Greg Gannicott’s Blog


Ironies: Blackberry Curve Keyboard

Posted in Technology by Greg Gannicott on May 13, 2009
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I purchased my Blackberry Curve around 16 months ago. At the time I couldn’t afford an iPhone so looked for the next best thing.

I should say now that’s I’ve not regretted the Blackberry (BB) purchase, however I’ve since saved up to get an iPhone once my 18 month contract is up.

Before getting my BB, I remember a friend telling me he purchased a BB over an iPhone because he wanted a keyboard he could blog on.

Soon after getting my BB I pointed out to him my one disappointment with it was that the keyboard was just too fiddly to write anything lengthy on.

And its because of that, I find it ironic that an hour ago – after writing a lengthy blog comment – that I figured that writing a blog post on the BB would be a piece of cake, and that I should start doing it.

And so here is my first Blackberry written blog post. Apart from the fact its hard to include hyperlinks, its worked nicely.

Its just a shame that in a couple months time I’ll switch to the iPhone and likely dislike that keypad even more 😦 until then though I hope to write more posts than I’ve been doing of late.

UltraEdit Cheat Sheet

Posted in Technology by Greg Gannicott on April 4, 2009
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When working at the PC, I find Cheat Sheets (or Crib Sheets) extremely useful.

In work, my desk is surrounded by Vi, Regex, and SED Cheat Sheets, and they’re always coming in handy for quick reference. If I had somewhere to stick them at home, I’d have PHP, MySQL, Javascript and CSS ones there too.

About a year ago I did a search to see whether an UltraEdit one exists, as I’m constantly using the App for one thing or another, so it helps to have the shortcuts to hand, ideally on an A4 sheet of paper. I couldn’t find one, so I knocked one up myself in MS Word. Its taken me this long to get around to publishing it on the net but I’ve now done it. I’ve used Google Docs (which I’m appreciating more and more every day I use it) to create a PDF UltraEdit Cheat Sheet that anyone can download.

For the time being its just keyboard shortcuts, but if anyone has any ideas I’d be more than happy to add to it. Just post a comment below.

Whilst on the topic of Cheat Sheets, here’s a couple links you might find of use:

The ‘Elbow Effect’

Posted in Personal by Greg Gannicott on March 15, 2009
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Its that time again! To make it sound dramatic, records are being ‘smashed’ on this blog (today sees its busiest day to date), and its not because I’ve written a clever, insightful technology related post linked to from Techmeme.. Its all because the band Elbow are back on tour.

Back in April of last year I posted a review of an Elbow gig, and a couple days later the set-list for the gig. And every time they tour, those posts get what I consider to be a reasonable number of hits.

Already today, the blog has had 40 new visitors, and during ‘Elbow Touring Season’ it averages around 30 a day. Its not a huge amount, but its much larger than I ever thought would look at this blog.

The set-list post has now received 1,347 hits – that’s more than half the number of visits to this blog. I sometimes wonder whether anyone has stuck around since reading it? Anyone bookmarked me? Added me to your RSS reader? If so, feel free to comment below.

I posted the link partially because I thought it would be useful info for others, but also to see if there was demand for set-lists. At the time, I didn’t know if there were any sites out there dedicated to the task. I thought, if there was demand it might be worth setting up a set-list wiki where people can add setlists to the gigs they’ve been to in order to help others. Given the response to the post, I started putting the plan into action. I got so far, then decided to Google for such a site just in case, and found setlist.fm. As with all the good ideas, someone’s already beaten me to it and done a much better job.

Easy come, easy go.

Java Integer Annoyance in UltraEdit

Posted in Technology by Greg Gannicott on March 15, 2009
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A colleague in work occasionally comes across the same problem of his Java application failing because he spelt integer with a capital ‘I’ rather than a lowercase i. This was caused by UltraEdit auto correcting it for him each time. Basically it was too clever for its own good. One of the very few flaws of Ultraedit imho.

I did a quick Google to see whether there was an obvious solution for this but couldn’t find one. As I couldn’t find anything, I thought it would be wise to write about the workaround I figured out.

In short, edit the Wordfile so the word ‘Integer’ is no longer considered a keyword for Java. The side effect is the word ‘Integer’ will no longer appear with syntax highlights.

Below is a breakdown of how to achieve this.

This assumes you have a relatively standard ‘wordfile’. It’s quite simple and equally as obvious.

  • Open up UltraEdit
  • Select Advanced > Configuration > Editor Display > Syntax Highlighting
  • Click ‘Open’ – a document should open up in the background.
  • Click ‘Cancel’.
  • Press ctrl+f and enter “Java” into the search field. Press return and it should find “Java”.
  • Now press ctrl+f again and enter “Integer” into the search field. Press enter.
  • You might find other instances of Interger (such as BigInteger). You are looking for plain old ‘Integer’. Press F3 until you find it.
  • Once you’ve found it, delete it and save the document.

This issue should now stop happening.

Intuitive UI Design Examples

Posted in Technology by Greg Gannicott on March 15, 2009

I’m not sure whether there’s actually a name for this, but until someone suggests otherwise I’ll refer to it as ‘Intuitive Design’. For me, what that represents is when a developer almost pre-empts the way you’re going to subconsciously use something by coding for non obvious situations (catchy, no?).

They must think to themselves “I think the user is going to try and do x because s/he thinks it should work that way.”, and I really like it when they do that.

I came across an example over the weekend by Microsoft of all people in Windows Messenger of all applications.

I wanted to send a screenshot to a mate using Messenger. Usually what I do is:

  • press the Print Screen key
  • open up Paint
  • ctrl+v to paste my screenshot
  • Save it off
  • Locate the file using Explorer
  • Drag it on to the chat window with my mate (an example of intuitive design in fact) and it sends the file (that’s providing the app doesn’t get too clever for its own good and decide on my mate’s behalf that he doesn’t really want to risk opening it – it does my head in when MS takes that approach!).

On this occasion though, without really thinking I:

  • pressed the Print Screen key
  • in the chat window, hit Ctrl+V to paste and as if by magic it sent the screenshot as a file to my mate.

Amazing (in a non-jesus changing water in to wine kind of way)! Over time that could be a time-saver, and to me and my subconscious self makes perfect sense.

So hats off to the MS developer who did that.

Another example is between iTunes and Winamp.

Until recently, I’d have Winamp open at all times on the 2nd monitor. To begin with I use to drag files from Explorer on to Winamp and placed it in the right place on the Playlist. Winamp knew what to do with this content being dragged in (another minor example).

Soon after buying an iPod – and as a result – starting rating things in iTunes, I began to listen to music based on those ratings. Not in a smart-playlist kind of way, but in a “Lets look at this band and pick a song I rated highly/haven’t rated” kind of way.

I dragged the song from iTunes and on to Winamp and quite surprisingly, Winamp lapped it up and added the song the playlist.

For me, that’s another great example of pre-empting what I want to do and how my subconscious self thinks it should be done.

I think this is one area where Web Apps show their (lack-of) age. It will be a while yet before one web app can talk to another without the user having to give it much thought. It will happen though, I don’t doubt it.

Clay Shirky: 2 Interesting Articles

Posted in Technology by Greg Gannicott on March 14, 2009
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I’ve recently started reading blog posts by a chap called Clay Shirky. He appears to be up there with the likes of Tim O’Reilly (no, not him from Fox News!) in terms of insight into where the Internet is at, and where its going.

Here are a couple of lengthy pieces I’m really pleased I read:

Providing Receipts via Email

Posted in Technology by Greg Gannicott on February 15, 2009
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I’m reading an interesting and strangely inspiring article on creating a well thought out store by Robert Scoble. I really like the following example from Apple stores. If you have a gmail account and don’t delete emails you’ll never lose this receipt:

Copy Apple and get rid of checkout lines. I hate standing in line at BestBuy. In fact I’ve walked out more than once leaving my purchase right there. That’s lame. Apple’s employees walk around with little computers in their hands. They ring you up right there without making you stand in line. They email me my receipt. Forcing paper on customers is totally lame, especially in this time where we’re supposed to be conserving paper.

via What Microsoft Can Learn About Retail from Apple and Best Buy | Robert Scoble’s innovator’s and geeks’ blog | Fast Company.

Douglas Adams Quote

Posted in Personal,Technology by Greg Gannicott on February 15, 2009

I do like this Douglas Adams quote from a Tech Dirt article I read. Generally speaking its true. Hope I don’t fall into the trap though:

1) everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal;

2) anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;

3) anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.

25 Things About Me

Posted in Personal by Greg Gannicott on February 11, 2009
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I just wrote this for Facebook. Given that I’ve put some time and effort into it, I’d just as well post it here too.

Here’s 25 things about me:

  1. I was born with one nut. So too was someone else in school. Strangely, he got loads of stick for it and I got none. I’m to old to care about it now so knock yourselves out. For the record, I’m now fully armed and operational in the man sack department. When I was a kid, I had an operation which rescued my stray ball.
  2. I’m a very shy person and it pains me to publish this list.
  3. I feel guilty over the daftest things. I remember as a kid, me and some friends broke some bird eggs by mistake. I think I went home and cried to my mum over it. I haven’t changed much, although I can hold back the tears better now.
  4. I’m really anal with copied media. I won’t watch copied films, I won’t listen to copied music. When I say “Oh, I’ve got that album!” I want that to mean I took the time to buy and own it. Nobody gets me where this is concerned.
  5. My folks never hit me as a kid. I was ruled by the word “disapointed”. To this day I still fear disapointing my folks.
  6. Glastonbury may only be on for 5 days a year, but its been home to so many highlights in my life.
  7. I love music in an indescribable ways, but I’d still give it up to keep Becky (I would resent her if she made me choose though :))
  8. As I get older, I’m appreciating family more and more.
  9. In certain ways I’m lazy. I think that ties in with my love of technology.
  10. On New Years eve this year I wore tights to keep warm in a very cold London (and as a joke with Becky). Ignoring the technicallities of it all, its probably the most liberating thing I’ve done to date. Including it in this list ranks 2nd. My cross-dressing days end their though.
  11. Contrary to the usual pattern, the older I’m getting, the more left wing I’m getting.
  12. Old people who whinge about young people annoy me. I don’t class myself as young, so its not a defensive thing.
  13. I’m classist in the sense that I’ll forgive someone who’s working class for doing something, but dispise someone who’s middle class for doing the same thing.
  14. The most exciting album I’ve heard in the past couple years is Of Montreal’s Skeletal Lamping. Prior to that it was Modest Mouse’s “Good News for People Who Like Bad News”. Finding the next one is what keeps me buying music week in, week out.
  15. I’m a news-junkie. For me, watching news is no longer watching other people’s lives. Its more like fiction where no-one gets really gets hurt (<Loud Homer Simson Whisper Voice>I realise they doooo</>). I think my junkie tendencies come from missing 9/11 take place live on TV. I don’t want to miss the next big event.
  16. I probably surf the net more on my Blackburry than I do my desktop or laptop. With that in mind I want an iPhone.
  17. I seem to do most of my thinking walking to and from work. If I did as much thinking sat at a keyboard, I’d have a frequently updated blog.
  18. After years of thinking, as it stands the tunes I want played at my funeral are Arcade Fire’s “My Body Is A Cage” and The Flaming Lips’ “Do You Realize?”. If I was pushed for a third – right here right now – I’d say Pixies’ “Monkey Gone To Heaven”. The title speaks for itself. Curse you all if it doesn’t happen. A bonus would be having Gogol Bordello’s “Gypsy Punk” album played at my wake, with people being in the right spirit to dance and drink to it. That only happens on TV though.
  19. I’ve probably spent more time in my life thinking about what songs to have played at my funeral than any other subject. I won’t even be there to witness it.
  20. The thing I love most about technology (ignoring the fact it saves me time and effort) are the possibilities it brings. It gets the creative juices flowing just thinking about it.
  21. At the time, I was the first person I knew who had the Internet. Dial-up and Amiga didn’t really do it justice. Firefox, it wasn’t.
  22. More often than not, I’m not overly fond of my job, but when its good I really enjoy it. I’ve never had that in any other job, so I think I’m on to a good thing.
  23. I now understand why the media keeps on barking on about young people having disposable income. I still don’t regret not saving mine when I had it, no matter what my mother says.
  24. I can’t wait to have my baby in my arms. Can’t explain why. Just cause.

25. Despite what everyone says to me, the day will never come where I actually appreciate getting ID’ed. It also seems possible that the day will never come that I don’t get ID’ed.

Teletext Search is Embarrassing

Posted in Technology by Greg Gannicott on February 3, 2009

Any company worth their salt now-a-days have someone searching the blogs and twitter for mentions of their company. Its with that in mind that I write this.

A few months back Teletext finally launched a search feature on their web site, and with it they made it possible to find old reviews, interviews and news from Planet Sound. The prospect of this thrilled me. Their reviews mean a lot to me, so when I’ve bought an album I’m always keen to see what they thought of it. Same goes if I’m thinking of buying an album.

The theory is great. However, the search is so poorly designed/executed that its practically unusable. I’m not expecting Google, but they’ve made two big mistakes that could easily be fixed with a tiny bit of investment:

1) I wish they’d aggregate their results! What do I mean by this? Check out this search for Elbow:

10 results, all for the same ruddy page. The only difference that I can see is the date, sometimes only seconds apart. Couldn’t they group all those together and select the one with the latest date? Unless I’m missing an important detail (given that I don’t work there, that is more than possible) it seems such a simple thing to do.

2) On the left hand side they offer the chance to narrow your results down by feed. The problem is, they only seem to offer two options (today that’s Sport Betting News and Weather). Would it kill them to offer a few more? Even if its at a high-level (eg. News, Sport, Entertainment, Weather etc) it would make life much easier searching it.

As a developer, it hurts and baffles to see something like this being released, especially by a company that’s home to so much great content.

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