Apple UK 'Get a Mac' Adverts

Shame on you Apple. Shame on you.

The “I’m a PC, I’m a Mac” campaign has been localized for the UK. Whereas the American edition features the legendary John Hodgeman as PC and the rather annoying Justin Long as Mac, the British version features Mitchell and Webb.

As a long time fan and dedicated follower of the US campaign, I do much prefer the American version. Anyone have any views?

Mac Spoofs

If you love the campaign, you’ll also love the spoofs and parodies (see links down left). I love the iBox spoof.

Sony Vaio’s take on the advert is great too…

Downloadable Coffee

The Coffee Replacement MP3 file is a sound file which claims to "keep you in an energizing state giving you a ‘caffeine’ energetic boost". There is an explanation to how it works; and it does sound pretty new age to me. I’m not sure if there is actually any scientific proof of how it works. According to the website:

When the brain is given a stimulus, through the ears, eyes or other senses, it emits an electrical charge in response, called a Cortical Evoked Response. These electrical responses travel throughout the brain to become what you "see and hear". This activity can be measured using sensitive electrodes attached to the scalp.

When the brain is presented with a rhythmic stimulus, such as a drum beat for example, the rhythm is reproduced in the brain in the form of these electrical impulses. If the rhythm becomes fast and consistent enough, it can start to resemble the natural internal rhythms of the brain, called brainwaves. When this happens, the brain responds by synchronizing its own electric cycles to the same rhythm.

See the theory page

Brainwave Generator

You can make your own brainwave sounds using the BrainWave Generator. It comes with built in brainwaves such as creativity increase, meditation, headache control and sleep induction.

If you want, you can also generate your own brainwaves – you can add things such as background sounds (I used the Yes No Yes sound from Even Stephens) and customize all kinds of parameters such as frequency and type of wave.

Brainwave Generator 

From the programme, you can then export your brainwaves as a WAV file. The website does make some pretty silly claims such as that it can help you quit smoking or drinking. I’m certainly not a big believer in solutions such as this but, regardless, it’s a bit of fun.

Disclaimer from Website

The following people should not use brain entrainment:

  • People subject to any forms of seizures or epilepsy
  • People using pacemakers
  • People suffering from cardiac arrhythmia or other heart disorders
  • People taking stimulants, psychoactive drugs, or tranquilizers

Take note…

Via Download Squad.

Bush and Clinton

BBC News reports that Hillary Clinton is due to stand for US presidency in 2008. If she succeeds in the presidency race, she will become the first female president of the US.

This is what she said:

"The stakes will be high when America chooses a new president in 2008

"Only a new president can regain America’s position as a respected leader in the world.

"This is a big election with some very big questions. How do we bring the war in Iraq to the right end?" she asked, in addition to mentioning several domestic issues, including health care, the environment and "energy independence".

She is of course the wife of the 42nd president, Bill Clinton. If she does succeed in the race, the list of presidents would go a little bit like this…

41. 1989-1993 George H. W. Bush

42. 1993-2001 Bill Clinton

43. 2001-2009 George W. Bush

44. 2009- Hillary Clinton

Most interestingly George’s smaller brother Jeb Bush, currently governor of Florida, has said that he won’t run for president in 2008. However, he could run in 2012. George has said Jeb would make a great president. Senior Bush wants Jeb to run. Washington Post:

In May 2005, King asked the senior Bush if he wanted Jeb Bush to run for president.

"Someday I would, yes," George H.W. Bush said.

"Is the timing wrong now, though?" King asked.

"Yes. The timing’s wrong," Bush said. "The main thing is, he doesn’t want to do it. Nobody believes that, but . . ."

If Jeb does indeed run in 2012 (or even 2016 if Hillary gets two terms), five presidents in a row would have run in the Bush and Clinton families. Potentially, the Bush-Clinton families could be in power for 36 successive years.

Just a thought. 

Recording sound output in Windows

I can’t believe I didn’t find out about this trick until today. It would have prevented the need for all these hacks and placing the microphone next to the speakers to record sounds.

Download Squad:

If you’ve ever tried to record streaming audio in Windows, like a Skype call or a webcast, you may be aware of a simple setting that allows you to record any sound playing through your computer’s sound card. All you have to do is:

  1. Select your sound properties through the control panel or the sound icon in your system tray.
  2. Click on the properties tab.
  3. Check the recording box.
  4. Make sure Wave Out Mix is selected (It’s sometimes called stereo mix, or mono mix).
  5. Now you should be able to set Wave Out as your default for recordings made by Audacity or other audio recording programs.

This is a fantastic and dead easy way to make short sound clips from Youtube or DVD videos, or maybe you want to broadcast music to a friend over MSN Messenger or Skype. Or Google for some soundboards and randomly insert clips of Tom Cruise or Darth Vader breathing in the middle of one of your phone calls.

The possibilities are endless. 

I can’t imagine what would happen if both of you were using this trick though… I take no responsibility if your speakers end up on the other end of the room. 

Procrastination

I’m sure it happens to all of us… We sit down to do something but we easily get distracted. We can blame modern technology – mobile phones, the internet, MySpace…

Science Daily reports about a study which found the formula for procrastination. Of course, it only took him ten years to work it out.

Steel has also come up with the E=mc2 of procrastination, a formula he’s dubbed Temporal Motivational Theory, which takes into account factors such as the expectancy a person has of succeeding with a given task (E), the value of completing the task (V), the desirability of the task (Utility), its immediacy or availability (Γ) and the person’s sensitivity to delay (D).

It looks like this and uses the Greek letter Γ (capital gamma): Utility = E x V / ΓD

The Toronto Star has a bit more analysis and information on the effects of procrastination.

"That stupid game Minesweeper – that probably has cost billions of dollars for the whole society," he said.

The U.S. gross national product would probably rise by $50 billion if the icon and sound that notifies people of new email suddenly disappear, he added.

"People who procrastinate tend to be less healthy, less wealthy and less happy," Steel said Wednesday. "You can reduce it, but I don’t think you can eliminate it.”

I did read an article in The Economist reviewing a book which suggested that procrastination and being messy is actually a good thing.

Procrastination makes sense too. America’s Marine Corps, the authors repeat (several times), never make detailed plans in advance. Leaving important things to the last minute reduces the risk of wasting time on things that may ultimately prove not important at all.

I will agree with the fact that tidying up your desk and re-organizing everything doesn’t improve your productivity, but I don’t think I’d go as far as to say that procrastination is a good thing.

Does anyone suffer from any big procrastination issues, and how have you tackled them? 

WikiLeaks, Word Challenge, Free MSN Calls

A bit of a mixed bag today.

 

Free MSN phone calls: Just 6 minutes

According to Mess.be:

All users of the Windows Live Messenger 8.1 Beta from Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom or the United States are offered two free calls lasting three minutes maximum to almost any fixed line or mobile number in the world. Just click the little telephone icon in your dashboard and you’re off.

It’s not a lot – I remember a while back Skype gave 20 minutes of free calltime every week for a month. But it’s free! You can get free calls on many broadband packages in the UK now and even on the O2 mobile phone network – more on this later.

Microsoft Word Challenge

I first posted this challenge one year ago and I think it’s pretty interesting so I dig it out of the archive. 

It’s possible to select half of a letter in Microsoft Word. The following image has not been altered:

 

Leave a note if you’ve worked out how to do it. You can’t do cool things like that in OpenOffice.

WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks is an interesting project. 

Wikileaks is developing an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis. Our primary interests are oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the west who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their own governments and corporations. We aim for maximum political impact; this means our interface is identical to Wikipedia and usable by non-technical people. We have received over 2.1 million documents so far from dissident communities and anonymous sources.

We believe that transparency in government activities leads to reduced corruption, better government and stronger democracies. Many governments would benefit from increased scrutiny by the world community, as well as their own people. We believe this scrutiny requires information. Historically that information has been costly – in terms of human life and human rights. Wikileaks will facilitate safety in the ethical leaking movement.

Wikileaks encourages the leak of information. It uses the Tor network to protect users who leak information onto it. It’s powered by the same software as Wikipedia but there is no connection between the two.

The Wikileaks page on Wikipedia has a bit more information on how it works. 

In brief…

  • Youtube is considering launching a linear TV channel. The vice president of Youtube says, "We’ve had a lot of conversations with networks that want us to do shows and companies that want us to do linear YouTube channels. At the moment we’re looking at the options, but we’re in more of a strategy mode right now."
  • Does anyone remember the ITV Digital monkey and Al? Well, he’s back and now he sells tea bags! See the PG Tips advert on Youtube.

Firefox 3 Feature Plan

The Mozilla Wiki has a page of Firefox 3 Requirements. It’s an interesting insight into what we may see in the next version of Firefox.

Just a glance at the document indicates the following features labelled as "mandatory":

  • Improved Addon install, configuration and management.
  • The addition of YaCy to the browser. I’ve never heard of this before but its an open source distributed search engine.
  • Better content handling and plugin support.
  • Better and simpler printing.
  • Improved password/identity manager e.g. OpenID, Microsoft CardSpace
  • Redesign of Security/Privacy UI
  • Replacing the existing proprietary closed-source Talkback application with Google’s open source Airbag.

In the highly desirable priority 2, we have features such as:

With the integration of a serverless and open source search and instant messaging tool, Firefox would be taking a bit of a step away from the philosophy that it just provides a browser and no more. However, if done correctly, it could be a really powerful force to make the web just a bit more democratic.

An instant messaging tool could open up a lot of new possibilities especially with the "social web" and "Web 2.0". We could see all kinds of new applications exploiting the social networks and connections such as "web of trust" and social bookmarking.

Of course, I’m extrapolating a lot from the feature plan, but Firefox 3 could be Flock "done right". 

MySpace Worm – Raul?

Just noticed a few messages have suddenly appeared on the profiles of some friends and on my space.

The info box reads:

"Raul owns this bitch! ***Inland_Empire***"

Heroes box:

but most of all Raul is my hero, not sammy!

Who I’d like to meet:

…and ofcourse sexy Raul!

 I suppose this guy has created a worm by using a MySpace XSS attack like Samy. I can’t find any info on the net about it yet; has anyone else got this? 

Update

Definitely a worm. I’ve found a new line of Javascript in my profile.

Myspace Worm

Update 2

It seems like this worm doesn’t add a user called nimajneB after all as reported earlier.

I analyzed the Javascript in the worm and it seems to just edit the profile and add it’s own Javascript and a bit of text. There is a reference to a friendme.js file which I presume is supposed to add a user to the friends list. It didn’t work for me but I suspect it might be IE-only. 

Update 3

  • You catch this worm simply by visiting the MySpace page of an infected user.
  • You can remove the worm by going to "Edit Profile" and removing the code it added.
  • You will be infected again simply by visiting the page of an infected user so don’t be surprised; it’ll probably come back again.

Priorities and Interests

The posting frequency on this blog over the last few months has been decreasing. In many ways, it’s a real shame. I love this blog and I’m so proud of the things it’s managed to achieve over the last few years, but recently my interests and priorities have changed.

Part of the reason for starting this blog was because I wanted to pursue a career in IT. This blog was a wonderful way of communicating some of my thoughts on technology and trying to gain a better foothold in the world of technology. It was also a really nice way of publicizing any scripts or projects I had and get ting feedback.

My interest in web development has waned over the last few months. I’ve barely touched a line of PHP or even HTML in the last three or four months. Web development doesn’t play any part in my future plans. I think it’s the idea of web development as a career; to me it sounds like a dead end and I’m really not sure how long the industry will be around.

I’ve spent six years or so doing web development and I certainly don’t plan to "forget" these skills overnight. I still keep an active interest in things such as Mozilla, JSON, "Web 2.0" and HTML5 but perhaps not to the extent where I can blog about it and provide analysis.

With technology it’s similar; I haven’t been keeping up to date with the latest processors, Windows Vista or Ubuntu although I still have a keen interest in technology and gadgets.

So this blog has become a lot quieter over the last few months and I don’t think this will change too much over the coming months. Although one of the rules of blogging is not to deviate too much from the core focus of your blog, I do want to experiment with blogging about some other things.

I’m really not sure about whether Geneone will be finished any more. I’m dead proud of it but it’s still got quite a lot of work to be done before it becomes production-ready. I’m not totally sure if I have the time or desire to finish it.

My del.icio.us bookmarks have taken the place of many blog entries. I’ve not added any analysis but the pages I’ve bookmarked I’ve found interesting and may be of interest to readers.

Cheers for your support and I hope that you’ll choose to keep reading through 2007

Happy New Year!

The whole world is now in 2007! We managed to get through 2006 even with all the doom-sayers predicting the end of the world. London really welcomed 2007 with an impressive display of fireworks and pyrotechnics this year even though the weather caused much of the celebrations in the UK to be cancelled.

To all, I wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2007.  

My predictions for 2007: 

  • We see some real action on climate change. At the moment, we’re sleepwalking into disaster. Something has to change, and 2007 is the year.
  • Windows Vista gets released but adoption is going to be slow as Microsoft isn’t communicating improvements in Vista particularly well to the normal person (yet, anyway)
  • The death of personal blogs on sites such as Blogger and WordPress. Personal blogs integrated with social networking on sites such as MySpace and LiveJournal will become more popular.
  • The blogosphere/"techies" will begin to turn against Google as they begin to expand into even more areas. Google won’t be getting the same stupid amount of attention they’ve been getting in the last few years.
  • VoIP won’t take off especially as almost every broadband provider provides free phone calls through your standard phone line.
  • Video on Demand will continue to grow. It’ll make inroads into TV (Wii allows you to watch Youtube on TV for example) and possibly mobile.
  • Consumers will finally encounter DRM in more ways and turn against it. Similarly, record labels encumbered by Apple’s DRM will turn to selling DRM-free music.
  • Apple becomes the new Google in terms of press attention and blogosphere attention.
  • Even more crazy weather.
  • Services such as Pandora and Last FM become more mainstream as they are discovered by consumers. These personalized radio services will eat into the market share of traditional radio services.
  • Linux will still be going nowhere. There is no benefit to the average consumer and although free, the cost to the consumer is still too high.
  • Death of reality TV and manufactured pop stars; music returns to grassroots with sites such as MySpace and the internet.
  • People begin to realise the privacy implications of the internet and there will become a group of people who actively resist it due to privacy.
  • Whilst "normal" blogs may begin to fade out, video blogging or photo blogging may take off. Especially with the ease of taking photos or making videos with mobile phones these days.
  • Explosion in even faster broadband in the UK. 10mbps or up to 24mbps could become the norm with LLU.