Category: Musing

iPad – most of a year on

After I originally posted my initial impressions of the iPad, I thought it was time to come back with some long term opinions.

When I got it, I said that “the iPad would either become used almost as much as my laptop, or become a very expensive photo frame except when I’m travelling.   After the first 48 hours I think it’s going to be closer to the former.”

Well, some 9 months later I’m pleased to see my prediction was correct. It’s been an essential companion on a variety of trips from a handful of day trips into London to two weeks in the Maldives.  I hardly ever read a normal book any more.  It beats using a laptop in bed – and being able to flip between the Internet, a book, and a game as the mood takes me is great when chilling out.

I pretty much use it every single day, and have come close to flattening the battery in less than 24 hrs – yes, 10 hrs usage.

What’s bad about it?

I wish I’d got the 3G version for seamless mobile use.  I dismissed it as a luxury thinking I wouldn’t want to use it mobile very much.

The onscreen keyboard isn’t good enough to be a complete laptop replacment, and even with an external bluetooth keyboard it’s a bit limiting.

It’s only 64Gb of storage.   I need to be restrained about the number of films I keep on it.

The screen isn’t the best in bright sunlight.  You can ignore the reflections up to a point, but I’m probably going to end up with a Kindle as well.

It also suffers from the same limitations as other eBook readers: limited availability of existing titles and no (legal) way to convert your physical book collection into eBook form.   If you have a favourite book in paper that’s not available yet, you’re kind of stuck unless you can find an online copy (which can then be easily converted into EPUB format using a tool called Calibre).   I don’t mind paying for eBooks, but I do object to paying twice for the same book to get the electronic version.

On a related note it would be nice if importing video from DVDs was as quick and as seamless as importing music from a CD.


C.S.K. R.I.P.

Some people get upset when royalty die.  Some people get upset when soap stars die.  But when I think it’s sad when someone I’ve never met dies, it’s often someone who has changed the world in ways most people don’t notice.

And the latest person in that category is Charles Spencer (“Spen”) King.

Who?  I hear you ask.

Spen King lead the design teams for the Rover 2000 and SD1, Triumph Stag, TR6 and TR7, and most notably the original Range Rover.  Arguably the TD7 wasn’t his best work, but it’s still an fantastic CV.

The world has lost one of the finest car designers ever.  The man who arguably created an entire new segment of the car market – the luxury SUV – is no longer with us.

That’s worth raising a glass in his memory.

Western Companies take note

Western companies would do well to follow the example of RedBus, an Indian startup company selling bus tickets.

As reported by TechCrunch they  invested “in seven different call centers throughout India, not one central call center. Says Sama, if you don’t localize a call center to local slang, languages, and customs the customer service won’t work.

Seriously? An Indian in Bangalore arguing a centralized, remote call center can’t give good customer service? That has about as much globalization-irony as China’s BYD refusing to outsource any of its manufacturing.”

A blast from the past

I was searching around the Internet and stumbled over this video.  “Duw, it’s hard” is a song about the demise of the Welsh mining history and the mixed effect on the community.  For those who don’t know “duw” is the Welsh word for “god.”

This video sets the music to photos of the area where I grew up in South Wales, and it brings home both the economic demise of the area, and how much easier my working life is than that of the Welsh miners.

Teaching the intangible

Teaching the intangible – from “But she’s a girl”.

“I think that many traditional crafts require these kinds of skills that are difficult to teach quickly, which is probably why apprenticeships were traditionally so long. However, as someone who also teaches as part of my living, I can recognise similarities with some of the skills required to be a good scientist. For example, grammatical rules are fairly straightforward to teach, but trying to guide students in how to properly structure their writing, write clear, logical, flowing sentences and so forth is quite difficult to do. You can give tips, point out good and bad examples, and suggest ways in which they can improve, but in the end, they need to develop their own ‘feel’ for what makes a good piece of scientific writing.”

100 Essential Skills for Geeks

After‘s 100 essential skills for geeks, I think I need to make a list of the ones I’ve got to learn.

31. Know at least 10 software easter eggs off the top of your head.

I can think of about five, but this is the first one in the list that I didn’t know.

45. Build amazing structures with LEGO and invent a compelling back story for the creation.

  1. Be able to pick a lock.

I’m just not very good.

63. Whistle, hum, or play on an iPhone, the Cantina song.

64. Learning to play the theme songs to the kids favorite TV shows.

I claim a pass on these because I’m tone deaf.

69. Recite pi to 10 places or more.

3.141592654 (what we all remembered from our calaculators) is only 9 decimal places.

Or, from google for future reference, 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510

75. Solder a circuit while bottle feeding an infant. (lead free solder please).

I can do the soldering.  Which end does the bottle go?

82. Know all the names of the Dwarves in The Hobbit.
88. Be able to recite at least one Geek Movie word for word.
89. Know what the 8th Chevron does on a Stargate and how much power is required to get a lock.
93. The ability to name actors, characters and plotlines from the majority of sci-fi movies produced since 1968.

Oh come on, this isn’t geekdom, this is literature.

96. Have a documented plan on what to do during a zombie or robot uprising.

We don’t need no stinkin’ documentation.

Well said, that man!

Peter Sissons has been a BBC newsreader for as long as I can remember.

He’s recently retired, and in a Daily Mail article, has left a fairly damning criticism of the BBC.  While they still make some of the best documentaries in the world, bar none, the organisation has clearly been taken over by the PC brigade.

This is a sad trend that too many organisations are following.  Political Correctness is, like many good things in life, being turned into a force for bad.  It’s turning into something scarily reminiscent of Orwell’s 1984. 

We need a new word.  One that describes the context of respect for the fellow man, but allows the individual space for their own views as well.  I run into this dilemma often in my views on religion.  I genuinely can’t understand how any sensible person in the 21st century can believe in a god.  I really can’t.  But it’s hard to make this point without it being offensive – especially by today’s hyper-sensitive standards.

We need a new word.  One that allows for free thought, free expression of opinions, and respect of the opinions of others.  There’s room for all of us. 

We need to allow the Muslims to practice their religion, but fight against those who would bring down the Western society. 

We need to allow Christians to pray and to sing, but to laugh at those who fail to accept Darwinism as a factual model of how our world came to be.

No, we already have that word.  It’s called Freedom.  It comes with a price.  The price is being fired for being crap at your job.  The price is not being paid for time taken out to pray, or to smoke.  The price is being laughed at when you can’t defend your views in rational terms.

But we should all have the freedom to express our views, be they political, religious, atheist, or just plain insane.  And we should express those views without violence, intimidation, or legal threats, and without the fear of the same in retaliation.

Freedom.  It comes with a price. One we should all be prepared to pay.

The States formerly known as the bible belt

From the New York Times.

Two months after the local atheist organization here put up a billboard saying “Don’t Believe in God? You Are Not Alone,” the group’s 13 board members met in Laura and Alex Kasman’s living room to grapple with the fallout.

The problem was not that the group, the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry, had attracted an outpouring of hostility. It was the opposite. An overflow audience of more than 100 had showed up for their most recent public symposium, and the board members discussed whether it was time to find a larger place.

And now parents were coming out of the woodwork asking for family-oriented programs where they could meet like-minded nonbelievers.

Full story here.

What no water canon?

“A FORMER police officer now living in Italy says Italians are bewildered by TV coverage of the G20 rioting in London and its aftermath. They marvel at the level of restraint shown by the police and find it unbelievable that no tear gas, baton charges or water-cannon were used.

They wonder why we focus endlessly on the handful of officers who, under pressure, go beyond what is acceptable, but ignore the thousands of others who stand there, getting stuck in the leg with pins and nails, kicked mercilessly out of sight of the cameras.”

‘Nuff said, as they say.