Category Archives: Geek

Robot Wrangler: Gadgets and Hardware – the parts of a computer you can kick

Free Choice

I’ll be honest, when I saw that CHOICE had posted a review of free software, I was kinda hoping they’d be charging money for it, so I could post a blog entry about how ironic it was. As it turns out, it is a free article, and I am robbed of a pithy observation. Darn you, CHOICE!

Social Networks Are Conspiring Against Me

Okay – this Social Network thing is starting to get scary.
The promise of the social/semantic web is this: that you can send your life’s bottled vignettes bobbing out into the vast ocean of the internet without having to worry about how shiny they look or how tidily they are written or where they will eventually land. It only matters what it means. The people who care will get it. Somehow.
So, it’s possible to Twitter away from a mobile phone or a PSP or a desktop or a carrier pigeon, and to post to a blog from within a browser or via email.
Now that sites are starting to link up – feeds are read by Jairu, flickr feeds are fed into Plaxo – who knows where your bemessaged  bottle will end up?
At this point, I’m not sure where this blog posting will end up: I know it’ll reside on BONWAG, and be copied to a few different places in different formats by my Blog engine – but it will also kick off a few little RSS reader applications I have on my home and office computers, as well as my Google reader account. Google will eventually index it and add it to their Blog Search engine. A few Blog aggregators will republish it.
Also – any number of people will get pop-ups or emails or messages notifying them of the fact I’ve posted a blog entry.
It used to be that the internet was anonymous – but now that all your social network chickens are coming home to roost, you can’t hide.

A Few Minutes on Twittering, Travel and Technology

Writes Rodney:

Twittering this kind of stuff does not excuse you from writing blog posts. I want some more detail when you have a few minutes.

And so, here we have a few minutes, and I have time to disagree.

We had a wonderful holiday as a family. And I didn’t want to miss it. I made a decision this time around to actually experience this adventure and not to shift into journalist mode. This was one of the first times I’ve been able to get away for a major trip without mentally assembling blog or journal notes in my head, or experiencing the entire trip through a video camera viewscreen. (I can recall one trip from my youth that I have almost no memories of, because I stored them on perishable, losable magnetic video tape.)

So, no, thanks, bub. I AM excused from making blog posts.

But thanks for asking. :-)

Part of the joy of this trip is also the realisation that the kids are starting to develop their journalling and technical skills, so some people may be surprised to see Dad in some holiday photos! I’m actually very impressed with Charli’s photography skills – she’s taken some of the real ‘keeper’ shots this time around. You might start seeing some blog entries from the kids real soon now.

Having said that, no holiday is complete without technology. We did make the good decision to invest in a good quality Hard Drive Video Camera before we left, so we’ve captured some brilliant footage from shows at Disney that just need colour AND movement. The old Sony DSC32 still camera is still serving us well after 4 years.

Grand Total: 500 photographs (not including botched ones), and 10Gig of Video. I have no idea what duration that is – it’s so nice not to have to worry about tapes any more! 

[Side-bar: How long will it take before some smart camera maker puts out one with GPS? That’s when I’m upgrading, bud.]

And, of course, don’t forget the mobile phone for updating the folks back home – yes, via Twitter.

And the laptop for backing up the photos. And email.

Ainslie wan’t convinced we needed satellite navigation when driving through the UK, but our new SatNav travelling companion (known as ‘Navvy’ to her friends), saved us countless hours of mapbook juggling.

Huh. Maybe it wasn’t the low-tech holiday I thought it would be.

In any case, and to get back to the point, I enjoyed actually holidaying, instead of observing myself holidaying this time round. With the help of a few digital post-it notes on Twitter, i’m happy to re-live it, rather than to forget to live it in the first place.

Hey, it’s biblical – you didn’t see the disciples taking notes.

PowerPoint Should Be Seen And Not Heard. Or Vice Versa. (Or, Better, Neither.)

Okay, it’s not just opinion now. Here are the FACTS. Scientific PROOF that PowerPoint rots your brain and makes you dumb.
Research Points The Finger At PowerPoint.

It is more difficult to process information if it is coming at you in the written and spoken form at the same time.

I especially like the way the church also attracts some collateral damage:

It also questions the wisdom of centuries-old habits, such as reading along with Bible passages, at the same time they are being read aloud in church. More of the passages would be understood and retained, the researchers suggest, if heard or read separately.

Okay, so be warned. If I’m in one of your presentations with my eyes closed – I’m not asleep – I’m just making sure I’m not distracted by the sight of you. If my eyes are open, I’m simply not listening to you.

Great Headlines of the 21st Century has been one of my favourite infrequent interweb haunts over the years. Amongst the usual ‘Weird News Of The World’ posts, you find some gems. And sometimes, the editors hit the jackpot. I’m glad I renewed my acqaintance this week in time to see this headline:

Couple buys monkey as pet, get upset when it dominates them and their dog. Marmoset knock you out (link)

Give Me The Online Life

Call me a geek, but it’s days like today that make me glad I’m online.

Over the last few months, I’ve gradually been falling victim to the Google Renaissance and moving a lot of my activities onto Google servers:

Last weekend, I got into the Mashup craze with good old Google Maps, and started mapping my company’s contact information.

And now, this week, Google have switched on the full Google mapping functionality I’ve been hanging out for. In Australia, you’re now able to trace driving directions and search for local businesses, and more, with the Google Mapping engine (including Google Earth).

There’s probably a whole bunch of other stuff, but the ‘driving directions’ functionality is one that really helps me out in a strange city. Especially when I’m being given new places to visit each weekend by my birthday-party-going offspring. Whereis does a great job, but not smoothly enough.

I’m waiting for Google to switch on a setting in Gmail whilch allows me to manage my non-Gmail accounts, then I can add a line that says

  • Moved my email from Outlook to Gmail

I really think Microsoft has cause to be scared of Google.

Now that I have moved a lot of my e-life onto Google servers, I hope I don’t.

Great Moments in Telecommunications

Scene: interior of LA Airport Lounge. Our hero is unsuccessfully trying to make a phone call using his credit card. After a couple of aborted attempts, he talks to an operator.
Operator: Hello, Sir, can I help you?
Hero: I hope so. I’m trying to make a call to Australia, but it doesn’t seem to be working. Can you help?
Operator: Certainly. What number are you trying to reach?
Hero: 02 12345678
Operator: Oh, I see the problem. I’m sorry, but you’re not able to make a call to that country with the phone handset you’re using at the moment.
Hero: Oh, that’s a shame.
Operator: Would you like to try to call a different country?
Hero: … I was kind of hoping to reach Australia. I can’t really think of another country I’d like to be talking to at the moment.
Operator: I see. Thanks for calling.
Hero: Thank you.