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If technology doesn't seem like magic, it's probably obsolete

I'm finding less time to update my blog these days, but my flickr photostream is often updated.

Playing in my house right now...


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At 00:00 GMT on Thursday I was listening to:


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More of what I've been listening to

Latest pictures from my phone

www.flickr.com
More pictures from my phone


Sunday March 31 2002 at 19:05 GMT

A lot of my friends are getting on the broadband bandwagon - cool! Make sure you get a good firewall sorted out though - check firewallguide.com for more info - surf safe!

Saturday March 30 2002 at 02:21 GMT

Well, as I was part of the Orange GPRS trial, they gave me a voucher for GBP100 to spend on a new GPRS-enabled phone. Unfortunately, Orange are not the snapiest people to get new phones out, as they feel the need to take a regular GSM phone, and modify the software a bit. The voucher is set to expire on March 31st, so I thought I had better get on and use it. My choice came down to an Ericsson T68 or a Nokia 8310. I have really wanted a Nokia for a while now - they are just such wonderful phones. The 8310 is really nice and small, but in comparison to the T68's colour screen, Bluetooth, GPRS from laptop and over WAP, HSCSD, tri-band and synchronisation I know works with Outlook, it's main features of changable covers and an FM radio look pretty poor indeed. Thus, I am now the owner of a T68. First impressions are that the build quality could be a little better, the key lock (strange having one of these after years of flip-phones) is awkward to set and release, the reception is not as solid as a Nokia and the lack of SMS receipts is a pain. Apart from that, it seems to be quite a nice little phone! If only Nokia would hurry up and get some decent phones out...

Friday March 29 2002 at 11:53 GMT

Tech talk alert: Since I got my nice Red Hat firewall/Web server/MP3 server at home, it's been interesting to see how long it will stay up for. The longest it has been on is 40 days so far. Recently a thread started on the bbs I read about Zen, my ISP discussing the longest uptime of a server. Someone pointed me to TuxTime, a Danish site covering all things uptime. Some of the times in here are incredible. Think I need to get a UPS for my computer at home...

Wednesday March 27 2002 at 11:34 GMT

soma fm is like my best friend now - always there with some good music! Unfortunately, things are not looking so rosy due to a new ruling on the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) and they may be forced off the air. Read this Salon article for a good insight into what is happening, and what you can do to help. This deserves YOUR attention, especially if you are American!

Tuesday March 26 2002 at 01:05 GMT

One more reason for me to buy a Mac!

Monday March 25 2002 at 01:21 GMT

Their are now two guides to watch for where the Internet is going. Pr0n has led for so many years (think Web sites, think online (micro)payment, think age verification, think online goods ordering). Now we have truckers. Yup, apparently once these guys are happy with a technology, it is likely to be coming down to the road to the rest of us...

Monday March 25 2002 at 01:13 GMT

There's been a lot about mobile phone usage in the press over the last few days - apparently talking whilst driving is even more dangerous than drink driving - irrelevant of whether you are using a hands-free kit or not!

Phone signal jamming was always going to happen - France are the first country to seriously look at it. I do love my phone(sssss) and do use them everywhere, but too many people are just too irresponsible with them in public places; I hate when people have their phone ringing away in restaurants, for example. Vibrating devices should be fitted to all phones, or, if this does not work, the phone can simply be left in view of the owner, set to silent ... and it will flash repeatedly when someone calls or messages. Really not that tricky...

It will be interesting to watch how phone companies and phone users react to having the signal fully blocked in certain places. Perhaps only phone-haters/non-users will end up in certain bars, and then when it comes to exchange numbers with that girl of your dreams...(!) Maybe (and it's a big maybe) the French will become the most considerate phone users - knowing when to make them silent. Will the rest of the world learn anything? I hope so!

Sunday March 24 2002 at 12:57 GMT

Thursday March 21 2002 at 23:59 GMT

A while ago, my uncle asked me to post some pictures of my family, on my dad's side, on the Web. He provided me with the images on a CD, and some comments and information on when and where people were born & died, who their siblings were etc. Finally, I've gotten round to doing it ... and I am MEGA pleased that I have. This picture of my great, great, grandfather is about 130 years old! I would truly love to have met some of these people - their lives would have been just so different to mine. And what would they make of being on the Web??? Anyone got a spare De Lorean? See the full gallery here.

Thursday March 21 2002 at 23:13 GMT

'Heatwavetastic' is the weather report from Claire in Mexico City!

Thursday March 21 2002 at 21:11 GMT

Some quality beatz, courtesy of T Spigot.

Thursday March 21 2002 at 02:37 GMT

Those crazy Apple cats have been busy in Tokyo. They've just unveiled this gorgeous display, as well as Bluetooth connectivity in the form of a strange little gadget that plugs into a USB port (a bargain at US $49) and a 10GB iPod. They also seem to have harnessed some of the UNIX functionality, and enabled remote desktop management. I like Apple.

Thursday March 21 2002 at 02:22 GMT

Sometimes US English just takes the biscotti! I have been somewhat perplexed by text on my site being shown in luminous green when it should be grey. Problem has just been solved after some months of wondering - US English, as used in HTML, spells grey 'gray'! Hopefully this should make things considerably nicer for Netscape 4.x users. Not sure I like it now though.

Thursday March 21 2002 at 01:44 GMT

Oh yeah, I've got tonsillitis at the moment. Please don't send cards, flowers or fruit though - just some good recommendations for tunes and technology.

Thursday March 21 2002 at 01:41 GMT

Phew, posting the first bit has gone well.

One of my friends asked me why I was actually keeping this Weblog, and I've been working through this recently. Initially, it was just because I could - I like using technology. Now, I keep it so that my friends can see what I am up to, and what's interesting me - most of my friends live in other countries, and I see them rarely - and they can feedback ideas and things I should check out (technology, MUSIC, books, films, places) which I always value. The idea of being able to look back one year, two years or five years and see what I was doing & thinking appeals to me too (as Eric noted a few weeks back) - I can see where my plans worked or failed, who my friends are, what I thought of particular places and where the spots I liked were. As many of my friends will atest, my memory is somewhat going, so it saves me effort in that department!

The whole thing really is fantastically simple, too. I'm sure I could write something similar for my site in PHP or whatever, but when this tool is here, with some cooler added functionality, why should I bother. If I kept a diary, I KNOW that I would rarely update it, and when I did, if I came to read it some time late, I would struggle with my handwriting! 99% of the time, my laptop is beside me anyway, and so long as I have at least a mobile phone signal, I can publish from pretty much anywhere in the world.

Finally, fun - I do it beacuse I enjoy it. I have no delusions of grandeur that my site will become THE site to visit, and I am very happy with that.

The next question, 'why is it called thinkthin?', can be answered more easily:
  • Tech reason: I love the paradigm of network computing - having a physically small piece of hardware, flexible to a large degree through the application of different pieces of specialised software (who said applets?) that links in to a server holding all the data via a network. My eventual aim with my edna MP3 server is to rip enough of my CD collection to file, and have that accessible on the Internet, that I can connect an MP3 player anywhere in the world, and listen to my tunes. Perhaps hardware will advance at a rate as to make this pointless, but I have quite a few CDs! When I talked at Berkeley, I proposed two ways forward for mobile phones - that they become large devices, stuffed with lots of things like combined MP3 player, PDA, phone functionality - things that are primarily synchronised at a 'base station' (the 'American model'), or else they become blank pages on which a user can 'write' what *they* want their phone to do for them. The phone companies (either the hardware people or the telcos) sell software functionality add-ons for small amounts (billing systems for micro-payments are half of what telcos do), boosting the functionality of the phones (hardware companies) and/or use of their network (telcos), reducing the complexity to manufacture and physical size of phones, and ensuring an increased ARPU (Average Revenue Per User - all the rage these days) (the 'Japanese model'). With data prices on mobile networks as they are just now, only the first model can work, but thinking back just four or five years, I paid a LOT to use my mobile phone in comparison to the cost nowadays, and phone penetration is so high now. I still don't own a PDA - my phone syncs contacts, calendar and tasks with Outlook (yeah, Micro$oft), but what else do I really need? I've got WAP over GPRS.
  • Non-tech reason: for better or worse, I have been physically thin my entire life. I've tried to put on some weight - I could eat all day - but to no avail. Being thin (and light) was not so good when charging with two much bigger guys for the one shower in University flat days, but I've been assured I will be very glad of this in years to come! So, when I go to try on clothes, or buy anything, I always 'think thin'. Thus I have a thin Thinkpad, and a tiny Ericsson T39.

Thursday March 21 2002 at 00:25 GMT

Well, people have actually complained to me for not updating this in too long (really they did!), so here goes...

Going back a few weeks now, here, in summary, is what's been going on!

  • my rock and roll dad came over, and did loads of work on my hall - stripping paint off, so that ... he can come back and paint it! How cool is that? Plus, he made me three *delicious* dinners (dad used to be a chef) - I am NOT giving out his email address, as he is, ehm, busy enough! :-))
  • Signor Provenzano arrived the day after my dad headed home, to enjoy a few days here - unfortunately, Anthony got a bit broken on his first night, so the remainder of his time was slightly more subdued, although really nice and relaxing
  • once APro had departed, Victor (another of Polly (and John's) Canadian friends!) arrived - a few fun nights at Oloroso, Henry's Cellar Bar (very good jazz, but WAY too short) and Monboddo ensued
  • I saw Gosford Park, which, although having a lot of good reviews seemed to be just a bit too non-inspirational; I do love films and books from that period though - I'm sure I could get into that whole fishing, drinks and servants thing
  • my brother (update that site, boy!) returned home after his year of travels and managed to surprise my parents - although my mom apprently thought he was one of the guys working on re-roofing our garage. My effort to get to the airport to meet him was sadly pointless, as he managed to jump on an earlier flight from Heathrow
  • that weekend, we had a nice dinner with my mom's brother, Cameron, over from the States, and their other sister, my Aunt Morag and her husband back at my parents house
  • the following week was pretty hectic again, with lots of my colleagues over from Canada, the States, Frankfurt, Paris, Singapore for work. This, naturally, also included food and drink, a spot of arm-wrestling (pictures to come) and visits to some fine establishments including THE place to go in Edinburgh at the moment Opal Lounge with Arline (from Toronto - don't drink with Canadians! ;-) and Gerard
  • this last weekend involved toasting the patron Saint of engineers, St Patrick (whom, I have just discovered was actually born in Scotland, not too far away from here) - he also has something to do with Ireland and my favourite drink, Guinness
  • a good thing that has happened is that my ISP, Zen have reduced the price of broadband from 52 pounds/month to 30 pounds/month, in line with the announcement by BT Wholesale - which means a tasty saving for me. I would have preferred to opt for a 1MB line at home, and paid slightly more, but this is not an option (yet). As John McDowall said when I first got ADSL, 'it will never be fast enough'. Oh how very true!
  • following on from that, my little edna MP3 server that sits in my house has been getting some SERIOUS usage (check the current stats here), which I am very pleased with! Unfortunately, I had to reboot it after it had been up for 40 days (ADSL was not reconnecting for some reason), but prior to that over 1000 songs were downloaded - a lot by someone at MIT (don't think I know anyone there). I did a few reverse DNS lookups, just to see where people are coming from (I have to admit that it *ABSOLUTELY* intrigues me!!!) and most of the world was covered - from Mexico to Switzerland, Hungary to Israel, New Zealand to the USA, Canada to Spain. I'm in the process (read: thinking about) writing a nice little PHP /MySQL application so that I can keep a track of all my CDs, and also so that I can link through to them on the edna server. If anyone has any skills/ideas in that area, please let me know! It would be very cool if anyone who does use my edna server, left a note in the guest book or sent me a mail. I promise that I will do nothing malicious with your email address/name/etc - it is purely out of self interest.


I'm going to publish this now - if I lost this, I'd be kind of annoyed!

Monday March 11 2002 at 08:19 GMT

My bro is now home, and a good weekend was had by all!

For some nice news, click here.

Oh yeah ... more soon!

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