Wassup 2008

As seen more or less seen everywhere on the blogosphere (micro/SocNet or otherwise) here’s a film guaranteed to make you smile:

I almost had a tear in my eye in the last frame. The US people have got such an opportunity. Surely in 20, even 10 years time this will be seen as a turning point. I hope that it’s upwards, but it still could be towards darkness. The Human race is on the real cusp of a new age. It’s an extremely exciting time to be alive, but we’ve got so many tough decisions to take. To use an apt financial metaphor for these times of troubled financial institutions, as a race we must realise that we are morally, financially and environmentally overdrawn. There’s just too many of us. The Earth is way past being a finite resource to plunder and a plughole to wash away our crap. The bottom 10% are getting poorer, yet the top 10% are indecently rich. The only way to maintain this is to remove people’s rights. But what examples do we set to poorer people who see the rich West ruining their own countries.

Somehow I cannot see a continuation of the Bush regime being of help in our future. I hope that in 9 days time I will be happy to go live in the US (not that I plan to mind you!). I’ve never had that feeling before, but I envy the Americans now. I really hope the American people realise that they really do hold a lot more than just their people’s fates in their hands. They could truly have a leader to be proud of (something that as a UK citizen I’ve never felt).

By JOVE those dry protocols are all fancy!

As spotted on Sandra Porter’s never less than interesting blog here’s a wonderful idea to help you understand the science. A website devoted to visualising experiments/publications in video.

Journal of Visualized Experiments

I think you would do the site a great disservice if you described it as Youtube for the bench scientist, but in a way that’s exactly what it is. Except instead of inane comments (who reads Youtube comments?), it’s the publication, with enough information to repeat the protocol. Sometimes when reading a protocol, nevermind the sparse methods and materials of a paper, it’s hard to come to grips with some parts in enough details to do this yourself. Watching somebody do that is surely almost as good as visiting the lab, and surely a lot cheaper!

A Prepaid Broadband SIM without an APN

Here’s a very good idea from the ever interesting WirelessMoves blog. This is one of the 10 blogs I read on a daily basis (well check on a daily basis, and read when there’s a new post!)

A Prepaid Broadband SIM without an APN: “

In an ideal world you take your notebook wherever you want and that built in 3G modem or USB dongle gives you access anywhere. That pretty much works today while you stay in the country of the network operator you are with. As soon as you move out of the country, however, hyper expensive roaming charges spell the end of the fun. Mrs. Reding will surely improve the situation over time but it won’t come quickly, especially for notebook access.

The practical solution today is to buy a prepaid broadband SIM, now available in many countries , and replace the home operators SIM while staying abroad, if the 3G device is not locked. The main issue for most users, however, comes afterwards. Usually, each network operator uses it’s own access point name (APN) and sometimes even a username and password that has to be set on the notebook. This is an action that most people are not really very comfortable doing.

The thing is that this is totally unnecessary. O2 in Germany for example has recently introduced a feature in their network to accept any APN. As a consequence no matter what the user configures or even if he leaves the APN blank the connection will be established. While I don’t like O2’s approch to do it for all SIM cards, it would have benefit when being used in combination with prepaid broadband SIMs. Add to that a big fat note on the sales package that no configuration is required beyond putting the SIM in your already existing open 3G device and you’ve got a sure winner.

A simple thing to be done and I would not be surprised if operators in countries such as Austria, where you can buy prepaid SIM cards for Internet access in any supermarket for a couple of euros, would start to implement this feature soon to make it easy to switch to them. Switching to them, that’s the incentive for them to do it! And a strong one at that.

So this is the practical scenario: You arrive at the airport in another country and after baggage claim you head straight for the next ‘I sell everything and nothing’ shop at the airport to get such a SIM. You put it into your dongle or notebook and that’s it. Or even better, it’s sold by the plane’s cabin crew on the flight.

The only thing that stands in the way of this in many countries is the requirement to identify yourself when buying a SIM card. But in countries such as Austria and the U.K. where this is not required, it’s totally feasible and operators have the will to think about it. And in countries were identification is required, how about identifying the user via a landing page where he has to type in his name, address and maybe credit card information that can be checked? In some countries like Germany, name, address and passport number is all that is required and SIM cards are activated by some prepaid vendors like that over the Internet.

I think many travelers wouldn’t think twice about paying 20 euros for a gigabyte or so even if they are just in the country for a couple of days. And it’s likely that most of them wouldn’t fully use the 1GB anyway. A good deal I would say for everyone involved!

(Via WirelessMoves.)

Introducing Nokia Map Loader for Mac

Wahey. Nokia are really putting effort into supporting Macs for their phones. The Nokia Beta Lab has just announced a Map loader for the Mac (Nokia Maps). OK Nokia Maps is not a great app, but it’s not bad, and it’s free, and beats Google Maps on minimising data usage, since you can download all the maps via this app!

Introducing Nokia Map Loader for Mac: “

Guest writer: Steve A, the product manager of Map Loader for Mac



I am pleased to announce the beta-release of Map Loader for Mac 1.0. It allows you to load Maps to your device via your Mac, rather than over the air. Particularly useful if you are planning on travelling to a new area you are unfamiliar with. Save on that phone bill.

We get a lot of feedback through the existing application, Nokia Multimedia Transfer, for all sorts of features and one of the requested items has been a Map Loader for the Mac. So we have worked away to bring out version 1.0. In terms of functionality it is similar to the Map Loader for PC 1.0 but with a definite Mac look and feel. We also wanted to give our Mac users, something extra, so we have added one feature we are hope you will find useful, a history feature.

You will need a device that can run Nokia Maps. See maps.nokia.com for more information. You can also check the compatibility list for Map Loader for Mac. You will also need to install Nokia Multimedia Transfer if you haven’t already www.nokia.com/mac/multimediatransfer.

Getting started
Firstly make sure you have a memory card installed in your device, unless it is a product like N95-8GB with built in memory. Run the Maps application on your device. Once you have done this, you can connect your device to your internet connected Mac using your USB cable. If you are using Nokia Multimedia Transfer to transfer music etc, it is best to wait for this to finish transferring. Then launch Map Loader for Mac. You can then drag and drop various maps elements such as countries to your device. And the history feature? Well not groundbreaking, but it lets you see what you have transferred, and you can use it to reload the same set of maps as a later date.

Giving feedback
You can send feedback via the application itself, or Nokia Multimedia Transfer, or add a comment to this blog post. We look forward to hearing what you think. Ideas may not make the final 1.0 version, but could appear in a future update. Also fairly soon we will have an update to Nokia Multimedia Transfer which should improve the performance of the Nokia Map Loader for Mac.

One more thing…
I am sure there is another Steve who uses that phrase. Please keep all the Mac feedback coming. We do listen and hope to offer more solutions in the future

Enjoy – Steve and all who have contributed in the development of this product.

(Via Nokia Beta Labs blog.)

Linux RAID Wiki

A lot of people keep coming back to a post from 2006 I wrote about expanding a raid5 array. Although that post is still very much relevant 2 years is a looong time in the Linux kernel world, and things have moved on. Rather than use the information here you’re better off going to the Linux Raid wiki. This is very much an active and up to date resource for playing/creating and using Linux software raid and MDADM. It’s contains the thoughts and the resources of many people from the very interesting Linux Kernel raid mailing list.

Phone blogging!

Here is my first phone written blog. Not the rubbish email ones i did ages ago but honest proper ones using scribe. Apparently the best Symbian based one. It seems to be good, although any such phone tool that does not allow you to see the state of the t7 spelling seems flawed to me. lets see how this looks!

OO.org for the Mac… natively and no X11 needed, Awesome!

So we have a native OSX version of Open Office. How awesome is that? I’ve spent many years using Open Office. From StarOffice 3.0 on OS/2 (I vaguely remember paying for that), the earlier versions of the free OpenOffice and even writing my Ph.D thesis using OpenOffice 1.0 on Linux. Since moving to using a Mac a lot, not being able to share documents between Mac and Linux has made me use Office 2008 in the main. The lack of integration of the X11 based previous versions was too painful to use really. I’m so pleased that this version has come out. Let’s give the servers a while to cool down from the pummeling they’re currently getting, and let’s give it a ride!

Major update for Nokia Email service

Nokia Beta labs have released an update for Nokia (push) email. Sounds very promising! I’m especially pleased by deleting email on the server, and also able to add more than a single email account. Both of these I’d sent in feedback about. Cool!

Major update for Nokia Email service: see your suggestions coming to life: “

Guest writer: Davis Fields, Nokia Email service team

Hello Beta Labs!

Today, the Nokia Email service team is proud to announce the first updated beta release. Nokia Email service is designed for Nokia device owners to make mobile email easily discovered and intuitive. Since we launched on August 8th, we’ve received thousands of questions, suggestions and positive feedback about Nokia Email service. We’re pleased to say that we’ve taken four of the most popular feedback requests from our users and implemented them in this release.

  • Localization. We’re now localized into six different languages, including full support for international characters, which has been a very popular request from our beta testers from all around the world. This release localized in English, Finnish, German, Dutch, Latin American Spanish and Iberian Spanish.
  • More email addresses. Now Nokia Email lets you get mail from up to 6 email addresses, each in its own mailbox yet all in one place, and makes composing from any account seamless.
  • More phones. Nokia Email service is available on more of the most popular Nokia S60 devices, including many of the latest S60 3.2 devices like the N96 and the N78.
  • Better mailbox management. When you delete an email on your Nokia phone, it will be deleted from your email account. We’ve enabled this for both IMAP and POP accounts.

If your request is not on this list, that doesn’t mean we’re not working on it. For instance, the bug where messages didn’t appear in the sent folder has been fixed (messages will now appear in the sent folder after they have been sent). One area I want to highlight that we’re working on is Google-Apps hosted email. The setup is currently not working correctly for Google Apps and similarly hosted domains (where the email address domain is different than the mail server domains). We are aware of this and are working diligently to implement those accounts in future releases.

Again, keep the feedback coming in, and we hope you enjoy this new version.

– Davis Fields

(Via Nokia Beta Labs blog.)

Battlestar Galactica season 4 on DVD – yeah right

So BG season 4 is being advertised as being on DVD release now. It’s in the supermarkets, Amazon and probably the newsagent. It’s all so exciting, especially the big boxset with all four seasons. Just imagine more or less 2 days of some of the best TV and best SciFi for ages.. Except what happens when you get to the last episode of season 4 and you feel slightly unfufilled….. I think it’s a real cheat to advertise this as being the proper season 4. OK the writers strike did affect many series, and let’s not go into whether they were right (the writers probably have the moral highground here), but why hide it? BG series 4 part 2 has not even been filmed yet. Most viewers and fans know this. Except their relatives do not. I hope some fans grannies do not spend their pension on what they think is the best present ever for their precious nephew/niece only to make their nephew/niece have to fake their happiness whilst hiding their intense disatisfaction at not knowing yet whether Adama, Starbuck et al reach Earth.