Thursday, March 31, 2005

Google goes faster with Firefox

Google is now taking advantage of Firefox's ability to "prefetch" web pages before you request them. So if you're searching for say, "Trinity College Dublin", the top result will have the special tag:
<link rel="prefetch" href="">

This causes Firefox (or Mozilla) to download that web page in the background, which can be faster than waiting for it to download after you click on it. It looks like it only applies to the top result and only on certain searches (maybe when they think there's a good chance of you clicking on the top result). The one downside to it right now is that many image rich sites still take a while to load, as prefetching the HTML page doesn't prefetch any images referenced from that page. The Mozilla link prefetching FAQ has more information (although it's a bit old at this stage).

It's configurable on the client, by changing your Firefox preferences and on the web server, by changing how you respond to requests with a specific prefetch HTTP header that is sent only with prefetch requests. For webmasters here's one simple way to prevent prefetch requests from being logged for a given page using PHP.

The Google Blog goes into some details of this change. If Internet Explorer users want to see the Internet with go faster stripes, you can get Firefox here. :)

Monday, March 28, 2005

Daleks off the starboard bow

I managed to enjoy the last 5 minutes of the new Doctor Who twice this weekend. It looked good from that excerpt. I guess I'll have to find the rest on the torrent somewhere! Jasmine liked the bits we saw, but then she knows that enjoyment is not optional. :) There was a brief "making of Doctor Who" on after it with interviews with a bunch of previous Doctors. For each of them, as for most of us I guess, their favourite Doctor was the one they grew up with. For Jasmine and Dylan I guess it will be Christopher Eccleston.

And finally this weekend, the brave (and armed) Metropolitan Police fended off an attempt to exterminate Doctor Blair on the steps of the houses of Parliament. Luckily, as we all know Daleks can't climb steps - traditionally any way. The moment the Daleks flew after Sylvester McCoy as he laughed from the top of the cellar stairs was pretty scary, although I was quite happy to sacrifice Doctor McCoy.

The inhabitant of this particular Dalek, Scotsman Ken Meikle, apparently filming a promo video for his stage version of Doctor Who, was hustled away to protect the (allegedly) human inhabitants of Parliament. Maybe they'll station a Police Box outside Westminster permanently now, to be on the safe side.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

The road to Belfast

We're off to Belfast in a few minutes to spend some time at Easter with Rose-Anne's ma and da. They managed to find us Groovy Chick (new this year) and Bart Simpson vegan Easter eggs for Jasmine and Dylan, so hopefully there will be some happy children tomorrow! We have some sweets for an Easter treasure hunt, but as Jasmine fell off a wall and had half a breeze block fall on her ankle, she's worried she won't be able to walk for it, never mind run around. The incentive of fun and chocolate has powerful healing powers though!

I haven't been on the motorway since the speed limits changed to metric, so I'll have to get used to thinking about 120 kph instead of 70mph. How modern! Rose-Anne has made the trip a few times recently, but with the bizarre Irish driving laws, she can drive all the way to the border, just not on the motorway. She only has a provisional driving license. Of course she can't drive in Northern Ireland at all...because she has a provisional driving license. She waited 16 months for her first driving test and it looks like she'll be waiting the same again for her second. You can probably get a test date in 3 months or so in Northern Ireland. So the weird situation persists here where it's legal to fail your driving test and drive home on your own from the test.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Irish back roads of the Internet

Along with a bunch of others this evening, I find myself featuring on a new website bringing together a whole melange of Irish blogs: Nice job!

But don't try, because that goes somewhere completely different. :) Maybe they'll fix that up by the time you read this.

Monday, March 21, 2005

It's a work of art Jim!

But not as we know it. The Gallery of Shame has arrived. Some random photos from our various meanderings are up now. I'll add some older ones as time permits.

Finished reading: Greg Egan's Diaspora. It's definitely for you if you like your science fiction heavy on 6 dimensional mathematics, otherwise you might find it a little hard going.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Irish in drinking outrage

There were calls for action from all quarters of the community this weekend as the nation absorbed the shocking news of excessive drinking by the people of Ireland throughout the St Patrick's Day festivities.

Gardai announced that over 700 people were arrested on St Patrick's Day itself, a full 15 above the levels expected on an average Thursday in Dublin. At least 13 of those arrested are expected to be charged with public disorder offences, whilst a further 2 are helping Gardai with enquiries after an armed robbery at a petrol station by two suspects described as resembling "leprechauns with a severe sociopathic disorder" by station owner, Mr John Fitzgerald. This follows the unfortunate incidents at Christmas involving the infamous Athlone elves lead by the Border Santa. Sergeant Sam Maguire of Pearse Street commented that armed robberies masquerading under holiday themes of all types were regrettably on the rise, but that the Gardai was working with the hire costume industry on a voluntary code of conduct to reduce this.

The Vintner's Society of Ireland struck a dischordant note when their spokesman, Mr Patrick O'Reilly urged the Irish Tourism Board to take their responsibilities more seriously. "We strongly recommend that the Irish Tourism Board expands their marketing efforts in Russia, Finland and the Czech Republic as a matter of urgency. It's a cold, hard fact that since the downturn in revenue following the nefarious smoking ban, hard pressed publicans need all the help they can get. We all know that the American, English and French visitors that we are currently attracting to the St Patrick's week festivities at present cannot hold their drink. It is therefore imperative that the Irish Tourism Board markets Ireland to harder drinking tourists before jobs are lost." The Irish Tourism Board declined to comment on this so-called "wake-up call".

Photographs of the event are now available.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Monkeys are vegetarians

"I'm not going to eat you. Don't you know that monkeys are vegetarians?" So says the Great Sage, King Monkey, Equal of Heaven.

Jasmine and Dylan are going through a Monkey Magic phase. It's pretty cool for them to have a kickass hero who also happens to be a vegetarian.

Monkey Heaven seems to be a pretty cool place to slake your thirst for all things Monkey!

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Theo de Raadt

I had the good fortune to spend some time at a talk given by Theo de Raadt this week in Trinity College. He presented on Exploit Mitigation Techniques, primarily in OpenBSD of course. There were a lot of interesting topics like random stack offset, the use of the ProPolice compiler, taking advantage of hardware specific techniques to do with the sliding register windows on SPARC cpus and a whole lot more. The talk was followed by much selling of t-shirts and CDs.

I had some snacks at my favourite restaurant, The Cedar Tree - a very friendly Lebanese restaurant just near Trinity. A great way to end the evening.

Reading: Greg Egan's Diaspora (hard to get into so far, but has potential)
Playing: Half-Life 2 (every bit as awesome as it is reputed to be)