Disconnected

Disconnected wire

Got home from the carol service last night (more about that in a future post) to discover that we had no telephone or broadband connection: no dial tone.

A quick call to BT Faults (0800 800 151 — omit initial zero if calling from a mobile phone) revealed that the problem lay at the exchange, and wouldn’t be fixed until today sometime (Wednesday). I pray that they do reconnect us quickly.

Still, a courteous service from BT with friendly support staff.

Update

Our phone line was reconnected at 10:50, with a courteous call to Jane from Team BT to pass on the good news.

Carol services

Vestments hanging in my office
My clerical shirt and vestments hanging in my office.

This evening I’m preaching at the Alumni Carol Service at St Salvator’s Chapel, University of St Andrews, starting at 18:30. So my clerical shirt and vestments are currently hanging up in the office.

I would have hung them all behind the door but unfortunately I’m too tall for the coat hook and my cassock was dragging on the floor. That’s what white boards are for, though, I guess.

This will be my second carol service this year. I conducted (most of) the carol service at St Mary’s, Newport-on-Tay on Sunday evening. I say “most of” because I had it in my diary as starting at 18:30, while the rest of the congregation had 18.00 in theirs. I missed only two carols and a couple of readings.

When I got home I checked my emails to see what time they’d given me. It turns out that was the problem: they hadn’t given me a time, just said “early evening” and I’d guessed 18:30 based on previous experience of early evening services.

This evening’s service is definitely starting at 18:30. Besides, it’s just across the quad from my office. Literally a hop, skip and a genuflect away.

Prayers please that my sermon goes well and that God speaks through me (but not in a weird, Hollywood style!).

Update: Oh for goodness sake! It turns out that the carol service begins at 19:00, not 18:30!! I was told 18:30 … can no one tell me the correct time that I’m supposed to turn up to these things?! 😉

Jane’s operation today

Surgeons in an operating theatre
Photo by asterisc21 at stock.xchng

Today is St Andrews Day — patron saint of Scotland and Russia. Which, this year, means one thing in our house: it’s the day for Jane’s IVF-related operation.

For those who don’t know: we’re on an IVF programme at Ninewells hospital, Dundee and a few months back during a routine scan the doctors discovered something – they’re not 100% certain what it is (a lump? a cyst? something else?) but know that it shouldn’t be there. Today they plan to investigate and remove it.

I’m taking her over to Dundee for about 08:00, then I need to get back to St Andrews for a meeting with the Director of Admissions, whom I met for the first time yesterday. I can then call the (an) hospital around 14:00 for a progress update and see if I can get my (fixed but presumably sore and drousy) wife back.

Delayed

A letter yesterday confirmed that it looks highly likely that our IVF treatment will be postponed until Spring 2008. But we’ll just have to wait and see what the surgeons discover and how quickly Jane recovers from the operation. The doctor told her to expect to be off work for three weeks.

Prayers please

Your prayers and thoughts would be greatly appreciated today, for Jane, for her family who will naturally be concerned, and for me too — not least cos my PC is playing up at work and I have an RSS feed to debug!

Update: 14:15

I’ve not long ago phoned the ward and Jane’s fine, still sleeping and they’ve asked me to go pick her up in a couple of hours time. I just have to wait to find out what they did and what they discovered, if anything. Thanks for the prayers folks.

Anapod – transfer files to your iPod via Explorer

Black iPod

UPDATE: I’ve just created a step-by-step guide on how to install Anapod Explorer Universal Edition version 9.0.3. I hope that’s helpful to some folks.

ORIGINAL POST: Jane has an Apple iPod — it’s a fifth generation 30GB Video iPod — and while it’s all lovely and usable in its all-black designer chic look we have one major criticism of it: if you want to transfer files to and from it you have to use iTunes.

It’s not just that I don’t like iTunes; I object to being forced to use a particular piece of software to do something as simple as transfer a file from a PC to a peripheral.

Most other mainstream MP3 players let you drag-and-drop from Explorer so why doesn’t the iPod?!

Anapod Explorer

After a little detective work I discovered Anapod Explorer from Red Chair Software:

Anapod is the most advanced Windows iPod software available, offering iPod management through full Windows Explorer integration under My Computer

  • easy drag and drop iPod copy
  • iPod transfer and iPod backup
  • PDA function support
  • photo and video transfer
  • web page interface access to your iPod through a built-in web server
  • powerful search and reporting capabilities using a built-in SQL database

and much more, all in one compact package.

A great backup tool or iTunes alternative.

It sounded perfect, so I bought a copy and tried to install it.

Installer Expired

I double-clicked the installation file for version 9.0.3 (anapod_903_un.exe) and was presented with this rather disappointing error message:

Installer expired

The text reads:

This installer file has expired. Please return to our website at http://www.redchairsoftware.com to download the latest release.

If you are sure this is the latest release available, please contact us at [email protected] for assistance and give the following install code: JTJSBYHTAZIRBRHQAS

Well, I was sure that this was the latest release available. So I emailed Red Chair Software for assistance.

I then did a Google search and discovered that it was unlikely that I’d ever get a reply from Red Chair Software. Disappointing.

Installation work-around

However, I did discover that there is a work-around, but for that I’d have to visit the Expired Installer Assistance page (which strangely doesn’t seem to appear anywhere on the Red Chair Software support pages).

Expired Installer Assistance

This page told me that the problem was that the date was not set correctly on my computer. It told me that (foolishly) the date on my computer was set to “November 2007”.

“IT IS NOVEMBER 2007!” I shouted at the computer, in exasperation. Then I noticed the date at the top of the Red Chair Software page: November 15, 2007. “EVEN YOU AGREE THAT IT’S NOVEMBER 2007!” I screamed again.

I read the instructions.

  1. Correct the date/time on your computer.
  2. Double-click the installer file to run it again, but this time, hold down the SHIFT key while double-clicking.
  3. This will display a dialog box where you need to enter the following code: 082808363640364448

The installer will then continue as normal.

So I started to play around with the date and see which month it thought we were currently in. The website thought it was November, my PC thought it was November … the installer seemed to think that we were in August!

Finally installed

I got it to work by rolling the current date back exactly three months to 15 August 2007. With shift pressed I double-clicked the installation file, entered the 18-digit numeric code and Anapod at last began to install.

What a faff … which is a real shame because the application is great. We managed to manually update Jane’s iPod by dragging and dropping MP3 files to it via Windows Explorer. The way it should be.

Latest version of Firefox broke our 404 page

Broken web page

The latest version of Mozilla Firefox 2.0.0.8, I’m sorry to report, broke a couple of our web pages yesterday.

UPDATE: This problem has now been fixed in Firefox 2.0.0.9: see Firefox 2.0.0.8 update to be updated

I noticed it just as I was about to go out for lunch. I was checking out a page on the University website and followed a broken link … to a broken 404 page.

Investigations

At first I simply suspected that it was due to some CSS tinkering that either my colleague or I had done. But neither of us had done any.

And then I discovered that it was working fine in Firefox 1.5, IE6, IE7, Opera 9 and Safari 3. It was working fine in my colleague’s installation of Firefox 2.0.0.7 … and then when he restarted the browser to allow its automatic update to version 2.0.0.8 it promptly broke.

So the culprit was indeed the latest incarnation of my favourite browser. How disappointing.

The problem

The way that the page is constructed is that there is a div that wraps the page’s main content. If I was recoding it today, I’d call it #contentWrapper; when I coded it 10 months ago, I called it #main.

Within #main there are three other divs, in order:

  1. #content
  2. #sidebar
  3. #related_content

#main then has a background image of part of the University crest. How much of the crest is displayed depends entirely on the height of its three internal divs.

Only, this appears to be the problem that Firefox 2.0.0.8 has highlighted/discovered/introduced* (*delete as applicable): it now does not recognize the height of the internal divs: #content, #sidebar and #related_content and so collapses, as you can see from the screenshot above.

The (temporary) fix

Introducing a min-height CSS attribute to the code has temporarily fixed the problem, but fixed the height of #main at 550px — enough for the 404, 401 and the front page, which all use that code.

Recoding

I’m now working on a more robust fix … in fact, I’m now working on recoding the entire site to make it more usable by the few ancient browsers that Google Analytics informs us are still being used to visit the site, such as Firefox 1.0, Firefox 1.5, and various older versions of Netscape and IE.

I had used a variation of Matthew Levine’s In Search of the Holy Grail method on A List Apart, mixed with a Dan Cederholm’s Faux Columns approach, for a number of reasons:

  1. I wanted the site to be as accessible as possible, and decided that placing the main page content as high in the source code as possible would be helpful.
  2. Do you know how difficult it is to achieve something as seemingly simple as creating a page layout with three equal-height columns?
  3. The ‘holy grail’ approach worked for almost everything we needed until it came to wanting to jump down to page anchors. We had a couple of A-Z lists and wanted to be able to click on ‘D’ to take us down to the ‘D’ entries. Instead, it pulled ‘D’ up to the top of the page and made A-C disappear completely!!
  4. We decided to fully support only modern browsers: IE6 and IE7, Firefox, Safari/Konqueror and Opera 8 and above. (While I don’t class IE6 as a modern browser it’s the one used on about 75% of all the university PCs so we had no choice but to support it.)

I guess I now need to be finishing writing these fixes sooner rather than later. I’m just a little disappointed that the latest version of my favourite browser has broken the code, while Safari, Opera 9 and even IE7 saw fit to render it as expected.

However, what I’m not entirely certain about is whether Firefox is now simply rendering the code as it should be (in other words, I’d missed a trick with my code) or whether this genuinely is a fault with Firefox’s rendering. Time will tell.