Phillip Pearson - web + electronics notes

tech notes and web hackery from a new zealander who was vaguely useful on the web back in 2002 (see: python community server, the blogging ecosystem, the new zealand coffee review, the internet topic exchange).


declining blogger ratio - geeks:mainstream

Surprise! As blogging becomes mainstream, the ratio of geeks to everybody else is declining, and popularity, influence etc is following the same pattern.

Oh well, big deal, we'll still have our niche, over here, where the mainstream isn't looking.

Cellphones in many countries (and petrol prices...)

Everyone in the USA seems to think that the USA is way behind everyone else in mobile usage. When I was there last month, though, it seemed that they have a very high level of mobile usage - for voice, at least. Here in NZ, voice calls are pretty expensive, so the main usage of mobile phones is for text messaging. Just about every high school kid or university student has a phone, but they very rarely use them to call people. It costs me US$0.30 per minute to call a landline or another cellphone on the same network, or US$1 per minute to call another cellphone network -- so I don't do it unless I really have to.

Update: Ashish picks this up and talks about petrol prices in the USA, NZ and India.

After reading that I went back to check up on NZ cellphone prices, just in case I was unintentionally exaggerating there, but no, it looks like I was right. Here's the actual pricing plan I'm on: "motormouth prepay".

If I was on the contract plan, it would be a bit cheaper - $40 (US$28) for 200 minutes, so US$0.14 per minute (if I used them all). I spend less than $40 monthly anyway, though, so it wouldn't be a saving for me.

Here are all their other plans. I think the "motormouth on account" plan is the cheapest overall, except that it only gives you cheap calls to other Vodafone mobiles - it's the "network lock in" plan :-)

It looks like the other main NZ mobile provider's charges are exactly the same.

As for petrol prices, maintains a continuous survey of petrol, diesel and LPG prices around NZ from info gathered from purchases on petrol account cards. In Canterbury (where I live), the current lowest prices are:

98 octane - NZ$1.529/L - US$4.05/gal

96 octane - NZ$1.489/L - US$3.95/gal

91 octane - NZ$1.439/L - US$3.81/gal

(1 gal = 3.785 L and NZ$1 = US$0.70, so US$/gal price = NZ$/L price * 0.70 * 3.785)

Note that these prices include all taxes - as all advertised prices in NZ must, except for airfares (although travel agents and airlines are finally starting to display taxes in advertisements).


OK, this sounds like a truly weird idea, but it might just work: Atom represented as a microformat. This is a continuation of the microformat philosphy: marking up things which already have meaning in HTML. So when you render a post, instead of rendering it like this:

<h3>Post title</h3> <p>First post paragraph</p> <p>Second post paragraph</p>

You render it like this:

<h3 class="title">Post title</h3> <span class="content"><p>First post paragraph</p> <p>Second post paragraph</p></span>

This makes it easier for a scraper to figure out that it's a post, and to get the actual data out.

Anyone starting to notice that microformats are totally aimed at making life easier for Technorati and other search engines that don't grok RSS and feeds?

What I don't like about this format is that it's a total replacement of existing technology - you can already archive your posts in RSS 2.0 format, and the accepted standard for interchange these days is the Movable Type export/import format.

That said, a) not everybody archives their posts in these formats, b) only Radio does it for you automatically, and c) adding the microformat tags only requires a small template change in any blogging tool, so it's way easier.

One suggestion I'd like to make is that the CSS class names used should be a little less ambiguous. I've already had problems with Bloglines defining CSS rules for short words like "item" and screwing up the rendering of hReview-formatted entries. We should call them something like atom_title, or post_title - something long enough to give them a reasonable chance of not clashing with existing rules.

... more like this: [, ]

Make your own National billboard

Excellent! This will only make sense if you live in New Zealand, but now you can make your own National billboard.