Category Archives: News

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I try to keep free of direct promotion of my iPhone applications but I think the launch of a new one warrants an exception to the rule.

www.cut Icon
www.cut Icon

www.cut is a utility that shortens URLs so that they can be mailed, Twittered or FaceBooked without worrying about character counts or line breaks.

Find out more at the above link or head straight to the App Store to download a copy. It’s free so you have nothing to lose!

New Host

Welcome to’s new host. It may look the same as the old one but will hopefully be more reliable!

If you missed the full story, here’s how I reported it on the old server:

If you came here a day or two ago you probably found that was missing.

It turns out that this was not just an extended outage but a planned maintenance activity where they moved my account from one server to another.

Not that they told me — or their own server monitoring tool — about this.

This lack of communication meant that the linkage from the name to the actual server was broken and that no-one, myself included, could access it.

The link has now been restored and if you’re reading this is working correctly.

Hopefully the next change will be a little more seamless. Next change? Yes, frankly this was the final straw and I’m moving ZX81 to a new web host. Hopefully things will be a little more reliable from now on.

Welcome back

You may have noticed that has been offline for at least twenty-fours hours. I don’t know exactly how long, but I first noticed about this time yesterday.

At the moment I have no idea what happened. The company hosting the site have not been terribly forthcoming — no response to the support tickets I raised, no public announcement of the down time — which in a sense is even more disappointing that the downtime. No system is 100% reliable, but you should at least communicate with those most affected.

I am considering whether to move to a different provider (recommendations encouraged), but in the meantime I am hoping that things have returned to normal.

Welcome to 2008

And welcome to the new look! This time I decided to go “back to basics” with a relatively simple, low-graphics theme. Having said that, it’s not quite as basic as things were back in late 1999 when the site first went live1. It’s less fussy than the old version and should load more quickly for those people not yet on broadband.

The boring details are: I’m using a slightly modified version of Dagon Design’s NightSky theme for WordPress. Other than a fairly extensive set of plugins, changes were to bring the theme in line for tags and to allow a daringfireball-style “linked list” rather than the rather more static list I had previously.

In theory I’m not missing anything that was present before but, as with any significant change, there is a chance that I missed something. Please let me know if you spot anything odd.

  1. The Wayback machine only has an entry from August 2000, but the domain was first registered in November 1999 and a minimal placeholder was put up almost immediately. []

WordPress 2.1 upgrade

If you came to look at a couple of hours ago you may have noticed that it wasn’t here. I’m pleased to announce that we’re back, and better than ever.

The reason for this outage was an upgrade. I generally find it easier to stay with the current version of WordPress but with the big jump to 2.1 I chickened out. Until this evening.

And, honestly, it wasn’t too tricky. I did a test upgrade on my laptop using the webserver and MySQL database in MAMP. I found that the template I use needed a quick update (as detailed on GFXedit) but otherwise the upgrade script seems to have done the job without any trouble. Please let me know if you do find anything wrong.

And the website vanishing? Entirely down to operator error I’m afraid. Need I mention the importance of regular backups?

So overall, a great job by the WordPress team — thanks guys — and a rather shoddy job by my clumsy fingers!

Spam, trackbacks and web statistics

Some would say that it can only mean that I have far too much time on my hands. I claim that I’m merely interested. As is often the case, the truth maybe somewhere between the two. But the fact is, I do like to keep an eye how many people are visting and what they’re looking at.

Tea Leaf, Sri Lanka
Tea Leaf, Sri Lanka
Sometimes people get here by the least obvious route. For example, most months I get a few hits from people searching for the words “my website.” What are they hoping to find? Are they expecting Google to figure out what they mean by “my”? Or is it just that there are an awful lot of very bored people just searching for random phrases?

There are also some oddities, I think anyway. My most popular picture is just of a tea leaf! (From when I was in the tea growing region of Sri Lanka.) It’s basically just a standard record shot, and even has a horizontal line across the middle where the lab scratched the negative. Not my greatest photograph. Some day I’ll invest the time to clean it up in Photoshop.

I figure I get a number of disappointed readers when they hop onto my site after searching for “Cuba girls.” I don’t know, maybe they are looking for girls chatting while leaning against a rusting old American car but somehow I suspect not. (This image from my time in Trinidad, Cuba.)

Girls chat in the street, Trinidad, Cuba
Girls chat in the street, Trinidad, Cuba
Most comments, it turns out, are not from “real” people at all. It was depressing to learn that most of my “readers” are just computer programs, and not very intelligent ones at that.

For a few months now I have been using the Akismet spam filter which has been doing an excellent job of removing such messages before you or I have to see them. I recently decided to bolster this with Paul Butler’s JS SpamBlock, which means that if you don’t have JavaScript enabled you may have to enter a random number when you post a comment. If you do have JavaScript enabled — and if you don’t know what I’m talking about you probably do — then everything should Just Work. In return I have seen my comment spam drop from around five thousand a month to virtually zero.

While I’m talking about changes you might see, I have also installed Imthiaz Rafiq’s WP-PDA which allows to be readable on a PDA or smartphones web browser. Seems to work well from my phone.