WordPress

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I have kept an electronic diary for three years now. I upgraded my handwritten diary back in 2003 and have never missed pen on paper. Yes, searching your own diary is geeky but I like it. It is something I do much more often than I thought I would. It is much quicker to have a search engine go through your words rather than flicking through pages of handwritten stuff.

I was using the free to-download-and-try version of the Zoom search engine (http://www.wrensoft.com/zoom/) on basic xhtml/css pages with ssi and I was very happy with it. Zoom is easy to install and use. It lets you search up to 50 pages free before you need to upgrade (pay some cash to get more functionality). The only problem was that it wasn’t designed specifically with the blogging style approach I wanted where the search list of pages would be updated automatically. I needed something more cohesive so after looking at various blogging and CMS alternatives I swapped over to WordPress and then having got so excited about it for my own diary I used it to set up this technology blog too.

WordPress is a stylish piece of blogging software for people who want to produce nice web pages either for themselves – like me and my ‘dear diary’ just on my computer – or to publish online, but don’t want to have to learn too many technical details. It is an example of good open source software – free to download and simple to install – if your server is set up with everything WordPress needs to run.

There is a large community of programmers beavering away. If you do get stuck you can join in one of the news groups and get the answer to your problem. If you get really confident it is easy to put a new look on your website online or offline with templates you can download.

To do anything more sophisticated there is a bit of a learning curve, but it may be worth it if you want to host podcasts or to produce feeds to other sites. There is lots of documentation on the site and the WordPress book only costs a tenner which is cheaper than a new nice diary for penning your thoughts in.

Card sort analysis using a spreadsheet

Following up from Digital Web Magazine and my card sort article, here is one way of analysing your results using a spreadsheet.
In the spreadsheet we need to set up two tables which will sit next to each other:

  • Table 1 stores the number of users and their cards.
  • Table 2 counts cards and identify patterns.

Download your own copy of the spreadsheet to tinker with, at http://www.ruthstalkerfirth.com/CardSortSample.xls

Continue reading “Card sort analysis using a spreadsheet”

My Sony NW-E002 MP3 Player

My Sony NW-E002 MP3 Player

This MP3 is the size of a USB memory stick but with a stainless steel shiny wrapper it’s not just smart to look at but also very useful for reapplying lipstick. It has a massive two gigabytes of memory on which you can store about 500 songs on it and is much neater and smaller than the now defunct ipod mini.

Charging time takes about an hour the first time but after that fifteen minutes or so pulled into your PC will ensure it remains charged for several hours. Three minutes recharging will keep you going for three hours.

Along with the sleek look, the buttons to shuffle through songs and the small interface are minimalist and only take a couple of minutes to learn. Play and Stop use the same button and there is a back and forward. What more could you need?

As a user replacing an older MP3 the only downside I found so far is using SonicStage software to manage my music. The latest version (version 4.0) has an integrated Connect music store so that I can download songs from the Sony store but it is not the easiest piece of software to use compared to Windows Explorer. It is a shame that I can’t transfer music onto the device using Windows Explorer — as it stands, I can only store my songs in the Windows library which are then transferred to SonicStage. A minor irritation which may become major.

The Sony NW-E002 costs £69.99. It stylish and affordable especially as very little can go wrong with it.

Apple TV

apple TV image from www.cnet.de

Design aficionados will be thrilled this week as Apple announced their first product for the living room. Currently, Apple are calling it iTV and plan to have it in the shops by early next year.

iTV is a wireless box approximately the size of a mouse mat which sits on top of your television and lets you connects directly to your computer whilst you watch the graphics it provides on your television. Continue reading “Apple TV”

Humax PVR-9200T Freeview recorder

 Humax PVR-9200T

With the Humax DVD recorder gone are the days when you can’t set the video recorder because it is too complex to use. This machine is the size of a DVD player with a hard disk inside so there is no more fiddling around with videotapes or DVDs. No grinding sounds when your DVD is burning either. The Humax records so quietly to itself you won’t even notice that it is switched on let alone recording. The interface is really simple to use too.

Using the Freeview digital menu you just select whatever program you want to record using the ‘Ok’ button. The program is then highlighted and the machine knows when to record it and when to stop. If programs are running late normally the machine follows the new schedule and will record the late start and the later finish.

Using the find facility you can easily search for programs to record from your favourite series for as far into the future as the software on Humax can see. So if you are organised you will never miss another episode of anything.

If someone calls you during the middle of an interesting program you can ‘pause’ live television and then continue playing once you are ready so you won’t miss any dramatic scenes. The added bonus is that once you have paused lived TV your program starts to behave like a recorded one so you can skip over the adverts too using the five or 10-second skipping facility or you can rewind the program backwards up until the point you started recording.

Other great facilities include being able to watch one channel whilst recording another. Nothing new there you might say but what about recording two things at once? It even allows you to watch one already recorded program whilst you are recording another.

The only flaw in the facilities available to you is that the Humax does not allow you to start watching a program from the beginning that has not finished recording. It can do this when you pause live TV so why can’t it do it ordinarily?

[Update May 2007: This feature has been added during one of its automatic software updates. You can start watching a program even when it hasn’t finished recording, and you can fast forward or rewind or pause it, as you would a completed recording or live tv. Brilliant!]

The Humax PVR-9200 retails at around £220. It can store up to 160 hours and the software on the recorder updates itself is and when it is necessary. All you have to do is to find something on the box worth saving.