Technology

Enjoy

Enjoying the now. You wouldn’t think it’s difficult would you? To enjoy what you are doing, live in the moment. Before I started writing this I was thinking it was just me, but all of us to some degree fail to grasp fully the wonderful things that are occurring. Right now.

Modern life doesn’t help full of distractions and noise. Long time readers of this blog (thank you and that ambulance outside is probably for you) will know that I love my tech. My iPhone much to my bosses displeasure hardly leaves my sweaty palm. But does it let me enjoy my life knowing that a footballer I follow on twitter is talking to another footballer about “Take Me Out” yet I consume.

I have been to many a gig. The focus for many now is not to let go, be absorbed in the music but to video it in full HD, so they can enjoy it later. The later that never comes, or the later that you only enjoy when one of your fellow gig goers dies. Then you’ll sit and look at it and go, “remember when you filmed this.”

Contentment goes against human nature. We will always want more, faster, higher. It’s what has moved us on, moved us out of our caves. But the human race has pretty much gone as far as we can now, and the reality is that most of us aren’t gonna make that much of a difference in the grand scheme of things.

Recently I have had good cause to try and live in the now. I find my myself making plans, plans that would be amazing, but plans that I know I actually have very little control over. These plans then take my focus away from what is happening now, robbing me of not only an unlikely future but an exciting and inspiring present.

Enjoy the now, after all you probably planned this moment ages ago..

Thats how to enjoy the moment.

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Happy Birthday Mac

30 years ago today the first Apple Macintosh was announced in the US. There was very little whooping and clapping and certainly no-one had been sleeping outside on the New York streets for 3 days to get their hands on one. But what an impact the Mac had. First time I used one I didn’t like it!! It had one mouse button and was being hogged by a friend who was showing me how to put flames round some writing in Photoshop.

No thanks. I thought, I’ll stick to my PC, it runs Championship Manager 2.

I was wrong.

Without the Mac we quite possibly wouldn’t have had The Mouse, Copy and Paste, MS Powerpoint, smartphones, iPods, Usable tablet devices, and digital music stores amongst other things. Sure all these things probably would have sprung up, but in very different forms than they are now. It’s always pointed out to me that Microsoft pioneered the tablet PC years before the iPad. Trouble is Microsoft always want their mobile devices to run the same software as desktops the devices are always doomed. They haven’t learnt from past mistakes.

Microsoft have of course played a huge role in the success of the Mac. Developing MS Office for the Mac and investing $150 million in 1997. At a time where Windows was king and the Mac was on dicey ground indeed.

Fast forward to the present day. Whereas in the UK the PC used to rein supreme the humble Mac has gained a significant market share in the home market. Even in the office where I work more Mac’s are thankfully appearing, I just wish the people who had them (not me) knew how to use them. Mind you it does give me a opportunity to be a Mac Geek at work, which is much better than trying to eat my Dell keyboard because I have tried to use a Mac keyboard shortcut.

Main question I see on Twitter is (computer wise, not about Justin Beiber) “Is the Mac worth the extra money?”

The question in itself is wrong. If you spec the a PC to the levels of the Mac Pro the home built PC will be more expensive. But MacBook Air is more expensive than £250 PC. If you want a machine that is not only usable but runs the same as the day you got it the MacBook Air will not disappoint.

I hope the Mac will continue to be around in some form for at least another 30 years and that Apple continue to Think Different.

(WMB4X) 90’s Geek vs Geek of the Millennium

1980. Year of the birth of Austin Mini Metro and me. By the mid 90’s I was a spotty mullet topped computer geek. Much has changed, I’m not spotty anymore and the computer that sits in front of me of is more powerful than I could even have imagined.

My PC then was a Pentium 166mhz, with 16mb of RAM. I had a massive hard drive where I could store up to 2gb of data. When I first got the machine I didn’t have access to the internet of any kind, so I spent my time playing Championship Manager 2, in-between homework composed using MS Works. Then the internet came along, in the shape of a beige box with some red flashing lights on it. I was lucky, the blistering 56.6 modem. My friend had a Pentium 75 and 14.4 connection. How I took the piss.

Then came mIRC a text based chat system which I spent far too much time on. My parents let me stay online long enough (hogging the phone line) to make good acquaintance with most of Ohio, America (so it seemed). FiveOhTwo one of the Ohio clan introduced me and my real life friends to MP3. We each then spent hours trying to download Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” via Napster.

The browser of choice back then was Netscape, which had to be searched for via Yahoo on Internet Explorer 4.0. That is if it you could keep it from crashing for long enough for the download to complete. Windows ’95, then Windows ’98 which pre-service pack was as stable as me on ice.

The geek of the Millennium. Has it easy.

Geek-chic now is all around us. It’s fashionable to be geeky, nerdy and know what TARDIS stands for. Geeks today live connected. No waiting for your Mum to get off the phone to download that latest blockbuster movie. Yes movie. It would have taken months to download full length HD movies via a 90’s dial up connection.

Although mIRC still exists, the rooms now are largely populated with people who used them first time around. It’s now all Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The 90’s geek was all about identity security and low profile. The millennium counterpart is more “out” than a Pride Parade.

Napster has now long gone legit after spats with Lars Ulrich and others. So geeks now have Pirate Bay to be a freeloader. If your ISP allows. If not there is iTunes, which began life as a humble music player. The music player of choice in the 90’s was Winamp. It was superb, you could download skins for it to change the way it looked, add-ins to change the sound, stream online radio using SHOUTcast and some skins even included reel-to-reel tape Skeuomorphics that would have made Scott Forstall cream his pants.

Winamp was best when it was simple. As time passed by it tried to compete with iTunes and Windows Media Player, becoming bloated and seemingly unaware of the world where people were taking their music out and about as opposed to being sat in chat rooms.

I have just learnt that Winamp is to be shut down forever on the 20th December. Whatever will whip the llamas ass with now.


Please visit the king of geek chic the Resident Weeble

(WMB4X) QuizUp

Something new for these fair pages an App Review. Or more likely as it turns out me saying “Look at this cool App” So look at this cool App.

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QuizUp is a pretty damn sweet quiz (clues in the name people) game from Plain Vanilla. It’s a very simple premise, download the App from the App Store (Android version on the way) create an Account, you can use Facebook, Twitter or email address for this then you are off and running. Choose from over 250 different topics anything from Family Guy to Myths and Legends or Logos to Harry Potter, you then get to answer 5 questions multiple choice questions for a maximum of 20 points followed by a sixth question for a maximum of 40 points.

The longer you take to answer the lower your score will be, getting the answer wrong will mean you get nothing. It may also mean you want to launch your iPhone or iPad across the room. Oh of course you are not playing against your phone. You are playing against your friends, if you link your Facebook, Twitter or Game Center, or if you are a loner like me random strangers from across the globe, so it does require an active internet connection. However if you want to challenge one of your friends who happens to be lets say hard at work or busy contemplating their navel you can set a score for them to try and beat later on. In addition you can also find players nearby to play.

I did think initially that it was going to be too Americanized (note the “z” in homage) for me. And yes some of the TV rounds will have people without the “right to bear arms” perplexed, as will some of the Logos. However I have noticed the very English (now owned by GM) Vauxhall (known as Opel elsewhere) pop up. This game will only get better as time passes because they allow the community to apply to submit their own questions. The key word here is “apply” implying that there is a vetting process so, “Whats the largest landmark in Sweden?” Answer “Yo Mamma.” quite disappointingly won’t occur.

My advice. It’s free, give it a bash. Then when you have finished that play QuizUp. You might even end up playing me. Be warned its addictive. (They aren’t paying me)

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Visit the Resident Weeble’s blog. He’s the reason I look like I know about Game of Thrones. I thought it was a regal version of musical chairs

(WMB4X) Gamer Growing Pain

I remember how I felt Christmas 1991. I had opened all the small boxes and cards, very disciplined for a 10 and a half year old. There was one big box under the tree, I thought this was strange because I had asked for and Atari Lnyx (Atari’s answer to the Gameboy) and that was tiny. I tore off the paper to reveal a Nintendo Entertainment System or NES. My parents thought I would enjoy being able to play on a bigger screen with my friends. It was a good call as the Lynx disappeared from market very quickly.

However my parents didn’t keep their eye on the market because just over a year later in April of 1992 the Super Nintendo was released. Sounding like a spoilt kid now, but I got one Christmas 1992. I was hooked. I have always liked Sports games, so one of the first titles on my SNES was Super Soccer, an international football game. The first team you had to beat to progress through the game was Cameroon. I must have played Cameroon 50 times before I finally beat them. I stuck at it for hours after school and weekends. Fast forward 21 years and I now have a PS3 and I wish I had that determination.

The Last of Us, is a tremendous game. Cinematic immersive game play. It sits on my shelf, unfinished. My friend who has completed it tells me I am close to the end, but I’m stuck. I have played the same bit 6 or 7 times and I can’t get by it, so out it comes. My 10 year old self would have been blown away by the graphics but would have sat in front of it forever until it was done.

Why do I not have the same drive now?

It’s not like I have a major social life or better things to be doing. I do enjoy gaming and although it still gets bad press, it’s a legitimate a hobby as gardening or reading or whatever. It’s great for me cos it raises the heart rate and improves my dexterity.

Is it the games? Super Soccer was me vs the SNES, no online play, no linking to Facebook or a depressingly low Game Center score. On the PC, Grand Theft Auto for example, I completed GTA and GTA London and even more recently on the PS3 GTA IV (not with 100%) but that took me ages to get over the finish line. Years I didn’t play. Now GTA V, you have three protagonists, a fully functional stock market and massive online environment. Now instead of enjoying beating up Whores I’m looking at a stock market screen. I miss the simple fun.

Maybe games aren’t for me. Maybe they are for people with more dextrous fingers and unlimited free time. Like me when I was 10.


Please visit the blog of the Resident Weeble who is always on top of his game.

(WMB4X) Pain in the Analysts

I would like to think myself creative (but I’ve tried and it didn’t work) I was never too good with numbers (which is why I work in stats now) there are people who love the numbers, get lost in the spreadsheets and can draw a pie chart quicker than I can draw my curtains. They love the fact that there is no grey area with numbers, it’s either right or wrong off or on. Binary list of 0’s and 1’s.

Know your numbers and you can make some serious cash. As a banker, a broker or Carol “I’ll sell anything” Vorderman. You can even be a market analyst, a gazer into the financial crystal ball. These people are telling us what we want before we even know we want it, and they have huge influence over the finances of the world and where money is invested, what with buy-ratings and the like.

In the world of business an equal amount of creativity and market nous is needed to make it. We can’t all be Jonny Ive. However it is important to get right people in the right roles. Money people, are not experts on lets say consumer electronics.

In 2008 analysts said that Apple needed to make a Netbook. (Remember those)

Netbook popularity in 2008 (PriceGrabber)

In 2010 Apple released the iPad, which is definitely not a Netbook. The rest as they say is history. Now in 2013 analysts say Apple need a iWatch, an actual Apple TV (not just the great set top box) a larger iPhone, a Smaller iPad, a larger iPad, A social network, a video games console the list is endless.

Apple may or may not make some of these things. But thanks to analysts we now get stupid headlines like this “Apple TV set reportedly delayed to at least 2015 over content deal trouble” So a product that hasn’t been announced is delayed. I mean even First Great Western couldn’t be accused of running a late train if it wasn’t announced. So what harm do these stories do?

Share price dip. These analyst wet dreams can wipe billions off companies share price. Why should we care? Well companies may rush things to market to keep the analysts happy and share prices high. Meaning we get to spend our hard earned on something thats half finished. Also analysts aren’t creative, they are more like a jealous neighbour “Keeping up with the Joneses.” ‘Well they have one, so you should too.’

All companies (Apple Inc included) are worryingly conforming to market pressure. This may lead to a very boring future. Like letting Bob from Accounts design your website. Scary very scary.


Please visit the Resident Weeble His 8 book deal with Penguin has been delayed

(WMB4X) E-Books

iBooks, Kindle, Nook, Hudl. All e-book readers (kind of) If you had asked me what a e-book was when I was 8 I would have assumed it was something from Yorkshire. Ee book.

I love my tech. As you know from reading these here pages. But e-readers and e-books are something I just cannot fully embrace. Don’t get me wrong I have a few books I have brought and tried out on the Kindle App for the iPhone, but mostly I got them because it was something to read ‘right now’ and the Kindle additions were very much cheaper than the much more pleasing and tactile paper versions.

I the e-books I paid money for are:

I am the Secret Footballer by The Secret Footballer
This is a now ex-premiership footballer who used to write a ‘Secret Footballer’ column in the guardian. Well worth a read even if you only have a passing interest in the beautiful game. Because of his anonymus status he is able to be very canid about life in the dressing room and life in the fast lane. There is a website dedicated to trying to find out who he is my money is on Dave Kitson (Reading Legend)

Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions by James Randi
The legendary James “The Amazing” Randi lifts the lid on several charlatans and bounders. Explaining how they pull the wool over the eyes of the most learned scholars and minds in history. A skeptics bible.

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural by James Randi
Yep another one for my skeptical side. Not read much of this one yet. But still an eye opener

You know what though. I wish I had all three books in print. That means I could have leant them to my friends and family. I can read them in the bath with little fear of dropping them. Instead these things of beauty are trapped within my fondle slab.

And now kindles are to be sold in Independent Book stores in America. Is this a step closer to the end for the paperback? If you have been reading my bollocks (it’s in James Randi’s book) for long enough you will know I would like to write, professionally. When I think of this dream I don’t think “oh wow, e-ink.” I think big fuck off hard back books.

Long live the humble book.

Girl Reading, 1893 Edward Simmons


Please give the Resident Weeble a look.. print his blog out and read it old school

(WMB4X) What Price Progress?

Just give me approximately two minutes. Will ya? Now about a minute. Cheers! Now under a minute.
Still under a minute… Please bear with me.
Hang on. Now wait a minute. Or two. Wait five hours.

Hey ok I’m ready. Welcome to today’s WMB4X post. That five hours went quick didn’t it. But the under a minute seemed to last much longer.

If you use a computer (in the broadest sense iPads, phones included) which I’m guessing you do as you are reading this. You will have encountered a progress bar. Now software designers can tart it up, pinwheels, beachballs, circles, eclipses or camel toes.

All progress bars of one type or another. Your device is busy. Please wait.

Now I understand that not everything can be instant. I don’t mind a wait. However I hate progress bars that are not in any form a representation of where you are in the process. For example a bar which is 50% full you would expect would be half way through the process. Just like if you drink half a cup of tea you have the same amount of lovely until you have to get up and make another.

But no. 50% progress bars mean diddly. The first 50% can whizz by and the second half might not be done even if you leave it to go and inflate Ingrid and have a night of passion. We live in a world of multi-cores 64bits and Intel Rampant rabbits. You would have thought with all this they will have given you something that can accurately tell you when your porn is downloaded..when your updates are done.

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The view from my desk


You wanna test out the progress bar in your browser. Go check out the Resident Weebles blog mine loaded in 3 seconds.

iPhone 5s: Tim Cook Makes You An Offer You Can’t Refuse

You wait ages for one iPhone to come along and then two come along at once. Like the proverbial Bus. Yes the iPhone 5c and the iPhone 5s were released yesterday at Apple’s Cupertino Campus.

In the worst kept secret since Boy George came out. All the rumours proved to be true, there would be a “cheaper” iPhone, it would be plastic (sorry advanced polymer compound Mr Ive) it would be called the 5c. The premium 5s would have a fingerprint scanner, which would be used to unlock the device, it would be in gold.

No surprises there. However, Tim Cook showed his camp mafia don side to the iPhone 5 (or Jimmy as I will call it) thusly:

The Don Tim Cook: JIMMY! Come here you, have a cigar.
iPhone 5, Jimmy: Thanks boss.
TC: You have been a good and popular person to the family, some might say the most popular ever.
Jimmy: Thank you
TC: You have done some excellent work, fighting off those Google mooks
Jimmy: Thank you Campfather
TC: Your looks betray your actions Jimmy. Too often I see you scratched, drawn out to the chamfered edge. [Takes out a gun] You were a mistake
Jimmy: Please Campfather no.
TC: It’s already been done Jimmy. You are not available any more.

So the iPhone 5 gone, not moved down the line up like all iPhones before it. The aged iPhone 4s (yes I know it’s not that old) completing the line up in a next to useless 8 gig incarnation. This has to be viewed as an admission that the finish on the iPhone 5 was sub-standard and scratch prone.

Cue a second surprise. Elvis Costello. With 20 minutes left my friend and I thought there might have been time for “One more thing” but no, a rather eggy performance by Mr Costello.

IPhone_5C_Azul

So no real consumer game changers, the 5c is a 5 give or take in a new jacket. The 5s has lots of technical advances which are difficult to get a whoop out of for the average Joe. iOS7 should be great, the hardware should run it superbly. But to all those people saying that there is no “Wow” well there won’t be, not for some time. A good Android phone, does what it does, a good iOS device does what it does. If you have a Mac and you brought an Android you are a cretin however. All the tech firms are finding now that consumers want more, but consumers don’t know what they want more of but they will complain if they don’t get it.

Such is life.

In closing. I will be trying to get a new 5c or 5s depending on costings. Mr Schiller please stop mentioning “the other guys” Long live Craig Federighi.

Cupid Stunt : A Window into the Soul

Technology marches on, the pen and paper have largely been replaced by tablet like devices, (smart phones, iPads* Other tablets are available.. somewhere) your Mum is the only person who ever rings on your house phone. The remote control on your TV a sign of late 70’s affluence has been replaced in some cases by a mere flick of a hand. I have yet to find out what happens when anyone is watching Babestation.

The Yellow Pages, a huge tome back when I was a kid, is now a slim volume, a large proportion of which serves as a sign post to web pages and apps. Everyone from men with movers to morticians are online. It’s not a choice or business strategy it’s a customer expectation. If you are not online, you are not anywhere so it seems.

Next though a technological advance that has been superseded way before it’s time, it has been bringing light into our lives ever since Urrgh the caveman noticed a gap in the cave wall that was too small to walk through, but allowed him to look out and watch Urrghina the cavewoman take a swim in the lake. Urrgh didn’t call this gap the “window” Bill Gates did in the 80’s. In-between times the window was known as the “Pain in the Glass” due to the amount of people who walked into one.

Sometime in nineteen hundred and squawk, Mary Hinge invented the opening window, unknowingly harking back to the early experiences of Urrgh and missing out on lucrative retro marketing opportunities. With the Mary Hinge attached to the “Pains” users were able to get a taste of fresh air, or shout at “You..you man there” with relative ease. It also ended the fifty year queues at the McDonalds drive thrus. The last explorers looking for the next available window were found in November 1987.

Disaster for Mary Hinge in the UK in the early 80’s. Betty Swollocks introduced the air conditioner. Originally designed to accompany anti-dandruff shampoo in the nations showers it was pointed out to Betty that air conditioners could indeed regulate the temperature of office buildings and homes of those people with more money than sense.

Businesses all displayed their Betty Swollocks. Mary Hinge’s openings were sealed off, and summer in the 80’s was cancelled. Since then office workers too tight to pay the premium for Betty Swollocks enhancements every year have been cold in the winter, where the cheap Swollocks thermostat broke, and baking like Victorias personal Sandwich in the summer as the Swollocks cooler ceased to function.

In a story where Mary Hinge should have had the last laugh, tragedy was just behind her. Mr Tragedy a long time lover of Mary Hinge flew in a tempestuous rage after Mary had discovered him in bed with a another woman. Ironically Tragedy pushed her out of one of the windows she herself designed and installed in her London penthouse. She fell many flights into the path of a steam roller, and to this day people talk of the spread Mary Hinge in Soho.

Mary’s invention by rights should still be used in office buildings. Prevent Betty Swollocks, say no to Air Con.

Katie H in Window

Mary Hinge and her Invention