Monday, March 10, 2008

Relocated

Due to the greater flexibility offered by Wordpress and finally getting to setting up my domain, I've now moved to http://alison-young.com.

All posts have been imported into the new account. Adjust your blogrolls and rss feeds accordingly.

This blog won't be deleted, but it won't be updated anymore.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Miro

Last night I did some further reading on Miro which I became aware of a couple of weeks ago. Miro is an open video player that utilises the VLC media player and also features an array of internet channels with all free content and an inbuilt bittorrent client. It also enables you to download and save videos from YouTube, Google Video and seven other sources. Before it was renamed to Miro in mid-2007 it was called Democracy Player and DTV.

This application initially interested me as I often get video's in my rss feeds that I do want to watch but not always at the exact moment I have the item open. It's untidy and inconvenient to have several pop-out windows loading at once and sometimes the environment isn't conducive to watching videos. Previously I've also found watching videos from browser windows to be laggy and sometimes they fail to load entirely.

What particularly impressed me about Miro is the ability to download videos only when I want to see them, but also that the downloaded videos can be set with an expiry after which they're automatically deleted to free system resources. I like to watch BoingBoingTV and VLog 'episodes' but don't need to retain them after viewing. The channel searching and browsing is novel but I don't foresee that I'll use that feature often. Searching and downloading clips from YouTube to watch later is useful and searching is quick and quite accurate. The ability to limit bandwidth used by Miro is good and there are plenty of options regarding how often you'd like new videos in the channels you've added to be downloaded and managed.

Miro did crash a number of times while downloading videos however after restarting, the application instantly picked up where it left off. Given that Miro 1.1 was released a mere 10 days ago, a couple of initial crashes can be forgiven. It has been running quite stable since.

Extra kudos must be given for having installers with simple clear instructions for Linux, Windows and Mac systems. Within the Linux installation page, Ubuntu had it's own guide with instructions for installation on either of the three latest Ubuntu releases.

In summary I'm impressed with what I've seen so far of Miro. For me it is a great way to store and keep short videos for later viewing. I don't plan to use Miro for large file and playlist management but according to the website it's more than capable of doing that. Have an explore, it's refreshing to find such a great application that solves a long-standing niggling problem.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Widget

I've discovered to my absolute delight that I can in fact add a widget to my blog which shows links that I've selected to share from my GoogleReader rss feeds. In effect this could be seen as being lazy, but I'd like to defend that by stating it is now easier for me to share the more interesting things I find and no more difficult for my readers to find more rapidly changing content.

I've also registered my own domain for a bargain price. Now I just need to determine what I'd like to do with it and organise a page and hosting. I'm actually looking forward to developing some more web skills in terms of basic page design and coding in addition to learning more about how domains, space hosting and creating a statement page can all come together.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Popularity and Nerds

In 2003 Paul Graham wrote an essay as to why nerds are unpopular. Beginning as quite a detailed account of how the groups within a school function, specifically how nerds fit in and why they are victimised by the popular people before graduating into the role of modern teenagers in society. This offers some sort of explanation as to apparently why teenagers are the way they are and how it is merely the product of the 'adult world' and their lack of ability to engage teenagers and thus two disparate worlds are formed, the teenage and the adult.

It's an interesting read and while I can't overly identify with all aspects of it, I suspect that's due to differences in the American and Australian school systems, difference in lifestyle and engagement with my parents and other adults.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Link Goodness and job fun

My new contract has been indulging a few of my geeky weaknesses. I've had a really good time learning about how mobile phone towers communicate with each other and with our phones. The basics are that I'm in charge of testing new 3g towers and collecting data from around the place using a variety of expensive gadgets and software. Part of my job also includes adjusting the electrical 'tilt' of tower sectors where required. Learning how to do that was the basis of a 'field trip' today including a first hand look inside the shed at the base of a local towers which housed a lot of cable, racks and other assorted goodies in a white air-conditioned room.

Onto the links that are grabbing my attention this week.
  • LOLcode - it's real, it's out there and apparently there are employers seeking LOLcoders with at least a month of experience. It looks like fun, I wonder if they'll let senior programming students use it when they get to pick their own language.
  • Street kids running their own bank - this is so inspiring to me. Why aren't more children being so innovative and gaining such important skills?
  • Model of Scrooge McDuck's money bin - link is to the set, I highly recommend going through each of the pictures as the detail and attention put into this is incredible.
  • Portrait Landscape Sketchbook - this is more novel than anything else, but I still think it's cool though I'd likely never actually buy one.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

BoingBoing Link Roundup

All sorts of interesting links today. I'll try to keep discussion short and sweet.
That's the end of the slightly odd-ball but pretty cool links for the day.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ubuntu 7.10 and more

I upgraded my Ubuntu install this morning. It sounds like a feat but in fact it was so easy that literally anybody can do it. Closing applications, making sure you had an internet connection and then hitting 'Upgrade' in the package manager. Walk away for a little under an hour and that's it. My input was required once - to tell the installer what to do with a customised file.

Upgrade complete and system restarted to find that my settings were just about all intact, including transferring settings between a major application upgrade and the smaller subtleties such as remembering my Firefox session. Overall I have to say that from the onset I am very impressed. Tweaking for the next few days is to be expected to get everything just how I like it, but the new Ubuntu is quite able to used with little problem straight out of the box. Whether you're upgrading from 7.04 or creating a fresh install using a CD, Ubuntu has never been easier or more accessible to those interested in wishing to use linux for everyday computing.

Here's my list of interesting links of the week. Enjoy!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Impending Upgrade

In the most poetic way possible, the topic of my last post about technology being the source of frustration has happened to me personally over the last week. One of my most frequently used applications has been throwing error messages at me at random for the last week, usually not a huge dilemma but it has been getting on my nerves a little.

So like any logical person would, I went out to seek a solution. Turns out my operating system is outdated again, such as is the way with Open Source applications. I can solve my problem with Gaim and upgrade my operating system at the same time. I have a new project for this week :)

I've also been finding lots of interesting items in my RSS feeds of which I'll publish in another post.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Technology and Blame

I'm presently listening to Cory Doctorow podcast Bruce Sterling's The Hacker Crackdown. The link is to Part 1, there are 15 parts in the podcast to date. I am a little behind and was listening to Part 4 this morning.

In brief the book section was describing how technology, specifically computers, can in many ways do tasks more quickly than humans could ever hope to. Humans have in this case handed over control of communications networks to 'senseless but powerful machines'. However when things go awry, or break, humans instinctively look for somebody to be responsible and subsequently to blame. They are unable to accept that when something has gone wrong, it may be the fault of a computer glitch and thus no human is actually to blame. What then happens when a frustrated and inconvenienced person is unable to be angry at another person?

They look for somebody to blame. Typically this takes the form of hackers or some other evil person, instead of the more likely scenario.... a glitch in software. In the example described by Sterling, the error was due to a single mistyped character in the software.

This had me thinking about the number of times I've seen frustrated people attack an innocent party when software hasn't fulfilled a persons expectations, though it may be functioning perfectly. Let alone when systems do in fact come crashing down which happens from time to time and is often the fault of nobody in particular. In this emerging era of technology integration with society humans need to learn how to deal with frustration without automatically seeking another human to blame. In my experience there are precious few with this skill, though I believe it coincides with the ability to see past short-term frustration and seek a workable solution to a problem.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Creative Commons 2007

I've learnt that Creative Commons has just launched their fall fundraising campaign, though it's spring here; the newly revamped website is looking good and wonderfully easy to navigate. All you wish to know about creative commons is now easier than ever to discover.

The badges for blogs and sites to promote the fundraising are stylish also. Here's my pick of the lot:
Support CC - 2007 Support CC - 2007

The really good news is that the campaign was only launched a little over 2 weeks ago and is already over 20% of the way to the goal set. It will continue until the 31st of December