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Friday, 30 May 2003

Friday Morning, EDT

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Wednesday, 28 May 2003


What with the recent revelations from Novell regarding the SCO Unix case, you'd be forgiven for thinking that we were watching some sort of soap opera unfold. In fact, wouldn't it be better as a soap opera? One modeled on Dukes of Hazzard? (also forthcoming from #evanchan, where these wacky ideas get cooked up: season finale Buffy crossovers)

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He was a boy

I've already linked this, but you need to go read Richard Herring's Skater Boy deconstruction if only to make news of this so much sweeter (thanks to Bronwen for the heads up).

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Tuesday, 27 May 2003

Not dead

Saw The Matrix Reloaded. Will probably have to see it again when it comes out on IMAX. In the meantime, reading this (spoilers, liable to suck you in).

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Thursday, 22 May 2003

Thursday Morning, EDT

  • Tuesday night was Buffy and 24 night: season finales of both shows, and the last ever episode of Buffy. It's okay, no spoilers: Buffy was... well, let's say season seven could've been better. The episode felt as if it flew by a little too quickly, but hey. 24 neatly--or bluntly, depending on your point of view--set itself up for a third season.
  • Wednesday night was Bill Bryson at the National Press Club talking about his new book, A Short History of Nearly Everything. He's a funny man, and one with an amusing English/American accent. Anyway, he was nice enough to let us have our picture taken with him.
  • Another reason why my hatred of The Register has ceased to simmer and is now just plain boiling: an article about The Cloud, a new company providing wi-fi in pubs all over the UK. With no links whatsoever to the actual company to find out more. It's this complete inability to provide off-site links--any links they do provide are typically broken with forgetting to close anchor tags--and their complete lack of editing (more typos than a year's worth of the Grauniad) amongst other things that are snapping this back.
  • Microsoft gave Sharp the specs for a new high-res LCD for Longhorn. The emphasis seems to be on the colour reproduction (one billion hues as opposed to 16.7 million), though it's not clear whether "high resolution" means "lots of pixels, but still at 72dpi" or anything higher than 72dpi. I'd prefer the latter, please. Apple, take note. Cleartype/LCD subpixel rendering can only go so far. No press release from Microsoft yet.
  • It is still raining here. I am not amused.

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Wednesday, 21 May 2003

Wednesday Afternoon, EDT

  • Via the Spool, BBC's 1.3bn IT plans. Weekly radio and television output of the BBC totals 13 terabytes. Which I would like access to, please.
  • You can make an easy kind of a link that, if you have a protest group protesting a war where the cause that's being fought against is international terrorism, you might have terrorism at that (protest)," said Van Winkle, of the state Justice Department. "You can almost argue that a protest against that is a terrorist act." - Oakland Tribune Online.
  • Safari and W3C standards support.
  • MacRumors: ppc 970 and 15in AlBooks.
  • Heh. Sarcastic (p)review of a Nokia phone with stylus.

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Tuesday, 20 May 2003

Tuesday Morning, EDT

  • TidBITS roundup of three FM transmitters for the iPod.
  • I bought a Bluetooth dongle from the Apple store the other day. Okay, actually, the second day I was here. I'm not entirely sure what I should do with it, although my phone does like reminding me what time British TV shows are on now.
  • It's Tuesday, so new tracks at the iTunes store.
  • Mac OS X filesystem performance comparison includes ext2.
  • In Soviet Russia... they're American (via spool)
  • I ordered a ReBoot DVD. It arrives later this week. I am happy.
  • Via Gizmodo, Tablet PCs are starting to look cool. A primary teacher friend of mine has a Tablet as part of the laptops for teachers deal back in the UK. I am not jealous at all.
  • Now this is good: BT is going to roll in wi-fi with their DSL broadband offerings. This is seriously something I would switch providers for. Still waiting for the non-bundled prices to come down, though: unlimited T-Mobile HotSpot here in the US is $40/mo, $20/mo if you're a T-Mobile Subscriber. BT's OpenZone is 85/mo ($136) for unlimited access.

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Monday, 19 May 2003

The Register: Paragon of Online Journalism

Remind me why I still read that site?

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Sunday, 18 May 2003

Sunday morning, EDT

In Starbucks catching up on email and taking advantage of T-Mobile's offer of unlimited wifi for $20/month for T-Mobile customers.

I flew BA this time from Heathrow to Dulles. I've flown Virgin on this route twice, and although the Virgin experience was "cooler" (they play funky music as you board the plane, the safety video is an animated cartoon, the films they show are ones that haven't been released yet in the UK), the BA flight was more comfortable: better food, more legroom, and larger headrest screens. Downside was the horrible selection of out of date films: The Matrix, The Hours, Chicago, Gangs of New York (in two parts!), DareDevil (guess which I ended up watching), and About Schmidt.

I thought I was being oh-so-clever on the plane by catching up on the last three episodes of 24 that I haven't seen in preparation for Tuesday's finale. Until when I got up to go to the bathroom when I saw the guy behind me watching Buffy on his laptop. Git.

Some advice: on my fourth visit to US immigration, and my third to immigration at Dulles, I learned that you should not, under any circumstances, duck under the rope if instead of going around empty rope. A few people ahead of me ducked under, since half the queue was empty. We got hauled out and shouted at by an immigration officer who sent a shamefaced group of about ten of us to the back of the queue. The barriers are there for a reason.

T-Mobile's HotSpot software isn't bug-free. At Christmas, it was fine provided I kept the popup window open. This time, Safari and Chimera aren't too hot at whatever the software does to keep the connection alive: it ends up dying, resulting in timeouts all over the place. Not fun. Oh, and the Sheryl Crow music they're offering? WMA protected.

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OS X FOAF app spec

I'll be spending the next few weeks hammering out the required specification for my FOAF dissertation. So far, the bare-bones features are:

  • Import/export FOAF, open over http, upload over ftp
  • Crawl and export friends network to SVG
  • vCard import

Suggestions for features are greatly appreciated in the comments, and I'll see what I can reasonably attempt during the time I have to develop the project. Anything left out will probably make it into a releases after the dissertation is finished.

Some things that I have looked into, e.g. Address Book integration, will have to go on the back burner for the while since there isn't a Cocoa/Java bridge for that yet, so while suggestions in similar veins are appreciated, that's a possible reason why I won't be able to accomplish them. Yet.

Thanks to everyone who's volunteered to act as testers.

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Wednesday, 14 May 2003

Excuses, dissertations and FOAF

I'm busy: two exams down, and two more to go (Formal Methods on Thursday, Distributed Information Systems on Friday) and then six weeks in DC planning for my summer dissertation. Speaking of which:

I'll be looking for anyone who's interested in testing a little FOAF application for OS X. Contact me for details. Brief feature list: vCard import, spidering, export to SVG and, uh, yummy Aqua interface.

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More WiFi consolidation

Further to the last story about T-Mobile offering all you can eat WiFi to its cellular subscribers for $20/mo, Verizon will offer all you can eat WiFi to its broadband DSL subscribers for free in the NYC area. I like this way more.

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Tuesday, 13 May 2003

Microsoft, McDonalds and the Advertising Standards Authority

A wander around the depths of the Advertising Standards Authority, the UK self-regulatory advertising body. A few things that are interesting and/or amusing:

  • Statistics on complaints and other information.
  • All e-mail and internet adjudications since 1993.
  • After those two, you may want to know that the page where you can make a complaint should be here, only there's a terrible Microsoft database error instead. Maybe it will come back.
  • Here is a list of all adjudications since 1993 concerning magazine advertisements, where the advertiser name began with "M" (you'll see where I'm running with this next).
  • You are not allowed to view the McDonalds adjudication...
  • ...but here's an adjudication concerning Microsoft's advert claiming 5 9s reliability. The complainant believed achieving 99.999% uptime using the advertised product (Windows 2000) was not possible.

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Monday, 12 May 2003

Thursday, 08 May 2003

Finally - consolidation of cellular and wifi

T-Mobile takes a step forward and announces plans to bundle wifi with cellular service:

The Bellevue, Wash.-based wireless phone company announced that customers can now consolidate charges for its HotSpot Wi-Fi service on their monthly cellular phone service bills. The company will do the same for subscribers using its new General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) cell phone network in the next few months, it announced.
T-Mobile said customers can add a monthly $19.99 unlimited access Wi-Fi service to their monthly wireless bill. The charge is at a 50 percent discount over the company's regular HotSpot rate plans. The service also will continue as a stand-alone offering by subscription or on a pay-for-use basis. [More at CNET News.com]

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Monday, 05 May 2003

You'll never shine if you don't glow

  • Bunch of Apple stuff: rumoured timeline, 90nm IBM PPC970s and a new keyboard.
  • Ars Technica reviews the iTunes Music Store.
  • Wired reports that Apple's fixed a bug with its online store.
  • NetNewsWire 1.0.2b3 is out, there's a changelog here.
  • Apple.com/pro: dressing the set for 24 and Tim Bray.
  • au 0.5, providing rendevzous-based email, is out.
  • mpt's ultimate weblogging system.
  • Danny O'Brien on Beverly Hughes, Minister of State for Citizenship. She said something quite odd last week.
  • Via Gizmodo, rent tablet PCs with 802.11a at sporting events.
  • Also via Gizmodo, Matsushita's new e-book that lasts for six months on two AA batteries.
  • Just saw a trailer for The Vanishing that's showing sometime this week on Sky. Starring Kiefer Sutherland as an anguished, but not as yet gun-toting man searching for a woman. Pass. Speaking of which, I'm watching Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within on Sky Movies right now and the EPG describes it as "Incredible cyber-animation brings the futuristic hit video game series to life..." Sigh.

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Friday, 02 May 2003

We just gotta break it down

  • CBC News: David Murray, right-hand man to U.S. "drug czar" John Walters, says he doesn't want to tread on another country's sovereignty, but warned there would be consequences if Canada proceeds with a plan to decriminalize the possession of marijuana." There is, of course, a Metafilter thread.
  • Example emergency calls to Avon and Somerset Constabulary include complaints of not being able to get health insurance and wives not cooking dinner.
  • Via Daring Fireball, holding down the command key and dragging to resize iTunes 4 will let you use outline resizing, instead of full window resizing. Shouldn't it be option-drag?
  • David Basskin, of the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency commented on Ben's iTunes Music Store entry to clarify the international licensing issues.
  • Cheating at Boggle. There's a Boggle-like game on Yahoo! Games called WordRacer that we used to play back in the second year of uni. A friend of mine noted that we were spending far too much time playing said game, and we ended up coding something that'd go through a dictionary and spit out all the words possible with the given matrix. Of course, we'd still have to type them in, but we still kicked everyone's ass. Said friend is now CEO of GrexEngine
  • I am looking for a prepay SIM I can buy in America. Please help.

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GSM uber alles

I'm going to be in the 'states for six weeks from the 17th May. What I normally do when I go and visit the Land of the Free is use my triband GSM phone through Orange and whoever they have roaming agreements with: that's what I did last year for five weeks and what I did over Christmas for a fortnight. This time, though, there's a fair chance that the networks over there are developed to the point of understanding the concept of pay as you go, or prepay SIM cards: it'd be handy to get a US number while I'm out and about.

Obviously I'm limited to the GSM networks: I can't find anything about this on T-Mobile's site, but Cingular seem to have a thing called KIC Prepay that I'm not allowed to link to because finding out about plans requires a zipcode. I'm not entirely sure if Cingular will let me buy a SIM and stick it in my phone--there's a little phrase in the small print that indicates that they might be able to do this--but the website isn't particularly informative. Has anyone tried anything like this?

Comments and suggestions are extremely welcome, either by email or in this entry.

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