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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Getting away from it all

Really, I despair.  Just because it's half term it seems the company pretty much just shuts down.  How anyone expects to get anything done when everyone's on holiday is in truth, beyond me.  Now that our kids have grown up, Mrs G and I are no longer tied to having to take vacations (to use the Americanism) during school holidays. Clearly this has an up and a down side to it.  The down being I'm struggling to get any meaningful work sorted out, the up being when we go on holiday it doesn't cost the earth and it's usually pleasantly peaceful. Got all that to look forward to next month.

Next week, however, sees the start of Daughter's big adventure Asia, well Thailand to be more precise. She and her friend are going for three weeks holiday and will be staying in what appears to be some very beautiful and yet reasonably priced locations.

I've never been out that way, having spent my travelling time to date in the US and Europe, with a very brief trip into darker parts of Eastern Europe which felt how I expect old mother Russia to feel like. I still want to go though. The Indian ocean, Asia and the Pacific and New Zealand are all places I'd love to visit and plan to when life and finances allow. I'm all too aware that we're only here now, this isn't acpractice run and we don't knowingly get two bites of the cherry, along with a whole host of other cliches designed to remind us that life is for living. Just while I'm digressing - which can be quite an annoying habit (He said, digressing again - Ed (Hang about, isn't this a digression within a digression within a digression? - Ed's Ed (Bloody Hell, nested digressions? It's worse than Innception -Ed))).

Where was I? Oh yes, just while I'm on the subject, my favourite cliche re: life has to be the Shawshank line 'Get busy living or get busy dying'. Beautifully put.

And on that note... Today is cycling into the city for birthday present shopping. Has to be done to work off the splendid curry that Mrs G and I enjoyed in the company of T, Mad S, S&G and C&M (don't you worry about it - I know who they are). I suspect the rest of the weekend will involve suitcases and packing.

Take care.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween is just around the corner...



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Jeux sans frontières & Iron Man 2

More hard work continually getting in the way of me doing anything more interesting. But that's the day job. First the fun and games stuff. 

Some stuff I don't talk about a great deal but do enjoy in a "guilty pleasure" sort of way are Video Games. It's a generational sort of thing that my parents would never really understand. The reason being that Video Games are not OF their generation. Don't get me wrong, they know what they are. Space Invaders, PacMan and Frogger (to name but 3) were household names in my day and to some extent still are, but that's the 1970's & 80's for you.

Something I've stumbled upon recently though, is an old ZX Spectrum favourite which has been re-booted (to use the parlance of our times). Jet Set Willy Online (Check it out here: http://jsw.ovine.net/) is a freeware server product, or if you're not into the hosting your own game idea, then there's a separate client too. It's Windows only and I have yet to get it up and running, but what a great idea!!!. Apparently it's been around for 3 years now, and I've just found it!? Where multiplayer Jet Set Willy goes next is anybody's guess. Loads of fun material, including the facilities to build your own levels. Great to see him back again.

Online, multiplayer games are nothing new, well at least not brand new, but in sales figures alone, one such piece of software stands out from the crowd. The performance of the "Call of Duty" franchise is quite remarkable. The brand is owned by Activision, who for those of you old enough to remember, will be aware have been around since almost before Jet Set Willy and until more recent times were best known for "PitFall!"

But it's not just Activision developing the game. In fact the series swaps between two different development companies. The current incarnation (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2) was developed by InfintyWard. The next outing (Call of Duty: Black Ops) will be developed by Treyarch. If things were to continue as they have, the next version after that would be back to InfintyWard's table.  However, it appears there's been some leagal wrangling between Activision and Infinity Ward, so noone's quite sure where the franchise will go next.

Regardless of what does happen, the product has phenominal sales figures way up in the high tens of millions of units, which for a video game is insane. However, the attention to detail is what keeps the players faithfull. Well, that and the online aspect. Being able to play against your friends in such detailed graphical environments is the stuff of dreams from the 70's and 80's, now made reality thanks to the pervasiveness of the Internet and improved console technology.  

For those of you that have never seen CoD, here's a snippet of a game of "Capture the Flag" from the current version (Modern Warfare 2)


Gaming really has come a long way and when it makes multi-million dollars for the developers it's just going to keep coming.

Now onto a mini movie review in the shape of Iron Man 2. Last night was to have been a trip to the cinema to finally watch the Social Network (which for those of you that have been paying attention is the facebook movie) which has been getting plenty of attention.  However, this plan when slightly awry when Auntie S's dad fell a little poorly.  Nothing too serious I don't think, but enough that she decided she should go and check him out. So instead I managed to catch up with Iron Man 2 and Mrs G caught up with Holby City (as is her want)

I loved the first Iron Man movie (number 65 in my current top 100) and the second one is also a very enjoyable romp. It's possible it doesn't have quite the impact of the first, but that maybe because we're already aware of the Tony Stark character and his limitations or lack thereof.

It's still packed with special effects which are well done and just about believable in an unbelievable sort of way. Samuel L. Jackson is back as well, reprising his role as Nick Fury (from the Avengers for those not familiar with comic book nerdism). Well I say reprising. If you're one of those people that gets up and leaves the cinema during the end credits, you'll never have seen him in the first movie. After the Iron Man credits you got this little gem:

Interestingly, after the Iron Man 2 credits, there's another little gem to, but you'll have to watch for yourself. I digress.

Mr Jackson puts in a commendable piece and the franchise is bearing up well. One might be forgiven for thinking it's become the place for those actors who've had a bumpy ride in the past to rekindle their career's. I'm referring here to Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 1 & 2 and now also to Mickey Rourke who's another one that's had an extremely colourful life. It's not true though. In point of fact, neither actor ever stopped making movies, they just didn't have the biggest or most well known roles for a while. More power to both of them I say. They're both deserving and should enjoy great credit for their works.

In summary 8 out of 10 especially if you enjoyed the first one.

Back to the drudgery then. It's Thursday though, and there's a special WTC event tonight.  Fun times.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

All the Lovers Fade to Grey (Kylie vs Visage)

I love a Mash-Up...



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Flexing The Muscles

Sad state of affairs when there's a day with no blog entry. Well not a proper one at any rate. Those that know will recall I started off here by trying to rebuild my writing muscle by exercising it properly. The method of training was to write at least 750 words every day as driven by the 750words.com website and it served me very well for a couple of months. Got me into a routine that I doubt I could break very easily now - at least not without a good holiday off the grid completely - and even then I'd want to write about it.

But this is of course only one muscle. There are many more that also need attention. So, if you've tried that and liked it, you might also like buster's latest offering: Health Month, The Game healthmonth.com. Here's this spiel, and very good it is to....

You want to be healthier. You even know how to do it. If you had to.

It has just never quite become important enough to be prioritized over all the great, fun, and tasty reasons to be a little less healthy (oh sweet unhealthiness). That, and changing habits is not only difficult, but sometimes scary, right? You wonder if people will still like you if you say no to that 6th drink or that office cupcake.

Health Month is about taking the SCIENCE of nutrition and behavior change and combining it with the SOCIAL GAMES of the recent social web to help people improve their health habits in a fun and sustainable way. We're happy to leave behind the sketchy get-thin-quick schemes and boring fads that you can't relate to (and half-suspect of being more harm than good anyway).

The formula for living healthier has 4 ingredients: 1) the information (you have most of that, and we can help fill gaps), 2) the ability (you have that too), 3) the motivation (who doesn't want to be healthier, at least a little bit, right?), and 4) the fun and sustainable trigger. The reason. The self-challenge. The game that helps you live healthy, not because you have to, but because it's fun.

Basically you set yourself some rules and then you have to live by them. The system gives you 10 lives to start with and when you don't abide by your rules you lose a life. You also win points and fruit (virtual not real) as the game progresses.

Each morning there's an email in my inbox asking me to report yesterday's achievement's. There's no point in lying about it just to save a life - you're only cheating yourself. I'm doing reasonably well this month having so far gone for 12 days without losing a life. I did slip a little earlier in the month, but I'm more focused again now. If you stick at it, it definitely works and anything that helps you get healthier has to be a good thing.

Health Month is all about designing your own health rules, and then trying to stick to them. We provide the points and the motivation.

Here’s how it works:

Before the game starts

• Choose your rules
• Make your bets and promises
• Choose how you want to play
• Games with 3 or fewer rules are free
• Games with 4 or more rules are either $5 per game, or $50 per year to become a member
• If you can’t afford to pay, you can also seek sponsorship. Every paying player can sponsor one person per month, or they can choose to pay for you

• Introduce yourself to the other players and wait for the game to start After the game starts
• Mark off your rules every day
• Get points
• Share your progress

We all know how to be healthy. This game is about finding your limits, giving you incentives to make new habits stick, and helping you learn what works for you.

It also has links to all the social networks, facebook, twitter, flicker, tumblr and even foursquare. Interestingly, foursquare offer a merit badge for successfully completing a month so I'm well on my way to becoming a "Healthy Fox"

None of this explains my lack of blog entry yesterday, but it's no big mystery really. I just got very busy at Starfleet.  It's an odd thing when you feel that you're achieving nothing, you're swamped with work all of which seems futile and leaves you with no desire to even start it let alone get it done. Given that set of circumstances there is only one true course of action.  Stop procrastinating and get on with it.  I'd like to think I'm not a very good procrastinator, although in truth I'm probably as good as the next man. But I digress...

Ahhh..  see what I did there?...

So there we have my brief thoughts for today - onwards and downwards. Things to do. Go and get yourself healthy. Toodle pip!

 



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Limousines - Internet Killed The Video Star



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

FD Sonoma: Tilt-Shift Formula Drift



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

The New Inn from the warren and back

And so it was that Mrs G and I managed to lift our weary heads from the depths of the rabbit warren where we rest and cycle into the City to partake of a beverage or two in the very interesting and historical "New Inn"... which actually isn't very new at all.


View Larger Map

It's a beautiful old building located almost in the center of Gloucester. You can tell from looking that it was obviously at one time an original "Coach House". In later years you can see that the frontage has been split up and part of it now houses a travel agents and a watch shop.  Here's what the big plaque on the wall says about it...

The New Inn's Permanent Guests!

It was at the New Inn in 1553 that Lady Jane Grey heard the news that would lead to her untimely death.

She was manipulated by the Duke of Northumberland who had ambitions to rule the country through her. He arranged a marriage for her to his son and pursuaded the 15 year old Edward VI who was dying of tuberculosis to sign a will bequeathing the crown to her.

The young king soon died and it was from the gallery at the New Inn that Lady Jane was proclaimed the new Queen.

It was not long before her cause was weakened as support for her rival Mary escalated throughout the land.

In 1554, Mary, now Queen of England reluctantly passed sentence on her rival and Lady Jane and her husband were beheaded in the Tower of London.

From that century to modern times. there have been many reported sightings of ghostly figures around the premises, along with reports of glasses and botles being moved.

They are believed to be the work of a restless spirit

A Brief History

The New Inn was originally built as a Pilgrims' Inn to house visitors to the Shrine of King Edward II in St.Peter's Abbey. Rebuilt in 1455 it was hugely popular throughout the Middle Ages with a ?? ?? of Kinghts, Yeomen and Gentlemen lodging due to the popularity of holidays in Gloucester at this time.

Various changes through the years have included two small ?? opening into Northgate Street ///... stone flagged courtyards and a ???? lion grasping a serpant symbolising the triumph of good over evil.

In the 16th century, ?? minstrels were popluar and plays were staged in the courtyard - it is said that William Shakespeare once appeared there. The inn boasted the citys first tennis court during tudor times and in the 18th century ?? ?? as a venue for the unusual and bizarre. New additions to the building were added around this time - a ???house and ??.

In 1858 the Inn was bought freehold by the ?? family who owned it until 1942. The New Inn is now part of the ?? Group

We didn't see any ghosts, and neither did we see Shakespeare, but we did enjoy the journey. For those of you wondering though.  The ghost really does exist, and there's even video evidence to prove it. This is from the bar's CCTV system recorded on the evening of the 23rd of May, 2010

Does give you a bit of shiver doesn't it? Having said that, this weather of late as been fantastic, with glorious sunshine and hardly a rain cloud in sight. It'll never last but it did mean the beer wasn't icy cold, but truly wonderful (and not a ridiculous price) as well as consistently good service. Sadly though, we had to be home for Roast Beef & Yorkshires.... not forgetting the rabbits favourites....  carrots...

And now it's Monday.....  P'ah!



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Some chinaman took them from me in Korea.

I could swear not two minutes ago it was Friday and the weekend hadn't even started yet. But now, I open my eyes to find out it's mid morning on Sunday already and in a matter of hours the working week will be upon us all again. Time most definitely flies when you're having fun, and it would seem, even when you're not.

Saturday morning wasn't a particularly fast start, but things did get done and by about 11 Mrs G had walked into the city to meet her work colleague from her previous job, Daughter had trundled off to work and Son was all set to go to the day's Rugby match at Kingsholm. This left me in the enviable position of being able to do just about whatever I felt like doing. And my choice?? Get on me bike and get all cardio vascular on my ass.... Well lungs actually, but in the parlance of our times and to coin a phase, etc etc, ad infinitum.

Mentally I had the ambitious plan of doing the full on Gloucester-to-Cheltenham-and-back ride. But physically I had other ideas. While my mind was busy writing these cheques that my body couldn't cash, my legs were interrupting the process by screaming at me in agony.

This pain has been brought on by a couple of days of cycling and then literally carrying my youngest nephew up Coopers Hill on Friday. At the time I thought nothing of it, but two miles into my potential 16.4 mile round trip I was getting all too painful reminders which in turn led me to a change of plan. Namely, turn around and take it easy for a day to give the old legs a chance to recover. At least I managed 4 miles which is better than none at all and so the mission to Cheltenham will have to wait for another time.

Things never quite work out how you imagine though, do they? When Mrs G arrived home mid afternoon she announced we needed a short supermarket run to stock up on supplies, not least the wonderful tasting bottle of red wine featured in the following photo.....

I'm sure it would have been fantastic, but I managed to drop it outside our friends house. So the supermarket? Easy enough. But... Son had cautiously parked his car on the drive and then gone off to the Rugby with his car keys. This left the car stranded with no way to get it out. What's particularly entertaining is this all came to light when he rang up to ask for a lift back from the Rugby. Buffoon springs to mind.

Well after a little umming and ahhing Mrs G and I decided we could cycle it in 10 minutes and so my plan of rest went to waste. This has left me aching like the achiest thing that went to the university of aching and got a degree in applied achiness. Not much fun I can tell you.

Still that won't stop me. Oh no. And in fact today Mrs G and I plan a ride to the city center after lunch to partake of at least one beer from the "New Inn Beer Festival". Never was a pub given a more inappropriate name when you learn that it's actually one of the oldest hostelries in the City. I hear they even have some beer left: https://twitter.com/NewInnGL1/status/28575593001 . Great stuff.

I imagine tomorrow will involve very little leg movement at all. Wish me luck.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Saturday, October 23, 2010

He's in my head again....

Dilbert.com

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

High plains drifting through the deepest darkest Cotswolds

What a truly excellent Friday that felt like a Saturday. It's always nice when you feel like you're getting an extra day and yesterday was no exception.

As planned - although not on schedule as events involving so many kids never are - we trundled off to Cooper's Hill (made famous by the rolling of the Cheese) for an energetic hike through the woods to Cranham.


View Larger Map

The push to the top of Cooper's Hill is one of those climbs that leaves you feeling like you don't do enough exercise no matter how much exercise you actually do do. (Did you just write do do ?? Ed). However, on days like this it also leaves you in no doubt that it's absolutely worth the lung busting burning agony.

At this time of year the tree colours are incredible. To see the luscious greens slowly turning to reds and oranges before disappearing altogether is a sight that anyone would be heartbroken to lose, and just reminds me that I don't want to live on the Mediterranean or the west coast of the US really, even if I think I do.

From here we head south easterly along a short stretch of the cotswold way through the woods. A left turn and down hill past the woodsmans cottage and the across the road and back into the woods to drop down into Cranham itself.

It's a beautiful little village trapped in a valley and feels like it's cut off from the world. Near the top of one of the tiny roads is an equally tiny pub "The Black Horse". With a proper open fire and proper beer and a proper home cooked (not too fancy but huge portions) menu, it was just what was required.

Of course the ordering and delivery of food and beverages is made over complicated by the shear numbers of people involved and the fact that everyone wants something slightly different but the Barman did an excellent job of keeping us all organised and the food and superb beer were quaffed and enjoyed greatly.

The return journey involves a lot of up hill work and on this occasion took the same route as before. As the kids explained this is a particularly dangerous strategy, because by going back the way you came the Indians are sure to know where you've been and are likely to ambush you. All too late had I realized we'd forgotten to cover our tracks on the way in to the village. A schoolboy error (apparently). This gem of very useful information was made all the more pertinent when the kids also revealed this logic to have been proven by their cousins who never retrace their steps and instead strive to find an alternate route. The system must work, as the cousins, as yet have never been ambushed by said Indians, in these or any other parts. Fun times.

The beauty of conversations with 7 year olds is the way their logic produces all sorts of hitherto unknown facts. For example, I hadn't realised that I'm now logically a grandparent. It turns out that once you're kids are no longer kids and are grown up, you're no longer a parent, but automatically a grand parent. Well thanks for that nephew of mine. I shall remember it for future use and try my best to embarrass you with it at a later date. Probably during your university application.

By this time we'd also had the sad news that daughter was required to help out at work in the evening and so our little party of scattered family was to come to a close. We traipsed back to the bottom of the Cheesey hill and from there back home. For those wishing to try it out, we made it last almost 3 and half hours, but two of those were spent sat in the pub eating, so a 45 minute walk each way. Longer if you're covering your tracks.

All was not completely lost though, as Mrs G and I were able to join them all again in the evening for a well deserved curry, frivolity, a number of "was-lovely-to-see-yous" and couple of "we'll-be-up-to-visit-you-all-soons" before they were due to head back north to bonnie Scotland.

One tiny bit of tech note...  Daughter's new camera was the test bed for these photo's (A Samsung PL150 - £130 - other cameras are available) which she'll be taking on her forthcoming Thailand trip. It's done a good job. Might be a little small for my clunky hands, but it takes a damn good picture as I'm sure you'll agree.  

And then there's a beutiful little app for the iPad called "TiltShiftGen" Which enabled me to take this shot of Tesco's...

....and turn it into this beautiful model village...

Best of all, it's now only just Saturday morning. The weekend awaits and I hear there's a beer festival at The New Inn in Gloucester. Ahhh, to sip, perchance to drink.. Who knows, but gotta keep an eye out for the Injuns, especially at my age.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Windows Live Spaces to be replaced by Wordpress.com

 
Windows Live Newsletter
 
 

Dear Windows Live Spaces customer,

Important changes are coming to your Spaces account that affect you and will require you to choose an option that is right for you. We are very excited to announce our collaboration with a premier and innovative blogging service, WordPress.com, to offer you an upgraded blogging experience. We'll help you migrate your current Windows Live Spaces blog to WordPress.com or you can download it to save for later. You should know that On 16th March 2011 your current space will close.

With the new release of Windows Live services, we've made a series of changes and improvements across our products. We chose to partner to provide our users with a fantastic blogging solution. However, we realise the changes will have an impact on you - this email aims to address any concerns you may have.

Why is this happening?
Our customers have asked for richer blog functionality including an integrated statistics system, continuous saving of drafts and improvements to spam-fighting technology. To deliver the best possible blogging experience, we are collaborating with WordPress.com to provide their free service to you. For those of you that already have a blog on Windows Live Spaces, we will make it easier for you to get started while helping you move what you've already built up on Spaces.

What is the timeline?
Starting at the end of September 2010, when you visit your Windows Live Space you'll be given the opportunity to upgrade your blog by migrating it to WordPress.com and to download your content to save for later. 

As of 4th January 2011, you won't be able to make changes to your Spaces blog, but you can continue to review past posts, download your content to save for later and upgrade your blog to WordPress.com

On 16th March 2011 Windows Live Spaces will close and you will not be able to access or migrate your blog on Spaces.

What you need to do before Windows Live Spaces closes
Starting at the end of September, when you visit your space you'll have the following options:
  • Upgrade your blog by migrating to WordPress.com - We will provide a simple way to move your blog posts and comments to WordPress.com.
  • Download your blog – You can download your old posts to keep a copy with you. You can also do this and then migrate to WordPress.com.
  • Delete your space - If you decide that you do not want to have a space anymore, you have the option to delete it permanently. If you want to save your content, please make sure to do that before deleting your space.
  • If you can't decide, take some time – Over the next few months, Windows Live Spaces will continue to be accessible while you make your decision. But we're very excited about what you can do on WordPress.com and hope you'll decide to take advantage of this improved blogging experience.
Note: some content such as gadgets, guestbook, lists, notes and draft posts won't be migrated. See FAQs for more info on how to preserve this type of content. 


What you can expect by moving to WordPress.com
All of your posts, comments and links will transfer, and you will have the option to share your blogging updates with your Messenger friends.

On WordPress.com, you'll get tools to help you track how your blog is doing and who's visiting. You'll get tagging that enables people to find you, and for you to find like-minded people. It includes great blog comment functionality, and trackback spam prevention to help keep your experience clean. Take a look at more.

Thanks for using Windows Live and we hope you enjoy the new blogging experience.

Yours Sincerely,

The Windows Live team

Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is WordPress.com ?
A: WordPress.com is a free blogging site, similar to Windows Live Spaces. On WordPress.com, you'll find great themes and widgets to customise your experience, tools to help you track how your blog is doing and who's visiting. You'll get tagging that enables people to find you, and for you to find like-minded people. It includes great blog comment functionality, and trackback spam prevention to help keep your experience clean.

Q: What happens to my Windows Live Spaces content and what can I migrate?
A: Here's a list of different functionality available on Windows Live Spaces today and what you can expect:

  • Blogs and comments: If you choose to migrate or download, your blog content (including inserted photos, videos and comments) comes with you.
  • Photos: Photos not part of your blog but part of Windows Live will continue to live on SkyDrive and, if you choose, you can continue to share them with others. Photos that were part of your blog will be migrated if you choose to migrate your blog. If you add any other modules provided by other services that shared your photos, those will not be migrated.
  • Visitors will know where to find you: If you migrate, existing links to your blog and specific articles will continue to work and your visitors will be redirected to your new location on WordPress.com. You'll also be able to keep your friends up to date with your latest posts on Windows Live Messenger.
  • Private blogs: If you have a private blog, your blog will be checked as private unless you choose another option during migration. You'll be able to share your blog back with your Windows Live Messenger friends or just choose to select a few people to invite toWordPress.com.
  • Gadgets, guestbook, lists, notes and draft posts: Unfortunately, you won't be able to move these. You might consider publishing your draft posts over the coming months and moving content in lists and notes into your blog before migrating.
  • Profile and Contacts modules: That information stays on Windows Live. You can add your new blog to your Profile and share it with your friends.

Q: What can I expect between now and the date Windows Live Spaces closes?
A: Starting at the end of September 2010, when you visit your space you'll be given the opportunity to upgrade your blog by migrating it to WordPress.com and to download your content to save for later. Your space will continue to be available for you to publish to. As of 4th January 2011, you will lose the ability to make changes to your Windows Live Spaces blog, but you can continue to review past posts, download your content to save for later and upgrade your blog toWordPress.comOn 16th March 2011, Windows Live Spaces will close and you will not be able to access or migrate your blog.

Q: Where can I learn more?
A: Are you a parent of a child who uses Windows Live Spaces? Do you have a private blog? Do you use Writer to publish to Windows Live Spaces? Do you have other questions? Please visit our Help Centre for additional information and resources.


Microsoft respects your privacy. To learn more, please read our online Privacy Statement.
Microsoft Corporation
One Microsoft Way
Redmond WA 98052
 
  


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Friday, October 22, 2010

Beavering, Banqueting & Bicycling

It's been one of those weeks at starfleet. My brain has been well and truly frazzled with yet more changes to the way things are done and in fact the total dissolution of the department that I work in. One has to wonder if 'they' know what they're doing.

I fully understand that change is a necessity and without it your business will stagnate and die, but that doesn't mean it has to be constant and in my opinion if you don't stop and look occasionally, you'll miss the vista.

That said, in Microsoft's case, 'missing the vista' might have been just the right thing to do. A shockingly poor OS. I digress.

I'm not over concerned. I have secured a new position within this vast and complex borganisation (see what I did there? Apologies to fans of the original series) and I'm looking forward to the challenges that will bring, all be it not until next January.

Having fixed my destiny, I've been focused on the current workload hence my appalling lack of blogging. I did micro blog for those of you that twatter, (as some call it) but only in the sense that I shared some of the more interesting tech news.

Now that Friday has arrived, the pace has abated somewhat, not least because both Mrs G and I have yet another day off. The Scottish contingent are on their way back up north from their trip to the south and are having a stop over at mother-in-laws en route and so we've parked the working week to enjoy their rare company.

To this end we're all getting together for what promises to be an entertaining cotswold pub lunch. There's a little boozer tucked away in a village behind a steep hill and through some dense woods not very far from the rabbit warren and this is to be our destination. Part driven to, part rambled to, we shall make our way through the autumnal semi frosted fields and woods to the sanctity of a warm and inviting open fireside for steak sandwiches or a ploughman's lunch or something similar. (the ploughman will be livid -Ed). Pictures to follow.

I know not what the rest of the weekend has in store, but that's the best sort of weekend there is. As long as there's no 'crashing & burning' like last weekend, I'll be perfectly happy.

A final passage of note on the subject of bicycling. Regular readers will know I recently purchased bicycles for Mrs G and I on the premise that we'd use them to get back into shape after two very slovenly summers. I'm thoroughly enjoying the process, Mrs G less so, and so it was with this in mind that the arrival of an email from France has given me something intriguing to strive for.

A good friend of mine (let's call him Bart to preserve his identity) lives 'sur la continent' and has suggested that he and I and a few others might try to cycle from London to Paris next October. Initially I was sceptical. Now I am relishing the idea. Obviously it will require France to still exist and allow other europeans entrance. Watching the news this week, the place looks like its about to spontaneously combust. But that's the French for you.

This also means however that I have a lot of work to do between now and then. I'll try not to blather on about it too much, but expect regular updates on the subject in the coming months.

I do love a challenge - especially one that involves beer and cheese (or wine & meat)




This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Widgetbox introduces "Mobile Web Apps"

Woke up to this in my inbox....

Widgetbox
Hello Widgetboxer,

We wanted you to be the first to know about our new mobile web apps!

Mobile web apps for iPhone and Android

We're extremely excited to announce the launch of our newest product —
mobile web apps.

Starting today you can make and distribute a feature-rich mobile app in minutes without writing any code. New mobile web apps are compatible with iPhone and Android devices—allowing you to reach your mobile audience without an app store.

Create with clicks, not code
Our self-service builder lets you build your own mobile app for a fraction of the time and cost of traditional native apps found in the app stores.

Distribute on your own terms
Widely distribute your app through multiple channels including a mobile link (URL), text (SMS), barcodes (QR), social media networks, email, and more. No need for complex and lengthy app store approvals—just quick and easy distribution on your own terms.

Build with the latest technology
Our mobile web apps are built with HTML5, providing an attractive alternative to traditional mobile app development while still providing you with the rich look and feel of native applications.

Deliver more than a mobile site
Our new mobile apps offer more functionality than our previous mobile sIte offering--allowing for a truly "app-like" experience. Along with an improved technology and additional styling and design options, you can also take advantage of new content features including:

  • Store locator
  • Events calendar
  • Branded splash page
  • "Contact Us" page
  • Custom domain url
Try a Mobile App for Free—No Credit Card Required
Try out all the features of our new mobile web apps with a free 14-day trial. With your free trial you can fully evaluate the new mobile app service plans with no obligation.

Get Started

© 2010 Widgetbox, Inc. All rights reserved.
706 Mission Street, Fifth Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103

Cool geekery....
A proper post later.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Some thoughts on Flipboard

I love it and hate it in not quite equal measure. It does almost everything you expect of it, but is in need of a couple of minor tweaks. OK, so before I loose those of you that have never heard of it, let me explain.
 
Flipboard is a free iPad application. Their spiel is succinct ; 
This is your Flipboard. It's your personalised, social magazine.
so you might catch on quicker if you watch the video...
 

Looks very slick doesn't it? And it is, but I do have a couple of niggles that I'll share just to get them off my chest. 

I love the way it formats your twitter feed, grabs links and photos and presents it on a newspaper sort of way, but each time you close it and return to it, it assumes you want to view your timeline from now going backwards. I just wish it could remember where I was so that I could read from there going forwards. It's not that I want to read every tweet in my feed (no-one could ever keep up) but I would like to not have to wait to scroll backwards through stuff I haven't seen to get to where I was.  It's not the end of the world, and to be fair you can drag your timeline backwards several pages at a time by holding the little red blob at the bottom of the page and dragging it to the right.
Or you can tap (in this example "44 minutes ago") to jump back to that point. I just wish it would remember where I'd got to in my feed - that's all.

My second niggle is content control. I know it's built for Facebook and twitter, but you've given me a glimpse of what's possible, so now I want it all.  You can add your facebook and twitter feeds very easily, but how about .. And this is purely from a selfish perspective .. MY Google Reader RSS feed?  There are plenty of suggested feeds and blogs to add as 'Magazine Sections' (for want of a better description) but the best you can get in terms of user definable feeds are Twitter and Facebook accounts.  There's no simple way to get your reader feed in there.

After a little bit of digging there's two intresting factlets. 

1) This is the most requested feature for Flipboard (LoL - I must be right then) and 
2) There is a way of doing it, but it's a bit of a faff.

Just to go into a little more detail on 2.  You have to make your reader feeds that you want to appear in Flipboard public. Then you have to burn these feeds using Feedburner. Then you publish these Feedburner feeds to a Twitter account and finally subscribe to the Twitter account in Flipboard.

Obviously this works, but it's a bit messy and kludgy. Far nicer would be native integration into Flipboard its self.

It is a beautiful way to "browse" the web. Content is formatted cleanly and clearly and you could easily be forgiven for thinking you're reading an actual magazine. That is until you tap a video still that starts playing. Magical.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

iPad - conclusions so far....

The thing about an iPad is, once you've held it in your hand for 2 minutes and opened up a couple of web pages or better yet, looked at your twitter feed via Flipboard, you are hooked.  It is that simple.  iPhone users will be familiar with this concept already, because it works in the same way.  I've been lucky enough to finally get my hands on one and foolishly, I put it down for 2 minutes.  I fear I may have lost it to my Daughter or her friend both of whom instantly immersed themselves in their Facebook pages as if holding the internet in their hands was the most natural thing in the world.

I know that the guys at Apple were using that line in their advertising and marketing spiel "Holding the Internet in your hand", but it really does feel like that. It's the strangest and most normal thing all at the same time. Very clever stuff.

I've justified it's acquisition by saying it's for the family to use. Replacing a laptop or phone that are often used in front of the TV,  for following twitter, or looking up those faces that make you go "Oooo, What was he in??" or "Wasn't she so-and-so's wife in that thing on BBC2?" or "How much is that book then?" as seems to happen fairly constantly in our house. I think in the longer term, they'll all want their own, because it's very difficult to put it down once you've picked it up and that's not because they've got superglue on their fingers.  There are too many positives to list, so I've enlisted the help of my Editor (Ed), to see if we can find the negatives.

First of all, if you've got an iPhone, then you've got a very small iPad.  So there's a negative.... 

Why buy and iPad if you've got an iPhone (or an iPod touch for that matter) ? -Ed

The differences in basic functionality are minimal.  Well, on an iPhone, so is the display. Beautifully crafted and highly resolutioned, it may be, but there's no getting away from the fact that you do find yourself "peering" at an iPhone display as opposed to looking at it. In that respect, the iPad lends itself to reading perfectly.  (Hang on... that's a negative for the iPhone then??) -Ed..  D'oh!

What about the price of Apps?  Everyone says they're really expensive on the iPad. -Ed  

Errmmm.... actually. They're not.  Where else can you get an entire office suite of the calibre of iWork for 15 quid??   Scrabble for 6 quid??  That's expensive isn't it?  Nope. Not when you consider the cheapest version of scrabble retails at around 12 quid in most toy shops. You've just got to put it in perspective.  There's plenty of free apps still and some of them are seriously not to be missed. Top of that list is Flipboard, but I'll write more about that elsewhere.

Alright, so not expensive apps then, but it doesn't have a camera...  Ah ha...  got you there.... -Ed

Correct. It doesn't have a camera.  And your point is?   Why would you want it to be a camera??  Surely you wouldn't want to try and take pictures with something that big would you?  OK, so you might want a front facing camera to be able to video chat with people. Fair point, but if anything that'll be in a later release of the device. Facetime is barely taking off yet. If it ever actually goes mainstream, then I'd support your criticism of a lack of front facing camera, 100%.

It's expensive. -Ed

I won't argue with you on that point. Even £430 for the lowest priced model is in my opinion too much, but this isn't because the product isn't worth the money, it's that you and I both know the components used to build it are not 430 quids worth.  For me, the price issue is more about my antagonism towards the level of profiteering. But this is something we see in all consumer products in all walks of life. If everyone charged cost + 5% for every single product in the world, I suspect, we'd moan like hell about the price of milk going up, but we'd be overjoyed at the reduction in the cost of housing. Or maybe not... (Interesting subject for another day)

I can't expand the storage. -Ed

Another truth. Well done you. I do worry though if you think your photo collection will be safe on an iPad, or an iPhone, or a memory stick, or a single hard drive for that matter.  Think about it.  This device is a connected device. It's supposed to be connected to the Internet or you're personal network (for those of a rightly paranoid disposition). So that is where you keep your photos. or your documents, or anything else for that matter. 16Gb may not seem like a lot, but it's a goodly size for most people. For example in the last 12 months I've taken just over 5000 photographs. That's 4.1Gb, so the best part of 12 left still.  I suspect in the future you'll be more concerned about the speed of your connection than you will the amount of local storage.  The cost of storage will come down of course, but that doesn't mean you don't want your precious media backed up someplace safe rather than in your pocket.

It doesn't multitask, -Ed

Until next month, when a new (free) release of iOS specifically for the iPad means that it will multitask and wirelessly print to name but two changes to bring it inline with the iPhone 4.

I've already got a PC, so I don't need one. -Ed

If you've got a PC, you do need one, but I'm not rising to the PC vs Mac argument. That's been done to death already.  In shorthand, how long does your PC take to boot up??  'nuff said.

It's cool to use, but you look a bit of dick when you're using it. -Ed

Mmm.... You might have me there. Or do I detect a note of jealousy ??  ;-) And since when did I care what you think I look like?  I'm a Geek... or a Nerd.... or something....  and I'm kicking your harris at Scrabble as we speak.

So there we have it for now.  I'm very pleased with my purchase - but it does mean that I wont be giving any more cash to Mr Jobs' team for a few months now. I was going to upgrade my Apple TV, but I'm not made of money Steve and the current one functions perfectly well for the time being.  

Next job is to try out some of the more technical tasks without the aid of a mouse or proper keyboard and see how that works out.  

Take care.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday Music Montage

Finally I plucked up enough courage to go and buy an iPad. Off the back of that I'll be writing my thoughts in full in the next day or so.  So for today, some stuff that some other folks have done to brighten up an otherwise dull and bring Monday.  Make no mistake, all Monday's, with work involved, are dull...   Unless you've got a job in a lightbulb factory.

First up.... The awesome "Hollerado"

Then there's the consistenly entertaining "OK Go"

And now you know what that cat was say.... be warned though, NSW language in this last one.

 



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Harvesting

Just cleared out the mini vegetable plot at the back of the garage to find this host of little beauties buried in the soil!! Win!

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Monkey God Gold....

Dilbert.com

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Crashing and Burning

An eventful Saturday, but not a particularly well planned one. In all honesty when I awoke I was all set to spend the day at the races with Mrs G..... except.....

Mrs G had a hair appointment and was meeting the girls for lunch. This in itself wasn't a problem but it was also Dozzers 40th birthday this week and he wanted to go to the Rugby. After a couple of phone calls and a little persuasion I was convinced that the Rugby would be the place to be and that Mrs G would join us later in Chelts.

A truck load of beer, a ridiculous game of Rugby and no food later and I was staggering home unable to continue without some sort of nourishment. A great time was had, but badly planned especially on the food front. Ah well. There's always the XFactor which remains awful.

Crashed and Burned.

In other, more useful news.... Daughter was policing the Rugby and how proud was I to see her keeping the peace. That's the stuff that makes it all worth while. Pleased to report one caution, no arrests.

Autumn has arrived and I've officially run out if reasons not to buy an iPad. More on that very soon.
Night all.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Friday, October 15, 2010

Edna ( @MrsStephenFry ) #MrsFrysDiary

Edna not Enid or Erica or Vi, Never fell in love with a regular guy,
Instead she got wed to Mr @StephenFry,
A genius, A treasure, the apple of her eye.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

MS Office vs Open Office vs iWork

What's going on here?? What are Microsoft actively beating up on Open Office? Do they suddenly see them as some sort of threat ?

Surely, if they're worried about them, then they should be focusing on making their products better, not slagging off the competition. Of course, I'm british which means I have an inherent need to support the underdog, but that's not the reason I'm feeling miffed by this video from MS. It's the way they're just saying OO is simply rubbish.

In my day to day running of things, I use both MS Office and Open Office. They're both very good. But then I haven't used iWork yet. From what I've seen, that's a target that Microsoft should really be worrying about. Apple are clearly making in-roads on MS's territory.
Worse still, I'm really starting to run out of excuses NOT to go and buy an iPad. Dagnabit!!!

MS Word = Pages
MS Excel = Numbers
MS Powerpoint = Keynote



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Car Crash TV

I don't want to watch, but I can't help it.... Rubberneckin...



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Ten of the Scariest Scenes in 80s Movies I Saw as a Kid (Corrected)

Here's a thing...    Over at GeeksAreSexy.net (It's no joke, some of us are) ;-) "Natania" has posted "Ten of the Scariest Scenes in 80s Movies I Saw as a Kid" which makes for an interesting top ten of 80's horror. Interesting, but wrong. Even when you take into account that we're only talking about scene's here and the fact that "Natania" is referring to so-called kids films... the list is still.... not quite right.

With that in mind, here's the correct list of full on mainstream horror from the 80's that scared the be-jesus out of me when I was a kid. (Scariest last). There's photo's at the bottom. But I'd suggest not looking that far.... uggghhhhheeeee.AARGAGAHARHHHHH!

10 - An American Werewolf in London (1981). Looking at this again now, it's incredibly tame, but in my youth, that flappy bit in this guys cheek = Full on heebie-jeebies.

9 - Poltergeist (1982). "Kaal Aann. Kaal Aann. Go toewad the lie-t Kaal Aann." Getting stuck in your TV has to be one of the most terrifying experiences a child could have. I blame Oscar Wilde for my fear here. I always thought Poltergeists were fun sort of ghosts thanks to "The Canterville Ghost".  Turns out, that's not quite true according to Mr Spielberg.

8 - Omen III - The Final Conflict (1981). There's something about the attempted assassination in the TV studio. The melting plastic and the melting hands. I think it's because we all know we have to stop this evil. We simply have to. If only we had a decent sense of balance.

7 - Hellraiser (1987) - Who is this guy with pins in his head? and what the hell are they doing!?!?...  This was so bad for me, that for the first time, I was actually unable to watch the whole film all the way through. Maybe when I'm older eh!?.... No fear.

6 - A Nightmare on Elmstreet (1984). How is that kid stuck to the ceiling??  Where is all that blood coming from. Freddie's here and I can't sleep..

5 - Alien (1979). It's so very nearly an 80's movie that it's just got to be in the list for John Hurt's "Chestbuster", but if that's not a good enough excuse, I vividly remember covering my eyes during Aliens (1986) thanks to the way those poor terraformers had been cocooned and the re-emergence of the "Bitch"

4 - The Thing (1982). So much terror awaits you in this movie that It's got two entries in my list. First. The defibrillator. OK, so there's some panic due to the fact this guy needs his heart restarting, but did anyone expect that!?!?  Not sure I'd want to use a defibrillator..... ever....

3 - The Thing (1982). Second. The head. with legs. scuttling.  I'm afraid of spiders in a "not very manly" sort of way in the first place. So to see a guys head transform into a cross between a spider and a crab is just too much for my twinge-at-the-back-of-my-neck nerve.

2 - The Shining (1980). I'm sorry but this movie is also sooo freaking scary that I've had to include two scenes as well. The image of those two girls outside the blood filled elevator is burned into my retina's. It's something to do with the blood. All that blood. So much blood....  where did they get all that blood!??!?!   Arrrgggrh

1 - The Shining (1980).  Combine that with having a great time, riding your trike along those deserted corridors. Corridors that are covered in psychedelic carpet. Stopping outside a random room... and... just.... what.... the.... effing... jeffing... hell is that iN THE BATHROOM!!??!  OMFG!!!!!!!  Get me out of here!!!! The level of fear and terror is unspeakable.  I love it.

To be honest, both The Thing and The Shining are such stand out horror movies that I could leave the rest for dead (all puns intended). Classic Halloween Stuff.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Thursday, October 14, 2010

16 Facts About Sleep

Sleep is a very important part of the human psyche. Sleep is essential to our brain’s productivity. Check out these neat and interesting facts about sleep.

16 Things You Didn't Know About Sleep
Via: Psychology Degree



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Awesome Arcade Machine



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Killing Off Dinosaurs & Kings

It's 86 days since the King of Smo was slain, and don't I know it. 

Don't worry, he won't be resurrected, it's just that daughter and I went for a 5 mile bike ride last night and combined with the first of the real winter weather I was coughing and spluttering like a car with an almost empty fuel tank.  I know that this is a good thing though. The accumulated tar and gunk from 20 years of ingesting the "nicotine death weed" takes a while to recover from (yes, it's really called tobacco, but psychologically it's better to give it a dangerous and off putting name). In fact "a while" is a bit of an understatement. What's causing all this is the "cillia" in my lungs, which is slowly regenerating.

For all you smokers, there's nothing worse than a reformed smoker ramming it down your neck, but honestly, I wouldn't say this if it wasn't worthwhile. Please.... pack it in, for the sake of your kids and your own health. You'll feel better for it eventually. I promise.

On the plus side and as a reminder, all of this has happened already:
  • Just 20 minutes after my last cigarette, my blood pressure and pulse rate dropped to normal and the body temperature of my hands and feet increased to normal.
  • A mere 8 hours after my last smoke, the carbon monoxide level decreased and the oxygen level in my blood increased to normal levels.
  • Just 24 hours after my last cigarette, I substantially lessened my chances of having a heart attack.
  • Two days after my last cigarette, I noticed that my ability to taste and smell was enhanced.
  • Three days later, my breathing became noticeably better because my lung capacity was greater.
  • My circulation has improved and my lung functioning has increased by up to 30% since quitting.
I've still got all this to look forward to:
  • One year after quitting, your risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker.
  • Five years after quitting, your risk of stroke is reduced to that of a nonsmoker.
  • Ten years after quitting, the lung cancer death rate is about half that of a continuing smokers. The risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas decreases.
  • Fifteen years after quitting, your risk of coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmokers
Smoking is a habit introduced to the human race many thousands of years ago. It was introduced to the western world some 400 years ago. Clearly it is a dinosaur of recreational pastimes. 
As for what really happened to the dinosaurs.... Well that's obvious isn't it:



This post originally appeared here: Posterous
 

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