Monthly Archives: October 2007

Microsoft Promoting Functional Programming

Microsoft is promoting F# to be a fully supported programming language in Visual Studio.

F# offers developers many valuable and compelling features without sacrificing much runtime efficiency. F# supports type inference, pattern matching, high-order functions, and currying. F# also supports interactive execution, which means that F# programs can be run like scripts or inputted in an interactive top-level environment similar to the Python shell or Ruby’s IRB. F# also has full access to the .NET APIs and components written in other .NET languages.

Its a good day to be a .NET developer.

Hidden Preference to Disable Glossy Look Dock Even When at the Bottom

A proper dock for those who like theirs at the bottom.

Leopard Initial Impressions

These are my initial impressions of Leopard final build running on my MacBook Core Duo 2GHz with 2GB of RAM.

  • The new WLAN menu is a big improvement. It now scans for networks asynchronously, so you don’t have the agonising three second hang when you click on it.

  • Apple Mail loads up instantly. I like how it separates IMAP folders from local ones and the new Reminders list.

  • The Installer took a few minutes to find my current Panther partition.

  • iCal now shows location of events in the calendar view. Hoorar!

  • Spaces is very slick, and works well with my dual monitor arrangement.

  • Drop-down-menus seem more responsive, I don’t know if this is because they’re actually more responsive, or Apple have just reduced the default lag.

  • Safari 3.0.4 still slows down a lot, lots of spinning beach balls. Not had it crash yet though.

  • The Network preference pane now displays all the main options in one window instead of multiple tabs and dialogs.

  • Dark icons look terrible on dock if its docked at the side of the screens (example). I’m please that they’ve replaced the appearance of the side dock, it looked quite silly before.

  • Finder

    • Cover Flow can do quick and dirty previews of my NEFs, but doesn’t seem to even want to try with my D80 JPEGs.

    • Quick View of NEFs, PSD and TIFFs from Lightroom and Photoshop work really well. Trying it with a D80 JPEG just crashes Finder.

    • Its now much quicker at opening network drives and computers, and there is no more hanging.

    • Overall the Finder has had a big upgrade, however the lack of tabs means I’ll still be going back to Path Finder.

    • Exposé is now an app that resides in you Applications folder, as is System Preferences.

    • Contrary to other reports, I don’t notice any speed improvements in the iWork or iLife apps.

Compatibility with Third Party Applications

  • Photoshop CS3 seems to work fine, as does Lightroom 1.2.

  • Whoever said VMWare Fusion doesn’t work on Leopard obviously hasn’t tried it.

  • Skype works fine, thank god.

  • EyeTV still works.

  • Path Finder has some issues, Show Desktop now hides the Path Finder dock and reviles an empty Finder dock.

  • Quicksilver is now always resides on the dock whether you tell it to or not.

  • 1Passwd doesn’t work — its icon has disappeared from Safari and Camino. Update: But the newest 2.5 beta version called 1Password does work.

  • Last.fm app acts up a bit, seems to open itself with every new track played on iTunes.

  • Adium’s tabs now don’t match the window colour, but everything else works fine.

Kris Holm: Extreme Unicyclist

Kris Holm does stuff that is hard enough to on a real bike on his unicycle. Drops, gaps, trails, North Shore, you name it, he does it.

Making Crystal Clear Ice

The Kamikaze I was served in a swanky Tokyo bar had crystal clear ice. Since then I’ve always wondered how you make ice so it isn’t cloudy.

Slob Evolution

Dove Evolution Parody.

I Played Through Episode Two Holding a Goddamn Gnome

A guy played through Half Life 2: Episode Two carrying a gnome with the gravity gun so he could put it in the rocket at the end and gain the Little Rocket Man achievement.

Jobs: Third Party SDK for iPhone By February

Steve Jobs has posted another one of his open letters, this time announcing a third party SDK for the iPhone come February.

Let me just say it: We want native third party applications on the iPhone, and we plan to have an SDK in developers’ hands in February.

[…]

It will take until February to release an SDK because we’re trying to do two diametrically opposed things at once—provide an advanced and open platform to developers while at the same time protect iPhone users from viruses, malware, privacy attacks, etc. This is no easy task.

He cites security concerns as the reason for the delay, and hints to the use of digital certificates as a way to prevent malware:

Nokia, for example, is not allowing any applications to be loaded onto some of their newest phones unless they have a digital signature that can be traced back to a known developer. While this makes such a phone less than “totally open,” we believe it is a step in the right direction.

Beating the Cannonball Run

Alex Roy’s ambition is to beat the 32 hour, seven minute record for the “totally illegal” 2800 mile run from the east to the west coast of the US. The Cannonball Run.

How To Dress Pasta

Mario Batali on pasta sauce:

That is to say, Americans overdress their pasta 99.9% of the time. It should never be a bowl of soup, it should be noodles with a little bit of stuff.

iTunes Plus Price Drop

Apple has reduced their iTunes Plus DRM-free track prices from $1.29 to $0.99, and expanded iTunes Plus to include more indie labels.

The UK iTunes Store is still selling iTunes Plus tracks at 99p compared to 79p for regular tracks. And no word about when the big labels are joining though.

Al Gore Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Al Gore and the UN gang on climate change have been jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. They share the $1.5 million prize.

Recording Phone Calls

While Jason Kottke’s idea of the iPhone recording every phone call seems useful, depending on where you live you cannot legally record phone calls without informing the other party beforehand.

Which Side of your Brain is More Dominant?

Look at this optical illusion, and the way it spins can determine which side of your brain is more dominant. I find I can make it flip by looking away and back quickly with it still in my peripheral vision.

The Virtual Flight

Bahadur Chand Gupta, an ex-Indian Airlines engineer, bought an old Airbus 300 and is offering people the chance to experience a flight without actually taking off.

As on an ordinary aircraft, customers buckle themselves in and watch a safety demonstration. But when they look out of the windows, the landscape never changes. Even if “Captain” Gupta wanted to get off the ground, the plane would not go far: it only has one wing and a large part of the tail is missing.

One “passenger” commented that “it is much more beautiful than I ever imagined”. I’d question whether she would still hold the same opinion if she experienced the security checks, queues, delays, customs and the rest of the baggage that comes with modern aviation.

Photographs: Wounded

Having my arm in a sling for a short period of time some years ago opened my eyes to others around me in similar situations. It was then I began to consider the possibility of producing a series of photographs of people on the street in similar situations. […] Photographically it became a challenge to turn interesting looking injuries into interesting photographs. These are not photographs you can set out to take. Sitting outside a hospital would be cheating.

Jesse Marlow has a book out documenting how people cope with their injuries on the street called Wounded. He’s put some photographs on his website from the book.

Preview of DxO Version 5

A preview of the new features in DxO Version 5 coming out in late October for Windows and November for Macs. Free upgrades for anyone who ordered after August 1st, 2007.

The Twang

Freshers week, the seven day partying extravaganza that university students relish. Any freshers week worth going to will end with a huge party with a great live band. Three years ago the University of Nottingham freshers week ended with GLC performing their satirical hip-hop. It was a fitting end to a superb week.

This year, the band featured was The Twang. I asked a few people about them; most recognised the name but couldn’t name any songs. This is despite being voted second on The BBC’s Sound of 2007 poll.

I went with slight trepidation — I mean, they were the big band at the end of the freshers week, surely the organisers would select a great band that would make people sit up and take notice?

The night ended with me leaving early and wanting my money back.

The Twang have to be one the worst live act I’ve seen for a long time, including some unsigned acts I’ve seen at local clubs. They played their two big singles, Wide Awake and Either Way which people kinda recognised. Then they just started playing one generic indie rock song after another, each so similar in style and structure that I wouldn’t have been able to tell one from the other. No character, no style and no passion.

You could see the lack of harmony with their audience, especially when the main dance floor basically thinned out to the core group of inebriated punters who probably didn’t even know who they were seeing. There was a distinct lack of atmosphere to the room, and when they finally left the stage I felt relief that a DJ would be taking over and playing some tracks I might actually enjoy listening to.

I have to admit that I’m not indie rock’s greatest advocate, I feel the genre has become far too stylised and short-sighted. But there are still bands that are able to break the mould and create something truly original (The Killers’s Hot Fuss album springs to mind), but the Twang really need to up their game if they want to stand out from the mediocrity.

The Simpsons Movie References

See the movie references from The Simpsons, still by still. As Pablo Picasso said: “good artists copy, great artists steal”.

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