Liam Colm Askins

Kaz, Liam, Ben, Chris

On Friday afternoon, Liam Colm Askins came into the world a bit early. The birth was straightforward and both mother and baby are doing well. Being a bit early, Liam will have to spend a few weeks in the hospital, but he's doing well and is otherwise fine. Congratulations Ben and Karen!

Update: I spelt it wrong. It's Liam Colm Askins.

Big brother IS watching

I've been toying with an amazing new web analytics tool called ClickTale. It tracks everything a user does as they interact with your site, so as well as the usual heat maps and the like, you can actually observe a user's mouse moving around, clicks, typing, the lot! Amazing, but somewhat scary. Certainly could give some insights into how your users interact with your site, particularly complex elements like forms.

Here's a video of me testing it out to demonstrate quite how detailed it is. Wow!

Or view it on YouTube.

Google Developer Day

I went to Google Developer Day today and learnt a lot. There's some very clever people doing some very clever stuff.

The sessions I went to in the morning were iGoogle gadgets, which is some very interesting stuff. We're thinking about using some of this kind of stuff for usage indicators and the like. it's remarkably easy to knock up a cool little gadget. Next was the YouTube where I mostly read my emails, as I'm not that fussed.

OpenSocial is very interesting. The open approach definitely appeals -- I was using Friendster, Orkut and the like long before anyone discovered Facebook, and got pretty over the idea pretty quickly. I'm quite interested in the possibilities of some social networking apps, done right. is brilliant, and gives me information about music I really care about. LinkedIn is very good for professional contacts, and does that one task well. So the open API really appeals so you could integrate all your social networking stuff. But from the sessions I went to, the OpenSocial stuff Google has is alpha quality at best right now. I'm sure it'll improve quite quickly though.

Mapplets was very interesting. It's much like the Maps API but designed to let the user put your data in as a layer amongst many, which has many possibilities. The presenter seemed very nervous talking in front of the crowd, but he actually did a really good job of explaining it, so hopefully he'll get over the nerves and become an excellent presenter.

One of the items in the morning keynote was GWT, which is a toolkit that allows developers to write Java code that compiles into optimized JavaScript. The integration he was demonstrating with Eclipse was amazing. Almost makes me want to learn the acronym-soup that is Java. But not quite enough.

It was a great day, with as you'd expect from Google excellent catering. Pretty amazing the stuff they turn on for developers, but then I guess they get the opportunity to poach the best and brightest. My only complaint would be the ditchwater coffee. It left a bad taste in my mouth all day! Ugh. It was like the worst business hotel or Amercian diner percolator shite. Maybe I'm just picky?

Heat, and keeping it in


We finally got our gas point installed last Thursday so we've now got our excellent gas heater. It's the Paloma PG-711FRN which is the one that scored best in the Choice comparison of unflued gas heaters. So far so good -- our house is toast warm.

Weather strip on our front door

To help keep the heat in, I've been weather stripping around the house. All the windows now have a weather strip to stop draughts. This afternoon I attached a strip to the front door. It flaps down when you close the door to block any draughts, and will also keep dust and crap out of our hallway.

Raised garden bed

Last weekend I built and planted out this raised garden bed. It's a bunch of railway sleepers with some very long bolts holding it together. Planted out are broad beans, kale, silverbeet, parsnips, chives, sprouting broccoli and four types of garlic. Yum!

Firebug site down?

The other day I moaned about Firebug crashing my browser. Seems that the reason, though this is weird but probably due to boneheaded network configuration, is that the firebug domain servers are down. Fortunately, SMS had the source on his laptop and built up an xpi for me. Sweet!

In other news, I can overhear our departmental admin person berating someone in the IT department. I requested a work laptop with at least two gigs of RAM and a "large" hard drive, as I run lots of virtual machines for browser testing. I got a gig of RAM and a 12 gig hard drive. Do they even make 12 gig hard drives any more? Mobile phones come with more than that these days!

Mmmmm KFC

Korean Fried Chicken

Helen Yee reviews Dashi Korean Cafe and Restaurant and its Korean Fried Chicken. Yummy! Definitely have to check this one out.

Won Korean Restaurant

Our favourite Korean in London, Bi Won on Coptic Street just off New Oxford Street, had an amazing fried chicken dish. It was the same crispy-skin chicken deliciousness, but with a sticky, garlicky and very spicy sauce. If you're checking that restaurant out, look for "Korean Sauced Chicken" on the menu. The other dishes are also excellent, but this is the real highlight.

Who's up for some Korean then?

Goodbye St George

I've been a customer of St George Bank, and before that one of the previous incarnations, Advance Bank, for many many years. Since I was a teenager. They had one of the first online banking systems, and their service has always been pretty good -- pretty good by Australian bank standards, which is admittedly a pretty low standard.

It seems they're about to be gobbled up by Westpac, one of the behemoths of banking here with a well-deserved reputation for baroque systems and surly service. St George seem to be preparing for the merger by degrading their own service.

When we moved house last December, I changed the address online and, from what I could see, it was all there. We haven't been receiving our printed statements. Earlier this year I used their online contact form to ask about this, and received no response.

Now I need those statments to reconcile mortgage payments. Online records only go back 90 days. I phoned up to have the address updated properly and request the statements, and they want to charge me $4 for each statement going back to December! They offered to send me the last two for free, which isn't very useful given I can see that online. Given I pay $6/month for my account, which includes statements, and their system fault means I didn't receive them, it's pretty bloody rich!

I've lodged a formal complaint and will see where that goes -- though given the last time I tried to contact them through the same channel (I can't find a postal address for complaints!) I received no response, I'm not holding my breath. Their response to this will determine whether they keep my business. Though to be honest, if the merger with Westpac goes through I'll be looking for another bank anyway.

Weird Firefox crash

This is just bizarre. I've received a new laptop at work and so I'm installing all my stuff. Firebug and YSlow have become absolutely critical to my day-to-day work, so that was on the list of extensions I want. Even searching for "firebug" locks up Firefox. Going directly to the site locks up Firefox. WTF?

Is, perhaps, the annoying virus scanner that PCs here come with doing something weird? This happens whether I use the corporate proxy or bypass it.

Anyone else seen this behaviour?