The journal of Paul M. Watson.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Firefox 1.5 and extensions

I decided to give the recently released Firefox 1.5 a spin knowing that at least a few of the extensions I use would not yet be supported.

From the above list you can see things have gone better than expected. Only one extension is not available for update. SessionSaver and LiveLines had to be updated manually though. The Whitehart theme I use also had to be manually updated.

Hopefully the Resizable Textarea extension will be updated soon as it is a very useful one.

All in all a much better upgrade than the last one. Well done to Mozilla and all the extension developers.


#1: Damn, it doesn't remember your custom search engines. And the Google Blog custom search plugin doesn't work anymore. Damn.

#2: I found a zipped copy of the Google Blog custom search plugin which works. It seems like Mozdev is having MySQL problems.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Geeks don't get it

10 Things that make Ubuntu a Neophyte's Distribution starts off by saying that the reason why Ubuntu is a popular Linux distrubution choice is because it is easy to use. That is true, even I, a Linux neophyte, got it up and running with no fuss.

The article clarifies by saying:
Ubuntu is a distribution targeted at the non-techie crowd - those that want to get their job done and not spend time tinkering with the OS.

This is largely true as well. There was very little in the Ubuntu install and first start-up that I thought a non-techie could get confused over.

But then the article goes horribly wrong. Instead of focusing on the easy installation, nearly transparent internet connection setup and well chosen installed-by-default applications it mentions the following.

  1. Network tools like pinging, netstat, port scanning, finger and whois.

  2. The "Ubuntu Device Database Submission Tool" which I did not even know of and my mom couldn't give a tuppence about.

  3. GParted, a partitioning tool. A partitioning tool is something non-techies use? Save us all.

  4. The device manager. A microwave is a device, a toaster is a device. A hard-drive or soundcard are not devices to non-techy users.

  5. A tool to select what services start up on boot. Services? Do non-techies know of these hidden applications that run in the background? I doubt it.

  6. Users and user groups. Oh dear, non-techies administering the network?

  7. Troubleshooting via IRC! I went back on IRC just last night for a bit and had a headscratching few minutes trying to get into chatrooms that needed something new called a key.

  8. The Network Settings Dialog. More network?

If these are the non-techie friendly features of Ubuntu then no wonder computers are hard for non-techies. By all means the above make it easy for non-Linux techies like me but they don't make it any easier for my mom or yours.

Sunday, November 27, 2005


I am sitting in the living room reading email and sipping a cup of tea as an Irish T.V. channel murmurs in the background. Every now and then I look up in surprise as my ears grasp onto a word or two that I think I understand. I don't, of course, but it feels so close. Occasionally the characters on T.V. switch to English and with their thick Irish accents the change in sound is slight. It seems to move from one side of the understanding line to the other rather than a full switch in language.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Tis French

To be with another woman, that is French. To be caught, that is American.

from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

More costs

Here are some more costs:

  • 2l sparkling water €1.35

  • 500g Flora margarine €1.81

  • 500g Tescos mayonaise €0.99

  • Can o' tuna €1.25

  • A pineapple €2.59

  • 6pk of Walkers crisps €1.29

  • 8" pizza at a restaurant €11.50

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Speedy Ireland

I just found out, via Top Gear on telly, that the first auto Grand Prix was held in Ireland. It was meant to be held in England but parliament set a "giddying speed limit of 12mph" and so the venue was swapped to Ireland.

Go Ireland!

Saturday, November 19, 2005


For every one of us, there are two hundred million of them

Humans and insects.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Getting pregnant in Ireland

1 in 6 Irish couples use IVF

That is amazing, especially considering that one round of IVF costs €20,000 (or &eruo;10,000 if you head on over to Eastern Europe and buy your eggs off the back of a truck.)

Is that figure high though? It sounds high. If it is then why are the Irish having problems making babies? Too much Guinness?

Between one and two billion

Dilbert Today's Dilbert highlights a turn of phrase which can get you into a whole heap of trouble.
We have between one and two billion readers.

Most people would see that as "between one billion and two billion readers" when literally it is really "we have between one reader and two billion readers." It has become acceptable to use the former style though. Naturally this example is extreme and in reality would not pose a problem. But when you drop "two billion" to, say, "two hundred" it becomes a different matter.

And that was Your Daily Dose of Pedant. Enjoy your friday.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The lemon in the bowery

If you are ever in Waterford and need to meet up with the lads at someplace called Lemon then be aware it is inside the Bowery Bar. I spent a good 10 minutes last night wandering the freezing streets trying to find this club called Lemon. We all left Geoffs with the aim of going to Lemon and, like the classic cliche, all the locals vanished thinking I was going with somebody else. Thankfully Brian phoned and over the background din yelled "In the Bowery Bar!"

Now I must get back to work where I am sitting trying to keep my eyes open.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

What does SUSE stand for

Gesellschaft für Software und System Entwicklung mbH; SUSE GmbH

That is what SUSE stands for. Bit of an arb fact but we were deciding on what Linux distro to install on our server and SUSE 10 seems the likely candidate.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Twenty four hours of my life

Fox's 24 I did a most foolish thing last night. I loaded up the first episode of series 4 of the Fox T.V. show, 24. I started about 11pm thinking I'd watch one episode and then get back to my book before turning in for the night. 4 hours later at 3am I was on episode 5 and hooked, hooked, hooked. What an utterly addictive show. Thankfully there was a bit of a climax in episode 5 and, with admittedly still a struggle, I switched the laptop off and tried to get some sleep, the plot arcs buzzing through my head.

It really is an excellent show. Sutherland does a good job but mainly it is the story-line and beat driven pace that keeps you glued to the screen.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Some costs

Some prices from my first few weeks in Ireland.

  • €59 for a pair of 501 Levis

  • €1.59 for a punnet of tomatoes

  • €0.99 for a red pepper

  • €1.10 for 250g of sugar

  • €4.40 for a pint of Carlsberg

  • €11.75 for a Tom Wolfe paperback

  • €35 for a jumper/jersey

Relative to what you earn manufactured goods (Levis, books, jumpers) are cheap but food and drink is expensive.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Great Wall of money

It has been calculated that it would cost 260 billion dollars to build in today's money

Just heard that about the Great Wall of China.

A flashy baby

My new baby My new Canon EOS 20D arrived today, after a bit of a battle with the supplier. First impressions are great; fast, solid and a good replacement of my Canon EOS 10D. There is a €100 rebate on the camera plus you get a free 256mb Compact Flash with the camera (sent later after registration of course) and then a rebate booklet which you can use on various lenses and flash units. I'll write more later on the camera.


Poppies Today is remembrance day. Remember the lives before us that saved the lives ahead of us.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

In the strings

Music is as popular in Ireland as drinking and the two are normally found together. The other night Brian took me down to a hole-in-the-wall pub called Katty Barrys. The kind of place you can reach out and touch both sides at the same time. The kind of place the barman is your best mate and is there every night including Christmas. The place was half-full when we arrived and slowly filled up over the next few hours. The musicians had no stage, no roped-off area or even microphones, amps or speakers. They sat at the tables around us drinking and talking, singing and playing. They got up to go smoke outside, they stopped mid tune to have a laugh at a comment. New songs just started up, the flute piping a fleeting ditty and then the others joining in. All night new players arrived, their ranks threatening to overwhelm the listeners.

What really struck me though was most of the players were young. Really young, my age and younger. These weren't decrepit old men clinging onto old ways, they were the new generation doing what they loved. Drinking and singing, talking and playing.

We went on till three in the morning at which point we left them behind still playing on into the morning.

Consume a .NET 2.0 Web Service in Ruby

Just a quick one, I'll write something lengthier later, but if you are having trouble consuming your .NET web-service with Ruby or Ruby on Rails then update SOAP4R on your system. The version of SOAP4R that comes with Ruby 1.8.2 (which is the version in the One Click Windows Ruby Installer) doesn't have the create_rpc_driver method which is key.

So update your SOAP4R here and use ruby install.rb to install it.

Creating a web service in Visual Studio 2005

I wanted to create a web-service in Visual Studio 2005 this morning and had to use Google to find out where in the interface the project template is. It turns out to be here: File - New - Web Site and then you select web-service. Seems a bit odd to me, I don't think of a web-service as a web-site.

On the other hand having an integrated web-server in the IDE is great. No more fiddling with IIS.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

You put the lime in the coke

You put the lime in the Coke, you nut, you drink 'em both together
Put the lime in the Coke, you nut, then you feel better
Put the lime in the Coke, you nut, drink 'em both up
Put the lime in the Coke, you nut, and call me in the morning

There are funny ads that treat you like an idiot and then there are funny ads that treat you like wicked respek, yo. The Coke Lime advert is something else. I know it is stupid, I know I shouldn't laugh, or sing along, and I know I am smarter than this but hell, it is a funny ad.

An interesting fact about the advert is that it uses an old, old song by Harry Nilsson that has been slightly reworked. The original lyrics go "You put the lime in the coconut" instead of "You put the lime in the Coke, you nut."

Sadly I have yet to try Coke Lime. Coke Light with Lemon is terrible but that is thanks to the chemicals to make it Light... I hope.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Magus no more

How terribly sad. Jown Fowles, author of The Magus and The French Lieutenant’s Woman, has died aged 79. The Magus is one of the greatest books I have ever read.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Here's Chucky!

Dave says:
hmm... I am watching one of the chuckie movies tonight

Paul says:

Dave says:
i've never seen one before, so I dont know what that means

Paul says:

Dave says:
it's going to be a family comedy about childrens toys, rigt?

Paul says:
comedy is right

Paul says:
sort of like Toy Story

Paul says:
actually Toy Story could be considered a remake of Chucky

Oggling goggles

DSCN2052 How strange, this sun born and bred boy now owns a pair of skiing goggles. Up until the other day I had never seen a pair in the flesh but today I find myself with a pair of Cebes skiing goggles (€39). They are OTG (Over The Glasses) which means I can wear my glasses at the same time, a handy feature when, hopefully, hurtling down the piste (that is lingo for a gnarly snow slope.) It might seem pretty normal to Europeans but skiing is simply not part of South African culture. As far as I know there is only one slope in S.A. and that uses fake snow. Today was the first time I have been near ski equipment of any kind. The last time I saw snow it took a long drive and then a longer hike to get to.

I am not embarassed to admit I am very excited to be heading out skiing this December. I'll fall a lot of course but just to be there up on the side of a mountain on skis is going to be grand.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Relative DVD price

Star Wars Revenge of the Sith DVD I bought my first DVD this evening. The entertaining Star Wars III Revenge of the Sith. Haven't watched the DVD yet but it has some decent sounding extra features. Well, it isn't strictly the first DVD I have ever bought but it is the first I have bought for myself. Price wise it was €26 which is roughly the same as a new DVD release in South Africa.

Why on earth am I posting this? Well even though the price is roughly the same back home there is a big difference relative to what you earn. Here in Ireland while earning Euros dropping €26 on a DVD didn't make me think twice. Back home I had never bought a DVD because R206 is a good deal of money. Naturally I am not going to start buying a DVD every day or even every week but when one does come out that I like it will be a lot easier to afford.

Eat up

I go to bed hungry. I expected the Irish to be hearty eaters and while I am sure there must be some, I haven't met any. Except Stevie; he ate almost all the mini bangers (is that rude?) at the INDA event.

Before coming here I didn't picture the Irish to be very European. I thought they'd have decent breakfasts, reasonable lunches and then bang up suppers before heading for the pub.. I mean bed. Strangely though they seem to be quite European in their eating habits. Breakfasts are light affairs, quite continental my dear. Lunches are pretty big, this seems to be the main meal of the day and then suppers hardly happen. On a Sunday evening one might have a grand meal but every other night it will be something light and quick. I have resorted to toast with Philadelphia cream cheese (good lord that stuff is nice) for supper till my big-dinner expecting stomach learns to appreciate lunches more.

So here I sit after lunch with a belly full of bangers, potato and pasta from the WIT canteen and I wonder how long till I get used to it.

Then again. There is always Guinness, a meal in itself.

(And if you are reading this, Brian, then don't worry. I am not saying you are starving me, I just need to get used to a different way of eating.)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Version madness

Microsoft has gone seriously psycho with versions and editions in their latest and forthcoming products.

Windows Vista for instance has seven base editions and then numerous releases of each (32bit, 64bit, European editions etc.) Imagine your mum trying to decide which version of Windows Vista she needs. "No mum, you have a 64bit machine bought in Europe, you need Windows Vista Premium Home 64bit Media Player Free edition." And just wait until the service packs start rolling out...

Visual Studio 2005 is another case, compounded by the MSDN Subscription changes. We have a MSDN Subscription here at work. Which one I don't really know because every time someone tells me I promptly forget as it is about 7 words long. Suffice to say it is a good one and we get pretty much every Visual Studio 2005 edition. Being a developer I chose to install Visual Studio 2005 Team Edition for Software Developers. What a mouthful.

I naturally assumed this edition would have a good suite of test tools. Wrong. I wanted to test the Web Test system but the option wasn't there. Puzzled I checked my install to make sure I had installed Visual Web Developer. It was installed. I then checked Brian's machine and his too had no Web Test item. Visual Studio 2005 Team Edition for Software Developers only has Unit Tests with the capability to order your tests and of course code coverage.

Turns out I need Visual Studio 2005 Team Edition for Software Testers to get at all the testing tools. Two installs just to get some useful testing projects? What does Software Tester edition not include that Software Developer does?

Looking around I see a lot of confused developers asking just what is in each edition of Visual Studio 2005. Some even mention that feature charts on different parts of show different details. Sounds to me like even Microsoft employees are confused about the editions.

This edition madness has got to stop. I just want to install the Uber edition and get my job done.

Getting connected

Getting a cellular phone (or mobile as they call it here) is dead simple. They have a monthly account option but I just went into the nearest 02 store and bought a €9.99 pay as you go starter pack, called Speak Easy, and a €79.99 Nokia 3210 phone. The phone came charged and they connect you up with the SIM card within minutes. Cost wise they are pretty cheap and thanks to the free market economy I have been given about €100 free just for joining. You get all the usual services plus SMS to Email and various online services.

Email me if you want my number (and I know you.)


Well that was fun. I had to get my passport scanned for some or other purpose and was told I can use the photocopier downstairs. You go into this bare, white room where a great, hulking pile of plastic fills one corner. This is the Xerox machine. Using the touch sensitive screen on it you specify all your usual page, colour etc. options but then you can also specify it to email the photocopy instead of printing it. Even better is that it links into the network and will do a directory search on your name. Select your name and it pops the email address in. Hit scan and a minute later you have an email with a JPEG, PDF or TIFF attachment.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A gender setting analysis

Sky News has been pushing their changes a lot over the past few days on telly.

One anchor-woman though mispronounces the word agenda and it is driving Brian and I batty. She sounds like she is saying "A gender setting analysis" rather than "Agenda setting anylsis."

I know. A small thing but they play this clip a 100 times a day. Argh!

Opening large text files

I had to open a large HTML file (9.5mb ping list (careful!)) and view the source. Nothing much was handling it. Internet Explorer and Firefox naturally bombed. Windows Notepad choked as did Word 2003. I then tried Visual Studio .NET 2003 thinking it wouldn't have a problem but it dilly dallied and died on me. I then gave Notepad++ a try but while it opened the file fast enough it bombed scrolling to the last line.

Then I remembered Notepad2 which my mate Brian is always recommending and I have on my laptop.

Worked like a charm. It gave me a warning but it handled the large file just fine. So well done to Florian Balmer, the creator of Notepad2.