Archive for May, 2009

Pod of 55 beached Pilot Whales at Kommetjie

Posted in General with tags , , , , , on Saturday, 30 May 2009 by Deems

Around 7:30 this morning a pod of (originally thought 47) 55 Pilot Whales started beaching themselves at Kommetjie Beach.

The NSRI are urging people NOT to go down to the beach as the throngs of people are hampering their efforts to rescue the whales and return them to deeper waters.

It still seems no one really knows why whales beach themselves but it’s thought that since they swim in large pods the rest of the whales may be following a sick/beached leader. Another theory is that since they rely on magnetic waves to navigate themselves that some coastlines may have strong magentic forces which lead the whales to believe they’re entering deeper waters and not the coastline.

You can see some pictures here, here and here.

Update: almost 3 hours later and it appears reports are coming in that they have had to resort to shooting some of the whales that keep returning and rebeaching themselves. More photos here, here, here and here.

Listen here for an on the scene audio report with Dave Bull from The Times with Lauren Cohen.

IOL News reports that steps to euthanise the rebeaching whales will have to be taken.

“We have tried everything but they just make a U-turn and keep rebeaching themselves,” said Wally Peterson, project manager for the Kommetjie Environmental Awareness group.

Rice said the whales would be shot through the head with a pistol.

“I feel quite sad but it is the right thing to do,” she said. - source IOL

VOTD: Sorry I’m Late

Posted in General with tags , , , , , on Saturday, 30 May 2009 by Deems

Here’s a great stop-motion animation clip titled “Sorry I’m Late” shot from above with a still camera. The final sequence is in the video clip below – but you can see still and test videos on the official website here. [via BoingBoing]

Review: Browsershots

Posted in General, Technology with tags , , , , , , , , on Friday, 29 May 2009 by Deems

BrowserShots-Logo

As a web developer I’m almost always tasked with ensuring that websites and web applications I build not only work but look good in the popular browsers for the target platform. Sometimes you may get a client with some obscure version of a browser (not necessarily Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome) and you don’t have that platform available to test it locally to try and replicate the issue and hopefully fix it.

browsershots-search

Along comes Browsershots – a website with a very simple front-end. Type in the address to the page you wish to view (obviously needs to be hosted online already and not a password protected site) and select as many or as few browsers (and platofmrs) to test, whether or not JavaScript and/or Flash is required or not (even which version must be avaialble) and even screen resolutions and colour depths. Click the button, and sit back.

browsershots-browsers

browsershots-options

Through what I’m assuming are multiple virtual machines on their servers which are instructed to browse to the site you requested and then a screenshot is taken of that browser and added to your screenshot queue.

It will notify you of the progress, whether or not the browser screenshot will be available or approxiamtely how long it will be before your screenshot is queued and taken.

browsershots-queuedetails

The site even allows you to download all the screenshots in a single ZIP file – how handy is that.

I’m definitely bookmarking this site for my next browser-compatibility issue resolution!

VOTD: The Vendor-Client Relationship

Posted in Funny, General with tags , , , , , , , on Thursday, 28 May 2009 by Deems

Real-world situations where the client makes unrealistic and unreasonable expectations from the vendor they’re using – so, so true! [via StevenMcD]

John Pugh’s 3D art

Posted in General with tags , , , , , on Wednesday, 27 May 2009 by Deems

John Pugh is a trompe l’oeil artist – someone who paints art that gives the illusion of something three dimensional.

You can see a small sample of his work below. For more take a look at this Daily Mail article here and some more pictures over here. [via DCP]

john_pugh_mural1

Treasure trove: An Egyptian style mural adorns a wall in Los Gatos, California. Pugh paints people into the mural to heighten the 3D effect - Copyright John Pugh

john_pugh_mural2

Wonder wave: John Pugh's Mana Nalu mural in Honolulu. Fire crews rushed to save the children from the mighty wave - before realising it was an optical illusion - Copyright John Pugh

Another chapter begins

Posted in General with tags , , , on Tuesday, 26 May 2009 by Deems

Well the last two weeks have been a bit of a roller-coaster. With the news at work of retrenchments and the idea of having to find work again, especially in the current state of the world economy, had me quite stressed out.

I’ve since contacted a number of companies, gone through a few agencies and attened a few interviews but today’s news made me sigh with relief. I went to see a company late last week (through a referral from a family member) and was really keen for a follow-up as I really liked what I heard and saw. The follow-up meeting happened on Monday which went really well and this afternoon I got the offer that I was hoping for.

So I’m really excited to say that I’ve now left the unemployment line and joined the ranks of the employed again. I’ll be joining the team at Khanyisa Real Systems on Monday morning. I’m really hoping this is an exciting, fruitful and long next chapter in my life. I’m of the age now that I need to find a place that I really enjoy and can settle in, and by all accounts this seems to be it.

Wish me luck :)

New addition to the family

Posted in Family, General with tags , , , , on Thursday, 21 May 2009 by Deems

We now have two rabbits (Spikey and Snowey), a Golden Retriever (Max), a cat (Spookie) and now my wife’s Mother’s Day present has arrived, Laki, the orange Canary!

laki_canary

Google Chrome, the need for speed!

Posted in General, Technology with tags , , , , , , on Thursday, 21 May 2009 by Deems

Back in September last year I told you about Google entering the browser wars with their own web browser, Chrome.  Then next day, I gave you my first impressions. If my job didn’t require me to develop web sites in Internet Explorer and Firefox I’d have long since set Chrome as my default browser. Although, for my own day-to day use I almost exclusively use Chrome as my browser of choice.

Today, Google have announced and released the latest stable version of Chrome.

stable-google-chrome-about

Some of the improvements and new features include:

Improved New Tab Page: The most requested feature from users was the ability to remove thumbnails from the New Tab page. Now you can finally hide that embarrassing gossip blog from the Most Visited

Ha, ha, I was wondering when this would be implemented – not that I have to worry about this but still a nice added feature. Watch the video later in this post to see how this works. I find this new tab page very useful for quickly getting back to pages I use frequently.

Full Screen Mode: If you’ve ever given a presentation or watched a large video using Google Chrome, you might have wished you could use every last pixel on your screen for the content. Now you can hide the title bar and the rest of the browser window by hitting F11 or selecting the option in the Tools menu.

Although I don’t use this often, at times I’ve found myself needing to maximize the window and this will now come in handy – in the beginning I often found myself looking for this feature since being used to it in IE and FF.

Form Autofill: Filling out your information in forms over and over again can be tedious. Form autofill helps by showing information you’ve previously entered into the same form fields automatically. If at any point you want to clear out your information, that’s easy to do from the Tools menu.

This is actually something I’ve often found very useful when filling in forms over and over again while testing – or similarly named fields on various websites (like your name, email address).

Increased Stability: Google Chrome is more stable than ever–we have fixed over 300 bugs that caused crashes since launch.

I’ve only ever experience one or two crashes while using Chrome but they’ve been isolated incidents and always only a plug-in or tab crashing.

Increased Speed: Making the web faster continues to be our main area of focus. Thanks to a new version of WebKit and an update to our JavaScript engine, V8, interactive web pages will run even faster. We’ve also made sure that JavaScript keeps running fast even when you have lots of tabs open. Try opening a bunch of web applications and then running your favorite benchmark. You can read more about V8 in our JavaScript scalability post on the Chromium blog. - source Google Chrome Blog

I’m going to see in the next few days/weeks whether this improvement is more apparent.

You can take a look at some other Chrome-related posts here. Are you not using Google Chrome yet? Why not? Go and download it now and try it out for yourself.

Doodle 4 Google – Winner Announced!

Posted in General with tags , , , , on Thursday, 21 May 2009 by Deems

Earlier this month Google announced the finalists in the Doodle 4 Google competition. Today they’ve announced the winner, Christin Engelberth a 6th-grader from Harris Middle School in San Antonio, Texas.

google-doodle_winner

Christin wins herself a $15,000 college scolarship, a laptop and a $25,000 technology grant for her school – congratulations! You can see the other three national finalists here and all of the regional finalists here. [via Google Blog]

VOTD: Neverending Sun

Posted in General on Thursday, 21 May 2009 by Deems

This is a really impressive time-lapse video taken over a period of a week, during summer, at the Arctic Circle depicting a sun that never sets below the horizon. [via DCP]

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