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Seven Wonders of the West

Relates to Peregrinations and Surfing

A couple of weeks ago I was pleased to hear that our local surf break had been shortlisted for the forthcoming BBC's Seven Wonders of the West. Of course, the Severn Bore is more than just a surf break, it is the spiritual soul of the local area and the most impressive of many tidal bores scattered around the British Isles. As a surfer I always feel very priveleged to have the opportunity to ride on the bore tide.

The northern arm of the Severn Horseshoe Bend with a swollen river the day prior to the spring tides. With the river almost swollen to bursting point at Gloucester, our expectations had been low until the impending change in weather was predicted early this week. So, with Steve's usual boat skipper unavailable I chose to substitute my board for the helm to guide the film crew around the Severn Horseshoe Bend while Steve rode the most powerful tide of the year, propelled by the surge created from the intense depression off Ireland - my barometer had fallen by 30 millibars in 24 hours.

Over an inaccessible stretch of the river we captured footage of the bore ranging from three to six feet, while I managed to keep the cameraman, Joules, and presenter, Amanda, relatively dry - even when we got trapped behind the head of the tide with a looming 4 foot whelp close to breaching the stern!

I followed up the next morning with a relaxing two and half mile surf to wrap up what has been a surprisingly good year of tidal bore surfing in which I may have come close (or possible breached - no logs to confirm this) the 100 mile mark for the first time in 8 years! The current form suggests there may be further tides in November, but from experience this is the flooded month. Still, there is plenty to look forward to in 2005 as the confluence between perigee and syzygy get back on track.

The Severn Wonders of the West will be going out on regional television on Sunday November 28th.

Posted on Oct 30, 2004 at 20:50:29. [Comments for Seven Wonders of the West- 0]

XML Schema 2nd Edition

Relates to XML Schema

The second edition of XML Schema has becoma a candidate recommendation, with corrections from the first edition. For anyone taking their first steps into XML Schema, Roger Costello's excellent Powerpoint tutorial and collection of resources on XFront are a great place to start.

Posted on Oct 30, 2004 at 15:43:10. [Comments for XML Schema 2nd Edition- 0]

Live Data Retrieval

Relates to DOM Scripting

I have been experimenting at every opportunity with XmlHttpRequest ever since I first saw it implemented over at Bitflux in the now reknowned Live Search. It has been integral to a number of supplemental enhancements to my PHP CMS. I decided to test drive the items grabber utility for Live Data Retrieval a bit further by crossing it over to this weblog, and this feature can now be seen in the archives menu.

There is nothing fancy in the implementation. Just a bit of DOM manipulation to send a request to the server and retrieve a list of the titles of each entry posted for a month. It is a convenience tool that allows the user to browse the entire archive without leaving the entry page. The data is cached on the server and after the initial request it is also cached in a Javascript object for the duration of the page session.

The Javascript source is available here. The code develops a number of techniques I have discussed in recent months. One line of code that may look a little odd to the untrained eye is the following:

(function (elem) {    
  var btn, listener;
  btn = document.createElement('button');
  elem.insertBefore(btn, elem.firstChild);
  listener = new XListener(btn);

This is actually just an anonymous function that could just as easily be written:

function addButtons(elem) {
  var btn, listener;
  btn = document.createElement('button');
  elem.insertBefore(btn, elem.firstChild);
  listener = new XListener(btn);

But the interesting code is the Iterate method which is a custom method of the Function prototype:

Function.prototype.Iterate = function(collection) {
  for (var i = 0, elem; elem = collection.item(i++); ) {

Essentially a utility function to handle the iteration of a routine over a collection of DOM nodes.

While this XmlHttpRequest implementation works perfectly well in IE6, I have temporarily prevented this due to Exploder's mis-interpretation of the float model causing some incongruous placement issues. I have yet to test it in the latest Opera betas.

Posted on Oct 17, 2004 at 21:46:26. [Comments for Live Data Retrieval- 2]

My Magic Carpet

Relates to Surfing

Finally got hold of a photo of my custom Magic Carpet which was shapped by Mike at Atlantic Surfboards. At 7'1" it is going to be quite a change from my volan glassed Nine Plus 9'6" and Guts 10 footer. But as Mike describes the board himself -

…a carpet is a longboard with about 2ft taken out of the middle… Mike Peet, Atlantic Surfboards

My Magic Carpet shaped by Mike at Atlantic Surfboards This board is a beauty, lightweight yet with plenty of volume for paddle power. It has a rounded pin tail, well rounded nose with adequate rocker for nose riding, and, is finished with a deep red resin tint. The only dilemma I have now is catching a quality swell at the right time to give it a test run.

When I picked the board up at the end of August, North Devon was unfortunately under attack from persistant onshore winds. On surf-ari with Goop and the Wave Selector we made the most of a bad lot, and were rewarded on our last day with an easing wind at Putsborough. I still didn't feel the conditions were good enough to wax up the new stick, and settled for a few waves on my Nine Plus instead. Bottom turn on a mushy 2 foot inside section at Putsborough, North Devon

Congratulations to Dan who after much perserverance and arduous paddling over four days got his short board take-off wired on the last two waves. And of course Goop for taking the biggest wave of the day, a rogue 6' wall that wiped out the bay, and surfing it all the way to the bar!!

Posted on Oct 17, 2004 at 20:42:00. [Comments for My Magic Carpet- 4]

Wayback When?

Relates to Web Standards and CSS Design, Peregrinations

My first steps into the world of web development came in 1997 during my time studying philosophy (and other inter-curricular activities!) at Leeds University. Initially this involved the utilisation of Tripod's online web builder tools. Then, my first big breakthrough came on discovering the view source button and my technique rapidly evolved from simple cut and paste to raw coding HTML. From then on web development became a past-time that I dabbled in when occasion allowed as I added first Javascript and then CSS to my arsenal. The target of my experimentation were two websites: Still Stoked Longboard Skates, which first appeared in late 1997; and the Bore Riders Club which arrived in spring 1998.

The current versions of both these sites, initially revamped in Spring 2002, are built to Web Standards on the front-end with content delivery powered by PHP and MySQL. Still Stoked was enhanced for improved accessibility in Autumn 2003, while the currently Flash intensive BRC site is on a long to do list. Now, thanks to the internet archive Wayback Machine, snapshots of some of the earlier incarnations of both these sites are still available to peruse!

Content Warning! All these snapshots demonstrate poor design practice for today's web. Expect explicit use of font tags, multiple table nesting, Javascript rollovers, extensive unmaintainable code and prolonged download duration (especially on 56K Dial Up)!

Still Stoked has actually been through 5 major redesigns and several minor reworkings over the past 7 years before arriving at the current longboard skates for surfers website.

  1. 28th August 1999 Snapshot - full redesign, original build date unknown
  2. 23rd October 2001 Snapshot - full redesign, original build date early 2000

The Bore Riders website has seen 2 major redesigns in its lifetime prior to the current Severn Bore surfing website.

  1. 16th November 1999 Snapshot - original build date unknown
  2. 7th June 2000 Snapshot - minor colour changes including rather cheesy Javascript powered rainbow text!
  3. 17th December 2001 Snapshot - full redesign completed sometime in 2000

While these relics of a pre-standards web (at least from my perspective - standards have been around a lot longer than these archives) show how not to approach web design and development, I still feel quite proud of what I achieved in those years when I dedicated a weekend here or there to coding. It also acts as an indicator of what I have personally achieved since then in the time I have worked full time in this industry. Also these snapshots ignite memories, especially Pegasus (productions), of my past and the evolution of both Still Stoked and the Bore Riders Club, both well established entities today. Thanks to Wayback for keeping alive these dinosaurs that should have been made extinct a long time ago ;)

Posted on Oct 16, 2004 at 22:46:54. [Comments for Wayback When?- 0]

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