Archive for October, 2006

Trick or treat

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

As today is Halloween, the usual procession of small children through to teenagers who should know better, came a knocking.
If you told a joke or two, you stood a chance of getting something for your efforts. If you pranced about like an idiot, not so much.

My favourite jokes of the evening are:

Why did the skeleton burp?
Because he didn’t have the guts to fart.

What do you call a spider with no legs?
A raisin.

And finally, the best of the night (and better than any joke I’ve ever heard a small child tell before now) is:

What’s the difference between a digger and a Giraffe?
One has hydraulics and the other has high bollocks.

I kid you not. I don’t know whether to laugh, or shake my head at the words today’s youth are allowed to use (particularly when their mother is standing right beside them as they say it).

Apple Store coming to Scotland

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

If there’s one thing Scotland has lacked for some time, it’s an Apple Store. Nothing wastes time more effectively than hanging out in one, but thus far I’ve had to go all the way to Regent Street in London for my fix (I know there are others in England, but I choose to ignore that fact for the purposes of this post).

From Julyish next year though, there’s going to be an Apple Store opening up in Glasgow right slap bang on Buchanan Street. Quite what Glasgow’s Ned contingent will make of it all remains to be seen. Some details of their plans (Apple’s, not the neds) are on (no I hadn’t heard of that site either).

To flickr or to zooomr

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

A few weeks back I decided to upgrade my digital camera from my trusty Sony DSC-P52 (simple, small, and served me well for a few years) to a Panasonic Lumix FZ50 (not quite a digital SLR, but it’s a lot closer to a ‘proper’ camera).

I’ve been wanting to try my hand at having more control over the photos I take, and this camera appealed to me – it’s a couple of versions newer than the FZ20 my brother owns which seemed a pretty nice camera. Anyway, I won’t bore you too much more on this, suffice to say – I’ve been taking a lot of photos and trying to read up on what all the controls I now find myself with, actually do. Oh, and I’ve been taking my photos in RAW and fiddling with them mainly in the beta of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (pretty nifty).

Why I’m writing this post though is more about where I put the photos I take, once I’m ‘happy’ with them. Obviously, flickr’s the first port of call for most photographers, and as I’ve had an account there for over a year, I put up some of my initials shots from when I was in London last month. Everybody uses flickr right, so why use anything else?

Well, flickr to me seems a little clunky in places – I think as it’s spawned new features it’s maybe become a lot less usable. A case in point, I knew that flickr did Geotagging (marking on a map where you took the photo), but it took me far too long to figure out where I could actually do this. Even once I did, the unfortunate side effect of flickr being owned by Yahoo is that the maps they use are Yahoo’s – the detail in the UK is pathetic at best.

Enter zooomr. I’ve been aware of them for a fair bit of time. Being a regular reader of Scobleizer, and as a result now a keen watcher of some of the ScobleShow, or more specifically the fantastic Photowalking series, I’ve heard quite a lot about it. Anytime I’ve seen links of people’s photos leading back to zooomr, I’ve been taken with how nicely laid out and feature-filled it all looked.

So I signed up the other day, and then the whole site died. This hasn’t softened my enthusiasm for the site though, in fact reading the blog over the last three days as the site came back up, only proved to me that zooomr has been put together with some real dedication by the folks in charge, who seem very passionate about what they’re doing. Besides, this thing is still in beta (along with a heck of a lot of the rest of the Web 2.0 world). So, today when the site was fully available again, I uploaded my first photo – one I took at Edinburgh Zoo last week during some downtime whilst in Edinburgh on business. And what a nice experience it was too. Uploading was simple, geotagging was easy and used Google Maps (I could find the zoo!), and everything just clicked together in a clean, efficient way.

Sea Lion at Edinburgh ZooSea Lion at Edinburgh Zoo Hosted on Zooomr

I have to say, this first experience certainly doesn’t make me want to go running back to flickr – I can see zooomr becoming my main (possibly only) place to upload my photos. Sure my photos won’t look that great, but at least the site they’re on is kind of cool 🙂 . Go read their description of the site’s features and their FAQ, and get started.

A quick disclaimer if I might: I did spend some time this afternoon trying to work out how to sign up to an unrestricted upload Pro account (much like flickr has if you can find it). There’s a link in the My Account section of zooomr that goes nowhere, but a quick Google search eventually showed me that these guys are (at least for now) giving Pro accounts away for free if you blog about them. Was I going to blog about this site anyway? Yes. Did the thought of a free Pro account make me be even nicer about them than I would otherwise have done? No, but it helped. Would I have paid money for a Pro account? Yes, and I will when that day comes (I presume it will eventually). Is this a cunningly excellent move on their part? Absolutely.

Google reader

Monday, October 2nd, 2006

For quite some time now, I’ve been keeping track of the many websites I visit via Mozilla Firefox‘s ‘Live Bookmarks’ feature. This was fine for awhile, but as I’ve added more and more sites, and as I had no way to know what I’d read already other than relying on my memory, I’ve been considering trying out some of the seperate RSS reader applications.

The final straw was returning from London to find that in three days, just about everywhere I visit had gone ‘post crazy’ – it took far too long to catch up.

As luck would have it though, Google went and launched a new version of their Google Reader site, which on closer look seemed as though it would suit me just fine – if I give it all my sites it will list off any updates for me to look at and keep track of what I’ve read.

Moving all my live bookmarks was relatively easy once I’d worked out there’s an extension for Firefox to allow you to export them in OPML format, ready for importing into Google Reader. After some initial mopping up, rearranging some of them into different folders, and marking recent posts at each site as already read, I was good to go…

Sort of. While Google Reader has certainly sped up my internet browsing, and I do quite like it – it’s still a little buggy (remember it’s still a Google Labs product) as the above screen shows. I’ve added 115 subscriptions, and it can be a little slow at times. There are also sometimes phantom entries telling me a feed has a new post when there aren’t any, but it’s simple and useful enough that I’ll stick with it for now.