26 Malts

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is currently running a very special series of 26 single-cask malt whiskies, each with a unique and creative label. The results are gorgeous, and very tempting…

Cheap Industrial Cooking Whisky
Whit Yoos Want?
Mouthful of midges

“Earlier this year, the Society’s Tasting Panel selected 26 malts for a groundbreaking project. Inspired by the malts, a tasting and an open design brief, 26 teams (each with a designer and writer) worked together to create 26 unique labels.

“The result? 26 different Society bottlings each with its own label design, presented in an elegantly slender 50cl bottle.

“An explosion of colour, wit and passion, each label is as diverse and evocative as the single cask malt inside the bottle. The 26 Malts project has inspired an extraodinary vibrant and varied range of poems, fibs, teasers, salutations, invitations, trompe-l’oeils, talking whiskies, responses inspired by tarot and alchemy, bananas and liquorice, rubber tyres and the sweetest of golden honeys.”

You can see the whole range at the 26 Malts web site.

Software frenzy continues

New stuff not on my PC is ProfiMail, an email client for my Nokia 6680 phone, and Ta-da Lists, a to-do lists web app from 37 Signals.

Profimail is a lovely little app that makes great use of small fonts to squeeze a whole heap of emaily goodness onto a small screen. Multiple email accounts, POP3 and IMAP, predictive text–everything you’d expect from a mobile phone email client. Most of the clients I work at here in Edinburgh (large financial institutions) quite sensibly block standard email ports at the firewall, but they also block access to all webmail over HTTP. Having email on my phone means I can read my mail during the day, even if replying to it with just a numeric keypad is a bit of a pain. Can’t live without this any more.

Ta-da Lists is to-do lists over the web. That’s all. Nothing fancy, just a really smooth experience. If you want more sophisticated lists and note-taking capabilities, you can move up to Backpack, but I’m having enough trouble coping with the idea that I’m using any form of to-do list at all that the cognitive shock of using a more sophisticated tool would probably kill me.

It’s the whole “Getting Things Done” thing, you see. I have a severe allergic reaction to motivational speaking, and the GTD movement has hijacked a simple organizational tool and turned it into a cult of productivity. Thoughts of starting up a counter-movement under the “Letting Things SlideTM” banner have been running wild in my imagination. I’ve considered registering the domain “lettingthingsslide.com” and using it as a staging post for gathering tips on how to waste time, procrastinate, and generally loaf about aimlessly, but then I realized that actually getting it together to do so would be a horrific betrayal of the intended site’s basic principles. So I haven’t.

Nevertheless, in order to properly enjoy the benefits of structured procrastination, you need to have some way of keeping track of what you’re putting off. And sending myself emails to and from my home and work accounts to keep myself informed just wasn’t cutting it any more. Hence: Ta-da lists. It has the benefit of coming from the hands of 37Signals who build some wicked cool stuff, and really, really understand the web.

I can almost consider it as research into the current state of the art of web apps. Call it an antihistamine for the soul.

Now running on Movable Type 3.2

For once, this was not a smooth upgrade. Or rather, it would have been smooth enough if I hadn’t got blocked on one particular step: running mt-check.cgi. I run MT under cgiwrap for added security, and for some reason the mt-check.cgi script doesn’t work for me in this configuration. It works fine if I run it directly (without cgiwrap) from the cgi-bin directory, but with cgiwrap it gives me a 500 server error. It’s not leaving behind any trace in my error logs, either.

All the other .cgi scripts that make up MT seem to work fine under cgiwrap, though. Once I’d figured this out, it was just a matter of running mt-upgrade.cgi as instructed, and it all worked fine.

Liking the new MT 3.2 interface. Very pretty.

Google Talk

…and here was me thinking that I’d be able to maintain a relatively cruft-free machine for a while after rebuilding it. Nahhh. Give me downloads!

After Backup4All, Audacity, and Google Desktop, the latest adventure is Google Talk. I haven’t used MSN messenger or AIM for ages, but I have started using Skype (martinsutherland) recently for voice chat with my family. So it’s probably time I got hooked up with another IM service. The benefit of Google Talk is that it runs off the back of Jabber (XMPP, whatever), which is compatible with Apple’s iChat.

And there is a Mac Mini on the horizon. Oh yes. There is.

You can get me on Google Talk as sunpig@gmail.com.

Google Desktop annoyances

I installed the new version (2.0, yet still beta) of Google Desktop yesterday, but I’m not feeling the love yet.

In its standard mode, it runs as a sidebar on your desktop. The sidebar contains a fleet of customizable widgets, such as a little photo slideshow, news headlines, weather (if you’re in the US), and email. I tried this for a few hours, but now that I’ve got this widescreen monitor, I kinda like having all of that space for me to use. The Google sidebar feels like too much of a bit out of my working space for not enough benefit. Maybe I’ll find space for it once more widgets are available.

The second thing, which was by far the more annoying one until I found out how to fix it, is what happens when you do a search query. If you’re running Firefox, the default behaviour is for the search results to loads up in most recent tab. You know, the one you were actually working in at the time? BIG nuisance.

Here’s how to solve that:

  1. In the Firefox Tools menu, select “Options…” to bring up the options dialog.
  2. Click on the “Advanced” tool button.
  3. Look at the options group for “Tabbed Browsing”. This allows you to change what happens when other applications (like your mail reader) try to open a hyperlink. Change it to “a new window”, and off you go.

Now it’s actually usable. I still haven’t fallen in love with it, though.