» Belkin WeMo
This kind of looks like the future of home automation.
Nice feature overview here
is cool but complicated; whereas this looks cool and simple.
A friend pointed me at Bookcrossing
Seems like a great way to redistribute your old books and having some fun doing it.
The basic idea - label your old books with a unique identifier, then drop them off wherever you like. Log the 'drop' on the Bookcrossing
website for someone to pick up. If they log the collection you can track who and where the book goes. Obviously there are the usual anonymity options and if a non-Bookcrossing
person picks up the book they may choose not to join-up (its free, they make money selling accessories like custom labels and bookplates).
» Mailorder Beer
A plug and a bit of a bookmark for myself - Beerstore
in NZ does a great job of distributing beer of all kinds delivered to your door.
I've used them a few times now and they're quick and efficient - I even had one delivery with broken bottles which the couriers obviously screwed up and within a couple of days Beerstore
had another order on my doorstep no questions asked. Now thats service !
» What is a karonkka?
A friend of mine recently returned from Finland where he was examining a PhD defence - the process is called a Karonkka
As well as getting decked out in a full-on tux & tails they actually had ceremonial swords to boot. How cool is that ?
Be sure to read Shauns other posts on the nature of research, patents, science and technology in New Zealand.
» TED Talks
A friend of mine (cheers Eddie!) pointed me at the excellent TED Talk
Subscribe to their RSS feed now.
Theres always something you can set aside 15 minutes of your time to learn about or dump to your mp3 player to listen/watch while you commute.
Recent favourites of mine have included - 'Build a brain in a supercomputer'
, 'Our buggy moral code'
, 'What brain damage can point out about our mind'
, 'Why are babies cute? Why is cake sweet?'
» Useful Ways to be Persuasive
I realised my Linkdump category hadn't been updated in a looong time so I'll kick start it with this link to some common-sense ways to be persuasive
As per the link comments in the preamble, its a bit pop-psych but theres some useful stuff to help get your head around how you can get your point of view across to other people.
» Because you need to know - Tracking the $700 Billion Bailout
It'll be interesting to see if the New York Times keeps this table up to date - Tracking the $700 Billion Bailout
See which financial institutions receive money and how much they get.
» Good Music - Le Pop by Katzenjammer
Discovered while reading Popmatters list of Also-rans for 2008
'Le Pop' is one of those joyful albums by a band determined to put a stupid grin on your face at all costs or die trying (cf early Violent Femmes, Crowded House, Pogues).
Check out a couple of videos on YouTube - 'A bar in Amsterdam
' and 'Aint no thang
» Good Books - The Shock Doctrine
Another excellent read from Naomi Klein
- The Shock Doctrine
. I have to admit I'm only halfway through this book - mans inhumanity to man makes for tough going - however its pretty much compulsory reading for anyone that wonders how the worlds free market economy's were lead down the track they're currently on.
Essentially what Klein does is posit the idea that free market economies and reforms can only be forced through on the back of an external crisis (sometimes real and sometimes engineered). As a result those people best placed to take advantage of the reforms do extraordinarily well and the vast majority of us end up worse off - with globalisation these disparities keep getting worse as multi-nationals cease to be bound by georgraphy.
As the recent recession and American bank / finance / auto bail-outs have shown - the free market has failed to a certain extent - their own calls for deregulation have bit them on the ass and now they're going cap in hand to the very regulatory bodies they once reviled for assistance.
So even when things go wrong for the wheelers and dealers of the world - they still come out on top.
» Good Books - Killing Rommel by Stephen Pressfield
Another quick summer read - Killing Rommel
is a return to form for Stephen Pressfield - his 'Gates of Fire' was a masterpiece but after that I found 'Tides of War' and 'Last of the Amazons' to be a little dry.
His latest novel tells the tale of the Long Range Desert Group
(LRDG) and their various exploits in the North African campaign, culminating in a mission to track down and kill Rommel
Friday 21 September 2012 at 4:39 pm
Why the flying fuck can I not schedule a shutdown time that is honored via the Energy Saver control panel ?
Prior to 10.7 if I set a shutdown time the system would shutdown.
Pretty simple, pretty cool, expected behaviour. Very Apple. Nice.
Now, if I do this, may Mac may (or may not) shutdown depending on who (other Mac's to shares) or what (iTunes wireless sync) is connected.
If I cared about syncing or shares I wouldn't schedule a shutdown.
If a setting resulted in unexpected behaviour, then a followup prompt to say "If you shutdown existing shares or synching will be affected are you sure you want to over-ride this and shutdown anyway ?" would be really cool.
Apple, please fix this !!
PS - for those of you that say you shouldn't ever need to shutdown, how about to save power or flush out the OS stack (aspects of which appear to have gotten less reliable with each OS revision) ?
PPS - yes I know I could cut through the crap by using a simple CRON Unix job but why should I have to resort to a command line to do something that has a GUI ?
Sunday 02 September 2012 at 10:08 am
While the world goes iOS, iPhone, iPad nuts I continue to find it frustrating to use.
Maybe I'm just an edge case and people are so buried in their app-y goodness they don't necessarily care that the tool has some fundamentally frustrating flaws.
Still, its always interesting to see other people express similar discontent at Apples inability to get simple things right. I feel like there should be some kind of support group.
Browser cache, do you speak it?
Browser cache, do you fucking speak it yet??
Sunday 02 September 2012 at 09:59 am
iPads are pretty cool.
They're also massively frustrating.
But why oh why can't I draw or create something in one app and copy/paste it into another (draw something in Adobe Ideas or Studio53's Paper and shift it from one app to the other; I dare you to try) ?
Maybe I'm just old and reluctant to accept change or I'm missing out on something super subtle usability paradigm that obviates the need to readily shift content easily from one app to another.
I'm guessing all of the API's are there and its just app vendors laziness to implement a feature the world has been used to for 30+yrs ?
Wednesday 29 February 2012 at 08:23 am
So much spleen, so little time.
Looking to upgrade my old 2008 Mac Mini to OS X
10.7 (aka Lion) with a particular view towards Front Row
improvements. To my horror I noticed some notes indicating this was to be the last iteration of Front Row and that it was being dropped.
The reason I hadn't discovered this earlier was that my Mini didn't have enough RAM to upgrade. Having bought some more memory I was keen to get back to the upgrade.
I guess there are two things going on here -
- Pulling Front Row will allow Apple to focus on Apple TV
- Apple have an awesome new Front Row replacement (squeee!)
I'd say its 90% about #1 and 10% about #2 - I'm happy to be proven wrong about this though.
My Mac Mini setup is great - apart from the age and inability to deal with 1080p it works really well. It starts up, logs in, auto-starts Elgatos EyeTV and drives my 32" LCD TV. A click of my Logitech Harmony and I can bring up Front Row, play my media (still ropey mkv support - whats with that?), play music and view photos all through a single easy to control interface.
Friends have bought the AppleTV and do rave about it but it just seems like another gizmo locked into another bit of the Apple eco-system. I'd rather get a Western Digital TV which is much more 'open' and I can playback content from my Mini as required. Even then, a WD TV can't do live TV thereby limiting its usefulyness.
What is the point of bundling a remote control if all it controls is iTunes ? How do you use a remote to switch froom iTunes to iPhoto or anything else that'll play media ?
Now if AppleTV built in a tuner, provided some pvr capability and enabled a plug-in architecture for media playback that might be a different story.
As for Plex
- they're fine efforts but compared to Front Row they lack elegence and simplicity. About all they have going for them is the ability to handle whatever media is thrown at them (and theres still no EyeTV integration). Oddly Plex is meant to be more 'Mac' like but XMBC is actually more polished. I know there are skins available to 'Front Row-ify' both of these tools but the process to download and install them isn't even remotely friendly - these tools both appear to have been written with tinkerers in mind; I don't mind tinkering but the reality is I have better things to do with my time - which is why I have a Mac and not a nerd-tastic Linux media centre.
And don't get me started on the Apple remote Menu button not doing anything post upgrade.
Saturday 25 February 2012 at 5:46 pm
Its been a long while since I've made a post venting spleen.
The iPad has effectively driven me to it though.
Why can't iOS apps follow some decades old interface standards for the sake of consistency ?
Heres my most aggravating example - Flipboard
. I actually really enjoy the application - its free and it just works the way I'd expect it to. It does have some annoying interface quirks though. Top of my list - why are urls not clickable ? In the 21st century having to 'visit the original' article which spawns a crippled browser that still doesn't give you a clickable url is surely punishable by something very nasty indeed ?
If the 'app-ification' of computing means roll-your-own interfaces I'll give it a miss.
Whats worse is that if this trend moves over to OS X I'll just give up upgrading. If I wanted 'At Ease' as a user-interface I'd have stuck with a Mac LCII in a teaching lab circa 1993.
Postscript - since first venting, Flipboard urls seem to be much better handled now and the book metaphor seems to be improving.
Saturday 02 April 2011 at 1:11 pm
A great bit of public transport signage courtesy of Boing Boing
Tuesday 03 March 2009 at 7:13 pm
I haven't had a good bit of spleen venting in awhile . . .
There is a special place in hell reserved for people that take up two seats on public transport (bus, train etc).
You know the type, they'll sit down at a window seat and plonk their bag down on the seat next to them. Usually oblivious to the hate-filled stare from everyone else on the bus.
On a mostly empty bus I have no problem with this - on a moderately full bus (particular the morning, evening rush) its just plain annoying and infuriating.
Not wanting to play the grumpy old man I have to say the majority of offenders tend to be teenagers (usually exuding that 'woe is me; life sux' attitude).
Generally, regardless of how many seats are free I try and make a point of indicating that they should shift their stuff so I can sit next to them - the annoyance value of having to be slightly confrontational is usually repaid by the knowledge that I've just given the person something else to be pissed off about. I can almost feel the hooded yoof texting madly 'some crazy person made me move my skateboard and sat right next to me' . . .
Monday 17 September 2007 at 6:53 pm
Why has 'aks
' become an acceptable substitute for 'ask' ?
Monday 16 July 2007 at 08:34 am
Excuse me while I vent spleen upon our noisy South African neighbors who insist on a party everytime their Rugby team plays. The party in and of itself is not a problem - the problem is their idiot friends who seem to revel in getting drunk and running up and down the street re-enacting scenes from some teen-drama at volume at midnight (who cares if Jenny is to drunk to drive; let her go and plow a power pole, leave us in peace and reduce the dead-weight in the gene-pool!)
Grow the fuck up and have some consideration for your neighbors you bastards!
Oh and we beat the the bastards too
. Go the All Blacks!
PS yes yes I'm being passive aggressive - I should go and talk to them reasonably about the issue - but frankly if I have to explicitly explain civilized behavior to people then what has the world come to ?
PPS I'm turning into a grumpy old man faster than I thought
Saturday 26 May 2007 at 1:28 pm
A buzzword has been creeping into software development over the last few years - Agile
For software development its all pretty good - the client gets what they want faster as usable code released more frequently takes precendence over traditional the Waterfall
There is a spleen-worthy catch (or two) however -
If you're putting in point solutions or you already have a well established framework within which to fit your Agile-goodness then you're all set. If you haven't got the Architechture nailed (and I don't mean diagrams with lines connecting things up implying it'll all automagically fall into place) then you're going to be winging it.
At an operational level you'll have a bunch of systems and technologies going in with some questions about how it all hangs together - this kind of bottom up thinking will inevitably lead to a requirement to review whats just gone on and how it could be improved (which your integration partner will gladly charge you for when it should have all been planned out before anything went into production).
Ideally your Software Architect, Infrastructure Architect and Integration Partner would all sit around a table and plan how it'll all fit together before a single server is purchased. Throughout the process you need to involve the business itself in the process so that you actually build and deliver something that they'll actually use.
At an architecture level they need to determine what technologies will be used, the application framework will deliver, how it will scale, how it will move from dev to uat to prod, how easily other apps can be added into the framework, what training and resources are required, will applications be delivered externally, how will they be authenticated, if you have a CRM can the information be fed back into collaborative workspaces for the client or will there be islands of client metadata, how will these applications be managed and supported, will physical or virtual servers be used, what security will be in place, how will backup, recovery and dr occur, will systems be clustered or load-balanced etc etc.
Once all the pretty diagrams are in place they need to get to the nitty-gritty of how it will work in operation - what hardware to buy, what software, what network infrastructure, how the dev/uat/prod environments interact etc etc
I reckon Agile & Infrastructure are two things that just don't go together - you can't make infrastructure up on the fly if you want anything more than basic services to support point-solutions. Infrastructure needs to be planned and documented to support whatever you want to build on top of it - once its in place then Project Managers, Analysts and Developers can be as Agile as they like.
Probably the single biggest factor (IMHO) in enabling an agile infrastructure would have to be Virtualisation. No more worrying about when and where hardware is going to come from and who will pay for it with the ability to provision new boxes in about 15 minutes flat. If it looks like you're heading down the Agile route convince the powers that be to invest and believe in a virtualised infrastructure.
It all seems pretty obvious that this stuff needs to be thought about but as an operations person if you start asking these questions you run the risk of not being 'Agile' and being perceived as the negative aspect of the development plan ('we can't deliver because the Systems team won't give us servers' or 'they won't give our integrator access to extend the Active Directory schema'). Of course Project Managers should ensure the 'big picture' is part of their plan but you'll often find PM's have tunnel-vision - they just want to get their project out the door and into the clients hands - how their application fits into the grand plan is out of scope of their project (its someone elses problem).
So plan and implement your foundations (see The Great Pyramid of Agile
) before the buzzword-compliant methodology comes into play or you might find yourself playing perpetual catchup and being forced into a position of recreating the mistakes of the past by forcing in quick fixes.