Archive for the 'Tech' Category

Dec 30 2008

Thanks, Wayne

Published by under Misc,Tech

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FLORIDA – It’s worth interrupting my holiday to mention some good old American customer service.

I can’t, apparently, have AT&T’s tailored iPhone payg plan here because I don’t have a US bank account. Which is why I chewed my way through almost $30 of data in my first day here.

Enter Wayne, from AT&T’s call centre. Wayne rides a big Honda, hails from New Mexico but has British ancestry, and went to University late in life, ending up with a degree in British social history.

Wayne also spent almost an hour battling with AT&T’s bureaucracy on my behalf, and ended up bending the rules more than a little to give me an unlimited data bundle I’m not really supposed to have. But hey, willing buyer, willing seller – we’re both happy.

What a world away from the ‘computer says no’ culture we come across so often.

(Less impressed, by the way, with the service recovery at Universal when the ride we’d been queueing for broke.)

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Nov 11 2008

MagSafe again

Published by under Tech

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One of the consistently popular search strings that brings people here – such is the diversity and intellect of my readership – is “aftermarket MagSafe”, landing people at my ‘MagFoolish‘ rant of March this year. So for those of you whose boat is floated by third-party attempts to circumvent Steve’s vice-like grip on Apple’s proprietary technology, look no further.

No further, that is, than good old eBay. For less than the price of a new MagSafe adaptor from Apple, I got two: one made out of a Mac Mini ‘brick’ PSU, and a natty Kensington travel thing that makes a funny noise when used with my MacBook Pro (but not with our black MacBook), and works on aeroplanes and in cars, too. Joy.

Oh, and thanks to a tip-off from Gizmodo, I got the original replaced at the Apple Store while I was in London. Well done, Steve. Who said people only write about bad service?

Now, if only you’d been as sympathetic about my dead Airport Express

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Nov 04 2008

Some election-day links

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Yes, it’s that election today. I’ll be off to the Election Night Party at the US Embassy in just under 24 hours.

In the meantime, some links to amuse and / or take your mind off the waiting.

Solve the Italian Job cliffhanger once and for all – RSC puts up a prize for the best entry. C’mon, we know they got away with it.

What’s wrong with Neil’s new MacBook?

Cool, we made Sky’s caption competition. You’d all have got better photos if you’d backed off like I asked …

See Obama, Hook Up! h/t Wonkette. Really?

Large Hadron Colliderscope – h/t Theo

President Medvedev and I share the same taste in hardware – according to TUAW

… and finally, some Plinkety Palin (and McCain), via Tim Ireland. Brilliant.

PS not entirely sure what happened to the ‘Scouting for Girls’ post – it was there, and then it wasn’t, and now it’s back again. Odd.

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Oct 23 2008

Quantum of record sales

Published by under Digital,Media,Music,Russia,Tech

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… or ‘Scouting for Audiences’

Thanks to a pair of HomePlugs, an AppleTV and a bargain Samsung LCD that no-one wanted because it’s last year’s model (and it’s white), we can now enjoy all manner of digital media in the bedroom. Including – and arguably the main reason for this technological extravagance – what I shall nostalgically refer to as Virgin Radio.

[They're 'Absolute Radio' these days, apparently, which has already upset the vodka people. I assume whatever's behind this change in nomenclature is related to the appearance of those gaudily flourescent 'Zavvi' places where the good old Virgin Megastore used to be. Progress, I guess.]

But I digress. The other morning on Absolute Virgin Radio I was delighted to learn that Scouting for Girls will be releasing ‘I Wish I Was James Bond‘ as a single on November 3rd. Excellent timing – and deliberate, no doubt, coincident as it is with the UK release of Quantum of Solace on 31 October.

Fair play, chaps. I hope it sells you some records. And if you need a venue for the single’s launch party, give me a yell.

Gives me an excuse to play you the song again, too, complete with new video …

Hello Mr Bond, I’ve been expecting you.
Martini in your hand, and that eyebrow that you move.

Scouting For Girls – I Wish I Was James bond

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Oct 21 2008

Size does matter

Published by under Digital,Russia,Tech

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Russia’s big. We knew that. But sometimes it takes a new perspective to realise the extent of something you already new.

Enter ZebraMap. I love this sort of thing. I always wanted a Geochron – for now I make do with the likes of EarthDesk and OSXPlanet.

It’s just gone 8am in Moscow. 7am in Kaliningrad. For my colleagues in Ekaterinburg, it’s already after 10. It’s lunchtime in Vladivostok. And over on the Kamchatka peninsula the working day’s already ending.

Just the other side of the Bering Strait it’s still yesterday evening, but it’s too early in the morning to go there right now.

How does this translate in practice? How do you plan a conference call between Sakhalin, Moscow and Houston? Or time your announcement (or even sporting fixture) to hit prime-time in all the major cities? Or simply plan your travel across this vast country?

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Oct 13 2008

Soyuz Train

Published by under Misc,Russia,Tech

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Soyuz TMA-13 launched yesterday, from the very same launchpad which launched Yuri Gagarin atop Vostok 1. Some fantastic photos of the launcher on the way to its launchpad at Baikonur, at Blake Hounshells’s blog over at FP Passport. Here’s one to whet your appetite.

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(Credit: Dmitry Kostyukov, AFP, Getty Images)

On board is Richard Garriott, a video game developer from Texas and son of Skylab and Spacelab astronaut Owen Garriott – whose trip has apparently cost him $30 million.

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Sep 27 2008

Now you really can see Russia from your house!

Published by under Digital,Politics,Russia,Tech

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… if you live on an uninhabited island in the middle of the Bering Strait, anyway.

Found this on FP Passport: a webcam on the (US) island of Little Diomede, which points at the (Russian) island of Big Diomede, or Ratmanov Island.

On a clear day the view’s rather good, too.

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Slate helpfully points out that, thanks to the International Date Line, this webcam really does show you the future. Cool.

Off to France for a week – light blogging ahead.

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Sep 08 2008

In with the LinkedIn crowd

Published by under Digital,Tech

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Simon Dickson wondered, earlier today:

simond isn’t putting any effort into LinkedIn. Should I be?

Good question, and one I’ve asked myself on occasion recently. Not that I’ve been losing sleep over it, but all the cool kids seem to be using it. So a few weeks ago I signed up. Bit of a palaver, but I got there in the end. And until today, I don’t think I’d looked at it since.

Simon’s tweet prompted me to take another look. I still can’t really see that it’s worth the effort.

My issue, I guess is that I’m not (a) looking for a job, (b) looking to hire, or (c) looking to sell my services. I like my job, I don’t plan on looking for another one for at least a year or two, and (thankfully) I don’t have any gaps in my team. And as far as my ‘clients’ are concerned, I’m a very happy monopolist.

So what am I missing?

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Sep 02 2008

Yes, but why?

Published by under Digital,Misc,Tech

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Incoming link the other day from remmrit.com – apparently my post highlighting some of the problems with me.com has been tagged under ‘hacking’. Well OK, thanks for the link, even if ‘hacking’ doesn’t really apply to the post in question – perhaps ‘MacBook Nano’, a couple of weeks later, is more relevant.

The point is, though, aren’t there enough social bookmarking sites out there already? Digg, reddit, stumbleupon … I mean, the addthis.com button at the bottom of each of my posts gives you a choice of thirty-four (yes, 34) social bookmarking / link sharing options. Do we really need another one?

Remmrit’s strapline is ‘Social Bookmarking made easier’. Sure, but it wasn’t that difficult to start with. I’m not convinced that adding another option to the already crowded array of options is necessarily an improvement.

To the guys at remmrit.com, I hope it works out for you. I hope you manage to get sufficient advertising revenue to sustain your business model. In the meantime, though, you might want to sort your SEO – a google blogsearch for ‘remmrit’ throws up six results, and three of those are for porn ‘splogs’ …

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Aug 20 2008

My new ‘MacBook Nano’

Published by under Tech

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… with some of its friends.

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Big thanks to Paul.

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