Addicted to Facebook

After just two days I have to admit that I’m already addicted to Facebook like it’s some kind of drug. It’s really amazing – it takes the concepts of Friends Reunited and blogging, adds a slick appearance and easy accessibility and cross-references pretty much everything you do on the site to make a completely absorbing experience.

I can’t help myself from logging in from my mobile phone at least half a dozen times a day to see what people are up to, see what messages have been left and to change my ‘status message’. By being so quick and easy to use you really get a sense of what your friends are up to and already I feel as though I’m back in contact socially where I had been a bit of an email recluse before.

I’ve also just switched to using Gmail for my personal mail (with all its fantastic spam-filtering goodness) and the slick mobile Gmail application on my mobile so I’m really going to be back in contact now. Time to upgrade my mobile tariff!

A new Apple Crumble

I’ve now moved over from my old web host to a blog hosted on the WordPress.com site.  I’d been thinking about making a change for a while after reading Rob Newman’s web page about moving to an eco-friendly web hosting company.  I had a bit of a browse around but I couldn’t really see anything that was aimed at someone who wanted webspace primarily for blogging – ie quite cheap and with some kind of guarantee that Movable Type would work.  I had problems a while back with my current host when I upgraded Movable Type in that certain Perl modules that I needed weren’t available – it took a few emails to convince them that any good web host would accomodate installing the module I required.

Having thought about it even more, I realised that I’ve not had that much time to blog recently and I started to question the value I was getting.  I’ve written around 250 posts since April 2004 so at £105 for a year’s posting it has cost me over £1 a post!  It’s not that I can’t afford it, but with a baby on the way I’ve started to think a lot more about the fact that what I’m spending is longer really my own money any more.  Expectant put it very well in his post back in November and it reflects exactly how I’m feeling.  A free blog seems like the answer to me.

My first thought was to head to TypePad, which is a hosted version of Movable Type – the blog software I am familiar with – but it turns out that you have to pay quite a bit for that as well so I wasn’t saving that much cash.  A little more delving revealed WordPress.com – a free host – and it has been surprisingly easy to migrate over to this site.  Yes, it’s a little more limited in that I don’t have complete control over the site (or the code…or what types of files I can post…) and yes it’s ugly (for now at least until I can grab some of Mat‘s time to help me with the CSS that is), but it is free, has good features built in and seems to have a very enthusiastic and honest company behind it. Ultimately it should just leave me to worry about writing entries and not all of the other gumpf that goes with running a website which will be no bad thing as my free time gets limited when the baby arrives.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time this week fixing images, links, documents etc and moving the videos over to YouTube (which hopefully doesn’t impact the integrity of the original posts).  If you find a problem, please leave a comment or email me about it!  Thanks.

A whole new world

Many thanks to Ray for sending me a link to the reviews of Peter Andre’s and Katie Price’s album A Whole New World. Very amusing indeed. I won’t ask why Ray was looking at the album’s page in the first place…

BookCrossing


Read and Release at BookCrossing.com...
Top marks to my wife for letting me know about the brilliant service at BookCrossing.com. The idea behind the site is that you log a book and get a unique identification number for it which you then write onto a label or even just write by hand into the book. The text is something like this:

“I’ve registered this book at BookCrossing.com so I can track its journey through this world. Please go to www.BookCrossing.com/123-456789 to let me know you found it, then read it and/or pass it on for someone else to enjoy. Thank you!”

You then leave your book somewhere in the wild for somebody else to pick up. They can then go onto the website and register that they picked it up. Once they’re done with it, they can pass it on to the next person or leave it somewhere.

If you don’t fancy writing the text by hand you can download some cool labels instead and even buy special plastic bags to put them in so books left outside won’t get wet.

I’ve no idea why I find things like this so interesting but I know that it plays completely to my geeky tendencies. I’ve just labelled up a couple of books that we found we had two copies of here at home and we plan to release them tomorrow. I’ll put a permanent link on the right-hand-side of the blog that will show all the books I’ve released. Brilliant.

Easy computer assistance across the web

Fog Creek CopilotHave you ever tried talking someone through how to resolve a computer problem over the phone? I recently used Fog Creek’s Copilot software to help my father-in-law when he called me with a problem. It was incredibly simple – I signed up for a day pass and was given a small exe file to download along with a passcode which I had to share with my father-in-law. Once he had the code he went to the Copilot homepage, downloaded and ran the small file on his side and I then took control of his computer!

It was fantastic. He’d just bought himself an external USB hard drive and some backup software and I was walking him through how to format the disk over the telephone. The problem I had was in trying to remember exactly where the correct menu items were and what boxes to check in order to do the format – I was imagining windows as he described them to me and at a couple of points I didn’t understand what options he was being presented with at all. By using Copilot it was problem solved – with his desktop in front of me it took me about five seconds to navigate to the appropriate place and get the format started, all the time while he watched and I talked him through what I was doing.

It’s not dirt cheap – I think the session cost me about £5.50 – but it’s not crazy money either and it does last for 24 hours. Instead of trying to walk through things verbally and not being sure if we’d got to where we needed to be, Copilot saved us a lot of time and him a lot of headache. Next time your friend or relative calls you for some computer assistance this may be worth a go.

Project management resources

I’ve recently been looking for a few new blogs to read this year that are related to my job. John Musser at Columbia University maintains an absolutely fantastic page on project management, with links to books, example plans, methodology information, software downloads, blogs, handy del.icio.us and technorati searches, and quality assurance documents to name but a few. Great stuff.

UK house price checker

When we were moving to Berkhamsted, we used a good website to look up how much other houses had sold for on the same street – I thought this was great although it cost us a pound for each price we wanted. Somebody emailed me today to ask what the site was, but I couldn’t remember. A quick Google search led me to NetHousePrices.com which I am happy to say is free! Hope somebody finds the link useful.

Dharma Trails

It’s great to see that Martin, a guy that I’ve been working with for the past year or so, has gone ahead and set up his blog. It’s a great time to do it – he’s just jetted off to Nepal for a little travelling and to spend some time in a Bhuddist monestary. His photos are great and I’m sure he’ll have some great tales to tell over the coming months. Good luck, buddy!

Panoramas

A colleage of mine told me about this wonderful website which has masses of digital panoramas of famous landmarks and scenes in QTVR format. If you haven’t seen these before, a good one to start with is that of the Eiffel Tower – click and hold your mouse button while dragging the mouse to move your view around and use the ‘shift’ and ‘ctrl’ keys to zoom in and out.

As well as loads of great photos there is information on how to create your own, for example with specialist cameras, special lenses, or your regular camera and a lot of patience.

You’ll need to download Apple Quicktime if you haven’t already, but it’s worth it.

More photos uploaded

Sophie, Trevor and Mat in the garden of our gite, summer 1999After reaching the maximum number of photo sets with my free account, I decided to take the plunge and upgrade my Flickr account to a pro version. For $24.95/ year (about £13.75) you get a massive 20Gb upload limit as well as unlimited photo sets. I’ve been beavering away and have now uploaded around 190 photos, which equates to about 1% of my monthly allowance!

Latest set of photos is of a lovely relaxing holiday I took in France with some great friends back in 1999 just after finishing university. I love these photos as they bring back memories of late nights drinking beers in the back garden, playing Uno by candlelight until we couldn’t keep our eyes open.

I’ll post more up when I can.

Test post from Flickr

Finchley Central bus stop

Finchley Central bus stop,
originally uploaded by doranan.

Just a small post to test out sending a photo to my blog from Flickr.

I’ve always liked this photo, even though I took it with my somewhat pathetic T610 camera phone. This is standing at the bus stop in Finchley Central outside Tesco’s on a typically blustery autumn evening. I loved the way the heavy clouds were all lit up by the sun and thought I’d keep it.

I’ve no idea how this post will turn out so good luck reading it!

Airliners.net

Reading the entry in Metafilter last week about the terrible Helios air crash, I came across the airliners.net website and was amazed at what I saw. The photos section is unbelieveable, showing all kinds of weird and wonderful approaches, landings and moody shots. Be warned – there are some photos in here which aren’t as pleasant with very graphic scenes of things such as mid-air collisions so it may not be suitable viewing for all.

Face transformer

The seven faces of meJames sent me an amusing email with a lovely set of photos of yours truly attached. He’d generated it at the Face Transformer and it shows me as, from left to right, an Afro-Caribbean, aged, a girl, ‘Boticelli’, ‘El Greco’, part-chimp and manga! (You may need to right-click the photo and select ‘view’ to see it all.)

Thanks James!