2006's predictions

At the start of the year, I made a few predictions for 2006:

Crazy Frog crazyness will cease.
Well, this has kinda happened. I mean the ringtone isn’t on TV all the time and nobody has it as their ringtone anymore. He released a single this Christmas and it went nowhere…

Less "AJAX"/"Web 2.0" hype as most people realize that most "Web 2.0" products aren’t really that great.
Hasn’t really happened. The Web 2.0 bubble still seems to be going strong.

People will begin finding more useful uses of XmlHttpRequest and related rich internet application technologies.
A lot of the stupidity has disappeared and people are now using XmlHttpRequest for some great things.

Internet Explorer 7 gets released to reviews of "a big improvement but not doesn’t match Firefox". Firefox continues growing. Opera will probably gain some marketing share too.
IE7 has been released but most critics still prefer Firefox. Opera has gained some market share on mobiles and the Wii and has launched a marketing campaign for the PC browser.

Freeview continues to get better. Five are planning a multi channel launch with Five.2 (general entertainment) and Five.3 (movies) whilst ITV plan to launch a kids channel. More great TV shows and if I had my way, X Factor would be cancelled. However, I doubt it’s likely.
X Factor is still around. Freeview has got a bit better over the last year.

Sunny Boy starts blogging more and stops getting Mozilla Corporation and Foundation confused in Links.
Kinda true…

Nothing much has happened on the microformat front. 2007 could be a big year for microformats though as there is talk of integrating it into Firefox.

No one can be bothered to upgrade to PHP 5 because there is nothing new which is particularly useful. Talk of PHP 6 also slows down PHP 5 adoption.
PHP 5 hasn’t seen mass adoption by the market. Haven’t heard too much talk about PHP 6.

More people stop waiting for XHTML 2 and go back to HTML 5 (or use the corresponding XHTML-ized version, XHTML 5.0).
Nobody cares about XHTML 2 anymore.

Blogs get even more popular.
Blogs still growing.

RSS becomes more mainstream with it’s introduction into Vista. Attempts at adding adverts to RSS will fail.
RSS has been adopted in all the major browsers now. RSS advertising hasn’t taken off. Vista still isn’t out of the door…

More crazy weather.
We had some stupidly hot weather over the summer.

Apple are going to continue charging crazy money and their products are going to become more popular.

Intel revival.
Intel is no longer seen as if they are following AMD’s lead. Core Processors are great.

Google keeps on adding new features and becomes more like Yahoo! doing everything from music to video.
They do cinema reviews, maps, word processing and finance.

The island of Samoa adopts PageRank as it’s national currency.
Hasn’t happened… not yet.

Bible Codes: World Ends 2006

Ryan reminded me of the prediction in the bible code that the world would end in 2006. According to Wikipedia:

Bible codes, also known as Torah codes, are words, phrases and clusters of words and phrases that some people believe are meaningful and exist intentionally in coded form in the text of the Bible. These codes were made famous by the book The Bible Code, which claims that these codes can predict the future.

Fans of the bible code claim to have shown how the bible code has predicted past events such as the assassination of JFK.

So if we believe these bible codes, the world is going to end in the next few days. Michael Drosnin is the journalist who has probably publicised bible codes the most and is one of it’s biggest supporters. He wrote the series of books on the Bible Code in which he claimed the Bible was written by aliens from space.

The best bit?

The third book in the series is to be released in 2007, called The Bible Code III: The Quest. The Bible Code makes numerous predictions and post-diction, such as the coming of the apocalypse in 2006

From Wikipedia (my emphasis) 

Merry Christmas!

I love Christmas. It’s a time for meeting up with friends, family and giving. This Christmas I hope to meet up with several friends and family members who I haven’t seen in quite a while and I’m really looking forward to it. White Christmases are really nice too, but I doubt we’ll be blessed with that luck this year.

I’m going to take a bit of a break from the internet and blogging over Christmas.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! All the best for a happy and prosperous 2007!

Why Blog?

I’ve been asked by several friends recently questions along the lines of "Why should I write a blog?" and "How do you motivate yourself to blog?"

And it’s true; a lot of people lose motivation. There is a lot of "blogrot" in the blogging community. An article on BBC News last week said:

The blogging phenomenon is set to peak in 2007, according to technology predictions by analysts Gartner.

The analysts said that during the middle of next year the number of blogs will level out at about 100 million.

The firm has said that 200 million people have already stopped writing their blogs.

I’ve certainly been through quite a few blogs. Generally I’ve tried to keep a technology/computing blog running as well as a personal one which I write for friends and family. Cow’s Blog has been doing pretty well. It’s been running since April 2004 (running for 32 months).

Cow’s Blog has generally been updated about twice a day, although this has fluctuated. More recently this has gone down to around three or four posts a week due to other commitments, high workload and part of it is to do with the fact I haven’t written a line of HTML or PHP in quite a while…

So why blog?

Everybody has different motivations for blogging. These could range from writing for fun, writing for practice, just wanting to keep in contact with friends&family or blogging to make money. For me, it’s for the fun of writing, sharing opinions and hearing those of others. Before blogging I used to post quite a lot on forums and blogging has essentially replaced that. The posting frequency of this blog has gone down a little recently but it’s been supplemented by the other blogs I maintain.

The main reason why people stop blogging is because they don’t enjoy it. It’s possible that it was never fun in the first place, or you can lose interest because not many people seem to be reading or commenting on your writings. Another reason could be because the time it takes to maintain the blog has risen – for example if you get a lot of spam comments.

I thoroughly enjoy blogging and writing and I encourage others to give it a go. You might lose interest after a while or "run out" of things to write about, but I still think it’s a thoroughly worthwhile thing to do.

Does anybody have any tips on how to make blogging seem less tedious? Or perhaps you’ve learnt or done some amazing things from your blog? Are there ways for us to be able to encourage our friends to blog and combat blogrot?

Online Shopping at Christmas

This year, I decided to do all my shopping for gifts online. Why? It’s cheaper, faster and easier. Or so I thought. 

I’ve regularly purchased things online from Amazon and Ebay and it’s never been problematic. It’s arrived on time, if not early. Unfortunately around Christmas time, this all changes. One of my friends had an order for a camera arrive about a week after it was scheduled to arrive.

Perhaps that should have set off all the warning signs. The stuff I’ve ordered from Amazon was supposed to arrive several days ago and right now I’m not sure where it is. I know that several of my friends also share this problem. 

Part of the problem was my own; I left it very late to order. But Amazon promised me a delivery date which it hasn’t managed to keep. I’m hoping that it comes in soon or I’m gonna have to give gifts in January or have to pop down to the shops to physically buy replacement gifts.

This Joy of Tech comic sums it up. Let down by online shopping or shipping?

Next year: Order Christmas gifts in October or physically purchase them from the shops.

RedTen: Broadband and PC for 20 a month

UK readers may find Red Ten Internet interesting. For £20 a month, you get 8mbps broadband and a free PC worth £500. The catch is that you’ll have to sign up for 3 years, but after the 3 years the PC is yours to keep. According to the Red Ten site, the PC has the following specifications:

– Intel Pentium 4 3GHz processor with
  Hyper Threading Technology
– 512MB DDR2 Fast Ram
– 160GB Ultra-IDE 7200RPM hard disk drive
– All-format LG DVD-RW rewriter
– LG keyboard and optical mouse
– Microsoft Media Center 2005 operating system
– Free upgrade to Microsoft Windows Vista

Unlimited 8mbps BT (not unbundled) broadband for £20 a month on it’s own is pretty decent. With ISPs like BT which will charge more you’ll often get tied into a 12 month or 18 month contract. At £20 a month for 36 months, the total cost of this package for 3 years works out as £720. With installation at £50 it works out as £770. Taking away the cost of the PC at £500, the cost of the broadband is £270.

I can’t find an entry for Red Ten on Think Broadband so I’m not sure how reliable it really is. They are however owned by Watford Electronics which also run Savastore.

Since I’ve already got a computer which I’m happy with, Red Ten won’t be aimed at an audience such as myself. However, it is a great low-cost way for a lot of people to get onto the internet.  

The Cost of Memory

I got a little bit of a shock whilst browsing Amazon earlier.

You can now get a Viking 512MB Secure Digital memory card for £2.99. Brand seems pretty decent and SD memory is now more or less standard for use in cameras, mobile phones and I’m told the Nintendo Wii uses SD memory.

This was quite a shock; when I bought SD memory for my camera earlier this year it cost about £8 plus P&P for 512MB. I ran out of memory on holiday and looking around the department stores, the SD cards there cost about £25 for 512MB. 

SD memory is now cheaper than film, even if disposed. On a 512MB memory card at insanely high resolution and filesize (say 6MB per image), you could fit 85 photos. It’d cost about £9 for the same amount of pictures with traditional film (around £3 per 28 photo film) 

A few years ago a 64MB Memory Stick Duo for my mobile set me back £45. My camera came with a 8MB memory stick and buying 4 64MB memory sticks in order to get a decent number of photos cost quite a bit. A 512MB Memory Stick Duo today costs £7.72 through Amazon Marketplace and £17 through Amazon.

A 1GB USB memory stick costs a tenner. Since I’ve been stuck with my 512MB USB drive for a while and often been annoyed at how a CDs worth of data couldn’t fit onto it this could be a worthwhile investment. This is a far cry from the cost of even a 128MB memory stick few years ago. 128MB USB drives seem to have become the standard freebie from every company now.

A rough comparison of memory costs from a search on Amazon: 

  • Hard Drive: £0.18 per GB
  • CD-R: £0.28 per GB
  • Blu Ray Rewritable: £0.55 per GB
  • CD-RW: £1.90 per GB
  • SD Card: £6 per GB
  • USB Drive: £10 per GB
  • Sony Memory Stick: £15 per GB

Seeing as an SD card for my camera now costs less than my lunch, I don’t think I’ve ever got another excuse for running out of pictures on holiday.

Ajaxian – Blog of the Week

Ajaxian is a wonderful blog for web developers mainly focusing on new technologies which often come under the banner of "Ajax" or "Web 2.0". It’s updated with several entries daily focusing on cool javascripts which you can use on your webpage, interesting implementations of "Ajax" technologies across the web and news relevant to the industry (browsers, toolkits, etc.)

It really is a must-read for the web developer who wants to keep up to date with developments, innovations and new trends in the web development/javascript field.

Check out Planet Ajaxian for an aggregated feed of related blogs. 


New Star Trek Series In Works

TrekMovie.com has information from long-time Trek producer David Rossi about plans for a new Star Trek series set in the 26th century. The new series will be animated (like The Animated Series continuation of TOS) and CBS have given the go ahead for test artwork and scripts for 5 mini episodes to be developed.

The series will probably be broadcast online on the Star Trek website; a first for the franchise. With the success of sites such as YouTube, this is the natural next step forward in television broadcasting and it’s not too surprising. As well as that, it may also be shown on TV and DVD.

The series will be set 150 years after Picard and Star Trek: Nemesis.

The setting is the year 2528 and the Federation is a different place after suffering through a devastating war with the Romulans 60 years earlier. The war was sparked off after a surprise attack of dozens of ‘Omega particle’ detonations throughout the Federation creating vast areas which become impassible to warp travel and essentially cut off almost half the Federation from the rest. During the war the Klingon homeworld was occupied by the Romulans, all of Andoria was destroyed and the Vulcans, who were negotiating reunification with the Romulans, pulled out of the Federation. The setting may seem bleak and not very Trek-like, but that is where the show’s hero Captain Alexander Chase comes in. Relegated to border patrol, Chase is determined to bring the Federation (and a ship called Enterprise) back to the glory days of seeking out new life and new civilizations.

There are some really interesting twists – for example the chief engineer of the ship “Mr. Zero” needs to wear an environmental suit to survive on the ship. There will also be a security team with some Borg technology.

The TrekMovie report contains more details and some artwork from the series in works.

The project is currently believed to be in a holding pattern until the release of the 11th Star Trek film in 2008.

I think opinion amongst Trek fans is going to be divided. In some ways, I still feel Enterprise should get another 3 seasons and to be finished off. An animated series would be interesting but should it be considered part of the Star Trek canon? Or perhaps this is a last desperate attempt to revive Star Trek?

Thoughts on MySpace

MySpace is the world’s sixth most popular website. A lot of people love it, and a lot of people hate it. It’s been controversial and it’s been in the news on numerous occasions. A lot of teenagers and a growning number of adults are now on MySpace.

I was never a fan of MySpace. A lot of the pages are very badly designed, it’s slow, confusing and hard to navigate. It also seems so utterly pointless in many ways; MSN Messenger and e-mail provide a much better way of communicating. 

MySpace comments for example – they seem to be used for conversations. If you read somebody’s MySpace, you’ll often find one side of a conversation. Most of the time it’s about utterly random stuff and you wonder why they didn’t just use e-mail.

And as soon as you load a page, you’ll often get music coming out of your speakers at full blast. And there’s the desperate struggle to mute the speakers or find the pause button. (Luckily MySpace is slow enough that you can actually locate the music player, wait for the song to load and pause it before it begins).

It’s also so hard to navigate. The "Home" link seems to go two totally different places. And there are spelling errors across the site – notably "excercise(sp) caution when posting personally identifiable information". 

It doesn’t even work a lot of the time. I get server errors and right now just got "Server is too busy". 

But despite all these issues, MySpace still manages to be so utterly addictive. Why is this? Perhaps it’s the fact that you can spend ages decorating up your MySpace – adding cool images, videos and bits of CSS to try and get your friends to say "Wow".

MySpace Music is also pretty awesome. You can type in the name of almost any band and listen to 4 of their songs. If you friend a band, you’ll get a steady stream of friend requests from similar bands who’ll add you to try and get a bit of publicity. It’s a really nice way to discover new music.

The groups are also kinda cool. It’s essentially a big forum which you can start yourself and there are no moderators or imposed rules. You can keep in touch with people you met or share interests with.

What do people think of MySpace?