Archive for the 'Web' Category


Friday, December 15th, 2006

I like competitions where there’s some skill or challenge involved, rather than the normal prize-draws or ones with questions that you’d need the IQ of a dead hedgehog to get wrong. Competitions that can’t possibly be solved by using the Internet are even better. That way you feel that you’ve got a decent chance of winning, or at least you’re likely to be up against less people.

All of which brings me to the Orange “win the ultimate party” competition, sadly the thrust of the competition seems to be to harvest peoples e-mails but, ignoring that, it appeals to me. It’s an easy concept: design a £50,000 party for 400 people, best party idea gets their party made real, it’s not got long to run (closes in January) and the bar is quite high as you need to register 400 e-mail addresses for your entry to qualify. I’m going to trust Orange not to be too spammy and say that that’s a fairly cheap cost to enter.

So, this should be winnable but how to do it? The spec says “creative and unique” and something that would “bring people together”. I think that rules out the stuff I can come up with off the top of my head, the medieval banquet, the Hollywood party, any time-period themed thing. You could go with an abstract theme (‘Stuff the begins with T’, or even just ‘Orange’) but I expect those angles are going to be pretty well covered so I don’t think there’s much mileage in that.

I’m guessing sucking up to Orange and figuring in communication heavily isn’t going to hurt. Hmmm, perhaps some mad multi-site thing? Some phone-based interaction? Something ‘mobile’ (see what I did there?). Gah, not as easy as I thought. Any ideas? Free invites to any commenters that want them (if I come up with a half decent idea).

Things I’m not doing in November

Tuesday, November 7th, 2006

It’s November, there are many things I’m not doing this month. I’ll not be sweating in the south of China or basking on the beaches of Thailand, unlike the people I keep getting e-mails off. Good to hear you’re enjoying yourselves you lucky ::mumbles under breath::

Also I’ll not be taking part in either NaNoWriMo or NaBloPoMo, although they are both great ideas. So you’ll not be seeing any more posts here than normal, and there will be no 50,000 word novel appearing in December. In addition I’m unlikely to be going to Dr. Sketchy’s Anti Art School when it starts in Edinburgh this weekend (more details on this awful looking myspace page) although I am tempted just to see what manner of people turn up …

Finally I’ll not be searching the archives to see if I’ve already linked Personal Universe since it’s just been updated, new user designed levels now provide extra hours of distraction.

Where’s the kaboom?

Thursday, November 2nd, 2006

… there was supposed to be an Earth-shattering kaboom.

At my last job I maintained the voice-menu/voicemail server, one of the number that went to server worked as a test number and played that clip when you dialed it. If you heard Marvin then you knew that the server was running. I wonder if the number still works …

And that demonstrates why, despite it’s flaws, wikipedia is great because I didn’t doubt for a second that there would be a Marvin page on there. I wonder what the most obscure/unlikely page on wikipedia is, one that has actually content rather than a stub. Just clicking ‘Random article‘ a couple of times in a journey in itself.

You may have gathered that this post contains little real content, there’s still not that much to talk about. The picture viewer I’ve been rambling about is actually live on the site but I’m still not happy with it, so no fanfare until I’m satisfied or I admit defeat and decide to put up with it as it is.

If you’re looking to create an Earth-shattering kaboom of your own I can recommend this page on How to destroy the Earth (with handy current Earth destruction status page, in case you’re worried that there was a kaboom and you just missed it.) Although it might be better for all of us if you devoted your time to solving this puzzle which has been annoying me for almost two weeks now.

Future warning signs …

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

A selection of warning signs we might be seeing in the future. These should really get made into stickers or fridge magnets in time for Christmas. “Existential Threat”, classic.

Yeah, I’m getting round to pictures and some posts about the trip, it’s just taking a while.

Tomorrow it begins

Friday, September 15th, 2006

Thirty days, nine time zones, eight cities, six languages (at least), five currencies, four countries, three different alphabets, and me doing a thirteen thousand two hundred and sixty two miles (ish) round trip.

There should be some stuff appearing on the site, but we’ll have to see how it goes. In the meantime I thought I’d share some links that I’ve been using to help.

First up, “The Man in Seat Sixty-One… ” the site mostly responsible for this whole trip. Basically it covers how to travel to anywhere without flying and how to get around by train and ship once you get there. It has a dedicated Trans-Siberian page with pictures of the trains, tips, timetables etc. It’s a fantastic site, more so because it’s not profit driven but done by someone who just has a love of the subject. A good read even if you’re not planning a train journey anywhere and required reading if you are.

I’d like to recommend a travel site with good country or city guides but most of them aren’t great, you can always try Rough Guide or Lonely Planet but they want you to buy the books so the free stuff is patchy at best. Sites like tripadvisor that have user content are only has good as the contributions and I find most of them badly laid out and too full of ads. Late in the planning of the trip I found Wikitravel, pushed down the Google results by all the sites wanting to sell you stuff. It’s exactly what you think it is, a travel guide in wiki format — again only as good as it’s contributors but nicely laid out, ad-free, and it has lots of decent content all licensed under creative commons. It also took me ages to find a site with decent health information for travellers until I found which is, simply put, excellent.

Shopping wise I picked up a lot of the stuff I’m taking second hand from friends (thanks all) and a fair bit of stuff off ebay or Amazon* (mostly the Marketplace). The rest is from good old fashioned bricks and mortar shops. Bookwise I’ve really liked the Lonely Planet phrasebooks, the Berlitz city guides but my main reference on the trip will be the Lonely Planet Trans-Siberian Railway* book. For travel money I’ll be trying Travelex, I normally go with the Post Office but Travelex seem to have much better rates and I can pick the money up at Stansted Airport meaning I don’t need to lug around a ton of cash while I’m in London.

I think a quick link to all the travel companies and on-line booking services I’ve used is in order, so here goes: EasyJet (flights out), Eurolines (bus to St. Peterburgh), HotelClub* (Guangzhou hotel), Expedia*(Hong Kong hotel), British Airways (flights back) and, of course, Vodkatrain for everything else.

I’ve also found Wikipedia useful for providing me with interesting facts to tell people when they ask where I’m going, and here’s the City Distance Tool I used to get my miles travelled figure at the start of this post. I’ve been using GMail and Writely to ensure that all my travel documentation is only as far away as the nearest ‘net connection.

Finally to keep you occupied until more content appears either read Simon of Space or play with a White Jigsaw.

Have fun everyone.

[Full Disclosure] The links with a ‘*’ are affiliate links and earn me (or in the case of the Trans-Siberian book) money if you buy after clicking through.


Thursday, August 10th, 2006

More festival stuff is coming but I couldn’t resist sharing this example of how odd your brain/body connection can be (from The Brown Stuff):

1. While sitting at your desk, lift your right foot off the floor
and make clockwise circles.

2. Now, while doing this, draw the number “6” in the air with your right hand.

Your foot will change direction.

Aha, I thought, that’s just a con to make people look stupid. But then I tried it and it works. So I tried it several times, and it still works. Try it yourself, see if you can outfox your foot …

Found via NHS Blog Doctor

Want Ball

Sunday, July 30th, 2006

Since I’ve now got the last thing I wanted, it’s time to for the materialistic part of my mind to focus on something else.

And it’s has, the Ice Cream Ball:

Picture of Ice Cream Ball

I’ve seen this before but previously it was only available in America, once again FireBox comes up with goods and are offering it over here. I’m not actually sure how much I’d use this since I don’t eat a lot of Ice Cream, but it’s just so damn cool (no pun intended) that I want one.

Just don’t put your hamster in it by accident.

What’s in the box?

Friday, July 28th, 2006

Oooo, it’s a box …

… filled with paper …
Box with Paper

I wonder what lives in a box like this, find out after the jump …

Wasting Time

Thursday, July 27th, 2006

It’s too damn hot.

Anyway, here’s a couple of games to waste some time. A slick little asteroids type thing: Neon and a deeply annoying patience/puzzler card game: RSVP.

Finally, proof that everything is somewhere on the internet, Marmaduke Explained. Quality, my favourite is this one.

Games, as always, from JayIsGames. Random internet link thanks to Freakgirl.

Film Festival Lineup

Wednesday, July 19th, 2006

The Edinburgh Film Festival lineup is online. The horror lover in me is drawn to Them, nothing else jumps out at the moment but I’ll probably go and see a few things if I have time.

What I’d really like to mention, and you knew this was coming, is the website: it’s great. It’s not perfect, but it’s both stylish and useful, just take a look at the daily view. Now that is how you present listings information, the pane scrolls so no reloading the pages, it makes it obvious what clashes and you can mouse over films for full information. Perfect for people who want to find something to do on a particular day, if you don’t like that you can just display everything alphabetically and page through it, sadly only shows ten entries per page but you take what you can get.

Each film has it’s own full details page with a good long blurb, full show times, links to more information and recommendations for other films you might like. That last feature combined with the Suggest-O-Tron, which suggests films that are similar to other films, allows you to really browse through the site.

To be fair they’re probably the smallest of the festival sites but it’s still the only one that hasn’t annoyed me. It’s intuitive and easy to use but still has some great features. If I was being picky I’d want more search results per page and to have to click through less pages to bookmark a movie or book tickets. The keyword search function does seem to be flaky, that might be a temporary glitch and they have so few events that it hardly matters.

What’s even better is that, if my memory is correct, they’ve changed and improved the site this year rather than just sticking with what worked last year. If only other sites would follow their lead.