Google SMS

Google now has an SMS service. You text a query to it, and it texts you back results. "Pubs" then your postcode finds the nearest pubs. "From" location "to" location gives you (driving) directions. They're an American company, so I guess public transport, cycling and walking directions would seem quite ridiculous to them.

What they really need, is to be able to respond to a query like "late opening pubs" location... Now that would be handy!

Trackball suggestions?

Trackman Marble FX

I've had one of these Logitech Trackman Marble FX trackballs for about eight years. Best pointing device I've ever owned ergonomically. The beauty of the design is that you don't twist your wrist. It's also one of the early opticals, so the only time you need to clean the rollers is when they physicially stop the ball from moving. The ball is nice and big, which gives you good control.

Sadly this one is now dying. The ball sensors are fine, but the right-click button is having trouble recording clicks and that's getting annoying.

So any suggestions for a trackball as good as this? As often happens with capitalism, this is a great product so it's been discontinued.

Ipaq music streaming

A couple of years ago I bought an Ipaq 3100 with a dud battery for £15 on eBay. My plan was to get it to do wireless music streaming so I could play music in another room without running cables from my computer.

Last night I finally got it working. I'm using esd and can play things from the computer, but I can't get esd with a remote server to work with mpd, my music player of choice. Will keep hacking on that.

Eventually I'd like to get it to work with a remote control, since it has serial on it. To test that out, I'll need a 9-pin null modem adapter. Anyone got one I can borrow?

When I get right into it, I might even end up with a user interface so I can see what track is playing. That would be cool.

Wonderful UI

MS User Interface boneheadedness

Okay so Microsoft aren't exactly a difficult target when it comes to user interface design, but this one is just so bad I have to point it out.

This is Outlook 2003. Now can you tell whether the items on this item are radio buttons or checkboxes? Well the first three items are actually radio buttons, but the last two are checkboxes. Obvious, huh?

Blog software without a database?

The other half has decided she wants her own blog. So I've been looking around for some blogging software she can use. Blosxom is all well and good for geeks like me, but she needs something that doesn't require her to know HTML.

Blosxom has some plug-ins that would appear to be the business: web forms that allow you to create entries from a web page (rather than a text editor, as I usually do it) and that use Wiki-style markup to automagically interpret two carriage returns as a <p> and the like. Problem is, the Wiki plugins just don't fscking work!

So can anyone suggest a piece of blog software that doesn't use a database (talk about using a fscking sledgehammer to crack a nut), is free software does RSS, doesn't require knowledge of HTML and, preferably, is written in Perl?

I'd set her up with Blogger but I'm not that keen on giving our passwords to third-parties, particularly when they'll use it over ftp, which I'd also prefer not to run on my server.

London Perl Workshop

I went to the London Perl Workshop on Saturday. It was very good and I learnt a lot. The "Gimmes" session taught me a few things that were useful. The session on sort was very useful, as I've never really delved into it beyond the default behaviour.

The session on Testing was also good. Lots of useful tools in there. And finally, I'm intrigued by Class::DBI which turns database rows into objects, without the programmer writing any SQL. Very cool!

At lunchtime there was an OpenGuides BOF, so I got to meet all my fellow OpenGuiders.

All in all, an excellent day and I learnt a lot.

MPD is great!

I finally got sick of xmms being so flaky and installed mpd which was discussed on gllug recently. It's brilliant!

In the Unix tradition, it is a collection of small tools that do one thing well, and nothing more. mpd is a music player that happily sits in the background as a daemon. A bunch of clients connect to the daemon and control what gets played. gmpc is clean, stable and nice. I've also got lirc working for the remote control and a tiny web-based client to allow control from the PDA. Neat!

Weird foreign-language forums

I seem to be getting a huge number of hits to my photo of a jar of snake wine from our trip to Vietnam. Sure enough, if you look on a Google image search, it shows up on the first page of results. Not sure why there's so much interest in snake wine though.

This image gallery, which has all my images up to when I bought my digital camera and changed to Gallery, gets huge numbers of hits. It seems to have massive Google Juice. I guess because they're flat image files, well named (not P1234567.jpg) and have been around for a long time helps.

Tourist Engineer goes global

My hacker tourist site now supports latitude and longitude for any location on the planet. Thanks to the geniuses at Openguides, the software handles it instead of the former British National Grid, which restricted it to the UK.

This means users can now add precise location information for anything in the world, which is just brilliant. I'd always envisaged it as a global site, and have a few non-UK sites in there, but the software couldn't do it yet.

Very exciting. If you're a sad bastard. Like me.