Oct 30

132-hansa_hansacanyon_faucet.jpg Found this on digg.com and also on John C. Dvorak’s blog — Hansa in Germany have developed a water faucet that is quite innovative. The top section of the modern-designed tap has been removed to expose the water running out, and LEDs have been placed just before where the water runs out that change colour depending on the temperature of the water.

I find this quite innovative, as most times you can only tell the temperature of the water when you run a finger under it — too hot and you’ve just burned yourself. This is also fantastic if you have kids, children don’t always realise that water that may be hot can burn and scald you quite badly.

Oct 30

132-bravia.jpg Sony’s new Bravia ad for its LCD televisions is being broadcast somewhere in the world (I suspect the United States — not sure if it’s being shown in Australia). It features a quarter of a million bouncy balls being thrown over the apex of a typical San Francisco street, and features slow motion and macro shots. It’s worth the download — there are two versions (low-fi and high-fi in H.264) which goes for 60 seconds and apparently an extended 180-second version is due to come soon.

Take a look at it here: Sony Bravia TV ad

EDIT: Just confirmed that it has indeed been shown on Australian TV.

Oct 30

Hmm… kinda quiet here today. I woke up and realised that it’s Daylight Savings, so adjusted all my clocks 1 hour forward. The PowerBook automagically adjusted overnight, so I didn’t need to bother with that. I decided to check to see if my other RAM slot in my PowerBook has the problem that is well-documented and complained about on the Internet. Finding out that the “precision” screw-drivers that I picked up from some nic-nac shop at Box Hill were no good (the screws for the RAM trap-door were pretty tight and the screwdrivers were flexing under pressure) and not willing to risk scratching the bottom of my PowerBook even more than it has already, I decided to head off to Knox City to get myself a better set of tools.

Not finding a proper screwdriver (on the PB Fixit site it says a #0 screwdriver, but I found that the #00 fit more snugly in the Philips screw heads) at Dick Smith, I had to buy a whole set of other “precision” screwdrivers. These ones had better handles that didn’t wear away at your fingertips, which worked a treat when I got home. Swapping the RAM into the lower memory slot caused my PowerBook to not boot up at all — it made a funny noise and flashed some sort of code on the sleep light that is located on the button on the front that opens the PowerBook’s lid. Moved the memory back to its original slot and it’s working again — I’m not sure if it’s because maybe there has to be a memory card in the upper slot at all times, or that I didn’t put the memory all the way into the slot when I moved it to the lower slot. I guess I won’t be able to figure out until I get another SO-DIMM for the PowerBook, so I’ll wait until then.

Also went to JB-Hifi and bought the new Ministry of Sound 2006 Annual, and also Paul Van Dyk’s The Politics of Dancing 2. I really liked The Politics of Dancing 1 and I hope that this compilation will be as good as the last. I’m ripping all CDs to iTunes as we speak, so there will be much acoustic joy throughout all mediums; via computer, iPod and car.

Hehe, “Herbie goes to Monte Carlo” is on TV. Good to see that someone is still showing those classic movies on TV. He just fell in love with a Lancia.

Oct 29

Safar Cnet has published an article about how Mac users are left out or blocked from applying for jobs online to many American companies. Many sites seem to either just block Safari users out from content, or crash their browser. The American Express job application site even goes to the point of throwing an error message on the screen, saying:

“At this time, the system does not support Mac environments. If you don’t have access to a PC at home or work, please check out a local public library for Internet access, local Internet cafes, or the nearest government Work Force Center.”

You don’t have to be a genius to realise that this is not a good image to portray to any of your customers, or prospective future employees. Which got me thinking, how many times have I had to open up Firefox to view many sites that don’t display correctly or block Safari. This would be somewhat understandable if the website in question was a small one or written by one or two people and don’t have a Mac to test on during their testing phase (if they ever did a testing phase).

But what is disturbing is that American Express, one of the most recognised brands in the world, specifically go out of their way to throw an error message to a select amount of people, basically saying that the company that they bought their bug-riddled web application from, BrassRing, couldn’t be arsed fixing their products so that it’s at least accessible to browsers other than Internet Explorer. Not everyone uses a Wintel.

This problem will only get worse, for both consumers and businesses, as the market share of Macs increase gradually over time. It is nice to see that BrassRing states that it is looking at developing Firefox-compatible web applications, however so many companies have done this before and we still get the same old crap.

I just really hope that stuff like this will be less common in the near future, as IE7 comes out with a more compliant version of its rendering engine.

Oct 25

It seems the rumours were kind of right this time around — Australia finally has the iTunes Music Store. About bloody time.

Not that I am planning on buying anything from iTMS. No, really.

I don’t care that the new Missy Higgins or Spiderbait album is now available to download for $16.99. Or that I can pick and choose my tracks for $1.69 a pop. What I am proud about iTMS opening its doors here in Oz is the fact that, for once in a very, very long time, Australia has had the opportunity to join our fellow brethen in participating in something that everyone is raving on about. Finally, something we can gloat about — “we beat the Dominican Republic in getting iTMS”.

Things I don’t like about the Aussie iTMS:

  • Albums are $16.99. Wait a couple of weeks for that new Tiësto or Regurgitator album to show up at JB-Hifi for 20 bucks. You get a physical thing you can touch (as opposed to AAC/MP3), and you can do whatever you can with it (some of which could be illegal). Tracks at $1.69 is a little steep. Does it really cost that much extra compared to the US or EU, to transmit a file across the internet?
  • Sony the tight-a$$es pulled out because the fat cats in their mahogany-clad board rooms decided that screwing the customer over with over-charging of music wasn’t good enough, and decided not to promote their music on iTMS due to their competitive differences with Apple.
  • No TISM. What???
  • Isn’t Ben Lee’s song Catch my disease, as opposed to Catch my desease? Funny thing is, iTMS has both spellings. Go figure.
  • Gift vouchers are only available at Coles Myer outlets. I can understand the technicalities in this (Apple Australia being a mere reseller of Apple, and not an actual concrete foothold in this country), but it still sucks.
  • Russell Crowe features in iTMS. He blew it last time the rumours of the Australian iTMS were abound, and now they’re rewarding him for ruining the surprise.
  • There were reports (trust me, if I could be bothered giving you URLs, I would) that Telstra were going to ramp up their marketing campaigns to counter-act the introduction of iTMS. You’re a telecommunications company, not a music store. Don’t you have a pair-gain to repair or something?

Things I like about iTMS:

  • It’s finally here
  • Another reason why I shouldn’t get a credit card
  • We got it before New Zealand did (but unfortunately missed it by that much against the UK)

iTMS, welcome aboard.

Oct 25

Girl on a good night out I came across this article on AskMen.com discussing the tell-tale signs that you may pick up if you suspect your girl cheating on you. Having read all these points, it makes perfect sense to me. Anyone out there that suspects that a girl that they are thinking of going out with, a girl that they are currently going out with, or a girl that has broken up with you (or if you had broken up with the girl) and suspect that something is fishy, give the article a read. It can’t be wrong — it was written by a woman.

Oct 24

That's not a Mac, this is a Mac!… while bad guys use Dells. Wired has an interesting article on how TV directors and movie makers portray their “good guys” and “bad guys” on screen — via the computer they use. Apparently if a character is using an Apple they are as holy as angels, while a PC-user on screen is a menacing villain. Not surprising is it?

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Apple PowerBooks have a sleek, metallic finish that is cool to the touch. It may not be the most powerful machine on the market, but everyone loves an underdog, especially one that prevails over the bad guys. It speaks to you in plain, intuitive English (this is my crappy analogy of OSX), and when you ask it to do something, it goes ahead and does it without any questions. A real friend that you can rely on. And anything that is seamlessly compatible with an iPod can only be a good thing.

PC laptops on the other hand, are an excellent choice for the bad guy. Full of power that is wasted away by unnecessary and elaborate functionality (Windows), ancient and legacy features such as VGA connectors, parallel ports and pools of sharks with freakin’ laser beams attached to their heads (some of them settle for the mutated sea-bass – PS/2). Most of them come in black, which we all know is a colour associated with death and evil (compare to the heavenly, angelic and pure white of the iBook). The ones that come in silver or other colours are really wolves in sheep’s clothing — chip the paint and you can see the tell-tale black underneath.

One thing I don’t see a lot is their PCs crashing just before they hit the big red button on their screen that will blow up the world. If only Windows was that reliable.

Oct 23

Steve Jobs discussing the next OSX, codenamed Leopard MacOSXRumors.com have published an article claiming that Leopard will have a new Finder called “Chardonnay” (not sure why they would call it after a wine? Maybe wine = WINE and it will execute Windows Apps? Or am I clutching straws here?), which of course will have tighter integration with Spotlight and all its cool features I use about once a month. One thing that stands out here for me is “totally based on the Spotlight meta-search technology” — I hope I don’t have to type in a search term to find my files all the time, otherwise I’m really screwed.

Hopefully “Chardonnay” won’t have any brushed metal — call me stupid but the new “unified interface” that Mail and iTunes have has really grown on me. I also found “already shows that Leopard will be far more than a cosmetic update” quite funny, I don’t see much of a cosmetic update through OSX revisions (little things here and there have changed, but we still have pills as buttons).

Oct 23

These “hi and welcome to my blog” first posts are always a little awkard…

So… Hi and welcome to my blog!

This whole blogging thing to me is more an experiment than anything. I don’t intend to focus a lot of time, energy and attention to this blog — how true this statement is I’m not quite sure. You see, I’ve just spent the last half hour flicking through the Theme Viewer from the WordPress website and writing down which ones I think are suitable for this blog. Yes George, sure… you’re not spending much attention to this blog at all…

Anyway, I hope you don’t mind introducing myself. My name is George, I live in Melbourne, Australia and I am a web developer/database administrator. I have two jobs, one is full-time and the other is managing a business that a very good friend of mine and myself have started up a few months ago.

The full-time job is pretty good, it’s for a major telecommunications company in Australia, and even though the commute to work and back again is a little long, I am usually happy when I get to work and when I get home. The commute to work and back has gotten easier over time, juggling timetables and calculating times that I must be up by / must leave home by / must be at train station by / etc. You would think that I had gotten used to this since uni days, but let the truth be told that everyone at uni is lazy, and half of the time don’t show up to lectures/tutes… so that wasn’t a good analogy… hmm.

The part-time job is even better. Working with someone else who can share the responsibility with you is so much better than doing it on your own. There is always someone to talk to about the business, who has the same passion and interests in the company — this prevents you from talking about your company to someone else (family, friends, etc) to the point of where their ears start to bleed. It also gives you some creative feedback and perhaps even tangents or different directions on doing things. I’ve learnt a lot in opening up our small business, and things are doing quite well.

aCore Solutions is the business that we had set up, we are skilled in web development, usability and accessibility testing/consulting, and database management. The business has been building strength by strength, and what seemed to be somewhat impossible 3 months ago have become reality already. Blurb taken from our website:

aCore Solutions is a technology consulting firm focusing on the web development and implementation of internet related strategies. aCore Solutions’ services are designed to provide an integrated approach to business strategy with respect to use web technologies. With a strong understanding of business combined with the flexibility of a number of platforms, network technologies and web programming with a very strong understanding of accessibility and usability, aCore Solutions is in a solid position to design and implement comprehensive solutions to meet its client’s needs.

I’ll figure out how to do nice-looking pull-quotes in WordPress some time later.

I am also an Apple nut, I have always admired the good design of Apple hardware and how the marriage is made between it and Apple software. My first Mac was a Performa 5800CD that I had acquired about 5 years ago — it had System 7.6 installed and was an ex-education machine (i.e. used in a school, i.e. has pen marks all over it, i.e. all the Apple symbols were coloured in with blue pen). I upgraded the machine to Mac OS8, added more RAM and a bigger hard drive. It then was promptly shoved into my wardrobe on the floor, where it sat for 4 years before I chucked it out. Apple hardware and software is so much better now. I currently own a 15″ Apple PowerBook (1.67GHz) SuperDrive model. I love it and I use it all the time — the Windows XP machine is sitting here beside me, gathering dust due to lack of being switched on.

Other interests of mine that are non-geeky include watching movies and tinkering with my car. I own a 1995 BMW 525i E34 and love it to death. It’s dark green (Oxfordgrünmetallic in BMW-speak) and had done 180,000km when I bought it. I am very happy with my car, it is my first and I think I have done well. And if you don’t agree with me… post a comment!

That’s all from me for the time being. We’ll see how often I update this blog — who knows, I might actually get hooked on this thing.