PigPog: We’ve gone all CSS and XHTML

After a very busy day, PigPog is now almost entirely XHTML 1.0 and CSS 2.0. It’s taken quite a bit of doing, and there’s probably still quite a few pages that actually won’t validate, but it’s mostly there. The upshot of it is this new design – the light chalked background on the left is thanks to Corel Painter and our little Wacom tablet, as is the new logo. Actually, I’m not entirely sure I like the logo, but there’s a lot of stuff now on PigPog that ‘will do for now’. Lots of improvements to make as soon as possible. Should keep me busy.

The biggest problem was actually trying to make the Blogger template work. Not that there’s anything inherently difficult about it, but it required a bit of design that I’d carefully avoided – the floating box on the right hand side. I’d tried to find a way of doing it neatly a couple of weeks ago, and couldn’t. Once I’d got halfway through redesigning the site, though, and realised that the blog pages had to have floating stuff on the right, I had to work out a way of doing it, thanks entirely to glish.

Anyway, I think most of it works pretty much ok for now. If you find anything broken, just add a comment…

Humour: Fun in Public Toilets

This one’s another repost to save another small chunk of the world’s fine digital heritage before deleting the old Articles section. It’s the last one. After five and a half years, there’s *two* bits of writing worth saving. And they’re both about going to the toilet.

If the Internet starts getting a bit full, do let me know. I could probably stand to clear out a bit of space over here.

Anyway…

Some of these will only be possible for males – it’s a perspective thing. I am male. I have no intention of speculating on what goes on in Ladies’ toilets. You can try them in public toilets or even at work.

Urinal Staring

Don’t unzip. Just stand at the urinal starring at it intently. If anyone attempts to ask what you’re doing, just snap at them saying "Do you mind? I’m trying to concentrate."

Laughing at Noises

Laugh openly when someone in a cubicle farts or drops one. An interesting variation on this one is to clap rather than laughing.

Explain the Process of Smelling

When the toilet smells bad, explain to anyone who will listen that your sense of smell works by tiny bits of the thing you’re smelling breaking off and ending up in your nose. Thanks go to my boss for pointing this one out to me one day.

Toilet Roll Roll

When one or more cubicles are occupied, go to an end cubicle, and roll a toilet roll through all the cubicles under the partitions. Make sure it’s the right way around so it unravells as it rolls, leaving each person looking at a length of paper across in front of them.

Catchy Tune

Hide in a cubicle, humming a particularly annoying and catchy tune whilst other people use the facilities. They’ll be stuck with it for the rest of the day.

Hotel Toilet Roll

Whenever you go to the toilet, leave the end of the roll folded into a triangle, like they do in hotels. If you’re in a hotel, make aeroplanes or hats out of the end of the toilet roll in an attempt to lure the maids into an origami challenge.

Toilet Monster

Lay a length of toilet roll out with part of it in the bowl and the rest stretched out in front like a tongue. Flush, and the ‘tongue’ will be pulled back into the toilet. See how long you can make the tongue and still have it pulled back in with a single flush.

Poetry: More Tea Vicar

This is a repost – I wrote this quite a while back. We’ve just decided to get rid of the separate ‘Articles’ section, and just stick everything in our blogs, and I wanted to copy a couple of my old articles so they don’t vanish. It would be a great loss to society if my poetry was to disappear from the web, wouldn’t it?

More tea vicar?
Oooh, yes please.

More tea vicar?
Oooh, yes please.

More tea vicar?
Oooh, yes please.

More tea vicar?
Oooh, yes please.

More tea vicar?
No thanks.
I’d better go and change my incontinence pad.

Computers: I Can’t Use it Because I Bought it

Some time ago, I bought a copy of SimCity 3000. I’ve always liked the Sim games, and none of them have ever quite matched the lasting appeal of SimCity. The problem now is that it won’t run in Windows XP, so I can’t play it any more.

Actually, that’s not quite true. The game itself, apparently, should work just fine in XP. The bit that fails is the check at the beginning to see if you have the original CD. The copy protection they’ve used fails with XP’s CD-ROM drivers, so the game won’t run. The bit that annoys me about this is that if I’d just ripped a copy of the game off from someone else, I’d have a version with the copy protection stripped off it, and it would work. Because I actually paid for the game, I now can’t use it. Pay more, and get less.

We’re going to hit this sort of problem more and more. If you use file sharing software to get your MP3 files, you’ll get files that you can then do whatever you like with – put them on all of your computers, put them on your MP3 player, burn them to CD to play then in the car, keep good backups of them, and so on. If you *buy* your music, most of the services you could use will only sell to you in a controlled format, that will then stop you from doing some of those things. You might be able to put copies on two computers, then copy it to your MP3 player, but then find it won’t let you put it anywhere else, because you’ve reached your limit. You may not be able to burn CDs at all. And with all of the services I’ve seen so far, they’re not offering you anything for much less money than a CD would have cost you.

It’s all about DRM – Digital Rights Management – file formats that allow the copyright owner to control what users can do with the data – be it music, videos, or even office documents. The problem is that copyright holders don’t trust us all to use their stuff, and pay for what we use, if we have the option of just using their stuff and not paying.

They have a point, but they’re going to get a bit stuck, I suspect, when people realise that they’re being offered less for more.

I hardly ever listen to music in any format other than MP3. When I buy a CD, the first thing I do is rip it to MP3 files, then put it away. For one thing, the artists do deserve to make some money out of it, and from a purely practical point of view, I’m on a dial up connection, so downloading whole CDs worth of MP3s isn’t a good option. Add to that the nice part of getting an actual physical package to hold, with a nicely printed booklet, and such like, and it’s worth the £10 – £15 to me.

Napster has just relaunched in the UK. This isn’t the evil file trading Napster from a few years ago that so upset Lars and the boys. It’s been nicely sanitised by the record companies. Unfortunately, they want that same £10 to give me the ability to download an album’s worth of music to burn onto CD, and only then if I’m already subscribing to their service for £10 a month. Pay more, and get less.

So what’s the alternatives? Well, until all CDs get copy protected so we can’t rip them to MP3 files, we can keep buying CDs, but the record companies are starting to clamp down on that. Some of the smaller players in the online music sales market are differentiating themselves by actually selling unprotected MP3s, which is pretty much ideal if their prices are reasonable. If nothing else, they’ll put a bit of pressure on the bigger services to offer more relaxed controls.

Another interesting idea I’ve tried recently is iRATE radio. It’s free software, so there’s no-one trying to make big money out of it. It’s a little client program that runs on your computer, and goes off and downloads MP3s from a few artists, and plays them to you. You tell it what you think. It matches that to what other people liked, and goes off and finds other stuff it thinks you will like. As you rate more music, it gets better at finding the sort of thing you like, but every now and than it’ll throw something different into the mix. You probably won’t find any big names there, because it only gets music that the artists wanted to make available for free, but when I tried it, it found some surprisingly good stuff. It’s still a very early release, and it’s not too polished yet – you’ll need Java, and Java Web Start to run it – I had to go off and download these seperately – but if you’re up to getting it running, and don’t mind fiddling with it’s slightly underdeveloped interface for a while, you might just find some interesting new music. Pay nothing, and get more.

Sounds like a better deal.

Porn at the Garage

We often stop at a certain garage on the way to work, to pick up some food for the day. They’re a good supplier of Haribo, which my colleagues require feeding regularly to stay productive.

Sam complimented the woman who works there every morning on the selection of magazines, saying it was better than usual. She said that they’re still a bit poor, because they just insist on sending loads of porn. “52 porn mags I’ve returned to them, just this morning!”

We had to agree that this sounded like a lot of porn. “Do you sell many of them? I can’t imagine anyone coming in here and asking for them.” asked Sam.

“Oh yes,” she replied, “lots of them. We’ll sell out of what we’ve got pretty quickly, I just don’t want to have too much of that in here – it’s not really what we’re about.”

She then enlightened us further – “There’s one guy who comes in and buys them, then goes through the car wash. To, er, use them.”

“You don’t mean… No… He, er… How do you know?”

“There’s a camera in there, video recording it all. I told him one day when he came in – you do know you’re on video tape in there, don’t you?”

We suggested she sells the videos on the Internet. If there’s a fetish for wanking in a car wash whilst being watched, there’s got to be a market for videos of it.

As we left the shop, someone was just leaving the car wash. I hope he hasn’t been worrying too much about why the two of us stared at him for a while, looked at each other, then laughed.