Change of address

Update your RSS feeds, kids. This blog has now moved to

Future updates will be posted there and not here.

Previous posts on this blog have been copied to the new one.

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PayPal v Google Checkout Integration

A comparison of PayPal and Google Checkout API implementation documentation:


Your third-party SOAP client generates business-object interfaces and network stubs from PayPal-provided WSDL and XSD files that specify the PayPal SOAP message structure, its contents, and the PayPal API service bindings.


Once you update your website’s HTML with the Buy Now code, you can start accepting orders and processing them through Google Checkout immediately.

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MapInfo Removing Special Characters

I needed to remove all characters except letters and numbers from a string in the joyful language that is MapBasic. Might not be the most efficient way of doing it but it works doesn’t it?

Function RemoveSpecialChars(byval str as string) as String
    Dim chr, out, nicechars as String
    Dim i, l as Integer

    nicechars = "ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789"
    l = Len(str)

    For i = 1 to l
        chr = Mid$(str, i, 1)
        If InStr(1, nicechars, chr) > 0 Then
            out = out + chr
        End If

    RemoveSpecialChars = out
End Function
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White Spots on Fading Images in Internet Explorer

IE really is the best browser ever…if you’re into puzzle solving.

On the Baker Associates home page I have included an image fader. It’s a simple one that using the JQuery Cycle plugin (a good plugin that I would highly recommend and whose involvement in this bug is purely incidental).

I’ve fixed it now but previously white spots were appearing in the images as they faded when viewing on Internet Explorer. Between fades the images looked fine. A little rummaging on the web shows that this is a common problem caused by Internet Explorer’s image filters which sometimes treat pure black (#000000) as transparent.

There are a few ways around it. The simplest is to put a black div behind the images. You may notice there’s still one on the Baker Associates site. It didn’t help in my case but I thought I’d leave it there as it can’t do any harm.

The other, more annoying way is to replace any pure-black pixels with pixels of very, very dark grey. You can do this easily in Photoshop by going to Image > Adjustments > Replace Color. Or in GIMP by going to Colors > Map > Color Range Mapping (apparently).

I was having this problem on IE8. I’m not sure if they’ve fixed it in 9 and I can’t be bothered to find out but I doubt they have.

Here’s some link love for the people who knew the answer:
Alex JuddStack Overflow

Update 26/7/2011: Aaaarg! It’s still doing it!

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Miranda IM’s Pointless UI “Upgrade”

Miranda IM is a minimal but highly functional multi-protocol chat client for Windows. I have been using it for ages so I was a bit disapointed when I installed the latest build to see my contact list littered with extra buttons and menus. Especially as when I tried clicking on them it seems the icons for these buttons have been chosen at random (A power icon which opens the preferences dialogue? Seriously?). There’s also a thing called “view modes” which is probably very useful if you’re a professional chatter.

Anyway, it’s not hard to get things back the way they were, so I won’t complain too much (though I am a fan of minimalism by default).

It turns out that there are a variety of difference contact list manager plugins and the latest versions of Miranda IM come with four of them installed. To get back to the old-school, minimalist look, just go to the preferences window (you know, press the power button that looks like it’s going to shut the program down or disconnect or something. Alternatively click the menu top-left that has a logo instead of a word (probably to make it awkward for people who are – like me – trying to explain things the old fashioned way – you know, using words and that…)), select “plugins” from the menu on the left. Here you have a list of all installed plugins. It’s the ones that start “clist_” that we’re interested in. We only need one, and clist_classic is the minimalist one, so select that and click “ok” and restart Miranda IM.

There are three other clist plugins:


Is fucking ugly in the way that the free software you get with printers usually is – all custom made so it doesn’t fit in with anything else. Gives the contact list a translucent border and title bar as if I’m using Windows 7, even though I’m on Windows XP. Also adds a selection of different – though equally ambiguous – icons to the top of the window.

Multi-window apparently. I can only see one window though.

That said, Miranda IM is still my favourite chat client and is miles ahead of any other I’ve used.

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Linux lshw Command

Here’s a short post about Linux’s lshw command. That’s LSHW as in LiSt HardWare. Pretty vital if you’re doing…well anything really.

sudo lshw
Lists all connected hardware. Outputs a lot of information. You’re probably only interested in a small part of the output, so you probably want to do something like this:

sudo lshw -class memory
…which lists all memory devices. You can shorten -class to -c if your fingers are tired. To find other classes to search for try doing this:

sudo lshw -short
…and looking at the class column.

If you are interested in the entire list of hardware, the easiest way to view it all is probably to save it to a file. Maybe as HTML.

sudo lshw -html > filename.html
That’ll do it. You can also use -xml if you’re like that. Tidy.

Alternatively you could use the less command which will let you scroll up and down the output within the terminal. Like so:

sudo lshw | less
Press q to get back to the prompt.

Note: According to the man page the -sanitize flag removes any potentially sensible [sic.] information from the output. Seems fairly sensitive to me.

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MapInfo View Rememberer Version 3

Back in 2009 I made a plugin for MapInfo Pro that stores views to make navigating between sites quicker and easier.

This was all well and good except that I couldn’t store the scale accurately. This meant that what should have been 1:1000 became 1:1001 and 1:5000 became 1:4983. It was weird but I’ve finally got around to giving it another go and I’m pleased to say that it now works perfectly!

Not only does it work but it works better, more accurately, more reliably and with less lines of code! [engaging smug mode]

The link below will direct you to a zip file on my website containing the MapInfo program as well as the source code. Feel free to distribute the file, just don’t charge anyone for it!

Download Now

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