28 September 2007

My New Phone

After much deliberation, I finally decided on which phone I was going to upgrade to last weekend, and went down to my local 3 Store to get it. This had become an increasing important issue, as my old phone (the now repugnant Motorola V3x), which had been becoming increasingly eccentric over the last 8 months or so, had moved into the final stages of doderage, to the point of being near unusable - I couldn't add any new contacts, or even login to Facebook mobile!
I decided for reasons of practicality and price to go with with the Nokia 6110, over my heart's desire - the N95 (I'd also looked at the Sony W880i, but ruled it out for being too fun and not practical enough). Both have GPS - which I have no real need for, due to my continued refusal to bother getting my drivers licence, HSDPA, and a slew of connectivity options. I managed to convince myself that I could live without the Wi-Fi capabilities of the N95, however reluctantly.
How pleased was I then to discover that there is a shortage of 6110s at the moment, and it would be a few weeks until they arrived? Given the urgency of my need, I was "forced" to buy the N95. I must say, after 3 years away from the Nokia, I am very please to return. Web browsing, Skype, double-slide for mp3 and widescreen viewing - all in all a good package. Enough so, that I almost immediately updated my data package from 10Mb - which even with my crappy Motorola I had trouble keeping within - to 100Mb, and soon probably to 1Gb.
So more to follow about my unholy relationship with my new mobile device.

24 September 2007

Stephen Fry - technoshaman?

I just became aware of Stephen Fry's new blog. His first post is an essay (for real) on the development of smartphone technologies. Given the lack of true wit in the world nowadays (an in particular, in the digital realms, and even more particularly, the techno areas), this is a particularly refreshing read. Enough so that I read most of it aloud to myself, mimicking Stephen.

It really is a very good read, highly recommended for the technophiles. Of course, I may be slightly biased, in that I feel that:

a) Stephen Fry is one of the sole remaining exponents of actual humour, in the sense of it being funny to the brain, rather than the arse,
b) He gives a small nod of approval to my newly acquired phone (which isn't a smartphone, but is rather clever and fun, but more on this later).

10 September 2007


Mild synchronicity events this week. I went to a breakfast seminar hosted by Anecdote which looked at the use of Narrative Techniques for Knowledge Retention. Quite an interesting seminar, with provided some new concepts for me to investigate (Most Significant Change) and some new books to find (A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink). I'd like to say new books to read, but I suspect it will be skim, given my current backlog of 30 or 40 books (plus 7 or 8 games, plus 4 or 5 TV series, and God knows how many movies). Courtesy of an interview with Arthur Shelly done for the presentation, it provided a great example of the perils of lost knowledge, and the importance of meta-metadata (recording why something important is being done, not just what the important thing is and how to do it).
So it was that with narrative on the brain, I ended up watching a movie called Stranger Than Fiction, which I had wanted to catch while it was playing at the movies, but missed as I was moving house at the time. Now, if you want to see a movie about narrative, you could do a lot worse. The central premise is that a fairly ordinary guy starts to hear a woman's voice narrating his life, and - through a single sentence - changes the course of it. Not the belly-laugh comedy the trailers sell it as, but a quite interesting and entertaining little gem.
It also examines the nature of "story" - that almost all stories are either comedy or tragedy, depending on the outlook of the protagonist, and that powerful stories aren't always the best stories, and vice versa. It also manages to examine a story from the perspective of the writer, the reader AND the main character - simultaneously!
Then, to top it all of, I ended up doing a bit of re-research to remind myself of the (in)significance of the MacGuffin - courtesy of the almost archetypal example of one in Ronin - which I also watched by pure chance over the weekend.

7 September 2007


I've spent the odd spare moment over the last week trying to get my work PC (which runs Windows 2000) to look more Windows "Vista-y". This was because with all the screenshots and image capturing I've needed to do, I want the captures to look modern enough that someone won't throw away the important stuff in 6-12 months because it looks old (note tenuous connection to KM). I figured that if the casual glance and low-res screenshot looked close enough, I'd've achieved my goal.

Feeling I'd reached a brick wall towards the end, I posted a question on Yahoo! Answers asking anyone for advice on how to make Windows 2000 look more Vista-y. The response was ... negative, its fair to say. I did get some suggestions on where to get Vista wallpapers and icons, which is about all I was hoping for, but of course the comment from most was that their completely different and it can't be done. I think perhaps I didn't say strongly enough that I knoew I couldn't make my machine look exactly like I was running Vista, but just wanted to look like I might be, if no one looked too hard.

So, accepting that the degree to which my desktop could be Vista-fied, I set to work altering the colour scheme, changing the icons, and doing all the other things I could get away with without an Administrator log-on - which my IT area is reluctant to give me, as always. I started with the icons, and decided against the default Vista set, instead opting for some icons that sported a kind of glassy, 3d look, with an icon set called NotePage, which fit the bill perfectly.

Next, the desktop colours. Colours are tricky, since Vista has the funky glass effects to match the title bars and everything to the background image. The solution was to create a colours and gradients similar to the desktop wallpaper. I set the wallpaper to be "New Aurora" (which I downloaded from here), as it essentially worked of a 2-colour gradient already, and then created some custom colour to roughly match the colours at the left-right extremes of the screen. The 3d object colour (which affects the bottom taskbar and the different application borders) I made a similar greeny-grey to that from a screen capture of a Vista desktop using New Aurora.

The end result looks like this, and I've got to say, I'm pretty happy with it overall.