Unix rocks

Okay, I admit it, I am a geek. It has never really been in doubt, but now it is official. I have crossed the boundary for good, possibly never to return.

The final step in my journey to geekdom came yesterday, when I wrote my first Unix shell script. Now the process of updating my site is almost entirely automatic. Once I have finished adding new images, news items etc, I open up the Terminal application, type “update”, and make a cup of tea while all the recently modified files get uploaded using the Unix shell. It’s bloody brilliant!

Apparently though, I have once more small step to take before I become an übergeek. Because at the moment, I type “update” to run my shell script. I have it on good authority that an übergeek would never use an alias that is more than 2 characters long.

So perhaps there is hope for me after all. But I doubt it.

A nice article about iTMS DRM

Wincent Colaiuta has written a nice little article attacking the people trying to circumvent the FairPlay DRM that Apple uses for music downloaded from the iTunes Music Store.

I can’t download songs from iTMS yet, as it is only available in the US, but as far as I can tell the “usage restrictions” imposed by Apple seem extremely liberal, and surely only the most anti-establishment information terrorist can have any objection?

The newly modified DRM allows unlimited burning to CD/DVD of any tracks you download (provided you modify the playlist), and you can have the track on 5 authorised computers at the same time. Hardly seems Draconian to me, and if the record labels will only sanction digital downloads with DRM, I would rather it be Apple’s.

iTunes is a fantastic application that is always on if I’m in the office, and I can’t wait for iTMS to make its way to Europe.

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Apple release iTunes 45

Apple has released a new version of iTunes, their extremely cool juke box software. The update adds some nice new features like Lossless Encoding, and a funky new Party Shuffle function. Party Shuffle is one of those features that sounds a bit naff until you first start playing about with it, but it has already become my de-facto play mode.

I love iTunes, and have it playing all the time when I am working in the office. If you care, you can see the track I’m listening to by checking out my live webcam. Be warned though, if you are of a sensitive or aesthetic disposition, you may be upset by some of the awful rubbish I listen to.

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The curse of progress

I bought my DVD player less than a year ago. It’s not a top quality player, but it’s certainly not a budget model either.

But already it is struggling to keep up with the newest multi-layer discs. I recently bought the Special Edition of Aliens, which uses layers to skip between scenes from the original theatre release and the Directors Edit.

The quality of the picture is superb, but the layer transition triggers a tiny pause as the player switches. The first couple of times its not so bad, but when it happens several times in quick succession, it can get pretty bloody annoying.

I just hope my poor old DVD player doesn’t become obsolete as the film makers cram more and more information onto the disks. I think I’d rather have less special features and smooth playback.

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New images at last

Finally, I have found the time to add some of my newer images to my artwork browser. I still have a lot of stuff to add though.

There is now a big gap between the old work that has been online for a dogs age, and the stuff I have been doing most recently.

At least my management scripts mean I can batch edit images now, which makes the whole process a lot less painful.

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Text I spit on text

You won’t be able to tell, and you certainly won’t care, but I have converted all the files that hold the image and client data (and these blog entries) from plain text to XML.

On a purely technical note, it is far simpler to let the XML parser do all the work encoding and decoding any HTML I want to add. From a functional point of view, it allows me much greater flexibility to reconfigure or update the information in the files. Plus it’s a lot easier to edit XML by hand if I need to.

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New host for the sitehellip

I have moved this site to a new web host. The server space (and there is a LOT of it) is now provided by the nice folks at Dreamhost. So far, the transition to the new server has been incredibly painless, and everything has worked "out of the box". The knowledge base and technical help provided by Dreamhost has made setting up the site extremely straightforward.

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New site launchhellip

Well, I have finally managed to launch my new site, after several weeks of tinkering with the design in the evenings and at weekends. The whole site has been redone from scratch, and I have completely rewritten all the scripts that provide the image browser functions, making them faster, more flexible and more robust. I have provided more details about the design of the site, if you are interested. I still have to add a lot of new content, especially images, so please check back soon for updates.

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BBC Site wins an educational award

One of the BBC sites I provided illustrations for has just won a prestigious educational award.

BBC Learning NI is outright winner for the “2004 Learning on Screen Award” for the Interactive Primary Learning category.

The awards were organised by the Society for Screen Based Learning (SSBL) and the British Universities Film & Video Council (BUFVC).

The SSBL is recognised by the Department for Education, the Welsh Office Education Department and the Scottish Executive Education and Lifelong Learning Department.

I have created a dedicated page to provide more information about the award.

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