20 Jul 2007

origins of alastair

wikipedia has an article on the name "alastair". unfortunately i have not made it into the "famous people with the first name alastair" section!

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27 Jun 2007

moo cards

Personal Moo Cards

i had always wanted to play with those moo mini cards, and i finally caved in. since i don't take many good photos, it was a bit pointless to show off nice photos on the cards. so instead i made a mosaic of all my picture tumblr posts, mosaics of all the album art in my itunes library (using a custom program in EyeTunes) and also a weird mosaic of my home on google and yahoo maps. the maps didn't turn out as well as i hoped, but the mosaics are pretty awesome, imho.

actually, there is a practical use for it. it is my personal "business" card that has my contact details on the other side. just so that i have something to hand out when people hand around business cards.

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27 Jun 2007

i got a nintendo wii

Wii and Samsung TV

after weeks of planning, i managed to snag a nintendo wii from game.co.uk. turns out when i tried to buy it, amazon uk had stopped shipping nintendo wii's directly and forwarding requests to other providers who are in their amazon marketplace (it has resumed shipping them now). game.co.uk had stock and shipped instantly, i got it within two days.

the uk version of the console comes with wii sports, but i also got the wii play + wii remote game only cost a little more than a wii remote. the wii play isn't brilliant, but it is a nice addition. the one in the picture is the pool game you can play with your wii.

one of the bummers is that my flat is too small, so on certain games your wiimote comes precariously close to the screen.

my wii code is : 0639-4822-9124-8655. i don't know what to do with it yet, but it would be fun to see other people's mii parade. we've only made a pair of mii's to play, i don't understand why you would create more unless people visit :)

the web browser is pretty slick, opera powered. you can watch youtube videos on it, watch a flickr slide show, and someone has already made a landing page for playing youtube videos. there are heaps of stuff you could do with making wii specific version of pages to consume content on the net or even on your local machine. think about creating a web app that runs locally on a mac to serve out music from your itunes library and encode them in on the fly. i wonder if someone has already done that.

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20 Jun 2007

opera mini 4 beta doesn't like this site


for some reason, the left column is only half the size of what it should be. what weird rendering engine are they using here? check out other sites with their emulator. i can confirm that the simulator and the real browser does the same thing. (note: digg.com has the same weird bug rendering bug as liquidx.net)

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19 Jun 2007

python 3000 (aka python 3.0) highlights

python is going through a major overhaul for 3.0, long referred to in the mailing lists as py3k. guido van rossum took the time to summarize the new features. this is a backwards compatibility breaking release, so in parallel they will be releasing python 2.6 to introduce all these new features via the much loved from __future import *.

i'm particularly excited about:
  • the full unicode support
  • lambda STAYING
  • new print formatting changes
  • 1/2 returns 0.5
  • better exception syntax: try, except, finally working as expected
  • no more backtick syntax
there are new bits for everyone, for instance optional type decorators for method parameters and return values just so that things like pylint, pychecker could warn you about type conflicts (maybe) and certain "enterprise"-y features from java such as abstract base classes and the extension of metaclasses. i never got my head around metaclasses.

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18 Jun 2007

hackday thoughts

hackday summary

it was great fun. i wish i buckled down to submit a hack, but i spent too much time playing around with sneak-peek apis released by yahoo and bbc (and others -- see below), chatting with people and listening to other interesting conversations. flickr photos of the event here.

we got all sorts of goodies like an impromptu showing of a doctor who episode on the massive projector screen, plus wii and xbox action in the hall. food and drinks included free pizza, free mars bars, free twixs, free walker crisps, free bottled water, free coffee, free tea, free fruit, and up to free three beers! there was even a yahoo branded wifi detector in the swag bag. we even got to bring a hackday bean bag home [photo coming later].

best "gift" of all were the sneak peeks at upcoming APIs from yahoo (such as mybloglog [403 until they release it], mythical yahoo maps v2 api, zonetag, fireeagle), bbc (more music apis, feeds, etc) and other lesser known apis such as the nazbaztagbunny, nestoria, etc.

roughly 7 in 8 people were using macs in the hall. it would of been interesting if a questionairre was circulated to see what OS people were using, what percentage of people participated in submitting a hack, number of bean bags taken away, etc.

presentations with 73 individual laptops running mac, windows, linux was amazingly successful apart from 3-4 hiccups. someone could make some universal vnc presentation software so that screen resolution would not be an issue. no more bloody vga dongles and such.
general trend of hacks

there were 73 hacks (i think), and could be mainly described as:

1. something to do with getting photos from flickr
2. plotting something on a map

of course i'm generalising here, there were some very notable hacks, but i'm too tired to mention them at the moment. i'll save that for another time.

missing hacks

given that there were so many macs, no one did a cocoa hack (quartz composer doesn't count). and there were disappointingly little mobile phone hacks too (the grand prize winner was a mobile phone syncing hack) . i think if someone had some mobile phone hackery up their sleeve, they could really do something amazing.

for next year's hack day (if there will be one)

  1. must have some template code (possibly 2 or 3 types) before going in.
  2. prepare for internet outages and thunderstorms
  3. prepare for new apis that will suck up all your time playing with it.
  4. bring mobile charger
  5. bring own access point + router + proxy
  6. don't rely on bluetooth, wifi working. (bluetooth scan revealed 40+ devices, impossible to pair with your own)
  7. remember to bring external display dongle
many thanks to yahoo (tom coates & co) and bbc (matt cashmore & co) for making everything run smoothly despite the hand of god menacing the proceedings.

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13 Jun 2007

unlimited means something different

a continuation with my annoyance with anyone claiming "unlimited" but has a policy that clearly "limits" the user, the register reports that orange has been told by advertising watchdog in uk that it shouldn't advertise it's service as unlimited with in fact it is limited to 40GB. however, this is only broadband, not mobile broadband.

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12 Jun 2007

hackday london 2007

i'm going to hackday london 2007 this weekend. i don't know if i'll survive the whole 24 hours coding thing, but it sounds like it'll be loads of fun.

Hack Day: London, June 16/17 2007

i have a couple of random ideas, but nothing really impressive so far. might brush up on some nintendo ds hack-fu some time this week for something more unique than another web-mashup. although, no one ever got fired for doing a web mashup :)

if you are going as well, drop me a line so maybe i can seek you out and work together or just hang out.

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11 Jun 2007

thoughts on leopard (+iphone)

another wwdc keynote has come and gone. i haven't read the general reaction from the "community", but what i've read from engadget sounds like a pretty good keynote. i wasn't expecting much since there is supposed to be only a couple of "top secret" features left that was going to be announced.

i love the new finder -- love the "touched today and touched yesterday" shortcuts, love the new coverflow view, love quicklook.
i love the new itunes-variant of the unified look.
i love the new time machine (i'll probably get an airport base station and plug my lacie as soon as leopard comes out.)
i love the new smart address, dates and phone number detection in apple mail.
i love the new spaces (virtual desktop) (still not better than beryl on linux)
i love the new 64 bit os (so geeky)
i love the new web clips (pandering to the widget authoring side of myself)
i love the new dock.
i love the iphone safari engine as an SDK (stop whining, it is better than writing java!)
i love the new dvd player.
i love the new "find inline" feature in safari (yes, firefox had it years ago)
i love the new xray and xcode developer tools. (dtrace on osx!)
i love core-animation. it's like prototype.js for cocoa. haha, just kidding.

i feel indifferent to boot camp (parallels is so much more useful)
i feel indifferent to stacks.
i feel indifferent to mail templates.
i feel indifferent to safari on windows (why? there must be some secret reason for this.)
i feel indifferent to $129 for leopard, i'm going to buy it just like i did for tiger.
i feel indifferent to dashcode.

i don't like the new frontrow - i like the old front row theme better, or even centerstage!
i don't like safari 3 with css rendered controls like buttons and text fields (but i'll get over it.)
i don't like the rss feeds in mail, but i expect some do.

i expected .mac to be set "free" and partner with google, didn't happen.
i expected ilife 07, didn't happen.
i expected more dashboard innovations, like multiple dashboards, didn't happen (and great for apple for sticking to simplicity!)
i expected ZFS, after the leak from SUN. but that didn't happen.

all in all, seems like a net-win for me. woohoo, now i have to wait till october.

and btw, i love the new apple.com theme, and their gratuitous use of the lightbox effect.

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10 Jun 2007

site refresh

a somewhat long overdue refresh had been sitting on my hard drive for the last month or so. i finally spent some time to get it all working on my blog.

here's the original site:


here's the new site:


the sidebar makes a re-appearence, but only on the front page. the individual blog post pages are still sidebar free. i made some tweaks to the commenting system and the site search. i know that the page is broken for IE7 users, but i really haven't figured out why since it works fine on safari and firefox.

[update: turns out the problem in IE7 is because the page was missing the DOCTYPE declaration and hence IE7 was using quirks mode rather than standards mode to render the page. more information on quirksmode.org]

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