Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sideburner Video

6 years ago Lightning Tom and Al, my good friends and fellow bandmates in the awesome Alt Rock group Sideburner went with me to California for a rockin' holiday and shot some video. The idea was to mix some of it with live footage to produce a promo video to amuse friends and family. At last I have now got hold of a video capture device that has enabled me to grab the footage off the dodgy old VHS tapes. So here is my first effort at creating a film (using Pinnacle Studio).

Do you think Spielberg will be worried?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ear Today, Gone Tomorrow

I first got my ear pierced almost exactly 20 years ago. I was 19 and it was the day before the interview which would result in my first job in IT. I was such a rebel. My employer was no fan of male ear furniture but they were far more distracted by my long curly hair so didn't mention it. Would you hire this man as a VMS Systems Programmer? Incidentally - this photo is not taken at the interview, it is at the legendary "Spiders" nightclub in Hull.

Over the following 20 years no one seems to have been particularly bothered. One of the comments I have had was a customer saying "You are the first IBMer I have ever seen with an ear ring" to which I pedantically replied "I'm sure you mean Male IBMer". On several other occasions IBM colleagues have commented that it was good because it made me look like a geek :-/ Mrs Ports thinks it makes me look more like a pirate being a silver hoop.

However, all good things have to come to an end and I have decided that the earring has to go. It has nothing to do with work - it is all to do with the baby. Every time I give Lucy a huggle she grabs it and she is getting very good at grabbing things and holding onto them. So I have given up. It is just a matter of time before she either rips my ear off or ends up swallowing it. I just don't understand how people with babies and lots of Jewelery, specifically jangly earrings, don't go bonkers.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

iPod Touch: Object of Desire, Software of Derision

I have always liked the idea of Apple. I like the way that when IBM's motto was "Think" they made their motto "Think Different". I like the fact that when Microsoft stole all their ideas (e.g. Windows) they didn't just complain like so many of their long gone competition, they came up with some better ideas. I like that they always seem to be a step ahead of the rest. But more than anything else, I like it that Apple don't just make beige boxes that do accounts they make beautiful objects of desire. Having said all that, I have never owned anything by Apple.

Since I have started going to the gym I thought that perhaps this was the time to take my first faltering steps into mobile music. I had been tempted by an iPhone until I discovered how draconian the restrictions were (O2 only, 18 Month Contact, No 3G etc.) so the obvious candidate was the iPod Touch. All that is good about the iPhone, except without the phone.

I have to say that my first impression of the Touch was awesome. Even the box it comes in is a work of art (Except for Macy Gray on the cover - her music sounds like an Alligator gargling). The Touch itself is extremely slim but weighty enough so it doesn't feel dainty. The first disappointment is that I can't do anything with it until I have connected it to iTunes.

The second disappointment is that iTunes is a disgrace. Having downloaded the software it would not allow me to proceeded until I had given it my address and credit card number. I know muggers who make less demands on their customers. I have bought a media player yet it is forcing me to be a record shop customer. Absolutely disgraceful and I now start to see where some of the criticism of Apple comes from. That is not to mention the fact that it crashed my PC several times. And it is also about as intuitive as Latin. In braille.

This myth that Apple software is easy to use really is a myth. It is pathetic. However, if you search on the web you will find loads of good people railing about the evils of iTunes so I won't waste more time ranting about it any more here other than to say that iTunes stands in stark contrast to the excellent software on the Touch.

I have previously commented on the Web browser Safari being a bit rubbish on Windows but on the Touch it is a revelation, helped by the ease by which you can enable wireless networking. Being able to access You Tube is less useful but still quite amusing to show friends.

Getting back to using the Touch as a media player it is very good with the basics. Music played pretty well and it automatically picked up most cover art to make the "Album Flow" interface work well. Likewise I could download a few videos and TV Shows after I had converted them from .mov to .m4v format. I was disappointed that other videos and DVD's didn't want to transfer even though they were all legitimate. The curse of DRM.

The other major suprise was how crap the built in headphones were. I would have replaced them anyway since white earbuds just scream mug me, but the sound quality was awful. A pair of discrete black in ear Sennheisers has cured all that though.

The final addition was a Griffin iTrip. The current jalopy doesn't have an iPod connector so the iTrip allows the Touch to become a radio transmitter which can be picked up by the car radio so I can listen to all my new podcasts as I dive. Neat.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A build number can be a quite interesting things in software. It represents the number of times that a computer program/suite has been assembled and compiled up to that point. Lotus stopped bothering with build number for Notes and Domino years ago because we normally have several versions that are being built at any one time (currently 6.5.x, 7.0.x, 8.0.x and "Next") and they are often built more than once per day. So we tend to go with build names that are version and dates - so I am currently running Notes V801_11152007. However, Microsoft has continued using build numbers for Windows and they have a sort of iconic status for Softie geeks. Windows NT 3.1 was build 528, NT 4.0 was build 1381, Windows 2000 was build 2195,Windows XP was build 2600 and Windows 2003 was build 3790. You can probably see why geeks make such delightful conversationalists at dinner parties.

Anyway, my mate Marcus is a royal expert on all things Windows and has set up the definitive resource for folks who are trying to find out about Vista and Windows Server 2008 and above. Not only that - but he has gorn and nabbed the domain name Build 6000 because that it the build number of Vista! Clever or what! The site is designed to embrace all the social side of stuff and become a community area so there will be blogs, forums, articles, links and such like as it develops as well. It is brand new though so bear with any teething troubles.

Monday, November 05, 2007


Several of my friends have derided me for not having Sky+ or some such 600 channel televisual extravaganza. Fortunately I have a "life" and so don't require such frivolous rubbish. Or more accurately Mrs Ports has forbidden it. Whilst this did make me feel like a second class citizen in this multi media age, I was able to mitigate it by purchasing a splendid Humax 9200T PVR. Whilst I don't get 600 channels, I do get 40ish and they are all for free.

However, what's been missing is a channel for the gentleman. I don't mean Playboy. I mean a channel about comedy and hovercrafts, cars and survival. But that was before the arrival of the excellent new channel called Dave. It is unbelievably genius. A typical night may involve a couple of classic episodes of Top Gear, then maybe a couple of Clarkson's Extreme Machines followed by QI and Have I got News for You. Perhaps this might be rounded up with Ray Mears explaining how to survive in a Jungle. Quality.

Dave TV is the best channel ever. Mrs Ports thought the Humax had gone wrong when she saw that it had recorded TopGear 12 times. Nope. Just obeying instructions. So if you are a bloke and wish you were still 16 then tune your Freeview box to channel 19.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


My mate Matt sent me this cartoon which has been doing the rounds on the Interweb. If you have a cat you will know how accurate it is. Specifically it is Boo.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fit as a fiddle

A few months ago I was down at the Doctors getting an MOT. I was obviously feeling quite smug having given up smoking cigarettes over two years ago and figured that I would pass with flying colours. I was not unaware that I weighed slightly more than was ideal and that I occasionally slipped over the recommended alcohol limit. Neither had my fondness for cheese and roast dinners escaped me. But I was rocked to the very foundations when the Quack explained that I suffered from "being fat".

What's more, the medical profession has devised a new and hideous treatment for this ailment. Apparently it is called "exercise". I asked for a second opinion but he would not be shifted. I was sentenced to a regime of "Gym" attendance and "dieting".

I can't say I have much enjoyed hauling myself to the gym twice a week, but I had my three month assessment yesterday and it appears to have done some good. I have lost about a stone in weight, my resting heart rate has dropped by 12 bpm and my flexibility has gone from 33cm to 46cm. Whatever that means. Cutting down on the booze and cheese was hard at first but I haven't exactly turned into a Monk.

So all in all I'm glad I gave this "exercise" lark a try. I think I'll keep it up and see where I am in another 3 months.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Back to Work

So a very symbolic but also slightly sad day today. Ali is returned to work and that means that Lucy will be spending her week days with a child minder. I've been working for the last six months so this isn't a great change for me - but it is quite a wrench for Ali who has spent just about every waking hour with the little fella since she was born.

Our child minder is lovely and clearly adores children. We know that Lucy will have a great time with her and fortunately she just lives round the corner. We have checked her impeccable ofsted report and talked to her awesome references. But the fact is that she could be Father Christmas and we would still feel a bit guilty about not being able to look after Lucy forever.

But wages need to be earned because the mortgage needs to be paid (the banks seem very insistant on this). I'm sure that this is just the first of the many difficult things that we have to do, for instance I'm not looking forward to explaining why she can't have a pony. Anyway, it will always be nice coming home from work knowing that we can give the Spocket a big huggle.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Music Everywhere

I have a fantastic computer (as you might imaging given what I do for a living) and I have ripped all my CDs onto it giving me a reasonably impressive music library (if you are impressed by Marillion and The Sisters of Mercy). However, I have been struggling to find an easy way of listening to this fine library of sound anywhere else, for example in the garden. In the past I have put a guitar amp in the garden and draped a long lead out of the living room window to connect it to the computer, but the sound is not great and the aesthetics are worse. Of course I could just feed CDs into a ghetto blaster but that is soooo 90s!

I knew there must be a better way but I couldn't find it. There are systems like the Sonos which will enable you to play music in every room in the house but an "introductory" pack to get two rooms going romps in at nearly £1200. That is a bit steep for listening to "The Temple of Love" while munching a burger at a BBQ. You could virtually hire the band for that.

I also looked at devices like the Squeezebox and Transporter but again, starting at £200 they were just over engineered and over priced for what I wanted. I was starting to think that perhaps I just wished for a product that simply didn't exist. Until I came across these fellas yesterday. They are AQsound Wireless Speakers from the appropriately named I want one of those.

As you can see from the pictures, they look mighty fine sitting there in the garden pumping out a bit of Oasis.

Obviously, no wires in sight. They run on 6 AA batteries each. This enables them to be very loud with great sound quality. They have a claimed range of 100 meters. I don't know if that is true - but they still worked with no sound degradation at the bottom of our garden. If you are worried about them eating through too many batteries then they come with an adapter for each speaker as well so they can be powered from the mains.

All you need next to the computer is the wireless box (the little silver space ship thing in the middle) that plugs into the headphone socket. Smart. Of course this could also be used with a hi-fi, iPod or any other noise creating system that has a output socket of some kind.

Over all, very highly recommended.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Wii Madness

At the weekend my frolleague Darren helped me out big time. He had heard me bemoaning the lack of Nintendo Wii's around my neck of the woods (despite being in the market for 9 months). So when he spotted one available in Camberley he bought it for me. Good man.

I have never been a great one for computer games. In my line of work sitting in front of a computer for fun seems like a busman's holiday. But the Wii really is better fun that all that other tosh. The Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 may have all the power (although actually all three devices use IBM processors) but their games are so realistic now that you might as well watch a movie. In fact these machines are more like HD Media Centres rather than games boxes. On the other hand the Wii is just a games machine. The innovative Wii Remote (wiimote?) controller really does manage the magic of sensing movement so you can stand up and flail around the room like a mad thing and make your custom avatar (Wii Mii) do the same.

Of course the down side of that is the potential for collateral damage. So catching this lampshade with a particularly committed forehand smash whilst playing Wii Tennis is probably not the last item to be broken. It is worth it though. This Wii is brilliant.

Monday, September 03, 2007

TV Adverts

Most TV adverts drive me nuts. They tend to be very irritating and painfully unsubtle. Like most people I would imagine, I just mentally tune them out (if not fast forward/Tivo them). The agencies that are commissioned to create them appear to be idea vacuums as they constantly plagiarise each other or steal the latest idea from innovative movies. The fact that these people are called creatives rather than pretentious thieves is beyond irony. And oblong glasses don't make you look clever, they make you look like a cliche.

Anyway - it is always the exception that proves the rule - and this is superb. The folks at Cadbury (sorry, don't know who their agency is) have created this piece of genius (clicky).

If you don't have broadband or are not inclined to play the video clip then here is part of the transcript:
"We realize that the Gorilla is sitting in front of a massive drum kit. One of those Eighties big kits with loads of things to hit. Loads of tom-toms, hi-hats, double bass drum, etc.

We know that the best drum solo in the whole history of rock - ever - is coming. The Gorilla knows it too.

The Gorilla hits the drums with passion and vigour. Elegance meets power. He's phenomenal on the drums - feeling every beat.

The camera leaves the ape and his drum kit in the studio."

And what had a Gorilla drumming along to Phil Collins got to do with chocolate? Well as it says on the site "There's no clever science behind it - it's just an effort to make you smile". Which is of course all the more delightful because there is a lot of clever science behind it. It may be brilliantly funny, but it doesn't have it's own viral web site by accident does it!

Also, when the gorilla is playing he looks quite a bit like Neil the drummer in my band Sideburner.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Make your own entertainment

My home computer is about as stable Britney Spears riding a unicycle. On a bouncy castle. In fact it is back at the manufacturers at the moment being repaired because, they tell me, it is "broken". So me and the wife are having to remember how to make our own entertainment. Ali is reverting to reading "books".

I'm just staring at the cats in the hope that they will bring in a mouse. Unfortunately they just stare back. It is nice to see the cats back on the web log though. Since having a baby they seem to be getting slightly less attention.

Sat nav leads thieves home

This story has been making news of late (See Ananova here). Cheeky coves stole a car from the car park at Alton Towers. While the owners happily cavorted around the theme park, the villains tapped "Home" into the satellite navigation system and were led to the victims house where they stole another car off the driveway.

The Police suggest (as they have done for years) that you take your satnav with you when you leave the car. That's fine advice if you have a portable device like a TomTom but not so helpful if it is built into your dashboard. So what else can Her Majesty's constabulary think to suggest? "Only put in the town and not the full post code". I suspect that the good yeomen of Staffordshire are unaware of the size of Ye Olde Londone Towne. This is not a helpful option. So if anyone lives near me in South West London can I suggest you use this postcode: SW18 3HS. It should get you near something you recognise so you can find home - but it will direct our larcenous friends to the front gates of HM Prison Wandsworth.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Idiot requiring a history leason

This country drives me bananas! A few idiots who were disappointed that a Rave was stopped threw coke cans at the Police. What is the BBC's breathless headline? Mob lays siege to Police Station. That would be a huge mob of 15 people vs. 200 Policemen.

Always level headed, The Sun proclaims "Anarchy in the UK as yobs rule". It is true that there have been some nasty incidents of late, but I think it is a bit premature to declare Anarchy across the nation because a few hippies are waving tofu at the airplanes outside Heathrow.

Anyway - I was listening to the rather over excitable Radio 5 Live on my way into work this morning and I heard this brilliant exchange:

Victoria Derbyshire: "Listener Matt has a comment about British society."
Matt: "This country is going to the dogs. It's not safe to go outside any more. And it's full of immigrants and criminals."
Victoria Derbyshire: "Come on Matt, surely that's an exageration?"
Matt: "No it's not. I've had enough. I'm going to leave this country."
Victoria Derbyshire: "Where are you going to go Matt?"
Matt: "Australia."

(If you don't understand why this is dripping with irony have a look here Transportation or here Convicts to Australia)

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Crack, Heroin, Cocaine, Nicotine, Gambling. I'm not interested in any of that junk. I know from my many years in the past of smoking that things like nicotine can be quite moreish, but then I managed to stop a couple of years ago so it can't have been that addictive. Not like Ebay! Cripes, I can't put it down. I watch my bids/sales every night to see what is winning and who is buying what. I wouldn't mind - but most of it is going for around 99p - so it doesn't even matter. Bonkers. If you fancy buying any of the shmutter I currently have for sale then click here .... Go on, join in the madness.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Notes and Domino 8 ship

Today sees the launch of the greatest version of the greatest collaboration software ever.

Find out more about Lotus Notes and Domino 8 here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Brand abuse explained

I'm sure that we can all think of companies product names which have ended up becoming verbs. Hoover for vacuum cleaner or Biro for pen are probably the most famous examples. But what will be next? iPod for media player? Powerpoint for presentation? Flymo for Lawn Mower? Bush for incompetent president? ...

See the source here at Hoodyhoo.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


So I just finished the last Harry Potter book. I'm glad to say that I didn't whistle through it like some breathless teenager on the day it came out. I was much more restrained. It was quite enjoyable as well. The second half of the book almost reaching some of the gripping excitement that the earlier installments reached before J.K. Rowling's editor seemingly lost the ability to restrain her occasional aimless meanderings. I know that many folks will look down their nose at someone nearly 40 reading a series of children's books, but they are clearly a social phenomenon and if you want to get shirty I only just read The Gruffalo last year.

To the other folk that point to The Dark is Rising, His Dark Materials, The Hobbit and other superior children's fantasy series and say kids would be better off reading them, perhaps by getting involved in reading fiction through Potter they will leave their PlayStation's and Nintendo alone for a little while longer and try them as well?

If you can't be bothered to read HP though - this is an excellent spoiler. If that is too long for you then this is an even more concise version. I'm not joking - they really are spoilers!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Binary Marble Adding Machine

We all know the old joke. There are 10 types of people. Those who understand binary and those who don't. Well I think I might have stumbled upon something that might help those folks who don't understand or at least have a problem visualising it. It's not quite Charles Babbage's Difference Engine, but some eccentric Canadian dude has built a 6 bit binary adding machine out of wood using marbles as the bits. It is really rather smart in that it actually isn't a million miles away from how a digital computer does it - obviously without the marbles! - but it is also a lovely bit of woodwork.

If you like this then you can visit the dudes Web Site where he explains exactly how he did it.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Al and Lynne's wedding

I always love it when I get invited to a wedding. Especially when it is two such smashing friends as Al and Lynne. Here they are receiving the first of many barrels of confetti outside the church.

Both of them looked radiant.

Being slightly unconventional folks they decided that the appropriate way to feed the masses at the reception was a fantastic hog roast. Don't worry, there was some tofu salad for the vegetarians.

Well that pig doesn't eat itself! Here are Laura, Ellen, Marcus, Lightning Tom and Damon troffing.

One of the lovely things about weddings is getting to see those friends who you don't get to see half as often as you would like to. So it was great to catch up with my god daughter Millie.

Of course all good weddings end up with everyone making fools of themselves on the dance floor. Here is Julius, Ali and Sally.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


You may have heard that the Simpsons are making a little filum. Well as you can see I have managed to get a part.

I also managed to get a part for Boo the cat.

OK. Not really. But this is fun. Create your own yellow fella

Sadly none of this stuff appears to work in Firefox. Tsk. That really isn't good enough for a show that constantly lambasts monopoly and the casual abuse of power.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Al's Stag Night

So for Al's stag night 8 of us started off with a couple of liveners in Kew before heading out in couple of taxi's a Mexican restaurant in central London where we consumed 5 pitchers of margarita and some lovely food.

Here is the gang on the way to Somerset house where we were going to see a gig. We weren't going to see the Lion King incidentally. We were just saying that Al was the Lion King for the day. Not that I've ever seen a lion is a waistcoat.

We had managed to keep the event a secret from Al. He dreaded the thought that we would be taking him to Stringfellows or something cheesy like that. Like we would have got in! Instead we took him to see Bert Jansch with Beth Orton and Bernard Butler at Somerset House. That might sound a but dull for a tag night but the atmosphere was amazing and nothing is dull after 5 pitchers of Margarita. As you can see, Al approved.

For a folk singer Bert lays on quite a light show.

The final surprise was that we had laid on taxis to take us all back to Al's favorite pub near Guildford where we had negotiated a lock in and another twenty or so Friends we waiting for him. Surprise!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Oh the shame!

As a parent you do what you can, but there are some things that are out of your control. Despite our best efforts it is looking like Lucy is going to be a south paw. A left hooker. Left Handed! Apparently surgery can't help. It look like she is destined to have bad hand writing, an inability to use scissors and an artistic temperament. At least there is a store she can go to visit others who have the same condition...

Obviously I'm joking and we don't care. Both my Mum and Sister are afflicted. But this article is very interesting. And there really is a store for left handed freaks folks. You can find it here.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Floody Hell!

Blighty has been stuck by some pretty heavy rain lately. Places that have seldom been flooded before have received a hammering. I originally come from the East Yorkshire hamlet of Hull and it was hit very hard. My sister Chris sent me this picture of kids kayaking down that road where my first flat was in The Avenues. (I do wonder where the kayaks came from, someone was obviously very prepared!). They say 36,000 people have been affected in Hull alone. That is really serious for one of the most impoverished northern city's to handle.

My folks still live in Hull, and I was very happy and relieved to find out that they had missed out on the nasty stuff. They have a big ol' puddle in the back garden but the house was OK. The neighbours weren't so lucky, but as my Dad said - "What a difference an extra inch can make". I'll let you insert your own crude jokes here ;-)

All was not well down south either. This movie clip shows a hail storm outside our house. In July. What are the chances of that?! I don't expect anyone to think that this is extreme weather. It is just bizarre to see this in London in Summer.

Personally I just think it is one of those things. Climates are funny and they change every now and again. On the other hand the The Rt Rev Graham Dow, Bishop of Carlisle believes that the floods that have affected large swathes of the country are due to our moral decay and that "We are reaping the consequences of our moral degradation". I would love for him to attend a meeting of the tens of thousands of poor folks who have lost everything in these floods and who couldn't afford insurance and tell them that they were being judged because of their decadence.

I don't want to get petty, but I'm guessing that his Bishops palace hasn't been flooded. I suppose that huge silver cross he is wearing isn't ostentatious (imagine if a rapper was wearing it!) and that crock is really to secure his sheep. If he really worried about his congregation, perhaps he would be better getting his wellington boots on and helping resolve the immediate problems his flock are suffering rather than blaming it on gay people. After all - I can't help noticing that he is wearing a dress?!

Update: This is funny

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Life After Death by Powerpoint

I do quite a lot of customer presentations. I have also watched hundreds over the years. I don't use MS Powerpoint these days, I use the open standards based presentation tool that comes as part of Lotus Notes 8, but like Hoover and Biro, I guess Powerpoint has become a generic term these days to mean computer based presentation graphics tool.

Geek, engineer and ex chip designer Don McMillan has some pretty funny observations on how not to construct slides and present. In fact in 4 hilarious minutes he gives more and better advice than I have seen in many formal presentation skills courses.

With his wit and insight I can see why he dumped designing processors and swapped it for performing corporate comedy routines. Here is some more of his stuff.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Alan Sugar buys IBM!

Last week I was very much looking forward to the final of The Apprentice. Alan Sugar might be a touch fond of himself and the candidates are mainly scheming ego maniacs but it is brilliant TV. I knew the challenge this week was for the two finalists to redesign some building that Sugar had bought near Waterloo. I nearly fell off the sofa when the program started and they showed the building! It was IBM Southbank - somewhere I typically work out of a few days every month.

It turns out that IBM's lease on the building has many years to run so all that has really happened is that we have got a new landlord. But next time I'm in the office I will check that we have still got IBM Thinkpads and not an Amstrad PCW 8256. I also need to check that our fine Cisco IP Phones haven't been changed for E-m@iler phones that only exist on Sugar's secretary's desk and in his boardroom.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Safari not so goodi

So at last Apple have ported their quirky Safari Web browser to Windows. It is great to get another browser into the market to further promote choice and innovation. Astoundingly Steve Jobs claims that this will trigger another browser war - and that Apple is aiming for the 15% of the market that Mozilla currently holds with Firefox. There would seem to be a more obvious target!

Obviously Apple claim that Safari is "The world's best browser" but this hasn't been backed up by my experience with it. Firstly, just like the horrendous iTunes, it has the ugly gun metal grey header and menu bars which take no account of any Windows theme and so clash with everything else.

But that is just cosmetic so do I have any more substantive criticism? Well Apple claim that it is twice as fast as IE and 1.7 times faster than Firefox - but that hasn't been my experience. It seems about the same. They claim that compelling reasons to move are things like Popup blocking, inline RSS and tabbed browsing. Not really anything new. They also state that "Security" is a reason to love it - perhaps they should have done a bit of testing first to avoid this type of egg on the face.

The biggest problem however, is that it keeps on crashing. Of course a new browser on the scene isn't going to render every page perfectly first time and it is still in Beta testing cycle - but I'm afraid I'm finding that it falls over so often that is is unusable. As my frolleague Darren Adams would say, it is about as stable as Paris Hilton juggling cats on a pogo stick.

Interestingly when I analyze the traffic to I can see that 4.63% (2466) of visitors use Safari whilst 8.83% (4698) of visitors are using Macs. Demonstrating that just under half of the Mac users are not using Safari. If these Mac users are rejecting Safari it can't bode well for its invasion of Windows. Less of an Apple, more of a Plum?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Rules

Now I don't want to come over all Alf Garnett but every family has to have rules. This might involve the attitude of the toilet seat or who is responsible for taking the trash out. Likewise cooking duties may be up for debate and loading (or unloading) the dish washer tends to a matter of contention. But there are some rules that are set in stone and one of those is the ownership of the remote controls. If ladies are accidentally given the remote controls that rightfully belong to blokes then they could inadvertently select "Desperate Housewives" or "Ugly Betty" when "Top Gear" and "Police, Stop, Crash, Argh!" would be more appropriate. It might sound patronising and misogynistic but it is for their own good. So imagine my horror to see my beloved 9 week old daughter with her hands on the crown jewels! Doesn't she know the rules!

(Note to Idiots: Please don't think I'm being serious! It's just a cute picture and I'm being cheeky)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


My frolleague Ed Brill started sharing some of his presentations on Slideshare a few months ago. You can read his incredulous reaction here. Over 5,000 folks have viewed his presentations. Mainly because a) he can knock up a good slide show and b) the Lotus technology he advocates is pretty damn smart.

Anyway - I have decided to do the same. There are 3 presentations that I use every day. And virtually everyday I am asked to send these slides to the customer I have presented them to. So perhaps it is time that I just make them public. So if you are curious about what I do for a living then check our My Slides. I hope that I add value to the slides when I present them. That's why the jokes aren't on the slides ;-).

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Unusual Networking Event

This week I have been at Disneyland in Paris for a conference called the Technical Leadership Exchange where several thousand geeky types come together to share knowledge and get insights into interesting developments in the industry. A very important aspect of the event was to network and socialise with colleagues from around the globe. In order to organise such a large group of folks, we all had a colour coded dot on our name badge. They then correspond with the instructions on these Posters which were displayed all around the theme park. Imagine my concern when I looked at the option for my red dot. I've been to some odd networking events in my time but this seemed a bit strong. Hello cowboy.

So it was with no small amount of relief that when we got to the designated spot we found that there had been a spelling mistake and we were simply having a BBQ.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Business Trip

My frolleague Matt has been trying to persuade his young sons that his trip to Disneyland in Paris is for work and he will not be having a good time at all. I'm not sure that this picture is going to help his case.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

First Class Rip Off

Recently our National postal system, The Royal Mail, introduced a new set of pricing that for the first time took account of the shape of an item as well as its weight. They claim that this is in line with the rest of the industry (Fedex, DHL etc.) Today I saw for the first time how petty and stupid this system is. We got this card in the post claiming that they were unable to deliver an item because there was insufficient postage. Fair enough I thought. It did say that there was £1.06 to pay. Was someone sending me gold bullion without putting a stamp on it? Then I noticed the killer line "includes £1 handling fee for underpaid items". So actually the postage was just 6 pence short. Seems a bit petty. Of course we didn't know what the item was at this stage.

One option was to take half a day off and go to the sorting office to retrieve the item - which seems a bit extreme for a 6p under payment. The alternative is to attach £1.06 to the card in stamps and send it back and they will deliver the it. Now these days people only buy 1st class stamps which have a value of 34p. Attaching 3 1st class stamps would only make £1.02! So we would need to attach 4 which means we are now being charged £1.36 for the 6p underpayment. Of course you can still buy smaller denomination stamps - but you have to go to the Post Office to buy them - somewhat defeating the object.

So what was this object that had caused all the fuss? Simply a congratulations card for Lucy with a first class stamp on it. Should be fine right? Well if you check out the new regulations it turns out that the card was 5 millimeters too long. You are allowed 240mm and this is 245mm. I bet some despicable jobsworth is really proud of themselves.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

FA Cup day

I have supported Manchester United since I was 9 years of age. I went on a school trip to watch the 1977 FA Cup final at Wembley between Man Utd and Liverpool and encouraged by some school friends, decided to support MUFC. As luck would have it they beat their scouse opposition to win 2-1 so my support started off with a flying start. Although the rest of the seventies and the eighties were pretty lean pickings with just a couple of FA Cups to show, the nineties and naughties (otherwise described as the Alex Ferguson era) have been pretty successful.

Obviously once you support a club it is with you for life. Through the good times and the bad times. You can't just pick and choose. Unless your my wife Ali. She started off supporting Brentford FC because her first football match was at Griffen Park. However, as soon as Chelsea started being successful she dropped the Super Bees like stone and started supporting Abramovich's plaything. Just because her best friend Lorna is a (proper) fan of the Blues.

So what team will Lucy support? Well if Ali had stuck with the Bee's I might have allowed her to become a Brentford fan. But since her appalling defection I cannot allow Ali to influence Lucy's football choice in way - so I have had to take matters into my own hands. Especially because Lorna is coming over to our house to watch today's FA Cup Final between ManU and Chelski.

Obviously Muji rabbit will support United as well. Here is the full kit - still with a bit of growing room (it is meant for a nine month old!)

She still needs to get a bit bigger before she will be running around the park with a ball at her feet.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

New Toy

I love my little digital camera. It is a Canon Ixus 40. Ali bought me it for my birthday a few years ago and it has turned out to be one of the best presents ever. It is really simple to use - just point and click - but produces excellent pictures. Also the fact that it is so small pushes it into the cute gadget category. Finally, the way it synchronises the pictures with the computer is effortlessly simple and well designed.

Sadly it is time for an upgrade. Despite it's many good points the camera is starting to show it's age. 4 Mega pixels seemed like massively high resolution when we upgraded from a 1 MP camera - but now it just isn't enough. When you try to enlarge bits of pictures it is a bit grainy. But the worst sin of all is that it has started to get a bit unreliable. Sometimes it will just switch itself from still into video mode. At other times when you turn the flash off it will turn it back on. This can be quite a shock for a five week old baby as you can see here!.

There are so many capable compact digital cameras around there days that you are spoiled for choice. But as luck would have it, my mate Marcus had just bought himself an Ixus 900Ti and highly recommended it. I was a bit dubious at first. Do I really need 10 Mega pixels? Well I'm glad that I took the plunge because the 900 is a fantastic bit of kit. And what is best about it is that it works pretty much exactly like the Ixus 40 except just a bit better in every area. Bigger screen, better focus, more capacity, more control and most important - new and shiny.