Monthly Archives: September 2007

Photographer Killed in Burma

Kenji Nagai was gunned down by soldiers as they opened fire on anti-government troops in Burma. His dying moments were captured and shows him continuing to film as he lay dying with a soldier pointing a gun at his chest.

Update: There is a video of the Nagai being shot, a loud crack can be heard when he is pushed to the ground which contradicts the Burmese government’s statement that he was shot by a stray bullet.

Microsoft Bows to Pressure on XP

The BBC:

In a statement Mike Nash, Microsoft’s Windows product manager, said: “…maybe we were a little ambitious to think that we would need to make Windows XP available for only a year after the release of Windows Vista.”

Ridley Scott Has Finally Made the Blade Runner He Always Imagined

Q&A with Ridley Scott at Wired.com. This is what we’ve all been waiting for. Hopefully The Final Cut will get a theatrical release in the UK.

Muji 0.38mm Pens

Any EU residents feeling left out over the love being shown for 0.38mm Pilot G2 pens and want to join in? Muji sell a 0.38mm gel pen for only 89p and is available in all their UK stores.

First impressions — looks great in a ruled Moleskine notebook and the ink dries instantly, but the stoke is a little rough. Pretty good for 89p.

Mime Legend Marcel Marceau Dies

The BBC:

Marceau, whose real name was Marcel Mangel, became world famous for his 1947 creation of Bip, the sad, white-faced clown in a striped jumper and a battered silk opera hat.

Michael Jackson borrowed his Moonwalk from Marceau’s wind walk.

Stephen Fry’s Blog

Stephen Fry — actor, writer and presenter — is also a gadget fanatic and has a blog where he’s written a whopping article about his obsession for “SmartPhones” and his quest for an iPhone beater.

I have, over the past twenty years been passionately addicted to all manner of digital devices, Mac-friendly or not; I have gorged myself on electronic gismos, computer accessories, toys, gadgets and what-have-yous of all descriptions, but most especially what are now known as SmartPhones. PDAs, Wireless PIMs, call them what you will. My motto is:

I have never seen a SmartPhone I haven’t bought

Gems from the New York Times Archive

Kottke has unearthed some noteworthy articles from the NY Times archives now that the TimesSelect subscription programme has been discontinued.

Twitterlicious 2.0

Its been a long road, taking almost six months of on-and-off work to complete, but now I feel comfortable in releasing the full release of Twitterlicious 2.0. No more betas or release candidates, this is the real deal!

Download Twitterlicious 2.0 final.

A brief recap about Twitterlicious:

Twitterlicious is a small app that makes using Twitter more fun. It handles all the hard work, leaving you to read and write tweets with the minimum fuss. Best of all, Twitterlicious is free!

Twitterlicious 2.0

Compare to how Twitterlicious 1.2 looked.

A big thanks to all the beta testers for all your feedback, you’ve made Twitterlicious into what it is today and its better for it. If I were more organised, I would have a list of all your name, but I think you all know who you are.

Make sure you subscribe to the feed (or a feed for posts only about Twitterlicious), but it would be nice to keep you as a regular reader on Ejecutive.)”: to keep up to date with developments with Twitterlicious and other projects, you can also follow me on Twitter.

After such a long time working on one side project, its left me a little jaded with Twitterlicious, so for now its just going to be minor features and bug fixes (keep those reports and requests coming in). I’m going to focus my attention on going back to my final year of university and some other side projects I have going. I’ve also neglected Ejecutive recently with the frequency of posts, and I have a plan to fix that too, and maybe spruce up the archives a little.

But don’t think for a second that Twitterlicious is dead, I’ve started to look at learning Windows Presentation Foundation, and Twitterlicious seems an ideal candidate to experiment with. So the future is bright.

Change Log

The major changes since Twitterlicious 1.2:

  • Each tweet is now shown in its entirety in the list instead of just showing the selected tweet at the top.
  • The read status of each individual tweet is remembered and displayed, even after you close the app!
  • You can follow people who’ve replied to you and direct messages, as well as the standard friends timeline.
  • Each tweet list is capable of holding the past 50 tweets.
  • You now get automatically notified if there is an update to Twitterlicious.
  • The update text box is resizable and multiline, as is the whole app window.
  • Support for authenticated proxy servers — for the people who are using Twitterlicious on work time!
  • Nifty context menus (right click) in the tweet lists.
  • Tweets now show up as from Twitterlicious on Twitter.com (example).
  • A bunch of shortcuts:
    • Ctrl + W: minimise the Twitterlicious main window.
    • Ctrl + R: manually refresh the lists.
    • Ctrl + K: mark all tweets in the current list as read.
    • Ctrl + Return: send update (same as clicking “Go”).
    • Ctrl + L: opens the link in the selected tweet in a browser window.
    • Ctrl + U: marks the current selected tweet as unread.
    • Ctrl + D: sends a direct text to the selected tweet’s user.
    • Ctrl + E: replys to the selected tweet (@username).
    • Ctrl + B: view the selected tweet in the browser.
    • Ctrl + T: view the selected tweet’s user’s website.

Changes since Twitterlicious 2.0 RC1:

  • Faster and more reliable connection to Twitter.
  • Option to improve friends list update speed by reducing the frequency of the replies and direct message updates.
  • Option to hide Twitterlicious from the Windows taskbar.
  • Option to hide the direct messages list (improves speed).
  • Spanking new about box.

UK iPhone Debuts November 9

At a special event called “Mum is no longer the word” in their Regent Street store, Apple announced the UK version of the iPhone. It costs £269, exclusive to the O2 network and requires an 18 month contract:

  • £35 a month — 200 minutes and 200 text messages.
  • £45 a month — 600 minutes and 500 text messages.
  • £55 a month — 1200 minutes and 500 text messages.

Otherwise, its exactly the same as the US iPhone, which means still no 3G support.

Tuffy

Tuffy is a nice free font by Thatcher Ulrich. (Via Fontleech.)

Colin McRae Feared Dead in Crash

Former world rally champion Colin McRae is feared dead along with three others in a helicopter crash.

I was just talking to someone who knew his co-driver and how he used to fly in McRae’s helicopter. Tragic.

Twitterlicious 2.0 RC1

Here we are, the feature complete Twitterlicious 2.0 with four heavily requested features:

  • Checks for new versions of Twitterlicious on start-up and when requested.
  • Remembers previously read items between instances.
  • Much better error handling, now records error messages to a log file and correctly handles web connection problems.
  • Toggle bubble notifications.

Also the last few bugs squashed:

  • Blank direct messages bug fixed.
  • Replies and direct messages list height bug.

This should be the only release candidate before the final 2.0 release and this should be the last time you’ll have to manually check for updates! So for the last time, get it from the usual place.

McLaren Hit By Constructors Ban

The BBC:

McLaren have been stripped of their points in the 2007 Formula One constructors’ championship after the outcome of the “spygate” row.

The team were also fined a record $100m (£49.2m), which includes any prize and television money they would have earned from the constructors’ championship.

But drivers Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso can keep their points.

A far harsher penalty than anyone expected, especially the huge $100 million fine which McLaren may appeal.

The Ultimate Steal: Office 2007 Ultimate for £39

Students will soon be able to buy Microsoft Office 2007 Ultimate for £39 or $59 through The Ultimate Steal program. More information from this Microsoft press release.

Toshiba Tecra A8 Review

I’ve got a history with Toshiba laptops, my first laptop was a Toshiba Satellite 1800-100. Back then, laptops were rather depressing affairs, unless you remortaged your house for a nice IBM ThinkPad the alternatives were built like toys, had dodgy screens that made it look like you were on drugs if didn’t look at them straight on and keyboards that made mobile phones seem a joy to type on. Not a great experience, especially as you could get a desktop that was infinitely better for half the price.

The Satellite was the first affordable laptop I found with a good keyboard. In fact, it was more than good — I preferred it to a desktop keyboard and even the acclaimed IBM ThinkPad keyboard. Once I wiped Windows ME, upgraded the RAM to 256MB and installed Windows 2000, it was quite a useable little laptop and very capable of running Visual Basic 6 and Office.

My second Toshiba laptop was a Tecra M1, a fantastic machine that was intelligently designed and built well. I eventually gave up laptop computing when I really started gaming, and I’ve been using desktops ever since.

Until last year that is, when I got my MacBook – the first Mac I’ve had that really started to replace my desktop Windows machines. Since then I use my MacBook lots more than my desktop machine, which has been relegated to gaming.

So when TalkToshiba asked if I wanted to review one of their laptops, I jumped at the chance.

Tecra A8

Toshiba Tecra A8

The Tecra A8 is the bottom of the line Tecra model in the range, but still possess a very good specification, including a 2GHz Core 2 Duo processor. The review model sent to me is an old model which came with Windows XP. An up-to date model with Vista Business can be had for around £900.

Exterior

Being a business orientated laptop, it has quite a smart appearance. Its gun metal grey lid gives the appearance of being metallic, but is just plastic. And its quite weak plastic too, as the screen visibly bends if I apply pressure to the back of it.

There are a generous three USB ports on the back side, and even a serial, PS/2 and modem port. I can’t help but think that the space would’ve been better utilised with FireWire and USB ports though, although the serial port is incredibly useful for people with legacy devices that don’t work with USB to serial adaptors.

Build

My old Tecra M1 was a fantastic machine that was built well and looked great for its time. Unfortunately, the A8 doesn’t inherit the M1′s superior build, magnesium alloy casing or sharp looks.

Although the specifications claim its 2mm thinner, it feels thicker than the old Tecra because of its clunkier design. It also feels heavier than its 2.9KG state weight, which is a shame as the plastics used are quite thin. Overall I was expecting much better from Toshiba, although this is their bottom of the line Tecra, maybe the higher end models are better, but the build is on-par with a £500 laptop, not a £900 one.

Keyboard

The Tecra A8 keeps the tradition with a great keyboard. It has a resounding click that gives just the right amount of feedback. Being a 15.4 inch widescreen laptop, there is a lot of width for the keyboard, unfortunately not all of it is utilised and is rather cramped which makes touch typing on it more error-prone. Toshiba should take a lesson from Apple here and give its keys more breathing room.

Its good to see dedicated Page Up, Page Down, Home and End buttons, something I miss on my MacBook. The Function (Fn) key and Control are in the right order too, which is Control on the left and Function on the right, something else my MacBook muffed up.

Trackpad

Unfortunately, the track-pad leaves much to be desired. Its far too small which either makes it difficult to move the cursor across the screen if you set the speed slow, or makes it difficult to control the cursor accurately if the speed is set too fast. It also confuses tap-to-click with drag very often, which is frustrating. You can use the right and bottom area of the touch pad to scroll, which would’ve been far more useful if the touch pad was bigger. Such a big laptop and such a small touch pad, its just a waste of space.

The mouse buttons also give rather tacky feedback and feel horrible to press. There isn’t a physical difference between the left and right mouse button, which makes it easy to press the wrong one.

It would’ve been nice to have a touch point as well, although this is present on the more expensive Tecra A9 series.

Performance

I don’t have much to say here, other than the 2GHz Core 2 Duo processor is more than enough for most people and seemed very quick in use. It could do with another 1GB of RAM though, especially if you plan on using Vista with it.

I ran Super Pi and Prime95 simultaneously to saturate both cores, and the Tecra only got mildly warm on its bottom side. In this respect its much better than the MacBook or MacBook Pro.

When idling, its very loud in comparison to the majority of laptops I’ve used. There is a definite humming sound from the fan that doesn’t seem to stop. Under load, it manages to keep the noise levels fairly reasonable although the pitch of the fan is quite high.

Software

The included software included with the Tecra is, sadly, a joke.

Tecra WLAN Configuration Screenshot

The wireless configuration utility is impossible to use, it visualises your computer as the nucleus of an atom and the wireless networks in rage as the electrons orbiting it. You have to hover over an “electron” to see the details about the network, all of which will fly over the head of those not familiar with WLAN terminology. Clicking on an electron doesn’t give the expected result of joining that network — it does nothing. There are other buttons with images that give no idea of what they do, so I gave up on this and used the perfectly good built-in Windows WLAN configuration tool.

I had a quick look over the other included configuration software, none of which seem to offer more than another interface over what Windows already has, and 99% of the time its harder to use.

The £900 Question

So would I buy one for £900? No, there are far better laptops at that price point. Apple offers a better specified MacBook thats lighter, better looking and better built for less money, and there are even far better laptops in Toshiba’s consumer Satellite range.

To truly compete, the value of the laptop would have to drop to £500 or under, and even then I’d probably still buy a cheap Lenovo or HP that are a little slower, but much better built and better looking.

Better luck next time Toshiba.

To All iPhone Customers

Steve Jobs:

We have decided to offer every iPhone customer who purchased an iPhone from either Apple or AT&T, and who is not receiving a rebate or any other consideration, a $100 store credit towards the purchase of any product at an Apple Retail Store or the Apple Online Store.

This is incredibly generous of Apple, I can’t remember any other company ever doing this on such a scale. If its true that Apple are close to selling one million iPhones, then the total cost is potentially $100,000,000.

New Audi RS6 Avant

Audi unveils its new 426 kW (580 bhp), V10 bi-turbo super-estate. With 650 Nm of torque to play with as well, this is sure to be the fastest estate ever made.

New Opera Mini 4 Beta

Seems Opera are on a roll today, new desktop Opera alpha, and new beta of their Opera Mini mobile phone browser. Still lacks a few features I’d like, but its getting there.

Opera 9.5 Alpha

The new Opera 9.5 Alpha includes performance improvements and a brand new interface for us Mac users.

Still looks ugly.

Why Kissing Means More To Women

The BBC on kissing:

They use kissing as a way of assessing the recipient as a potential partner, and later to maintain intimacy and to check the status of a relationship. But men placed less importance on it, using it to increase the likelihood of sex, Evolutionary Psychology reported.

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