Daily Archives: January 3, 2007

More on WMB Toolkit 6.0.2

I’ve just added the first of a short series of posts on the new WebSphere Message Broker Toolkit to the SOA Tips’n’Tricks blog.

Building a light tent – part 1, introduction

Inspired by a conversation with one of my Flickr contacts, my current project is to build a light tent. Once I’ve done it, I’m going to take some photos of the vintage cameras I picked up over Christmas.

Bryan posted this interesting shot of some peppers in a light tent, and when I commented that I’d like something similar, he mentioned that he had built his own, following these instructions by Bill Huber. The upshot is that you can do it using some cheap lighting, and some PVC pipes more commonly used for plumbing.

Earlier in the week I checked out B&Q, but found that didn’t have any suitable desk lamps, and neither of their ranges of pipes seemed to have the right parts. Last night I went out to Homebase, and picked up 2 cheap desk lamps that take 40W “golf ball”-style bulbs, and another 2 that have 20W halogen bulbs. Both types of bulb are probably a bit on the dim side compared to the 50W or 75W halogens described in the instructions, but we shall see.

I was also able to get the pipe. In the instructions (written for a US audience), the measurements are all given in Imperial units… here in the UK, I purchased 2 x 2m of 15mm PVC pipe, which I think is roughly equivalent to what the article suggests. The stuff I picked up has simple “push together” connections. I plugged one shoulder joint into a T junction when I got home, and actually now can’t take it apart again, so obviously it fits well: no glue required! Bit of a problem though, as I was hoping to be able to disassemble it when not in use.

I plan to start cutting the lengths and putting it all together in the evenings this week. All I need now is a cheap white sheet and some appropriate backgrounds (and we have a craft supplies place just down the road, so I’ll pick those up at the weekend).

Pics to follow – but then, I always say that…

See the rest of the posts in this series:

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This Life + 10 = Outstanding

Last night saw a slice of nostalgia, when This Life returned for a one-off special, ten years on.

Ten years ago I was a few months away from leaving university (stop rolling your eyes, at the back!) and I fondly remember cramming into my neighbour’s room to watch each episode. We were all just about to graduate, and seeing these five people sharing a house in London at the start of their careers somehow felt like it might be a view into our own lives in a few years’ time. This series, and Friends, were big at the time… and somehow Friends was never real enough for us to think that way about it.

This Life was groundbreaking stuff – the handheld camera work, the sex and drugs pushing new boundaries (although whether or not that has been a good thing in the long term is another matter), the gritty realism, the rapid editing, the well-observed mundane details (not only who was sleeping with whom, but whether or not the washing up had been done)… a really great series.

From the moment the theme tune came on last night, the memories all flooded back. The characters had grown slightly older, but not very much wiser. The characterisations were still excellent. The setting had changed, of course – no more lawyers sharing a grotty house in London, this time the careers had all changed, and it was scaled up to a weekend at a country house instead. The thing that impressed me the most about the special was that there was real emotional depth and tension that had an impact even after the 10 year gap.

The music was great too – although this time it was all played out of an iPod. A chance to relive some of my favourite indie moments of the 1990s.

I’ll be getting the original 2 series on DVD to remind myself of what it was all about…

Good stuff to watch most nights this week – final two episodes of Torchwood tonight, and the final episode of Green Wing tomorrow. Don’t expect to hear much from me… 😉

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Update on family technical support

Readers who have been following The lost outpost for a while will remember that I’m our family’s nominated technical support person (as I’m sure many of you are), and have been managing some remote PCs via VNC.

This weekend took things to a new level. My sister-in-law bought herself an iPod nano 2G in Poland, but the PC was reporting that the device was damaged. After exchanging a few SMS messages on the subject, I got her to connect across and let me take a look at the box. She’d downloaded and installed iTunes OK (although her own account doesn’t have admin rights, so we’d got another family member to sort that out).

I suspected another conflict with the printer, but after unplugging that the device was still not recognised. So there I was, never having installed an iPod on a PC before, hunting through Apple’s website, trying to translate stuff for a Polish Windows user interface, troubleshooting some hardware that I couldn’t physically touch. Joy. In the end, a reset of the iPod managed to get it recognised, and I was then tortured by rewarded with the sight of iTunes merrily syncing music to an iPod on a remote machine. Did I mention that I still don’t own one?

Finally, I ordered the basic Sky broadband package for my mother last night, since I noticed that it was available in her area. For a small activation fee it looks like she gets the same wireless router that I have (Netgear DG834G rebadged for Sky), and no ongoing costs, since she’s an existing subscriber. Now to see how long it all takes to go through – either way, this should make life significantly easier for both her and us.

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WP.com stumble

It has been 10 months since I switched to WordPress, and I’m still an extremely happy user.

There’s just one little issue at the moment – trackbacks don’t seem to be working. Up until recently, trackbacks have been sent to any linked articles from a post automatically by the WordPress backend; and/or, you could force them to be sent by adding the trackback URLs in the editor (which I don’t generally use, since I use Live Writer). At the moment, no trackbacks are being sent out from my posts at all, even if I manually enter the URLs.

This is less than ideal, since links and trackbacks are important for building a good blog. Hopefully the issue will be resolved soon. In the meantime, I’ll try to leave comments on posts I’ve linked to…

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