible, but this is one of those “don’t have enough time” projects. I’d also like to see it be able to output to Flash, as does vnc2swf. However, I don’t want to do that until I’ve confirmed for myself that the GPLFlash project can play such created videos. Being able to just drop Flash stuff on a web page is something of a bonus for stuff like this; I don’t really like in-browser video plugins, mainly because they never seem to work right for me. We put up our (first) Christmas tree yesterday. Niamh really likes putting up Christmas decorations. It does rather amaze me that it’s come upon us so fast, but, hey, we like Christmas. The second tree will be forthcoming once the new flooring is down in the library, which doesn’t happen until about the 22nd December or something, so bah humbug to that! Anyone want to buy a piano, by the way? We’ve run out of room for it. Random linkage, from Bloglines’ Keep New. Incidentally, has anyone else noticed that Bloglines is getting a bit more shit recently? Slower, down a bit more, behaving a bit more oddly? People seem to be moving to personal installations of Gregarius, which I might do.

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