Elly Williams' Weblog

Caught Between Industries

I say, I say, I say

Two cows stand in a field.
One says to the other “Are you worried about all this ‘Mad Cow Disease’?”
The other says “Why should I be? I’m a tractor!”

I’m not sure this joke is quite so funny any more – link,

Zen and the Art of Not Getting Around to Things

Dave Shea announced today that ‘The Zen of CSS Design’ is finished and off to the printers. And it should be shipping in time for my birthday too 😀

There’s also a shot of the acknowledgements page with a list of all the people who’ve contributed to the CSS Zen Garden. If only I’d gotten around to doing a design (I will get around to it, honest), my name could’ve been there too. Too much time spent wondering if an architecture degree is enough to classify me as a ‘graphic designer’….


A couple of weeks ago OK/Cancel discussed the ups and downs of customisation on the web, with particular reference to Amazon.

Well, I’ve come across one area in particular where Amazon’s customisation (in the form of the Recommendations section) could do with a little work.

Amazon knows I own a PS2. I have told it as much. It knows I own and enjoy a number of games for PS1 and PS2. It knows I own and enjoy a number of games for PC…. I do not have a GameCube or an Xbox. I have never told Amazon that I do and I have not bought or wishlisted any games for either. So why does it recommend them? Surely one of the criteria which Amazon bases its games recommendations on should be ‘platform’ ….

Moving with the Technology

There’s this quite interesting piece over on the BBC discussing the implication of next generation consoles for the games industry, which I meant to write about yesterday.

The main thrust of the piece is that games producers are going to have to rise to the challenges/opportunities presented by the next-gen consoles (PS3, XBox2, Whatever-they’ve-decided-to-call-the-new-gamecube-this-week) Any companies who don’t make the grade are gonna fall by the wayside.

The BBC article describes it as ‘a cull’. Personally I don’t think it’ll be anything like that dramatic. It took a while for a lot of companies to step up anything more than the number of polygons they were using between PS1 and PS2. So I don’t think it’s the mere implication of a new type of console.

What’s going to make or break companies here is which console they decide to back. There is going to be (you could argue there already is) an all out battle between Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo – and if you back the wrong one, you might not be playing to a big enough marketplace.

Being Spoiled

The Oscar nominations are out. (BBC list)

It starts off quite well. The Best Actor/Actress/Supporting/Director/Animation categories are all well and good. A few usual suspects, a few unusual suspects and a lot of reminders of how little I went to the cinema last year (in a can-count-it-on-my-fingers kinda way).

And then we get to the reason I go to the cinema. The effects, the makeup and the costumes. If only there was a category for set design. And I’m suddenly disappointed. I’ve got nothing against the effects in Harry Potter, or I, Robot or Spiderman-2 (admittedly I only saw one of these and haven’t seen any in the makeup or costume categories) but none of them are Lord of the Rings or The Matrix or even StarWars. I guess I’m kinda missing the hordes of CGI Mordor….

Deliberate Mistakes

About a year ago the Only in Kenya flash animation was “the big thing”. I have the t-shirt to prove it. Now the obvious mistake here is that you don’t actually get tigers in Kenya. Or Africa at all. Except in zoos. And that doesn’t really count.

More recently I was shown the Only in Lapland (also flash) version over at the fantastic albinoblacksheep.com.

Now, everyone knows that Santa lives in Lapland (when he’s not starring in movies at any rate) – so no problem there. And of course there are snowflakes in Lapland. Why else would Santa need all that fur. The issue is that the animation claims that Lapland is better than Norway – completely ignoring the fact that Lapland is partly in Norway. Unless of course Santa lives in the Swedish, Finnish or Russian bit of Lapland.

Skin Deep?

It’s been a while since I wandered over to The Register, but earlier today that’s exactly what I did. And this is what I found. Scientists at Manchester University found a way to print skin

I found this fasicinating. Not only have they found a way to print skin but, in a similar spirit to the 3D Printer that I wrote about a while back they are hoping to expand to bone and cartilage.

Just think of the possibilities. Reconstructive surgery becomes much less hit and miss – whether for genetic, growth, accidental or not so accidental reasons . And what about if those tiny bones in your ear get shattered – they might actually be able to replace them. And if they figure out how to make nerve fibres. And how about cosmetic surgery – the possibilities are endless… “I think I’d like more prominent cheek bones” “What about pointy ears?” “An extra finger!” “Permanent high heels” “Klingon foreheads!!!”

But seriously – I really think this is a great idea, yes, some people will probably go a bit far, but I really think this will make people’s lives better.

Redirecting Old Archives

This method is based on the WordPress Wiki Method of creating redirects when switching from Movable Type to WordPress

What you need to do is create an MT Template containing the code below, and then, when you open it in the browser of your choice, paste the redirects into the .htaccess file you will find in your public_html folder.

< ?php
header('Content-type: text/plain');
<MTEntries lastn="9999">
Redirect Permanent /archives/<$MTEntryID pad="1"$>.html http://www.yoursite.com/index.php?p=<$MTEntryID$>
<MTArchiveList archive_type="Monthly">
Redirect Permanent /archives/<$MTArchiveDate format="%Y_%m"$>.html http://www.yoursite.com/index.php?m=<$MTArchiveDate format="%Y%m"$>
Redirect Permanent <$MTCategoryArchiveLink$> http://www.yoursite.com/index.php?c=<mtcategoryid>

You may have to tweak this a bit to get the numbers to line up, or to skip entries that don’t exist (lastn=”9999″ offset=”42″) and the categories section you will have to tweak the output so that each line starts

Redirect Permanent /archives/cat_foo_bar.html .....

But in the end, you should hopefully end up with any visitors in the right place, or at least somewhere better than a 404 error

Please Update your Blogroll

One unexpected site effect of the move is that I don’t ping external stuff in quite the same way anymore. Whereas previously I used to ping as http://www.ellythompson.co.uk/blog/ I now ping as http://www.ellythompson.co.uk/blog …. aparaently these are different enough to warrant me two entries on blo.gs (thanks to Dave for helping me figure this out)

I’m pinging manually as http://www.ellythompson.co.uk/blog/ for the moment, but probably won’t keep it up.

Edit: Actually, the lovely people at blo.gs appear to have combined the two now so you can subscribe to whichever you like. Hooray!!

Making the Switch

As promised, “Elly’s Guide to Moving from Movable Type to WordPress”. Although it’s probably more of a guide to how not to do it ;).

Part of the reason I feel the need to write this, rather than just listing the sources I used, is that it actually took me two goes to get this to work. Also, I’ve offered to sort Meri’s Site in the next week or so and could do with a record.

On my first attempt I was trying to get a version of my site working in WordPress separate from my MT site, and then switch the two at the last minute. I installed WordPress, Imported my MT entries, replaced the wP stylesheet with my own and changed the WP index template so the two played nicely together. So far so good. At this point I decided to publish my new site in in the same directory as my old one, at the same time as setting up MT permalink redirects. This is where it starts to go wrong. MT’s rebuilds every time I get a comment. This is quite often (comment spam is one of the reason’s I’m moving, after all) and means I keep getting confused as to which version of my site I’m looking at. The permalink redirection method I’m using doesn’t actually redirect to the WP default location, so I have to mess around with permalinks. Also, moving the publish directory in WordPress isn’t anywhere near as easy as I expected it be. Anyway, it’s not long before I get to the point where no only does very little work, but I can’t remember what I did to get it that way. At this point I throw a bit of a tantrum and go and make Syrup Sponge.

Post gluttony, I decide to start over. I download everything that I publish on my site. I reinstall WordPress, and upload the desired index.php and css file. I make sure I’ve got all my settings the way I want them and I import my old MT entries. Finally I set up permalink redirects, using a method based on the one I linked to before (I’ll write it up later, honest). This means that I now have a fully functioning site, in place of my old one, and it only took me a couple of hours (minus tweaking, which I’m still doing)

So, for anyone who’s interested (and also for external memory’s sake)… Elly’s guide to the MT-WP Switch

The MT-WP Switch

  1. Get WordPress
  2. Install it locally, or somewhere you don’t care about it
  3. Make whatever modifications to the Index Template and Stylesheet you want
  4. Make sure you have a local copy of everything you want to keep or use
  5. Uninstall MT & clear your blog directory (or just move it, how lucky are you feeling?)
  6. Install WordPress in your blog directory (you may have to clear a database or two first)
  7. Upload the index.php and wp-layout.css files you prepared earlier – along with any other bits and pieces you need for them to work
  8. Import your MT entries
  9. Set up Permalink Redirects
  10. Tweak to your heart’s content

Oh The Irony

Do you want to block junk emails popup

Salad in a Box

I’ve just had a No Bread Crayfish and Avocado Sandwich from Pret a Manger for lunch.

Now, if you search Google for “no bread sandwich” you find lots of people asking “What’s so special?” and “Isn’t that just a salad?”

Well, yes, it is just a salad, but … it was the only ‘salad in a box’ that doesn’t involve pasta, or rice or cous-cous that I can get on my lunch break. And seeing as low carb options aren’t hugely forthcoming in this country at the moment (apart from low-carb chocolate – no problem there) it is an absolute godsend.

Fun with WordPress

I am now running wordpress. And I like it. WordPress generally feels a lot less clumpy than MT did, and once I figured out what I was doing, it was suprisingly easy to set up. I’ll write a proper “Elly Guide to Moving to WordPress” at some point, when I’ve actually figured out what I did.

In other news, Meri and I are planning to attend SXSW in March. Should be fun 😉


Meri and I are planning on migrating to WordPress over the next couple of days.

We apologise for any loss of service in the meantime.

is an Architecture Student and Web Designer based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, (UK)