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David's diary: October 2009

Had a reasonable amount of work on lately, happily to say. Got my single biggest cheque in to date over the weekend, and had some quite interesting website reworking to do.

The latter was for an old friend who had been left rather high and dry by his previous designers, who had developed him a very pretty but utterly unmaintainable Flash-based site and had rather inevitably gone rather quiet, going back on previous assurances, when the question of maintenance inevitably arose... So he now has a nice HTML-based website that essentially looks the same but is maintainable using basic HTML skills, and will now fulfil requirements with respect to increasingly important things like accessibility and Google-friendliness.

Tomorrow afternoon I have a potentially quite interesting client meeting in connection with mobile web applications, iPhones and all that malarkey, but I really can't say any more than that until we've met and I've got a better handle on the requirements!

To take a break from all that (and getting stressed over our printer, which has decided to go faulty again - this time almost certainly terminally) yesterday we enjoyed an afternoon out on Wimbledon Common. It's almost exactly a year since we were there last with Rachel and Daniel, and yesterday was pretty much a re-run! Not that we're complaining; it's a great place for us all to meet, with plenty of space to run around and woods to walk in, plus a pretty decent café, and not too epic or horrible a journey to get to. No kite-flying this time though, since it's still needing a couple of major repairs after a recent windswept trip to Hayling Island, but our frisbee provided sufficient alternative exercise-based entertainment! 

So still not quite sure what's happening with the iPhone thing, but I've got rather more of a handle on it than I did before Tuesday. Also may be losing one of my indirect clients, but really given the amount of work there's been from them over the last couple of years, it's not really too much to lose sleep over - and it may yet not happen anyway. Otherwise, got a trickle of work coming in, so just about keeping out of mischief, but more really wouldn't go amiss!

Another week, and another indirect client's bitten the dust, but some you lose, some you win, and the actual amount of work's not changed for the worst, so hardly grumbling. In altogether positive news though, our central heating is finally fixed, and we have a new printer. The latter is very similar to its predecessor, but a slightly more modern model, and obviously works. Sorting out the heating really turned out to be quite a palaver, and not just for technical reasons, so we're hoping that the final bill will take into account more than sheer tinker-time spent!

We bought the printer at Argos, which raised a few eyebrows amongst my more technically-minded friends. "What on earth possessed you to do that?" summed up the response, toned down slightly for my gentle readership. But on further reflection, any arguments against Argos really do fizzle into nothing. Sure, the technical support you are likely to get from them will be zip, but will Dabs or eBuyer really fare any better, honestly now? Methinks not. Ultimately, Argos are a high street store offering deals that can compare with the best of them, so we shopped around for the product we wanted at the price we wanted to pay. If we have any technical queries, the web is a wonderful resource, and if it breaks, we can take it back and get a new one up to three years on - the latter a luxury that the on-line retailers really can't compete with. If anyone can truly recommend somewhere where we can get better value for money and a simpler returns policy, please do let us know. But in the meantime, we're more than happy.

The reason I've not written for about a fortnight is because there's really not been much worth writing about during said fortnight! Life plods on, work still trickles in, Katy still job-hunts. The new printer seems fine, so no regrets there. Stuck Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.10 on to the Aspire One the other day, and that's being rather neat, so will probably wave goodbye to the "official" Linpus Linux Lite for good now - not that it was bad, just a technological dead end. Had a nice afternoon and evening out down in and around Chichester yesterday, visiting our friends who recently moved there, but I managed to irrevocably delete a couple of the photos we took in the process of downloading them, which was slightly annoying.

On the subject of Ubuntu (and, I should emphasise, entirely unconnected with yesterday's photograph losses) one thing has really stood out as impressive: it was able to communicate with both our camera and my mobile phone without any driver shenanigans. Now for sure, Windows XP copes with the camera unassisted, but the phone takes all seven levels of Sony-Ericsson driver hell to coax into working - and even then, only works about 25% of the time. So the impressive thing is really the lack of ceremony; an operating system that "just works", rather than "works, just". Isn't that the way it's supposed to be, a dependable and inconspicuous servant? I don't want 3D translucent effects, I just want to use the darned thing!

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