Monthly Archives: January 2008

“I Thought Europe Was a Country?”

When you have grown adults showing this amount of ignorance, all you can do is laugh.

O2 Slashes Cost of iPhone Tariffs

To stay inline with the rest of their price-plans, O2 is increasing the allowance of the cheapest £35 per-month tariff to 600 minutes and 500 text messages (up from 200 of each), and cutting the cost of the £55 down to £45 per-month.

They seem very good value now, especially as you get unlimited internet access and free WiFi at The Cloud hotspots. Might even be enough to tempt me away from T-Mobile.

Back From Hiatus

I’m back from a bit of a hiatus on Ejecutive, and from all writing and work in general after a particularly busy exam season. I’ll have a lot of posts planned, including a review of the Toshiba Qosmio G40 laptop with a (now defunct) HD-DVD writer, and a round-up on the new cameras and lenses announced at PMA.

Sun Buys MySQL

I think Sun knows that Java needs tighter integration with a specific database, like Microsoft’s .NET does with SQL Server, and bought MySQL. Perhaps even Java stored procedures in the future.

BAA Lifts One Cabin Bag Restriction

BAA is lifting its one-bag restriction to carry-on luggage tomorrow for UK airports.

You still can’t carry on more than 100ml of liquids in a single bottle though, but Muji sell very handy and squeezable 100ml bottles.

Adium X 1.2

New version of Adium X, which has quite a few improvements. As I only use MSN, the biggest one for me is that they’ve fixed the bug that showed MSN display pictures in a very low resolution.

Essentials 2007

Last year, I wrote about software I used regularly for work or for fun, my Essentials. Since then I’ve moved over from half-Mac-half-PC user to a full fledged member of the Mac society, but I still use a virtual Windows install for some of my work.

Here are my essentials in 2007, in no particular order:

OS X

  1. Mail. I use Google Apps for my e-mail on my own domain, and I had been using it’s own web interface and Mailplane. But ever since Google added IMAP to Gmail, I’ve ditched those and started using Apple Mail again, especially now in it’s version 3.1 guise with much improved search and IMAP support. The little fucker still likes to crash though.

  2. Safari. I sometimes find myself flipping between Camino and Safari, trying to decide which browser I prefer, and very often I just can’t seem to decide. But Camino doesn’t seem to play with the proxy servers at university very well and hangs for a few seconds every time I navigate go a page, which rules it out here. Add to that Safari’s excellent in-line find and its ability to show PDF files, and that wins it over for me.

  3. Adium X. The best IM client for OS X, no doubt about it. Just lacks video support right now, but I use Skype anytime I want to video conference (which is very rarely) so it doesn’t bother me.

  4. iTunes. Still the best music player, nothing else touches it on OS X.

  5. Adobe Lightroom. I tried Aperture, but I find myself preferring Lightroom even though Aperture seems to be a more polished application. Lightroom is just far more powerful at photo editing, and that’s what wins it for me.

  6. Adobe Photoshop CS3. I actually find myself using Photoshop a whole lot less ever since I started using proper RAW image processors such as Aperture and Lightroom, but it’s still useful for some touching-up or restoration, and it’s still the web designers image editor of choice.

  7. VLC. This can be a bit of a bitch on OS X, but the simple fact that it plays all my videos with only the rare complaint means its my preference over Quicktime + Perian.

  8. VMware Fusion. Even though I’ve moved over to OS X full time, I still do a fair amount of work on Windows (see below). I had the choice of either VMware Fusion, or Parallels Desktop, and at the time VMware were offering a half price discount, and I felt it was faster and less resource-hungry than Parallels. It runs my Windows XP Professional without much fault, although it does stretch the limits of my 2GB of RAM.

  9. iCal. Still the best calendaring system for OS X, although it took a little while to get used to the new interface introduced in version 3.0.1 that shipped with Leopard. It’s integration with many other apps and iSync make it my choice over the competition. That and it’s free.

  10. OmniFocus. My workload has increase significantly this year, so I’ve started to follow a GTD philopshy to my work, and I’ve found OmniFocus seemed the best tool to assist me. But I’ve just started testing an alpha version of Things, and my allegiances may change depending on how Things pans out (it’s currently a lot prettier).

  11. Yojimbo. I don’t use it as much as other people, but for collecting bits and pieces of information and finding it afterwards, it’s priceless.

  12. Papers. I’ve been reading a huge amount of scientific papers for my dissertation, and having an iTunes style interface to catalogue them with Papers is a massive time saver. It’s not without its flaws though, but there are some innovative features that means I parted with my hard earned cash.

  13. Transmit. Same as last year, still the best FTP client (and for WebDAV too).

  14. Delicious Library. Still waiting for the ever elusive version 2.0, but 1.6 is hanging in. Saves me buying duplicate DVDs and books (I don’t buy CDs anymore) with a quick and easy search. Scanning in the barcode is also fun.

  15. Pages. I get on with pages, more because I have to and the only real alternative is Microsoft Word (which I’m still waiting for). There needs to be some more competition.

  16. TextMate. I don’t use it as much now as I mainly write C# code in Visual Studio 2008. But one of my goals is to learn Ruby on Rails and this should prove very useful.

  17. Unison. Best newsgroup app for OS X. It costs, but it’s worth it.

  18. Twitterrific. There is no other Mac Twitter client to use, a great little app that does a simple task very well.

Windows

  1. Firefox. Still beats IE out of the water, and the betas of 3.0 are looking very promising.

  2. Visual Studio 2008. Only recently release by Microsoft, I haven’t had enough time to properly delve into it yet, but I’ve stopped creating new projects in VS2005 now, and Twitterlicious has been migrated over to VS2008 (although it’s still a .NET 2.0 application).

  3. SQL Server 2005. The de facto database for Windows programmers. Full integration with Visual Studio as well, which makes it a pleasure to work with.

Lightroom Export Plugin for Flickr

Free Flickr export plugin for Lightroom from Jeffery Friedl.

Decapitated

Photographs of adverts on the street that have been “vandalised” to look like the people in them have been decapitated.

SnuzNLuz Alarm Clock

ThinkGeek is selling an alarm clock that sends a donation to an organisation you don’t like every time you press the snooze button. This must be a joke, especially with this text at the bottom:

Really Fine Print: ThinkGeek reserves the right to take up to a 50% commision on all donations made through the SnuzNLuz. In fact the software supplied with the clock ensures such is the case. Yay!. However, we promise to only use the money for rockets and beach front property.

Intel Bails from OLPC

Fake Steve on Intel’s decision to quit the OLPC project:

See, that’s how it goes with freetards. They’re like a bunch of guys with a weekend touch football team who go around talking smack about how they could totally beat the New England Patriots — and they could, as long as the Patriots woudl[sic] agree to the freetard rules, which is that when the freetards take the field the Patriots must stay on the sidelines, watching, and let the spastic freetards run the down field over and over, clumsily scoring points.

Self-Publishing is the New Blogging

From Zeldman:

Enter Lulu, all slinky hips and clodhoppers. Self-publishing is the new blogging. No more compromises. No more external deadlines. No more heavy-handed editors and ham-fisted copyeditors. No more teachers, lots more books.

You don’t need distribution, you’ve got PayPal. You don’t need stores: there’s only two left, and nobody buys books there, anyway. You don’t need traditional marketing. Didn’t we already prove that?

(Via Daring Fireball.)

You Get What You Pay For

Some seriously bad knockoffs of Pixar’s Ratatouille and Cars, called Ratatoing and The Little Cars. (Via MetaFilter.)

100 Things We Didn’t Know Last Year

From the BBC’s Magazine Monitor, 100 things we didn’t know last year, including:

To be found attractive, women should sway their hips and men their shoulders

and

There is mobile phone reception from the summit of Mount Everest.

They also have lists for 2006, 2005 and 2004.

My Year, 2007

My Year in Photographs

Blade Runner, Tokyo

My most memorable photograph was this cityscape taken in Tokyo. The smog and buildings, especially the tall chimneys, reminds me of the opening shots of Blade Runner.

Temple, Nikko

Following on with the Japan theme, this is a photograph of a temple in the historic town of Nikko, which we visited on a day trip from Tokyo. See more Japan photographs.

Tree, Lake District

My favourite photograph from my visit to the Lake District this year, there is something I really like about the calm created by this. See more photographs from my travels around the UK this year.

Tree, Lake District

2007 was also the year that I started shooting film again, and I’ve now amassed quite a collection of film cameras. Here’s one of my favourite film photographs taken this year, with a £1 Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim.

My Year in Cities

This is a list of cities I visited and stayed at least one night in for 2007:

  • Nottingham, UK *
  • London, UK *
  • Tokyo, Japan *
  • Kyoto, Japan
  • Nikko, Japan
  • Dublin, Ireland

Cities marked with * were visited more than once on non-consecutive days. For once, I didn’t go to Aberdeen, Scotland at all this year.

My Year in Travel

The most enjoyable trip this year has to be the one to Japan with my old school buddy Stephen. We visited the sights in Tokyo and Kyoto, getting lost while wondering the streets on more than one occasion. Japan is truly a wonderful place. And it’s a strange place.

My other trip abroad was to Dublin with my ex-fiancee Kirsten. I loved it, Dublin has great food, great people and great music. The best part is that its big enough to accommodate a long weekend of snooping, but small enough that you don’t feel like you’ve missed out by just spending two full days there.

I also visited a lot of places in England this year, mainly around the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. Nothing beats driving in the Yorkshire Dales; hardly any traffic, winding roads, spectacular views, and a sense of wilderness really gets the blood running.

My Year in Technology

This has to be the year of the iPhone, the device that has revolutionised smartphones. It’s also the year in which I’ve moved to using a Mac full time, and a MacBook none-the-less1 from my old Dell computer with Vista installed.

The Nikon D3, which arrived quite late in the year, also deserves a mention as it has single handily brought Nikon back into the DSLR race with Canon. An honourable mention should also go to Fuji for bringing out the S5 Pro, a fantastic camera with a huge dynamic range and great high ISO performance, and also to Pentax and Olympus for bringing more competition to the usual Nikon and Canon dominated market.

And finally Asus, for bringing out the computer that no-one else wants to make, the Eee PC. No-one else wanted to gamble on a barebones laptop sold for just a couple hundred dollars, but Asus did and managed to turn out a fantastic product at the same time.

But for a whole year, I can only pick out three outstanding new consumer products (ignoring the fact that the D3 is, in fact, a professional camera). It has been a year of disappointments: Sony PlayStation 3, Blu-ray, and HD-DVD have all failed to kick off. Let’s hope next year starts off with another bang at MacWorld 2008.

The best of the stuff I bought this year must be the Dell 24″ 2407WFP-HC widescreen monitor–with it’s fantastic image quality and huge 1920×1200 resolution, the Epson Perfection 4990 scanner, and the concisely named Tamron SP AF17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical [IF], the optical bargain of the year.

My Year in Sports

In January I started a new fitness regime, and managed to loose 10KGs by June. I’ve also gone from someone who couldn’t run at all to now attempting to run 10KM in under 45 minutes (just need to shave another minute off my current pace) and starting to prepare for a half-marathon next year. So it’s looking very good.

I also started playing squash regularly in November, and along with running it’s become my major source of exercise ever since I left the gym.


  1. Albeit tethered to a 24″ monitor with a separate mouse and keyboard most of the time.
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