The Sock Diary

Musings of a part-time Sweaty Sock.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Study highlights global decline

Saw a Hummer today in London, covered in advertising for a strip joint. Apparently someone's going to start importing them in bulk for the domestic market. Then read this on the Beeb.... We're screwed.
'Any progress achieved in addressing the goals of poverty and hunger eradication, improved health, and environmental protection is unlikely to be sustained if most of the ecosystem 'services' on which humanity relies continue to be degraded,' the report states.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Dead Air Crew Mock Me

I posted on the DeadAirCrew guestbook a few days back. If you read it, excuse the french.

Anyway, they mocked me consumately today on their podcast and what did I do? Went down the pub and smoked five cigarettes. The sods. I am so weak. Packing up again begins tomorrow.

Remember Nick-O-Teen?

Colemanball

On Radio 4 this morning, a professor (if I remember correctly) said:
With science, it's very difficult to predict what will happen. Particularly in the future.

:)

The Girl Who Was Plugged In

Just finished reading a story by James Tiptree called The Girl Who Was Plugged In. Absolute quality. A total and utter must-read for anyone who blogs, podcasts, reads blogs, listens to podcasts, or just generally gives a shit about where the world is going.

Quite apart from the other point(s) of the story, which I won't ruin by explaining, the background of the law prohibiting no overt advertising is spot on where we're at with podcasting. Many people are trying to work out how to advertise, without really advertising, and there's various slightly embarassed, and no so embarassed, attempts to drop a plug in in various podcasts. In the story this product placement has been elevated to high(er) art. Anyway, read it. It's brilliant. I read it in the book The Ultimate Cyberpunk, edited by Pat Cadigan. It is also full of other seminal cyberpunk stories, which I really enjoyed reading again. All this from a two minute browse down the library. Libraries are great! I'll be buying this book for my home library. Kinda like listening to a track you got from a mate, and then going and buying the CD. RIAA take note. Buttmunches.

Found this definition of Cyberpunk which I really liked. Also has an interesting breakdown of the story.
ZOMBIE'S PAGE: Cyberpunk is, as its authors would have it, a revolutionary new genre. The Movement is made up of radical new authors breaking from traditional SF ideology and prose. The style evokes a sense of fear and paranoia while overloading the reader with information. Aside from these indefinable feelings evoked by the genre, cyberpunk contains several concrete, identifiable themes in every story. The central theme is about fringe characters -- outsiders -- living in a grimy, seedy world ruled over by huge, all-encompassing megacorporations. The megacorps permeate the world of these characters with an impersonal, hopeless aura. One can either work for them as a wage-drone in mediocrity, or against them as against gods in a pitiful fight to outwit them. The cyberpunk world is completely overwhelmed, infused, and inundated by corporate technology such as decks, the Matrix, 'prosthetic limbs, implanted circuitry, cosmetic surgery, genetic alteration' (Sterling xiii), and artificial intelligences. The megacorporate philosophy that everything can be bought and sold, like the technology that is bought and sold, makes human life cheap and worthless. Technology has replaced humans, much like machines today have already replaced workers on the assembly line.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Dilbert

Playing email catch-up at work and had this Dilbert cartoon waiting for my enjoyment. It strikes a chord :)

Silent Disco

Updated.

This guy had the idea for a silent disco, and now it appears it's happening at Glastonbury. I must be getting old cos it sounds like a great idea to me cos I could talk to my mates without shouting. Result. Old giffer.

Monday, March 28, 2005

MP3 players are the new Walkman

BBC NEWS | Technology | Millions buy MP3 players in US

Man, no doubt about it, MP3 players are the new Walkman. It's coming. I remember the thing to have when I was a kid was a mono tape recorder. For about 25 quid - I think that was a birthday, a christmas, and a lot of weeks pocket money then, took me about 7 months to save up enough for it - bought you a slab of metal and plastic about the size of two house bricks and almost as heavy. They had carry handles. No-one had heard of Walkmans.To get music we taped it off the telly by holding the recorder next to the telly speaker when what we came on, or off the radio in a similar way. You just paryed everyone in the room stayed quiet and no-one walked in. Once you'd got a tape together you let your mates copy it by plugging it the headphone jack to their recorders mic in. Then walkmans happened, and beat boxes, so it got a bit easier to get music, and to carry it around and listen to it. Then Walkmans got smaller and got auto-reverse. That was quality. Well chuffed with auto-reverse. Then what, loads of messing around with CD walkmans, minidiscs, etc. Bang, two years ago MP3 players happen. I reckon there's probably about three people in the western world who don't know what an MP3 player is, and for once, one of them isn't my Mum. They're so damn cheap really (20 quid for 256Mb (that's like, 4 albums or something, beats a 60 minute tape) MP3 player) that the price is no barrier to entry. Having a PC is the barrier to entry, and that's fast dissolving.

As I've said before, as memory gets cheaper, the problem will be filling that empty void of disk space that defines your music taste. I think podcasting is the thing to help fill it. As more music goes Creative Commons, and older people (the first adopters as they're the ones with the dough to buy massive MP3 players like iPods and Zen jukeboxes) hand down their 1st and 2nd gen MP3s to their kids or younger brothers and sisters (one day Sock'sBros, not yet;) that market is growing at an exponential rate.

The older generation want information, the kids want music and maybe entertaining radio replacements. Time-shifting is in. Sod Videocasting, it's a pain in the butt to walk or run while trying to watch telly, so it's never going to appeal as a portable medium to anyone more than train commuters or people who get driven places. It'll work for all the places you have DVD players now. At home, on the train, in the car back seats. That's it.

Where are walkmans and radios now? Everywhere. Audio is truly portable, listenable everywhere and anywhere. This is what MP3 players are replacing, and this is where podcasts fit in.

Easily and cheaply distributable audio. You don't need a licence, you don't need anyone to tell you to do it, or not do it, and you can decide who and what you listen to, and when. The audio craze born with portable radios just came of age. It's binning the Corsa 1.4 with stick on spoilers and looking at a nice 3 series BMW with an infinately variable engine. Where do you want be taken today?

Pressing publish before a read through. Hope this isn't un-intelligible. Hope it isn't crap either.

Digital Banzai

Digital Banzai is an artist I got a podcast of (warp factor 10) a couple of weeks ago. I think it was off the Indiefeed.com electronica rss, but can't remember. Anyway, I may buy his CD. Will check out some more of the tracks.

Bloggers in Malaysia Warn of Earthquake

Global Voices Online�Blog Archive � Bloggers in Malaysia Warn of Earthquake. This looks useful for keeping up to date with breaking big news. Will subscribe to the rss feed I think.

This guy, Peter Tan, goes above and beyond the call of duty... and makes a good point. How the hell was he supposed to get out with no working legs and authorities with no plan? Jeez.

Beeb article on commecialising podcasting

BBC NEWS | Technology | 'Podcasters' look to net money. This as a result of the interview the guys off the bluggcast, who work for the Beeb, did with Adam Curry a couple of weeks ago. The amusing thing is, we, podcast listeners, heard what happened pre and post interview and during the photos, as Mr Curry and "Blugg" both podcast parts of it a couple of days later as they were both "soundseeing" (Daily Source Code, bluggcast). It's an interesting article, kind of summary of the state of the nation rather than anything groundbreaking. They got a good quote from Dave Winer, which I think they ripped off his blog rather than him personally, or maybe he just said it kinda like he already has on the blog or in a podcast. God, all this referencing stuff is getting out of hand ;).

Helping me firm my ideas on the light and dark side of podcasting, which I'll probably finally get together during the week. Lucky yous, I may even blog them.

More digital graffiti

Wired News has a story that has slight connections to a previous post here.
What if the internet extended beyond computers and high-speed connections, with web pages expanding down city streets and onto the sides of buildings?

What grafedia seems to give you is the ability to post art (as in gif, jpg, mp3, etc files) to the grafedia website, with a tag such as sockDiary. I would then, as the poster, go and write "sockDiary" in a blue pen underlined anywhere I felt like it (like standard graffiti) or paint on a willing volunteer's body, or somesuch (where are the dogs, hold still). Anyone spotting the tag can send a MMS from their phone to SockDiary@grafedia.net and get an MMS back with the relevant posting. You can also do via email in the same way. I'm going to test it now.

So the test is "fatPigeon" which means to see it you either email or MMS (with a message such as "a") to fatpigeon@grafedia.net. I emailed it, and it replied with the jpeg and the interesting info that you can
take a picture and send it to "anyword@grafedia.net" then write that address anywhere you like
.

She-who-is-gorgeous asked, quite rightly, what the point is, and I waffled a bit, before accepting that I couldn't see one, apart from "it's cool", which isn't really a business plan I suppose. The Gorgeous-One then pointed out that it could be used if you took a photo that you wanted all your mates to see asap but you were on the road, couldn't afford to MMS 30 odd people, and couldn't get to/spare time for an internet cafe and upload. You would take the photo, MMS it to Grafedia, and then cheaply SMS the grafedia address to them. Damnnit, why can't I think of clever stuff like that? She's great.

Problems I can see:
  • Grafedia is a difficult for me to remember and to spell. I'm not dyslexpip, but maybe I am just thick

  • You, as the poster, are reliant on people willing to use up MMS messages to download your data

Fat Pigeon


fatPigeon
Originally uploaded by partTimeSock.
Fat Pigeon has recently started struting about outside the patio doors, infuriating the dogs in the sitting room.

Laser Sound

USATODAY.com - Sound technology turns the way you hear on its ear
An HSS-equipped car could play one CD for the parents up front and another for kids in the back. Neither would hear even a whisper of the others' music.


This sounds (ahem) like both a blessing and a curse. It's straight out of a cyberpunk story, where the hero walks into and out of advertising soundfields. But as a tech geek, it's the coolest tech. What a toy! As shown by the above quote, it also has practical, non advertising, applications.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

EarthCore: A Podcast Novel

This sounds interesting. The promo on Openpodcast was very well done. VVery ear-catching :). Have downloaded the prologue and added the feed to my ipodder.

No More Hospital

We are outta there! Hurray. The Beautiful One said it was like being let out of prison (not that she's been to prison you understand, just a figure of speech). It's a beautiful day, the birds are singing and we don;t have to sit in a 60's eyesore with depressing decor being anxious anymore. Having bacon and eggs and then going for a walk. Happy Easter everyone.

I really hate hospitals

All day, all f**king day sitting on our buttts. We got in at 9am as ordered, got seen at 2:30pm! Couldn't go anywhere as they kept saying they'd be there in a minute. Cos they were so late, she-who-is-gorgeous is stuck in there overnight and I'm up late, drinking and smoking (for the first time in about four weeks) and not enjoying a sodding minute of it. And I couldn't find a Starbucks or Costas around, so settled for some made-up stuff from a no-name bar. It bit the big one, burnt coffee. Not that I'm bitter.

Really, really annoyed. Anger management classes need to be booked I fear.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Strange Day

A very strange day yesterday. It was a beautiful day, properly warm and sunny with a fresh wind. We had to go to hospital and sit around a lot, which wasn't much fun, but we drove there and back "the scenic route" and took the dogs for a walk. I took the camera with me.


Hospital Room
Originally uploaded by partTimeSock.

Here's the room in the Lister Hospital we got seen in. Lovely decor:). The (massively overworked) staff were fantastic. I know a crap environment can affect morale, along with long hours, naff pay, high responsibility and management crapping on you (sounds a lot like the NHS) but these guys were really good to us. I don't know how they do it but a big thank you to them, and all the others working under pretty intolerable conditions while the politicians argue the toss and throw money at management schemes.



Abingdon Piggotts Telephone
Originally uploaded by partTimeSock.
Here's somewhere called Abingdon Piggotts which still has a proper red phonebox, and I think the postbox has GR on it (for George Rex, the King before the current Queen. her postboxes have ER - Elizabeth Regina on).



Passing Place
Originally uploaded by partTimeSock.
A wee way along the road we found these thoughtfully signposted and marked passing places. Someone had nothing to do and a bit of budget to use up one day at the Highways Agency didn't they ;)



Last Bit Of The Sunset
Originally uploaded by partTimeSock.
I took the dogs for a walk around sunset. This was the view on the way back up the ridge. It was a lot more colourful on the way down (way more red), but by the time I remembered I had a camera, some of the colour had gone. Divot.



The Moon At Sunset
Originally uploaded by partTimeSock.
At the same as the Sun going down, the Moon was coming up. It was really clear when I took the photo (although I blurred it up). Very serene.


The dogs did me proud by covering themselves in mud, really thick, sticky mud. I took a small video

Monday, March 21, 2005

Lateral thinking test

Michael Kelly's Page of Misery: Lateral thinking test excellent way of exercising the corporate railtrack thinking conditioned "brain" in that head of your.

Mr Kelly's website is great. Not brilliant in terms of looks, but the content is excellent. Hell, he's been doing it for years (see his home page).

Podcast FAQ

WNYC - Podcast FAQ
What do I need to listen to podcasts?
Here's what you'll need: a computer (PC or Mac), an internet connection, and (free) podcasting software. That's it! Follow the links on this page to the sites where you can get free podcast software (iPodder, jPodder and others).

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Alaskan Wilderness Falls Victim to Bush et Al

Guardian : The oil under this wilderness will last the US six months. But soon the drilling will begin:
"'Is it worth forever losing a national treasure, one of our last great wild places, for a six month supply of oil 10 years from now?' asked Senator Joe Lieberman, one of the refuge's staunchest defenders.


Short-term profits for a select group trumps democracy (and potentially survival) again... allegedly.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Help Bush Anniafry Them

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Dave Winer Makes Bloggers Feel Good

Amongst the rest of Dave's post (which is well worth a read) I found this:

Every human being who's lived for any appreciable time has lots of stories. And if they have a good blog, the probability is (imho) that they also have a good heart, and are trying in some non-self-glorifying way to make the world a better place.


I think he's absolutely correct about everyone else except me. I'm a toerag with no redeeming features :)

Just read that again and that implies I think I have a good blog. Dave's post points out that everyone's different (Life of Brian running through my head: "We are all individuals", "I'm not", etc) and that context plays a massive part in how someone interprets something, and how they expect to be interpreted (which is all too often nothing like how they will be interpreted). Point is, my blog's good for me, and if it's useful on occasion for others then taht's an added bonus.

Blimey, with all this (mis)interpreting going on, no wonder we have wars.

Human Body Like Bluetooth?

Guardian | Kiss and tell. Use your body as a personal area network transport.


Sock'sYoungerButTallerNo2Bro:
Oy oy -
http://www.guardian.co.uk/online/story/0,3605,1438841,00.html
Pretty amazing stuff - the last paragraph's the best.

Sock says:
That is so cool. Want. Can you imagine it? You'd have the earphones implanted, maybe the os and mp3 playing software implanted, then all you'd need would be the data sitting on some device (onboard in implanted flash memory or outboard in your portable hard disk). Cool. A bit further along, they'll be able to work out how to store digital data in wetware. Very cool. My thumb holds my photo collection, and my butt stores all my music. :)

Sock'sYoungerButTallerNo2Bro says:
I just love the idea of 'exchanging electronic business cards with a handshake, or swapping phone numbers with a kiss' - that rocks. Proper games of 'it' as well - no more cheating :o)

Sock says:
Hey, could give sexually transmitted viruses a whole new meaning.

Dog in a log

Ananova - Dog in a log.... Er. tried various ways of commenting on this. Keep deleting and starting again.

My sage mother (as opposed to parsley mother) used to say:

When you haven't got anything nice to say, don't say anything

Friday, March 11, 2005

I love my Mac!

Have been avoiding setting up the printer (HP 2110 All-In-One, psych) on the mac. No real reason, just too much pain setting up printers in my life, and didn't want to go through it again. So, I've been firing up the PC each night to print out the cryptic crossword for my wife (now the only reason to fire up the PC, except for logging in work). Anyway, last night I went looking for mac OS X drivers for the printer, and found them, downloaded them (all 54Mb and 19Mb update, thanks HP), and then couldn't face the (assumed) pain of installing, plugging in, unplugging, etc, so I blogged a bit and then went to bed.

Tonight I couldn't be bothered with television; I gave up smoking a few weeks back so pub is out as it's the only place I really get the urge, currently; so I thought I might spend the evening going through the pain of the printer set-up. I spotted a USB port in the AirPort Express the other day, and thought I might as well make the pain total and try and get the printer setup wirelessly. Oh yeah, total masochism night in for this Sweaty Sock... or not. Check this out.

I started 25 mins ago. Ten mins moving AirPort Express and speakers to a better position and checking they worked OK (again, no problem). Listening to Adam Curry as I type. I then plugged in the printer to the USB port on the AirPort Express and started the HP driver software I downloaded last night. Couldn't get it to find the printer. "Nuts", I thought, "here we go". Tried detecting it as a USB device, then an IP, then swore, then tried IP again. Then sat and scratched my head for a bit. Finally, I dug out the AirPort instruction book (which I haven't had to read at all until now) and started reading the printer page. It said plug it in and fire up the Printer Settings on the laptop. No mention of downloading or installing drivers... hmmmmm.

Fired up Printer Preferences on the Mac and up pops a list of printers available through Rendezvous (a Mac network protocol for discovering and using network devices I think). Guess what? My printer is listed, with the correct make and model. Bear in mind I haven't done anything other than start up the printer preferences so far. It asks me if I want to check for new drivers. "Yes" I said, and pushed the OK button. About 30 secs later it says it's sorted that and installed ver something or other. That was it! About 2 mins altogether, mainly cos I didn't know where the Printer Prefs were on the Mac :)

I fired up the blog site and typed the first couple of sentences of this post and hit print. Guess what happened ladies and gentlemen? Yes! It just worked! Wirelessly, after I gave up trying to do with my PC paradigm and RFTM'ed. This is the mutt's nuts. So impressed. Stopping now.


UPDATE: The drivers I downloaded last night were the ones it used. Just the HP setup utility that didn't work. Slightly less brilliant than I thought, but still damn fine.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

What blogging tool?

I am getting the nadgers. Here's my situation:

I commute for an hour and half each way to work, which is currently reading/podcast/sleeping time. Work's a bit mental, I architect (and usually design and program) strategic solutions, as well as mentoring three programmers, trying to automate as much as possible in the development cycle, and usually getting in a couple of tactical solutions (Perl;) a day too. Amongst this I try to keep up to date with the latest Java and Perl developments, get at least a modicum of .Net know-how under my belt, and read my rss feeds (any of interest I blog as draft and then flesh out in the evening when/if I have time). When I get home I synch the ipod, clear out the podcasts I've finished with, feed the dogs, and try to do a bit blogging. At some point I need to eat, talk to my wife, and chill out. Blogging either means I don't talk to my wife (not conducive to my health), or I'm asleep half the next day.

I've decided two things:
  1. I need a better Podcatcher that'll override the incoming genres to "Podcast" automatically, and delete listened to and one starred podcasts from iTunes. That should save me about 10 minutes each day, faffing around.

  2. I need to use the time commuting to blog.


1's easy, I just need to set aside some time to check out a couple of podcatchers. I tried ipodderX lite a few weeks back and kinda liked it, but it didn't seem to actually work unattended. I'm probably thick. Tried Doppler on the PC and it was quite good until it got it's knickers in a twist (after the PC blue screened at me) and wouldn't download anyone's podcasts except openpodcast.org. Again, I'm probably thick. There's another one called PlayPod which I believe has just gone gold which does RSS feeds and show notes to the ipod too, so might be worth a look.


2, different kettle of fish. To be able to blog on the train, I need my rss feeds and a client based blogging tool which I can upload later. So I can use Newspipe to email all my rss updates once in the morning and in the late afternoon, that's no problem, got that running already, just change the email address to the Mac postbox and download my new mails before leaving in the morning, and just before leaving work in the evening. The blogging tool, that's a tough one. Have been looking around and found a decent comparison at The Microcontent News Blogging Software Roundup, which provides a useful taxonomy of "blogware", although it's an old post. There doesn't appear to be anything new out there that blows it out though. It's helping me, and I'm seriously considering Radio Userland might be the (only) one, unless I want to get jiggy with my own server and further in to Perl than simple webpages and db queries.

Anyway, more sleep. G'night Internet.

Why the hell should we believe him this time?

BBC NEWS | Politics | Blair issues terror bill warning:
Tony Blair has warned opponents of the government's controversial anti-terror bill: 'It's time to be strong'.


"Believe me, trust me, I'm your friend, I wouldn't lie to you or abuse your trust". This guy really pisses me off.

Curiously Apt Quote

H. L. Mencken Quotes:
Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Blair detained as illegal immigrant

:D Blair detained as illegal immigrant [The Rockall Times]
Making one of his rare visits to Britain last week, Tony Blair was refused entry by immigration officers who said that he looked nothing like his photo.

Immigrants Sponging Off Our Welfare... Not

So tired of hearing economic migrants, refugees, and illegal immigrants mixed up in order to create FUD (where the parties stand).

I am so pleased about this article in Guardian. Nailing another myth about immigrants as the source of all our problems.
According to the Home Office, only 21 of the 133,000 east European migrant workers registered have signed on the dole. So much for those pre-accession stories of Britain being flooded with east European benefit scroungers.

Link

Blair In Breach of Ministerial Code?

Sir Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrats' foreign affairs spokesman, said: 'On the face of it, the Prime Minister was in breach of the ministerial code. The unsatisfactory nature of events is illustrated by the fact that the guardian of that code is the Prime Minister himself.'


Blair failed to show to the cabinet the attorney general's full advice on the legality of the invasion of Iraq, thereby breaking the rules of the Ministers' Code of Conduct.

Link

Why Firefox is Good

Good article on HowStuffWorks for technophobes. Explains where Firefox fits in.

Habeas Corpus

I referenced habeas corpus in a previous post, and the good old Beeb came up trumps today with an article on it: BBC NEWS | Magazine | A brief history of habeas corpus

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

ID scheme to bite dust in pre-election terror rush? - The Register

Will the ID scheme bite the dust in pre-election terror rush?. Hopefully! Mind you, rock | hard place. ID cards or the loss of habeus corpus... select Winston.

Google Autolink

BetterBadNews have a 12 minute video which sums it up. Google is being Evil (or at least enabling Evil with no discernable Good enabling), and they promised not to be Evil.

"Lawyers' panel indicts Bush and Blair for War Crimes"

This is from Al-Jazeera, the Arabic TV channel we hear a lot about in the UK. I'm having a look round their English site as they're pretty much classed as the anti-Christ here and I wanted to see what bias they actually exhibited. No conclusions as yet. Found this though:

Speaking on Monday at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, Kohki Abe, a professor of law at Kanagawa University, said they [Blair and Bush] should face the "maximum penalty available". That would not include the death penalty, however, as the members of the tribunal opposed capital punishment, he added.


This guy is from the Japanese chapter of a group called International Criminal Tribunal for Iraq (ICTI) which I've never heard of. However, they're saying what a lot of people I know think is true. Some more digging may in order.

First reaction is I'm surprised none of the British media seesm to have picked it up this evening, as I found it at about 5pm but didn't have time to blog it properly. No mention at all. Maybe on further research I'll find the ICTI are a bunch of nuttters so it may not be news-worthy. On the other hand, I might find that they're a group of highly respected lawyers from around the world, in which case I would question why it wasn't on the main news this evening.

Aljazeera.Net - Lawyers' panel indicts Bush, Blair

What is the Government Doing?

It appears the government made it "diffcult" for the makers of a drama based on Dr David Kelly's ordeal. The article is by the "film-maker" (I assume that means director) of the drama 'The Government Inspector'. his final point is below.

Is it that... this is a profoundly secretive government... fundamentally incapable of allowing information to be promulgated without first having the chance to spin it? Or is it that... it was troubled by the sight of an old man in a noisy committee room, browbeaten into the service of a dishonourable cause, and feared the effect that the resurrection of that image might have on the eve of an election?

The Government Inspector is on Channel 4 on March 17.


Whether it's good or bad, I urge you to watch it next week, if only to make sure the ratings are high enough to worry the Government.

MediaGuardian.co.uk | Media | 'The answer is no'

Friday, March 04, 2005

A Bit About OpenOffice

The new OpenOffice has just gone into beta. Runs on nearly every operating system you're likely to meet, and is free (unless you buy StarOffice, as it's professionally supported). I've been using 1.1 for about year now, at work and at home, to create, edit and view word, excel and powerpoint documents. I've needed Word once when I got a password protected .doc file; I've needed Excel twice: once when I got a password protected .xls file, the other when I got given a spreadsheet with 40,000 lines of data (don't ask); I've never needed Powerpoint. In fact the OpenOffice Powerpoint equivalent (Impress) opens Powerpoint view only files and lets you edit them, rip bits out of them, etc. Useful on occasion.

Among other things, OpenOffice 2.0 now handles spreadsheets up to 64,000 lines long, and has improved support for reading Word and Excel files, although I've never had any difficulty, apparently really complex layouts can cause some problems in 1.1. There's a review on Newsforge

WMV: Arrogance or Ignorance?

It's not often I lose it about proprietary standards on the web, it's a fact of life with M$ (among others) in the world, but every now and then it just gets me.

<RANT>

Annoying as it may be for some businesses, some people use OSs other than Windows. There's about a million standards out there for video and music and nearly all of them have implementations for most platforms... except WMV which is totally one platform, totally proprietary, and totally crap (well, technically it's great I understand, but philosophically, it's crap). Are people who send or link to WMVs arrogant or ignorant? I favour ignorant as M$ and/or the WMV supplier haven't explained it's no good to anyone using Linux or a Mac. But it's pretty damn arrogant of M$ and the WMV supplier to assume consumers use Windows machines. Even Apple's AAC format is MP4 compliant if anyone else ever builds an MP4 player.

Here's how it goes for me:
  • This website is best viewed through Internet Explorer/You need Media Player to view this file

  • Is it? You're saying your website is constructed to meet the "demands" of the most non-standard, insecure, bug-ridden, invitation-to-hacking browser/player combination ever created? I wonder who was in charge of that decision? Will they be in charge of any of my business should I decide to carry on with you? Hmmmm. I'll pass, thanks. Now who's the next highest hit on Google (your closest competitior I assume) with a good net-citizen website?

And ditto above for those painfully annoying totally Flash based sites too. Why ruin the back button? It's the webs favourite button! Idiotic. And the surfing paradigm changes on each of the sites, making it a damn sight harder to find what you want (and you can't point Google at it to get what you want), and, and, and... my back hurts and I'm sick of this office.... Sorry, wrong idiom.

</RANT>

Thank you for your time ladies and gentlemen.

Snow: Sole Survivior


Snow: Sole Survivior
Originally uploaded by partTimeSock.
The last of the snow, about three hours after last photo. Ah well, was good while it lasted.

Snow Lying At Last


Snow Lying At Last
Originally uploaded by partTimeSock.
After about two weeks of snow every day, it's finally decided to stick around for longer than ten minutes. An hour ago there was no snow lying. Looks cool... is cold!

Wi-Fi router update

Further to my Linksys post: one of my network guru mates has been having problems with his Linksys WAG54G wi-fi for the last week. It started when he added a second wireless PC to his network that was just on the edge of the reception. As it went in and out of range (when people walked around the PC) the DHCP server in the WAG54G failed (he believes the DHCP process crashed) and stopped the 2nd PC renewing it's lease when it came back in range. The other wireless PC was fine, until the lease on its IP expired and it tried to query the DHCP server. No dice. Rebooting the Linksys WAG54G sorted it, until the next time the 2nd PC went out of range. He has had extensive talks with Linksys support and concluded he's wasting his time He's looking at other wi-fi options (thinks the Airport is too expensive).

A chat with another support guru I know who runs a uni network with substantial wi-fi access elicited the following info: A certain brand of routers is well known for having trouble with the inbuilt DHCP servers. He has been able to solve it in the past by assigning a static IP to each wireless device for that network. Less than ideal and, needless to say, he's not too chuffed about arranging and maintaining static IPs for anyone who wants ad-hoc access at the uni. They don't use equipment of that brand anymore.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

UK Wi-Fi hotspot users offered free Skype calls

UK Wi-Fi hotspot users offered free Skype calls | The Register. I'm bringing in the laptop tomorrow, see if I can call someone from Platform 8 (the pub) on the way home :)

Blair Offers Multiple Configurations...

I thought this was sarcasm(tm) when it popped up as a result on my Blair search, but it' straight up :)

Blair Model Offers Multiple Speaker Configurations in One Cab
TheAirtightGarage expands its product offerings with the release of the Blair speaker cabinet, designed to produce the sound of several different cabinets with just one enclosure.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Parish Council Meeting

I went to our Annual Parish Meeting (followed by the Parish Council Meeting) this evening. Stunned, and not in a good way. Haven't time to go through the whole thing now as I'm knackered, but will try to convey my horror at the state of local government in our village in a later post. Will also be trying to work out what to do about it.

On the plus side, I took the Mac with me and used OmniOutliner (for the first time) to make notes. It was gorgeous (and totally freaked out the councillors :D ). I will be working out how best to use the opml I can generate from that. I feel a new blog coming on dedicated to The Village :)

Microsoft's Gates being knighted

I pretty much hate every incarnation of Windows, even though I use it, and program parts of it, almost everyday. I was a support guy with Windows for Workgroups 3.11, network admin during the early NT3.51 days, and have been a professional programmer in various guises all through from DOS 5. I even programmed under Windows 3.0 on a tennis-elbow inducing 286 16Mhz (I think) "laptop" for a few weeks (terrifying, but I learnt all the control keys ;).

I believe it is a second rate GUI/OS implementation which could have been excellent if M$ management ethos emphasised quality all the way through, and fed that down through the whole workforce. Non-expert users are left to fend for themselves all too often, and left defenceless by default most of the time. Please note, that belief doesn't necessarily hold for all the M$ apps as well: some of them are excellent.

Microsoft's Gates being knighted. Initial reaction: damn. Moment's thought, if it wasn't for his dodgey OSs, DOS and the various flavours of Windows, there wouldn't be the level of computer infiltration into everyday life (cos Apple was always too expensive), loads of people that make software to fix or enhance Windows wouldn't have a business model, most of the IT business would probably not exist, I certainly would not have had the career I've had so far, etc.

So, I guess he deserves it. Not sure about the "if it hadn't been for him there'd be less money given to charideee" vibe of the article. Someone else would have been the richest man/woman in the world and would have been a philanthropist. Is that cynical? Damn, that's really cynical. Sorry Bill. I must need a new government or something.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

European Union: "Democracy" In Action

EC rebuffs Parliament's patent restart request. The Commission is unelected. The Parliament is elected. Guess what? The Commission can ignore Parliament! Great! Who thought of that?

Whither VoIP?

I have Skype and I love it. Secure (256bit) instant messaging at work and at home, secure "telephone" calls, that mostly sound better than the phone. Downloads in a couple of mins and installs in less than a min on a PC or a Mac with NO faffing. No spyware, and it's free. What's not to like? (There's a Linux client as well, but I haven't tried that.)

So these guys seem to have seen the writing on the wall.... But wait! Maybe the MPAA/RIAA equivalent for Telcos is starting small with trying to criminalise VoIP in Costa Rica. If I was a betting man, I would bet that the telco's round the world will be watching how this pans out like hawks (and maybe financing ICE's attempts to get the legislation through?). If they see a new angle from what transpires in Costa Rica, will they use it to try to stop the US calling VoIP a "data service that should not be regulated" again?

It seems to me that current Big Business strategy for something that might change the business model is "suppress it".

Creator of first Apple Mac dies

BBC NEWS | Technology | Creator of first Apple Mac dies. Having finally actually used one properly (rather than just in the labs at uni ten years ago), he did a good job. Good job, RIP Mr Raskin.