December 14, 2005

ATTENTION! IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT!

Right, I've been muttering about doing this for an absolute age now (at least three years), and I have finally got around to doing it.

No, I am not talking about piercing my ears or getting a tattoo (though I have done both of those things, and one on more than one occasion).

Rather, I am talking about getting my own domain name and hosting.

Yes, that is right. Bright Meadow has a new home:

http://brightmeadow.co.uk

It also has a new look. Nothing super-snazzy, just that little bit different.

That URL again:

http://brightmeadow.co.uk

What can you expect to find at the new site? The same stuff you have come to know and love at brightmeadow.blogspot.com, with added extras. Think of it like ordering a Big Mac and getting the fries and milkshake free. Or, if you are a bit classier, like ordering a three course meal and getting desert and a bottle of champagne gratis.

One more time:

http://brightmeadow.co.uk

I was going to wait till the Thesis was out of the way till I did the grand reveal, but I never was very patient, and now I've pretty much got things ready, I don't want to wait. I'm as excited as a very excited person right now.

So, update your bookmarks, renovate your blogrolls, spring-clean your RSS, and hightail it on over to

http://brightmeadow.co.uk

See you there :)

octopuses like to pretend to be coconuts in their spare time

Cas is currently... blushing at life

Just a few little things to say today.

1) You don't notice how much you come to rely on things until you can no longer use it. Case in point - I hadn't realised how important del.icio.us had become to me until it suffered a little hiccup this morning and wouldn't let me access it. All is well with the world once more, but it did illustrate one problem with web-served applications - when they go wrong are kinda stuck till someone can go prod the server that is perhaps the other side of the world to you.

2) If you need a laugh, go and view the Wikipedia article on scientology. They have their own cruise ship, upon which they reveal the greatest secrets of their religion. That, and there's something about a walrus that cracked me up good and proper.

3) I'm in something of a quandary. Do I merge my Yahoo! and my Flickr identities? I know I am going to have to at some point, but I am trying to postpone the inevitable. Yahoo! really really doesn't like me, and what is more, the feeling is mutual.
Case in point, before you can get POP access for a Yahoo! email account, you have to sign up for Yahoo!Delivers. This is a service I don't want or need. You can get around it by just not selecting any boxes on the sign up page, but that in and of itself is silly - You have to sign up for this service on this page before you can get POP access for your email account, but you can get around it by not signing up for any part of this service on this page... Slightly idiotic. Oh, and when someone adds you to their "friends" list on Y!IM, it sends you an email. That takes five minutes to arrive. What happened to a nice pop-up a la Messenger saying "Jim Smith has added you to his friends list. Would you like to add him?" and *bam* 15 seconds later you can both be talking.
*grump*
No, Messenger is no better, especially lately when it's been lagging something awful and secretly booting me off while saying I am still online, but...
*fume*

4) One thing Yahoo! are doing quite nicely at the moment is Yahoo! Answers. A wonderful, wonderful way to wile away the hours. You never know what you are going to see asked and answered next. Why, just the other evening I learnt more than I ever needed, indeed wanted, to know about how to shave your balls... I am sorry to burst your happy bubble, but I am not talking about sports equipment here either.

5) In my ongoing quest for the oddest search that has brought someone to Bright Meadow, I have a new offering: Girl + Noodle.
If the Girl + Noodle searcher is reading this, then welcome. I hope you found what you came looking for, and if you feel like sharing that with the group, well, we're listening.

That's it. Toodles :)

December 12, 2005

now stealing huge comestibles is one thing, trashing them on holy ground is plain nasty

Cas is currently... having a tantrum at life

I suddenly don't like using a Mac.

This is a serious thing for me to say, almost heretic, so I will explain.

What with the CC back in Canada till who knows when, I am being initiated in the wonders of Skype. Whilst this is great for voice, on occasion it would be nice to actually see who I am chatting to, which brings us to what I want to talk about: webcams.

The CC dug out his webcam, plugged it in, and after swearing at Yahoo! messenger for ten minutes [I'll rant about Yahoo! another time], I was able to see him (yay!).

I, on the other hand, don't have a webcam. I think they are evil and, frankly, they scare me. I am petrified that someone will be able to spy on me without my knowledge (is it still spying if you are aware of them?) a la American Pie. It isn't rational, I know, but even when the damn thing is unplugged and in a drawer it worries me. For this reason, the fact I don't like being on camera anyway, and that I don't really have the need for it, I haven't even thought of owning a webcam since I bought the Mac nearly two years ago.

But, seeing as how it is hardly fair I get to see my boyfriend but he doesn't get to see me, I got over my fear and toddled off down to Argos to get me a webcam today.

Alas, and alack, this isn't a story with a happy ending. I get it home, pull it out of the box, shudder at the evilness of it, and go to install the software when...Yup, you've guessed it, Windows only. I go online to have a bit of a nose around, see if I can find a patch or something, and it turns out, webcams for Macs just don't exist. Correction, affordable webcams for Macs just don't exist.

Even if I had money to burn, the cheapest Mac-supported webcam I can find is £80. Apple themselves do the very shiny iSight camera, which is a steal at £99. I am loathe to purchase an iSight anyway, because I have come across a few things that suggest it might not work too well with messaging systems other than iChat (which, of course, is Apple only). Something in me does baulk at spending minimum of £80 on something I will use to talk to one person (hell will freeze over before I start regularly using the webcam) and that only for (hopefully) a few months. I did find a site that has software which claims it can make Windows-only webcams work on Macs, but the webcams they support are all either no longer obtainable, or hideously expensive. Also, for most of the cameras there is a rider that says "this only works on around 50% of the cameras in this range due to chip inconsistencies..."

What is it about us Mac users that means we don't get to video-chat with the rest of the world? Is it that, because we can afford to shell out £2000 for a computer, manufacturers assume we can shell out £100 for a webcam? Or are we just all too ugly?

Cas is all sad now. I'm just wishing I had discovered this problem a week ago before Curly Durly went Christmas shopping - I might have been able to get the Aged P's to help out toward a shiny iSight. Alas, it's too late for that as I have it on good authority all the presents for this year have been purchased.

So, dear blog minions, does anyone have any ideas to help Cas cope with 3000-odd miles of the Atlantic Ocean limiting communication?

December 11, 2005

Sunday Roast: If I only had a little humility, I'd be perfect.

Cas is currently... sad at life

Today's Sunday Roast. Small, but perfectly formed - rather like myself actually.
Enjoy, and forget not the leftovers.

Good Gifts Catalogue - transcribe books into braile. Please help: £25 buys a Braille book, £100 buys a book with giant print. And £725 actually provides transcription and master copying of a new title. And the name of the Good Giver (or receiver) is entered on the flyleaf. What a nice place to be.

Gizmodo Gift Guide. For the gadget freaks in your life (ie me!)

Color palette creator v1.6. This from LIz, over at Successful Blog. If you are on the lookout for a new colour scheme, but can't think of where to start, just keep hitting the "random base" button till you find one you like. Cool.

Official Google Blog: Public transit via Google. Yes, Google are taking over the world, but this is a good idea! Can they do one for So'ton please :)

Thinking Negative. Funny, but insightful.

Carpetbagger. The NYT's Oscar run-up blog. You might need to login, you might not.

Gmail Clips. An intriguing idea and one I will no doubt be playing around with at some point. Just, not now.

When Christmas Falls on Sunday, Megachurches Take the Day Off. Christmas day, the day you would (if you were devout) go to Church to celebrate the birth of Christ). You would think. I present this to you in the spirit "you what now?!", my on going series of disbelief at the things Americans do.

del.icio.us: y.ah.oo! One more favourite site of mine swallowed in a giant gulp by Yahoo!. Humph. Ah well, this could be good. I'm reserving judgement.

new Mittens and Snowdrop. The perfect early Christmas present.

The Penguin Podcast: a Christmas Carol. Subscribe to this, do. A free narration of a Christmas Carol, read by Geoffry Palmer (who has a lovely voice)? Got to be good.

Map of the world scaled to population. Note how small Canada and Australia are!

December 09, 2005

if I'd known I was going to be on tv I would have blow dried

Cas is currently... all alone at life

I've been playing least-in-sight for the past day or so, and I imagine that I will do continuing to do so for a few days more. Worry not, I am still alive and kicking, if a little bruised and bleeding.

If you will care to look down at the "assorted linkage" section of the Sidebar, you will see a new button proudly adding a splash of colour:
Successful Outstanding Blogger

Do follow the link and have a gander at the blog - Liz always makes people feel welcome, and has useful content to boot.

Now, if you will excuse me, I hear the bell calling the start of Round 90 in the great fight between Cas and the reigning champion, Life.

December 04, 2005

Sunday Roast: give me a break - i had just lost my wife and my goat

Cas is currently... sticking her tongue out at life

Mesdames et messieurs, pour le déjeuner aujourd'hui, je vous apporte le "Sunday Roast". *1*

Science 'must teach experiments'. I was very fortunate in my schooling and had the opportunity to do lots and lots of experiments. Three lessons a week in each science, one of those three being a 'practical' lesson where we got to mess around with things that might (and frequently DID) go bang. The experiments were easily the best part of the week (apart from when we had to use elodea in Biology. Elodea hates me) and have given me a love of science I hold to this day. You have to like something to do three A levels in it!

The Artful Writer: Set Lingo For Writers. A handy list of slang you are likely to encounter on-set when you're next working with Spielberg.

Ishbadiddle: RSS Hack - for when sites annoyingly don't have RSS.

2005 Holiday Gift Guide - New York Times. Might require registration seeing as how it is the NYT, but some groovy gift ideas, seeing as how it is coming up to Christmas an all.

Ishbadiddle: The Anxiety of Getting Things Done. In my ever continuing quest for ways to get me working again (this thesis will just not die!), I stumbled across this. Some good ideas in there. Some things I already implement, other things that I really should, office supplies I can get all excited about buying (yes, I am one of the people who will happily browse around Staples if they have an hour to kill). I know a quick fix won't really help, but just occasionally, a quick fix makes you feel better.

BBC NEWS | Government sites 'fail disabled'. This, whilst it saddens me, does not surprise me. Just take a look at Southampton City Council's website for a site that is not only hideous and complex to use, but is broken on *ALL* Mac supported browsers (even Mac IE) and is slightly bent on any Windows browser bar IE. Grrr! What gets me is that they spent money on this new design, lots of money, and the old design was really rather good. I repeat, grrr.
(In a related note, I do find it mildly amusing that the government's own report on this subject is ever so slightly broken in Safari - just a few floating table/div alignment issues that can happen to the best of us, but still...).

Jabberwocky. I used to love this poem - we had to write it so many times when we were being taught pretty handwriting in primary school that you couldn't but absorb chunks of it. The Crazy Canalman's rendition of it has to be heard to be believed (very very good). I think my favourite bit has to be "the vorpal blade went snicker-snack!". GREAT line.
And, though I'm not totally sure how accurate they could be seeing as half the words Carroll used don't even exist in English,
Jabberwocky in French
Jabberwocky in German.

Sketches... Set on Flickr. Mindbendingly pretty digital art. All... swirly. As I said, pretty.

Nose cells that may help the paralysed.

Time travel on the tube. Funky.

Snared in the Web of a Wikipedia Liar - NYT.

A Consuming Experience: Feeds: partial or full? How to have both. More how-to goodness from Improbulus.

Antartida - a photoset on Flickr. It was midweek, I felt drastically in need of some penguins to cheer me up and, as always, flickr came through :)

Now, don't forget the Leftovers!
Endnotes:
*1*Yes, bad french translated from Babel Fish. I just couldn't be bothered to dig out the French dictionary to work it out properly. It has been seven years since I last spoke french after all.Back

December 02, 2005

nothing says christmas like animal fables in iambic verse

Cas is currently... 'planning things' at life

It's officially Christmas (I saw the first Coca Cola advert on TV last night - holidays are coming, holidays are coming, always coca-cola!).

I don't feel very christmassy - but what with the Monster to finish, the CC heading back to Canada, lack of employment, and my brain currently being fucked up, this is understandable. I haven't done any gift-shopping yet, but I am in the stage of planning the cards I will be sending people.

If you want a Christmas/insert-culture-specific-holiday-reference-here card, just email me your address and I will do my utmost to make sure you get one. If you are international, make sure you give me time to cope with posting deadlines. If you don't want to trust a random blogger (ie me) with your physical address, let me have a valid email address for you, and I will create some shiny e-card instead.

Me email, for those of you reading in RSS and who might have forgotten it (and are too lazy to check the sidebar of the site), is
cas[dot]brightmeadow[at]gmail[dot]com
(remove the [words in square brackets] and replace with appropriate symbols)

EDIT - you might also want to include your real name in the email. It could raise the odd awkward question when your Mum comes round for Christmas dinner and asks "Why is this card addressed to InvisiblePyschoMoose?" (for example). Just a thought.

December 01, 2005

the trouble with facts is that there are so many of them

Cas is currently... 'having a rant' at life

I have long held slightly contradictory views about the program "Time Team", and I don't think I am alone in this - the majority of professional archaeologists feel pretty much the same.

We like the program because it increases awareness of our discipline and promotes the public's interest in their heritage. Without public interest, we really would have no jobs, because no matter how much we try and convince ourselves it is essential, archaeology really is a luxury, to be indulged when there is food on the national table, not when the masses are starving. Take a straw poll of any first year undergraduate archaeology course in this country, asking why they got into archaeology, and a goodly proportion will say "because Time Team made it look fun". (A sizable portion will also say "Indiana Jones", but that's a rant for another day winking smilie). Time Team has, undeniably, contributed to making Archaeology (if not sexy), then at least interesting to the average joe.

At the same time, the program is the root of much evil. The majority of the public are now under the impression that you can dig an entire site in three days, that you find skeletons wherever you turn, and that you will get a wonderful tan whilst digging. The truth is far from this. In reality, you can spend three weeks or more clearing topsoil just getting down to the archaeology; skeletons are rather rare outside of cemeteries and you don't frequently get permission to dig them up' and that brown colour you turn? It's an inch thick layer of mud you need three showers to get rid of.

Much of archaeology is cold, dull, hard work, for little reward. You don't get paid a living wage, we have one of the highest incidents of alcoholism and suicide as a profession after veterinary surgery, and your joints will be arthritic by the age of 40. I've spent entire seasons on a dig and found nothing more exciting polystyrene, the skeleton of the farmers dead cat, and variations in the colour of clay. Trust me when I say you can get hundreds of different colours of clay - all subtle plays on a shade of grey, if you are curious.

But it isn't just this glamorization of the discipline that sets the collective hackles up - they tend to practice bad archaeology. It is frequently rushed and what is dug is slanted toward what will make good television. Worse than this, the way it is presented provides the false impression that the past was this one set way.

There are no certainties in archaeology, which is something each archaeologist has to personally wrestle with for themselves, and most of us have come to terms with that. You say "it is likely that", instead of "this happened", and you are prepared to say a few years down the line "I was wrong, new evidence has come to light, it is actually more likely that this happened". Archaeological debates can be, and frequently are, remarkably heated due to this fact. If you can't prove anything, everything is up for discussion, and anybody could be right. We can be pretty certain that aliens didn't build the pyramids, but I have a few colleagues who are quietly holding out hope that something will turn up to give their case some validity. A few years back, you wouldn't have found a single text-book that said the Romans made it to Ireland, now, we're pretty sure they were frequent visitors. We've now got evidence that the Romans even made it to South America, something you would have been laughed out of the conference hall if you'd tried to say it five years ago.

My point - "proof" is an elusive term in archaeology, and is a word that's likely to run you into some trouble down the way.

Which brings me to my latest beef with Time Team. I caught the last five minutes of this week's program was on Durrington Walls. Unlike normal Time Team's they had followed an established dig over an entire season, but that's by-the-by. In Tony Robinson's summation (yes, Tony Robinson of Baldrick fame is the presenter), he asked the lead archaeologist if they could date Durrington Walls and tie it into the construction of Stonehenge. The archaeologist said that, yes, they had dated an antler pick to 2500 BC, which meant the pit it came from was either dug, or had activity in it, at that time. Which consequently meant that Durrington Walls was at least in use around the time that Stonehenge was being first built. Due to the proximity of the two sites and other factors, it is also highly likely (the nice bearded professor said) that the two complexes were related in some way.

Tony Robinson then finishes the program by saying:
"Despite typical archaeologist fence sitting... This is final proof that [Durrington Walls] was constructed at exactly the same time [as Stonehenge]".

*Throws something heavy at the television set*

It's final proof of NOTHING you dimwit! And "typical archaeologist fence sitting"? Ouch.