Borders Scrap Store website launched

Borders Scrap Store

Late last week the Borders Scrap Store website was finally launched. I had fun designing and building it. Here are a few features that I’m proud about:

Dynamic site on a static host

The site is built using XHTML 1.0 Transitional, CSS 2 and hosted on a static hosting account. In order to allow the staff to update the news section more easily I set up a WordPress account: http://bordersscrapstore.wordpress.com/ and then used the Google AJAX Feed API to pull-in the latest news items into the static HTML page.

There can be a delay of about an hour (or more) before news is updated, because it relies on Google Feedfetcher, which is also used for Google Reader and the Google personalized homepage.

I discovered that a good way to ensure that Feedfetcher was picking up the new feed from the Borders Scrap Store WordPress account was to simply add the feed to my Google Reader account. That way it was in the system and guaranteed that Google will be watching this feed.

Microformats and Google Maps

Other neat features of the site include the use of hCard microformats on the contacts page, and personalized Google Maps.

Microformats are simply ways to mark-up existing XHTML code so that the data can be read equally by humans and machines. This means that on the contacts page if you have a browser add-on, such as Operator for Firefox, then you can automatically import the contact details into your contacts application (such as Microsoft Outlook) without having to manually type in the information.

I used Google Maps to create custom markers for the Selkirk store and Musselburgh store which should make it easier for folks to locate the stores using familiar mapping tools.

Next

I’m already working on my next project: a new website for the Christian Fellowship of Healing.

FontLab SigMaker 3

SigMaker 3 by FontLab

I love typography, fonts and all that jazz. In my time I’ve created a couple of rather pathetic-looking handwriting fonts, and compiled a couple of fonts for use with mahjong documents, but I’d love to create a good, professional-looking font. Maybe one day.

I’ve tried a few font creation applications including:

I currently have FontLab 4.6 and Font Creator Program 3 installed.

In the meantime FontLab SigMaker 3 looks quite useful for quickly creating customized fontlets (single-glyph fonts) in six simple steps.

This application allows you to turn any digital image, e.g. a scanned signature, corporate logo, or photograph (scanned or digital) into a font that can be used in any of your computer applications, e.g. word processor, DTP or graphics application.

You can download a demo (Win, 1.9 MB or Mac, 2.8 MB) or download the video tutorial (QuickTime, 6.9 MB).

Black and Blue

New Zealand vs Scotland

I found it hard to watch the Scotland v New Zealand match today, part of the 2007 Rugby World Cup, which ended with NZ beating Scotland by 40 points to nil.

It wasn’t because I knew that they’d lose, I mean I literally found it hard to watch the match because their jerseys were so similar.

Scotland v New Zealand

Who on earth decided that they should play in those colours?! I found it hard to differentiate the teams, I can only imagine how difficult it was for the match officials to make split-second decisions when their colours were so close. I used to work in a textile mill in Selkirk, and sorting out similar batches of navy and black was incredibly difficult.

Scotland were in their home strip, which is a predominantly navy shirt, with patches of silver-blue hatching, navy shorts and navy socks. New Zealand were in their new away strip which is black and silver-blue, with black shorts and black socks.

I think that New Zealand should have played in their all black strip, and Scotland in their white ‘away’ strip. It would have made watching the game much, much easier.

Result

As for the result, I think Scotland did remarkably well to hold New Zealand to such a low win. Their defence in the second half was tremendous, especially for a second team (many of Scotland’s key players sitting out to prepare for the match against Italy next weekend).

I thought that New Zealand were very disappointing in places: missed and dropped passes, failure to spot otherwise obvious routes through the defence, unnecessary knock-ons. I usually go into a Scotland v NZ game resigned to the fact that Scotland will lose but at least I’ll get to watch some elegant and beautifully executed rugby. It was refreshing not to see that because NZ appeared to be rattled at times by the Scottish defence.

It’s encouraging to see that of the three teams the Kiwis have played so far ours had the lowest points difference:

NZ Score Score Opponent Difference
New Zealand 76 14 Italy 62
New Zealand 108 13 Portugal 95
New Zealand 40 0 Scotland 40

I’m looking forward to Scotland v Italy next weekend at St Etienne on Saturday 29 September. I think I’m right in saying that Scotland need to either win or draw to stay in the competition. We can’t afford to lose.

But before that we have eight more games to enjoy. England v Tonga will be good to watch. You see, that’s what’s so exciting about supporting Scotland at rugby — you get to be passionate about two teams: Scotland and anyone that’s playing England! 😉

Climate change and the British Empire

Map of the British Empire
The British Empire in 1897, marked in pink, the traditional colour for Imperial British dominions on maps. (Map courtesy of Wikipedia)

I have a theory about climate change — have you noticed that people don’t call it “global warming” anymore? My theory is simply that climate change was invented by British scientists. Let me explain.

Now, when I say “invented” I don’t mean made up, as in ‘fictitious’ or ‘not-real’. After all Sir Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone and I’ve paid enough money on phone bills over the years to know (sometimes painfully) just how real that invention was.

You see, I think it goes back to the fact that once upon a time we had an Empire. The British Empire: it was the big pink bits that covered most maps of the world.

Back in the 15th century when the hobby began and European countries started collecting colonies Britain was a dominant force.

As late as the early 1920s, the British Empire was the largest empire in the history of mankind. It made Alexander the Great’s effort around the Mediterranean look a bit half-hearted. Britain was the dominant global power, ruling over 458 million people: almost a quarter of the world’s population and a quarter of its land mass. That’s a lot of people, a lot of land and a heck of a lot of influence.

And then over the last sixty to seventy years we lost most of it, frittered it away. Largely, in the words of Eddie Izzard, by using phrases like “Oh … do you think so?”

What’s left of the British Empire, or the Commonwealth of Nations as it is now called, is now restricted mostly to countries that beat us regularly at cricket or rugby. And Canada.

A bit of a let down, really, for a once mighty nation. Britain needed something new, something to make them a world leader once more. And I think they found it.

What is it that Britons do better than anyone else in the world? I’ll tell you: no matter where in the British Isles you visit you can guarantee that people of all ages and abilities — old, young, rich, poor, friend or stranger: everyone — talks about the weather.

We’ve been talking about the weather since before the rise of the British Empire.

Raleigh: I hear that we’ve acquired a new island for our empire.

Gilbert: Oh really?

Raleigh: Yes. Off the coast of Africa, I believe.

Gilbert: Tremendous! I bet it’s warmer there than here.

Raleigh: I’ll say. The weather here’s been bitterly disappointing. And they call this summer, huh!

Just this morning, while I was at church in Newport-on-Tay, I heard at least two conversations within one hour about the weather.

We’re great at it, and thanks to British scientists we’ve now taken that greatness to the rest of the world. Now everyone is speaking about the weather, from the Arctic to Zambia, Zimbabwe to America … okay, maybe not America but everyone else is.

There ought to be a new map created showing which countries now have the weather as their number one topic of conversation. Maybe they could colour those areas of the map pink.

Doesn’t it once again make you feel proud to be British.

Deleted Images

View out of a window

If Flickr is about sharing your best photographs with the rest of the world, then Deleted Images: The junkyard of art is about sharing your worst.

The idea is simple:

DeletedImages.com brings unsharp, moved, blurry and unfocused pictures back to life. So before you delete you images on your camera. Have another look and start sharing what you would have deleted with the rest of the world.

I’ve got a collection of similar types of photos in my days of using real 35mm film. Somehow I was loath to bin them. These photos captured something unrehearsed, unposed and natural.

I should dig them out, scan them and create a special category on my Flickr account, or submit them to Deleted Images.

Why not submit your worst photos today!