Friday, October 31, 2008

Kiss of the Dragon

I rented this for three reasons:

1. Zak enjoys martial arts movies
2. Jet Li is a likeable actor
3. It was available in Blu-ray format

In common with many Asian martial arts film, the profanity/sex/drugs/gore quotient is as high as the censor will allow it to go. However, if you can get past this it is a very human, very humorous film.

It wasn't until half-way through it that I thought to myself 'This has to be a Luc Besson film'. And sure enough, when the titles rolled, there he was, heading up the screenplay.

Jet Li co-produces the film, stars in it, and created the original story. In his own words...

"I wasn't interested in making a movie about a big action hero who saves the day. My character, Liu Jiuan, is one of China's best agents, with tremendous abilities in martial arts and acupuncture. He's determined and driven. But he's not a superman; he's human. When his mission goes wrong, Liu initially doesn't know how to handle things."

If you're prepared to tolerate the weak plot, Besson-esque cartoon baddies and the sometimes excrutiating dubbing, you will realise that this is more than just a 'colour-by-numbers' martial arts film.

Bridget Fonda deserves special mention, investing her 'tart-with-a-heart' love-interest character with uncommon depth, humour and an earthy-sexiness.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1.5TB

Register Hardware have published a comparison between Seagate and Western Digital's latest high capacity hard drives. The Seagate wins on speed, quiet operation and price (£140).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Disney have posted a teaser for Pixar's next film. It is called 'Up', it features a house, an old man and a lot of balloons. Oh, and it will be produced in 'Disney Digital 3D'.

40 Photoshop Effects

If you are a Photoshop user (and, let's face it, who ISN'T?) PSDTUTS is a valuable resource, and this collection from Danny Outlaw has some excellent tutorials.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The future of photography?

I blogged on the Panasonic Lumix G1 a while back.

Scott Sherman has written an article that echoes the way I feel about it: [edited]

I love new technology, but I haven’t been able to get very excited about the new Micro Four Thirds format for digital cameras.

...the G1 has excellent image quality and takes much better pictures than a typical compact. But... the assortment of compatible dedicated lenses is still measly and the camera isn’t really that small (Olympus’s 420 full DSLR is actually lighter than the G1).

Still, the idea of a lighter, smaller DSLR-like camera is appealing. But, even as I write this, I’m thinking, really? Appealing to whom? Because the enthusiasts are always going to want a full DSLR.

Is the average person who just wants to photography family and friends really going to spend this much and learn the ins-and-outs of what lenses to use and why?

- - - - -

Brett's 2p'orth: Except for professionals and a handful of enthusisasts, the future of photography is an iPhone with a decent-sized sensor and intuitive software. However, the big camera names won't want to dump their high profit-margin DSLR ensembles, and the mobile phone manufacturers still seem to be more obsessed with megapixels than real image quality.

My best hope is that Fuji (or some other high-end sensor maker) is even now in secret meetings with Mr Jobs planning a future incarnation of the iPhone that will bring the ability to capture beautiful images without having to carry around a phone AND a camera everywhere you go.

Monday, October 27, 2008


I don't know much about Luc Besson, but I know that he makes wonderful films. And if he isn't an avid anime fan, I'd be really, really surprised.

Watching Wasabi was like watching an anime film played by live characters. The plot is simple. Hubert Fiorentini (Jean Reno) is an awkward, often violent, brilliant detective who still hasn't got over the love of his life, a Japanese woman who inexplicably dumped him nineteen years ago.

Hubert receives a call from Tokyo by the lawyer of his former girlfriend. She has died and left her possessions to him. When he arrives in Tokyo he is introduced to his larger-than-life, mad-as-a-box-of-frogs teenage daughter Yumi Yoshimido (Ryoko Hirosue) who is just a day away from inheriting 200 million Euros.

Add to this mix cartoon Japanese gangsters, a stupid but likeable sidekick (Michel Muller) and a fist-full of choreographed fight scenes and (assuming you enjoy anime) you have 90-minutes of light-hearted, affecting entertainment.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Nikon D90 full review

Digital Photography Review have published an in-depth review of Nikon's £800 D80 replacement. The last sentence of the conclusion reads... "After using and testing the D90 extensively, it's hard to think of a better enthusiast-level camera."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Image filters for iPhone/iPod touch reports: [edited]

CameraBag is simple and intuitive. Just take a new photo or choose one from your library, swipe between camera styles, and save any you like. If you want more control, an options panel is available for camera behaviour, image size, cropping and border effects and more.

The CameraBag 'cameras' are:

Helga - A toy camera feel with washed-out highlights and old-school vignetting.

1974 - This is your father's camera. Faded, tinted, and hip.

Lolo - Shoot from the hip and take life as it comes with vibrant, colorful shots.

Cinema - Dramatic, moody, wide-screen stills from the movie of your life.

1962 - Dynamic black and whites from the photojournalists of a bygone era.

Ansel - Smooth gradation from black to white.

Infrared - Simulation of the popular landscape photography technique.

- - - - -

mezzoblue reports: [edited]

Here’s an idea. Take a great product with one glaringly flawed feature, put together an application that exploits the awfulness of that feature in a few brilliantly simple ways, and then sell it for a few bucks.

It’s basic, it’s slow, the already-low iPhone image quality doesn’t hold up at large sizes after the filter, and it’s nothing I couldn’t do on my own in Photoshop. But I love it for being so simple, and doing such a good job at making lemonade out of the iPhone’s lemon.

I put CameraBag to the test on my way out for lunch in Vancouver’s Chinatown last week. Here are some selected photos from the full set on Flickr.

Friday, October 24, 2008

World Animal Day

The Big Picture reports: [edited]

World Animal Day (4 October) is now set aside as a time to reflect on all of the animals we share this world with, and our involvement with them.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Edifier MP300 Plus 2.1 laptop speaker system

Register Hardware have posted a glowing (95% rating) review of Edifier's MP300 2.1 speaker system, available for as little as £30 from Amazon.

Excerpts follow:

"The MP300 comes in three parts: the 60mm diameter by 280mm tubular sub-woofer and two 55mm diameter spherical satellite speaker pods. The standard of manufacture is very high indeed, the woofer being constructed of aluminum while its base and the satellites are of high quality plastic."

"Edifier has thought hard about how best to utilise the space around a laptop, so the sub-woofer is intended to sit in the no-man's land behind the lid - out of sight, out of mind, but not out of earshot."

"All told, the MP300 weighs 1.3kg, but comes with a handy, padded nylon carry case and is certainly packable for long holidays."

"...the sound produced by the MP300 is excellent. Not excellent as in 'excellent by the standards of PC speakers' but excellent period."

New MacBook/MacBook Pro features

Smoking Apples has published a comprehensive feature list of Apple's latest laptops.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

iPhone, doing better than expected

Fortune reports: [edited]

Now that Apple has shipped its 10 millionth iPhone — outselling Research in Motion’s (RIMM) BlackBerry for the quarter and climbing to the No. 3 spot in cell phone revenues worldwide — this might be a good time to revisit AAPLinvestors’ iPhone Death Watch, a collection of some of dumbest things people have said about the device over the past two years.

“Apple is slated to come out with a new phone… And it will largely fail.”
— Michael Kanellos, CNET, December 07, 2006

“[Apple's iPhone] is the most expensive phone in the world and it doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a keyboard which makes it not a very good email machine… So, I, I kinda look at that and I say, well, I like our strategy. I like it a lot.”
— Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, January 17, 2007

“Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone… What Apple risks here is its reputation as a hot company that can do no wrong. If it’s smart it will call the iPhone a ‘reference design’ and pass it to some suckers to build with someone else’s marketing budget. Then it can wash its hands of any marketplace failures… Otherwise I’d advise people to cover their eyes. You are not going to like what you’ll see.”
— John C. Dvorak, Bloated Gas Bag, March 28, 2007

“I’m more convinced than ever that, after an initial frenzy of publicity and sales to early adopters, iPhone sales will be unspectacular… iPhone may well become Apple’s next Newton.”
— David Haskin, Computerworld, February 26, 2007

“There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I’d prefer to have our software in 60% or 70% or 80% of them, than I would to have 2% or 3%, which is what Apple might get.”
— Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, 30 April 2007

BMW to launch lecky Mini

Register Hardware reports: [edited]

BMW has announced the arrival of the electric Mini, the Mini E. Powered by a 150kW (204hp) electric motor fed by a 260kg lithium-ion battery pack, the car goes from 0 to 62mph in 8.5s and sports a top speed limited to 95mph.

BMW claimed the range you'll get out of a full charge will be 150 miles.

The hefty battery pack sits in the space taken up by the rear seats in the normal model. BMW will also be supplying wall boxes to customers with a suitable garage that will enable a higher amperage charge that should see the battery go from flat to fully charged in two and a half hours. The battery itself has a maximum capacity of 35kWh and a full charge is said to draw 28kWh from the grid.

The cars will be leased rather than sold, and after 12 months BMW will take them back to kick the tyres and see what lessons can be learned from a year's day-to-day use in the real world - presumably with a view to a full scale production run in 2010 or 2011, as BWM is referring to the E as the “blueprint for the zero-emissions two-seater”.

The Mini E will be officially unveiled at the Los Angeles Motor Show on 19 November.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Technologizer reports:

Lala is:

a service that sells MP3s (DRM-free, natch) for 89 cents apiece and streaming-only versions of songs (”Web songs”) for a dime (which can be applied later to the purchase of an MP3).

Entire streaming “Web albums” are typically eighty cents. And most downloadable MP3 albums are aggressively priced–ones that go for $9.99 on iTunes are typically $7.49 on Lala, less than even the price-slashing download store charges. (Any download you buy includes a streaming version at no extra cost.)

A service that will let you listen to scads of new music without paying even that one thin dime per streaming track, since you can stream any song that Lala has – and it has millions, from the four major labels and 170,000 independents – for free the first time you listen.

New members get their first fifty Web songs for free.

A service which scans the music on your computer’s hard drive, identifies the songs, and puts them into your online library at Lala for free, so you can listen to them in any browser on any computer.

A social network that lets you discover new music by seeing what other folks are listening to, then listening yourself – again, for free if you’ve never heard a track before, and for a dime if you’ve listened once and haven’t already bought the Web version.

An iPhone application that lets you stream your entire music to your phone; as long as you’ve got an Internet connection, the effect is a little like having an iPod with infinite capacity. (The iPhone app isn’t available yet, but I saw a preview and liked it; the company says it’ll arrive soon.)

What’s impressive about Lala isn’t just the number of things it does, but how well it does them. I’ve been using it for a while, and it works exceptionally well. The browser-based interface for listening to your music mimics iTunes, and it’s easy to forget it’s Web-based: music starts with little or no delay, and keeps playing even if you browse around Lala or bop over to another browser tab or window.

Integration between Lala’s various features is nicely done – for instance, if you’re browsing albums for sale, Lala knows which songs you already have and doesn’t try to sell them to you again. Which makes it easy to complete albums which you own in partial form.

- - - - -

Brett's 2p'orth: Sounds very, very good... but when I tried to sign up I got the following message... "Unfortunately, Lala is currently only available to people in the US. We are working feverishly to expand internationally, so please stay tuned." I will be checking back regularly.

iPhone wallpaper

morgueFile has collected 47 high-quality 320 x 480 pixel jpegs to use as wallpaper on your iPhone.


Conversation Network have released a useful, free tool for 'normalising' the volume of a Wav or AIFF audio file. Tools like this are ideal for equalising the volume levels of podcasts with more than one speaker.

Levelator is available in Windows, OSX and Linux flavours.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Lego radiator

trendir reports: [edited]

Designed by architect Marco Baxadonne, Brick is a small coloured block with a technological heart, an aluminium radiator that conceals copper pipes and aluminium plates. Each Brick has a double plumbing connection: one for the heating system and the other to connect the various bricks together.

Thanks to Sky for the link

Sunday, October 19, 2008

London, Lincoln, London 19-10-08

The Impression That I Get - Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Into the Groove - Madonna
The Wanderer - Dion
Stuck Between Stations - The Hold Steady
Baby Jane - Rod Stewart
Umbrella - Rihanna
Jake Summers - Fight Like Apes
Deadwood - Dirty Pretty Things
Since Yesterday - Strawberry Switchblade
Magic - Pilot
Blood Sugar - Pendulum
Some Kinda Rush (Edit) - Booty Luv
Born To Be Wild - Ozzy Osbourne & Miss Piggy
Kriss Kross - Guillemots
Thou shalt always kill - Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip
Everytime We Touch - Cascada
You Meet the Nicest People in Your Dreams - Peter Mulvey
Lean On Me - Club Nouveau
Dont Call Me Baby (club Mix) - Madison Avenue
The Leader of the Laundromat - The Detergents
Umbrella (The Lindbergh Palace Remix) - Rihanna
Shine On - The House Of Love
Trouble - Shampoo
In the Hospital - Friendly Fires
You Spin Me Round (like a Record) - Thea Gilmore
Zoolookology - Jean Michel Jarre
Shaddup You Face - Joe Dolce
A Little Respect - Erasure
Umbrella - Manic Street Preachers
Walkin' On Sunshine - Save Ferris
Paper Planes - M.I.A. (XL)
Umbrella (Seamus Haji & Paul Emanuel Radio Edit) - Rihanna
Close The Lid - Port O'Brien
Move - CSS
Don't Bring Me Down - The Pretty Things
I Did What I Did For Maria - Tony Christie
Boogie Wonderland - Earth, Wind & Fire With The Emotions
I Am a Camera - The Golden Virgins
All kinds of everything - Dana
Claims Direct - John Culshaw - Dead Ringers
Too Young (Zoot Woman remix) - Phoenix
Straight Up - Paula Abdul

Live At Shea Stadium - The Clash
Stars On 45 (Single Version) - Stars On 45
Assassinat - Cerrone
You've Got To Choose - The Darling Buds
Black On Black 2 - Heart
Universal Blue - Jackie Leven
Monochrome - Yoko Kanno (菅野よう子)
To Be Young - Ryan Adams
At Least That's What You Said [Live] - Wilco
The Moth - Aimee Mann
Here I Am - Emmylou Harris
Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power) - Bob Dylan
Locket Full of Moonlight (Causal Reprise) - Bill Mallonee
Industrial Disease - Dire Straits
People Have the Power - Patti Smith
Black Haired Girl - Dave Alvin
Feelings - The Offspring
About You - Jesse Malin
Down In The Flood (New Version) - Bob Dylan
Glomb - Psapp
I Wanna Be Adored - The Stone Roses
Lay All Your Love On Me - ABBA
Life Is Short - Butterfly Boucher
Everybody's Free (to Wear Sunscreen) - Baz Luhrmann
Finally Found A Reason - Jimmy Webb
Even So - Rachael Yamagata
Heart As Big As Liverpool - The Mighty WAH!
What You're Made Of - Lucie Silvas
Last Hard Bible - Kasey Chambers

Up a bit, down a bit...

Woodworking website woodgears is hosting a game that tests how accurate you are at visually judging geometry. Great fun, curiously addictive and possibly educational.

Via Kottke

Saturday, October 18, 2008

London, Lincoln, London 18-10-08

You Wanna Get Me High - The Donnas
The Only Living Boy In New York - Simon & Garfunkel
Old New York - Luke Temple
It Might As Well Be You - Del Amitri
Le Ravin - Françoiz Breut
It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry [Alt] - Bob Dylan
My Blue-Eyed Jane - Jimmie Rodgers
Can You Be True? - Elvis Costello
Martin's Song - The Jayhawks
I Am a Camera - The Golden Virgins
A Love Like Yours (Don't Come Knockin' Everyday) - Ike & Tina Turner
Ventura - Lucinda Williams
I Would Die 4 U/Baby I'm A Star - Prince And The Revolution
Moon River - Danny Williams
Eight Miles High - The Byrds
Red Rag Top - Tim McGraw
Cartwheels - Patti Smith
Joshua Fit De Battle of Jericho - Paul Robeson
Idaho - Nerina Pallot
The Ring Song - The Bravery
Take Me Back - Lisa Loeb
Ice Machine - Depeche Mode
The Same Deep Water As Me - I Am Kloot
Isis - Bob Dylan
Sister Havana - Urge Overkill
I Can't Remember - Vigilantes Of Love
Badge - Eric Clapton
Can You Hear Me Now - Emmylou Harris
Groovy Situation - Gene Chandler
Turn Me Tender - Martyn Joseph
Unchained - Johnny Cash
Spider's Web - Mission Of Burma
Communicated - Riton
Here, There and Everywhere - Belarus
Tequila - The Champs
Give It Back - Polly Paulusma
Let That Tape Keep Rolling - Larry Norman
Star - David Bowie
I'm Undecided - Toussaint McCall
One More Song The Radio Won't Like - Kathleen Edwards
If Time Permits - Matthew Sweet
Soft Hand - Willard Grant Conspiracy
The Beatles - Daniel Johnston
The Boogaloo Party - The Flamingos

Always The Sun - Stranglers
Words (don't come easy) - FR David
Sweet Talkin' Guy - The Chiffons
Umbrella - Manic Street Preachers
Move any Mountain (Progen '91) - The Shamen
My Baby Loves Lovin' - White Plains
Never Miss a Beat - Kaiser Chiefs
In The Shadows - The Rasmus
Miles Away - Winger
Propane Nightmares - Pendulum
Don't Stop Me Now - Queen
Downtown - Mrs Miller
Shut Up - The Black Eyed Peas
Kids (single) - MGMT
Stars On 45 (Single Version) - Stars On 45
Beat Control - Tilly and the Wall
Dusk Til Dawn - Ladyhawke
Be the One - The Ting Tings
Pretty flamingo - Manfred Mann
Put Da Lime in Da Coconut - Kermit The Frog & The Muppets
My Perfect Cousin - Undertones
It's In His Kiss - Linda Lewis
U Got The Look - Prince
Funny How - Airhead
Zombie (cranberries mix) - A.D.A.M. feat. Amy
Vault - Pendulum
Sorry (I ran all the way home) - Golden Groups
Tight - Mindless Self Indulgence
Bathroom Gurgle - Late of the Pier
Come Outside - Mike Sarne with Wendy Richards
Let's Go (D.I.S.C.O) - Innercity Pirates
Kryptonite - Three Doors Down
Hold Me Now (Radio Edit) - The Polyphonic Spree
Animal - Def Leppard
Swing, Swing - The All-American Rejects
Murder on the dance floor - Sophie Ellis-Bextor
Smile - The Supernaturals
Death (single) - White Lies
Can't Get Enough - Winger
Granite - Pendulum
Spinning Around - Kylie Minogue
Single Girl - Lush

Friday, October 17, 2008

MacBook or MacBook Pro?

Gizmodo have posted the best review/compare/contrast so far of Apple's new MacBook and MacBook Pro.

Me, I'm off to the Brent Cross Apple Store to fondle and stroke their anodised aluminium wonderfulness for myself.

Amazon's best selling computers

A number of sites are pointing out that the top ten on's Bestsellers in Computers & PC Hardware list is comprised entirely of notebook computers, that five are MacBooks or MacBook Pros, and that none of them feature Vista.

Star Wars A-Z

Tweedlebop! has produced an excellent Star Wars-themed illustrated alphabet.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Music for USB ports

Generative Music reports: [edited]

Developed by ambient pioneer Brian Eno and musician/software designer Peter Chilvers, Bloom explores uncharted territory in the realm of applications for the iPhone and iPod touch.

Part instrument, part composition and part artwork, Bloom’s innovative controls allow anyone to create elaborate patterns and unique melodies by simply tapping the screen.

A generative music player takes over when Bloom is left idle, creating an infinite selection of compositions and their accompanying visualisations.

- - - - -

Brett's 2p'orth: If anyone can make this work, the man who created Music for Airports can. And at £2.39 it costs pretty much the same as the vinyl LP I bought in 1978 :-)

Bento 2

MacWorld reports: [edited]

Bento 2 fills the need for creating and managing personal, standalone databases, without requiring any knowledge of programming, table relationships, or a certificate as a Database Administrator.

If you can use iTunes then you’ll have no problem with Bento 2. Ease of use, while embracing the features of OS X, is the primary goal.

- - - - -

Brett's 2p'orth: My personal database requirements are so basic that Address Book does me just fine. For those of you whose needs are a little more sophisticated, read the whole review.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New and improved Macs

Apple have announced a number of new and upgraded products, including an aluminium MacBook, a 15.4" MacBook Pro with a decent graphics card, and an upgraded MacBook Air.

- - - - -

Brett's 2p'orth: The new MacBook Pro is a visual treat, and I'm looking forward to seeing 'real world' tests of that new graphics card. On the negative side, I'm going to have to be convinced of the wisdom of glossy screens on a portable.

The improvements in speed and storage capacity on the MacBook Air will win it more converts. And the best value here is the aluminium MacBook, especially if you live in the US (Apple charge an inexplicable £200 extra for it in the UK).

As a lover of screen real-estate I'm disappointed to see the 17" MacBook Pro being retired [quick update: Apple Insider has indicated that this might not be the case] but with the 15" MacBook Pro consistently outselling its larger siblling and the new manufacturing processes involved, it is an understandable decision, especially with the new 24" monitor being marketed as a 'second screen'.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Nine things that make me go "!*#@!?"

1. Live albums where the intros are at the END of the previous track.
2. DVDs that won't let you navigate straight to the 'Play' menu.
3. Broken CD jewel case spindles.
4. Catching a sleeve on a door handle.
5. Stubbing a toe on a chair leg.
6. Biting your tongue/cheek while chewing food.
7. Blocked ink jet cartridges.
8. Navigating the majority of Flash-based websites.
9. People who use blog comments to sell their products.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Asus G71 Quad-core laptop

Register Hardware reports: [edited]

Asus has introduced what it claims is the world's first gaming notebook with a quad-core processor. The G71 will incorporate Intel's four-core Core 2 Extreme QX9300, the same chip used in Dell's new Precision M6000 notebook, though that's aimed at serious usage rather than gaming.

The Intel CPU is paired with an Nvidia GPU: the GeForce 9700M, which has 512MB of GDDR 3 video memory. The system's main memory is DDR 3 too, 4GB of it clocked to 1066MHz.

Asus said the G71 will be available with up to two hard drives for up to 1TB of storage capacity. The screen's a glossy 17-incher with a two-megapixel webcam in the bezel. The visuals are accompanied by sound pumped through two stereo drivers and a sub-woofer, all from speaker specialist Altec Lansing.

The G71 will come with 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR. It's got all the usual ports, plus HDMI and eSATA. Optical disc options include a Blu-ray/DVDR/RW combo drive.

Asus also touted the G71's secondary display panel, to flash up messages received while you are busy gaming.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Nikon D700 - full review

Digital Photography Review have published a comprehensive review (including sample pics) of Nikon's 'compact professional DSLR'. Bottom line is that if you are in the market for a £2,000 DSLR with excellent low-light performance, this one should be at the top of your list.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Quantum encryption arrives

BBC reports: [brutally precised]

Perfect secrecy has come a step closer with the launch of the world's first computer network protected by unbreakable quantum encryption at a scientific conference in Vienna. The network connects six locations across Vienna and in the nearby town of St Poelten, using 200 km of standard commercial fibre optic cables.

The basic idea of quantum cryptography was worked out 25 years ago by Charles Bennett of IBM and Gilles Brassard of Montreal University, who was in Vienna to see the network in action.

"All quantum security schemes are based on the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, on the fact that you cannot measure quantum information without disturbing it," he explained.

"Because of that, one can have a communications channel between two users on which it's impossible to eavesdrop without creating a disturbance. An eavesdropper would create a mark on it. That was the key idea."

In practice this means using the ultimate quantum objects: photons, the "atoms of light". Incredibly faint beams of light equating to single photons fired a million times a second raced between the nodes in the Vienna network.

From the detected photons, a totally secret numerical key can be distilled, which encodes the users' data much like the keys used in normal computer networks do. The advantage is that no-one else can know the key without revealing themselves.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Awesome transport

Wired reports: [edited]

Daniel Simon is an automotive futurist. He has interned with Lamborghini and worked on concept cars for VW. But the auto industry - indeed, the galaxy - could not contain his imagination.

In a time of all talk and no action by car companies promising us the car of the future, Simon's new book 'Cosmic Motors: Spaceships, Cars and Pilots of Another Galaxy' satisfies our future-lust with hyper-real fetish vehicles.

Click through the gallery to check out these amazing vehicles and the stories behind them.


Skim is a free PDF reader and note-taker for OS X.

Features include:

- Adding and editing notes

- Highlighting text

- Making 'snapshots' for easy reference

- Navigation using table of contents or thumbnails

- Export notes as text

Thursday, October 09, 2008

iPhone 3G, an appraisal

Daring Fireball has published an opinion piece on the iPhone. It's worth reading in full, but for the ADD sufferers among you, here are some excerpts:

"Let’s just say it up front: the iPhone is the greatest piece of consumer electronics that has ever been made."

"If I could travel back 20 years and show my 15-year-old self just one thing from the future of today, it would be the iPhone. It is our flying cars. Star Trek-style wireless long-distance voice communicator. The content of every major newspaper and magazine in the world. An encyclopedia. Video games. TV. Etc."

"Some competing devices offer the same fundamental features of the iPhone. The difference is in the overall experience."

"Everything Apple has ever stood for, good and bad, was to get to the point where they could make this. It’s a computer you can take with you everywhere, so small you wouldn’t really even want it much smaller, even if it were possible."

"In another five years, one of today’s iPhones will be no more than a sentimental curiosity, painfully slow both in terms of networking and computation. The iPhone has significant and obvious shortcomings. But it is an order of magnitude better than anything that came before it."

“What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.” — ANDY WARHOL

"So too with the iPhone. A billionaire can buy homes, cars, clothes that the rest of us cannot afford. But he cannot buy a better phone, at any price, than the iPhone that you can have in your pocket today."

Dr Hue

x-rite have published a test that gauges your sensitivity to hue gradations. I limited myself to a minute for my first 'go', and got a decent score. Modesty forbids me revealing my result when I gave myself an extra 60 seconds.

Thanks to Sky for the link

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Flash memory prices continue to plummet

Received an email today informing me that a 16GB SDHC card can now be purchased for under £18. That's close to a pound a gigabyte, for solid-state memory.

I'm looking forward to those affordable 256 and 512GB notebook hard drives arriving soon! And maybe even a 128GB iPhone. Now that would be nice.


Euchre is a high-stakes, trick-taking game played with a deck of 24 cards. One of the key cards is a Jack of the same suit as the trump suit, often known by the German 'Bauer'.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Nintendo DSi vs Nintendo DS Lite

Kotaku reports: [edited]

Nintendo has announced the DSi, the third iteration of its DS platform. But how does it stack up to the Nintendo DS Lite?

Size of Liquid Crystal Display
DSi: 3.25 inches
DS Lite: 3 inches

DSi: 137 x 74.9 x 18.9mm (touch pen 92mm)
DS Lite: 133 x 73.9 x 21.5mm (touch pen 87.5mm)

Charging Time
DSi: 2 hours and 30 minutes
DS Lite: 3 hours

Battery Life
DSi: Lowest brightness (9-14 hrs) highest brightness (3-4 hrs)
DS Lite: Lowest brightness (15-19 hrs) highest brightness (5-8 hrs)

DSi: Software for Nintendo DS, Software for Nintendo DSi.
DS Lite: Software for Nintendo DS, Software for Game Boy Advance

DSi: DS card slot, SD memory card slot
DS Lite: DS card slot, Game Boy Advance cartridge slot

DSi: 3 megapixel camera + VGA webcam
DS Lite: NA

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Brett's 2p'orth: All a bit uninspiring. Lower battery life, no Game Boy Advance slot, imperceptibly slimmer/smaller/lighter. The cameras and SD slot indicate that either Nintendo are trying to move the DS away from being a pure games machine, or (more likely) they are planning games that utilise video, and allow saves/upgrades.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Blizzard awarded $6 million in botmaker trial

Register Hardware reports: [edited]

World of Warcraft creator Blizzard Entertainment won a $6m judgement from the maker of a software bot that allows users to play the game while away from their computers.

MDY Industries was ordered to pay the sum last week, following a court finding in July that its distribution of the Glider bot infringed Blizzard's copyrights and constituted tortious interference. Trial is scheduled for January where additional damages could be levied if additional violations relating to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act are found.

Between June 2005 and September of this year, MDY sold about 120,000 Glider licenses, bringing the judgment to about $50 per sale. Blizzard has argued that MDY's behaviour was 'willful and wanton' and that the company should therefore be required to pay a staggering $2,500 per licence. Over the past three years, Glider has generated about $3.5m in revenue.

Blizzard has long complained that bots like Glider degrade the WoW player experience by giving users an unfair advantage over non-users. Some Glider customers use the software to mine gold and other assets and then sell them for cash on auction sites, Blizzard asserts.

Blizzard has received more than 465,000 in-game petitions from users complaining about bots, "several thousand" of which mention Glider by name, according to court documents. The company spends close to $943,000 per year responding to bot complaints. WoW's user agreement expressly forbids the use of such software.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Making noodles

Kin Jing Mark stretching and dividing dough into super-thin noodles. As Kottke remarked, it turns cookery into a mathematical feat.