Monthly Archives: July 2006

The Mac mini’s Killer App

I mostly bought my Mac mini for Front Row, and while that hasn’t disappointed me (especially since Apple added the ability to shuffle music by playlist), the real killer app has turned out to be something different:


The ability to play almost any music video, movie trailer, comedy clip etc through my TV has proved to be a really great feature. If friends are round and something comes up in conversation, such as the new Portal Trailer, I can have it playing on the big screen within about 30 seconds, with no need to hand round a laptop, or get anybody off the sofa.

My Favourite CSS Site

Just thought I’d take the time to mention Position Is Everything.

Since moving my sites over the CSS layouts instead of tables, I’ve found this site to be incredibly useful for helping to diagnose and workaround inconsistencies in how different browsers handle CSS.

Most valuable is the Explorer Exposed! section, which documents the various issues with Internet Explorer. Member’s Area Improvement

As I’ve been using the Member’s Area a lot myself recently, I noticed a significant omission in the features offered. There was no way to see how many reviews or comments were left for a member to vote on.

I’ve now fixed the problem by adding this information to the top of the reviews and comments pages in the Member’s Area. No more guessing whether there are 27 or 47 comments available for you to look at. Comments Queue – Update

The larger comments queue has been of some help, but the queue is still filling up rather too often.

I’ve now added a link at the end of each comment thread (last post only), mentioning that the very latest comments are available in the Member’s area, before they appear on the main site.

The plan is that this will make more visitors aware of the Member’s area, and so reduce the number of times when the comments queue fills up.

New Valve game trailer

Portal Trailer at YouTube

I was really impressed by the Gravity Gun in Half-Life 2, but this Portal Gun looks like it could be even more fun.

Apologies for the lack of embedded video. I couldn’t seem to get it working properly, and as this was supposed to be a quick lunchtime blog post, I didn’t want to spend hours sorting out the problem. Comments Queue

Recently the comments queue has been filling up very quickly. This is mostly a good sign, as it shows the site is getting lots of contributions.

However, it’s sometimes happening so fast that the queue will fill up completely, before members or myself can clear the queue. To try to buy a bit more time before the queue jams up, I’ve just increased the comments queue size from 100 to 150 comments.

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helps out in the members area. This change isn’t intended to create more work for any of you, but it hopefully will smooth out the large flutuations the comments queue has seen recently. The reviews queue max of 50 seems to work well (the site gets about 30 reviews a day), but the comments queue max of 100 seems to have been causing problems when the site is getting about 100 comments a day.

Improved error handling

Not a big deal for most people, but, and the Mobile Phone and Motorcycle sites, have had changes made regarding error pages.

Rather boring I know, but basically I’ve cleaned up a lot of internal error pages, and replaced them with proper 404 pages. This is to make sure that any error pages don’t get mistaken by search engines or people as real pages.

I’ve done quite a bit of testing, but if anyone spots any errors (regardless of whether you think they may be related to this change), I’d appreciate it if you could let me know.

More visible search box for

I’ve made some subtle CSS changes to the top left search box on The text input box is now a pale yellow (rather than white), the Search button itself is bold, and the text size is a little larger. This should make the important search functionality easier to find on the page.

I’m planning to roll similar changes out to the Motorcycle and Mobile Phone sites tomorrow.

Recent gaming diversions

I don’t find much time to play games, and rarely finish them, but here’s a list of some gaming related items that have caught my attention in the last 3 months or so:

  • Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion on Xbox 360 – beautiful, deep, but also curiously artificial. Only about 10 hours into it, and I doubt I’ll ever find the time to get much farther. A pity as there’s so much to see
  • Amped 3 on Xbox 360 – Underrated in my view. Huge mountains, loads of missions, bizarre (in a good way) cut scenes, and the controls just feel right. Great to just pick up and play for 1/2 an hour
  • Battlefield 2 on the PC – I still keep coming back to this one. I don’t play it a lot, but I find little can compete with the feeling you get when you’re playing well. I’m rather anti social though… I don’t fly things, and I don’t join squads. I much prefer just being being a lone wolf (probably says something profound about me), and trying to help my side capture or hold bases
  • Outrun 2006 on the PC – I loved Outrun 2 on the Xbox, and was disappointed that Outrun 2006 wasn’t available in any form for the Xbox 360. I waited for the PC version, and despite a few issues (such as stuttering audio with my Audigy 2 card unless I disable DirectSound acceleration), I’m very happy. Wonderful levels and handling, and it looks great on a good PC monitor. Arcade racing perfection – it’s like a child’s fantasy about driving a Ferrari brought to life on your screen
  • Which brings me onto the Xbox 360 Wired Controller. The best joypad ever in my view, and it works in Windows (via USB), with Outrun 2006. Just a pity that the Wireless Controller bundled with the Premium Pack Xbox 360 doesn’t work with Windows, not even through the Plug & Charge (USB) kit
  • My new GP2X is everything I hoped it would be. Perfect emulation of the Sega Megadrive, Atari ST, Sinclair ZX Spectrum, lots of other interesting programs, and expansion via SD card. Need I say more?
  • As well as picking up a GP2X, I recently traded my Nintendo DS in for a DS Lite. I wouldn’t normally have bothered, but there were some great deals available, so once I factored in the bundled copy of New Super Mario Brothers, the upgrade only cost me £34.99. No regrets as the screens are much improved, and the smaller form factor works very well. And I can’t help but notice, that it looks rather like a new Apple Macbook that has been shrunk in the wash