Monday, July 27, 2009

Kefalonia update

Been out in the car today. Further thing driving in Greece is a life in their hands experience. I've been overtaken more today on blind bends, hill crests and narrowing roads than ever before in the 32 odd years I've been driving. That apart it's easy. Apart from the fact that Kefalonia has introduced roundabouts for the first time this year and bizarrely you have to give way to traffic coming onto the roundabout. Yes, you're half way round and you have to stop. Very odd. Only the Greeks could do this!

Anyway we took out hired Focus north to Fiskardo a pretty harbour where te rich and famous come to play. On the way bck we stopped for lunch at Assos a beautiful village on an isthmus before stopping off briefly at the stunning beach at Myrtos (pictured). Sadly the surf was so strong we couldn't get into the water but the beach, used in the film Captain Correli's Mandolin is out of this world. The colours of the sea are absolutely unbelievable.

Back to the pool for a quick cooling dip and an hours rest before dinner. Another scorcher too today.

-- Post From My iPhone

Sunday, July 26, 2009


We've been here 5 days now not including the day we travelled and we haven't seen a cloud in the sky yet! It's been seriously hot,a lthough today it's been masked a little (but only a little) by a very strong breeze that's been blowing all day long. Forecast is for it to calm down tomorrow so back to being blistering I expect!

We hire a car tomorrow for 3 days to allow us to see a little of the island under our own steam. Looking forward to it though the kids aren't.

On Friday we went on the "Onassis" cruise. An all dayer on a boat to see Skorpios, the island owned by the late Aristotle Onassis and his wife Jackie Kennedy. We also stopped off at the island of Meganissi and Lefkada. I saw a flying fish on the way out.

Yesterday was a beach day. Down the steps and onto the beach! Snorkelling is good - loads of fish to see and of course the water is warm - once you're in- and crystal clear.

-- Post From My iPhone

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Windows 7 update

First the good news. Installation was a breeze. I created a new partition on my XP box, and installed the W7 RC to this. It was pretty much a one click process - far less tortuous than previous Windows installs.

It looks nice, though as always the default themes are a bit cheesy. Internet Explorer 8 comes as standard, although when the retail version hits the punters in October, European distributions won't come with a browser! So you'll have to have one of IE/Firefox/Opera/Safari saved as an executable on a network drive or USB key and install it from there because you won't be able to browse the internet by default! I reckon this is going to catch a LOT of people out.

Immediate impressions are good, especially networking to my Vista machine through the "libraries". Essentially this is a way of creating a shortcut in one of a number of "libraries" - the usual documents, pictures, music etc - that appear in your Explorer window. Rather than faffing about with Vista or XP network protocols I just linked to an external hard disk attached to access all my photos. However, most of the permissions on the Vista box drives were already set for networking.

As far as I can tell there's no email client of any sort there either (there's Mail in Vista and Outlook Express in XP of course).

Setting up my printer (physically attached to my Vista machine) was also a breeze. In general, the whole user experience seems to have been made easier, but in a way that Vista tried and failed to do.

I'm led to believe that setting up a network between multiple W7 boxes will be very simple, and this seems to stand scrutiny. If you're going to try and network Vista or XP boxes to a W7 machine it might be a lot harder. The recommendation is that you'll need W7 on all machines.

Which brings me to a gripe.

There is talk of a "family pack" licence for W7 which would allow you to install on up to 3 machines. Great for the many households like ours that have more than 1 PC/laptop.

But it's not clear yet whether this family pack licence will be available to UK customers. As W7 isn't officially released until October 22nd, we could all wait and see how it pans out.

But if like me you're keen to take advantage of the discounted pre-order prices, you need to buy now. The price go up at the end of July. So, as mentioned below, I've bought (or pre-ordered) W7 Home Premium. Trouble is I don't know whether that will allow me to run it on only 1 box probably) or 3 boxes (unlikely). If the latter graet, but as things stand, I reckon I'm going to have to shell out for at least one additional licence at what will be close to or full whack, because Microsoft are unable to tell me what I need to know, and because I'm a UK customer that they don't really care about anyway (why else would a $50 price tag in the US be a £50 price tag in the UK? Don't give me that blather about exchange rates, it's to stiff the Brits - and other Eurpoeans probably ).

I've sent an email to MS support asking for clarification, but if the techno world out there can't yet tell me via Google, I'm pretty sure MS aren't going to tell me.

Windows 7

I've pre-ordered a copy of Windows 7 from Amazon. Though it's not due for release until October, the £40 odd asking price was too tempting.

I've also taken the plunge and have downloaded the Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) of the OS - basically this is the "just about final" version of the code.

Reports have been good on stability, speed and general features, so I thought I'd give it a try. It works until June or July next year, though from March 10 it re-boots every 2 hours. I'll have my official copy up and running my then anyway, so it won't matter.

I'm installing the RC on a partition on my XP machine, the lesser specced of my 2 PC', which is frankly getting a bit tired now.

One of the benefits of Win 7 apparently is that you actually need a less powerful machine to run it on that you did for Vista, so older machines like my XP box could quite possibly get a new lease of life.

We'll see, and I'll keep you posted.

Have Apple lost the plot?

Today an update for one of my iPhone apps (YouNote) became available via the App Store, and I duly downloaded it.

However, after entering my password for iTunes, I got a warning message saying that this application my contain objectionable content and isn't suitable unless you're 17+.

Now YouNote is a note taking application. It lets you take text notes, voice notes, photo notes, and I suspect this is where it hit the buffers clips of web pages.

I guess Apple's premise is, that since you can use this App to store web pages, you might be using this app to keep copies of naughty web sites for future reference.

Oh, please Apple. Get a life.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Mobile devices: A triangle?

Read an interesting post over at jkOnTheRun today where Kevin Tofel outlines his view of the dilemma facing those who use mobile devices, and particularly those who are always searching for the "ultimate" device. The post is in generally in relation to the AsusEee 1101HA netbook, but his key point is this:

He says:

"One of our mantras here bears repeating — mobile technology is all about compromise. I look at it as a triangle, in which each point is a mobile device attribute: performance, price and power efficiency. As you move closer to one point, you move further away from one or two other points. Put another way: You can’t buy a portable device today for a few hundred dollars that offers desktop-replacement performance and all-day computing."

I think this is a fascinating but simple insight to mobile technology, and what users want/need from it. We're always trying to square the circle (or as Kevin would have us believe traingle) for that ultimate device that does everything the way we want it to.

Clearly it doesn't exist at the moment, there's always compromise. With the triangle model in mind, I wonder if we ever will?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cellar - your own wine cellar app

I read about this app a few weeks ago. One of the things I've often thought I'd want to use smartphones/PDA's for and never got round to it was track things like my wine cellar (LOL - my cellar consists of about 12 bottles in a rack under the stairs - but the turnover is fairly impressive!)

At the time it had been submitted to the App Store, but not yet approved, so I signed up to the Twitter feed (@cellarapp), and I've followed closely the run up to it's release today.

It costs 59p currently.

It doesn't have a database of wines, you've got to put your own stuff in here.

Graphically it's impressive. To keep track of your wines, you first choose the bottle shape and colour, foil colour and can take a picture of the label which is superimposed over the bottle. Then you add details of the wine. If you're a wine snob, this is a bit crude. The fields available are:
  • Brand
  • region
  • Vintage
  • Grape
  • Price
  • Notes
  • Rating
There are some default options - in grape for example start typing "Cha..." and it'll prompt "Chardonnay".

But that's it. One you click "Done" the bottle is added to your "cellar". You can show if you have multiple bottles of one wine.

The other thing you have is the "Garage" where you can put empty bottles you want to keep for reference.

It's not a bad little app for a first version, but there are some things that in my opinion need to be changed or added. These are:
  • It only works in landscape. I can see why, but certain aspects don't quite work well. For example:
  • The cellar view only provides for an info bar line at the bottom of the screen when you click a bottle for nfo. One line isn't enough in most cases to see all the info, so you have to click "Edit" which rather defeats the purpose of a quick info view.
  • It's got sound. When you open the app it prompts you to switch to landscape mode, and then the (presumably) "cellar" doors open with a noise reminiscent of the docking bay on the Death Star in Star Wars. There are also a few things and whistles as you add wine details. Ok in the comfort of your own home (though might annoy the wife), but if you want to add details of a wine whilst out dining in a fine restaurant (chance would be a good thing), you might get some odd looks from other diners or the sommelier!
  • There's no "summary" option. The iPhone just cries out to give database apps a quick summary or report screen. Nothing doing here yet. If you want to see all your wine you have to scroll in landscape mode and click each bottle for info. so no easy way to see how many reds or whites you have left.
Having said all that, it's clean and easy to use. I'm sure it'll get updates soon.
I don't do fashion (generally) but browsing around the 'net the other week I was rather taken by some iPhone cases, or rather half cases - the kind that clip onto the back.

These are "Metallico" series cases apparently, and come in a range of sometimes gaudy, and sometimes nice (in my opinion) colours.

On the spur of the moment I splashed out, not realising at the time the site I was ordering from (Deal Sniper) was in Hong Kong. To be fair I got very prompt emails telling me I'd paid (inevitably), but also that my order had been dispatched, and a tracking link. About 2 and a bit weeks later, my case arrived.

I've gone for this rather fetching "Ice Blue" colour.

Let's not beat about the bush - it's plastic despite the name "metallico", but somehow it does look nice with a bit of a sheen to it, and doesn't really increase the size of the phone more than about 1mm all round.

I guess any protection is better than none. It clips on and fits very snugly and certainly doesn't feel like it will drop off at any point. With so many iPhones around now, it does set it apart a bit.

I've never really been a case man, so whether I'll persevere with this or not I don't know. For the moment, I'm sticking with it and I like it.

Mine cost me £9 plus P+P from Asia, but you may well find them more locally.

O2 Data Roaming - short and curlies

With all the talk about reduced costs for using your phone abroad, the carriers still have you by the short and curlies.

As I've previously indicated, the hotel we'll be staying at on holiday has wifi, but it'll cost 3 euros an hour. Not overly extortionate, but no use if I need/want data when out and about.

In the end I bit the bullet and have taken out an O2 data bolt on. But there's a catch - the cost of the bolt on relates to your billing date.

Therefore, if I want to start it from my next billing date I'm already on holiday. If I start it now, I'm being charged for data I'm not using because I haven't gone away yet.

Had a long and complicated chat with the O2 people about this. I think I'm just going to have to avoid using data for the first few days of my holiday (or use the hotel wifi), after which I should be good to go.

Why is this such a pain? I also wonder, with so many smartphones in use these days, particularly iPhones, how many people will not think about this and come back to horrendous bills?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ashes (low) lights

Mini and I have spent a day (well two thirds of a day) at the SWALEC Stadium in Cardiff watching Australia tighten their already strong hold on the first Ashes Test.

I got these tickets for a Father's Day present (lucky me), but the forecast for today was dreadful, so we turned up early armed with brolly, raincoats and glasses to read the very small print on the refund policy in the event of a curtailed day's play.

However, though the clouds threatened early on, the rain, forecast to arrive about 12pm didn't, and we were treated to the Aussie batters North and Haddin, showing England how it should be done. Both reached impressive centuries, and after lunch with brightening skies they took the England attack apart. Ricky "Punter" Ponting, the Oz slip, duly declared when they were zillions ahead, leaving England with a tricky seven or so overs to bat before tea. By now, the rain was threatening. TMS commentator Jonathan Agnew who I follow on Twitter (@aggerscricket) was tweeting first that rain ad reached Cork, then Swansea (by watching it's progress on the immensely useful, by which time I'd had a call from my wife in Barry (about 6 miles as the crow flies) saying it was heaving down.

The lights came on just before tea to stave off the dreaded "bad light" scenario (why didn't anyone do this before?), but just as tea came round with England already 2 down - one plumb LBW (Cook) and one shocker of an LBW decision (Bopara) - Billy Doctrove that was a horrendous decision - the rain came, and it stayed.

That was it - a lot of wet cricket fans making their way home. Me & Mini have had a great day - first ever visit to a Test for either of us (thanks Anne), and we got 4 hours of play in when I expected no more than an hour. Now will watch on the box tomorrow and hope England can bat all day to save the game. I'm not optimistic.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Palm Pre Christmas?

As has been widely reported around the mobile and technical blog world today, it appears the Palm Pre is coming to the UK in time for Christmas. I got my details from the very fine PDA247, where Shaun as always is on the ball.

It seems the Pre will be offered on O2, which is good and bad.

For me it's good, because as an existing O2 customer, if I decide to "upgrade" to a Pre when the time comes to renew my contract (May 2010) it saves messing about porting numbers. Incidentally, don't start suggested the Pre is a downgrade compared to the iPhone!

The bad side is, that for many people having a device tied to a specific carrier puts them off - either because they don't want to use that carrier, or as is the case with some carriers - although I don't think O2 is one of them - having the carrier branding slapped on an otherwise aesthetically pleasing device.

I'm not as convinced about the problems of being tied to carriers as some. The more phones like this (i.e. smartphones) come into general use - rather than being the domain of the businessman or gadget lovers, the less of an issue it is. Do you get people worrying overly about whether a particualr feature phone is unlocked or tied to a carrier? Not so sure.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Wifi access/Data roaming (again)

I've previously posted about data roaming charges, but a couple of days ago emailed the hotel we'll be staying at in Kefalonia, to ask them how flexible their wifi access is. Often, with hotels, it's only via a locked down PC.

The hotel emailed me back today and confirmed that I would indeed be able to access the wifi via my iPhone (or laptop if I had one) for 3 euros an hour. Now I'm not going to be doing much browsing whilst over there, but this will be ample for me to collect my (personal) emails, post to the blog and maybe a daily Twitter update.
Even if I used an hour's worth every day for a fortnight (which I won't) it'll work out cheaper than an O2 Data 50 bolt on, which would set me back £50.

Hopefully that's sorted me out now on that front. Whilst I was at it I asked them to confirm we had a room with a balcony and sea view, which they've done. Oh, bliss - can't wait to watch the sun setting over the Ionian sea....might even post a pic on this blog!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

City Legends match

John commented on my post below about the first match at the new Cardiff City Stadium, and I'm glad to say he's shamed me into going.

I'm blogging this from my new season ticket seat in the Grange Stand.

View is perfect, stadium is perfect and even the rin has stopped (temporarily)!

Mini Stats an Little Miss Stats are with me too.

Here's the view from out seats.

Thanks John!

-- Post From My iPhone

Friday, July 03, 2009

Astraware Solitaire 59p in App Store

If you're a fan of card games, and particularly solitaire, you could do worse than check out Astraware's Solitaire for the iPhone, newly released into the App Store at the bargain price of 59p.

I have this on the Palm platform and it was great. Astraware have ported this to the iPhone where the increased screen size have enabled rich graphics to complement 12 really playable solitaire games.

I don't play games a lot on my iPhone, and those I do are relatively simple, but the key is they're eminently playable. This looks like one of those, and well worth 59 of my hard earned pence.

Thanks to Astraware's Alison Barclay for giving the heads up on this on Twitter (follow Alison - @AlsiB).

Live shipping map

One of my sad chums sent me this, as he thought I'd be interested. I am!

How cool is this? A live world shipping map. You get a Google map style interface littered with graphics denoting ships in real time. Hovering your mouse over one of the ship icons tells you the name of the vessel, speed and direction. Clicking one brings up an archive photo of the vessel, displays the flag it's registered under, and details such as breadth, length, speed, direction, status (underway etc), destination, ETA, draught, and links to open further details.

There are different graphics for ferries, cargo vessels, tugs, high speed vessels, yachts etc. It also shows navigational points of interest such as oil platforms, and VTS (vessel traffic services) stations (I just Googled that, I didn't know it!)

Absolutely fascinating. I spent a good hour or so last night clicking around the worls to look at stuff, especially close to home around the Welsh coast (not much apart from a few ferries and tankers!).

If you like stamp collecting (I don't), you'll love this!

New City Stadium opener

Cardiff City play the first match at the new stadium tomorrow when a "Legends" match sees some old City heroes wheeled out to play.

I'm sure it will be an emotional moment for many, but I won't be there. I just can't get fired up about these sort of things generally, and anyway I should be supporting the cricket club's 2nd XI who are playing at home (chairmanly duties and all that).

The real business doesn't kick off until 8th August as far as I'm concerned, and even that's still in the middle of the cricket season!

Anyway, as I'm on the subject of the beautiful game (football), City have made a few signings this week. In come Mark Hudson (Charlton) and Liverpudlian Gerrard, though sadly it's not Stevie G, but cousing Anthony from the mighty Walsall (I jest of course). Also looking likely is Motherwell's Paul Quinn. Well hopefully they'll stop the goals being scored. Ross McCormack our prolific striker has penned another contract (thank Gawd for that), sol hopefully he & Chops will bag hatfuls of goals, though it would be nice to have a striker above 3ft 4in in the team. All we need now is some midfielders, because the one's we've got (possibly Ledley and Rae apart) aren't up to much.

Anthony Gerrard & Paul Quinn

Worst ever football kits

This story over at Sky News, not a site I normally frequent, took my eye.

It's a trawl through some of the worst football kits in recent history. There's not a lot, I'm sure more could have been found, but of those featured (and there are some pretty dire ones, I think my vote goes to the one David Seaman was wearing.