Archive for February, 2008

Windows Live SkyDrive

I have just got home from school and received an email from windows live telling me of its new service called windows SkyDrive. This is something welcome to me because I like to know things are safe no matter what, I will certainly be uploading all my must keep files to this service when I wipe my laptop clean.

The idea behind this is to give you 5GB of space to upload your files to, either for backups or to share your files with friends or whatever. I will be using this service to upload my music so I have it at any computer I want, but it could also be used to store important files or irreplaceable pictures. Not only will this keep your files safe and unreachable by any computer fault, but it also gives you access to your uploaded files on any computer connected to the internet. So say you are at somebody’s house, you want to share a song with them but you have forgotten your PMP (Portable Media Player, much better term than MP3 Player), so normally you would have to troll the internet to find this song. But now of course just sign in to SkyDrive and get your song straight away.

I know there are similar services out there, ones that are and aren’t free, but 5GB of space is very generous and it is all incorporated into Windows Live, so if you are signed in for their instant messenger or any of their services, you have quick access to all your uploaded files. Of course it is not perfect, anything free is not perfect, but it is certainly useful. One feature which I would really like to see is the ability to sync with a folder, so say if I told it to upload all my blog posts, instead of having to upload every new one, it could just search the folder daily and upload anything new. But I have been after that functionality with my pen drive with no luck, so it doesn’t really matter.

So take a look at it today, you don’t have to sign up or anything, it is just included with your Windows Live Messenger account.

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Pogs

Who remembers Pogs? Pogs were great! I had a huge clear out of my cupboard because it was such a mess of all my old toys you couldn’t find anything, and if you did find anything then you would have to take everything out to reach it. So I cleared everything out and threw loads away, I found a few little treasures though. I found my Pokémon cards, knuckleheads, Beyblades and all my Pogs! So yes, Pogs.

This was how the game went:

  1. First each player placed a set amount of Pogs in a pile face down.
  2. Each player throws their slammer (a heavier Pog) on top of the stack of Pogs created at the start of the game.
  3. Any Pog which lands face up is given to the person who threw the slammer. All of the other Pogs are then collected and put back into the pile, it is then the next players turn.
  4. This continues until there are no Pogs in the pile. If the players were ‘playing for keeps’ then the players keep what they won, but if not the Pogs are redistributed to the original owners.

 

I loved all these little fads we had in our youth, they were all great and pointless. Today brought back some good memories of the good days.

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Google Reader

Today I thought I would have a look at any new Google stuff, there was not much and YouTube was still classed as new. The only decent thing there really is Google Reader. Google say it can be said to be an inbox of your internet, but I say it is a glorified RSS reader without the site needing a RSS feed. The basic idea behind it is that you add a site to your subscriptions and instead of having to go through all your sites you check on, you just go to Google reader and it will show you anything new on the sites you have selected. Personally I use it to check on my friends’ blogs to see how badly they are doing and also for it to tell me when he new episode of Lost is on the internet (I watch on the internet because I cannot stand adverts interrupting).

So yes, if you have sites you check on daily I strongly recommend that you use Google reader because it just puts everything in one place and the site does not need an RSS feed to be added to your subscriptions. Just go to reader.google.com (I think you need a Google account) and just follow what it says.

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Format War Finished (just like I said it would)

Well recently it was announced that blu-ray has won the format war, Toshiba has not admitted defeat yet but many shops are no longer ordering HD-DVD movies or players. Blu-ray has far more studios backing its format and after seeing that HD-DVDs near defeat shown in the news the public will definitely not be buying any new equipment in this inferior format. I have always said to my friends that Blu-ray will win and HD-DVD does not have a fighting chance, people could have gone down the line of thought that HD-DVD players are cheaper, but they were cheap because they were bad.

I think that the main thing that swayed things in Blu-rays favour was the fact that a Blu-ray player was as standard in the PlayStation 3, people may have not had the format war in mind when buying their PS3, as long as the games worked they would not be bothered, but when HD starts to take over they will already have the technology needed. So Blu-ray was already in people’s homes where HD-DVD was not, maybe there would have been a decent battle if HD-DVD was standard in the Xbox 360, then both formats would be in people’s homes and Blu-ray would not have the edge, but Microsoft sat on the edge so thankfully the superior format won. Another factor which gave Blu-ray a good change was its inclusion in computers, so Blu-ray was deep into the market, where HD-DVD was nowhere to be seen, people needed to find HD-DVD but Blu-ray was right in your face. The ting that won the battle for Blu-ray was its huge studio backing; I cannot be bothered making a list but blu-ray had the huge majority of the major studios so Blu-ray had most of the market. So HD-DVD had no chance from the start, right at the beginning I would have confidently bought all new equipment in Blu-ray being confident in the fact blu-ray would win. As soon as the price of the PS3 falls (maybe Christmas) more people will be getting the blu-ray technology and HD-DVD will be wiped out.

So long story short, shops are reluctant to buy a format which is barely alive, Blu-ray have many many more titles then HD-DVD do, Blu-ray is already in people’s homes with the PS3 and high end computers. So HD-DVD do not have a leg to stand on, the only good thing it has is low price, but that is a desperate act to try and keep alive. Just forget HD-DVD exists because Blu-ray has won.

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Day Moon

 

I have noticed this happening quit a lot recently; it must be a late winter/early spring thing because I don’t seem to see it any other time of the year. When I have looked the moon has arrived around 14:00 for the past 3 days, I don’t know if it has appeared earlier because I do not wait to see when I can see the moon, but it is very early for the moon isn’t it. A few weeks ago the moon was there at around 15:30 (just getting on the bus home from school) which I thought was impressive, but these last 3 days have beat it by hours. Also I remember years ago when I was at primary school I saw the moon at as soon as I arrived at school, so that was probably to moon leaving late rather than arriving early like it has been doing recently.

So yes, it is strange isn’t it, the moon is much nicer to look at during the day, compared to the sun. Doing some research on why it can be seen some days I have also found out that Venus can be seen during the day sometimes if you block the sun from sight, it says you will see a little pale star, so I will be looking out for that one.

So now to answer how the moon can be seen in the day. First of all the moon needs to be over the horizon to be seen during the day. The moon goes all the way round the sky once every 28 days. Around full moon time the moon is opposite the sun and the moon rises around the time the sun sets. After full moon the moon gradually drifts Eastward each night, it gets closer to the Sun in daylight. That is the information I found after a glance though the internet, it makes sense but it does not explain my it is seen some days and not others, I do not see the moon in the sky monthly, and not just because there are clouds in the way, so I want and explanation for that aswell. But I cannot be bothered at the moment so here is a nice animation of the moon’s rotation about it’s own axis.

(click the picture)

 

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Wacom Bamboo

Okay, so finally my graphics tablet has arrived. My very lovely Wacom bamboo tablet, for the great price of £54 (plus p&p.) It’s about time aswell because I ordered it on Sunday. But I am not too bothered because I am very happy with it, so happy that I am writing this post with it. There is nothing at all wrong with this tablet at all, all the buttons are customisable and responsive, I just cannot flaw it at all.

It is not only functional but it looks great, perfectly sized in every way, width length and depth, most things I have to say about anything is negative, but there is nothing negative tot talk about, so I am finding it difficult to say a lot about it. One issue, which isn’t an issue because it goes away after the first day of use, but you need to get used to using it. The problem is that the active area is a scale model of your monitor, so when the pen is in the bottom left corner of the tablet, it is in the same place on the screen. This is a problem for a while because you find yourself using the pen as you used a mouse, but after you get used to it it is much better than a mouse.

I will be using it mainly a mouse replacement, but also for Flash and the occasional photo editing. One thing that was annoying me before buying this tablet is that I could not find a detailed description of how to use it, so I will give you one now. As soon as you plug your device in and have the pen near the tablet you will notice that the curser will move. To move the cursor move the pen just above the surface of the tablet, when contact is made this is the right click. There are two buttons on the pen which are customisable to anything really, including launches of programmes or files, to keystrokes. The buttons on the pen only work when close enough to the tablet for the curser to move, you can change the settings for these buttons to only work when contact is made. The buttons on the tablet itself are just liekt he ones on the pen and the touch wheel is for scrolling and zooming.

So to clear up what was confusing me when I bought it, hover to move curser and make contact to click, simple as that. Great device which is a great introduction to the world of graphics tablets, certainly when I buy a really decent computer setup I will have a decent graphics tablet with it.

 

(buttons on the tablet are normally backlit)

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Force Restore iPod Touch/iPhone

Let me just start by saying that people who do not want to hack their iPod out of fear of breaking them, YOU CAN NOT BREAK YOUR iPOD. No matter how much it looks like you have broken your iPod you have not broken it beyond repair, this method will always fix you iPod and bring it back to factory settings. It should work most of the time with the iPhone, but there have been some reports of people breaking their phones beyond repair, so i guess this does not always work with the iPhone. But if you were sensible and bought an iPod Touch then you are free to do all the hacking you want and you will always be able to fix any problems you may have.

It is very simple and will only take a few minutes:

  1. Connect your device to your computer and open iTunes.
  2. Hold down the “Home” button.
  3. Keeping “home” held in hold the “sleep/wake” button.
  4. Keep both held in until the apple logo shows
  5. As soon as the apple logo shows release the “sleep/wake” button.
  6. Keep the “Home” button held in until the iTunes logo and a picture of the USB lead is shown.
  7. Now release the “Home button and follow the instructions within iTunes.

There are many reasons why this would be needed, I think on the second day I got my iPod I messed up a jailbreak and found this method, since then I have had to do this around ten times trying new jailbreaks for new versions, often iTunes does not even recognise my iPod, most people would see this as totally broken. But this method always works and always gets you up and running again. So go and hack your device as much as you want, you will always be able to get back to the start with no problems.

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