K2

Upgraded the site to a new theme – K2 from Michael Heilemann is a turbo charged theme for WordPress which is more than a theme – it’s a mod. Supports numerous plugins and comes with it’s own option panels. Currently still in beta and a little rough round the edge’s but like this theme I do. I’ll be updating more through the week with some new plugins and pages. For the moment there’s a few links that may be broke – they’ll be fixed soon enough.

Also moved all images from my host to Flickr. Makes cleaning up my web space a bit easier and hopefully future upgrades will be a lot tidier. It took a while but what else was there to do on a wet and windy day, apart from watching the cricket – I’ve become a closet test match watcher!

House improvements update

New FenceNever did I think painting a fence, and only one coat at that, would take so long. But it did. All day Saturday and Sunday to paint the bitch and although I’ve still got the second coat to put on it’s looking top smart. Main difference is that the fence is straight and sturdy and won’t sway in a gale as proved by last nights wind. In an ideal world we’d put the same fence up on the other side but our neighbours aren’t playing ball and if I’m being honest…they are a pain in the arse. I guess that’s a neighbours role.

Anyhoo – soffits and guttering is also painted and the garden tap is fitted – ironic since the weather has turned since it was fitted. Apologies to everyone for ruining their summer. Just the windows and door to get fitted and some painting inside and our ‘upgrades’ will be complete. Joy.

 

Good to Talk and search and...

Google’s been busy – Google Talk has been unleashed and an update to Google Desktop. The Talk application allows anyone with a Gmail account to talk to one another or just IM as per any of the other IM apps. Free, simple and open source as it’s built on Jabber protocol. Nice.

Google Desktop is more than a simple upgrade. They’ve dropped the ‘Search’ from the title and now include a Sidebar that similar to the sidebar that was once in the Vista beta’s and can be picked up as freeware elsewhere. The desktop search is also more refined, popping up in a small window similar to MSN desktop search. Nice. The sidebar is pretty ugly though. Although it can check your Gmail account, weather, has a quick launch window and can check stocks and shares it’s all been done before and clutters up the desktop. I prefer to use just a search entry box and see the results.

What’s frustrating is that there is a lot of duplication between Google, Yahoo, MS and others all clambering for the same market. Where’s the originality? Kottke article expands on this some more – WebOS anyone? Maybe one day but the confusion between what the big players offer, an increasing lack of trust in web browsing and e-mail never mind web apps and the 80-85% userbase who will never switch from IE 6 makes me think that MS will be in control for the foreseeable future and that a suite of web apps may be useful but will never truly replace desktop apps. And remember – as a company gets bigger it gets all the more hated.

Now You See It

New monitor with flashYet another game show reference – this could be a trend. Anyway – the new monitor has arrived and it’s fantastic. Why didn’t I buy an LCD ages ago. It’s a 19 inch LG (LG 1980Q to be precise) and I can’t fault it’s image or the design of the monitor itself – there’s just so much room on my desk now. The screen rotates and mirrors as it’s physically moved and the buttons are heat sensitive – well there had to be a gimmick of some sort to make it worth purchasing. Highly recommended.

Note – no dead pixels yet although I’ve avoided temptation after the PSP hunt.

 

The Price is Right

Xbox 360
£280. That’s the price for the Xbox 360 in the UK and it will be launched this year (rumoured last week in November). This is the first console that has been released so close to the USA launch – kudos to MS for doing that and also coming in at a respectable price. The £280 gets you:

  • Xbox 360 console.
  • Xbox 360 Hard Drive. 20 GB and detachable.
  • Xbox 360 Wireless Controller. Nice but has a range and battery life of up to 30 feet and 30 hours of life on two AA batteries. Not much so the battery pack and charger become essential purchases.
  • Xbox 360 Faceplate.
  • Xbox 360 Headset.
  • Xbox 360 Component HD-AV Cable. (I NEED to buy a Plasma or LCD screen)
  • Xbox Live Silver membership – who cares – I want Gold.
  • A bonus Media Remote: Included for a limited time, the integrated control centre for the entire digital experience lets consumers play DVDs, movies and music, as well as access their Windows® XP Media Centre Edition 2005-based PC’s controls with a single remote. Nice.

I reckon that’s quite a bit of hardware for £280. It would have been nicer if it came with HD-DVD but it’s still an impressive package. Not so good is that a cut-price 360 will be available for £210 that has everything except no hard disk, no headset, a wired controller and no free remote. This will be the first console to launch with different hardware options which for me means developers will code against the lowest hardware specification – no hard disk. This might not sound a big deal but the Xbox took great advantage of the hard disk so it will be disappointing if dev’s feel curtailed by this step. It also seems strange that MS have spent the last 3 years building up Xbox Live, have spent the last three months talking up the new 360 service and the online marketplace which will have lots of paid for downloadable content yet launch a console which doesn’t have the headset or the hard disk. Odd. Unless they were trying to get near to £200 and/or the price point of the soon to be launched PSP.

With around 4-6 must buy launch titles it’s going to be an expensive Christmas. I can’t wait.

 

A new path

Could be a title to some new way of thinking, a change in direction, a step forward. But no. The first of this years house jobs has been done and at the start of this week it wasn’t even on the list. We’ve had a new path laid and it makes a pretty big difference. The path before was full of cracked concrete and old pre-war slabs. The new path looks and feels so much better.

That leaves:

  • New door
  • New windows
  • Replace fencing in the back garden
  • Paint guttering and pipes
  • Outside tap

So much to do….so little time (and money!!).

Down South

Cutting the cakeHad a quick trip down to Peterborough and Scunthorpe. Nice time had by all and coincided with Hamid’s 32nd birthday. Doesn’t time fly when your getting old. Good to catch up with everyone and I managed to avoid my usual trick of ordering an overpriced gadget that I didn’t really need. Although since then Shakeel has ordered a laptop so I’ve kept up my part of the bargain and ordered a new monitor. Now if only someone could ship it to me before the weekend. Swine’s.

 

Bestest Games

Games

My bestest games from the last 20 years. Not always technically the best but certainly the ones I’ve enjoyed and played the most. How many can you name (including the year)? I’ll update Flickr later with the details and I’m sure I’ve missed some classics but it was fun putting this together.

 

PSP Web Browser

Sony have brought out an updated firmware that will stop warez and hacks from working but also adds a web browser, updates to wireless protocols, swapping of pics from PSP to PSP and also theme and background picture support. As I wasn’t using much of the hacks and warez I installed the update and also purchased a wireless router – the KCorp KLG-575 – which although isn’t an ADSL router adds fast wireless connectivity in my house (for £47 at Amazon). The verdict – pretty good.

The PSP can connect anywhere in the house to the router – outside it really slows down but I’ve not really though to much about positioning of the router. If outside browsing becomes a must then I’ll add an aerial to boost the range. The browser is pretty feature rich for such a small device. It can display style sheets, entry forms, tables, frames, and many other web features although Flash and other video formats aren’t supported. The browser also supports tabs although there is a limit of three tabs opened at once. The screen display is good although being a small size you do have to scroll around the screen quite a bit. I’ve put some sample pics on Flickr. Bookmarks are supported although text entry can be a drag even though common entries like http:// and .com are easily added. Even secure connections can be accessed.

Files can be downloaded and played back on the PSP. For example, I visited Graham’s site, downloaded his new song and played it back on the PSP. Nice. Podcasts can also be grabbed this way. From about 10 metres away I grabbed the 3 meg file in under a minute which I think is pretty good for a wireless connection. I’m not looking for massive bandwidth – just speed that allows me to browse and chat. With that in mind a cheap, small laptop will be purchased soon.

One of the other drawbacks is that the PSP only has 32Meg of ram. This means certain websites are too big to display which is a shame – only found two out of twenty today that failed. Ultimately this is a great upgrade and really makes it a multimedia device. While laptops can already do everything a PSP can, nothing comes close when considering cost, size and functionality. The Video iPod (September?) has it’s work cut out.