Archive for the 'Ideas' Category

2008 Resolution

Monday, December 31st, 2007

I liked last years resolution but it was a bit wishy-washy. So, what for this year?

I could do something sensible like resolve to save some money, get fitter or lose some weight. But everyone does that, and most of them end up abandoning it after January, just like I would.

I’ve resolved to do something that’s not too easy, but is at least plausible and fun. Since I’ve already decided not to do a several week holiday this year I might as well give me a target to get me out of the flat, and the country.

So, here goes:

By the 31st of December 2008, I resolve to have visited each of the 27 member states of the European Union.

I’ve had this idea in the back of my head for a few months, and it was originally ‘visit each capital city for a day.’ The version above allows more wiggle room (notably allowing me to count the seven countries I’ve already visited if I need to, even if Greece is a stretch since it was over fifteen years ago.)

Still, it’s going to be interesting if I really commit myself to doing it. And, barring any disasters, I plan to give it my best.

At least it makes the progress post easier, here’s the first one:

With 134 non-working days left I still need to visit 20 countries (27 to do then in all ’08.)
Countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.
Countries I’ve visited pre-2008 are in grey, countries visited in 2008 are scored out.

Browsing …

Saturday, May 20th, 2006

Looking at the website for the Leith Festival I was bothered, again, by the state of listings sites. I gave up trying to find interesting stuff on that website. You can display all the events on a single page but it’s hard to read and impossible to browse it like I wanted. It only took ten minutes flicking through the good old-fashioned paper brochure for the festival, a little folded A5 booklet — 30 pages at most, to find a set of events that I’ll probably end up going to.

I had this problem during the festival season last year and I expect it’ll be as bad this year, although the problem isn’t just with the festival sites. All I want from a listings website is the ability to really browse to see what’s going on. I find this impossible on most sites, I’ll try and outline the issues I normally have:

Phone phishing and more bizarre spam …

Tuesday, May 9th, 2006

I got home the other day to find a message from my credit card company, it just said for me to call back. So I did, and they asked for my credit card number and a few other details. While I was giving them these a thought occurred to me: if the same scenario had been an e-mail and a web-form there’s no way I’d have been dishing out these details. It turns out it was only a security check and they knew what transactions I’d made recently so they were (probably) the real deal.

They only told me the reasons for the call after I’d given them my card details, which makes me wonder what would’ve happened if I’d refused. Then they’d have had to prove that they were who they said they were, and that they had a legitimate reason for calling, but they can’t give me any information without me proving that I’m who I say I am and and that I have a legitimate reason for calling. I couldn’t think of a way they could do that currently, maybe it’s time to start giving two passwords per account. A ‘them’ password they use and a ‘you’ password you use, doesn’t seem like a bad idea …

I’m surprised there aren’t more bogus phone scams, but I guess e-mail is cheaper and less easy to trace. For now. I predict the take-off of Voice-over-IP is gonna bring phone phishing out of the woodwork.

Good ol’ fashioned e-mail spam goes from strength to strength, one of my latest:

I am ready to kill myself and eat my dog, if medicine prices here [snip] are bad.

What? This is supposed to make me click that link? And really wouldn’t eating you’re dog and then killing yourself be easier? I guess a plague of dog-eating zombies might be a little disturbing. At the end of the e-mail:

My dog and I are still alive 🙂

Eh, good. I think.

A few links …

Friday, April 14th, 2006

Google have released Google Calendar which seems about what you’d expect from Google. The bonus, and probably the reason I’ll use it, will be the integration into GMail. I’m disappointed they haven’t added a min-calendar to the sidebar in GMail yet. Now if there was some sort of useful on-line To Do list thing that I could integrate into GMail too then I’d be sorted — or I could just keep sending mail to myself.

Speaking of To Do lists, another neat little blog is collecting them.

Thinking about it it’d be nice if GMail allowed people to plug-in new sidebar content where the Chat / Labels / Invite boxes are. Or at least let make it a bit more customisable, I’d rather have a calendar than a chat box. There’s probably a way to do it in Firefox using something like GreaseMonkey, there’s already a few GMail hacks out there. And there’s this Google Dark hack, which is great (if pointless).

Finally, if you need more distraction, here’s what happens when you let grown-ups get carried away with their marble madness sets. Enjoy.

Nod to the UnorthodoxY Moron for some of the links in this blatant filler post.

Prague: Pictures and Beer

Friday, March 10th, 2006

Pictures from Prague are up in the gallery. I filtered down the 290 or so that I took to what you can see there, I may add more later. They’re all taken with my Kodak CX7430 Easy Share which is just great, I’ll probably do a post about the camera one day.

A few words about these two pictures are after the jump …

Me and Beer Beer and Ian

Virtual Future

Wednesday, March 1st, 2006

I see, via slashdot, that VMware are holding the Ultimate Virtual Appliance Challenge where people are invited to create an appliance that runs inside a VMware virtual machine. Interesting, particularly with the $200,000 worth of prizes they’ve put up.

I’ll take this opportunity to state here that virtual machine technology will be the next big thing in computing. Mark my words, it’ll be what people talk about more and more over the next few years.

There’s potential for a lot of good here. Worried about viruses and spyware? Do your browsing in a virtual machine and you can always nuke it if it goes bad (you can already do this with VMwares Browser Appliance and I’m sure there are others.) Sensitive documents to work on? Do it all in a VM hopefully protected from anything running inside other VMs. Any no need to dual boot to switch OSes for just one app, have as many OSes as you like.

There is another side too. Copy protected CD? Play it inside the VM and grab the digital output from the machine. Time locked software? Install it in a VM and just go back to a saved state every few days. Your particular views on the whole digital rights management issue will dictate whether you think that’s a bad thing or not.

There are many more desktop applications, good and bad, for VMs but that’s not even scraping the surface of what they can do in the server area. One of VMwares products can move a virtual machine between two physical machines while it’s running.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see people in the internet telephony business starting to look seriously at running soft switches under virtual machines for just that sort of advantage. In fact I think I’ll go off and see if I can come up with a nice telecoms appliance to enter the challenge with …

Ticket Touts

Sunday, February 26th, 2006

Perhaps the only downside of my recent jaunt is that it coincided with the release of the main bulk of tickets for T in the Park. Even if I’d been here I doubt I’d have got a ticket anyway since they sold out in around an hour.

Whilst I’m sure that most of the tickets went to genuine buyers many went to touts that immediately threw them on eBay for at least twice the price. This clearly isn’t “bought a ticket and can’t go” it’s pure “bought a ticket to turn a quick profit”. This isn’t unique to T in the Park, it’s been going on for ages.

Now you could argue that that’s the free market at work, and perhaps you’re right. It’s even been suggested to me that perhaps the event organisers should just release the tickets on eBay in the first place and they’d go for whatever the market’ll pay. But let’s assume that we want to try to ensure that only genuine buyers get tickets, to do that we need to look at what it’s reasonable to expect to do with a bought ticket and ways we can dissuade the touts.


Gigs revisited …

Friday, February 24th, 2006

A while back I talked about wanting an RSS feed for gigs in my area. Using the ones I found from seems to be working OK but they’re not perfect. There’s a lot of events there that I don’t care about, the feeds themselves don’t contain much information so you’re forced to go to the website to check and the ways the feeds are formed off the searches means the date coverage of the feeds is a bit odd.

A bit more searching revealed at least one other person who wants some sort of ticket alerts. Let’s make a wish list for a decent ticket alert service …

Power Supplies

Thursday, February 2nd, 2006

Reading (yet) another comment about the XBox 360 power supply it occurs to me that I now have a number of things that rely on a lower voltage that the mains supply.

Instead of having several bulky transformers, one per device, there should be some way of having a single transformer per room that supplies all the low voltage devices.


Recipe Search

Saturday, January 21st, 2006

I find myself searching for recipes on the web a fair bit, and it’s true that there’s a lot of good recipes out there. But I’ve also got a ton of cookery books lying around the flat. The problem is that I tend to browse the cookery books and use the web when I’m searching for something specific. What I need is a system that searches the web but also gives me a list of books that I own that also contain a matching recipe (with pages or sections ideally). It shouldn’t be that hard …