Monday, November 29, 2004

Make LOVE not SPAM is a great idea! Running on my machine now.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Many thanks to my friend Simon for sending me these haiku alternatives to oft-seen Windows error messages - The haiku messages are just as informative as Microsoft's and they make you pause just long enough that you're able to fight the impulse to put a fist through the screen.

  • A file that big?
    It might be very useful.
    But now it is gone.
  • You seek a Web site.
    It cannot be located.
    Countless more exist.
  • Chaos reigns within.
    Stop, reflect, and reboot.
    Order shall return.
  • ABORTED effort:
    Close all that you have worked on.
    You ask way too much.
  • Yesterday it worked.
    Today it is not working.
    Windows is like that.
  • First snow, then silence.
    This thousand dollar screen dies
    So beautifully.
  • With searching comes loss.
    The presence of absence.
    "Deadlines.doc" not found.
  • The Tao that is seen
    Is not the true Tao
    Until you bring fresh toner.
  • Windows NT crashed.
    The Blue Screen of Death.
    No one hears your screams.
  • Stay the patient course.
    Of little worth is your ire.
    The network is down.
  • A crash reduces
    Your expensive computer
    To a simple stone.
  • You step in the stream
    But the water has moved on.
    Page not found.
  • Out of memory.
    We wish to hold the whole sky,
    But we never will.
  • Having been erased,
    The document you are seeking
    Must now be retyped.
  • Serious error.
    All shortcuts have disappeared.
    Screen. Mind. Both are blank.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Streamer p2p radio - this is very interesting - I had been approached about hosting an online radio station and even went as far as to to research audio scheduling software (see here) - this means you could have thousands of listeners hanging off a low-bandwidth connection.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Electronics is 100 years old!

On 16th November 1904, John Ambrose Fleming applied for a patent for his new invention: the thermionic diode valve. Quite a nice WikiPedia article here.

Monday, November 15, 2004

VSO software's DivXtoDVD is a really simple little app that makes a suitable Video_TS folder for a DVD - much simpler than using Nero or any of the other pony DVD authoring packages for sub $100. It auto-detects aspect ratio and frame rate (and hence standard) from the input file and make quite nice looking MPEG2.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

I saw this title on a 2nd hand book stall and had to buy it! Actually Sarah spotted it and pointed it out to me and it brought back a flood of memories from five years ago. I was chief engineer at Resolution at the time and suffered a daily pestering by various "Y2K consultants" from the Beeb et al. To a man (no ladies were stupid enough to be sucked in to that degree!) they were clearly riding a gravy train that they were going to suck dry! I'd upgraded every OS and bit of application software as per manufacturer recommendations but that wasn't enough - no sir!

"Is that combination door lock Y2k compliant?"
"No - it's a mechanical gadget that has no notion of the date"
"That's not good enough - if you guys are going to get BBC/Channel 4/etc etc millennium certification you're going to have to provide me with manufacturer documentation to show it is compliant"

Suffice to say we sailed through the 1999-2000 junction with no problems - I'd simulated it twice at Resolution (and once at my previous firm Oasis TV) - but that kind of level-headed thinking cut no mustard with the folks from the Y2k industry!

Anyhow - I noticed some interesting trends in the run up to 2000 - aside from the hundreds of books by doom-mongers like Mr Wiles (have these people ever been taken seriously since?) there were well defined attitudes in all the people who wanted the world to end by the close of 1999

  • Once people had woken up to the fact that programmers had been addressing the issue for most of the nineties and databases are used to badly formatted input the danger turned to "embedded systems" - everything from your car's electronic ignition to nuclear missiles were going to go wrong. All the people I spoke to wouldn't accept the fact that most microcoontrollers know nothing about large time periods - your engine management operates over hundreds of milliseconds (or at most months for the service interval). The view of engineers who dealt with embedded controllers on a daily basis counted for nothing over the views of the doom merchants.
  • By mid-1998 it was fashionable for the Y2k industry to imply that although the USA would be OK all those Johnny foreigner countries would cause the trouble - racism was everywhere! In the end Italy spent less than 1% of what the UK spent on Y2k preparedness and they suffered less than our modest amount of pain!
  • In the aftermath of new year 2000 I read lots of online comments from people like Gary North claiming that the US administration was covering up the nature of the problem and we'd see the collapse of society etc etc soon - perhaps he is still holed up in a cave in Montana living on beef jerky and listening to his clockwork radio!

So there you go - a real trip down misery lane!

Friday, November 12, 2004

GAIM is such a good IM client - I've been using it for a few months and with the release of v1.02 I think it outstrips MSN Messenger in all areas. Aside from support for ALL of the messenger and chat protocols (something the boys in Redmond show no signs of embracing!) it has a cleaner interface and a very extensible philosophy - it supports pluggins (much like Firefox) and also tab'ed conversations (much like Firefox). It keeps a text file record of conversations and with the latest release has your buddy picture (something my children thought was important!).
The only slightly insulting thing is how it describes people who haven't touched the keyboard for a while!

Friday, November 05, 2004

The new Star Wars trailer was on their site as Quicktime which (as every superhero knows) is a proprietry format. So, I temporarily installed QT on my laptop, converted the files and then uninstalled it!
It is here for desktop viewing as a DivX file or on your SmartPhone as a low-bitrate MPEG1 file.