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Showing posts from April, 2011

What is it with barbecues?

April has favoured us with some prematurely fine weather so we had our inaugural barbecue of the year this evening. For any normal meal we would generally decide on a meat component and build on that.  Perhaps we would enjoy a beef dish or a chicken dish or a fish dish.  Once the idea of barbecuing is mentioned however  all concept of dietary reasonableness goes out the window: "Steak is good on a barbecue so lets have some of that and some chicken and some sausages and some barbecued salmon  while we are at it.  Don't forget the chicken wings and we need  peppers and mushrooms and onions and potatoes and plenty of crusty white bread while we are at it." Choosing to serve a green salad on the side does not compensate. 

What would you say to a cyber criminal?

I am sitting at my PC having just hung up the phone following a conversation with a cyber criminal. I was working at my pc when the phone rang. I picked up and a woman introduced herself as  representing "Online Computer Security" or something like that. The lady had an Asian accent and the line was quite poor so I guess the call may have originated from somewhere in Asia. She proceeded to tell me that they had detected numerous internet problems originating from my computer and  that she would be able to fix it. Thankfully I was somewhat awake and realised that this was a scam . What should I do? Hang up the phone or perhaps try to get more details to forward on to the police? In the heat of the moment I saw red and my temper took over. While she was explaining to me how important it was to allow her to "fix my computer" (no doubt by downloading a virus from some website) I let rip: "You are an unpleasant person and you work for an unpleasant company&quo

Playstation Network Data Breach

It is not that long since any reference to gaming in the mainstream media was accompanied by a picture of a dribbling youth clutching fiercely to a 1980's era joystick so it is something of a surprise to see that the Playstation Network data breach is headline news here in Ireland today. Even more surprisingly the mainstream radio channels I have listened to have had quite sensible analyses of the breach and what it may mean for affected customers. In this respect they are even ahead of the normal techie news channels like Slashdot .

How much do you spend on games?

Portal 2 has been released to high accolades and fan fair (and the inevitable bit of controversy). It is a game I would like to play. It is a game I intend to play. Yet I am not playing it. Noticing that several of my friends on Steam were playing the game I thought about this and wondered why I wasn't joining them. The answer is very simple - it is too expensive for me at the moment. This is not a rant against the economics game industry or any part of it, It is purely a statement of my own personal situation and a query perhaps as to whether anyone else finds them self in a similar situation.  What it boils down to is this: I spend about 20 hours every week playing games yet games come pretty far down the priority list of household expenditure. It isn't that we are badly off but I just don't feel comfortable spending more than  €50 or so on game purchases every month (last year for example I spent less than €400 on games ). I need to squeeze 80 hours of gaming out of th

Where are all the weekend bloggers?

One of the disappointments of this here new fangled internet is that the whole of the blogosphere seems to go asleep at 6pm on Friday and not wake up again until 8am Monday morning. I realise that for many of us reading and writing blog posts is an activity best carried out during business hours when we are supposed to be gainfully employed doing something else but I feel it is time to move on from that. Our brains have become so accustomed to a ceaseless flow of digitally transmitted information that this 48 hour break at the end of every seven days has become intolerable. I call for an end to this quietude. Today is Saturday. Blog I say. Blog like you have never blogged before!

Solved! The mystery of the dissappearing app tabs.

App tabs is a lovely feature of Firefox 4. It allows you to sticky tabs turning them into small icons on the left hand side of your tab bar. Firefox will remember your stickied tabs between sessions.  I make gmail an app tab for example and every time I run Firefox there is the gmail tab waiting for me unobtrusively in the top left hand corner of my screen. I find the feature less obtrusive and yet more useful than the speed dial feature in Opera because you don't have ot go to the home page to get your frequently used tabs. Unfortunately the current incarnation of app tabs don't seem to be as sticky as you would like them to be.One issue is that they start up to the last page you viewed in the tab rather than your chosen page. The app tab for Gmail for example is likely to show you the email you were reading the last time you shut down Firefox.  Another annoyance is that Firefox sync doesn't sync app tabs between different computers. The most infuriating feature however

Continuing Browser Confusion

I have ended my brief flirtation with Firefox for Android . Its current incarnation suffers from painfully slow page rendering and the re-formating for the small screen leaves a lot to be desired. Opera Mini 6 for Android on the other hand has turned into a really great browser now that the initial bugs have been eliminated. Opera mini 6 has lightning fast page rendering and a much improved tab implementation compared to Opera 5. Tabs now load properly in the background allowing you to read one page while the next loads in the background. It supports proper pinch zoom as well as double tap to reformat the current paragraph to fit the screen.  The page reformating is the best I have seen on any mobile browser and really enhances mobile browsing. I played around with Safari on my wife's Iphone and it really misses this feature. Sadly Opera mini 6 is not available on the Iphone yet. Moving back to Opera mini on the phone tempted me to try Opera 11 on my desktop. Opera 11 doesn'

How I learned to love Expensive Cables and other Rip Offs.

I am looking for a hdmi cable so yesterday I wandered into a major home entertainment store to see if they had the cable I need. Sure enough they had a big stand of hdmi cables between the home theatre systems and flat screen TVs. It was a slightly heavier sell than I expected for a simple cable. A multi-screen display looped a presentation eulogising the benefits of hdmi and stressing the importance of choosing the right cable for the job. It was pretty clear from the presentation that the "right cable" was the top of the range "ultimate super duper awesome adamantium plated" cable costing a staggering €120. If you are a cheapskate and prepared to take chances with your shiny new home theatre system you could always settle for the lowly "super duper gold plated" cable costing only €80. Now I am an electrical engineer and I know that hdmi is a purely digital protocol.  As long as the cable has sufficient bandwidth to carry the digital signals the metre o

Gaming Update

I haven't been slacking on the game front despite the lack of gaming news on this blog. Last week I completed the single player campaigns of Aliens versus Predator (2010 version) while this weekend has seen me playing Just Cause 2 and dipping briefly back into Lotro. AvP is an enjoyable shooter with the standard three campaigns: alien human and predator. The atmosphere and game play do not match up to the ten year old AvP2 unfortunately but the game is still worth picking up if you can get it on sale. I didn't play any multiplayer but the characters are so imbalanced that it is had to see how that would work out. Predators are ridiculously over powered. By the end of the game you have the ability to make one shot kills from stealth without breaking stealth. I have only just started Just Cause 2 and so far it feels like Red Faction Guerilla on steroids: Zipping around a huge island by means of every form of transport imaginable, causing mayhem wherever I go. The storyline miss

Thoughts inspired by a comparison of Android and Iphone

I have had a Samsung Galaxy S Android phone since Christmas. My wife acquired an Iphone 4 two weeks ago. We both love our phones but one annoyance for me was how much more responsive the Iphone feels in use. The Samsung running stock 2.2 Android Froyo would often lag and feel sluggish. I solved the lag by installing a custom Android kernel called SpeedMod which performs much behind the scenes magic without disturbing the front end user interface. It is a terrific mod which makes the phone fly. I can now whizz around my Android with the same speed and grace that my wife navigates her Iphone. Installing the mod is not for the faint hearted however. You need to break into the operating system through a process called rooting which almost certainly invalidates your warranty. I spent hours trawling hacker forums and websites gleaning the relevant information and further hours figuring out how to back up the rom before I started so I that I could reverse the process should the need e

New Graphics Card (except it's an old graphics card!)

It is two and a quarter years since I last replaced my gaming graphics card. This is something of a personal record and I take some credit for wisely choosing a card with such longevity (a 1Gb Radeon 4850). I have to admit though that the PC gaming scene has changed considerably from the days when every new title was expected to push graphics cards to their bleeding edge. Today my aging card comfortably handles every game I throw at it. Nevertheless technology pushes on and when even even a lightweight title like Magicka demands a minimum of a 512MB 8800GTS then it is probably no harm to keep an eye out for a possible upgrade. My normal rule when buying graphics cards is to look for a good card around the €200 mark with extra graphics ram if possible. Such cards generally offer excellent performance for the money while the additional memory helps a lot with longevity. Today however I have just ordered a card costing closer to €100 than €200 and it has the same 1 Gb of graphics ram as m

Adobe drm, epub, Android, Aldiko, ebook lending libraries, how to

How to download and read adobe epub books including library books using Aldiko reader on your Android phone. In a previous post I described how I have become an e-book convert and my reader of choice is Aldiko on my Android phone. One of the big advantages of Aldiko is its support for Adobe drm epub which seems to offer a wider choice than Amazon's kindle format and is also the format supported by many e-book lending libraries. Sadly using Aldiko with Adobe drm is not as easy as Amazon's one click purchase and download. In my last post I described a complicated process involving downloading the book on the PC first. Unfortunately this process let me down when I tried to borrow an ebook from my library because library books seem to have an even more restrictive form of Adobe drm which restricts reading to the device the book is downloaded to. Happily I have now discovered that you can download Adobe epub books directly into Aldiko from any website. Here is how: I use Aldiko