Wednesday, 16 December 2009

As a manager should you ensure that a new employee has all the equipment on his desk that he needs to do his job. I.E. phone and pc ?
For ; makes a good first impression. Jump starts productivity.
Against : Gets new employee to traverse and become familier with company internal support systems. & Missleads new emp that he has joined an efficient organisation.

Monday, 30 November 2009

TV evolves - the next moves

It's all change in the world of TV. The move to digital broadcasts has indeed been the catalyst for further changes and mutiple alternative delivery channels ( well over the internet ).

Having been one of the hard done by 2002 vintage Tivo fans in the UK who watched the USA incarnation move onward with features and functionality I have longed for some PVR catch up time. Well it's all happening now.

Having pioneered public free internet delivery of catch up missed TV on the Player service. The BBC is now making this great utility available on multiple platforms. The trailblazing video on demand catch-up service BBC iPlayer service moves out to Playstaion, Wii and soon Freesat HD.

Media centre software is a popular developer flavor, with Mac+FrontRow, Xbox+XBMC, PC + Media Centre as well as multi platform Plex all fighting for sofa based eye balls. Just having a player with codecs just doesn't cut it any more. The brilliance of the iPlayer is to brand the delivery player and not just the content. Where ever iPlayer turns up that's a dime to the BBC.

Tivo comes back to the UK as the set top box for Virgin Media. It is possible for a product to be launched both before and after the market window that Sky+ has saturated ? This may be a play for Virgin to break out of it's cabled getto. Get a great box out there and people will buy it for the service not just the wire it comes down.

The outsiders are Fetch TV service offers more than just iPlayer incorporating true video movies on demand into a set side box and UK Telco giant BT Vision TV on demand offering.

With PCs and Macs with humble USB sticks reaching for the airwaves along with YouTube going premium there is, as always, more TV than hours in the day.


Sunday, 25 October 2009

Warning the lair of "Stavros Cujo" is here.

This is a bad dog. I was on a bike trip near Athens and crawled up the hill to visit the "best cave in the balkans" at Σπηλια Κουτουκι Spilia Koutouki - Koutouki Cave - Cave Koutouki A cool and dreamy place cut deep into the limestone rocks with impressive features and formations. After the sub-terrainaian break I headed down the near by track for some down hill mountain bike fun. As I approached the junction above I was set on by two dogs who, snarling and barking went for me big time. "Stavros Cujo", above got his teeth on my shorts and ripped them, just grazing my leg, while his mate went for my feet. Luckily the shorts I had on where baggy and not the usual cycling lycra and I was moving at speed outpacing them after a scary 30 meters. Stopping to take the photos and wash the graze, I went on somewhat shaken.

Now I like dogs including Rotties and Dobes but I have never been so shaken up as having these two try and get my ass. Later research revealed that according to PubMed "During the decades 1961-1970, 1971-1980 [Rabies in Greece] cases were reduced to 3009 and 242, respectively, while no more cases in man occurred since 1970. Vaccination campaigns of dogs, besides the low prevalence of rabies among wild animals, resulted in its eradication from the country."

Now that was a bit of a relief.


Saturday, 26 September 2009

Sainsbury's Direct Saver "Improvements"

Just had a letter from Sainsbury's Direct Saver dated September 2009, that starts with the hopeful “We are making improvements to your Sainsbury savings account...” The letter details various pending system changes including a new phone number and address and requirement to change password.

I also note on page 24 of the 25 page booklet that one of the “Improvments” is to reduce the interest rates from aprox 0.4 % down to to 0.1 % for all balances. I am not sure what kind of Improvement that is.

The cheerful letter ends with "we hope you enjoy the improvements to our service."

Another slippery financial institution exposed.


Tuesday, 15 September 2009

American Express Spam - Anatomy of perverse marketing

American Express Spam and yet they pretend not to.

I had this email ...

From: American Express
Date: 15 September 2009 07:32:08 BST
To: xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: A recommendation from your friend

Advert pushing credit cards and BA Miles with links directly back to AMEX servers for the images and links
... snip

Using links to images with URL tracking like
href="$NQN.AQB6Dpx0/amex4?MGM_URN=AAAAEgwfEhMeAg==" target="_blank" img name="bacc_mgmee_r3_c4"

Some headers:
Delivery-date: Tue, 15 Sep 2009 07:32:13 +0100
Received: from ([])
by with esmtp (Exim 4.69)
(envelope-from )
id 1MnRaG-000DGI-To
for; Tue, 15 Sep 2009 07:32:13 +0100
-Trace: 1261959694/$ACCEPTED/UNKNOWNLIST/
X-SBRS: 4.5

The email address that this spam was sent to is technical posting address and has no personal correspondence. This was not a referral this is just mailing list spam.

The domain name is freshly registered "Registered on: 06-Sep-2009" there is no web site or referral business there.
Notes as well that this "Registrant type: UK Individual" just so happens to have a PoBox address.

To put a cherry on top you can see using Google that Amex have paid for adverts to be served when you search for the return address.

Another deceiving financial Institution.


Thursday, 3 September 2009

Wot more money for ipod touch software update ?

I just bought a brand new Ipod touch. It cost a lot of money - but is shinny+lovely.

Now when I plug it in iTunes want another £7 to update software to Version 3. This is is not fair because
* I bought the latest and did not get the latest incarnation of the iPod Touch.
* You are not warned when buying the Ipod that you may have to pay for upgrade right away.
* Apple runs the "up to date" program for Mac buyers when this happen on computers ie comes with Leopard but Snow Leopard has been released.
* This is like the dismal ( batteries not included ) sticker on a new toy.
* This would be easy to fix. Register an ipod Touch from serial number x onwards and get a iTunes voucher for cost of upgrade. This would also hook people in to iTunes store that is the partial aim of upgrade.

Go on Apple do the right thing, don't annoy folks that just spent 200+GBP plus on a toy by nickel+dime for a software update.


Monday, 31 August 2009

d3o the new Velcro

Just one in a while an invention comes along that just changes the rules. This is it, "3do" is a shock impact absorbing goo that modifies it'w own structure on impact. Soft and bendable most of the time but locks rigid under impact. This will change clothing in key ways just like "Velco" fastener did in the past.

Lets hope that this product of long hard work brings rewards to the inventor Richard Palmer as well as the exploiters. An example use is for Ipod protection with this goo can be see on Tech21 website.


Thursday, 20 August 2009

Advice about data corruption events

Detection – The following items should be seen as warning signs of possible data corruption
• Unexpected exits from normally stable work jobs; any process or database abnormalities should be cause for concern.
• Failure of routine process that scan or search data volumes and file systems ( e.g.: Fsck, backups, catalog processes )
• Hardware I/O errors regardless of whether they are recoverable or not. Especially San, i/o paths and memory

Awareness – these activities are seen as high risk activities for any storage environments
• Frequent reconfiguration or replacement of storage objects.
• Microcode/firmware upgrades ( HBA, switch, array )
• San, Switch and Storage reconfigurations.

Prevention – These activities can help early detection of corruption problems
• Perform test restores of backups, check restored data integrity is sane.
• Scheduled execution of file system metadata and database integrity checks.
• Have spare reliable, tested storage available for immediate deployment, for use in a crisis.
• Maintain records of all i/o path and system device configurations, ( e.g. San, network diagrams and configuration detail)

Investigation – Review these points in the event of a data corruption investigation.
• Retain all log files. Do not let normal daily roll over wipe the evidence (e.g. syslog, alert log, engine log, san switch logs)
• Facilitate early engagement between vendors of all interconnect components.
• Retain or capture copies of corrupted storage objects, the content, size and location of corruption will be used to form theories during investigations.
• Be proactive around scanning the wider estate for similar issues.

The above is very general high level advice. If you wish to obtain specific implementation advice on a per-platform, per-process, per-product or target environment basis please contact your technical support provider.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

My Mac G4 moves data at 3,335,443.25 T.Byte a second

My Mac G4 can move huge a amounts of data in a flash. It says so right here in the activity monitor .. Wow, no faking no photo shop honest that what it says.


Thursday, 30 July 2009

Understanding 3d in 5 dimensions

A good way to understand 3D and animation is to look at a scene using the following five aspects. Understand how these work in any animation and the construction picture becomes clear.

Shape - What is the outline when viewed from all angles, how does the shape change over time ?
Size - What is the object size in relation to the environment and other shapes in the scene ?
Surface - What is on the surface and how does it handle the light ? Does the surface bend curve, grow stretch ?
Steps - Animation is movement. How does the movement break into steps ?
Space - What's in the the space around the object and how does it interact with its space ? What happens when the space around the object changes ?

Look at an animation or 3d scene using the definitions above. Study each aspect and separately and together and soon you will have insight.

Try it ...


Wednesday, 15 July 2009

What's broken with 118800 ?

I had an scare raising email about the new 118800 mobile directory service and problems that might arise. It was incorrect in a number of ways but lets start with this anyway ...


You may already have heard about this but early next week {11 July 2009} all UK mobiles will be on a directory which will mean that anyone will be able to access the numbers. { This is not what the service does } It’s easy to unsubscribe but it must be done before the beginning of next week to make sure that you are ex directory. You may want to suggest it to all your friends and family who have UK mobiles or they could be swamped by unsolicited messages and calls. Removal is recommended by the BBC.

How to remove your mobile number from the directory

To unsubscribe, you can either click on the ex directory button on the their web homepage , or you can text the letter 'E' to 118800 from the mobile phone you want to be made ex-directory. 118800 will send you an SMS message confirming you've been taken off. "

Going to the src we see on the service FAQ that might be lies but lets see.

"Will I get sales calls via 118 800?
We do not sell or pass data to any commercial organisations. So we think it’s unlikely you will receive many sales calls via our service. But we will monitor call patterns for any suspicious activity, investigate complaints thoroughly and de-list anyone we feel is abusing the service.
When someone is searching for me on, can they see any information about me?
No. All searches on are via our secure application that doesn’t show mobile numbers or names and addresses of individuals. Neither do we give prompts that could disclose personal information. We simply say whether we’ve found the individual and, if we have, we forward the enquirer's contact details. "

I would say that most unsolicited sales calls are made via random number diallers, some times from abroad, that will not be altered by either a new directory service or the TPS. A more likely problem with this service is when the directory information is insufficient information for the service to identify a person. I would not like to be the first “Jack Smith” or “Thomas Jones” listed for London.


Sunday, 5 April 2009

The first shall be last and the last shall be first ( in Excel )

I had a need in Excel to swap the words round in a field. The was for address book processing where I wanted to change a "Last,First" name into a "First Last" combination. The address book has been exported Both names were in the same column and the output was needed in another column.

The second column is a formula like this from cell B1.

=REPLACE(A1,FIND(",",A1),100,"" ) & " " & REPLACE(A1,1,FIND(",",A1),"")

Three are three parts to this formula each separated by &.
The first part takes the characters from cell A1 from the comma for the next 100 characters "First"
The second part is a Space character " ".
The third part takes the characters from cell A1 from the first character up the comma. "Last"
The result showing in cell B1 is the parts joined up, the action of the & between the parts. "First Last"

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Uk Tivo Compared against a Humax Foxsat PVR

I used to have a Uk Series 1 Thompson built Tivo with Sky subscription and now I have a Humax Freedsat-HDR.

Lets compare some features.....



The series 1 Tivo developed over the years since its release in 2001; the vibrant user community and speciality dealers helped modify the box with new hard drives up from twin drive 40GB to single 320GB, Ethernet, Cache card for faster EPG searching, Web browsing, Mode 0, remote access etc, all helped keep interest alive.

The Humax is a great box and wins on its HD capability and ease access via USB port and slim light form factor. The Humax could still learn a trick or two from the highly evolved Tivo. The most pressing areas for improvement for the Foxsat is the way the menus are accessed, a single menu access point and ability to play, delete, rename and examine from the same list of files are desperately needed. Tivo also has a single menu access and far, far better search the EPG functionality. The Freestat service needs more channels of course but pound for pound for me the Humax is now the way forward.


Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Credit crunch alternatives

Cash is tight the economy is in the crapper so everyone is looking to save some cash. Lets look at some econo versions of popular ways to spend money.

TV tax. In the Uk your paying GBP 156 per year just to have a TV set and with that comes all the BBC channels and radio for free. So why pay another GBP 50 every month to get an advert laden set of repeats and dodgy US sitcoms ? Go for Freesat or Freeview and pay nothing more. Theres is HD for the big panel ( before the bailiff takes it ), and nothing more to pay. At GBP 50 a month savings will pay of that TV by next Xmas.

Good looking Fish. Just how much does that tank of fishes cost every day. There is the heat, the pump and the chems for the water tests. They needs replacing when they croak, and don't say that doesn't happen way more than you wished. All those medicine, special foods and plants will empty the bank. Get some gold fish they will use the same infrastructure but don't need heating in the house and will get by on a changed bucket of tap water ( with just a drip or two of tapesafe) now and again. They are colorful, active an just once in a while line up like chorus girls.

Great Malt A good quality dram and be froun from GBP 25 to GBP 2500 but these days cheaper sippings are in order. For just about GBP 16 there is a range of singles ( Speyside, Isley, Highland ) that can be bought from Morrsions supermarket. Believe me after a couple only the snobs can tell the difference, and a blind tasting will fool them most times..

Pension pot Dont' keep those insurance cats fat when the house is on the line. A paid for shack will keep you warmer in old age than any amount of paper junk bonds.

Cheep media entertainment The council Library, the library of friends and ebay will have better offers than Amazon. A books lasts longer too.

Keep trim out there.