All Geek to Me

August 22, 2008

Some day my prince will come

Filed under: Geek Stuff — britinla @ 4:11 pm

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince was due to open in cinemas in November. It was recently announced that this has been moved back to July 17 2009. We have nearly a year to wait. It seems that the writers strike had left the studio without a large blockbuster for next summer.


August 19, 2008


Filed under: Geek Stuff — britinla @ 3:35 pm

I am sure that you think that you get a lot of spam. All email users are afflicted by this curse. However, I was amazed to find that the company for which I work received less than 280,000 valid messages in the 4.3m emails received in July; that is over 15 spam messages for each real one.

August 18, 2008

Even Hope Is Leaving Pandora’s Box

Filed under: Geek Stuff — Tags: , — britinla @ 7:27 pm

For those of us in the US, Pandora is a wonderful concept. The ability to create a radio channel based on the listener’s music taste is a great way of introducing one to new artists. Unfortunately, the narrow minded music industry sees this not as an opportunity but as a threat. I would miss it on my laptop and my iPhone; I want to discover new music, but that may be taken away from us all.

August 17, 2008

New Laptop

Filed under: Geek Stuff — britinla @ 7:08 pm

My mother-in-law needed a laptop of her own. She has been using mine for the last few weeks, which left me without a web browser, email client, and IM when playing PC games. Looking at Craigslist, I saw a perfect laptop. The problem was that it was ideal for me and not for my mother-in-law. The simple fix was to purchase the unit for me and give her my laptop. For just $230, I now the proud owner of an iBook which is in excellent condition and has the latest version of OS X that the Power PC processor supports. I have spent the afternoon tidying up my old laptop and setting this unit up. It made an excellent job of connecting to our wireless network, finding the printer and shared drives. I have installed a version of OpenOffice, so I can word processing and spreadsheets. 

Since this is my first real use of OS X, it is taking a little while to adjust, but the overall experience is excellent. The responsiveness of the laptop is very impressive, especially given the specs which in PC teams would be feeble; 700Mhz processor and 640Mb of RAM. Given that the laptop will be used for web browsing, music, and word processing the performance will be more than adequate.

August 10, 2008

The iPhone Apps that I need

Filed under: Geek Stuff — Tags: — britinla @ 12:22 pm

The ability to download apps to the iPhone has further increased its utility. There are a few applications that I would like to see.

Our satellite TV provider allows me to set my DVR from a web browser. Unfortunately, the website uses Flash and so is not usable on the iPhone. An application for iPhone that exposed the DVR functionality would be appreciated; even better if it included a search by program name.

In conversation people often recommend movies. It would be useful to have a application to add these films to a Netflix queue. The Netflix website does work from an iPhone, but it I’d not optimized for the device,

My third item on the wishlist is on the way; I would like an application to play Interactive Fiction. This would allow me to play the old Infocom games and the more recently written pieces.

August 9, 2008

Jedi Gym

Filed under: Geek Stuff — britinla @ 1:18 pm

This You Tube video makes me realise that I have a long way to go before I truly achieve geekness. Do watch right the way through, as it seems to lose its way a bit about three minutes in, but finishes strong.

August 7, 2008

Shiny Emails

Filed under: Geek Stuff — britinla @ 9:26 pm

In Everquest 2 there are items scattered across the world that are collectible. If a character finds all of the items in a collection they can hand them into a collector who will swap the completed set for a reward. These items appear in game as a glowing question mark on the ground. They are commonly known as shinies. There are many players, me included, who find it nigh impossible to avoid rushing off to grab shinies that we see in passing. This can be a very bad idea, especially when working in a group. The main fighter is doing her duty and wonders why the damage she is taking is not being healed; the healer has been distracted by a shiny.
It was the image of a character in EQ2 being distracted by that sparkling question mark that came to mind when I heard Jeff Attwood in the Stackoverflow podcast refer to the shiny object problem. He was referring to the effects on time management of being distracted in the middle of a task and losing focus:

I’m looking up something and it’ll remind me of a music video or I’ll get a music video result in the search and go ‘Oh I remember that music video’ and just have to watch the video which relates to the term that I was working on. It was actually ‘Popular’ this video by Nada Surf. I was like ‘Oh I remember that song’ of course I had to go watch it, then I had to look up the band and see what they’re doing.

This is a real problem, even without the distraction of Google offering links to subjects more interesting than the work at hand. Programming in a language that shares a name with my favourite style of games causes this temptation to rear its head from time to time.

However, much more frequently and just as detrimental is the shiny effect of an incoming email. If you have email alerts on, there is an almost impossible to resist impulse to suspend what you are doing, read the email and start to respond. If you deal with the email ad return to the original task, the effects are not too bad. However, it is easy to be caught in a vicious cycle of reacting to the next email, before you have completed work on the first one. A few distractions deep and you have little chance of recalling the original task, so even if the emails stop coming in, you will not work your way back up the queue.

There is a simple solution, which does even require you to rise above the temptation to chase shinies. You can either close your email client while you work, or if that is not practical because it takes too long to open and close, you should definitely turn off all email notifications, so you are not distracted by new emails until you have finished tasks and are ready to get new work from your Inbox.

August 4, 2008


Filed under: Geek Stuff — britinla @ 7:46 pm

Context is everything. I interviewed a candidate whose resume contained the imodest claim that he is an RPG Wizard. I think he was refering to his programming ability in the AS/400 language, but my thoughts turned to cloth wearing spell casters in Dungeons and Dragons and my own 68th level Mage in Everquest 2.

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