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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 November 30 2003 at 17:42 GMT [via mobile]

At the park with Robbie. MP4 video [Need help to see the video?]

Saturday November 29 2003 at 03:39 GMT

I have a friend of a friend who is involed in a bike storage competition at university. The four designs are online now, and you can vote on the winner until Sunday 30th November. Obviously, I can't say which one you should vote for, but I personally think that TEAM B have done a really great job with the VertiGear. ;-)

Friday November 28 2003 at 23:44 GMT [via mobile]

Is this the weirdest pint of Guinness you\'ve ever seen?

Is this the weirdest pint of Guinness you've ever seen?

Friday November 28 2003 at 16:11 GMT [via mobile]

I missed the big Edinburgh Christmas lights switch-on last night, so here is Mahyad turning his on.

I missed the big Edinburgh Christmas lights switch-on last night, so here is Mahyad turning his on.

Friday November 28 2003 at 01:18 GMT

I just took this digital IQ test. I'll leave my score in the comments below, so that you can complete the test and then leave your score too. If you can top my score (without cheating), I'll buy you a beer!

Comments by some of the others who have completed the survey are here.

Thursday November 27 2003 at 23:28 GMT [via mobile]

A short video from the match. Hearts lost 2-0 tonight and 2-1 overall. Good fun, though. MP4 video [Help]

Thursday November 27 2003 at 19:32 GMT [via mobile]

Watching Hearts play Bordeaux.  Should be fun.

Watching Hearts play Bordeaux. Should be fun.

Wednesday November 26 2003 at 23:46 GMT

Back in September I had a discussion with the editor of Business2.0, Josh Quittner, about why I couldn't pay a few dollars and access the subscription content on the site. The crux of my argument was that I don't want a hard copy, I want immediate access only -- why is that not available. There is also a cost consideration here. Seeing as I live outside the States, the yearly subscription cost for a years access is USD 59, compared to USD 7.49 inside the States (subscribing gives allows online access through a long winded process).

Since then, I've pretty much stopped reading the site, seeing as most of the interesting stuff is locked against me. Dave reminded me about it last night, then quickly whipped up an online petition. If you would like to read the site without getting a mailbox full of dead tree, then I would very much encourage you to sign on the line.

Wednesday November 26 2003 at 01:09 GMT

Susumu Yokota -- laputa

I'm currently listening to Susumu Yokota's laputa. Highly recommended (after a quick online listen, to confirm you like that kind of music ;-).

Wednesday November 26 2003 at 01:00 GMT

Tuesday November 25 2003 at 14:24 GMT

The council are at it again. They want to increase the controlled parking zone, taking in a massive swathe of Edinburgh. I live about two miles from the city centre, and the council are offering to put set car park spaces in my street, and then charge residents with cars eighty pounds per year purely for administration of the scheme (yeah, right).

There is an ongoing effort to get people to protest, and a Web site with pre-prepared letters is here. If you live in this area, PLEASE fill out a letter, to be returned by the 1st of December.

I'm hoping that the localfeeds aggregation of blogs will come into play here, and others in my area will see this.

Tuesday November 25 2003 at 14:07 GMT [via mobile]

The council are trying to increase the area that requires a permit to park in. Residents are fighting back.

The council are trying to increase the area that requires a permit to park in. Residents are fighting back.

Tuesday November 25 2003 at 01:54 GMT

I have some friends in Wellington (New Zealand). Its going to be (one of) the first places to show the third, and final, Lord of the Rings film. Here are a few picture taken around Wellington by Sarah and Stuart. Looks cool!

Lord of the Rings in Wellington 1

Lord of the Rings in Wellington 2

Monday November 24 2003 at 02:17 GMT

Monday November 24 2003 at 01:47 GMT

Over the weekend I read on some site (I've lost the link :-( ) that if you are not commenting when you have something to say, or not even reading the comments, then you are missing half the fun of the site. I totally agree with the sentiment -- I really love getting constructive comments on posts.

With this in mind, I thought I should point out that you can quickly and easily see all the latest comments on my site using the comments link above (you can even have them via RSS if you prefer).

Over the next week, I'm going to add the five most recent comments to the front page, I think. In the mean time, if you have something to say, please go ahead.

Monday November 24 2003 at 01:13 GMT

Power Devil drillI've been after a cordless drill for a while, simply because when I need to drill something, it is often when the power is off (like putting in lighting). Jams gave me the spec for what I really needed in a cordless drill when I bought my corded drill, but I simply couldn't afford to splash out the hundred odd pounds required.

So when my local hardware store dropped a nice booklet through my door the other week, offering a 24v cordless hammer drill, with variable speed and keyless chuck for a bargain 35 pounds, I felt I just had to be there... It is a brand I am not at all familiar with (Power Devil), but it seems to be reasonable enough. The instructions for using the keyless chuck unfortunately missed a key instruction, so as a result my hands are kind of red from trying to twist unnecessarily!

There were a few jobs that I had left uncompleted for a while, so when I got my new drill I sorted out the living room light fitting, put up a new mirror in my hall and put the blue ropelight in place. I'm liking it thus far! Let me know if you need anything drilled... ;-)

Sunday November 23 2003 at 19:03 GMT [via mobile]

I\'ve been doing a few tasks around my house today (see later posting for full details).  I finally put my blue ropelight into some kind of position and it looks pretty cool, although maybe not bright enough.

I've been doing a few tasks around my house today (see later posting for full details). I finally put my blue ropelight into some kind of position and it looks pretty cool, although maybe not bright enough.

Saturday November 22 2003 at 19:11 GMT [via mobile]

I visited I. J. Mellis to check the shop out and to buy some sausages.  These Italian sausages looked good.  Let\'s hope they are worth *every* penny they cost!  Review soon.

I visited I. J. Mellis to check the shop out and to buy some sausages. These Italian sausages looked good. Let's hope they are worth *every* penny they cost! Review soon.

Saturday November 22 2003 at 12:15 GMT

Last time Eric and Karen were in town, we were discussing the possibility of having blogs output to book format. Andrew Losowsky has done it with his Barcablog! The result is available via Cafepress. Looks good. [Via Ben Hammersley]

Saturday November 22 2003 at 11:50 GMT

I really do enjoy eating food. Often, it actually gives me a little 'high' right after eating. Thanks to this Popular Science article, I now partly know why I can eat so much -- my stomach simply has plenty of space to expand!

This weekend I'm aiming to test that theory out. Weekends are always best for eating.

Thursday November 20 2003 at 18:24 GMT

The football last night was very painful. I can't actually bring myself to mention the score here. It would appear that the Dutch side is actually quite good... ;-)

On a brighter note, Allan and Viv (her site is down right now) were both there, as well as some of Allan's friends. It was a good few beers, and a reasonably sensible night.

Thursday November 20 2003 at 00:47 GMT

Wednesday November 19 2003 at 19:15 GMT

A new science centre has opened in London, hoping to attract people there, instead of the pub. I'll be sure to visit it when I am there in December.

Wednesday November 19 2003 at 19:12 GMT

This is a great Lego roundup by the Scotsman. I've seen most of the sites mentioned (and, indeed, have posted them here), but I'm sure there are a few that have somehow escaped my attention. I'm so lucky to have a Godson who loves Lego, so that I can demonstrate how to make the most of it. ;-)

Wednesday November 19 2003 at 15:37 GMT

Tonight is a big game for the Scottish football team, as they go to Holland for the return leg of the match we won on Saturday. Allan is in town for one night only, so we're planning a few beers (at Doctors on Forrest Road from 7.30pm -- please feel free to come along) and loud cheers for the team. It's a big match, with entry to the 2004 European Championships at stake.

As is traditional, there was a report from Amsterdam, saying that all the tickets had gone for the stadium. However, instead of asking fans without tickets to stay away, they were being actively encouraged to go to Amsterdam. The exact quote escapes me, but it went something along the lines of: yes, all the tickets for the game have gone, but we would really encourage Scottish fans to come over to Amsterdam. There is no history of trouble between Dutch and Scottish supporters and I'm sure there will be a great party, whatever the outcome. This was from the chief of Dutch police! What a fantastic reputation to precede the Tartan Army.

There is a real excitement here after the weekend win, so it should be a good night. Here's a few pictures of the Scots fans in Amsterdam.

Wednesday November 19 2003 at 02:44 GMT

eBook on my P900This post by Ben, which I found via the Edinburgh localfeed, prompted me to comment. To be honest, I don't read that many books, let alone eBooks, but I thought I should really find out more after Russ had so much fun with them during summer.

I decided to play safe, and see what was out there for the P800. My first google didn't disappoint; top link: Mobipocket Reader is included in your Sony Ericsson P800 Phone. So, if it was there for the P800 ... it should be there for the P900. Quick check on the CD, installation via infrared, and I have an eBook reader. Cool.

Mobipocket online store Now I need something to read. Memoware popped up, and I quickly found the humor[sic] section and downloaded The Intrusion of Jimmy by P. G. Wodehouse for free. To be honest, I'm not sure why it is free, but I'm not complaining. If I get into it, I'll be sure to use Memoware ongoing -- their selection seemed pretty good indeed.

The actual experience of reading a book on my phone is kind of amusing, although I guess it is no more amusing then reading a Web site on it (in fact, less so). Mobipocket Reader has all kinds of options to let me change the colour of the background and text, use automatic scrolling and rotate the screen through 90 degrees (widescreen books -- so terribly 21st century!). The glaring ommision was the ability to use the entire screen for reading, instead of a window in the UI.

Inside the app there is a handy link to the Mobipocket store, which features a pared down interface and a broken search facility. The ability to download an entire book to my phone whilst on the move does seem pretty cool, especially if I just end up paying for the data cost!

Wednesday November 19 2003 at 01:29 GMT

SliMP3 Squeezebox It's been a big day for digital audio! Today, Slimdevices announced their latest product, the Squeezebox. Essentially, it is the same as my SliMP3, but with built in WiFi (802.11b) and a digital output (plus a new case). I am a little annoyed to have bought one just a few months ago and for it to already be 'old', but, as one of my colleagues said, that's the price I pay for being on the leading edge.

The Squeezebox has received some nice coverage on Gizmodo and some pretty excited coverage on Slashdot. I reckon they've really hit the jackpot with this device. The original SliMP3 was about getting the hardware right, the server software in place and, most importantly, building a really great community of people all willing to improve the (open source server) product and help others (check out the great mailing lists for evidence).

Adding built-in WiFi removes the need for messing around with offboard bridges -- something I am toiling with right now. Sticking with 802.11b instead of stretching to 802.11g ensures the largest possible market is covered, as well as keeping a few extra dollars of component costs. Given the proliferation of home (and small commercial -- I'm thinking coffee shops, bars, bookshops...) wireless networks, this device is set to really go places.

The optical output has been long talked about on the email discussion list, so it is a great way of saying to those who have contributed "thanks for your input; we've listened and delivered". Again, it broadens the range of people it might appeal to. Serious listeners with expensive hi-fi's get to use that equipment, so in the end it comes down to MP3 ripping quality. Adding additional codec support, especially WAV, is also a nod to the list and, once again, increases the potential audience.

The timing of this announcement is also perfect, with Christmas (or do we have to call it the holiday season) approaching fast. Huge congratulations to Sean and the team. Let's hope it all goes smoothly.

Today's FT has an interesting look at the marked decrease in separate hi-fi component sales. I have to admit to being completely unaware of the huge decrease. According to the article In 1999, according to CEA figures, 270,000 stand-alone audio components were sold in the US. This year the total is likely to be about 20,000. From hi-fi to no-fi in 48 months. MAN!!! Sales have not decreased. They have almost stopped! Maybe the Squeezebox will turn out to be the saviour of hi-fi, or at least powered speaker units.

Tuesday November 18 2003 at 23:33 GMT

I was chatting to Christie on IM today, when she asked why my blog was called thinkThin. The two reasons are:
  1. I like the thin-computing-stylee (not just desktops, but mobile devices, for example, too)
  2. seeing as I have spent my entire life being thin, it is my mindset

Well, accoring to IDC, thin (computing) is back in. Therefore, YOU are reading exactly where it's at, yessiree.

Tuesday November 18 2003 at 23:22 GMT

Today's Guardian has a great piece covering travel tips, some of which do actually sound useful:
A dose of culture - If you are in a country/region for the first time, it can sometimes be good to have a local yoghurt or similar, as this will give you a small dose of local bacteria and will give you a better chance of avoiding stomach upsets.

Tuesday November 18 2003 at 23:14 GMT

A while back, a petition was started to enourage Sony Ericsson to upgrade the firmware of the P800 to the same level of the new P900, with UIQ 2.1 instead of 2.0. At first glance it might seem like a phone is a phone, buy a new one if you need the software upgraded so much, but remember, many people paid at least GBP 300 for these devices often less than six months ago. In addition, Sony Ericsson documents state that major upgrades to the firmware would happen, even when new phones superceded the P800.

It seems the petition has had little effect, with Sony Ericsson saying the upgrade isn't going to happen. Technical issues are cited.

Now owning a P900, I have to say that I totally agree with the final quote in this article:

We all feel like testers for the P900, who have paid through the nose for the privilege; it feels like Sony Ericsson is trying to milk its high end users by making them upgrade to expensive new hardware to get software improvements.

Sony Ericsson have a very good history of significant phone firmware upgrades. I'm hoping they watch the reaction to this latest statement and reconsider their thoughts.

Tuesday November 18 2003 at 09:47 GMT [via mobile]

Purveyor of all things cheese and provision oriented, I. J. Mellis has taken a shop just across from my flat. Double handy!

Purveyor of all things cheese and provision oriented, I. J. Mellis has taken a shop just across from my flat. Double handy!

Tuesday November 18 2003 at 01:56 GMT

Three cool tech things that piqued my interest today:
  • [via dwlt] localfeeds -- an aggregation of blogs organised geographically. Here's the feed for sites with 45 miles of Edinburgh. Dave and I are attempting to take it over! ;-) Nice fun.
  • more from Chris Heathcote -- RSS weather. Here's the feed for Edinburgh in celsius (add an f on the end if you are from the school of old ;-). I'm going to give this a go and see how accurate it is. To be honest, the weather in Scotland at this time of the year is ... going to be cold, windy and likely rainy, with possible sunshine. Each day I somehow manage to be unpreprared!
  • [via Chris] in Japan you can now check bank queues from your phone, if you still do that whole quaint going-to-the-bank thing

Tuesday November 18 2003 at 01:39 GMT

Chris Heathcote posted a link on #mobitopia just before I was heading home today that I saved for later perusal. After work I went to the gym, then home to make food and eat. After that my parents called to tell me about their excellent weekend in Londonshire with my brother (who has posted a blog from his phone!).

My dad is a chef by profession (now retired), and he used to work at Browns Hotel in Mayfair, London a loooong time ago; he had never seen the dining room. My parents visited, ate there and had a great evening. They also visited the Tate Modern and saw the huge sun and lay on their backs in the turbine hall, looking up at it.

Right now I'm doing my evening close-down of stories I saw during the day but didn't have time to read ... when I came back upon Chris's story. I decided to take a stroll through the rest of his site when I found ... a really cool picture of lots of people lying on their backs looking at the 'sun'. Circles are great.

Monday November 17 2003 at 19:50 GMT

I've finally got my brother sorted out for moblogging -- first entry is here. When I registered a few weeks back, there was no joy via MfOP2, but I guess I must have done something incorrectly as this time it worked straight off. What a great service!

Monday November 17 2003 at 16:32 GMT

I forgot to say that yesterday was Jill's birthday, and today is my brother's birthday. Congratulations to you both.

Monday November 17 2003 at 13:46 GMT

dwlt has (rightly) been getting some VERY nice mentions for his fantastic Tapestry service (RSS delivery of daily comics). He's just had a lovely mention on Boing Boing, which is sure to send his site traffic through the roof.

My friend Dave! On Boing Boing! THIS is rock and roll! Go go Mighty Dave!!!

Monday November 17 2003 at 02:53 GMT

Monday November 17 2003 at 01:58 GMT [via mobile]

A test of my video upload script. MP4 video [Help]

Monday November 17 2003 at 00:52 GMT

I'm going to start posting some small videos taken with my P900 here. All you need to view them is Quicktime 6.4 (or greater).

Monday November 17 2003 at 00:28 GMT

Meet Joe Black When I got home tonight my Internet connection was down, so I decided to stay disconnected from the online world (well, I kept my phone on) and watch a DVD I borrowed ages ago, Meet Joe Black.

I have to say that I really quite enjoyed it. Certainly parts of the plot required a stretch of the imagination but it is a story where death (Death?) stops by and takes over an otherwise dead persons body to learn about life. Overall it was a nice story, though, and it's nice when a film makes you think, and MJB certainly did that for me.

It even ended with one of my favourite tunes EVER, Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. Perhaps I was meant to watch that film, which is why my Internet connection was down.

Anyway, if you haven't seen it and find yoursef with the opportunity to do so, I recommend it.

Monday November 17 2003 at 00:16 GMT

I made my list of things to do this weekend, then promptly ditched it. Friday was pretty quiet, involving working late then a curry. Saturday was getting up late after a well-required and very nice sleep, a quick gym visit and then watching a mighty Scottish football team beat the Netherlands 1-0. Talk about edge-of-the-seat stuff! The return leg on Wednesday is going to be fun too. John, Max and I had a pretty quiet evening in, watching some random TV and chatting.

Sunday has been all go. I had intended to get up early to watch the England v France rugby match, but only made the second half with Neil and Ker. Then Neil and I got a decent breakfast at the Waiting Room, then the three of us head up to see Finding Nemo at the Dominion, our handy local cinema. I have to say I liked parts of it, but it is very much a film for the kids. Neil seemed to enjoy it though.

After that, we took a walk into town and I got some CDs and other random stuff. We intended to head to a new sports bar which has all kinds of technologicalness in it to see the English football match, but as it happened we were too early and there were no boothes available. Instead we walked up the stinking News Steps (why on EARTH are they allowed to fester in such a state, linking a shiny new expensive hotel to its shiny new bar???) and went to North Bridge, which is apparently, the definitive Edinburgh brasserie. The guy who served us wasn't quite upholding that image with his smug attitude, but the surroundings were nice.

A swift bus ride home and we were ... back in the Waiting Room, where we ended up grabbing some tasty fajitas for dinner. Ah, yes...

Sunday November 16 2003 at 23:52 GMT

My connection to the world has come back to life. Some kind of authentication error or something. Hello world. :-)

Sunday November 16 2003 at 23:31 GMT [via mobile]

Post Finding Nemo drinks with Ker & Neil at North Bridge.

Post Finding Nemo drinks with Ker & Neil at North Bridge.

Sunday November 16 2003 at 20:05 GMT [via mobile]

My ADSL connection is down, so I'm surfing from my phone. Ah well, maybe time for a DVD then an early night. It feels strangely nice to be disco'd. I was going to IM & IRC from my phone too, but ... time out.

Saturday November 15 2003 at 18:26 GMT [via mobile]

Max does smiles. :-)

Max does smiles. :-)

Friday November 14 2003 at 14:22 GMT

Guinness is good for you

It's official -- Guinness really IS good for you. As a Guinness-drinking expert, I feel very pleased to know that I am actually looking after my body when I enjoy a pint, not just drinking a beer (although my head sometimes disagrees with that statement ;-).

Tonight I think that instead of going to the gym, I will go and look after my body in a cosy pub. Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday November 13 2003 at 02:19 GMT [via mobile]

Today dad & I have been BUSY.  We\'ve done a load of painting and things including boxing some ugly pipes in.  Almost there...  Sidenote: this is the first published picture from my P900.

Today dad & I have been BUSY. We've done a load of painting and things including boxing some ugly pipes in. Almost there... Sidenote: this is the first published picture from my P900.

Thursday November 13 2003 at 01:03 GMT

In the last week or so I've spoken to both dwlt and Jim about finding out exactly who reads my blog. Today I read that Howard at Smartmobs has just asked his audience that very question.

Each day, this site gets somewhere in the region of 190 visitor sessions and it seriously intrigues me as to who is stopping by. So, I'm going to claim that I thought of the idea before Howard, and ask that if you read this, you leave a comment below. Obviously, you don't have to leave your real name (although that makes it more interesting for me). I would ask that you leave a proper email address -- this will never be displayed online, but I can view it and see who you are. As for the message ... say whatever you like. :-)

Wednesday November 12 2003 at 02:26 GMT

Dad is over just now. We've had a rocking evening chatting, painting, eating and having a few beers and playing some pool. He's got a great idea for a small sideline that he's been kicking around for a while. It looks like he's about to get into it, full steam ahead. As soon as more details are available, you know where you'll find them!

Tomorrow I'm taking the day off, to do work in the kitchen. It's not really painting -- more like boxing pipes, filling holes in walls, installing lighting etc. I'm really looking forward to it. Enjoy your day too!

Wednesday November 12 2003 at 02:16 GMT

I haven't had much time to play with my P900 yet, but here are some first impressions:
  • it feels quite a bit smaller than my P800. Yep, I know that it is only something like 3mm in each direction smaller, and only 2.5g lighter, but it FEELS quite different. It also seems to look smaller as it is sitting on the table. I vote this a good thing!
  • the clock as a screensaver is back. I loved this on my T68, but it was nowhere to be seen on the P800
  • line 2, also called Alternative Line Service (ALS) is available. Now I'm glad I kept it, so that I can have cheap off-peak calls
  • the headphone cord is longer on the left ear, so that every time you turn your head to see if you're going to be run over as you cross the street, you no longer lose an earpiece. I would be able to tell you what the sound quality is like through the earphones, but I couldn't get the earphone connector cover opened as I was walking home from work!
  • the keypad *seems* to have a pretty strange unlock method. With the P800, you could use the virtual keypad buttons OR the jog dial press-in and then * on the keypad. On the P900, you do a press towards or away on the jog dial, then a push in on the jog dial. Surely that is a definite for being released in a pocket. I'm guessing there is a way to change it.
  • even with thinner keys on the virtual keypad, it feels more responsive than the P800. I regularly used to have the phone telling me I'd pressed 9 when I was going for the clear button (above 2 and 3). No issues like that so far.
  • the jog dial feels nicer than the P800, with slightly more resistance. Of course, that could just be down to the amount of use my P800 gets.
  • the interface is nice, but only slightly more so than the P800. I need to read up to find out where the main changes are to be found.
  • the CommuniCorder works pretty well. I'll post some sample videos online tomorrow. Hopefully I won't need to tweak my moblogging scripts too much for that.

If you've got a question about the P900 that you'd like answered, leave me a comment and I'll do my best to reply.

Tuesday November 11 2003 at 15:17 GMT

I popped along to the Orange shop to see if they had any P900s in stock. Lo and behold they did, so ... I just bought it. There is a pretty good argument that I don't really need one, but I would end up purchasing in the end, so I might as well have it now, and keep my place on the leading edge. The review will follow shortly!

[Update at 15.32 GMT]: In case anyone else finds this page, the first thing to do after buying a P900 is remove the flip, then go here and order a screen protector. Right after that, go to the Sony Ericsson configurator and have your settings sent to your phone. Job done.

Tuesday November 11 2003 at 11:47 GMT

I meant to post this last night, but I was way too busy working on my kitchen (yeah, still!). Here's a quote from Russ that made me smile:

Nothing like getting back to work on Monday, and when people ask "hey, how was your weekend?" getting to respond, "It was good, I went to Spain. What did you do?" I mean, you only do wacky things like spending 30+ hours going to Europe and back in a weekend (from California) a few times in life, you might as well play it up right?

Tuesday November 11 2003 at 11:44 GMT

The Mobi boys are rockin' down! Good work by Ewan who is handling a session on OPL and Russ who is involved with two sessions on mobile Java & mobile hacks, at this years O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference. I'm almost famous by association!

Monday November 10 2003 at 18:10 GMT

This came to me via email (thanks Jill!):

Dear People

I am passing this on to you because it has definitely worked for me. By following the simple advice I read in an article, I have finally found inner peace........the article read:

"The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you've started."

So I looked around the house to see all the things I started and hadn't finished....and before coming to work this morning I have finished off a bottle of Bacardi, a bottle of red wine, a bottle of Jim Beam, my Prozac, some valium, a small box of chocolates and 2 litres of Fosters Lager, a 1/2 can of cider, a large reefer and some cheese.

You have no idea how good I feel....

You may pass this on to those you feel are in need of Inner Peace...

Monday November 10 2003 at 16:26 GMT

I just found talios's blog (why is talios.com not used?). He's something of a regular on #mobitopia, and a founder of the Thursday curry club, of which I am an offshore member (he's in New Zealand). We've had some good chats on #mobitopia, but have never met or even spoken in real-life. For some reason it is aumsing me to have found his blog (and know some more about him).

Over the last few weeks, there has been quite a push on the tech front by various people. Yes, assisted by me to some degree, but mostly at their request.

  • Sophie got a T610; she's been MMSing people on it, and I'm going to give her a hand to put up either a moblog or a more gallery-oriented photo store
  • Allan got a T610 too, and I'm trying to get MFOP2 working for him, although there seem to be a few teething problems right now (likely my end, not theirs)
  • Neil got a wireless network set up in his house. Telewest left an ugly big cable running down his hall, plus he needed an easy way to connect his laptop and Apple at the same time ... as well as his PS2; all now present and correct. The funniest moment was when his parents came round. Neil was telling his mum about the new setup, when, apparently, she piped up that they already had a wireless network installed at their house. True story!
  • another friend has also not only installed a wireless network in his own home, but has just set up one at his brother's house
Why is this all noteworthy? Back in the days when I was setting up my WiFi network and getting moblogging going, people just looked at me strangely and asked 'why?'. Today, many of those very same people are now running with those technologies. Some kind of vindication for me is in there!

To celebrate this fact, I am now officially setting up a toys fund, following Jim's lead. I'm considering ads on my site, but probably the cash will actually come from ... my moonlighting activities. ;-) In case anyone feels the need to simply send me cash, use the contact link above to request bank details.

Monday November 10 2003 at 00:44 GMT

Bins outside my house On Wednesday morning, as I left my house for work, I found that the council had placed a newspaper recycling bin in the street. I'm pleased to say that I recycle bottles and paper and have done for some time. So, why was I not pleased? Well, they had practically placed the bin inside my house. If there was a fire or I needed an ambulance, those services simply could not get in to me. If, for example, I was getting new sofas delivered, they wouldn't make it in the door. My list goes on (don't ask me, if you see me). I currently have calls in to the Environmental Department and my councillor. Here's hoping it is a basic mistake and the bin should be on the other side of the road. Here's hoping I don't end up with months of effort to get some action...

I've posted some more images here.

Monday November 10 2003 at 00:13 GMT

Just back from a quality night with the Flaming Lips. It was SO much fun. Concerts at the Usher Hall are not really my favourite -- normally you're forced to sit and listen, instead of dancing (jumping) about. Thankfully, due to good forward planning by Team Stark, we booked in time to get hold of ground floor standing tickets.

When we arrived, we tried to check our jackets. Instead of the usual cloakroom, there were several coatracks, where you could simply hang your stuff up. No tag to make sure you took the right garments on retrieval or anything. Thankfully, it seems to have worked alright!

The first support act, Steve Burns, had a few good and one GREAT track. It seems that every band, whether support or main act, now needs video as well. In this case it worked superbly, getting the band a huge round of applause. The CD will shortly be on order. Alfie didn't do much for me, but apparently they are good.

When the Flaming Lips came on, everything was great. To start with, the chucked out a whole load of huge balloons, that people hit about all night, making the concert so much more memorable and fun. The songs were great, and the band really put a lot into the performance. I would recommend you see them live, but tonight is the last concert of this tour. Thankfully tonight more than made up for missing them at T in the Park and the terrible deal that was the MTV Gardens concert. Great fun and music, all rolled into one. :-)

PS It is very worth while checking out the Flaming Lips Web site, which has stacks of music, videos and other quality stuff. They lead the way in how bands should do their sites, as far as I'm concerned.

Sunday November 9 2003 at 23:41 GMT [via mobile]

You have to look VERY closely at this one, but if you do, you can see the sound and light guys dressed as a rabbit and a squirrel!

You have to look VERY closely at this one, but if you do, you can see the sound and light guys dressed as a rabbit and a squirrel!

Sunday November 9 2003 at 23:35 GMT [via mobile]

Craziness at the Flaming Lips.

Craziness at the Flaming Lips.

Sunday November 9 2003 at 23:33 GMT [via mobile]

Flamling Lips @ Usher Hall, totally rocking!

Flamling Lips @ Usher Hall, totally rocking!

Sunday November 9 2003 at 11:58 GMT

Sunday November 9 2003 at 11:25 GMT

Two quick Matrix Revolutions links:
  • a gathering of film reviews, giving it a 35% reading, which makes it rotten. Unfortunately, I have to agree.
  • The Meatrix, a flash look at why we shouldn't eat factory-farmed meat. Well done

Friday November 7 2003 at 17:12 GMT

So, last night ... should have been a great experience. After quite a bit of ebay watching, I finally decided I'd need to drop some cash to get in. I managed to pick up two for fifty pounds, which, evene though they were originally free, didn't seem THAT bad to see the Chemical Brothers and Flaming Lips play. Birte quickly agreed to take the second ticket.

At 7.30, we met up and headed along to the Gardens, just catching the end of BRMC and got a pretty decent vantage point at the back, ready for some quality sounds. We watched as the Awards began on two big screens either side of the stage, then the Chemical Brothers and Flaming Lips did a run-through of the song they would do live. 10 minutes later, and a lot of pointless shoutingMT-V, they did their bit and ... that was it. No, really, that was it. No Chemical Brothers set. No Flaming Lips set. What a total waste of cash.

For a second I thought it was a joke -- I was waiting for everyone to burst back on to stage, but nope, the fat lady had sung. I was not alone in my feelings of disappointment -- plenty of others around me couldn't believe all that was for one song (effectively). There's an amusing comment at the bottom of this article.

We were encouraged to stay and watch the rest of the show on the screens, but we'd had enough by then and headed to the pub, where we had a significantly better evening. What a disappointment. Never has the saying "don't believe the hype" been more true.

Friday November 7 2003 at 11:08 GMT [via mobile]

Chemical Brothers & Flaming Lips

Chemical Brothers & Flaming Lips

Friday November 7 2003 at 10:47 GMT [via mobile]

OK, I managed to get some.  Yes they cost me real money, so it had better be good!

OK, I managed to get some. Yes they cost me real money, so it had better be good!

Thursday November 6 2003 at 02:30 GMT

I just caught Matrix Revolutions with John and Rich. I'll wait a few days before posting comment, so as not to spoil it for others.

If you have seen the film or don't mind knowing the entire plot, then read Diego's EXCELLENT script/review/comment on the entire thing. He has done an incredible job, and I'm guessing it will sum up Matrix Revolutions for a lot of people (me included).

Wednesday November 5 2003 at 18:30 GMT

I'm off to see the firework display at Meadowbank tonight with Sandy and her crew. I *love* fireworks (safety note: handled and discharged with due care and attention) so it should be a good night.

Today's Guardian has a good article on why bonfire night is important, and I agree with many of the sentiments, especially: November 5 offers precious little for admen. The article is a good, and fairly short, read.

Wednesday November 5 2003 at 14:04 GMT

SonyEricsson P900

I happened across the P900 on the Orange site today, and it is available! I called immediately, and the price was what I expected, so I tried to buy one ... but they are out of stock. ARGH. It should be available again VERY shortly, and I'm up for it then. WOOHOO!

In other Orange related news:

  • the new GPRS bundles are now out, meaning that for the same price I was paying for 4MB, I can now have 7MB, which is pretty lucky as I seem to be running close to that on a monthly basis now
  • Orange World tarrifs are also available. These bundle GPRS with SMS, MMS and video messaging AKA MMS with a video clip. I've gone with Orange Access 5 [5MB GPRS/10 SMS/20 MMS/5 video messages] which will save me a small amount, given that it is free for the first month. I may even start sending more MMS. The one thing I was concerned about, that this was for WAP access only, does not seem to be a problem -- I've even checked the T&Cs.
  • I've noticed for the first time that Orange are now talking about video messaging, which is really just MMS with a video attached. I must try using the P800 camcoder software to see if I can send a video MMS already...

Wednesday November 5 2003 at 13:44 GMT

Mobitopia article on cameraphones and flashes

Siemens S55 plus camera attachment

There seems to be no doubt that cameraphones are currently and will continue to sell like hotcakes. Somewhat unsurpsiringly, camerphones are even outselling digital cameras, almost simply because when you go to buy a new phone, there's an extremely good chance the camera function will already be integrated.

Over the coming months and years, we are near-guaranteed a gradual rise in image capture resolution, from one megapixel to two megapixel to X megapixels. We'll move to phone (and WiFi?) networks that make sending and receiving large image files cheaper and easier than at the moment.

We've already seen a proliferation of moblogging services, allowing us to store and share those perfect sunsets, new born babies and random amusing shots. We'll soon be able to send pictures directly to picture frames. We can even go to Wireless Data University to hear Reiter tell us the revolution will be cameraphoned!

As long as we think before taking pictures and videos, we can all have a lot of fun and make use of the technology. So, where is the fly in the ointment? Lighting. We're simply not getting it. Looking at my own moblog, there are far too many pictures on there that are just too dark, and there are plenty lying unpublished due to a lack of light. The reduced light modes offered on many cameraphones do help slightly, but what we really need is some focus(!) on this area.

Is the future looking bright? Well, Sony Ericsson offer an attachable dedicated flash for the T610 (if you can find one...) and Siemens offer a camera attachment with flash. The recently released Panasonic X70 seems to be the first phone offering an integrated 'photolight' and anecdotal evidence suggests it is actually useful. Sanyo's upcoming 5300 appears to be the first claiming it has a true flash built in, although that seems to be a somewhat dubious statement. Coming up next year, Motorola have a phone scheduled for Q4 with real flash built-in.

Let's hope that the trend towards some kind of built-in lighting enhancer on phones continues -- it really is holding us back now.

Tuesday November 4 2003 at 18:38 GMT

I've got a mention on the Bloglines Sightings page for my online aggregator comparison post, which kind of needs updating now. Another job for the list!

Tuesday November 4 2003 at 17:49 GMT

Smartmobs is covering a good use of 3G phones in Bristol by the BBC. The phones are being used by young roving reporters, with a feed coming back into a real studio and output to screen. Sure, the quality is nowhere near as good as a GBP 40k video camera attached to a GBP 150k truck, but the cost differential quickly makes up for that.

This could turn out to be a nice marketing coup for Three. If they can quickly and easily punt the technology out to broadcasters all over the regions where they are already active, they should get some very nice publicity in terms of people actually seeing the potential of 3G, used in anger, right now. This could get innovative, quickly (finally!).

Of course, I've already done my first mini-broadcast, when I used my phone to relay the last Concorde takeoff from Edinburgh airport back to the office a few weeks ago. I'm well up the curve (or round the bend).

Tuesday November 4 2003 at 14:39 GMT [via mobile]

The stage in Princes Street Gardens being constructed.

The stage in Princes Street Gardens being constructed.

Tuesday November 4 2003 at 14:36 GMT [via mobile]

The queue beginning outside Foot Locker for the final MTV tickets. For once, I got there early-24hours early. The free garden tickets, if there are any available, will be there at 2pm on Wednesday!

The queue beginning outside Foot Locker for the final MTV tickets. For once, I got there early-24hours early. The free garden tickets, if there are any available, will be there at 2pm on Wednesday!

Tuesday November 4 2003 at 14:29 GMT [via mobile]

Hanging about on Princes Street at lunchtime.

Hanging about on Princes Street at lunchtime.

Tuesday November 4 2003 at 12:21 GMT [via mobile]

My Blogger top just arrived, somewhat out of the blue. I ordered a small, and it seems that for once the Americans actually made a small garment. Doh!

My Blogger top just arrived, somewhat out of the blue. I ordered a small, and it seems that for once the Americans actually made a small garment. Doh!

Tuesday November 4 2003 at 11:05 GMT

Perhaps it is the onset of winter that is affecting the normally intelligent people at the New York Times or else it is making me overly critical, but this article on 'new technology' for cellphones really seems like a load of junk. Perhaps some of this stuff several years ago may have piqued some interest, but today, we have solutions in place now and several of these ideas seem like they are straight from the Innovations catalogue (a small booklet stuck inside weekend papers offering dubious solutions to non-existent problems).

Going through the list:

  1. handwriting and handwriting recognition between phones -- my P800 does this, and I can send handwritten notes and sketches via MMS
  2. printer on a phone? I'm not even going there
  3. eavesdropping via phone using a secret code? Hmmmmm
  4. sending reminders to a phone from other devices -- so, like syncing a calendar with your phone and having it beep/buzz/flash to remind you? I've been doing that since 1998
  5. recalling left voicemail -- potentially useful, but as much to do with landlines as mobile phones
  6. calling directory enquiries instead of manually entering a number? This is on crack. So, you pay more for the technology to be implemented on your phone, more to place a call with DE, more to call back and ask for the right number and then you have to manually enter the address, second ex-directory number and email address anyway. That's a time-saver, without doubt
  7. rear-view cellphone -- what??? So, this is like having a dedicated phone that also acts as a rear-view mirror, instead of being able to easily change/upgrade your phone, and having, say a Bluetooth kit installed
  8. control a TV, hifi any infra-red controllable device with your phone? Like this one I use on my P800?
  9. triangulating to find someone's position -- I'm sure the network operators might have something to say about that, as well as the privacy people! Getting people to turn their phones to silent or off in certain places requires education, not millions of pounds of infrastructure

Come on, NYT, get yourself together!

Tuesday November 4 2003 at 01:56 GMT

Tonight when I got home from work I happened to have BBC radio4 on, which always reminds me of being at home -- my mum ALWAYS had (has) radio4 on. There was a great programme about tracking some swans coming from the Arctic. You can actually track them each day online here. Quality, although it seems quite a few are having some ... airspace difficulties.

Tuesday November 4 2003 at 01:24 GMT

Halley has posted a new article about kilts, painting a much more favourable picture. :-) Thanks!

Monday November 3 2003 at 15:59 GMT

I should now be GeoURL'd.

GeoURL

Sunday November 2 2003 at 18:36 GMT

Sunday November 2 2003 at 17:50 GMT

Halley Suitt has posted an article about 'guys wearing skirts', linking to a New York Times article (free registration required) about a coming exhibition at MOMA regarding kilts. 1. What a stupid article by the NYT, on SO many levels (and unlike them); 2. they are not SKIRTS, they are kilts, Scotlands national dress.

I am VERY sure that MANY women the world over would disagree with Halley's comment that seeing a man in a kilt is gross. Clearly, she just hasn't seen a kilt worn properly!

Saturday November 1 2003 at 18:22 GMT [via mobile]

I took Robbie to the park this afternoon. We both had a lot of fun, although it turns out that the slides are only for mini-peoples. ;-)

I took Robbie to the park this afternoon. We both had a lot of fun, although it turns out that the slides are only for mini-peoples. ;-)

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