Archive for the 'Tech' Category

What’s that? A bandwagon? That I’m not on?

Monday, January 26th, 2009

I’ve been spending a fair amount of time recently thinking about communications and how to keep in touch from distant lands. There’s no shortage of possibilities, there may be far too many.

Since Twitter seems to have gone mainstream, if being mentioned by Jonathan Ross in the short time before he’s lynched by the tabloids again counts as mainstream, I thought I might jump on that particular bandwagon.

So I now have a twitter account. However I am not twittering, I have yet to tweet. I’m just not sure I ‘get it’, but it seems worth a look.

Expect some activity there at some point, mostly because I’m playing with ping.fm to try and tie things together. It looks like a pretty neat service, if I can update everything in an easy way then I’m more likely to post stuff.

This may cause some odd entries to appear in places, but that’s part of the fun.

Everything’s coming up SpaceDog!

Monday, January 14th, 2008

I’ve had a good few days, first my bathroom is almost finished, hopefully I’ll be able to post the full saga shortly.

Also my collection of shiny things has grown:

PlayStation 3

It’s the PlayStation 3 that’s new, the iPod just crept into the photo because it was jealous. I’ve only played with it briefly but it’s a pretty damn good machine, it’s insanely easy to set up and it’s now happily talking to the Internet and streaming stuff from my server via the magic of TVersity. It’s the 60Gb model (off eBay) so it plays old PS2 games although I have to get a converter if I want to grab my old data off the old memory cards.

That’s not all, over the weekend I won a raffle, netting me both a hamper of Mexican goodies and tasting menu for two at Le Trois Garcons. Spot on.

Finally I played a nice friendly game of poker at the weekend. I won. I won even when I was trying to lose.

It’s been a good weekend.

Less Awesome

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

Generally when I consider anything I’ve not tried before I assume I’ll be brilliant at it. It’s surprising how few times this turns out to be true. This leads me to two conclusions, every time I try something new and find out I’m not brilliant at it I become slightly less awesome. Therefore I should never try anything new, to preserve my current level of awesomeness.

Sadly I can’t help myself and so this morning I find myself less awesome after turning my hand to golf last night.

Not full blown, freezing cold, outdoor golf. But more civilised indoor simulated golf complete with a few pints.

As I lined up my first shot it occurred to me that I didn’t know the first thing about golf, but not to worry I was probably a natural. After my first (and many subsequent shots) I was forced to come to the conclusion that I wasn’t a natural.

Fortunately we were playing as a team and using a system where everyone got a shot and then the team picked the best shot and then play continued from there, so my pathetic golfing could be carried along by the two more experienced players on my team.

All in all it’s a good laugh, and not too pricey if you turn up with a few people, and they’ve got some pretty impressive technology running it. But unlike something like bowling, it does help if you have half a clue what you’re doing beforehand, otherwise you look like a bit of a idiot.

Over the nine holes I only played one shot that was better than my teammates shots.

That shot was to make a putt for an eagle on the final hole.

To give our team the win by one shot.

Making me slightly more awesome again.

Entrance

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

If decent voicemail isn’t the killer mobile application then how about this.

One of the many things that’s being touted as the next big thing is location based services. That’s where your phone already knows where you are and can tailor information to your location, or send your location automatically to other services like the AA or the local pizza shop. Those features are pretty standard, but there’s also been some talk about your phone automatically reacting to your location, i.e. downloading traffic alerts or adverts for nearby shows or discounts for the shop you just walked into. Obviously it’s just another avenue for spam but I expect someone to at least try and start a free, ad-supported, mobile service sooner or later.

But that’s not my idea.

What I’m wondering is, if you’re phone can react to location then surely your location can react to your phone. Billboards could change to target the majority of people nearby, signs could welcome you by name to the cinema, or — still as scary but more useful — you could setup your cards so that ATMs and credit card machines confirm that you’re in the area before accepting your card.

You’re thinking, I expect, that you’d never let the phone company share your location with random services like that. I say all you need is an incentive, a service so desirable that you’d ignore the implications and the downsides. A killer application for location information sharing.

And I have one.

Entrance Music

Imagine it, when you walk into a bar your chosen music comes blaring out the speakers. No longer do you need to choose an annoying ringtone and wait for people to call, just set up your theme and go find a pub. The more you pay the longer and louder your music plays.

There you go, that’s your free killer idea for today. Go and make millions.

Voicemail

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

The battle of the bathroom continues apace, this means that I’m getting calls on a fairly regular basis from one workman or other wanting to do whatever is next on the list.

When I’m not in they leave voicemail, this typically involves some preamble about who they are with a request to call them back followed by a mobile number reeled off as fast as possible. This morning I had to play the message four times to get the number right. And I had to play the entire message because that’s the only option my work voicemail has.

Why? Why can’t voicemail have a rewind or a fast forward function, even a ‘replay the last ten seconds’ button would work. Or let’s go all 21st century and notice when a number is being read out and do speech recognition to get the digits or slow down the playback. Digital voicemail is an option on most phone lines but it’s functionality is worse than you’d get on an old-style tape based answering machine.

There’s probably systems out there that do all this and more, but I’ve not found one yet.

Broken …

Monday, July 9th, 2007

I’ve spent the entire weekend sitting around drinking and playing computer games.

It was good fun, but it has broken me.

I feel like someone has attacked me with a baseball bat.

I’m having difficulty avoiding passing out at my desk.

Every time I close my eyes I see flashes of game graphics.

Most worryingly I can hear the battle music from Supreme Commander playing inside my head.

It’s a little disturbing.

Deep fried snow

Thursday, May 3rd, 2007

I saw the headline “Snowflakes promise faster chips” in BBC News and immediately assumed they where going to use snow flakes to make the process of cooking chips faster. The article was about computer chips, of course.

You’d think the ten years working with computers would’ve managed to displace the ‘fried food’ definition of chip from the top of my mind. Or perhaps the stupidity of deep frying snow might have been a hint. But no. Food first it seems. And that’s after lunch.

Bonus Link: Virtual Dog Walking Arcade Machine

Don’t forget to vote if you’re in the UK.

The Sound of Silence

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

Wow, no posts for three weeks — a new record.

Why so quiet? Well I’ve been in Moscow for work the week before last and the rest of the time I’ve been somewhat busy catching up with all the other things I was supposed to do over the last month.

Preparing for the trip was interesting, it was all very short notice and it’s been a while since I’ve had to work with a proper drop-dead deadline, and it’s been ages since I’ve had such a tight schedule to keep. In the end it all went as smoothly as I could have hoped for — even if our software isn’t as easy to use as I would have liked (particularly since I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to improve exactly that).

I was pleasantly surprised by Moscow, considering my last visit to was marked by close encounters with scam artists and dodgy policemen. This time everything was quiet, no scams, no police, not even that many strange looks. I did manage to get hopelessly lost by getting off at the wrong metro stop and not realising for an hour, and I managed to sleep through my stop on what I thought was the last train of the night (fortunately there was at least one more train going back the other way).

I found a couple of really nice bars that I’d go back to (and a few that I wouldn’t recommend). This is easier said than done as Moscow’s street layout and numbering is somewhat odd. I also found myself, pretty much by accident, back at a bar I’d been to with the Vodkatrain lot, these dudes were playing (sorry for the shaky video):

Get the Flash Player to see this player.


I have more videos but the embedded player doesn’t seem to play nice with multiple videos.

All in all a fun, and worthwhile, trip. Now I just have to decide where to go next.

Technology

Saturday, March 10th, 2007

The lack of posts this week has been due to me arguing with new technology, more specifically my new computer refusing to install windows. Eventually I bent it to my will — although I’m still not sure what I did to make it work. In any case its eyes now glow with raw power rather than silent contempt for my abilities:

The Alien

Why yes, I’m a geek, what gave it away?

Telewest Engineers Breathe Easy Again

Sunday, December 17th, 2006

Telewest managed to get the TV Drives back up and running after a seven hour outage yesterday. The official line says:

A configuration issue on our network caused this outage.

Sounds fishy to me, non TV Drive boxes weren’t affected so the majority of the network was intact. I guess it’s possible that they tried to push a upgrade to the boxes but it’s bizarre to do it nationwide in the middle of a Saturday. If they did to that and their update server died in the middle of it then I suppose that might hose the boxes until they got the server back.

But who knows what really happened? The problem with these sorts of things is that the customers are rarely really told what went on. In fact the customer services department are rarely told so the end users have no hope. Does it really matter? Do we benefit, as customers, from knowing the details after the fact? Is there any harm in putting the information out there?