Polynomial-C

This song is genius. So brilliant in so many ways:

Hard to believe that it’s 20 years old. 1992 was a good year for music.

Posted November 16, 2012 in Music

Over-tired

Right now I’m a bit tired, and I shouldn’t hit the big blue Publish button when I’m tired. I post crap. I just posted an inflammatory thing about Mars bars, but I decided to take it down until I’m less tired and sure that it’s not a stupid thing to post. Sorry about that.

WinRT

If you’re a even slightly in to technology, you’re probably waiting to see what WinRT is like. WinRT is Microsoft’s answer to iOS, and it runs on tablets like Surface, which is Microsoft’s answer to iPad. Anyway, we’ve not seen WinRT in action before, so this video on The Verge is very interesting:

I don’t much like Jim Dalrymple’s new style of let’s-poke-fun-at-everyone-who-isn’t-Apple, but I think this time he is justified when he says “Microsoft is screwed“.

That video highlights why Apple were exactly right to not bring OS X to iPad, updating the desktop metaphor and making it touch friendly. Apple chose iOS despite some loud cries from Apple nerds and tech pundits who seriously felt Apple were ‘dumbing down’. Well, Microsoft ported the desktop over to their tablet (again), and it sucks (still). You’d think they’d learn.

On posting for keeps…

My last post reminded me of something else that I’ve been thinking about lately, and it’s also a reason for keeping a blog: Stuff on Twitter disappears.

I’ve been using Twitter for a while now, and I’ve discovered there’s a catch. Old posts are not accessible. The older they are, the less accessible they become.

Well, if what you say has value (and it almost certainly does) it might actually be worth using a blog like WordPress to post your thoughts. You can easily get your blog to tweet links to the posts you write, and that way, if what you say starts a conversation, it can easily happen on Twitter. Best of all though, when all is said and done, weeks, months, years from now, it’ll still be there — you’ll truly own it.

Another idea: A diary that records your on-line social life

Lately, I’ve been kicking around the idea of writing a small diary app (maybe as a desktop app). This diary would let you record your thoughts, of course, but it would also let you collect your various postings and interactions on social networks from throughout the day (E.g., from Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and so on).

I’m not entirely sure that this isn’t what Storify does already, in a way, though I think that might be different (it’s hard to tell from their homepage, and I don’t have any direct experience with it yet).

Anyway, my driving motivation is the fear that we aren’t archiving our digital lives. Twitter and Facebook are somewhat ephemeral, in that we post them and then they’ve gone. What to do when we’d like to hold on to a thought that we post, or a conversation that we enjoyed? Being able to collect those in a digital scrap book might be nice.

If you like the sound of this idea, let me know. It would be a pay-for app, probably costing $4.99. I’d do versions for Mac and Windows. It would not be cloud based (after all, the point of this is long term storage of your private thoughts). It’d probably store entries in HTML (with the option for password protection), for the very best chance of being able to read them still in 20 years time.

Posted September 3, 2012 in Ideas

The problem with writing for children

The ever-interesting Letters of Note posted on Twitter a wonderful letter from C. S. Lewis to his God-daughter Lucy, about The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe:

My Dear Lucy,

I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realised that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand, a word you say, but I shall still be

your affectionate Godfather,
C. S. Lewis

I think I understand a little of how Lewis must have felt. Last year, I started writing two small programmes for iPad, to help my young daughter as she learned to read and write. Well, the software isn’t finished, but she can all but read and write now. Maybe I’ll be finished in time for my younger daughter. If not, there may one day be grand children…

Stay safe devs, update your Java…

If you’re an Android developer, you’ll have the JDK installed somewhere. You need to keep this up-to-date. Java, along with the even more vulnerable Flash Player and Acrobat Reader make up the lion’s share all current serious security vulnerabilities on your computer.

Today, Oracle released JDK 7 update 7, and it specifically fixes a vulnerability disclosed last week. You can always download the latest JDK from this page: http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/java/javase/downloads/index.html. Click on the button ‘JDK 7u7′ (though, of course, over time that u7 will become u8 and so on).

Do it. Do it now!

If you’re not a developer and you have Java installed you still need to stay up-to-date. You should be promoted to update your Java — let it run and it’ll help you stay safe. Same goes for Flash, Acrobat Reader and Windows/OS X updates.

Edit: if you’re running OS X, you’ll notice that java -version still shows the version you had before. Annoyingly, you have to open ‘Java Preferences’ in your Applications/Utilities folder, and in the ‘Version’ column for Java 7, change the drop down to the version you just installed:

Shows how the Java Preferences window must be used on OSX to ensure that you are running the latest Java updates

Set the latest Java version in Java Preferences

What the hell happened over at The Guardian?

Back when I used to follow the news (I stopped a few years ago because it’s all a bit depressing really), The Guardian seemed to be one of the more reputable and trust-worthy online sources. I mean, they were one of the few papers brave enough to touch wikileaks, and they did the whole phone hacking thing that the BBC bizarrely ignored for so long. They also employ Ben Goldacre who does an incredibly good job of spotting and explaining dodgy research and bad reporting. Well, if my belief in their integrity ever was particularly justified, it no longer seems to be the case. They appear to have dumbed down lately, and are posting crap like this:

Instagram is debasing real photography
The Instagram/Hipstamatic/Snapseed filters are the antithesis of creativity, and make all pictures look the same

and:

Is Twitter anything more than an online echo chamber?
Columnists Suzanne Moore and Peter Hitchens rarely see eye-to-eye on anything, but they do seem to agree that Twitter tends towards a leftwing mob mentality

I don’t think I need to say anything about either of those articles, because they sort of have a special stench all of their own. I don’t think more than a handful of people read either of those articles and nodded in agreement with each stupid sentence.

So what’s going on over at The Guardian? Is this an ever-so-slightly middle-class version of link-baiting; an attempt to get floods of traffic by writing inflammatory and idiotic opinion pieces? I suspect the answer is yes. People can’t resist reading idiotic stuff that they don’t agree with, just so they can get a bit outraged. In fact, it’s much the same tactic that The Daily Mail use so well, except they write about celebrities and things-to-be-afraid-of, like rapists and chavs and murderers. And it works.

Example of a photo processed in Snapseed

Apparently, the Guardian think that apps like Instagram and Snapseed are ruining photography! This photo was processed in Snapseed.

Posted August 29, 2012 in General

Some highly unimpressive stats for my blog

So, this little blog has been ticking over for a little while now – probably very close to a year. I think it was around Christmas time last year that I last posted my visitor stats, just in case anybody was interested. I’m not sure how useful it is as a benchmark, but if you’re thinking of starting a similar blog maybe it’ll give you some idea. The visitor numbers were around 600 uniques per month, with a bounce rate of about 80%. Nearly all of my traffic came from one or two posts (every blog I’ve started has followed that pattern).

Well, the numbers are fairly flat and I’m still seeing the same sort of traffic now. I must have had a busy month in February, because the stats were really building, but they fell away again as I got sidetracked by some big things at work (things I’ll write about soon, because the product I’ve been helping to build for the fine folks at North 51 is really very interesting). Anyway, here’s the graph for the last 12 months:

Graph of blog visitors stats, taken from Google Analytics showing fairly flat numbers.

Posted August 28, 2012 in Blog

New album from The Orb and Lee Scratch Perry

The Orb and Lee Scratch Perry Presents The Observer In The Soul House

Album art

Not sure if I’ll do many posts like this, but I do listen to a lot of music in Spotify and some of it, like this, is definitely worth sharing. Nice bit of Orb-style dub but with actual lyrics (and perfectly matched to the Orb style). I think this might actually be a Spotify exclusive – it looks like the album isn’t due out until next week.

Posting this reminds me… Once upon a time, probably in 2008, I built a site called Spotify Lounge. The idea was that you’d paste your favourite Spotify music as links, and it’d go off and fetch the album details/artwork and add it to your profile. This was before they did the whole Facebook thing, but just after they posted their API library. Really, I just wanted to be able to recommend and discover great albums. I pretty much finished the coding, but decided not to release it. I was troubled by the fact that it violated just about every term in the Spotify API click-through-agreement, and I didn’t fancy writing it just to have my account cancelled.