WordPress 2.7 Beta

I’ve been playing around with WordPress 2.7 over the past few weeks, and I have to say it’s excellent! I seem to be in the minority of people who weren’t too keen on the previous version, and the changes they made to the interface, but the new admin panel is superb! Everything, from the fonts used, through to the structure of the menus, works brilliantly and there’s some excellent new features. Most notibly the upgrade feature that saves having to have FTP access to be able to upadte your install.

If you’re brave enough I would definately reccommend installing the 2.7 Beta 3 and giving it a try…

Friday fun with books

“When Bob receives a message from Alice, how does he know it is authentic? If Alice signed her message, this is easy. Alice’s digital signature is enough to convince anyone that the message is authentic”

Book meme:

– Grab the nearest book.
– Open it to page 56.
– Find the fifth sentence.
– Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
– Don’t dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.

via Leah Culver’s Blog

This is quite sad, but the closest book I have is a copy of “Applied Cryptography” by Bruce Schneier

Error 99 – Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

About 18 months ago I brought my wife a Canon 50mm prime lens for her birthday and a few months later we took it on holiday to Newquay and were getting some great shots with it, when it suddenly fell apart, and I mean fell apart. We were left with the lens in two pieces, so we sent it back to Canon to be replaced.

Now about 12 months later the lens has developed another fault, only this time it’s much more subtle, and we’re getting “Error 99” displayed on the camera’s LCD screen when trying to take shots, with instructions to turn the camera off, replace the battery, and then try again.

I’ve done this several times and it only fixes the issue in around 50% of cases. I’ve also tried using different memory cards, and a different battery pack (fully charged) and it still has the same error message (intermittently). All of the other lenses are fine, so I’m confident it’s not an issue with the camera body (which is an EOS 400D).

I’ve contacted Canon support and they gave the following response

“Please be advised that “err 99” usually indicates that there is an incompatibility with a third party accessory (lens, external flash or memory card). If you experience this issue with two Canon lenses and/or with two different memory cards, this may indicate a fault with the camera itself and would require servicing.

It’s nice to see Canon are being as helpful as ever, and blaming third party accessories, and trying to get me to pay for a full camera service… I guess I’ll have to contact the Canon UK service centre directly and see if they can service the lens and bypass the support.

Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 EX DG

Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 EX DGI’ve been doing some shopping (and dreaming) recently for photography equipment, and I’ve been looking for a new lens that will be great in low-light and also be a good general purpose lens. Especially for portrait and landscape work.

After some searching I decided to go for the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 EX DG lens and started to price it up. After chatting to my brother-in-law about the lens it turned out that his lens had developed a minor fault (which meant it wasn’t good enough for him to use professionally) and he kindly offered it to me for free! Which was excellent! The lens fault is pretty minor, and it struggles to focus on objects that are less then 1 meter away. I’ve contacted Sigma and they’re confident they can repair the lens as part of a service for around £70. I’ve been out and about with the lens recently, and it really is excellent! Especially since it has such a wide aperture (f/2.8) throughout the whole focal range.

I should be posting some more pictures on flickr soon and on the new photoblog

An expirement in photography

Over the past month I’ve been out a few times and taken some pictures. Each time I’ve realised how much I love photography and been determined to get out more often. However, me being me, in a few months I’ll be bored and will sit down in front of the TV and waste time, rather than getting out the camera and doing something creative.

Waiting for the tide

So with that in mind I’ve set up a photoblog, as an experiment to see if it can encourage me to take more images, post some regular pictures. You can visit the blog at http://photos.version7.co.uk and subscribe to the RSS feed, comment on images etc. The design will be updated slighlty over the next week or so.

So head over and let me know what you think – http://photos.version7.co.uk

Firebug not running in Firefox on Linux (solution)

Firebug LogoSince switching to Linux I’ve had one issue that has really caused me grief over the past few weeks, and it’s been with Firebug, which to a web-developer is a pretty indispensable tool!

I compiled Firefox 2.0.0.11 using the ebuild from Gentoo Portage, and then installed the Firebug extension, but once Firefox had restarted to complete the installation, Firebug wouldn’t open at all. Whenever I tried to open it I received various error messages in Firefox’s error console including ‘permission denied to call method location.tostring’. Upgrading to Firefox 2.0.0.12, and Firebug 1.1.0b10 didn’t help.

After some digging I found a bug report that described exactly what’s happening to me. So I added ‘mozdevelop’ to my Portage USE flags, and then recompiled Firefox and now Firebug works a treat!

Sony just don’t get it…

Music Pass CardsThis has to be one of the stupidest stories I’ve read for a while. Sony BMG have finally decided to catch up with their competition and start selling DRM free music. The downside is that you have to go into a store and buy a “Platinum Music Pass” that contains a download code, before you can download your album from MusicPass.com!

I would love to say that Sony are stupid and that they’ve messed up, but I think it’s more likely to be a calculated move. As TechCrunch say, when Sonly BMG fail to sell a large quantity of DRM free songs via this system, they can claim that there’s no demand for DRM free music, and go back to selling DRM protected ones.

It’s a shame that Sony are so short-sighted, most of the music I buy online is done on impulse; I decided to get a new album and within a few clicks the download has started, I’m sure the majority of others buy music on impulse too. If I have to go to a shop to buy a card with a code then I’ll just look for similar music from their competitors that’s sold without DRM.

***

If you are looking for legal DRM free music then check out 7digital or Amazon MP3 (USA only for now).

Last.fm and other musical things

Last.Fm LogoI’ve been a huge fan of last.fm since I started using it back in 2006 (for those who don’t know, it’s a social music website that logs every song you listen to, and connects you with people of similar taste, and suggests other music that you might like), but one feature that I’ve often overlooked is the stand-alone last.fm player.

On windows it’s the main tool that scrobbles your tracks as you listen to them in iTunes or Windows Media Player, but you can also type an artists name, or a specific tag, and listen to a stream of similar music; something I’ve been using a lost this Christmas. It’s been great to fire up the player on a laptop and listen to music tagged with ‘acoustic’ while I cook dinner, or type in an artist like ‘John Mayer‘ and find similar artists.

Last.fm Player (streaming)

A side-effect of this is that I’ve also discovered 7digital, an online music store that offers DRM[?] free music (last.fm direct you to 7digital if you want to buy an album electronically) which is perfect now that I’m using Linux. There’s also a Linux version of the stand-alone player, and other options like built in support for scrobbling and listening to last.fm streams in Amarok.

One issue that I have experienced since I switched to Linux, is the downside to DRM. I’ve purchased quite a bit of music over the past few years from the iTunes Music Store, which is copy protected and won’t play outside of an authorised copy of iTunes, which is a problem if you’re using Linux and can’t actually run iTunes. Thankfully it’s a pretty common issue and thanks to the Hymn Project I’ve been able to get all of my purchased music into a Linux friendly format!

Happy days.

Photo Matt

I know what you’re thinking… My fourth blog post this week ‘he must be bored’. We’ll that’s not true, kind of!

I just clicked a random link in my WordPress News dashboard and found Photo Matt, I haven’t really had chance to read any of the content but the design of the header really stood out as an excellent piece of design.

Photo Matt Homepage

 It makes me want to do some actual design work on this blog, I guess I’ll tag it under ‘inspiration’

Synergy – The ultimate desktop sharing tool

Synergy logoI’ve been doing some internal testing at work this week using Safari, and I’ve moved our Mac Mini onto my desk rather than using VNC. I’ve been using some awesome software called Synergy which lets you share your keyboard and mouse over the network. So I currently have my main work PC (running Windows) which has dual-monitors, next to a third monitor which is hooked up to the Mac Mini. With synergy I can move my mouse cursor between all three monitors and work on either machine without having to switch keyboards, or use a KVM.

Obviously I can’t drag/drop files or move windows between machines, but it’s made life a lot easier for performing Mac testing. It even supports cut/copy/paste from one machine to the other. Here’s a picture of my desktop setup at work (click to see the Flickr version that has notes)

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