While we’re on the subject of Freddie Wong (flying iPhone 4)

13 08 2010

There’s no special effects or trickery involved here, just the imagination of a group of friends turning up something really quite beautiful, out of the most insignificantly simple idea. It’s kind of like American Beauty, but without the pretension of suggesting a plastic carrier bag is ‘dancing’. No, instead Freddie and co have sent an iPhone 4 aloft attached to a load of helium balloons, and filmed it, filming them, filming it. It’s also kind of brave, because iPhone 4s are  rather expensive – I’m sure this wasn’t exactly what Steve Jobs had in mind for the new unit. I bet they’re not getting any hand-over-the-aerial signal issues up there, though…


Is it compatible? Will Microsoft Kinect work with my existing (read: old) XBOX 360?

10 08 2010

When people know (or find out) that you write about technology and gaming, you usually get asked the same stock questions: PC or Mac? 360 or Ps3? Is Final Fantasy VII the best game ever? More recently however I’ve been the repeated recipient of a new question – will Microsoft Kinect work with my existing (read: old) XBOX 360? The logical answer would seem to be ‘yes’ but Microsoft’s publicity machine haven’t been doing them any favours here. The television adverts for the new XBOX 360 proudly state “Ready for Kinect” (as the updated console spins like a sports car on a turntable in front of us) and that’s fine, but the way the advert is presented looks forward (obviously) and tells us nothing of our old workhorses. Will they allow us full motion control, or will they (as is Microsoft’s want) force us all to purchase new hardware, to swell their coffers and the world’s landfill sites?

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Busy, busy, busy

16 07 2010

I’ve been pretty busy over the past couple of months. I spent a long time (far too long to think about) recovering from foolish 26-mile endeavours on the streets of London, so I went on holiday, which was lovely. Upon coming back from holiday, I found that about everything at my day job that could go wrong, well, had, and somewhere in the middle I found time (I don’t know how) to do a couple more articles for PC Plus Magazine. They are:

  • A feature/guide on getting the best out of your mobile, including software, tips and tricks (with not all of them apps or requiring smartphones) for PC Plus issue 296
  • A technical feature/tutorial on self-hosting FTP, blogs and games using dynamic IP address updating software DynDNS, for PC Plus issue 297

Things have settled down a bit now thankfully, so I might actually get chance to do some writing – what a novelty!

PC Plus 295 on sale now!

5 05 2010

Just a quick head’s up – issue 295 of PC Plus went on sale yesterday (4th May 2010) and features two more features from yours truly, as well as loads of great news, features, reviews and tests. It costs £5.99 and also comes with a free disc with loads of great free software.

My articles are:

  • A tutorial on how to protect, roll back and backup your PC with Comodo Time Machine
  • A community feature on scientific research using volunteer computing and BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing)

‘Erasing David’ – Staying under the information radar

5 05 2010

Last night, I watched a very interesting documentary film. I missed the first 20 minutes or so as I’d been out, but my other half filled me in on what had happened to that point, and I was soon quite involved in the tale of David Bond. David, for reasons I missed at the start of the film, decided to conduct an experiment on the nature of our ‘database state’ by trying to disappear for 30 days, while being tracked by a pair of private investigators. In all honesty I think the idea is a fantastic one, I absolutely loved it – I mean, who wouldn’t like the opportunity to play at Jason Bourne without the danger of your girlfriend being taken out by a sniper early into the second movie?

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Marathon running for geeks – supplemental

23 04 2010

With the Virgin London Marathon 2010 less than two days away now, what does a geek do to prepare? They’ve finished their hardcore training and have tapered off the effort so as not to cause any damage or pick up any new injuries, they’re stuffing themselves with unfeasably high numbers of carbohydrates and calories to load up on energy pre-event, and sitting around waiting for the day is causing their nerves to shred a teensy bit. So as a result of having some free time, mostly sitting, and looking for a distraction, they play with technology. Geo location technology, to be specific, that is going to track me and my good lady Emma around the Marathon course for friends to follow our progress online.

My Blackberry died yesterday – I got an error stating ‘SIM not provisioned:2’ which turned out to be a faulty chip on the SIM (if you move the SIM to another phone the issue follows it, but the phone will work with a different SIM in). If this happens to you, ring up your provider’s tech support and get them to ship you out a new SIM then transfer your account across – I was without my phone for a day, but having reported it at 2pm yesterday (and making a bit of a fuss at the call centre) they couriered me one out for 9am, and I was up and running by 1 this afternoon. Incidentally, this phone-death put me into a bit of a flap as it was my Blackberry I was intending to use when playing with geo location service Google Latitude, but now with the phone back to health I could put my plan into action. The steps are as follows:

  1. Install Google Maps on your device, either from an app store or by visiting m.google.co.uk/maps from your handset
  2. From the Google Maps menu, select Join Latitude and sign in with your Google Account (or register for one)
  3. Sign up for a Google Public Location Badge here – google.com/latitude/apps/badge
  4. Follow the steps to generate an embed code
  5. You can then paste the embed code into a web page, anything that supports embedding the iFrame html tag will do (unfortunately that’s not WordPress.com, but you can do it on self-hosted WordPress.org blogs). I chose to open a Blogger/Blogspot blog for this, as their blogs are owned by Google and they support the embedding of the app

From there, it will track your location to the best of its ability given the accuracy of the location information provided by your handset. My phone doesn’t have GPS so relies on the mobile coverage for tracking, but still usually tracks me to within a couple of dozen feet even in the wilds of Yorkshire, so coverage in our nation’s capital should be far better and the accuracy will be pretty tight. Please remember though, that if you’ve chosen to enable a Google Public Location Badge through Latitude Apps (and it will warn you of this at great length) that once you’ve created the embed code, the embed code will always exist. If you take down the page with your embedded frame on it, if somebody has chosen to scrape the link of the frame and embed it somewhere else, your location will still be visible. You can go back to the Location Badge page to disable the feature, though, or simply stop sharing your Latitude location from your device.

DIY Google Latitude Marathon Tracker

Tracking my trips to and from work aren't very exciting, but come Sunday 25th April you'll see me running around London from 9.45am!

Thus far, mine has only shown me travelling to and from work (not very interesting) but we’re travelling down to London tomorrow and the Marathon starts around 9.45am. If you want to follow our progress, visit:


And if you want to sponsor us in aid of Cancer Research UK, please visit:


Marathon running for geeks

30 03 2010

If I come up against some kind of challenge, task or obstacle, my first thought is usually “what could I utilise to make this easier?” I find a spoonful of technology makes the world go round, or some other confusing kind of mixed metaphor, but the principle works. If you want to paint a room, use one of those self-cleaning even-distributing electronic paint pods, rather than getting more paint on yourself and your carpet using the traditional tray-and-roller method. If you need information on the move use your data-enabled smartphone, rather than scouting around for an internet cafe, paying £3 an hour and feeling obliged to drink stale filter for the duration. If you’re booking a holiday use the web to find the best price and comparison sites to get real reviews on the destination and hotel, rather than trusting to travel agents who are basically obsolete in this digital age (and will tell you anything to make a sale given the massive amount of business they have lost to the web). What can you use, though, if the challenge is one of pure physical endurance and stamina? How can technology help if the task is simply you, 26.2 miles, and a whole lot of pavement? I’m running the London Marathon to raise money for Cancer Research UK (you can sponsor me by visiting my JustGiving page), but what technology can you utilise to help you get around a marathon? 

The London Marathon

I will be in there (somewhere) come April 25th this year.

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