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The life and times of james Hart: his family, his music, life in Luton and his occasional escapes onto the internet.

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Wednesday, 25 August 2004

taxes, texts and statistics

It's been rather a fruitful couple of days, really. Work has kept me busy, although oddly enough more in the morning than the afternoon. This is something of a turnaround as I normally deal with meetings and mail during the first half of the day and all the interesting stuff (and the writing-up of the same) attempts to prevent my leaving at the usual 6.15 departure time.

This is all good news - not least from the feedback my boss is giving me, as I send out my now-regular missives on all things VCS and security-based, so there's nothing to complain about there.

I have also finally completed my tax return. I elected to submit it electronically, even though I had completed the paper form, as delivery was all-but guaranteed, and it would give me the bad (or good) news of how things are at the end. I may have mentioned that a number of attempts were made to sign up to the government's "Gateway" page - the first required that I sign up, enter my details and await a PIN and confirmation of my user name. The second, about a week later required that I sign in with the user name and my password, which - like a fool who doesn't read things properly - I confused with my PIN and locked my account. I elected to request a new password, since at least I wouldn't have to recall it, and it would be sent to me in paper form, in spite of the fact that my account would have been unlocked after two hours anyway (as I discovered when I finally resorted to calling the helpline).

Clutching three bits of security coated paper in my hand, I secluded myself in the studio for some painstaking tapping of security data, personal information and numbers from other documents that I had collated beforehand. Within forty-five minutes (during which time, I also did a bit of chatting on MSN Messenger while also dishing out advice on new computer purchases*) I had received those words that I longed to hear: "Your return has been checked and has no errors." Or, possibly better: "Tax refund: £15.00". It's gone, now, though, along - hopefully - with any need for me to fill in a form ever again. I'm rubbish at it. This, of course, is why I rely on Beth to deal with the internet banking...

During a quiet moment at work, I decided to try and sort out a couple of the little problems I've been having with my website. "Now!" you may rightly say "That's our licence fee [good heavens... I (sorry, Beth - we) spend £3.37 a month on BBC1!] you're wasting." I would, however, counter that my Linux skills still need developing - especially since I have a plan to make a rather attractive knowledge-base-discussion-board thing for the team (see how I can muster a smug tone, even in written text?)

Anyway, I have managed to work out how to make a primitive "send me a text message" feature, which works fantastically in theory, although Orange have since steadfastly refused to support their end of the bargain, as they offer a free 'email alert' service that I was banking on using, and has since been shown not to work. When they've fixed it (I've sent them an email; they've acknowledged it and given me some kind of reference number) I will put it in here for fun and entertainment. Thanks must go to Ed (who has designed his own website content management system and gallery software) for his expert advice.

I have also finally managed to get Webalizer to work. This is such great fun - it prints attractive graphs to say how many people have visited my website over a given period, and also lists top ten visitor IP addresses, websites that visitors have surfed from, and, my favourite, results of web searches that have landed on my site. For a limited time you can see all the interesting stuff here (I'll be password protecting it soon - if you'd still like to be able to see it, please ask, though!)

Before I go, the links of the day

That's quite enough from me.

*This is a free service. Terms and conditions apply.

Posted by james at August 25, 2004 8:37 PM

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