Go to blog home page

Archive for November, 2005

By

November 30th, 2005

Mobile phones need defragging too

Mobile phones need defragging too

If your new and expensive mobile phone is behaving slowly the hard drive on it probably needs to be defragged. That is what Storage Tools supplier Softwinter believes. The microdrives on phones are just like normal desktop harddrives. Every once in a while the files in the hard drive need to be realigned so they are grouped together which will enable them to be read more quickly. The problem is that many mobile phones do not have this ability yet. However, as mobile phones become more complex and expensive, the ability to defrag the hard drive will become second nature. Right now the price of a phone is such that if it starts running slowly after years of use it will probably be replaced. As the price and complexity of mobile phones increases, consumers will insist on the ability to defrag their phones because the cost to replace them regularly will simply be too great.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Mobile phones need defragging too

 

By

November 30th, 2005

Poetry and Motion

Poetry and Motion

Original voice recordings of many of our greatest poets, including Tennyson, Yeats, Kipling, Betjeman and Sassoon are now being made available online thanks to the Poetry Archive.

The new initiative will also endeavour to post recordings of current leading English-speaking poets – such as Margaret Atwood, Seamus Heaney and Harold Pinter – reading their own work for posterity.

The free archive has been created by Poet Laureate Andrew Motion and recording producer Richard Carrington.

“Actors may, or may not, read poems well, but poets have unique rights to their work, and unique insights and interests to offer as we hear their idiom, pacing, tone and emphases,” said Motion.

If you know of any poets who could have conceivably have had recordings made of their work but don’t yet feature on the Poetry Archive, Andrew Motion is eager for you to get in touch.

Or perhaps you have some tape tucked away yourself? For example, my O-level English teacher owned a spine-tingling reel-to-reel of Sylvia Plath reading poems from Ariel that would certainly grace this site.

There’s also the chance you could stumble on one of a few rare poetry holy grails still out there waiting to be discovered. If you happen on an undiscovered recording of D H Lawrence or Thomas Hardy in the attic for example, the British Library would also be very keen to hear from you…

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Poetry and Motion

 

By

November 28th, 2005

Canon blasts bum-copying office pranks

Canon blasts bum-copying office pranks

Photocopier company Canon is warning companies to take care of their photocopiers over the holiday season. The company claims that service calls rise by 25% as staff get merry, partly in response to people attempting to copy their bums. As many as 32% of Canon engineers claim they’ve been called to fix a machine broken by someone trying to copy body parts and Canon says that 46% of service requests result from non-work (ie, backside) copying. Canon has now increased the thickness of the glass in its copiers by a millimetre.

More on this story here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Canon blasts bum-copying office pranks

 

By

November 24th, 2005

He's Really Watching Television

He's Really Watching Television

A 15 year old boy in Nepal has been sitting still meditating for the past six months, drawing thousands of people from all over the country to catch a glimpse. While most in the West have been practicing this sort of thing every night of their lives for the past few decades while happily ensconced in front of their television set, in countries where television has made less of a technological impact, this sort of thing is absolutely extraordinary.

The mental strength required to sit still for such long periods without a mind numbing glow emanating from a box in your bedroom to hypnotise you shows us all the power of the brain over the body. Truly remarkable.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on He's Really Watching Television

 

By

November 23rd, 2005

Advice for evil programmers

Advice for evil programmers

If you’re a programmer and you’re looking for ideas on how to make your code completely unintelligible to anyone else, read How To Write Unmaintainable Code. You could also use it to pick up tips on how to make your code easier to understand, if you’re one of the good guys.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Advice for evil programmers

 

By

November 21st, 2005

Duh duh duh, duh duh da-da, duh duh da, da daaaa!

Duh duh duh, duh duh da-da, duh duh da, da daaaa!

Chip makers Intel and guitar makers Fender claim to have joined forces to develop a guitar that connects to the internet. The idea is that you can use the guitar to send an email between songs, or to send or download riffs. The lavishly made concept photos show the back of the guitar having a large screen on it.

The story’s been picked up by The Sun and Metro among others, although it’s officially described as the ‘Intel Concept Telecaster Guitar’. Usually the word ‘concept’ is a dead giveaway that they haven’t actually made anything more than a few Photoshopped images yet. There is no date announced for when this might hit the shops.

The main drawback to the existing design appears to be that you can’t see the screen while you’re playing it. Anyone wanting a computer-connected guitar would want to be able to see the screen easily while using it, or at least to look at it without having to flip the guitar over.

Back to the drawing board then? Oh, you’re still there… good.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Duh duh duh, duh duh da-da, duh duh da, da daaaa!

 

By

November 21st, 2005

Geldof says: "Don't do email."

Geldof says: "Don't do email."

At a conference for innovation last week, global philanthropist and one-time Internet startup champion Bob Geldof revealed just how much he despises email, blaming it for taking up too much of people’s time and preventing individuals from taking any genuine action*.

Geldof told the conference that: “Email gets in the way of serious consideration of what you want to do. It gives a feeling of action, which is a mistake.” He also claimed that what workers achieve each day will be linked to the amount of email they ignore.

*Unlike blogging of course, which is an invaluable use of technology that isn’t in the slightest bit addictive or time-consuming.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Geldof says: "Don't do email."

 

By

November 15th, 2005

"We're caught in a tractor beam! It's pulling us in!"

"We're caught in a tractor beam! It's pulling us in!"

When former US president Ronald Reagan made his famous ‘Star Wars’ speech back in 1983, he talked about a global network of defensive weaponry capable of intercepting and destroying cold war strategic ballistic missiles before they reached American allied soil. The world gasped, and half expected hundred of thousands of cranes to start hoisting space-age missile installations into the sky.
Fortunately, although often misguided and misled, Reagan was quite correct when he also said in the same speech: “I know this is a formidable, technical task, and one that may not be accomplished before the end of the century.” Or indeed at all, not that we’d ever know about it until it was too late anyway…
However, here and now, in 2006, and still in the good ol’ US of A, two NASA astronauts HAVE figured out a way to create a real-life version of a Star Wars ‘tractor beam’, a more peacable George Lucas invention, which they believe could be used to keep asteroids from crashing into the Earth. Now that’s more like it.
The idea is that simply by hovering near an asteroid for a year or two, a nice big spacecraft could use its own gravity to minutely slow the big rock’s progress. Or speed it up. In this way, the tractor beam-craft could cause the rogue rock to miss Earth by a comfortable margin. But only if it gets to work some 20 or 30 years prior to impact.
The astronauts claim the design would only require a ‘relatively small’ 20-ton spacecraft powered by charged atomic ions, generated by an onboard nuclear reactor. With ordinary chemical fuel however: “you’d be talking about a spacecraft that’s 20 to 40 times larger, and that kind of technology doesn’t exist.” Ah…

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on "We're caught in a tractor beam! It's pulling us in!"

 

By

November 15th, 2005

Google provides free analytics tools

Google provides free analytics tools

Following its acquisition of Urchin in March, Google has now launched a free web analytics solution based on Urchin’s software. The tool, called Google Analytics, is free to use for sites with up to five million page views a month (ie, most of us).

To use the tool, you embed some code in the header of each of the webpages you want to track. Each time someone visits one of your webpages, the Google code keeps a count and tracks information such as what browser or screen resolution they’re using. When you log in at the Google Analytics website, you can generate reports to find out which pages are most popular and how people are navigating your site.

Urchin software used to cost $400. As it did with image editing tool Picasa, everybody’s favourite uncle Google has taken a commercial product and made it free. So, why do that?

Most obviously, Google Analytics is integrated with Google’s keyword-triggered advertising system Adwords. You can define transaction funnels on your site, and use Google Analytics to see which advertising campaigns are delivering sales. As Yahoo, Overture and others muscle in on Google’s advertising model, providing end-to-end analytics could be an important differentiator.

Significantly, Google will gather a lot of information about how people use websites which it could use to decide how they should rank in its search results. As we reported in June, Google has filed a patent for ranking search results by which links are clicked on a site and how long people spend on a webpage. Having its analytics tool embedded in those websites makes it easier to gather such information.

Unusually, Google Analytics has launched without a prominent ‘beta’ label. That might be premature: there are broken links all over the place in the documentation and the server has been extremely slow. But it’s Google, so we know they’ll get there. By making a commercial-quality analytics tool freely available, Google will ultimately help many webmasters to better understand their website traffic.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Google provides free analytics tools

 

By

November 10th, 2005

First trojan exploiting Sony DRM is out there

First trojan exploiting Sony DRM is out there

In our newsletter last week, we reported on Sony’s new digital rights management system which hides software on your PC as a rootkit. Today, The Register reports that there is a trojan out there already that exploits the security weaknesses that Sony’s DRM introduces. It arrives as an email apparently from a business magazine, asking the recipient to verify a photograph that has been submitted to appear with a forthcoming story. I received a copy of this trojan this morning and I have to say it’s pretty convincing – much more professional-looking than the usual ‘i have yr pictures’ type messages that accompany trojans.

The State of California is reportedly suing Sony over its software under laws that cover deceptive trade acts and spyware. Check out the list of CDs known to be infected with Sony’s software published by the EFF.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on First trojan exploiting Sony DRM is out there

 

By

November 10th, 2005

Risky business

Risky business

If you’re a fan of strategy games, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s an online version of Risk in development. It’s built using Google Maps. So far you have to huddle around a computer and play other people in the same room. If it acquires artificially intelligent players and multiplayer capabilities, it’ll be a strong game. That said, it’s for hardcore strategists only: As I remember it, it takes longer to play the average game than it’s likely to take for it to be coded.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Risky business

 

By

November 7th, 2005

Rubber Soul?

Rubber Soul?

What was the most entertaining, interesting thing you saw on TV this weekend? Was it coverage of rioting in Paris? BBC epic mini-series Rome? The omnibus edition of Bleak House? Historical docu-drama Egypt? Perhaps it was a dose of reality TV from XFactor or Strictly Come Dancing? Or even Chelsea finally suffering defeat at the hands of Manchester United?
Well, for our money, it wasn’t the programming that was worth a look at all, but one of the ad breaks. To announce the arrival of its new range of Bravia LCD and 3LCD flat panel TVs, the ad people at Sony decided to hire Danish director Nicolai Fuglsig to launch a quarter of a million multi-coloured bouncy balls down the hills of San Francisco and film the results. The full-length cut is a stunning piece of film, even if it is just an ad designed to sell more tellies. Check it out for yourselves, or risk seeing the less impressive edit while you’re waiting for Corrie…

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Rubber Soul?