» Belkin WeMo This kind of looks like the future of home automation.
Belkin WeMo

Nice feature overview here.

X10 is cool but complicated; whereas this looks cool and simple.   |
» Bookcrossing A friend pointed me at Bookcrossing.

Seems like a great way to redistribute your old books and having some fun doing it.

The basic idea - label your old books with a unique identifier, then drop them off wherever you like. Log the 'drop' on the Bookcrossing website for someone to pick up. If they log the collection you can track who and where the book goes. Obviously there are the usual anonymity options and if a non-Bookcrossing person picks up the book they may choose not to join-up (its free, they make money selling accessories like custom labels and bookplates).

Pretty cool.   |
» Mailorder Beer A plug and a bit of a bookmark for myself - Beerstore in NZ does a great job of distributing beer of all kinds delivered to your door.

I've used them a few times now and they're quick and efficient - I even had one delivery with broken bottles which the couriers obviously screwed up and within a couple of days Beerstore had another order on my doorstep no questions asked. Now thats service !   |
» What is a karonkka? A friend of mine recently returned from Finland where he was examining a PhD defence - the process is called a Karonkka.

As well as getting decked out in a full-on tux & tails they actually had ceremonial swords to boot. How cool is that ?

Be sure to read Shauns other posts on the nature of research, patents, science and technology in New Zealand.   |
» TED Talks A friend of mine (cheers Eddie!) pointed me at the excellent TED Talk series.

Subscribe to their RSS feed now.

Theres always something you can set aside 15 minutes of your time to learn about or dump to your mp3 player to listen/watch while you commute.

Recent favourites of mine have included - 'Build a brain in a supercomputer', 'Our buggy moral code', 'What brain damage can point out about our mind', 'Why are babies cute? Why is cake sweet?'   |
» Useful Ways to be Persuasive I realised my Linkdump category hadn't been updated in a looong time so I'll kick start it with this link to some common-sense ways to be persuasive.

As per the link comments in the preamble, its a bit pop-psych but theres some useful stuff to help get your head around how you can get your point of view across to other people.   |
» Because you need to know - Tracking the $700 Billion Bailout It'll be interesting to see if the New York Times keeps this table up to date - Tracking the $700 Billion Bailout.

See which financial institutions receive money and how much they get.   |
» Good Music - Le Pop by Katzenjammer Discovered while reading Popmatters list of Also-rans for 2008 - Katzenjammers 'Le Pop' is one of those joyful albums by a band determined to put a stupid grin on your face at all costs or die trying (cf early Violent Femmes, Crowded House, Pogues).

Check out a couple of videos on YouTube - 'A bar in Amsterdam' and 'Aint no thang'   |
» Good Books - The Shock Doctrine Another excellent read from Naomi Klein - The Shock Doctrine. I have to admit I'm only halfway through this book - mans inhumanity to man makes for tough going - however its pretty much compulsory reading for anyone that wonders how the worlds free market economy's were lead down the track they're currently on.

Essentially what Klein does is posit the idea that free market economies and reforms can only be forced through on the back of an external crisis (sometimes real and sometimes engineered). As a result those people best placed to take advantage of the reforms do extraordinarily well and the vast majority of us end up worse off - with globalisation these disparities keep getting worse as multi-nationals cease to be bound by georgraphy.

As the recent recession and American bank / finance / auto bail-outs have shown - the free market has failed to a certain extent - their own calls for deregulation have bit them on the ass and now they're going cap in hand to the very regulatory bodies they once reviled for assistance.

So even when things go wrong for the wheelers and dealers of the world - they still come out on top.   |
» Good Books - Killing Rommel by Stephen Pressfield Another quick summer read - Killing Rommel is a return to form for Stephen Pressfield - his 'Gates of Fire' was a masterpiece but after that I found 'Tides of War' and 'Last of the Amazons' to be a little dry.

His latest novel tells the tale of the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) and their various exploits in the North African campaign, culminating in a mission to track down and kill Rommel.   |

Network Security (2061-2561 AD) + More

Sunday 12 February 2012 at 11:58 am Its been awhile since I posted some links -

Charles Stross (Sci-Fi Author, his Singularity Sky is awesome) discusses Network Security in the Medium Term, 2061-2561 AD.

Pretty fascinating - Networking Needs a VMWare. Some of this stuff is on its way . . .

The future looks bright - Building a new filesystem - ReFS for Windows 8.

This reminds me so much of William Gibsons 'Bigend Books' (Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, Zero History) I had to double check it wasn't fiction - Made Better in Japan. Theres also a touch of Umberto Ecos 'Travels in Hyperreality'. Remember, people - it has to be better than the real thing !

I caught this over on Boing Boing - pretty fascinating - Bringing a 50,000-ton forging press back to Life. Makes you wonder what other wholly unique mega-gizmos exist in the world ?

What Good Is Wall Street ? + More

Saturday 28 May 2011 at 1:56 pm I don't seem to be doing a great job of keeping this blog up to date - hopefully this set of links will keep people amused (assuming anyone is still reading . . .)

In the wake of the sub-prime fiasco and subsequent bailout this makes for interesting reading - What Good is Wall Street?.

Yes, I know we're almost half way through 2011 - this interactive article has some cool stuff in the pipeline - NYTimes Top Ideas for 2010.

A couple of related articles The end of the IT Department and The rise of Shadow IT suppliers. Maintaining infrastructure is costly - more and more people are turning to innovation and service outside of in-house-IT.

A peek into the future - FutureStates TV. Brief docu-dramas about different potential futures for earth and humanity.

Nifty - 3D Strandbeests. If you've ever seen Theo Jansens creations walk across the beach you'll be pleased to see you can now print them in 3D.

Commentary at the Economist on the recent DropBox security warning - Keys to the Cloud Castle.

I seem to be predisposed to IT nostalgia - Markdown is the new Word 5.1. As a user-experience 5.1 was pretty much a pinnacle - everything since has just been fluff. I cut my 'GUI WYSIWYG teeth' on Word 3 and 4 which were also great - they were also the last versions you could run off a single 3.5" disk on a Mac (on a dual FDD disk system your OS was on one disk and your app was on the other).

Mainframes + More

Sunday 07 November 2010 at 08:34 am Been a bit light on the updates - bit of a bumper crop coming up -

Say what you like but these anachronisms just aren't going away - Mainframe dark age. A profitable niche market for some !

Would love to add these to my pencil case - These machines kill fascists. Remember the only good fascist is dead one.

Nice and simple infographic of Risk perception and actual hazards.

Its starting to look pretty definitive - Vaccines don't cause autism.

A website dedicated to documenting the tricks used by site-designers to ensnare or mis-direct web-surfers - Dark Patterns.

We all know its going to get messy - Why the IPv4 to IPv6 will be ugly. I think a lot of people out there are in denial.

Douglas Coupland is the author of cult classic 'Microserf', here he outlines his vision of the next decade - A radical pessimist's guide to the next 10 years. Nice read.

Medium Format Goodness

Saturday 28 August 2010 at 7:28 pm Digital is definitely here to stay but film has a certain something that you can only reproduce digitally by messing with the image. The current fad for camera phone apps that reproduce the polaroid, pin-hole or cheap russian camera look would appear to indicate a predilection for the imperfect.

The trend also manifests itself in the lomography movement - cheap film cameras that have flawed optics leading to quirky images. Lomography has also led to a resurgence in the use of medium-format film. Medium format film leads to much bigger pictures than 35mm film and allows for much more detail to be captured in a variety of sizes. Medium format cameras are now also very cheap and accessible as everyone off-loads their film cameras for digital.

I picked up a Mamiya RB67 for about $400 and a Rolleiflex for $500. This may seem a little pricey but these would have each cost a small fortune when purchased new. The RB67 takes 6cm x 7cm pictures and the Rollei takes 6cm x 6cm pictures. If you use a colour-slide film (like Velvia) you'll get a roll of developed negative from the developer you can shine a light through and project onto a wall. Its pretty darn cool.

Of the two I prefer the Rollei, its easier to carry, has a built in light-meter and the square 6 x 6 images look great. The Mamiya is a beast of a camera, it really needs a tripod and it will hurt your back carting it around (it weighs about 2.5kg!) - although when you see the sharpness of the pictures you will find the weight bearable.

Digital medium and large format photography also exists - but the cost is generally prohibitive. Getting a medium sized digital sensor camera package is going to set you back the equivalent of a mortgage down-payment on a house.

Pull a Word Doc Contents into a Database + More

Monday 14 June 2010 at 8:55 pm Pretty funky - Parsing a Word document with PL/SQL. Given DOCX is essentially a compound file its pretty neat that you can dismantle it.

I'm a sucker for cool stationary - Paper and envelopes that look like icons.

Handy - Creating Active Directory Taskpads. Looks pretty straightforward.

All it takes is a little thought - Space Saving Furniture. Amazing stuff.

Impressive - SeaMicro - 512 servers in 10U.

Thoughts About Timescale + More

Sunday 09 May 2010 at 3:58 pm Nice article on time and how humanity needs to start thinking about the long-term - Eight Thoughts About Timescale.

Brilliant - Toronto subway etiquette posters.

Nice chart - Stages of a Photographer. I think I'm at the 'Everything I shoot is rubbish' stage.

Charles Stross writes about the recent Adobe/Apple Flash spat - The Real Reason Steve Jobs Hates Flash.

ArsTechnica does a rather nice review of Ubuntu 10.04. As of v 7 or 8 its actually been pretty usable by a mere mortal (ie your parents).

dotfiles + More

Sunday 18 April 2010 at 5:26 pm A place to share Unix environment config files Great idea and resource. Shame I don't do much unix stuff anymore.

All sorts of things are falling under Microsofts new 'Forefront' banner (ISA is probably the most well known) - now their meta-directory product is coming under the same brand Forefront Identity Lifecycle Manager. It still seems overly expensive but the feature-set does look enticing.

Nifty - Why you can't work at work. My most productive time is probably from 7 to 9am - after that my day becomes primarily interrupt driven.

The art of writing is starting to disappear - I'm not a great writer by any means but proof-reading colleagues written work does make me wonder what happened to the education system in the five to ten years I between my schooling and theirs. Writing well, creatively and with humour appears to be a niche Clothing for Correspondence are happy to fill - you send them an item of clothing and they'll write something for you. Their samples are great - particularly the references !

Digital Dark Age + More

Tuesday 23 February 2010 at 6:05 pm Make sure wherever you work (or even when you deal with your personal data) you have a plan for moving and archiving historical date - Avoiding a Digital Dark Age.

Fantastic (if a little grim) - World Press Photo Competition Winners 2010

Infographic - which health supplements are actually beneficial - Snake Oil Supplements.

Why most people no longer care about the file-system - /the/path/of/most/resistance. Very very true - at a home-user level the apps are now infinitely more important than where stuff is stored - just leave iPhoto/iTunes to look after itself and forget about where it puts things.

How Many Servers Can One Admin Manage + More

Sunday 03 January 2010 at 08:47 am A little light - just realised I was into the third week of 2010 and I hadn't posted a peep -

The scale is truly impressive - How Many Servers Can One Admin Manage?.

Another reason why Americans and their privitised healthcare are completely insane - The Cost of Care.

Bumptop + More

Sunday 29 November 2009 at 6:12 pm One of those oddball ideas to map your computer desktop to your real desktop in terms of objects, stacks and moving things around - Bumptop. Nice idea but I'm not entirely sure it will have anything other than novelty value.

Nifty online presentation tool - Prezi. Put a new spin on your visuals.

I've got to rebuild my PC - still running the RC of Windows 7 - some of these tools look useful though - Windows 7 Helper Applications.

Apart form the terrible colour the new Pogoplug Mk2 looks like a remarkably cool gizmo.


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