Site news.

I was in a creative mood so I've added a Games section to my site, featuring some simple web-based games crafted by me. Currently you'll find online versions of The Fifty States Game and The London Boroughs Game, both of them list-recall games where you have to name as many answers as possible from a definitive list before a countdown timer runs out. Much harder than it sounds.

I intend to add a few more list-recall games soon, and then I'll see if I can create a game which is a little more visual.

The entire site has been tweaked to make it easier to read on mobile devices. Every page has been given a viewport directive telling it to adjust itself to the width of the device screen. The cascading stylesheets have been reworked so that pages and images should scale to fit on even the narrowest smartphone. And the fixed-width Google ads have been replaced with stretchy versions which should size themselves to fit in nicely.

There are still some areas which need more work to make them mobile friendly, such as the UDT clock and the many pages which contain big blocks of source code or large tables with many data columns. But hopefully the vast majority of the pages on the site now display comfortably on modern mobile devices. Do contact me if you find something you think I've overlooked.

The Universal Decimal Time clock has been updated with a new version, nearly ten years after the original page was created. As the old UDT clock used Java (which requires a plugin experts now consider a security risk within web browsers) the new one uses JavaScript and the HTML5 canvas element.

There is also a separate page with instructions on how to add the UDT clock to your own site.

The markup used across the entire site has been switched to HTML5, to make use of new semantic markup elements.

Visitors should not notice any significant difference to existing pages.

FeedBack has landed!

The new FeedBack system allows visitors to contact me or post comments about selected pages or topics on the site.

It's taken me six months of sporadic development — including the development of a web form generation and validation package — mingled with unit testing and writing documentation. While I'm certain that a better person could have finished it in a third of the time, and that there are ready made packages that offer the same or similar features, the process has taught me a lot about object-oriented PHP. Plus, it's something to add to my sickly CV.

Assuming the system doesn't prove as easy to hack as a government IT system, I hope to make some or all of the code available eventually. Hopefully the fact it's Friday 13th today isn't an omen.

Internet Explorer 6 is now a leper among web browsers. The old, always rubbish, standards incompatible, cruddy piece of junk has had its day, and even Google are phasing out supporting for it. If you're visiting this site and you're using Internet Explorer 6 (or, Gates help you, an even older version) then you'll probably have been greeted by a message from me telling you to either upgrade to the latest version of Internet Explorer, or to switch to one of the far better choices of web browser such as Firefox or Opera.

I do my best to produce this site so that it adheres to the open web standards, and I test this site using Firefox, Opera, Epiphany (which uses the same rendering engine as Safari), Konqueror, and Lynx. But because I don't use Windows and there's no version of Internet Explorer 8 for Linux, I can't easily test my site in Internet Explorer while I'm developing it. And Internet Explorer is way behind the other browsers I've named when it comes to obeying web standards. (See the Acid Tests, for some idea of just how useless even Internet Explorer 8 is in comparison.)

So I hope that if you've read this far, and you're an Internet Explorer user, you'll at least think about giving Firefox and/or Opera a try. Both are free to download and use, and they're both far superior to the half-hearted efforts of Internet Explorer.

I've replaced all acronym elements in the markup of this site with abbr elements, because the W3C's latest draft states that the acronym element will not be part of HTML 5. The two closely related elements have been merged, so that only the more-general abbr element remains. This is due to confusion in defining a distinction between an acronym and an abbreviation. I always applied the rule that if every letter of an abbreviation related to each word in the expansion of that abbreviation, then it was an acronym. Otherwise it was not an acronym. But I agree that this rule isn't airtight, and the two elements may as well be merged into one.

The site has had a CSS style refurbishment. Not all of the styles are rendered correctly by Internet Explorer, but there's no surprise there. Internet Explorer is so bad at adhering to web standards that I can't be bothered to waste my time pandering to it. Firefox, Opera and Konqueror all render the site correctly, so if you haven't already tried out one of these free alternative web browsers, take a look.

Coding is a new section on the site for programming and web development articles. It features a new article about two functions that can be handy for grabbing data out of XML files, plus two older PHP articles that have now moved out of the miscellaneous pages section.

Travel Destinations is a new section on this site. It contains brief descriptions of several worldwide cities I've visited, plus the best photographs I took in each location.

I'm now using Google Analytics on the site, to get a better idea of how visitors use my site. Use of Google Analytics requires me to add a privacy notice to my site.

I've completely changed the stylesheet used for the miscellaneous pages section of the site. This was in response to complaints that the old style used too large a font size, and too much spacing. The old style is still available as an alternative (but only Opera allows users to select an alternative stylesheet).

All of the photographs from The Booze Cruise canal holiday account have been reloaded from the Kodak Photo CDs and enhanced using Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 to improve their colour and contrast. Looking at the images that were on the site, I can't believe how dark and murky they looked. The photographs are much brighter and cleaner now.

Over the last week I've added hierarchy navigation bars to most of the article pages on the site. I've also added previous and next links to pages that are part of an ordered set, such as The Booze Cruise Full Account chapter pages. Hopefully it's now much easier to get around the site.

A sitemap has been created to give an overview of the site. I've also fixed the stylesheet for the root pages so that they fit onto an 800×600 screen. (Hopefully there is no one still using 640×480.)

I've also converted the ancient Free-Music Review site from HTML 3.2 to XHTML 1.0 Strict, and corrected some flaws in the CSS.

I've converted the Ignition site from rusty old HTML 3.2 to XHTML 1.0 Strict, and I've tidied it up a bit in the process. Even though the Ignition site sees relatively few visitors these days, I've replaced the ugly map graphics with new images, and created a new CSS stylesheet. (Of course, Internet Explorer 6 supports so little of the CSS 2.1 standard that it's a pain in the ass getting everything looking passable in all of the major browsers.)

A junk mailer started abusing my feedback form today. I started getting feedback messages that were very clearly attempts to break the feedback script that I use to send people's comments to my email address. And even though I thought I'd fixed the problem, a few hours later I spotted it happening again. This time the cracker managed to use my feedback script to send some junk mail about a stockmarket share to more than 160 email addresses (all at I'm pretty sure I've disabled the flaw that the cracker was using to peddle his rubbish, but I'll be keeping a very close eye on the output of the script. I apologise to all of the people who received an extra piece of unwanted mail today.