Friday, 21 December 2007
Well 2007 has been a great year for me.
- I broke my habit of using Windows after being addicted for fifteen years (thank you Vista).
- I managed some great open source projects which really opened my eyes to the possibilities.
- I am less and less convinced that paying money for software saves you money.
- I finally bought a green car (a 90mpg diesel Smart Fortwo).
- I won an award at work and got my picture taken with some important people.
- I discovered TWiT and Facebook.
Tuesday, 27 November 2007
I just had to blog this one. I am weak. I couldn't help myself.
Large Raw Sewage Spill In Port Of Sacramento | EcoEgg: "Fishing in certain parts of the Port Of Sacramento are closed tonight as crews try to clean and test the waters from thousands of gallons of raw sewage."
Thursday, 22 November 2007
Reading this excellent article in El Reg it reminded me of some information I did not previously impart to you my loyal readers. Although I have blogged about the BBC's ill-fated iPlayer before but what I did not reveal then was that I actually attended an 'interview' to join the project back in 2005. The interview was a disaster and in just one hour I could see clearly three things:
- The person interviewing me was confused about what he wanted (see "didn't have a scooby").
- The project was mired in politics.
- I wanted no part of it
Why is the iPlayer a multi million pound disaster? | The Register: "The story of the BBC's iPlayer is of a multi-million pound failure that took years to complete, and was designed for a world that never arrived. More was spent on the project than many Silicon Valley startups ever burn through, but only now can we begin to piece together how this disaster unfolded."
Tuesday, 13 November 2007
I project manage the development of websites for my clients. Where possible I like to use an open source package as basis such as Wordpress, Mediawiki, Joomla, etc. and then extend with PHP or whichever scripting language is to hand. Sometimes a project calls for pure old fashioned bespoke and I always go with PHP. It is easy to understand, easy to get resources for (for both development and support) and is ideal for quick cycle time iterative prototyping.
I was interested to read the experiences of Derek Sivers with Ruby on Rails below. He found PHP to be more appropriate to bespoking a website than its younger and sexier cousin.
7 reasons I switched back to PHP after 2 years on Rails - O'Reilly Ruby: "I spent two years trying to make Rails do something it wasn’t meant to do, then realized my old abandoned language (PHP, in my case) would do just fine if approached with my new Rails-gained wisdom."
Tuesday, 30 October 2007
Here is a very interesting interview with Martin Illsley, director of research at Accenture Technology Labs. This kind of insight into the future of IT technology is very valuable to know in my industry. I have worked in the area of collaboration technology and as my regular readers will know I am an expert in blogs and wikis (is an expert just a drip under pressure?) When I worked at PA Consulting we all thought that Accenture were the enemy. It looks like I fell foul of Amara's law.....
Accenture's king of blue-sky thinking - ZDNet UK: "Amara's Law, which also goes by other names, is that people overestimate the short-term effects of an action or technology, while underestimating the long-term effects."
Monday, 29 October 2007
Well your correspondent doesn't know as much about hydrogen as he should. This hydrogen car is clearly aimed at getting Honda to the forefront of technology again and staying there. Although I don't drive a Honda any more I have long been a fan of these ultra reliable cars. Paradoxically I gave up my most recent Honda this summer due to concerns for the environment (I now have a Smart Fortwo diesel).
When Honda came out with the Insight it was one of the greenest cars in the world, yet it is Toyota who are the darlings of the industry for the Prius. Now Honda are embarking on a journey into a 'hydrogen economy' you may think that they are susceptible to making the same mistake again in assuming that being first to market means you can make a load of money out of it. Here are two reasons why I think Honda will make a success of the FCX:
1. Toyota have too much of a vested interest in hybrid technology - why give up such a big cash cow
2. Honda want to sell the home fuelling station for making hydrogen out of domestic gas.
Honda offers FCX for '08, bitchslaps Google | The Register: "Honda has confounded green-motoring analysts by announcing that it will offer a hydrogen-powered car for general sale in 2008, years earlier than expected."
Friday, 5 October 2007
Well this survey from Cardiff University shows my car as the second greenest after the Smart Roadster which isn't made any more. I have a feeling that had they included the diesel variant of the Smart Fortwo, which isn't sold in the UK and which I had to import from France, then my car may have been top of the poll?
Smart Fortwo Roadster is 'greenest car' - What Car?: "
1 Smart Roadster
2 Smart Fortwo cabriolet
3 Citroen C1 1.0i
4 Peugeot 107 1.0
5 Citroen C1 1.4 HDi
6 Fiat Panda 1.2
7 Ford Ka 1.3
8 Toyota Yaris 1.0
9 Fiat Panda 100hp 1
0 Peugeot 206 1.4
11 Mini Cooper D
12 Toyota Prius 1.5 S
ource: Cardiff University/Clifford Thames"
Monday, 1 October 2007
OpenID looks a promising way of federating your identity, reducing multiple logins, etc. Where I work at the moment they have an Active Directory which you can use on all company systems whether internal or external facing (Internet). I think these systems only work when lots of people trust them. I will track this one.
OpenID: an actually distributed identity system: "In short, OpenID is a way for individuals to create identity online and use it anywhere OpenID is supported."
Wednesday, 26 September 2007
If you drive a Porsche then you should stop. I don't have too much of an issue with a person owning a high performance sports car if you use it for recreation at the weekend and you use a fuel efficient car during the week. Ian Wright (not the footballer for you Brits) thinks that us eco-warriors should be going after highly fuel inefficient vehicles like big trucks and supercars. This CNET interview may change your perceptions about a lot of things.
The Wright way to the electric car | Tech news blog - CNET News.com: "First, Wright doesn't care about gas mileage per se; he cares about performance, power, and most importantly, payback. Focus on the vehicles actually burning the most gas, irrespective of fuel efficiency. That is, instead of making tiny, compact, fuel-efficient target cars more efficient with EV and hybrid technology--focus on the gas guzzlers."
Monday, 24 September 2007
And wolverines don't make good house pets, and there is such a thing as global warming, and night follows day, and the world carries on....
Smaller-screen content: Europeans say no via CNET News.com on 9/24/07 European consumers don't dig tv on cellphones.
The Globalisation Institute's concept of selling cold iron PC's with no operating systems is a brilliant one and a dumb one all at the same time. Let me tell you why.
Having worked in a corporate environment I know how cheap Windows XP is for what you actually get. It costs a mere few extra dollars on top of the cost of the PC. In fact to large suppliers like Dell I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft were giving Windows away. The real cash cow for them is Office of course.
The idea of simply inserting a DVD on a bare naked PC and having it work first time is absurd. There are all sorts of driver issues and compatibility issues that the man on the Clapham omnibus has no desire to contend with.
Having said that I am all for opening people's minds to the idea of demanding an alternative in the store. I would happy to see the EU invest money in an awareness campaign.
If fines are imposed or legal action taken like in the Media Player case then although it may sound noble, but it has all the hallmarks of protectionism, collectivism, and lots of other '-ism's from the Soviet era ;-)
EU thinktank calls for naked PCs - ZDNet UK: "'There is no meaningful competition between operating systems for commodity computers.'"
Sunday, 23 September 2007
I hate blog posts which begin "I read somewhere..." but I read somewhere that 3% of US electricity is consumed powering computers. This website below gives tips and tricks on how to reduce power consumption with Linux and it gets my endorsement for what it is worth. I proudly consume 17 times less energy powering my home computer by using a Zonbu. What do you do?
LessWatts.org - Saving Power on Intel systems with Linux: "LessWatts is about creating a community around saving power on Linux, bringing developers, users, and sysadmins together to share software, optimizations, tips and tricks."
I have become a big user of open source in the last few years. I increasingly only open source in my work where I favour MySQL over Oracle, Apache over IIS, and SugarCRM over Remedy, Eclipse, PHP, and the list goes on. In my home life too I am starting to roll out Linux on my home network. It just seems to be more reliable and greener than the commercial alternative. Less bloated, more configurable, and just plain reliable.
I get asked advice from time to time about which ISP to use, and I usually recommend BT Broadband. It is expensive but it is very reliable. I don't want 24 mbits some of the time, I want 2mbits all the time. It is the same with software. I don't need the slickest interface, I just need a familiar interface. Linux just works for me.
Open Source Is the Big Disruptor: "Gartner believes most commercial software products will include elements of open-source code by 2010."
Friday, 21 September 2007
[warning: this posting contains the G word from the outset]
I have a visually impaired friend who likes to think about God on the move. It is her birthday soon and I just don't know what to buy her? Oh my God, just look at this:
Green Your Prayers With Solar-Powered Bible - Ecofriend: "The product is the best gift that you can give to any visually impaired friend of yours or to anyone who wants to think about god on the move."
As Lynn Tan reports for ZDNet below, next generation data centres will be virtualised.
I was recently nominated for an award for my participation in a project to work with Amazon in their innovative Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). This data centre is virtualised on so many levels like you wouldn't believe. The servers are virtualised Linux. The backups are virtualised,. Your collection of servers are protected from others in a vitual data centre. I have little idea what the physical arrangements are and frankly I don't care much.
I suppose it comes down to this, if you trust someone then will take their word for it on certain issues. I work for an energy company, and IT is not their core business. Amazon is an IT company and it has a data centre at the heart of their business. I trust them to keep my data safe and to protect me from attack otherwise they would go out of business, right? I have been wrong before. Once in 1976 and once in 1995. I am not wrong on this one. In five years time all data centres will be like this.
Virtualisation key to next-gen data centres - ZDNet UK: "'IDC has identified virtualisation as one of the key technologies underpinning the successful evolution of existing data centres to the next-generation platform.'"
Friday, 14 September 2007
After having used Gentoo on my Zonbu now for a couple of weeks I agree that Linux is not ready for the mainstream quite yet. For someone who works in IT it is simply wonderful, but my Zonbu was designed for 'your Dad' and I think it would confuse my Mum if not my Dad. It isn't that gentoo is not user friendly, it is just that folk are familiar with Windows and Mac OS and there just doesn't seem much of a point learning something new just so Jobs or Gates won't get a penny of your money.
I have been considering Linux on the desktop for a project I am managing for a major multinational, and my conclusion is no, not yet.
I was speaking to an old friend today who converted to Mac OS from Windows about nine months ago. He proudly told me that Macs did not suffer from slow down over time because Unix based systems don't have a registry. Today he sheepishly told me that even his Macbook seemed to be a lot slower these days.
Mossberg's Ubuntu Linux verdict: Nope | Underexposed - CNET News.com: "Walt Mossberg, the influential Wall Street Journal reviewer who strikes fear into the hearts of computing and gadget companies, has weighed in on Ubuntu Linux"
Monday, 10 September 2007
I was saddened to read of the news of the death of Anita Roddick. I used to tell two stories about her. The first as a cautionary tale to help me in my consulting business. The second as an example of how it is actions that speak louder than words.
1. A quote of hers: "Look after your anarchists because when the going gets tough they will save you".
2. An anecdote: She used to remove all the extraneous food packaging in Sainsburys and leave it at the checkout. This was a protest against waste in an age when most of us weren't aware of green and environmental issues.
BBC NEWS | UK | Dame Anita Roddick dies aged 64: "Founder of ethical cosmetics firm Body Shop, Dame Anita Roddick, has died at the age of 64."
Sunday, 9 September 2007
I have been using my Zonbu for a couple of weeks now so it is time for a report.
- The good news is that I am still using it. In fact i am writing this blog entry with it. it is perfectly good enough for every day use.
- I have had to install rdesktop which i need to do my accounts. I hire a Windows VPS and run Quickbooks on it. This is the only Windows application I actually need day to day.
- I have had very little luck with printing. The Zonbu supposedly supports my HP Deskjet 970Cxi locally which it doesn't. I have also not been able to get my Windows attached Samsung ML-1610 working either.
- There are various other gadgets and Gizmos which won't work on it (scanners, Plantronics headset, etc.) but nothing that I need more than occasionally.
- Mplayer plays all the kids movies very well. I hesitate to say perfectly as the frame rate doesn't seem to bequite as good as my Athlon 64 in the living room running Windows Media Center 2005.
No wonder Facebook is banned in so many companies. I was walking in to work on Thursday morning and I passed a couple of likely lads smoking outside the building.
"I feel a day of facebook coming on" one said to the other.
"Me too" said the other.
[Editor's footnote: I was not walking to work, I was walking from the overflow car park to the building at Stockley Park]
It is just about your worst nightmare to be mowed down by a ship. I was watching the remake of Poseidon with Kurt Russel last week and it conveyed the size of a large ocean going vessel very well. BTW the film was a very pleasant surprise and even the missus stayed up late to see the end.
BBC NEWS | England | Canoeist 'possibly hit by ship': "The man's body was found two miles off Rye, early on Saturday, and a damaged canoe was later found floating between Folkestone and Dungeness, in Kent. Dover coastguard said the man's injuries and the damage to the canoe suggested he had been run down."
Wednesday, 29 August 2007
I have been advocating Good Enough technology for ages. I think it is the underlying principle of the so called 'mashup'. I have managed several projects during the last two years which come under this banner. They provide tremendous value to the users, they are agile (ie. quick to get online), and they make heavy use of open source software.
If you want to know if you are going in the right direction then just try the sneer test. Every time I do one of these projects I am:
1. sneered at by the IT community
2. applauded by the user community.
Can you see the pattern emerging?
Commentary: Why "Good Enough" Is Good Enough: "Say you have a crucial conference call in an hour and your phone goes dead. What do you do? A generation ago, this wasn't much of an issue, at least in the U.S. Phones in the days of the Bell monopoly were engineered to be 'mission critical.' You picked up one of those heavy receivers back then, and the dial tone was as prompt and reliable as water from the tap. It worked."
CNET Commentary by Matt Asay
I stumbled across this excellent commentary from Stephen Baker in BusinessWeek on "good enough" technology. It's actually a great foil to an earlier post I wrote on Software as a Service (SaaS).
I have ordered a Zonbu and it will be arriving soon. If it lives up to the expectations I have for it then it will make me very happy. If not, then who cares, it is only 125 quid. Read the blog posting below for further info.
Machinist: Tech Blog, Tech News, Technology Articles - Salon: "The Zonbu is the first consumer computer that meets the EPEAT 'Gold' standard, the highest rating given out by the nonprofit group the Green Electronics Council."
Friday, 17 August 2007
This is a genuinely useful article about how to reduce your power consumption. It is aimed at the US where most power is consumed during the summer on air conditioning, but the principles still apply here in Europe. Warning: Good practical advice contained within:
15 Tips For Keeping Cool Without Air Conditioning | Cool-Off: "Here are some tips that will keep costs down, and will help you spend the warmer months in much more comfort than in previous years."
Although I am using Linux at work for some of the projects I manage, it seems to me that the day when it dominates everything can't be more than five years in the future. I am laying down a marker now. By 2012 everything I will do will be Linux. Watch this space.
Could Linux become the dominant OS? | The Register: "Well Google, for example, builds all its own servers and is estimated to be the fourth largest builder of servers in the world - after HP, IBM, and Sun. It's not the only ISP that does this, but its activity is so great that it distorts the market stats."
Wednesday, 15 August 2007
I was pleased to see some genuinely new designs and technologies in this photo roundup from CNET. I like the 'limpet' especially.
Monday, 13 August 2007
Find Eco Friendly Water Saving Shower Head - NaturalCollection.com
This innovative showerhead simply attaches to your existing fitting, conserving water and energy without sacrificing pressure. This amazing showerhead not only offers a truly revitalizing shower, but also makes water savings of between 30 and 70%. Its patented pressure technology accelerates, energises and oxygenates the water flow, allowing you to enjoy its massaging, deep cleansing sensation. The showerhead is easy to install onto any shower fixture (comes with hose and fixing kit) and has the added benefit of the manufacturer’s no-clog guarantee. Comes in brushed nickel finish.
Friday, 27 July 2007
I have been involved in both betas of the iPlayer for nearly a year now and now that it has gone public I can concur with this blogger that iPlayer is a big fat waste of time and it won't get used. I know for a fact that the BBC have already given up trying to get their copyrighted material off Google Video and YouTube, realising that they are fighting a losing battle. Why o why o why did they ever let this project see the light of day.
BBC iPlayer: Aunty launches the public beta of its IPTV app - Crave at CNET.co.uk: "The stupid thing is, iPlayer is being ruined by DRM and the associated technology required to make it work. Anyone can get TV programmes via BitTorrent by pressing one button and waiting 30 minutes or so. They then have a file that doesn't have restrictions, will play on a whole host of devices and doesn't expire. Of course, downloading copyrighted material is illegal, so most people won't do it, but until the iPlayer is as simple and pain-free as getting XviD files from The Pirate Bay, it doesn't stand a chance in achieving what the BBC wants, which is to control how their media is distributed over the Internet."
Social Networking isn't something you should be ashamed of. When your boss approaches don't minimise Facebook, or your IM client. This survey points the way for us Brits in terms of attitudes and behaviours in the US from where all good things IT come. As followers of my blog will know I am in the business of social networking systems so I am biased. but facts is facts, right?
IT pros give thumbs up to online communities | Reg Developer: "A survey of over 200 US-based IT professionals, published this week by King Research, shows that 100 per cent of those who participate in online communities say they get professional benefits from the experience. And 85 per cent also say they get personal benefits."
Thursday, 19 July 2007
Zonbu: Green doesn't have to make you Blue!
Zonbu is the first environmentally responsible computer without the hassle and high price.
Wednesday, 18 July 2007
Kids say e-mail is, like, soooo dead | CNET News.com
Just ask a group of teen Internet entrepreneurs, who readily admit that traditional e-mail is better suited for keeping up professional relationships or communicating with adults."I only use e-mail for my business and to get sponsors," Martina Butler, the host of the teen podcast Emo Girl Talk, said during a panel discussion here at the Mashup 2007 conference, which is focused on the technology generation. With friends, Bulter said she only sends notes via a social network."Sometimes I say I e-mailed you, but I mean I Myspace'd or Facebook'ed you," she said.
Powered by ScribeFire.
Hi, still haven't received the call from Mercedes about the conversion of my French Smart Car to UK specification. I find it gaulling(?) that it is taking so long & costing so much money to import a car from France
Voice-to-Screen messaging - powered by SpinVox
Friday, 13 July 2007
This guy works for me!!!!!
HEN Lifestyle : Leisure News : Brother and sister's TV goal is shot through with Integrity: "Brother and sister's TV goal is shot through with Integrity
A TALENTED brother and sister team from Cheshunt hope their hotly-tipped TV pilot will make a big impact on the small screen."
Friday, 6 July 2007
I think RSS will reach a tipping point in the business community in the next twelve months just like instant messaging did. Eighteen months ago nobody was using IM at work - now it is everywhere. They even opened up the ports on the corporate LAN so people could use it. RSS will surely follow as workers try to find better ways of dealing with the vast amount of email they are receiving. Enjoy this video and send it to all your friends so they can get their heads round this technology:
YouTube - Video: RSS in Plain English: "We made this video for our friends (and yours) that haven't yet felt the power of our friend the RSS reader. We want to convert people and if you know someone who would love RSS and hasn't yet tried it, point them here for 3.5 minutes. (more)"
Dell D600 Laptop Intel Centrino 1.6GHz 512MB 40GB 15\" TFT CD-RW/DVD Windows XP Pro 6months Warranty
Thursday, 5 July 2007
If you are looking for Robin's deal of the decade this week then this is it. 250 notes for this computer is a steal by any calculation. I use one of these myself for work.
Dell D600 Laptop Intel Centrino 1.6GHz 512MB 40GB 15\" TFT CD-RW/DVD Windows XP Pro 6months Warranty: "Dell D600 Laptop Intel Centrino 1.6GHz 512MB 40GB 15\' TFT CD-RW/DVD Windows XP Pro"
Tuesday, 19 June 2007
If you watch one online video this year, on bended knee, let it be this one. This is nearly as cool as the Microsoft Surface computing demo last month.
Cool software which links all pictures published in the world together into a meta verse.bookmark this on del.icio.us - posted by pkullich to photosynth visualization ted - more about this bookmark...
Monday, 18 June 2007
Any article which begins with these seven words deservers to be read: "Zimbabwean despot 'laughing' Bob Mugabe's government has... ". Read it.
Mugabe gives email snooping green light | The Register:
Friday, 15 June 2007
This is a fascinating article from Faultline (http://www.rethinkresearch.biz/) on what Steve Jobs is thinking Apple TV is for. As usual it isn't straightforward.
The devil is in the detail for Apple TV
Comment Getting into the mind of Steve Jobs isn't all that simple, and sometimes you just have to wait until he tells you what went through his mind in order to explain the latest Apple phenomena. But the picture around Apple TV is starting to clear with some rumours and snippets revealed this week....
Wednesday, 13 June 2007
I am not sure I believe it, but it is always nice to see a video of a real live mad professor with a karaoke microphone.
Friday, 8 June 2007
Yeah and the rest.....
Now this is a great thing to do. Put a laptop into a beautiful hide wallet. I carry my laptop around site here at the-oil-company-which-cannot-be-named and the feel of the antiseptic plastic case of my trusty Dell crap-top is not very pleasant in my hands. More leather is what I say. Car manufacturers cottoned on to the fact that if you make the steering wheel and the gear knob leather then you can make the rest of the car plastic. It takes a Chinese laptop manufacturer to come up with this great innovation. What good is Europe anyway?
Sent to you by Robin via Google Reader:
Thinkpad Reserve Edition. According to our trusted insider, it's just the staid, Thinkpad design wrapped in cowhide. YeeHaw! Still maybe there's more than meets the eye, eh?
Gallery: Lenovo's Thinkpad Reserve Edition?
Office Depot Featured Gadget: Xbox 360 Platinum System Packs the power to bring games to life!
Things you can do from here:
What is the benefit of this technology? I must admit I do like the idea of it.
1. You wouldn't have to plug in your laptop to get a recharge.
2. Wireless mice which never need recharging.
3. Wall mounted televisions which don't need power cables chasing into the wall.
On the other hand, who cares.
Sent to you by Robin via Google Reader:
Switching on lightbulbs from a distance
Researchers in the US have demonstrated an experimental wireless energy transfer system that could pave the way for truly wireless computing. The team has already successfully made a 60W light bulb light up from a distance of 2 metres....
Things you can do from here:
Thursday, 7 June 2007
I spent 15 minutes reading about this this drivel. That's 15 minutes I will never get back again. And to think I started my career at Xerox. How the mighty have fallen.
Banging the solutions drum on a rain-soaked Lyon river
Xerox has climbed on board the crowded Web 2.0 ship with the introduction of solutions-based document management for its customers....
Too bloody right. I am glad this woman was kicked out of Big Brother. The 'N' word is absolutely unacceptable in today's society. This girl is a dumb zarking blonde and she should be charged by the police. Before you think bad of me for the dumb zarking blonde comment, don't forget that the colour of her hair is something she can change.
For the record I don't watch Big Brother. No really, I don't....
Friday, 1 June 2007
Apparently these OLEDs are 98 percent efficient, but don't quote me on that. What that means is that nearly all of the electricity is converted to light, so they are energy efficient and cool to the touch. Now if you combine large tabletop OLED screens with that Microsoft Milan surface computing demo they did the other day, then you could have something really interesting to play with during family breakfast.
*OLED Light* by John on May 31, 2007
Now I often manage development projects and a barrier I keep coming up against is the problem that you have to be connected to the Internet to use an Internet application. Not any more.
Those clever chaps and chapesses at google has come up with a clever way of doing offline webware. It is possible with Google Gears to have a web application which works online and offline - yes you heard me - offline, ie. when you are not connected to the Internet it still works. Google will be giving this away free to developers in a couple of months as part of their 'get-Microsoft' program. I think they probably developed it so they can improve their current Google Docs and Spreadsheets offerings. Whatever the reason I think it is a revolution...if it works.
Well here is my first post in Blogger after having lasted two whole years in MSN Spaces. I just got fed up with the advertising, you know what I mean.
See Dwad's Corner here