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...

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

More of what I've been listening to

Latest pictures from my phone
More pictures from my phone

Wednesday April 30 2003 at 23:42 GMT [via mobile]

I just added a photo taken with my phone to the latest gallery. You can view it directly by clicking here. My comment about the picture is: The top floor..

Wednesday April 30 2003 at 23:40 GMT [via mobile]

I just added a photo taken with my phone to the latest gallery. You can view it directly by clicking here. My comment about the picture is: THIS is why I'm an engineer..

Wednesday April 30 2003 at 23:26 GMT [via mobile]

I just added a photo taken with my phone to the latest gallery. You can view it directly by clicking here. My comment about the picture is: ... and this too..

Wednesday April 30 2003 at 16:30 GMT [via mobile]

I just added a photo taken with my phone to the latest gallery. You can view it directly by clicking here. My comment about the picture is: Digitopolis-yeah!.

Wednesday April 30 2003 at 14:53 GMT [via mobile]

I just added a photo taken with my phone to the latest gallery. You can view it directly by clicking here. My comment about the picture is: This is the cool new Wellcome Wing at the Science Museum..

Tuesday April 29 2003 at 18:07 GMT [via mobile]

I just added a photo taken with my phone to the latest gallery. You can view it directly by clicking here. My comment about the picture is: Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.

Tuesday April 29 2003 at 12:35 GMT [via mobile]

Last night was cool. Meeting up with Jim, Russ, Rafe and a bunch of other Symbian and phone guys was really interesting. We couldn't quite hear the Siemens demo of the SX1, but we did have a long chat with Doug from Opera, and a good play with the browser on his 3650(s).

Today I've taken a huge walk along the Thames, on my way to the Tate Modern.

Monday April 28 2003 at 22:51 GMT [via mobile]

I just added a photo taken with my phone to the latest gallery. You can view it directly by clicking here. My comment about the picture is: Russ, myself and Rafe at the AAS meet..

Monday April 28 2003 at 20:37 GMT [via mobile]

I just added a photo taken with my phone to the latest gallery. You can view it directly by clicking here. My comment about the picture is: A lot of phones..l.

Monday April 28 2003 at 16:13 GMT [via mobile]

I just added a photo taken with my phone to the latest gallery. You can view it directly by clicking here. My comment about the picture is: I call this one View from a Stationary Train....

Monday April 28 2003 at 15:41 GMT [via mobile]

I'm now on the train to London, hopefully arriving just after 7, then heading to the AAS meet.

It's the first time I've used TipicME on a train and I'm very impressed with it's abilily to handle the frequent disconnections.

Monday April 28 2003 at 11:52 GMT

If you're in the UK, you may well have seen this ad on TV (not sure where else they are showing it, if anywhere). The ad is brilliant - you can view it online here.

Monday April 28 2003 at 02:33 GMT

In a blatant idea-steal from Russ's site, I've added a page of just the comments left, as well as an RSS feed of the same. I've got to say, I love having my own blog software - it's SO much more flexible.

Monday April 28 2003 at 00:57 GMT

Thanks to Graeme and Dave for pointing out my erroneous RSS feed contents. Due to the parsing order, I was over doing my ampersands. I should now have a basic RSS feed in place - yes, I know I need to get a real, hardcore, version sorted, including s (more info here and here), but all these things take time.

Monday April 28 2003 at 00:16 GMT [via mobile]

I just added a photo taken with my phone to the latest gallery. You can view it directly by clicking here. My comment about the picture is: Another good night at Oloroso!.

Sunday April 27 2003 at 17:32 GMT

1. Tonight, Sunday, I will be heading to Oloroso for a few beers, now that Jams is back in town. Come along if you're about!

2. Although I have no travel plans made yet, I will be in London starting tomorrow, for a few days. I'm hoping to catch up with most people during the week or else on Wednesday evening. If you're available, let me know.

Sunday April 27 2003 at 17:23 GMT

For years my parents have been trying to get me to drink coffee, but I'm simply not a fan. I can honestly think of very little worse than having a hot drink on a hot day ... or a hot drink on a cold day (makes me sick!).

I have, however, discovered that espresso is quite nice. For my birthday, Allan got me an espresso maker - the kind you put on your hob/cooker/stove top. I've just made my first espresso, and it seems like I have a fair way to go before I'm an expert. This one is OK, but I think I needed to add more grounds.

Obviously, I googled to find out how to make an espresso (with not much luck). I did, however, find this site: TechnoErotica (seems safe for work). The strange thing is that the guy has the same birthday as me!

Sunday April 27 2003 at 16:51 GMT

Valid CSS! On Saturday I had some fun playing around with my site. My CSS has never been too shiny, so I decided to take an hour and clean it up. As you can see, my site is now lovely and compliant. There are three warnings I get when I apply the strictest validation settings to my CSS file, but these are only for small workarounds for the Opera browser, so I'm happy with that.

For a while I've been meaning to get some auto-image-resizing code written for my gallery, so that I could just dump full-scale camera images into a directory and the resizing and decrease in quality (from original photo) would be taken care without me doing any more work. I got the code written with not too many problems, so it is auto-thumbnailing for the latest gallery. The problem I've found is that a) the quality is rubbish; b) the files are double the size compared to doing this in LView. Compare:

Lview original20% quality50% quality80% quality

Here's my PHP code:

if ($galleryName == "latest") { $thumbnailLocation = $baseFileLocation . $galleryYear . "/" . $galleryName . "/thumbnail/" . $imageName; //echo($thumbnailLocation); if (!file_exists($thumbnailLocation)) { $largefileLocation = str_replace('thumbnail', 'large', $thumbnailLocation); $originalimagesize = getimagesize($largefileLocation); $originalimagewidth = $originalimagesize[0]; //echo($originalimagewidth); $originalimageheight = $originalimagesize[1]; //echo($originalimageheight); if (($originalimagewidth > $thumbnailWidth) || ($originalimageheight > $thumbnailHeight)) { $mltwidth = $thumbnailWidth / $originalimagewidth; //echo("mltw" . $mltwidth); $mltheight = $thumbnailHeight / $originalimageheight; //echo("mlth" . $mltheight); $mlt = $mltwidth < $mltheight ? $mltwidth:$mltheight; //echo("mlt" . $mlt); $newimagewidth = round($originalimagewidth * $mlt); //echo($newimagewidth); $newimageheight = round($originalimageheight * $mlt); //echo($newimageheight); $resizedimage = imagecreate($newimagewidth, $newimageheight); imagecopyresized($resizedimage, imagecreatefromjpeg($largefileLocation), 0, 0, 0, 0, $newimagewidth, $newimageheight, $originalimagewidth, $originalimageheight); imagejpeg($resizedimage, $thumbnailLocation); }

At the moment, I'm leaving the quality at 100%. If anyone has any bright ideas on how I can increase the quality to be at least as good as the LView original whilst keeping the size about the same as the LView original, I'd be most happy to hear them.

Sunday April 27 2003 at 15:58 GMT

On Friday I wasn't really feeling so great, but I decided to struggle out for a few beers. Initially I met Rich for a beer in Monboddo, an old favourite haunt. Soon my brother turned up and then ... there was a crowd.

No drinking night would be truly validated without a visit to Oloroso, so Rich, Allan, Fiona and I headed there for a nightcap.

Rich and I were still a bit on the thirsty side when Oloroso shut, so we set off to find somewhere else still open, but everywhere was pretty queued out. We decided to grab some food at a cool Italian place, that is open v.late. From somewhere I conjured some Italian words and vaguely remember ordering in "Italian". After the waiter had delivered our food, he said something to me in Italian as he was leaving the table, no doubt having worked out the only Italian word I actually know is 'pizza'. Of course I had no idea what he said - am just hoping it wasn't "I just spat in your beer...".

Friday April 25 2003 at 18:21 GMT

I'm off work for the next week, heading to London for a few days to meet with my fellow Mobitopians and catch up with friends.

Whilst I'm away, moving around the place, I thought it would be cool to set up something so people knew where I was, just in case they are there too. Jim is working away on some code to automate this via Jabber, but for the moment I've whipped up a little update function that I can access from my phone. You should see it on the top of the left hand column, over there <-.

Friday April 25 2003 at 17:06 GMT

Just days ahead of the beta ending, my blog is properly registered on Blogshares. I've got a whole 4000 shares just waiting to be purchased, so if you want some, now is the time!

Friday April 25 2003 at 13:32 GMT

Today I am one year older than I was yesterday. I think I was even awake at the time I was born - 7.30am. Crazy.

You can find out what else happened on this day here.

Friday April 25 2003 at 13:24 GMT

Last night I felt like some cinema action, so I went to the mighty Dominion and saw L'Homme du Train. It was a pretty good film, although I'm not entirely sure I understood all of it - I need to find a good review of it, to explain the intricacies.

I wouldn't rate it as a must-see, but if you're looking for something to do, and the weather is yucky, like it is looking for this weekend, then check it out. The Guardian has a good review, as opposed to a pretty rubbishy BBC review.

The cinema was very cool, though. Screen 3 has four rows of seats, and only holds about 35 people in total. The sound wasn't incredible, but it would be a neat place to have a private party.

Wednesday April 23 2003 at 11:23 GMT

Looks like my Memory Stick Duo 128MB is going to be even more delayed:
Dear My Customers,

I am sorry to let you down again!

We got e-mail from USA today, our partners
told us SONY(US) had delayed again about
the released date of Memory Stick Duo(128MB).

Which mean we cannot get the supply from US side
until they start to offer.
We can only rely on Japanese's supplies!

But Japan also in stortage now, we can get as much
as we can, but still back ordered a lots.

Here is some figures :
- We ordered 200pcs from USA
- We ordered 250pcs from Japan
- Orders before 2003-04-01 had been shipped!!
- We have 242pcs back-orders(up to 2003-04-23 16:32)
- We was scheduled to get 100pcs on 29 Apr 2003(from Japan)
- We was scheduled to get 150pcs on 05 May 2003(from Japan)
- USA's stock has no shipping schedule yet.
- If Japan's supply is correct, which we can fulfil
all current orders before 06 May.

I am very sorry about this, but we cannot control
SONY's product schedule, we cannot help on any.

After 29 Apr. shipment, we can send out all orders
on / before 2003-04-09, orders on / after 2003-04-10
have to wait for second batch(2003-05-05).

I am sorry that this accident happened!

If you would like to cancel the order,
please let us know.

Sorry for the inconvenience!

The only good news here is that I ordered on April 9th, so my card should at least be despatched on the 29th.

Wednesday April 23 2003 at 08:46 GMT [via mobile]

I just added a photo taken with my phone to the latest gallery. You can view it directly by clicking here. My comment about the picture is: Another beautiful day in Edinburgh!.

Wednesday April 23 2003 at 02:01 GMT

So, apparently, my birthday is shaping up thus:
Friday - meal, then quiet drinks
Saturday - some golf-type thing, early doors (8am!!!) then a few beers
Sunday - relax, then golf-thing at 4.30

Monday - head for London town, catch up with lots of peeps
Yeah - I didn't know I liked golf either. Must be something to do with getting old.

Wednesday April 23 2003 at 01:28 GMT

After a quality tip-off from Neil, I caught the Gotan Project in the Usher Hall tonight.

Their show was incredible. The first few tunes were done behind a white screen, making it seem like we (audience) were watching a film. Then the curtain dropped and we were all together. I should have taken a picture at this point, but I was way too busy enjoying myself

They have a stupid flash menu system going on, so here is the full tour schedule:
January 2003
24 : Angoulème (France)
place : "La Nef" rue Louis Pergaud.
26 : Stockholm (Suede)
place :"Sodra Teatern"
27 : Stockholm (Suede)
place :"Sodra Teatern"

February 2003
27 : Lisbon (Portugal)
place : "Coliseum"

March 2003
01 : Porto (Portugal)
place : "Coliseum"
11 : Thionville (France)
place : Théâtre Municipal 30, bd du Maréchal Joffre.

24 : Londres World BBC Award

28 : Paris (France)
Concert suivi d'un Bal Tango à partir de 20h30
place : "Le Bataclan" 50, bld Voltaire 11ème.

29 : Paris (France)
Concert suivi d'une soirée "Electro DJ Set"
place : "Le Bataclan" 50, bld Voltaire 11ème.

April 2003
05 : Dornbirn (Autriche)
06 : Neustadt (Autriche)
07 : Graz (Autriche)
08 : Vienne (Autriche)
place : "Museumsquartier" Hall E
09 : Budapest (Hongrie)
15 : Montpellier (France)
place : "Rockstore" 20, rue de Verdun
18 : Bâle (Suisse)
22 : Edinbourg (UK)
place : "Edinburgh Usher Hall"
23 : Glasgow (UK)
place : "The Arches"
24 : New Castle (UK)
place : "New Castle Playhouse"
26 : Pool (UK)
place : "Poole Light House"
27 : Manchester (UK)
place : "Manchester Bridgewater Hall"
29 : Leicester (UK)
place : "Leceister de Montfort Hall"
30 : Basinc Stoke (UK)
place : "Basingstoke Anvil"

May 2003
01 : Warwick (UK)
place : "Coventry Warwick Arts Center"
02 : Bristol (UK)
place : "Bristol Colston Hall"
03 : Brighton (UK)
place : "Brighton Dome"
05 : London (UK)
place : "Barbican Hall"
08 : Aarhus (Danemark)
09 : Oslo (Norvège)
10 : Stavenger Festival (Norvège)
14 : Utrecht (Pays-Bas)
15 : Amsterdam (Hollande)
16 : Tilburg (Pays-Bas)
28 : Riga (Lettonie)
29 : Talline (Estonie)
31 : Bergen (Norvège)

June 2003
05 : Suisse
14 : Beyrouth (Liban)
18 : Séoul
21 : Fête de la Musique (Paris)
27 : Bruxelles (Belgium)
29 : Werchter (Belgium)

July 2003
05 : Montréal (Canada)
07 : Los Angeles
08 : San Francisco
10 : New-York
11 : Miami
15 : Cosenza La Reggia (Italy)
16 : Italie
17 : Menton (France)
19 : Carhaix
lieu : "Festival des Vielles Charrues"
21 : Roma
24 : Nice (France)
25 : Bassano
26 : Piacenza
27 : Paleo Festival (Switzerland)
28 : Sicile
29 : Sicile
30 : Palerme
31 : Noto

August 2003
06 : Zurich
07 : Lyon
22 : Sopot Festival (Poland)
If you can see them, do!

Tuesday April 22 2003 at 21:04 GMT [via mobile]

I just added a photo taken with my phone to the latest gallery. You can view it directly by clicking here. My comment about the picture is: Gotan Project-fantastique!.

Tuesday April 22 2003 at 10:31 GMT

Last night could have gone badly wrong - Jams was having some real problems getting his brother's laptop connected to his network so that he could back it up and rebuild it, plus his wireless access point was doing strange things.

Thankfully, Jams found the disk to get the network card installed, so his brother's laptop could be rebuilt. The bad news, though, is that his AP seems to be b0rken - one of the lights just doesn't want to come on and it was impossible to connect to it, even via direct USB cable connection.

Seeing as we managed to get that sorted out pretty quick, Jams, Rich and I headed to the driving range at Braid Hills. Golfing isn't something I've really done in ... the last twenty years or so (apart from a few rounds of a putting green with my family), but the driving range was quite fun. Today my hand is slightly sore, though. It would appear best not to rush into that kind of exercise too quickly!

Monday April 21 2003 at 12:43 GMT

Neil, Scott and I have just been out for lunch to a new place called Jimmy Chung's. They've just moved into a place a terrible bar called Old Orleans used to be, and they've really done good things with the space.

The food was varied, tasty and plentiful. The restaurant clean and staff polite and efficient. What was incredible was that it only cost £2.50, although this is a promotional price for lunch only until the end of April. Even at £5.00, it still looks good value. What is even more incredible is that the place was packed out. Completely. For me, and quite possibly for Edinburgh, this is dining on a whole new scale, so to find this place with perhaps 150 munching away PLUS about 50 people *queuing* to get in is craziness! To top the visit off, they even have fruit salad - my all time favourite sweet.

It will be interesting to see how busy it is when the price goes up, but they could well be on to a winner. Not too far from some of the main tourist areas, close to a few hotels and with a guaranteed price.

Overall, I'd rate it at 4 out of 5. The dishes are tasty, but they are not too inventive - that's catering for the masses for you. Well recommended.

Sunday April 20 2003 at 23:28 GMT

After a pretty hard night on Friday, Allan (yeah, his site is WAY out of date - mail him and tell him to sort it) and I decided to go and see Johnny English. Now, for some reason, I was sure I'd read a review saying it was quite an amusing film. Unfortunately, it was anything but.

The script seemed almost a straight rip off of Police Squad and Naked Gun jokes ... badly done. It is well worth the one-out-of-five rating it got in the List.

On Saturday morning, the aerial guy came to fix the problem of reception disappearing at times. I now have the absolute de la of aerials on my roof and a hole in my bank balance to the tune of £126! It is cool to have some new channels, but I truly cannot believe how much of it is just repeated stuff. I'm sure I've seen the same episode of some programs at least four times now (obviously I haven't watched the whole thing four times though).

I have become slightly hooked, well interested at least, on a program called The Batchelor. It's kind of like an extended Blind Date - one guy gets to pick the 'best' lady from 25. To me, it seems weird why anyone would go on a program like that, apart from to be on TV. There are just three ladies left for the batchelor to choose from now - exciting stuff. Whether any relationship that started from this procedure would ever last is anyones guess.

Sunday April 20 2003 at 23:02 GMT

Random people sending me mails via my site often makes me smile - today was one of those days. This person had found my site via a random link (I'm number two on google if you search for a hot-dog place) and had seen my pictures of the Falkirk Wheel and asked if it was worth a visit (it is!).

This reminded me that I'd seen an article on all about the Wheel, which I'd forgotten to post. Anyway, that's done now.

Friday April 18 2003 at 11:26 GMT

Japan is often hailed as where we are going in terms of mobile, particularly phone, technology. This morning's Guardian newspaper has a good article on the Japanese market, entitled Where the mobile is killing the PC, neatly summarising where the market has come from and where it is now, covering the services on offer as well as the handsets.

Japan's younger (under 25-ish) market seems to be the real driver. Apparently a surprising number of Japan's high school students graduate without learning how to use a personal computer, let alone the internet thanks to the low cost of a phone, coupled with an email address in comparison to the cost and bulk of a PC.

SMS use would appear to be WAY behind email, although picture messaging is reaching critical mass and video messaging is coming along too. Surprisingly, the article makes absolutely no mention of Instant Messaging.

Ring tones and mobile karaoke(!) have created a £427m market which will soon eclipse the music industry if it continues to grow. If that's not a hint to the record companies to get their head out the sand on digital downloads, I'm not sure what is!

Friday April 18 2003 at 09:00 GMT

I've just found this article on ZDNet talking about browsers - a good read, supporting most of the things I said on my Mobitopia post.

Thursday April 17 2003 at 16:35 GMT

It would appear that my fellow Mobitopian Seyed has sorted out his spider, and thus all the links on my blog now count towards my site valuation on Blogshares. I've added the little image, so now my site should be tradeable, I think. Get them while they're hot!

Thursday April 17 2003 at 13:06 GMT

The New York Times has a reasonably interesting article on "Camera Cellphones" in the States.

There's no real new infomation provided, but it is good to see that phones are hitting the US market much sooner than previously, helped no doubt by many manufacturers creating tri-band (GSM 900/1800/1900) phones that can be dropped into most, if not all, markets without modification.

Services similar to those here seem to be reasonably readily available, with costs on a par, or better, than here:
And speaking of ambiguity, note that you'll pay $3 to $20 more per month (on top of your regular voice plan) for the privilege of sending photos and other data wirelessly, depending on how much you intend to send. For example, T-Mobile's $3 monthly plan lets you send or receive 1 megabyte of information, which the company says is enough to handle 30 incoming or outgoing photos.
Strangely, the reviewer does not take much time discussing the Nokia 3650, despite describing it as a very powerful phone with a serious organizer, capable of running add-on programs. Instead he focuses on the circular keypad, which I've seen very few real users actually complain about.

Thursday April 17 2003 at 11:52 GMT

This is one for my Edinburgh friends (or any of them who will be in Edinburgh on May 23rd).

The Matrix:Reloaded is allegedly ( coming out on May 23rd. I'm on for seeing it then, so I'm suggesting we get numbers and book something up, well in advance. The plan is to have food first, then catch the film somewhere with mighty sight and sound - OMNI, going gold class is looking like a distinct option.

There are six or seven of us just now - if you want to join the group, let me know. Tickets are getting booked tomorrow (Friday 18th).

Wednesday April 16 2003 at 17:00 GMT

Many of us remember the so-called browser wars, when Netscape was king until Microsoft realised what they were missing out on and through some serious cash behind Internet Explorer, all but crushing Netscape into the dust. These days IE roams corporate desktops across the land.

Phones, though, are a different matter. Microsoft has a very limited hold on the market [I believe that Nokia have more OS installations than Microsoft - source forgotten, I'm afraid]. With the 'opening up' of the phone to developers, whether it be Symbian as the OS or simply Java added on, we are looking at a very different race, if it need be called that.

On my P800, the standard browser offering is reasonable. It can handle XHTML OK - not too much more exciting than that. The Opera small-screen version, on the other hand, rocks. Viewing almost any normal Web page results in perfectly viewable display, and given Opera's ability to handle a veritable smorgasbord of standards including SSL (detailed on page 4 of this PDF [230k]) we have a VERY useful tool.

Why is the browser still so important - shouldn't we now be thinking 'applications'? Well, the browser offers us a common interface to a) predominantly read-only information on the Web; b) custom systems, for example, in the corporate world, via Web front ends linked to data store backends. From a developer perspective, writing a Web front end to an application is a relatively straightforward task. From an end user perspective, most people feel comfortable operating the go, back and forward buttons.

As we slowly move to an XML and Web Services oriented future, the browser is going to retain it's position as our front end. This time, the standards appear to be somewhat better in place to ensure we don't end up with a divisive and ultimately destructive browser war.

Wednesday April 16 2003 at 12:52 GMT

Russ is working away like mad just now, knocking his incredible ideas into digital shape. He's got a week off work (God bless Easter) and is putting in some serious coding time. The rest of the world can keep up with him too, thanks to his site.

The point of this post? Ah, just some nostalgia. I remember writing my fourth year university project, working from midday through to 6am, when it was nice and quiet. I was writing a Java application, when Java was very unknown (this was '96). My eyes were being truly opened to the wonders of search engines (I think Altavista was the tool of choice), mailing lists and newsgroups. The quality of response I received to some stupidly inctricate and obscure questions was astounding. Russ seems to be getting a great level of response and help too - long live helpful people!

Wednesday April 16 2003 at 12:28 GMT

This article in the Guardian makes for some intesting reading. It is to do with the war, but take the time.

Wednesday April 16 2003 at 09:52 GMT

Jim has just posted our plans for the first Mobitopia meet. Now that it is definitely going ahead, I need to get some flights booked, accomodation sorted and meetings with friends organised. April IS the best month of the year!

Tuesday April 15 2003 at 23:32 GMT

Freeview logoToday I had a new aerial installed so that I could pick up the full range of channels offered by Freeview. I can now pick up a few more TV stations and the full range of radio stations.

I'm really quite impressed with the service, however I'm going to have to call the aerial people back. Tonight, I've had some horrible sounds and picture break-up. Ah well. I have been able to listen to 1extra, which is apparently dedicated to new black music. To be honest, I was really pleased to find the channel, but it does seem a bit strange to have that as the tagline. Maybe there are no good white rappers or drum 'n' bass artistes nowadays.

Monday April 14 2003 at 10:43 GMT logoA long time ago, when information on the Web didn't cost money, I used to quite enjoy getting my daily emails from the FT. Then my subscription got messed up, and I only recently got round to sorting it out again.

Now they are quite happy to send me daily emails with headings, but if I want any more than that, I've got to pay £4.95/month, and that doesn't even get me full access! There were a few good reports in the FTIT section that I quite wanted, so I've taken my 15 day free "level 1" trial and will see how it goes.

Sunday April 13 2003 at 21:39 GMT

I had a few bets on the Scottish Grand National, and somehow managed to pick another winner! Ryalux won by this much: |<->|. Either way I won, and all my bets were covered.

I'm now retiring from this game, before I start losing cash. Although the dog in trap 3 in the 14.15 is looking good...

Saturday April 12 2003 at 18:00 GMT

Today is my dad's birthday, so a big congratulations to him!

Friday April 11 2003 at 15:44 GMT

Finally, I've done it - I now have a subscription to Wired! I cunningly persuaded my parents, brother and sister to get that for me. I have no need for anything else (apart from a Porsche 911 in silver ... and a driving licence) so this means they get me a great present without having to worry, and I get something I really want.

Friday April 11 2003 at 14:47 GMT

Just a reminder that the London Marathon is this weekend, and sponsorship is still being taken. Sophie can be sponsored here and Karen can be sponsored here.

Friday April 11 2003 at 01:57 GMT

Three, the first 3G network to launch in the UK, have extended their generous 50% reduction on handset costs to their pay-as-you-go package, 3ToGo:
New offer - You can now get a 50% discount off the full price of a NEC e606 handset when you register for 3toGo before the end of April 2003 (cannot be combined with any other handset discount offer). This means you pay only £199.50 for your handset with no monthly line rental and no minimum term contract.
[Apparently the offer is extended to all three handsets, despite this wording.]
This would seem to suggest a pretty slow take-up of the new service, although according to this Register article Three had 10,000 pre-orders at the beginning of March. That article also quotes an FT article suggesting consumers are not taking to the new technology.

At the moment, I can see three(!) main problems:

  1. Three have very limited presence on the high street. I called in to several (can I say three again?) big-name phone stores on the main shopping street here in Edinburgh. Asking for information on Three, I got blank stares or asked to wait while someone else was called to try and talk to me. Trying to reserve a phone - forget it! At the moment, Joe Public are unlikely to ever see a Three phone, so considering one for their upgraded/new phone seems unlikely.
  2. The public are sceptical of the statements made by phone companies. Ref: WAP. Why do we actually need video clips on phones? Didn't video phones die quietly in a corner?
  3. The handsets are plain ugly. When you compare the Three handsets to something sleek like the Siemens S55 or feature-packed like the P800, they pale into insignificance.

In saying all that, I'm not a doom-monger. It is early days, and building momentum and getting the phones into stores will happen, which will get them into the consumer psyche which will perpetuate sales. The public will get excited by what can be done with video phones - "hi dad, surprise! We're just married ... in Vegas, by Elvis" - and the new services yet to be designed. Handsets will improve - I'm particularly looking forward to the SonyEricsson Z1010.

Jim has already said he thinks things are going OK for Three. We'll be watching closely and hoping he's right.

Thursday April 10 2003 at 17:18 GMT

Well, I've finally had enough of my current hosting provider, so I'm off to try somewhere else. It's going to be an interesting exercise carting my entire site, especially given that it is almost entirely database driven nowadays. My account should be being set up right now, so I should be able to move in the next few days. Hopefully you should notice no difference. Let's see how smooth I can be.

Thursday April 10 2003 at 10:37 GMT

This story is currently riding high on daypop. It's kind of an intriguing story, somehow. Boy meets girl, girl turns out to be a crazy nutcase ... that kind of thing. Read it if you've got a moment.

Thursday April 10 2003 at 10:30 GMT

As I was going to HoTMaiL to delete all the junk I am sent on a daily basis, I accidently clicked on something and ended up at the M*N homepage. On there, middle of the main section, is the following advert:
Download your favourite tunes and stream videos 10x faster than ever before. Click here to find out more.

So, being an inquisitive person, I clicked on the link, which took me to this page (only linked to for validation of my post purposes). What FREE BROADBAND CONNECTION means is literally that - they don't charge you for the initial connection setup once you've signed up to pay for a year. What it implies, however, is that you don't pay for a broadband connection. Grrrr - large corporates with their bs advertising!

Thursday April 10 2003 at 00:29 GMT

I've been puttering away at my code again tonight, and once again I am pleased. I've now added an edit function to the posts, so I don't have to play directly with the database (I've already managed to accidently delete a comment - it's the visual tool I'm using...).

So, the only thing I really have left from my original requirements is to sort out the archiving side of things, and I have a fine workaround for that at the moment. Now the new ideas can flow!

My Moblog (it was going to be called latest - in fact I may still use that) is not working. My original idea was to take pictures with my phone, email them to my site and have them stored in their own special place. On reflection, this just seems silly. What I should really be doing is integrating this new content feed into my existing site structure, making it feel part of the family!

My revised plan is for me to be able to email pictures from my phone, which will go into a gallery called latest (auto-thumbnailing is now a key requirement) and then for an entry to appear in my main blog, perhaps with the thumbnail or else a logo. That way, seeing when I've updated is simple and included in my RSS feed, instead of having two Web pages to check.

That'll be my next few nights busy, then! At least after that, I'll feel that I have a good platform to work from.

Wednesday April 9 2003 at 17:23 GMT

I've been running RedHat linux in my house for ages - in fact, since I got ADSL installed in December 2001. Thanks to John having the version 7.3, I never actually got round to buying anything. I've downloaded and upgraded to version 8.

The RedHat update system (up2date) works very well - I get an email to inform me something has changed, I run the software which gets the updated RPM then installs it for me (just like WindowsUpdate, with fewer crashes and smaller file sizes ;-). Until now, I've used a free demo account, but with the release of RedHat9 (more later), the load on the servers has been huge, apparently, so my demo account has been kicked out.

I reckoned I'd had fantastic value for money from RedHat, so thought I should really give something back, so I've signup up for a proper account on the RedHat Network, which gives me priority access to servers when there is heavy load. I caught up with the few new RPMs I was missing over the weekend.

As I said, RedHat9 is now available via download - this is a week ahead of the official in-store release. Seeing as I had the opportunity, I downloaded the three CDs worth of install. I decided to see what was new and improved in this version, seeing as I've not long ago moved to RedHat8. A whole version jump normally signals something BIG, yet all I can find is the marketing blurb. A quick google turned up a good article on LinuxPlanet. It seems that this release is a quite polished Linux distribution. My main installation at home works as my firewall/Web server/MP3 server etc. I am now considering installing it on a desktop and using it in anger.

Wednesday April 9 2003 at 14:12 GMT

Thanks to this guy, when I update my site it's pinging Now, if someone could just explain to me WHY I actually want to do this, that'd be great. It seems to be the one question not asked and answered on the FAQ.

I tried to get it to auto-update as well, but I'm getting errors, even though I followed the instructions. Will need to look again later, but they already take a feed from, so I am kind of on there already.

My thinkthin project is giving me quite a pleasing sense of achievement - I've written (hacked together!) quite a handy little piece of software which is already allowing me plenty of flexibility. So glad I've made the jump.

Wednesday April 9 2003 at 02:19 GMT

If I'd thought about it, I should have pre-ordered this a while ago, instead of now being at the end of the queue. Either way, I've laid my cash on the table and asked Brando to send me a 128MB stick.

According to this thread, Brando are already shipping them to pre-order customers. Stock should become more readily available over the next week or so, I hope.

Once I have that, my phone really will rock down - I'll be able to carry almost two albums with me (or more if I drop the recording rate).

Wednesday April 9 2003 at 02:13 GMT

Aha! After a quick scratch of the head, my RSS feed should be back up and running. I've even got a nice little sticker to prove it:

[Valid RSS]

I'm going to do some more to it, to make it nice and pretty, but for now it will do.

Wednesday April 9 2003 at 01:42 GMT

Over the last few nights I've been knocking my blog tool (AKA thinkthin) into shape. I do now feel that it is actually getting somewhere, which is nice.

Tonight John helped me sort out an annoying problem with the comments system, so that is working quite nicely now, and I managed to get some formatting done too. Posting from my phone is working beautifully and I've included an indicator to show when I'm doing that.

There are, of course, still loads of things to work on. For some reason, my RSS feed is just not working - it's throwing errors for everything (any thoughts gratefully received). Categories was something I had planned to implement, but I've decided to hold off for the moment - I can't see too much value in it now. I could do with a hand using XML-RPC to ping the various update sites; again, any help would be appreciated.

PHP is such a great language to work with - so flexible and straightforward for a coding dummy like me. Time for sleep before I think of any more features!

Tuesday April 8 2003 at 14:08 GMT

Another Mobitopia post:

This article in the Register caught my interest. Transat have developed a technology (registration required) that will allow WiFi and GSM users to roam between networks and technologies, using smartcard technology with one billing point:

Working together, the three companies [Transat, Gemplus and Performance Technologies (PTIX)] were able to unify WLAN networks with the GSM network community allowing subscribers to roam between networks and yet have a single identity and receive just one bill.

Add smartcard authentication, and you have WLAN users able to roam freely between WLAN and GPRS networks, without having to sign onto a new Megabeam or OpenZone or Costa Coffee or Starbucks or hotel-based mini-LAN every time you go more than 30 feet away.

"The use of the smart card allows enterprises, mobile, and fixed network operators to offer secure WLAN roaming to their customers over their existing infrastructure," said the release. "Residential WLANs also benefit from the trusted security model based on SIM functionality."

If WiFi ever has a chance of getting some real support and usage in Europe ("over here") then I think this has to be it.

As long as consumer costs for using the WiFi network(s) are kept to a reasonable level, then I think we could have a good next step. Mobile phone companies already have extensive billing systems in place for handling micropayments and are used to dealing with SIMs for identity and access rights.

Orange in France are already playing with something like this on a smaller scale, although the test is using equipment solely owned by Orange. Taking a further step to the smartcard model seems just SO logical.

Monday April 7 2003 at 22:08 GMT

I hooked up my ADSL connection in December 2001, and it's been on for most of that time. BT have just reduced the wholesale price a touch more, and Zen have passed on the reduction. When I first signed up, I think I paid something like £60 connection, and £52.88 per month. I'm now paying £28/month - almost half price - and there is now no connection cost.

These price drops are incredible. Compared to my mobile phone costs, which have gone up over the same time. It's a strange world.

Monday April 7 2003 at 12:34 GMT

It's coming up to my birthday (25th of this month), so it's likely I'm going to do something on either the Friday and/or Saturday night. Seeing as most of my friends (you) read my site, I'll save myself the bother of emailing and just say watch this space.

Straight after that, I'm going to head down to London. I haven't been there for about 18 months, somehow, so I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of people. The other reason is to attend the AllAboutSymbian meet, and to catch up with some of my fellow Mobitopians. I think I'll be down from the 28th until the 30th of April, so let me know if you're going to be around, or if there is something I should really visit or do.

Monday April 7 2003 at 12:18 GMT

One of the mailing lists I'm on noted this, from the Three Web site:
New offer - You can now get a 50% discount off the full price of a NEC e606 handset when you register for 3toGo before the end of April 2003 (cannot be combined with any other handset discount offer). This means you pay only £199.50 for your handset with no monthly line rental and no minimum term contract.

I've been seriously considering moving to Three, but the costs have been just too high. It looks as though I could now make the move for experimental purposes. Must check my bank balance.

Monday April 7 2003 at 12:15 GMT

After aiming for a quiet and productive weekend, I have to admit I completely failed.

Friday night's trip to Glasgow was a bit of a farce - our taxibus dropped six of us off around 10pm, then we found the club. The beer was not free (in fact, it was very expensive), so we left there and headed to Locomotiv, to meet the people we should have met in the party. We had a few beers there, then it was time for us to get back into our taxi and head home. Three stayed, three left. We stopped at my house to get some beers, got to Jams and Rich's flat, popped on a DVD ... then all fell asleep in our chairs. Hardcore.

Saturday, I did some things around the house, picked up a booster for my aerial (no difference in channels picked up) then walked home from town in the glorious sunshine. I backed a few horses in the Grand National, and Monty's Pass managed to come in first! I only bet a few pounds, but at 16-1 I was happy with my return. Jams had an idea to go for a drive in his car and get some food, so we zoomed (VERY literally) down to Biggar. The car is great - really sticks to the road. Oh, and it can go quite fast, too. We stuck to all the speed limits. ;-) Our food was pretty good - we'd been aiming to find a wee country restaurant, but could only find an oriental place. Ah, how times change.

I went down to see Robbie on Sunday, to put together some sofas and play with him. He's really becoming a wee boy now and is brilliant fun, although lots of running around makes me tired. We watched Carlisle (my dad's home town) lose to Bristol City in the LDV Vans Trophy in Cardiff and the boat race where I had another winning bet - Oxford. Even though they were the underdog, the odds were pretty slim at 11-10, so I didn't make much on that one. My fourth bet of the year will be next weekend, for the Scottish Grand National. Let's see if my luck holds.

After a winter of Sunday closings, Oloroso is opening again, so we had a show of strength and had a few beers there. Luckily I had the sense to get some food and water before sleeping last night.

Saturday April 5 2003 at 00:41 GMT [via mobile]

Tonight was not quite as advertised-in fact, we should have saved the 20+ cab fare and stayed at home. Still, it was nice to be out in Glasgow..

Friday April 4 2003 at 17:16 GMT

Wired is the only magazine I read in hard copy format, and have done so for quite some years now. It has really remained great - I also read the daily newsletters.

It has now been publishing for 10 years. This month's edition celebrates that fact. Happy Birthday.




Friday April 4 2003 at 16:26 GMT

Jams has managed to swing entrance to an after-film-premiere party for a few of us tonight. We're not sure what film it is for, but allegedly the beer is free, so we're hopping in a cab to take us from Edinburgh to Glasgow. Should be fun!

As always, enjoy your weekend!

Friday April 4 2003 at 16:23 GMT

I saw Micheal Moore's Bowling for Columbine a while ago in the cinema and thought it was pretty good. When he got his Oscar I was pleased to see that a good, interesting docu-film had won.

However, according to this article, much of the information was purposefully edited to fit with Moore's point of view, including some of the speeches by Charlton Heston used as key points in the film.

If what this article is saying is true, it is a very poor show by Moore. If anyone has a copy of the film and can verify some of the points made in the article, I'd be interested to hear from you.

Friday April 4 2003 at 14:54 GMT

I use Instant Messaging a lot when I'm at a computer, and I've got used to a little bit of messaging on my T68 using the Yahoo! WAP service, although it's pretty clunky.

When I got my P800, I was really looking forward to using a proper IM client, and now I've found one - TipicME. Once I'd set up my Tipic account (alternatively I could have used a Jabber account) I installed the app then logged on and added my Yahoo! and MSN accounts with no problems. The application is using 126kb according to my storage manager.

Using the application is very straightforward (as it should be!). Messages are sent and received instantly, as expected. Multiple conversations are possible, with new messages being indicated at the top of the existing messaging screen. Clicking the indicator takes you to the first of the new messages received. The only things I feel are missing are a handy 'back to main screen' button from the conversation screen and animated smileys a la Yahoo!. ;-)

Bandwith usage is about 19k to start and log in, which I feel is a touch on the high side but is possibly due to the large friends list I have (most of my work colleagues are on there). A conversation takes very little on top of that - maybe 2k-4k.

The TipicME site says it is cheaper to use IM than to chat via SMS. Some quick calculations indicate that this could be correct, but that assumes you go online and stay online.

Based on my existing costs of 5p (€0.06) per SMS and £8 (€12) for 4MB of GPRS, the worst case example of going connecting, having a conversation then disconnecting would give about 40 conversations per MB (25k/conversation), or 50p per conversation. Even compared to a few SMS, this still looks pricey. A better (and possible more realistic) case would be to go online and have, say, 10 conversations, which may only be 40k. This would give about 25 of these connections per MB, so say 250 conversations, making the cost less than 1p each - a real cost saving, as well as the benefits of instantaneous conversation and not having to send multiple SMS.

Overall, it's a neat little app that I see myself using regularly. Well recommended.

Thursday April 3 2003 at 14:25 GMT

CNN/Reuters: News reports have filtered out early this morning that US forces have swooped on an Iraqi Primary School and detained 6th Grade teacher Mohammed Al-Hazar.

Sources indicate that, when arrested, Al-Hazar was in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a set square and a calculator.

US President George W Bush argued that this was clear and overwhelming evidence that Iraq indeed possessed weapons of maths instruction.

Thursday April 3 2003 at 13:35 GMT

Another thing I need to do is have it ping The only problem with writing my own blog software is that I need to support it too. ;-)

Thursday April 3 2003 at 03:03 GMT [via mobile]

This is coming from my phone. De la!

Thursday April 3 2003 at 02:57 GMT

I should of course have said that I am very interested in any feedback: bugs, queries, ideas....

Thursday April 3 2003 at 02:50 GMT

Well, tonight has been, by all accounts, fantastically successful. I've managed to write a blogging application in PHP & MySQL, which gives me a pretty good basis to work on from here.
The key achievements of the night were:
  • user interface (I use those terms VERY losely) written, allowing blog entries to be made via the Web or WAP
  • replication of look and feel of blogger site
  • RSS/XML feed created (note: NEW LOCATION)
  • password protection of update pages

There are still plenty of things to do, however! There is no real archiving function - it's a bit of a fudge just now. I have not implemented the categories feature I had planned and the comments are still file based using Javascript. There is no mobile version, either.
In saying that, I will sleep happy. Goodnight.

Wednesday April 2 2003 at 16:15 GMT

My fellow Mobitopian Seyed has set up a crazy site called Blogshares, where you can fantasy trade blog shares. I had been watching this riding high on Daypop, but it didn't mean much to me until I read this post over at You can see how my own blog is doing here. For some reason, it's not picking up my outgoing links, which is kind of annoying, as I'm nowhere near the $1000 level to get an IPO. I think my (X)HTML is well formed at my links - will need to check.

Wednesday April 2 2003 at 01:36 GMT

Right now I am busy like a bee, helping people sort out buying computers, fixing computers, 'modifying' their DVD players... This coming weekend, Allan is heading off to Dublin, so I am planning to lock myself indoors and clear out some of the tasks hanging over my head for a while now. I'm actually really looking forward to that thought.
Rich has suggested that we (some of my friends I regularly enjoy a pint with) cut out drinking for the month of April. Clearly that is not going to happen as it is my birthday this month, but I am at least aiming for a marked cut-down, possibly even April minus (my birthday drinks). Recently it has all been getting a bit too regular.
I have no travel planned for April, as yet. Suggestions are welcome. I'm considering London, or else a birthday weekend with the boys in Dublin.

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