Yesterday’s link list on includes a link to the SWT Designer. When I was trying to find out which Java GUI toolkit was the quickest to get something up and running in I started with SWT and found my way to the SWT Designer. Visual Café is the most non-intuitive GUI creation tool I’ve ever used (I’m from the Borland school of thought), but this comes a close second.

To be fair it’s only version 1.0, and only just been released, too, but still, it’s not just obvious enough for me.

Just my ha’pence worth.

I seem to have been overwhelmed by people saying “display: table-cell doesn’t work in IE” recently. Once on IBeBloggin and twice at work, by the other two other web developers (who, incidentally, are working on different projects). All today.

table-cell does work in IE.

For it to work properly in Mozilla you must have a containing element which has display: table set. IE just doesn’t care.

I’ve chucked up a working demo here which is based on the code I wrote the first ever time I used table-cell, namely for the Xurble homepage.

This is a working example of the CSS rule display: table-cell. There are three spans (marked by red borders) each of which contains an image and has a width ~33% to take up the width of the page.

The containing element is the body tag which has display: table set and therefore also needs a width: 100% rule.

Without an explicitly declared table-row in sight, everything within the element which has display: table set (in my case the body) will appear on the same row. For multiple rows you’ll probably need a containing element with display: table-row for each row.

This is all wrong wrong wrong. See my later post about why.

Just before I went on holiday I finally managed to complete The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker on my Gamecube. I’m completely addicted to LoZ games, and have been since I played the original on my NES years ago, although it always takes me ages to complete them because I never seem to get enough time to just sit down and play for a few hours, sometimes it can be weeks between goes.
Anyway, it’s an excellent game, although a mile too easy, especially the end of game boss. I’m now playing LoZ: Ocarina of Time which was the preceding LoZ game on the N64 (I never owned any of the previous generation of consoles, but now have both a PS2 and a GC), and despite being constantly frustrated by the camera (the position of which you can control in WW but not OOT), it’s very good. I’m only a little way in but have already found a cow in a cave and the Great Fairies appear to have triple-F cup and Madonna-coned breasts. Bizarre.
I’m also playing Oracle of Seasons (in which I’ve been stuck at the end of game boss for weeks!) and am a little way into A Link to the Past of my GBA.

Almost all the sites we saw in Rome that were filled with statues and other objects only had descriptions for a limited few. To me these are screaming out for investment in a mobile technology, something like a PDA with a built-in barcode reader maybe. Some of the museums had personal audio systems (like a basic CD walkman) which you got by placing a deposit when you entered the museum, but you could only really use these when you were in rooms or museums with relatively few things to see, otherwise you’d lose track of what you were supposed to be looking at. They invariably talk too slowly, and you have to listen through the descriptions of everything else before you get to the bit you want to know about. How much better to have a barcode next to each item which you can point your device at and read about instantly. Hell, it could even keep the audio system, and have it prompted to play certain parts when a barcode is scanned.

Apparently some art museums do something similar with GPS systems, where your device detects your current location and displays a small map of what’s around you, and what each piece is. The closer you get to a particular item, the more it displays about it. This is also a great idea, but seems to be better suited to art galleries than to the museums where you could have twenty pieces within a metre of each other.

Rome – This is not a tourist guide

The adventure ends

Apologies to anyone who has no interest in Rome whatsoever, because that’s probably all the next four or so posts are going to be about. I promise I’ll try and make technology points where I can, when I remember.

And so on with the show. On a couple of nights I jotted down some notes about things my girlfriend and I had seen and heard that day. Hereafter are those notes for mine and anyone else’s reference, with a little added detail. This is not a tourist guide.

Qurinale (occasional residence of Italian President and Pope)

– heard: “This must have cost a pretty penny” – my girlfriend.
– other things: Berlusconi has the same carpet as us.

Roman Forum

– heard: “Nothing but a heap of rocks” – unknown American male.

Spanish Steps

– look unimpressive from the bottom.

Our Hotel (4* Hotel Torino)

– Nice roof terrace which almost makes up for the lack of hot water in the mornings.

Someone should have told us to bring earplugs for the traffic in the morning (as most people know, the Roman traffic is insane, second only in Italy to that of Naples. A Roman motorist in London would be arrested within about five minutes for dangerous driving. They use their horns all the time. For fun, to get people’s attention, to warn people they might be about to run over that they’re going around corners, and perhaps for sexual fulfilment. This begins at about 6.30am and lasts until about 9.30 before starting again at about 4.30 and lasting until about 7.30. Because of the busy roads, the bin men (U.S.: garbage collectors?) make their rounds at about 1am and make no effort to be particularly quiet. Don’t count on getting any sleep, and remember that cold shower that awaits you when you finally get up.)

Capitoline Museums

– jam-packed with statues and busts but very few pointers as to what or who they were of.

Guided tours are the abomination of modern holidays (during the Quirinal where the roped-off corridors are very narrow and there are tour groups of 40 or so people in front and behind of you).

Jesuit Church (Gesu)

– very austere front. splendid ceiling. very impressive.
– heard: “shiny and woo” – my girlfriend

Spring water from taps in and around the Roman Forum is very cold and very good.

Dorling Kindersley Travel Guides:Italy (ISBN: 0-7513-0105-1) is excellent for on-the-street navigation but very heavy. If there’s one for Rome only, get it.

Lonely Planet guide to Italy is good for practical travel tips and hiking in the mountains or backpacking in India. If you’re the kind of person who feels the need to see “the real Rome” and won’t be staying in a hotel then this is for you. Rubbish for “normal” holiday-makers.

The Palatine is exquisitely peaceful.

Good ceiling in the church of Sant’Ignazio di Loyola but my favourite was still Santa Maria supra Minerva. Detailed and amazing, one of Rome’s only Gothic cathedrals and I thought more impressive than any of the others (warning: low “shiny and woo” factor).

I’ve been to the Vatican before but not the Vatican Museums, of which I knew very little. They’re surprisingly immense containing Egyptian (mummies et al.), Roman, Greek and Etruscan statues, monuments and tablets, which all seems a bit strange when you remember that you’re in the seat of Catholicism. Both my girlfriend and I ranked it as “very impressive”.
The “Modern Christian Art” section was rubbish apart from a couple of good pieces, but they were overwhelmed in about ten rooms.
The Sistine Chapel was good. There were too many people in there at once, and there were too many talking.

– heard: “It’s small isn’t it?”- unknown American male II
– heard: “It’s pretty small. I suppose it’s not a cathedral after all.” – unknown Australian woman
Indeed, that would be St. Peter’s.

Raphael’s stuff is really good. Michaelangelo’s nice but didn’t seem to be alive in the same way, maybe the distance of the chapel ceiling induced this.
Dull maps and tapestries.
We now have a nice new book for our coffee table. We just need a coffee table.

The Roman Metro is rubbish. If I’ve ever cursed the London Underground, I take it back. The Metro is far worse. Unbelievably it’s more packed and more grafitti-ed. Single tickets are the completely insane price of 77cents. Who has exactly 77 cents? And how are ticket machines supposed to carry enough change for all the people who put in a €1 or €2 piece? It’s a stupid stupid idea which guarantees none of the machines ever work. Which means that you have to buy your ticket from a real person. Except not all stations have ticket offices. So you have to buy your tickets from a newsagent close by. Except that the ones that do sell tickets aren’t signed, so you just have to wander between newsagents until you cross one that does. Utterly fucking useless. Spagna I’m looking at you in particular.

It was amazing to see rainbow-coloured “peace” flags hanging up all over the place, shops, restaurants, newsagents, hotels, apartment blocks. I’ve really never seen anything like it. It makes you wonder what major cities in other countries who officially opposed the war are like in this regard.

Learn Latin. Really. How else can you ever understand statues, monuments, plaques etc.? I studied it for seven years and it makes picking up other European languages a doddle. Latin rules.

Fiumenco airport sucks. I think I’m right in saying it’s Rome’s main airport, well, I arrived back in Birmingham International, and it’s just so much cleaner, better signed, better designed and better everything else that it’s amazing. Sadly of course, it still doesn’t have Gucci.