Showing posts from 2009

MacFormat This Week podcast

For anyone else struggling to find the RSS address of the Macformat This Week audio podcast (they hide it REALLY well.... 8-) it's I think the idea is that they want you to use iTunes, but the address above works fine in S60 Podcasting and other Podcatchers. Hopefully this will help someone else out there too!

Why I'd rather buy a CD than get free music downloads

I grew up with LPs (1970s) You know, huge, fragile things that wore out quickly but did at least have big, colourful album art and (usually) sleeve notes. Then I moved to cassettes (1980s) Small, fragile things that wore out quickly and had quite titchy (but still colourful) album art and (even titchier) sleeve notes. Then along came the CD (1990s/2000s) Slim, rather robust discs that never wear out. And which sound AMAZING. And the album art is reasonably readable and just as colourful. Great for collecting and for ripping at any quality I like. And so we come to the download generation. Music stores (e.g. iTunes). Almost faceless MP3 and AAC music files. If you're lucky you get a tiny thumbnail graphic. Sound quality is a lot worse than CD if you listen closely. Just as expensive as CD, but you can find popular albums for free in the shadier corners of the (cough) Internet. But you know what? I'd rather buy the CD for music I like than a collection of computer files that I

Steve's Essential Mac OS X Software List

Updated: Nov 2010 So I'm three months into (nearly) full-time Mac ownership. What applications have I found essential and worth downloading? For my own memory (should I ever need to re-grab everything after a re-install or on a new Mac, and to help others) here's a brief rundown: Nokia Multimedia Transfer - essential for integrating a Nokia smartphone into a Mac iSync for Nokia - lets your Nokia smartphone sync to Address Book and iCal Seashore - somewhat basic but useful image cropper/manipulator KompoZer - not supported anymore and 1% buggy, but a terrific visual HTML/WYSIWYG editor Cyberduck - the best FTP client for the Mac Copernicus - small screen video grabber, useful for odd extractions from web animations Audacity - the famous audio editor Open Office - the equally famous full Office suite Burn - additional disc burning functions beyond the built-in bits of Mac OS - still not sure if I need this, but it's got a great reputation JumpCut - multiple clipboar

Credit Crunch Ideas

A.k.a. Things for you and your family to do that don't cost a lot of money!  A new idea for a mini-site, over at my 3-Lib server. I was fed up with the way weekends and school holidays were just turning into huge money-drains - hence the suggestions. I estimate that it costs roughly £1000 to get one child through the summer holidays in the UK, living by the world's 'rules'. Add 50% for two kids, double that for 3 children. I aim to halve those numbers (at least). What do you think of the ideas and do you have any other suggestions?

The joy of evenings

Maybe it's the nicer weather and longer days (light-wise). Or maybe it's the fact that I've cut down on my evening commitments recently (including leaving Shed Music - though I wish them well for the future). Or maybe it's that my daughter is now old enough not to need constant attention all the time. Either way, I seem to have evenings back. You know, that time of day when your main work is done and you can genuinely potter around in the garden, watch a little TV and generally relax.  As someone who is self-employed, it's sooo tempting to fill some of this time with trying to work (or looking for work) - memo to self: must try to stay away where possible. As a wise cousin once said "I work to live, not live to work". 

$500 for the Apple logo?

Microsoft's crazy-as-can-be CEO Steve Ballmer has been dissing Macs again, this time saying: " Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment—same piece of hardware—paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be " As a recent Mac owner and long term (8 of them) PC veteran, I feel quite well qualified to be objective here. Having first borrowed a Macbook and then bought a Mac Mini, I've been staggered at the difference in build quality between the PCs I've owned (cheap plastic or badly finished metal) and the Apple hardware (rounded corners, terrific material choices, a feeling of real permanence). Take a £400 Windows laptop and a £800 Macbook and they're patently not the "same piece of hardware". Of course, the question is: is the better hardware worth a virtual doubling in price? Possibly not, but then there's another factor to consider here, besides the

Online backup might be the way forward, but it's not there yet

Whether, as part of my job, messing around with Files on Ovi , or using Syncplicity to backup parts of my Mac, or listening to TWiT and hearing of their new sponsor, Carbonite , I keep running into the notion that the best way to back up your computer is online. The concept's not that new and these are only three of over a dozen possibilities, but I'd like to sound a note of caution and sanity. You see, most of us are on asynchronous broadband links. ASDL, to use the full acronym. What this means is that home broadband is great for downloading stuff and not brilliant and uploading it. Upload speeds from the average connected home are or the order of 128kbps. This is just about OK for uploading short video clips to YouTube and fine for syncing documents up a web server, but it's utterly inadequate for being the basis of an all-in online backup solution.  The likes of Carbonite (and I'm not just picking on them, I've heard the same idea from others and from several

Air Traffic wonder

Ever imagined what the human race looks like from space? This is in that vein, it's an animation based on real data, showing all the commercial air flights in the world over a 24 hour period. Wow. Had you ever realised how many people were up in the air at the same time?

Peering inside the mind of a million phone geeks like me


Of nudists, prudes and an attitude that's a century old

Coverage of the story that German nude hikers were being arrested in Switzerland got me thinking. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not all for widespread nudity across the world - for three reasons: 99.9% of people look far better with their clothes on Many people would get too cold for most of the year All sorts of socially embarrassing situations would routinely crop up (to say the least!) However, what sort of society are we when we're so opposed to the sight (shock horror) of the standard, imperfect but biologically whole human body that we're ready to seek and arrest those who choose to occasionally disrobe away from towns and other centres of population? The argument is usually given that children should be protected from the 'sight' - in my experience (giggling apart), children are usually a lot less offended by the sight of others' bodies than prudish adults. I've never been to a nudist beach or resort and don't really want to - maybe the UK'

Now THIS is what I want to fly

The best TV theme tune EVER. The best replica radio controlled aircraft EVER. And possibly flown by the best R/C pilot EVER. Quite superb and lovingly done. I'm in awe....

Despairing of the current generation

Despite having 'green' issues thrust at them from all angles at school and at home, I have observed over and over again that the current generation of children simply don't seem to be aware of putting what they're taught into practice. My own daughter's not too bad at turning off lights when leaving a room, turning off the TV, keeping outside doors closed, etc - but some of her friends are appalling. But some of her contemporaries get all of the above 'wrong'. On a small scale, the energy savings are trivial, of course, and I'm certainly not picking on any specific individual. But multiply this up by 100s of millions of children across the Western world and then multiply this again by a decade or two of energy neglect and it's clear that, however bad an energy hole we're currently in, things are going to get a whole lot worse unless the current generation of children and teenagers start acting more reponsibly towards finite resources. Of course,

Christmas on a Thursday really hits hard

I was going to put in a much longer blog post about this, but Ewan Spence has beaten me to it.... See his version . With Christmas on a Thursday, you've then got Boxing Day and the weekend and - crucially - New Year's Day also on a Thursday. Chances are that very little work gets done on the 29th, 30th and 31st Dec in any offices, assuming they're still open at all. And then it's Jan 1st and people recovering from their celebrations on Jan 2nd still and then it's the weekend..... As Ewan points out , the country just lost almost 3 weeks of potential up-time through these compulsory celebrations.... BAH HUMBUG! 8-)