Sunday, 26 June 2005

Lena Lake Trail

Following a “high-energy” breakfast in the fabulous Five Point CafĂ©, I and a couple of colleagues managed a day hike over in the Olympic Mountains. This trip was to be a recce., to find out how long it’d take to get to the Olympics, and to see find out what the trails are like.

GPS track

It was a good journey just getting there; the ferry from Fountleroy to Southworth was a pleasing start to the trip, with fantastic, peaceful views across the blue waters of the Puget Sound. Once over the other side, we hit the trail-head after about 90 minutes driving along the coast, past numerous firework shops, followed by a short journey up Hamma Hamma Valley.

The track wound up from the valley floor through mainly pine trees with some interesting flora on the way. The number of switchbacks seemed a little excessive a times but it did mean it was never too much of a slog uphill.

The GPS was struggling in the steep valleys and dense tree cover, but I managed to get a lock for most of the route. It turned out to pretty pointless taking it. There is only one track, and it’s pretty much a motorway up to the first lake. Still, carrying that, my digital camera, SLR and two lenses, fleece, waterproof, food, spare batteries and two litres of water was good exercise.

Lena LakeI was thinking originally of uploading the GPS track for others to use as navigation, but frankly you’d be insane to use such wildly inaccurate data.

The lake itself was nestled in a very secluded spot, with the camping sites hidden up amongst the pine trees. It really made me wish I’d brought the tent - and swimming kit.

You’ll find plenty more photos in the gallery

Friday, 24 June 2005

RSS Reader Plugin for WordPress

I wrote a little plugin using lastRSS to fetch a RSS feed and output the result as a list. You can see it running here under the “Bookmarks” section, where it’s using my bookmark feed as its input.

I wrote it because the other plugins I found were using the PHP curl module, which isn’t installed on my server. After I’d finished coding, I discovered the Wordpress RSS Link List Plugin, which basically does the same thing but is more mature and has a couple more nice features like the ability to add a RSS feed in a WordPress article.

It was a good exercise in writing a plugin though, albeit a very simple one. I still think the name of mine was better though: RSSGrabber.

Tuesday, 21 June 2005

Firefox Extensions

One of the best things about Firefox is that it installs pretty much as a minimal browser. It is then up to individuals to install the extra features they want. There are a couple which I’ve found invaluable:
  • Adblock - which allows you to block adverts, pop-ups and other annoying elements and scripts on any page. Very easy to use and makes a huge positive difference to browsing.

  • SessionSaver - so that you can quit Firefox and have all your open tabs reload on the next start-up. It also allows you to re-open recently closed tabs, which is handy if you close one by mistake.

I’ve been using others too:

  • Tabbrowser preferences - which adds more options to do with the browser tabs, unsurprisingly

  • Greasemonkey - which I’ve not had a lot of time to investigate, but has provided a couple of useful scripts to change the way some of my more frequently visited sites behave.

  • delicious - very handy plugin to add and view links to your account. Has both right-click and sidebar tools.

Google Maps - High Resolution images worldwide

Despite the fact Google maps are only available for the US and UK, the satellite images now cover a large proportion of the globe. High resolution aerial photographs are also available for certain major cities and other random areas. The UK, for example, has central London coverage but only the south-east of Birmingham.

More spectacularly Beijing is covered, here is Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Not having the maps (or even place names beyond countries) makes finding places difficult. It’s easier to find the longitude and latitude of a place via a normal google search and then plug that straight into the Google Maps URL.

Monday, 20 June 2005

Kimya Dawson

Saw Kimya Dawson play last night at Chop Suey, a cosy venue over by the university. It was a great gig, and the varied warm-ups were pretty good too. The first bunch I saw were a little odd, but they had some good titles like “No More Animal Shit in Modern Art.”

The Pharmacy played a few pogo-inducing numbers before settling down to share the main set with Kimya. I was at the back, and a bit miffed to find Ms. Dawson seated below the shoulder level of the crowd. Thankfully she invited everyone to sit on the floor, which we all did. Everyone got great views and the whole set felt like some kind of infant school story-time… with swearing. It reminded me of a Kathryn Williams gig, but faster.

She closed the set with the rather marvellous “The Beer,” have a listen.

Gallery RSS Feed

I have been using the rather powerful Gallery for a while but only recently activated the RSS feeds on my gallery pages. The main reason was so that I can have any updates to the gallery appear on this front page sidebar. Again, this is done using my little RSS plugin.