Archive for December, 2007

Facebook progress

Could facebook finally be making some progress on implementing the things that us bloggers have been requesting for ages? I’m talking of course about the recent addition to the site of e-mail notifications that actually contain the text of what they are notifying you about.

Until recently you would get an e-mail saying you had a message, but not the message content. My attitude? Ignore the message. Clearly the individual messaging me hadn’t bothered to look at my profile and observe the text written there which says I prefer e-mail. Problem is this is a little harsh as the person had done nothing wrong as thats how they preferred to communicate. It was facebook’s fault for not realising that bridging the gap between message content and e-mail content could make such a difference, connecting those who wished to communicate through e-mail and those who wished to communicate through facebook.

Perhaps such people might be in for a reprieve now however, because when I get a new message notification from facebook, the text of the message and who sent it arrives in my inbox. This means that I can hit reply on my e-mail client, select the sender from my address book and place them in the to line, compose my reply and send it. Job done. I don’t have to login to facebook. Obviously it’s not quite perfect as now they get the reply to their e-mail and no longer can use facebook, their preferred communication medium. Maybe this will be fixed soon too.

Facebook seem to finally be recognising that not everyone is or indeed wants to be chained to their web browser. Bravo.

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Family Christmas

So I’m back on the blog again, coinciding with my return to Leeds after spending Christmas with my family. It was a pleasant break which was very relaxing given how busy the tail end of last term had been. I did get some work covered but I kept it light so I could rest up for the exams and tumultuous term that lie ahead. It was fun to see everyone and I still can’t believe how much food I got through over the festive period. I still feel full from Christmas dinner!

For those looking for the photos I took of all the various family gatherings, you can view them in my gallery

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Family Christmas 2007

Family Christmas 2007

A collection of photographs taken at various family gatherings over Christmas 2007

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Programming and sex

As I was browsing my news feeds this morning I stumbled accross a blog post that someone had linked to. Its a rather amusing article about which programming language gets you the most sex. If you’re a programmer I’m sure this will make you chuckle.

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Revision Begins

After the end of term I had a short break from work as things had been a little hectic with all the coursework. As of today though I’m back to the grindstone and I’ll be working right up to my first exam in January with a large revision timetable. I have five exams in the new year and while this isn’t the most I’ve ever had at this time of year, its certainly not the smallest batch I’ve ever sat in one go.

My final year project project won’t be neglected though and I’ll be working on this throughout the festive period. I’ve setup remote working so I can access Matlab from home so hopefully I’ll have some interesting results to talk about by the new year.

If I can find time I hope to bring a few sites up to date, release a new version of Calendar, and hopefully open my new business site. The Jazz and Blues Leeds website may also get a look in although all of that is already a tall order for the festive period 😉

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Goodbye GNER

It escaped my attention until today when I purchased my return ticket for after Christmas from Stevenage to Leeds that the London-Leeds service is no longer operated by GNER. This certainly hadn’t been a very well publicised change and I guess there was no reason for it to be.

It must be said though that personally I felt GNER ran a very good service. Their trains were comfortable, they operated service on board in a very traditional manor and were one of the first UK operators to enable Wi-Fi on board all of their trains, a boon for technical people like myself. I know GNER weren’t without their critics (including those who claimed they were consistently late running, although I never personally found this), but I will miss them.

The service is now operated by National Express East Coast

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Last Christmas

Christmas just isn’t complete without this song. It means something different to everyone who hears it.

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PHP $this

Recently an upgrade on my hosting server has been conducted, making a change from predominantly PHP4 (PHP5 available but not widely used) to predominantly PHP5 (PHP4 available but infrequently used). This has been prompted by the announcement by PHP developers that support for PHP4 will be discontinued at the end of the year.

I didn’t think there would be any issues with the migration as I have long been coding in a PHP5 compatible way, however after the move Halifax Online suffered a few issues. After much investigation I discovered that this was due to some deprecated code use within some functions in a party application which had been added to the site. This was easily fixed, but the issue its self is rather interesting.

It is common practice to store ephemeral data in loops and pass this data along to other loops or functions. While the actual variable name doesn’t matter so long as it is consistent, it makes sense to name it something which indicates that the data is for use only in situ and is ephemeral. The developer of the problematic application had used a variable named $this to perform this action.

Name wise this makes a lot of sense because it indicates quite clearly that the content of the variable is ephemeral and for use only in situ, especially with respect to functions. The problem is that $this is somewhat reserved under PHP5 and so while can be read from under ordinary circumstances, cannot be written to. This is because in an object orientated environment it is used to represent the current object in which a piece of code resides, and so changing it within this context has no meaning; changing attributes of it makes sense, but changing the whole thing (as the code was effectively doing by assigning it a value) is impossible. Can I demolish and rebuild my house while still inside it?

I just thought I’d share this little gem with folk who are trying to make their applications PHP5 compatible before the end of the year. It took me quite a while to find because I was looking primarily for deprecated function use, not variable use.

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phpBB3 release date announced

The phpBB group have have announced the final release date of phpBB3. This is an important milestone as there hasn’t been a new version released for 7 years and finally after much hard work from some and waiting around for many, its going to be here. This is a fantastic development and I feel sure that this advance will once again put phpBB far ahead of the game in the web based forum world.

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I looked up my AI module marks this morning on SIS and found I had achieved 84% in the coursework. I had worked very hard on this piece because it fed into my final year project and so was delighted to have gained such a high mark. Upon reading news I noticed that the module leader had posted the highest and lowest marks and the corresponding average. The highest mark was 84%, the same as mine! This has given me a completely elated feeling, and it just goes to show that hard work and diligence really does pay off 🙂

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