Archive for the 'Web & Technology' Category

The best of Google Streetview UK

March 19th, 2009 by Ian

Google Street View is a pretty amazing addition to Maps now we’ve got it in the UK. I’ve seen my nans house, my office and my old car but now I’m bored. I need someone to find the best bits for me. Only a few cities are covered so far, but fortunately for me that includes Sheffield. I’m finding from blogs and twitter that people that understand the technology don’t care about the intrusion, because it’s just so damn cool.

Friend of Catch21, Conrad, created this flickr group to highlight the best of Street View UK . I’ve displayed a highlight here *proudly plays national anthem*

Visit the Google Street View flickr group.

Inman’s the State of the Web Winter 2009

February 8th, 2009 by Ian
Twitter bird and fail whale

Twitter bird and fail whale

This brilliant illustrator has unleashed another ‘State of the web’ report. I love his vectors and his take on what matters on the web. I still think we cat-fans still prefer his seminal piece: How to tell if your cat is plotting to kill you, though.

The State of the Web Winter 2009

Childish twitter app #1: Twick Size

January 13th, 2009 by Ian

3 inches. Not great, but even more worrying is that, according to the ‘Newest Twicks’ column, lots of girls are a lot bigger than I am. Never have I felt like less of a man. Honest.

Find yours at

MS determined to piss off IM users

January 12th, 2009 by Ian

Pidgin logo

I use a 3rd party MSN client. In the old days, I used Trillian, then MirandaIM and now Pidgin for the PC/Linux and Adium for the Mac. Both those clients give me the ability to use many different networks (ICQ, Facebook IM, Google Talk) at the same time using just one client. Plus I don’t have to tolerate the horrible adverts and pathetically large memory footprint of the official MSN client.

Today, presumably because they hate us, MS decided to change the protocol of their instant messaging network without telling anyone. This left many who use non-crappy clients without the ability to talk to their (usually less tech-savy) MSN friends. The reasons for MS doing this are unknown, but probably something to do with MS’s unwillingness to give any sort of control to OpenSource projects and those who believe that the MS products are inferior to the close-source alternatives.

Still, I have been given a fix for Pidgin at least (thanks Ed!). The plug-in based architecture of Pidgin allows a different MSN integration in the form of msn-pecan which, at the time of writing, allows previous service to be resumed. I think both Aidum and Pidgin teams are working on fixes for their clients. Now begins the work of getting my friends to use a rather more reliable IM network!

edit 12 Jan 9.10am: Due to the good people at Adium, it was a screw-up rather than an attempt to screw users. Everything is now back to usual it seems.

MacRumours live stream pwnd by 4chan

January 6th, 2009 by Ian

I watched the Macworld Live stream last year. I just like seeing a load of shiny stuff I can’t afford, basically. So I tuned in this year to catch some shock news, which turned out to be a fiction created by those pranksters from the place which we dare not speak.

4chan Vs MacRumours

4chan Vs MacRumours

Someone tried to do something on the internet without involving 4chan. WHEN WILL WE LEARN?

Twitter hacking on the rise?

January 5th, 2009 by Ian

It seems rampant right now. Lots of speak about of account hacking and all sorts of nastyness. Perhaps this is why twitter needs a proper API key system? Flickr has one and that’s usually pretty safe. People seem perfectly happy just to give away their twitter username and password to any site or firefox plug-in (some of these are almost adware) asking for it! My advice is don’t! As with all great ‘web2.0’ *spit* apps, Twitters strength lies in its expandability and openness, but I think more work needs doing to get a secure, working, framework in place.

Still, at least there is a comedy upside (thanks to a thousand twitterers for re-tweeting this).

Apple’s environmental policy shown again to be a sham

December 9th, 2008 by Ian

We’ve all heard how Apple try and make it sound like they actually give a damn about the environment, and we listen. Then we feel slightly less bad about replacing our iPhone after a few months of use. There is plenty of reading regarding shipping material waste and Apple, but it’s still nice to see them in action, like when this box turned up at work this week:

True, we bought it from Amazon so I think they’re probably to blame as well, but don’t big companies work together on shipment policies? Amazon would be in trouble if they started shipping out iPods in egg-boxes, so why not if they do dumb things like shipping tiny items in massive boxes? I won’t even get into how it’s stupid that we even needed a new monitor adaptor in the first place. It seems to be Apple-specific and unlike the video connections to any other non-fruit-based computer I’ve seen.

My collegue was so narked that he wrote a good old rant about it on our agency website.

Finally Twittering: here’s what I’m doing

November 6th, 2008 by Ian

Obviously I’ve missed the boat a bit on this one but if anyone wants to follow me on twitter, here I am: I’m going to be looking at ways to intergrate it with my WordPress install. I’ve just started but have had no problems with downtime and slowness that used to be blogged about at length a bit ago. I’m already finding it a useful tool but then you already knew that, right?

Kosmix – a more refined searching experience

November 3rd, 2008 by Ian

Kosmix web organiser

I’d never knock Google search. It just gets the job done. But check out Kosmix if you want more detailed results without having to click round. It’s a search service mash-up, kinda. More a ‘search organiser’. Ugh, what horrible web2.0 terms! Wait; let me explain:

When you search for something in Google you can then go through to what it feels is the most relevant page. If you search for something with Kosmix, it will show you everything it knows about the subject you searched for. It does this by bringing whatever it feels is relevant. So, if I search for Alec Baldwin, for example (hey; the new series of 30 rock has started and I’m excited!) it will bring in a bio from who2, pics from yahoo image search, interviews from CNN, clips from YouTube, books from Amazon and what people are saying on Friendfeed.

All this is presented on one pretty big, well formatted page. It will also bring up related items (so in this example, Tina Fey and ’30 Rock’ and his previous films). It’s great for searching for details on musicians as well, as it’ll bring in details and also for quickly getting up to date on politicians of interest (where it brings in polling data and articles).

So is this a Google killer like some people (foolishly) claimed that cuil was? Nah. But it’s a great alternative for those who don’t like to visit 10 sites to quickly get a good picture of a person or subject.

Give Kosmix a try

Reddit meets the Indie

October 30th, 2008 by Ian

submit to reddit I am a redditor and have been for some time. Yes IM buddies; that’s where that interesting link came from. When reddit decided to open up their code to the open-source community we all knew that some interesting stuff would pop-up. One of the UK’s rather more respectable rags; the Independent has decided to utilise the capabilities of reddit to rank its own news stories. It’s great to see a big old paper embrace an open-source system like this, but it’d be better if the Indie’s comments and those upon it’s reddit pages were syncronised. Small steps tho, ‘eh.

There is an announcement on the reddit blog and the new Independant reddit is now live, albeit not as busy as it could be.

Where is your username taken?

September 23rd, 2008 by Ian

Username check is probably a good place to go when you first start out with a handle, it’s too late for me and ‘devolute’ now! What this little web-tool does is it scans all the popular web2.0 sites to see if your handle of choice is in use on their service or not. I think it serves a dual purpose of not only checking to see if your nick was a wise choice or not, but also it serves to reminds you where you may have previously registered accounts and forgotten about them.

Visit now to check if you have any impersonators!

via swissmiss

New VLC upgrade leads to disapointment

September 17th, 2008 by Ian

Videolan media player has been a life-saver for digital video viewers. I’ve used it for a year or so now and since then I no longer had to one have to muck about with stupid ‘Kazzaa’ codec packs and other crappy codecs and players. Instead, all I had to do was download a reasonably sized media player and it would open any format I could throw at it. It was a blessing and it’s on my Windows desktop, my Ubuntu Laptop and my workplace Mac. It’s never let me down, it’s fast and it ‘just works’ ™.

So now I’m obviously quite sad having downloaded the latest new version (0.9.2) which has had substantial changes. There is a new, ‘shinier’ (read: more messy) interface, bug fixes, support for even more codecs and oh yeah, now when I skip forward through video too fast it crashes. The old VLC never crashed. Never. I recommended it to everyone who just needed a video open now, but I don’t think I can do so anymore. Fingers crossed they fix it, but for now I’ll be downgrading and I think it’s another case of shine-over stability.

A screen that ships without a mouse, ships broken.

May 2nd, 2008 by Ian

Even a 4 year old knows that. Or so said NYUs Clay Shirky at the recent Web 2.0 Expo08 . He detailed how things are shifting away from passively watching television and into more interactive forms of media. He uses the example of the millions of hours of work that has gone into Wikipedia and other community-based wiki-like project by a great many people.

Media that is targeted at you but does not include you may not be worth sitting still for.

Shirky knows why we watch television. It’s because since WW2 we all have so much free time. Isn’t it better that we interact with something rather than just sit there and consume it? I think he’s right. Collectively, we watch far more adverts on TV than we do using brilliant collaborative projects such as Wikipedia. Has anyone watched television recently? 99% of it is rubbish. Getting involved with media is a lot more fun than an osmosis-like filtering of it into ourselves.

Still, regardless of this, Peep Show does start again tonight and I’ll definately be taking time out from the collaborative Web for that!

Video found via random($foo).

Macheads (or: why I’m glad I didn’t buy a Mac)

January 23rd, 2008 by Ian

First things first, I think Apple make some great stuff. Work recently put a 24″ iMac on my desk and it’s great to work with. Sure it’s not exactly crash-proof (although this is more Adobe’s fault) and the keyboard is awful, but the Apple/OS X experience is pretty good, especially with that lovely vibrant screen. I was recently in the market for a new laptop and was going to buy a 13″ Macbook. In the end a friend of mine stepped in and let me have his old 13″ Sony Vaio for much less, so I bought that instead. I think maybe in his wisdom he was trying to save me.

Old Apple logoThis trailer for an upcoming film about Mac users called ‘Macheads‘ is terrifying. I’m a pretty huge geek who uses a range of Windows, Linux and OS X machines, but the thought of getting quite as attached to a computer as any of these people makes me glad that I only use a Mac during office hours. As someone with a keen interest in design, I can sympathize a little with someone who collects old Macintosh boxes, but lines like “I have never knowing slept with a windows user” are just disturbing.

At least in the old days (before the iMac) all the hardcore Mac users had beards so were recognizable. Now they have started shaving. God help us all. I still want to see the film though.

See the trailer in question here (found via Gizmodo)