Monday, 24 November 2008

Replacing FAIL with WIN: returned boots & tough Nano

This weekend I did two stupid things. First, as we were loading up the car and setting of for a weekend of visiting friends, I managed to leave my walking boots on the back of a neighbour's car. My arms were so full of stuff that I couldn't get to my keys to unlock the boot, so to free up a hand I popped my boots down on the errr... boot of the car parked next to mine. Unfortunately, after packing the boot I neglected to pick them up again. Boots FAIL.

Secondly, on returning home on Sunday evening, I did some washing. As I was hanging it out to try I noticed a worryingly familiar shape inside one of my pockets. Yes, my "missing" 2nd generation iPod Nano went through a full 40ยบ wash lasting 2 hours 3 minutes, including rinse, wash and 1200 RPM spin. Whoops. iPod FAIL.

I'm feeling upbeat now though as after leaving a note on the windscreen of the neighbour's car on my way out to Pilates tonight, my boots have been returned to me unharmed. Also, after sitting in the airing cupboard for 24 hours, I braved plugging my iPod into the PC and despite the gnarly water damage to the screen, it powers on and my music is still in place. It remains to be seen whether or not it will hold charge, but for now I'm declaring WIN.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Aggregation, the next big web thing

So there you are, spreading your little digital fingerprints all around the WWW by creating little pieces of publically viewable data all over the place. Blog here, Flickr there, YouTube this, Digg that, Facebook him, Twitter her, contribute to this, comment on that. Also, if you're like my Dad, you won't be to sure of what the passwords are for your logins on any of those sites, and if your cookie expires or someone logs you out, you'll be deep in the do-do (and probably on the phone to me!).

Where as aggregators such as iGoogle and Netvibes enable you put all your favourite things belonging to other people into one convenient page, is an aggregator that very quickly and easily enables you to gather all of your digital fingerprints into one convenient, automatically updating page. In addition you can skin and decorate your page, and use Tumblr style quick blogging features for adding content to your soup manually. Brilliantly, you can quickly try it out without even signing up.

Perhaps the best feature though is their "Everyone" page, which displays all of the most recent posts to all of the soups and features an excellent never-ending scroll function which dynamically loads more content as you near the bottom of the page. Every time I visit, I find beautiful imagery, videos, quotes, song lyrics... the standard is high enough that I'm treating is as being a bit like a self-managing, always relevant, best of the web. How long it remains that way is a seperate question of course.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Geo-diary with Google Maps

To combat my terrible memory, throughout this year I've been creating maps of trips I've taken using Google Maps. The "My Maps" feature is very easy to use and I've been creating a map per trip and then using markers to denote where I've been and when.

I do sometimes wonder if I'm too reliant on Google services (docs, mail, maps etc), but when they're so usable it's hard not to just keep on consuming.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Punishment for prudence

I've been toying with posting about the current economic situation for a long time, and have until now deferred to those more knowledgable and articulate around the web than me, but recently it's got personal and I can resist no longer.

For anyone who hasn't taken an interest in the ongoing economic predicament, here's a great piece of pre-req reading for this post from Robert Peston (August 2007), explaining the whole sub-prime debacle. Warning: economics is addictive.

When I graduated from university and started working, I had financial choices ahead of me. On one hand lay a 100% mortgage, debt and property ownership and on the other lay paying off my debt and saving with the hope of getting a better interest rate on a mortgage later. I chose the second path, and started paying off my debts and amassing a nest egg.

It's now 7 years later, so lets review my progress. I've paid off my student loan in full and built up a sizable amount of savings. I've done so in a period of historically low interest rates, meaning that I've received a poor return on my savings and also during a period in which average house prices have more than doubled meaning that my odds of being able to purchase property have significantly diminished.

It transpries that my diligent saving over the last seven years helped to give the banks leverage to lend money as loans, mortgages or even to gamble with super senior credit default swaps. However, as illustrated by the recent kerfuffle in Iceland, when a bank goes to the wall, it's savers like me who are in trouble first. The banks don't seem to go back to all those people who've taken out huge mortgages and say "Sorry chum, I like your £2m pound house and all that, but you're gonna have to sell it and pay back your debt.".

To loop back to the start of this post, Iceland is where it got personal for me. I had a lucky escape as my sizeable Icelandic savings lump was in Kaupthing Edge, so after a stressful week I magically became an ING customer as my savings account was sold off as part of KE 's rapid deleveraging. In my office, a colleague was left in the lurch as his ICESAVE account got frozen just as he needed to pay his son's first year tuition fees for University. Perhaps worst is another colleague who's buying his first property right now (I've told him he's mental) and who's deposit has become entrapped in ICESAVE, leaving him with a high likelihood of his house purchase falling through.

The most irksome thing about of all of this though, is that now that I've learnt my lesson that saving does not give you rewards (just look at today's MPC decision to bring the base rate to 3%), the economic climate won't support me. I've decided I want 100% mortgage, a hot tub, a Porsche and some 1st class round the world tickets, but unfortunately for me, there's no credit available now. Bummer.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Status: October

Sorry for the one month break, and this partial status, the move to the *New* Facebook layout got in my way for a while.

14 October
10:21 Tim checked his O2 bills and found some oddities. £170 refund next month.
18:36 Tim is at LHR T5 trying out Ramsay's Plane Food.
21:34 Tim is awaiting baggage reclaim in FRA.
22:24 Tim is a bit gutted to discover that his hotel contains a thermal spa, given that he didn't bring his trunks.

15 October
17:04 Tim is tired after a day of over-enthusing about speech recognition.
18:24 Tim has been given a wristband for the Voice Days 'banquet'. Ummm...

16 October
15:41 Tim is pumped up about vlingo.
18:30 Tim passing the time in Frankfurt airport with a massage.
22:54 Tim is lolling at n00bs using IRIS at Heathrow.

17 October
10:39 Tim is waiting for Dell and speaking to his Blackberry with vlingo.
12:50 Tim is still waiting for Dell, been eating May's Minstrels and Look What We Found pork meatballs.

18 October
11:44 Tim is playing World of Goo on WiiWare and trying to fix the Tivo.

19 October
14:35 Tim is testing hot tubs.
22:44 Tim is waiting for his 350D to sell.

20 October
23:17 Tim has been eating ice cream and drinking lemsip.

21 October
10:36 Tim has an impressive selection of ulcers under his tongue. Ouch.

22 October
10:28 Tim is getting ready to watch Helen on This Morning, then vote vote vote!
11:14 Tim would like everyone to call 09016 161302 (before 12pm) and vote for my friend Helen to win the This Morning competition!
12:00 Tim is all voted out, lines now closed. Bring on the BT bill.
12:20 Tim is so pleased for Helen. WIN!

23 October
14:20 Tim good do with feeling better. More HSM required.
23:13 Tim is uploading EcoMyParty footage from This Morning to YouTube.

24 October
09:55 Tim is watching this morning and voting for Eco My Party!
11:02 Tim is dialling 09016 161304 - repeatedly.
12:40 Tim is so proud that Helen made the finals, but sad she didn't win.

25 October
20:27 Tim is not seeing Mrs Ranger dressed as Bumblebee.

27 October
15:17 Tim is in the office today, boo. Edinburgh tomorrow.
20:22 Tim can't upload his Marley compilation because the Facebook video upload page is BROKEN.

28 October
20:10 Tim is back from Edinburgh.

29 October
10:51 Tim waiting at home for Benq today.
20:56 Tim has a new Benq, DVI socket working, Dell still not outputting over DVI :(.

30 October
13:37 Tim has his 6500 classic back (fixed, apparently) so Fb mobile is back on.
16:43 Tim 's plane broke down, flight delayed indefinitely. Now on standby.

31 October
15:26 Tim is in Madrid, many travel mishaps yesterday, still don't have luggage.
20:48 Tim still has no luggage, helping May with emergency christening shopping.