Opera 7 Beta 2

The second release of the Opera 7 beta (beta2) has been out for a couple of weeks now, but I only noticed it on Tuesday. It fixes a whole heap of bugs and partially implemented features, and even adds a few new ones, like the integrated password manager. It’s faster (slightly), and it crashes muchless. Joy!

If you’re running Windows, download it and give it a try. It’s free, it’s fast, and it’s a refreshingly superior product to Internet Explorer.

Down and out in the Magic Kingdom

In case you don’t read the Boing Boing blog (you should), Cory Doctorow’s book Down And Out In The Magic Kingdom has just been published (in the US at least). Apart from Cory’s status in the blogging community (he has even set up a new blog for the book itself, the buzz around it, details of personal appearances, etc.), why is this of note? Well, he has also released the electronic text of the novel under a Creative Commons license.

Basically, he’s encouraging you to download it, copy it, and share it with your friends–so long as you make sure that he is attributed as the author, and you don’t create any derivative works from it. You can grab it as plain text, HTML, or easily printable PDF.

So what do you think this is going to do? Is it going to reduce the sales of the book itself? Is he robbing himself? Or is it going to bring his work under the noses of people who might not otherwise been aware of it? Are these people going to plunk down money for the dead trees version if they enjoy the free download?

I’m inclined to think that this is a good thing. I think it will probably stimulate sales, and grow Cory’s fan base. But possibly because this is a rare event. If all authors make their books available for free at the same time as releasing the tangible edition, will anyone raise an eyebrow any more? Will everyone then adopt a “try before you buy” stance, and only pay when they think they have received value?

One thing I’m sure of, is that this is going to happen more and more. Prentice Hall is already publishing a series of books under an open license, where the text will be available for free when the book is published. The Baen Free Library has been around for a couple of years now.

The world of publishing is on the cusp of some major change. It’s going to be interesting to see where it ends up some ten years from now.

Update: See also the interview with Cory Doctorow on the Creative Commons web site.

Chilli Con Carne

In the hope that it would clear my sinuses if I loaded it up with enough sambal to blow the back of my head off, I made chilli con carne this evening. Everyone has their own favourite chilli recipe, but I thought I’d share mine.

Ingredients (serves 4, with 1 bowl each)

  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1.5 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 0.5 tsp cayenne pepper powder
  • 3 tbsp tomato purée or tomato ketchup
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 lb ground beef or pork
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin kidney beans


Chop or crush the garlic, and chop the onion. Fry them up in a large pan with some oil. Add the ground meat, and cook it thoroughly. Once it is nicely browned, sprinkle over the cumin, oregano and cayenne pepper, and stir until they’re mixed in evenly. Add the kidney beans, chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, and cocoa powder, and then allow the mixture to simmer for as long as you like, stirring occasionally. I like giving it at least an hour for the flavours to blend.

Once it’s done, I recommend serving it with warmed up, or freshly baked french bread. I also recommend using Indonesian sambal oelek to spice up your own portion when it hits your bowl. (The main recipe is relatively mild.) Sambal is pretty much pure ground chillies, so it adds a good amount of heat without any extraneous flavours of its own.

Unfortunately, this still wasn’t enough to clear my sinuses.

Brad Choate’s redesign checklist

Brad Choate has a great list of things (design, accessibility, etc.) he is planning to do for his blog in 2003. I don’t need to do all of these here on my own site, but it’s a nice heuristic checklist to scan for stuff that I do need to do, but keep forgetting about. (E.g. adittional RSS feeds, a proper “About Me” page. I’ve been meaning to do these for ages now, but they keep slipping off my radar.)

Rounded corners with CSS

I can’t remember where I found the link to this, so please forgive the lack of attribution. Bullet-proof rounded corners gives an excellent guide to making cross-browser compatible rounded corners using just CSS markup instead of old-fashioned tables.

I’m planning a couple of design changes to this blog, and rounded corners may well make an appearance in the new version. Certainly they’re going to appear in the next version of the AmphetaFrames templates. (Which are being worked on, albeit slowly and irregularly.)