I'm a big fan of Lidl keyboards and mice. They are now just as reliable as anything Microsoft or Logitech does and much cheaper. However whilst their wireless receivers have been getting smaller and smaller over the years they have also been getting more and more fragile. One of them shattered completely on me recently so of course I reached for the Sugru.
In my enthusiasm to create something with a bit of character, I forgot that it was supposed to sit inside the mouse when travelling. Ah well, I'll take a smile over usefulness any day.
I was just bitching on Facebook about the recent changes and one of the FB guys mentioned that he has seen the original Harvard version of it. I suddenly realised we need some way of capturing the activity and behaviour of important web-apps over time. We all remember the cultural terrorism of Carol Bartz in Yahoo shutting down GeoCities. How do you avoid the same fate for Buzz, Friendster, Orkut etc?
I'm not talking about getting your data out, I mean having some way of seeing what these apps did and how they did it. Some sort of EC2 instances running read-only "playback" or live demos of these apps?
Wouldn't it be wonderful to see the evolution of Twitter over time, beyond static screenshots and HTML snapshots like the Wayback Machine.
Yeah, I know there are gigantic technical issues but I really treasure having ZX Spectrum emulators that let me play Manic Miner and my own games 30 years later. Surely people in the future would like to do similar with the major webapps?
Your company was recently nominated by our esteemed advisory board as a company of interest for the blah blah blah event. The number of talented entrepreneurs and the quality of innovative start-ups represented among the 200+ nominees are promising indicators of where the next big ideas in marketing, technology and communication will originate.
Given your nomination, we would like to invite you to stay connected with blah blah blah by extending an invitation to purchase a conference pass and join us at the blah.
Oh that's put me in a good humour for the day.
Waiting for Tesco to invite me to purchase shower gel after my nomination by them as a very clean person.
It's been three weeks since I won a HTC Sensation in some Vodafone Ireland competition I don't remember entering. Thanks Vodafone! I thought I'd do a quick update about it.
Overall? Fabulous! Seriously, it's an awesome phone. If you don't drink the Steve kool-aid (hell, even if you do), this is the joint best phone on the market (along with the Samsung Galaxy S II).
Headline specs are very impressive:
- Dual Core 1.2GHz CPU
- 4.3" non-AMOLED Screen
- Lots of memory
- Usual WIfi, Bluetooth HSDPA
- 8 Megapixel dual LED-flash camera
- Graphics co-processor
- Capacitive buttons only
- Decent battery
The phone is extremely fast and the screen is gorgeous. However, with my girly hands, the screen is almost too big to hold. It's very hard to stretch to press the home button with your thumb.
Of course, I headed straight over to XDA Developers
to see if I could unlock it, root it and remove the pointless Sense Skin that HTC overlays on Android. My timing was great and they had just managed to do all of that. However, it looks like the non-Sense ROMs aren't quite stable enough yet.
Then I found Android Revolution HD
which is a modified version of the standard software with better kernel, lots of tweaks and improvements, and most importantly, it allows the CPU to run at 1.5Ghz, which is the speed it was designed to run at. The CF Bench App shows that the phone with that firmware blows everything else away and is the fastest phone on the market.
HTC did a bit of a marketing stunt with the Sensation. They launched it at 1.2GHz. Now they have announced the XE version at 1.5GHz and "Beats Audio". How funny is it that the hackers on XDA already have a version of Android Revolution HD which is at 1.5GHz and has Beats audio! i.e. HTC are basically releasing the same phone again, with different software.
Any disappointments? The lack of NFC is the only major one I can think of. It'd be great if HTC released an updated back cover with NFC added. Also, the bundled Class 4 8GB Card is rubbish and you can see the phone visibly stutter when accessing big audio files on the card. I've ordered a 32GB Class 10 from 7 Day Shop
. I already have a spare battery which I haven't needed much.
For fun I also bought an MHL cable
for it. This plugs into the USB port on the phone and accepts a HDMI cable at the other end. You can then play HD video from your phone on your LCD TV. I've used this several times when travelling and it works brilliantly.
If you are in the market for a new smartphone, this is the one you want.
First the wee project. In October I'm kicking off a small pilot in my kids' Primary School. I'll be "teaching" App Inventor for 30 mins a week to each of 5th and 6th class. The idea is to run it to Christmas and then pause/review to see if it's worth continuing and expanding. Our Parents'Association and the relevant teachers and Head are fully behind it.
The biggest challenge is putting together a curriculum that can get kids of every ability, aptitude and tech-savviness feeling comfortable and productive on App Inventor. The idea is not to create a bunch of programmers but to encourage creativity in a technology area that is incredibly exciting. This is a rural country school where many kids do not have constant access to computers at home and most will not have played with a smartphone before.
Whilst I had great success playing with AppInventor with our eldest kid, he is atypical in that he lives in a house filled with computers, has his own laptop and smartphone and is very technically savvy. My worry is that I'd try and do too much with the schoolkids over the couple of months. I am very concerned that we leave no-one behind and that everyone benefits from the experiment. Obviously the whole thing will be entirely opt-in so that parents who don't want their kids playing with mobile phones (albeit phones that have no SIMs and initially have Wifi disabled) can opt-out.
So today I sat down with two laptops and two phones with my 7 y/o daughter and 9 y/o son. Both are pretty tech-savvy too but I was hoping their age would balance this and give me a better idea how a 12 y/o non-tech-savvy kid would do. They both found the first tutorial very easy and immediately saw what was possible and what they could change. I thought the blocks editor (the programming bit) would throw them but they completely got the idea of Button.OnClick Sound.Play etc. Their two apps can be seen attached. One plays the Moshi Monsters Lady Goo Goo song, the other plays a Spiderpig remix. I loved the fact that they both immediately went to Google Images and YouTube to find the material they needed (the original tutorial was a cat that went miaow).
I learned some good lessons from today's exercise. [a] Give no freedom of choice in the initial tutorials i.e. everyone uses the same images/sounds or else it takes forever [b] Test and re-test the phone setup – we had big problems with the phones not auto-updating the apps as the kids changed them I need to find a simple way for non-technical kids to understand actions like right-click, save-as etc [d] There may be issues around "why bother do this if I don't have my own phone?"
The curriculum will be based on all the existing tutorial material out there, just tuned for a 10-12 y/o audience. I'll be putting everything up on the PA site (and maybe the code up on Google Code) as I work through it. I'll also post the results of our review at the end. A fixed hour a week during school hours (plus creating the curriculum etc) is a bit of an ask but I really want to do it. Being in a home-office a lot of the time makes it easier. Eventually I hope to do train-the-trainer so the school is not totally reliant on me having a fixed time free ad-infinitum, but for the minute I should be able to do it on my own with the help of the teachers themselves. If you are involved in any voluntary stuff like this, any tips would be appreciated.
Yesterday I read rumours of early winter snow in Ireland. We've had a couple of winters of either "surprising" snow or horrible floods in Bandon. It's time to embrace my inner mucker and buy a proper farmer-style SUV. I'm not talking silly frou-frou soccer-mom pretend-off-roaders, I want something that can go up a vertical cliff in low gear and do 4000 mpg on diesel.
The preferred specs are as follows:
- Less than €5k
- Mileage irrelevant
- Full-time proper 4WD
- Possibly low-ratios selectable
- Maybe lockable diffs
- Possibly 7 seats
- Can go through Irish floods without noticing them
- Can drive on snow without noticing it
- Can also do the Cork-Dublin return run in one day without me going deaf or losing my fillings/sanity
- Can do 120kph *cough* comfortably
- Utterly reliable (my 10 y/o 120,000 mile Mondeo has never once let me down)
- Must have 8-track player with Demis Roussos carts
Whilst I've long hankered after one of those black Land Rover Defenders with the exhaust going out the roof, my guess is that they fail on 10, 11 and 12?
So oh Twitter/Facebook/Posterous gurus, what do you recommend? Some big old Japanese yoke? I've heard you can get 2003 Range Rovers for €13k so I assume I can get something lower down the food chain for the target €5k or less. Also any recommendations for where to buy? Preferably Munster.
Oh and what's the story with insurance/tax on some big diesel behemoth? Did the Greens make it difficult? What mpg do these things do anyway? I can do Cork-Dublin return on a tank of petrol in the Mondeo.