Sourcesafe is shit.

Using the built-in Sourcesafe 5.0 text-file editor appends random characters to the end of a file. Quaility. Thanks for fucking up my Java classes Sourcesafe!

Whilst doing some cursory work at home (Windows XP) on my new weblog design (I promise I’ll move one day!) I realised that the page title was perfectly smooth and rounded, despite being quite large, and being plain text. I was very pleased with this, thinking I had in some way contributed to it by use of good colour and @em@s for sizing.

So imagine my disappointment when I came into work to look at the same page in Windows 2000 at found that it was horridly jagged,

After testing on another machine I confirmed that it was the XP/2K difference which was changing the smoothing, and I assume this is because of ClearType.

I’d always thought that ClearType only affected LCD monitors, but clearly CRT benefits in just the same way.

(I’d like to have included some screenshots, but my XP access has been cruelly snatched away from me here at work)

Hurrah, Blogger comes back to life and publishes the posts I made the other day, since when Danny has already linked to my online Rome Photo Album.

These are some (if not most) of the photos my girlfriend and I took whilst in Rome (she’d never been before, so for the most part it was Ancient Rome we took in).

I keep meaning to mark them up with RSS/RDF (as per picdiary), but seeing as we haven’t even put the real photos in a photo album yet, I think I’m already ahead of the game. 😉

None of the pictures have been touched up in any way, which some of them could probably do with. Tim Bray takes good pictures (amongst, you know, doing other things) and wrote fairly recently about the kind of things he’s learnt to do to images to make them nicer for the web; sadly I can’t find it now as he doesn’t have a search facility on his weblog.

Also, the album was generated by JAlbum, using all the default settings (the templates are all just JSP), so that could probably do with some tinkering to make the layout slightly nicer (in particular stop the navigation moving around depending on the image width when scrolling through the images!) and the thumbnails a slightly higher quality. I might also provide the images in the highest resolution I have (each image is actually a four MB PNG on my hard drive – I thought it best to only publish the JPG :).

Back in July, I wrote

Keeping to the web theme, has a new site, designed to be more appealing to end users instead of developers. … [but] it’s particularly strange that the website of one of the most standards-compliant browsers was designed with tables.

To which, Brendan Eich (mozilla.organ, inventor of Javascript, and otherwise genius) replied:

Of course, we mozilla.organs can write CSS-based, table-free pages too. But they don’‘t work very well in browsers run by less enlightened folks we’‘d like to win over. Good end-user marketing trumps standards purity any day.

I look forward to the day when we can have a painfully-correct front page.

Which makes a lot of sense.
So whilst on the one hand I was very pleased that was switching to use a CSS-based layout (with the new design by Dave Shea no less), I was worried that the intended mass audience of the site, users of IE, Opera and Netscape 4 (because yes, it *is* still out there!) would now find the site unusable.

Fortunately, the front page of the site renders pretty much identically in IE6 as it does in the latest Gecko engine. The rest of the site doesn’t quite match up. This is pretty much to be expected – after all, the new site has only been up a few days at the most, but the beta had been up for weeks. Surely things like the misrendering of all the project pages, the owners pages and so on should have been noticed? And if the very latest version of Microsoft’s browser (which, lest we forget, is easily the most used browser on the Internet) can’t display the pages, what chance have other browsers? I haven’t tried with Netscape 4, but unless a completely different version is being served up to that browser, the site is going to appear as plain text. Why should someone upgrade their browser to a browser whose site doesn’t even work properly (to them) ?

I like the new design. A lot of good work has gone into it, but overall, other than to please the standards compliance and semantic relevance brigades (waves membership badges), I wonder whether it would have been better to keep the tables-based layouts, but with the new design. After all, like the man says, Good end-user marketing trumps standards purity any day..

Of course, talking about iCan (which in case you didn’t know is the new activism service from the BBC), there’s an excellent campaign to provide MP3 Downloads from the BBC. Visit, endorse. Then join and endorse again.

It’s an absolute tragedy that the BBC ogg trials (which I participated in) never seemed to get anywhere. Ogg is an open and free format, unlike mp3 or the current service they use – Real Media. If I had the choice I’d use the Ogg streams every time. Not only does it mean higher quality for the same file size, but it also means I can use the client of my choice to listen, and on any platform I so wish. It also means I can do a lot more with it, like stream it to more my hard drive for listening to later, or re-encode and copy to my mp3 player so I can listen to Newsnight on the train. All sorts of worlds start opening up once you begin using a more flexible format.

Of course, the problem could be in the stability of the broadcast platform. The Real Media Server is supposedly very good at dealing with high demand whilst providing a high performance level. On the other hand, I (sadly) have no idea as to the scalability and performance of OGG servers. I’ve used IceCast before, and I suspect that it’s probably the most reliable streaming server available for OGG, and the BBC will probably know already from their trials the reliability of various servers and how feasible it would be to replace their Real Media streams with OGG. At the moment the BBC seem to be running around forty Real Media Servers and you can be sure that they’d need a reason and a half (at least) to convince them to dedicate the time and effort it would take to switching over all these machines.