New site theme at last

I finally got around to replacing the default WordPress theme. Now it doesn’t look like I don’t care about my site :)

With so many freely available themes I found it difficult to choose but I stumbled upon plaintxt.org and my mind was made up: I needed one of those minimalist themes and I opted for the Barthelme which I am liking very much.

For posterity I took a screenshot of my old, hand-crafted design:

sickbiscuit.com - screenshot - old design - scaled

New 5RM Deadlift Today

Over the past few months I haven’t been quite the gym freak that I’ve been in the past but one exercise I have continued to regularly train has been the deadlift.

Saturday mornings had become my sole weekly strength session so I had to ensure I was getting as much bang for my buck as possible and nothing works the body like this exercise.

I haven’t set a new personal record in any of the big movements since about November so it was a good boost to exceed my previous best. This morning’s effort was the culmination of 8 weeks work: starting off at a relatively low intensity and adding weight to the bar each time. I had planned on reaching this stage sooner but I noticed one Saturday that I couldn’t grip the bar properly and found I had developed a blister which proceeded to burst, resulting in missing my target for that session and slowing my progress.

I’ve recently been reading up on Mark Rippetoe’s techniques and slowly moving away from those of Stuart McRobert, hence the 5 reps, and I’ll probably start a “Practical Programming” style training cycle once I’ve finished reading the book and absorbing it’s material. Squats every workout? Brilliant :)

The question now though is, can I keep the progression coming and lift heavier next time?

Virgin Media customer satisfaction shocker

As I mentioned yesterday, my broadband had been on the blink and this morning I decided to take action as I need to do some work from home this weekend.

Just before 9am I phoned tech support and was surprised to not have to wait on hold: my call was answered almost immediately. The support guy was polite and after I explained the situation he tested the line from his end and without any messing around scheduled to have an engineer sent out between 12 and 4pm.

At 12:15 my buzzer went and about 10 minutes later I had a new modem. The engineer had quickly tested the signal strength and determined that it was the hardware that was at fault and swiftly had it replaced. Result.

All that was left to do was ssh into my router and bring the external network interface down and then back up again and voila, the gift of broadband was mine again :)

This incident was a far cry from my experience of NTL’s customer support. Thumbs up for Virgin Media!

Trigger happy without broadband

For 2 days now the “ready” light on my cable modem has failed to light up and hence I’ve had no internet access at home :( I’ve tried power-cycling the modem, leaving it unplugged overnight and even disconnecting and reconnecting the cable input. No Joy.

I checked the Virgin Media service status page and can see that there was maintenance scheduled for Belfast this morning, maybe this will remedy the problem…

My morning routine has evolved to consist of catching up on RSS while eating breakfast and guzzling coffee, so this ritual has been disrupted and as an alternative to plugging in to my feed reader I had a look through my home folder for one of the many eBooks I’ve downloaded and not finished reading.

The lucky contestant turned out to be the freely downloadable
Trigger Happy by Steven Poole and what a dose of nostalgia it’s been!

I haven’t seriously played any computer games in about a decade now but this book lists many of the titles I invested many hours into when I was younger. I was brought back to the days of sitting hunched over machines like the Atari 2600, Commodore 64, Amiga 600 and NES and I’ve even considered investing in a new console although my need to save for my future is overriding my want for something new and shiny which I might not even make much use of.

Saying that though I’ll probably end up grabbing an Amiga Emulator or MAME at some point over the weekend, Virgin Media willing, and catch up on a few childhood memories.

Game on!

6 months at $BIG_CORP

I can hardly believe it, today I'm 6 calendar months into my position as Analyst Programmer at $BIG_CORP.

How time has flown. More surprisingly, I almost seem to have grown accustomed to the stress of working with mission-critical systems and getting called-out in the wee hours of the night.

Fun with Photoshop and cross-browser CSS

The consensus wasn't to go live with the new site straight away after all but to create a better impression on the public by waiting on the final design and within no time at all Jordan had worked his graphical magic and delivered the goods.

I was supplied with a .psd mockup and got busy with Photoshop. I hadn't used this app in a while and it took some time to relearn how to use it but I managed to cut things up and proceeded to get stuck into the CSS.

Again I had to revisit some skills I hadn’t used since I started my current day job and when I looked at my first iteration in Internet Explorer I nearly cried.

Areas of difficulty I had were mainly concerned with how different browsers implement the box model and I also had to jump through some hoops to get opacity working but the end result is a consistent look across Firefox 2.0.x on Windows & Mac, Safari 3.0.x on Mac and IE 6.0.x on Windows. I haven't had a chance to test it with IE 7 but I imagine it is as broken as it's younger sibling ;)

I've already been working on the release process so there's just a few minor tweaks to go and the new site will be available in production.