Most Overrated Things

May 31, 2006

I was listening to the radio on the way into work today and they were talking about the most overrrated things today. Some of their suggestions were:

  • Lobster (and prawns); agreed though I don't eat them so I can't really rate them
  • Aboriginal art; man this isn't very politically correct is it
  • The Mona Lisa painting; affirmative
  • Abalone; see lobster

And the list went on to a few more that were quite good, but unfortunately I can't remember. So I thought I'd come up with my own list:

  • The iPod; hahaha, I can just imagine the fury being generated amongst the 2 regular readers of this blog, if there are two! Nice music player but highly overrated by the fashionista crowd.

    eXtreme Programming; if this isn't the most overrated software development methodology in the world, someone please let me know what is

  • Global warming; oops, that should be Climate Change (seems some places aren't warming up but are in fact cooling down). All based on data over the last 100, and that's being generous, or so years – how can that give us a true indication of climate variations over the past 5+ millennia?
  • All you can eat buffets; man oh man, I can't think of a worse dining experience except for maybe rum cha or eating out of a dumpster
  • The Beatles; yep, I said the Beatles!
  • Real Madrid; the football/soccer team that is. All that individual talent and yet so hopelessly bad as a team.

Well. That's all I can think of at the moment – anyone care to share their most overrated things?

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Apple iPods & Nike Runners Unite

May 24, 2006

I’ll be up front with you, I’m not a huge Apple fan. Don’t know why but it’s probably got to do with my background in PCs, my appreciation of value for money (though this differentiation is getting smaller and smaller), the fact that I write Windows based applications and my lack of being a ‘fashion’ technologist.

Pre October 2001 and Apple was on the ropes. Your average computer user either had no idea who they were or knew who they were but had never used a Mac. It was a tough time. Queue entrance of the 1st generation iPod and the rest is history. As of November 2005, Apple had sold over 30million iPods and the iPod is now the standard portable music device that the industry compares all other devices to. So, I tip my hat to Apple and say, “Way to go, that was clever”.

Even their iBook and new MacBook laptop offerings recently have been priced quite competitively with PC equivalents, causing a few friends of mine to ‘jump ship’ and consider getting an Apple laptop. These are people that would never have considered an Apple had it not been for the revolution caused by the iPod.

Then I read about the Nike+iPod Sports Kit (here ) and think to myself, “You have got to be joking!” For those too lazy to view the linked article it’s basically Apple and Nike teaming up to provide a pedometer capability to specially equipped Nike shoes via Apples iPod. My brain is screaming stupid and my head is nodding in agreement! It achieves this via an antenna in your shoes and a special attachment in the iPod. But don’t take my word, or Wireds word for that matter, take it straight from the horses mouth – Nike+iPod.

I just don’t see the point of this, I seriously don’t. Still I’m sure it’ll be all the rage soon, as anything to do with Apple/iPod has become the new ‘cool fashion’ accessory. Somebody tell me I’m wrong (or that I’m right)!!

PS. Apple really is good at marketing isn’t it. After writing this post and actually viewing the Apple website of this product, it does look pretty cool. But cool doesn’t mean functional – only time will tell.

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Blogging Tools – Qumana & BlogDesk

May 23, 2006

Ok, so I’ve just been over to Sebs website and noticed that he had a review on a blogging tool called Qumana. It wasn’t a glowing endorsement but I thought I’d download it and give it a go anyway. I also found a comment somewhere, not sure where, about another tool called BlogDesk. Both were free, and we all know free is goooood, so I decided to check them out!

Qumana
Installation is straight forward and once installed you setup your blog. It supports a vast variety with WordPress, Blogger, Movable Type, MSN Spaces and TypePad being a few of the more popular ones. It automatically downloaded my categories as well as previous posts which I could edit/delete etc.

It quickly downloaded my previous posts & categories and then presented me with the ‘Drop Pad’ screen, a kind of area to ‘drop’ links etc to automatically create a new post. Didn’t do much for me and confused me for a few seconds. Here’s the ‘New Post’ screen.

I didn’t really get much past here except for playing around with it’s image functions, which were fairly basic, as I just didn’t like the feel of it. It has built in spell checking with is pretty cool. All up though its interface has a very ‘bloated’ look to it. So! Onto the next product we go!

BlogDesk
You install the program and then have to setup your connection to the blog. Connecting to your blog was pretty complex, in comparison to Qumana, but straight forward for the able minded. My categories were automatically downloaded but my previous posts were not. To do this you have to access a separate screen and manually ‘download’ your previous posts – no biggie but Qumana does this automatically on program start up (admittedly this slows the program start up). BlogDesk doesn’t support many blogs unfortunately but it supports WordPress so that’s good enough for me!

This UI I like. No bloated icons or wasted space on the icon bar, just a nice clean interface. It’s handling of images is far superior to Qumana too with the ability to resize on preset sizes (small, medium, large or original), crop, rotate, set image alignment to text etc. It too has spell checking capabilities, though not in line ala MS Word, and even supports multiple dictionaries which is handy for us that prefer English (UK) not English (US). You know, for those of us that prefer to spell organisation the proper way not the incorrect organization way. 😉

Wrap Up
Qumana’s advantage is greater blog support, auto download of previous posts & inline spell checking via a clunky interface. BlogDesk’s advantage is a clean interface, great image handling & spell checking dictionaries. Umm, after saying that it sounds like Qumana’s better right? But it’s just not for some reason which is hard to explain. So here I am writing this post in BlogDesk after having originally started writing it in Qumana… but don’t take my word for it, try them both out!

BlogDesk-button

PS. I haven’t used any other offline blogging tools so if someone knows a good one, let me know!

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New Apple Store

May 19, 2006

Apple has just opened its new store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, NYC. Ho hum, another store opening, no biggie. Well, that's what I thought until I had a look at how the store is designed. I have to give it to the design/architect folks over at Apple (or who were hired by Apple) – they sure know how to put the s in style.

Outside & Inside Pics Construction Pics Aerial View


DSLR, Here We Come

May 9, 2006

After many months of contemplating, dreaming, debating & hand wringing over the cost I finally brought a digital SLR today. I've had my heart set on the Canon 350D, so that's what i ended up getting. Check out a review of it here.

I've been using a Canon S400/IXUS 400 (4MP 3x optical zoom) for the past few years and it's been a faithful tool. Great picture quality, compact & light. However, the following reasons moved me to get an SLR:

  1. Low light performance; the S400 really struggled in low light situations, even after bumping the ISO up to 400 (it's highest rating). The 350D can do ISO 1600 which is 4 times higher (resulting in faster shutter response) and yet it's noise (the grain you see on film photos) is comparable to the S400 at ISO 50.
  2. Shutter speed; I've lost many photos with the S400 due to camera blur because the shutter speed was too slow (I'm fairly stable when taking photos) and the moment had passed by the time the shutter went off. With the 350D the shutter is almost instanteous (after taking focusing into account).
  3. Image quality; though the S400 has great image quality straight out of the camera (and after post processing in Photoshop), it can't compare to the images the 350D or any SLR can produce.
  4. Lense selection; with my S400 I'm stuck with a 3x optical zoom and always in the same focal length. With an SLR I can get as many lenses as I want, to cover whatever focal length I want.
  5. Photo creativity; better brokeh (the ability to blur the background), more manual control over settings (though most digicameras have manual modes), better flash, in the proper 3:2 format for printing etc.

Given our baby arriving soon, I wanted a camera that could capture it's early life without compromising the points above. The S400 just wasn't going to offer that.

It's not all good news though. The SLR body is expensive, as are quality lenses, bigger than a compact digicamera, requires more post processing and did I say expensive (around a factor of 2.5 to 3 times)?

My DSLR arrives tomorrow – can't wait. I'll post up a review after a few days of using it!

Update 10/05: Camera has arrived, battery is charging – woohoo!


Love Is In The Air

May 8, 2006

Yesterday was a terribly cold day in Melbourne – absolutely freezing. Normally this wouldn't be an issue as I would be at home, heater blazing and none the wiser to the cold outside. But not yesterday. Instead I was at a friends wedding.

It was at a reception centre called Windmill Gardens, a lovely place in the suburb of Rockbank (and yes, there was a windmill). It's pretty much farm country so lots of wide open land and thus lots of wind rushing about the place. Lots of cold wind. Cold, freezing wind.

Church service was officiated by my friends uncle and there was a pretty good turn out considering the day. In fact, it had been raining most of the morning which then stopped around 11am – so the sun was out of sorts and it was fairly dry. Still very cold though.

eception commenced at 5:30pm and it was a great evening that was enjoyed by all the people who attended. Got to catch up with another friend who I used to play soccer with, so that was good. Even got up and danced with my wife to a few of the slower songs – pretty funny dancing with her large belly in the way. All said and done, it was a great day.

What makes it interesting though is that this was only the 3rd or so time that we'd (myself, wife, brother, friend etc) met the bride due to the whirlwind nature of the relationship, engagement (don't think there even was one) and then marriage. All up I think we're talking 5 months?

The lucky couple are now off on a 3 month honeymoon around the world (America, London, Paris, Malta, America, Fiji or something like that) – some people have all the luck!

(photos to be uploaded shortly)


I Pity The Fool Redux!

May 3, 2006

You know if there is one dude from the 80's that is to be remembered, and respected I might add, it has to be my gold chain loving, brother from another mother – Mr T.

Friends and I will still bag each other out these days with the statement, "I pity the fool!" Followed by much laughing, joking and high fives. Hey, sometimes we'll make it even more hardcore with, "I pity da fool!" – ain't we from the badside of the tracks.

So it is with much joy that I find out today that Mr T is going to be back on prime time (well TV at least)  and dishing out the advice again.  Check this article out for all the goss. If you can't be bothered, here's a choice line:

"My show ain't no `Dr. Phil,' with people sitting around crying," he said. "You're a fool – that's what's wrong with you. (And) you're a fool if you don't take my advice."

I pity the fool that doesn't watch this show, I really pity da fool!