The Force is with me (or at least, my MacBook)

Stunning! There can be no higher purpose to software!

Just as I was wondering why I’d bothered spending cash on a MacBookPro for minimal speed improvements, this guy has taken advantage of the inbuilt motion sensor and commandeered it to trigger light-sabresque sound as you move the laptop around:

Introducing MacSaber 1.0 Beta. Using your Mac’s sudden motion sensor, this software turns your computer into a Jedi weapon almost worthy of taking on the real thing by making authentic lightsaber sound effects. It senses speed for the lightsaber movement sounds and acceleration for different levels of striking sounds.

Should be fun getting through airport security with this enabled…

“You did not hear that noise”
“He is a service droid”
“Go about your business”.

Woo – Charlie & Lola: second DVD

How much do I love Charlie and Lola? Muchly much.

The books are OK – not my favourite – but they capture that 4-going-on-fourteen behaviour that young girls exhibit. The narration – by a long-suffering, rather cool, kindly older brother – frames the stories nicely. Think “Matilda” for the Noughties in a family context.

Anyway, good though the books are, the animated series goes a major step further: great animation, true to the book’s illustrations yet really innovative, and a fab tune: you’ll be whistling it all day!

So, the cellophane’s off, the DVD’s spinning and two little-big-girls are watching in rapt attention (and getting lots of tips on excuses for not having a bath, going to bed or eating tomatoes…).

Oh, the C&L website at is in the vein of the animation and has a fun ‘webisode’ to entertain the kids while daddy explains about not getting crumbs in the keyboard…

Movable Type: the fiddler’s curse

Oh dear. I’ve been wanting to move my blog layout to a 3 column one for ages and found some pretty good instructions, to be fair.

Since I don’t have the luxury of a) a couple of hours without interruption/real work and b) in-depth technical skills that allow me to laugh with scorn at such a trivial task you’ll notice that the site atm is, ahem, “in transition”.

All should be back over the weekend (and, let’s admit it, you’re not really missing the photo of me 😉 ) but it’s made me resolve to stick with standard templates in future and not to fiddle. Honest.

At least the new Stylecatcher plugin will mean that I can swap styles in future without having to recode, un-bodge and generally fiddle around.

If it weren’t for the fact that I want to have my data in the trusted hands of Isotoma who provide hosting etc then I’d certainly be better off using Typepad.

This brings me back to musings on the Web2.0 ‘ASP’ services and the importance of data (ie am I really that fussed? Isn’t a weekly backup less hassle than weekly fiddling?).

With a different hat on I’m working on a business at the moment that’ll be using blog software and in this case we’re going to use an ASP since not of us want to (nor are able) to support and develop the software to the standards we’d wish.

This just emphasises I suppose the difference between a hobby/learning activity (this blog) and real business!

Right, where’s that MT manual?

Grampa “Penyasser”

Well, I suppose that we were overdue for a bout of imaginary people, but Alice surprised us last week with a new, imaginary grandfather.

Apparently, “my granpa” has been taking her to nursery, to soft play in Fishguard (obviously, a memorable soft play session from a raining day in Pembrokeshire one holiday) and buying her hair clips.

We asked, one day, what Granpa’s name might be and – without a pause – we’re told it’s Penyasser (or Penny-Asser? A sort of Spanish tilde-type pronunciation comes into play).

I must say that I rather like the name – makes me think of an ancient wizard or mediaeval king…

Anyway, she’s remained firm and unwavering on the name, and this morning we had mention of Penyasser’s dog – Bella Primrose.

Still, that’s par for the course on the naming front (their combined best suggestion for their impending baby brother’s name is Dora Kirsty). These ‘combo’ girly names are the norm, so it just makes us wonder even more about the origin of Penyasser.

If anyone’s got any suggestions – stories, characters etc that we may have missed – I’d be pleased to hear of them. In the meantime, Granpa is about to take her to the shop for an ice cream. That should be worth watching 😉

Dishwasher salt – what’s it for?

So, loading the dishwasher and the little “gimme salt” light is on. As I dutifully pour in the lovely fat grains of dishwasher salt I got to wondering what the salt was for. Why, for example, isn’t it all washed out? Why don’t the dishes taste of salt (or, for that matter, of rinse aid)?

So, a quick google and we have the answer: water softening. Not directly, as I’d pondered, but rather to ‘charge up’ the inbuilt ion-exchange unit (which strips out the ‘hard’ bits of water by magic means that my schoolboy chemistry can only just follow. If there are pictures).

More interesting stuff than you’d ever think possible on dishwashers at Wikipedia.

Best of all though is the link to the engineer who found a way to clean his toaster in the dishwasher. Respect.

No Samples Through Letterbox. Thank you.

We’d been at the Royal London today for an ante-natal class and while walking back to the car we passed some of the more, ahem, “run down” bits of the hospital. These are the streets of houses-converted-to-offices that normally attract the soubriquet of “crumbling NHS”. I think these bits have been moved to the posh, new bits (as the hospital is renewed in situ over the coming few years) but leaving aside the rather unpleasant name-plate, the handwritten note conjures thoughts of unpleasant deliveries (and maybe also explains why some samples seem to ‘disappear’ in the system…).

Google notepad [via TechCrunch] and a Web 2.0 mini-muse…

[via TechCrunch]

So, Google’s rush of ‘widgets on the web’ continues with Google Notepad – looks like a combined scratchpad, tagged link store and shared repository. Neat.

So: we now have two things:
1) yet another way to put granular, transient tidbits in a ‘web bucket’; and
2) yet another google* thing to increase our use of and devotion to the Great G.

Thinking about this accelerating trend to light apps, provided free, in open-ish fashions and a ‘web 2.0’ feel, makes me think:

* data is increasingly going to be the issue: why would I want all of my data to be held by Google?
* now that we all have good broadband at home, work (firewalls permitting access, natch) and in many metropolitan areas, there’s going to be a further push to get fully pervasive internet connectivity
* these tools will need to get offline caches/versions/synchronisation options in the medium term
* the browser is now the window on the world and increasingly performs the general tasks we need: information sorting, display, analysis and the basic, normal activities (mail, calendar, notes, tags, images).

The biggest realisation of the day though is the reduction in content creation or origination: everything is geared towards seeing what others have produced, linking to it, telling your mates you’ve linked to it and then collecting your links and publishing those too!

This isn’t a value judgement nor a criticism: in fact, isn’t this the basis of virtually all human conversation? He said that she said and then I said and then this happened – tell your friends!

I’ve come round to thinking that it’s the turn of “content” to have its day in the sun (the wheel’s come round again: content – community – capability (software, broadband, technology – whatever)). This time, though, it needs to work more closely with the architects and planners since there are going to be so many feeds, mashups and secondary sources looking to found themselves on definitive yet accessible data that for the first time in my working life it’s not enough to create a closed, custom data source/base. Content may soon be King, but it’ll be like having an heriditary monarch in a political democracy – more of a balance and a complex set of interdependencies, niceties and planning considerations.

No palaces, though. Unless you count Bush House 😉

Update: How long until we get GoogleWiki? That’d be something I’d like to see: personal aspects for project and data management, but with a group/publish option. Surely it can’t be more than a month or two before we get an announcement…?

Update 2: TechCrunch has done a nice comparison of the simpler todo listy things currently available. Worth reviewing if you want a list of ones to play with ^W^W evaluate.

DIY home laser eye surgery…


For the occularly challenged amongst us the topic of LASIK laser eye surgery is that’s bound to have occupied some thinking time – especially as prices have reduced over the years. Also, with summer here (until the weekend, of course) then one’s thoughts turn to sunglasses and the annual curse of “shall I get prescription lenses or wear contacts etc blah wibble” fires up again.

Imagine the jubilation, therefore, with which I greeted this email link from Al (fellow goggle-wearer and member of the Blind As A Bat club) – DIY LASIK. At home. For £100!!! Yes – it’s true.

Or maybe not 🙂

This is a case where you just have to click on the google ads just to give the creator of the site some small recompense for a sterling effort.

Origami Envelope – from Flying Pig

This is the most exciting thing of the week (apart from the Braxton Hicks contractions, of course): an origami envelope.

I saw this in Make and it led me on to Flying Pig’s website and the download page.

I won’t post the full folding instructions PDF since they request your email address – only fair in this case. Suffice to say that I turned a piece of A4 into a lovely envelope, to many ooohs and ahhhhs. Result.

I love the suggestion that you turn the instruction sheet itself into the envelope and thereby post the knowledge to other people. Neat.

Viral Origami 🙂

Scheveringen at the Kurhaus

It’s a tough life! On a beautiful spring morning I found myself in the lovely seaside suburb of The Hague – Scheveringen. I was there for a workshop with Shell (very interesting) and couldn’t believe the splendid venue. The meeting was in the Kurhaus – think of the Brighton Pavillion on steroids – and the meeting room overlooked the shore and promenade…

This is my second trip to the Netherlands in a week and I’m struck again by the nice feel to the cities, the efficient transport system and just how polite and helpful everyone is.

I must find some time now to do a bit of research on the land reclamation and dykes. The burning question for me at the moment is what you do with the pooled rainfall when the land is below sea level? Come to that, why don’t the rivers flow in from the sea?

I’m just off to google those very questions, but in the meantime here’s another view of the beach from the promenade.