Web Tools Update

  • Visit flickr – notice anything different? Some updates to the styling and some new functionality. It’s also officially moved out of beta…to gamma. It would be so wrong of any web app to officially move out of beta – just wouldn’t be web 2.0. I’m liking the changes to the search and organisation links. Organizing photo’s is a bit easier to – made the whole site easier to use.
  • Google Trends. Nice app for stat whores and info gatherers. Compare search patterns for up to five search terms and see some pretty graphs and also how that search term is used locally and across the world. For example, look at the increase in the term Edinburgh around festival time. Also links to related news items if available. Great app.
  • Google Notebook. Another Google app which has just been launched – this allows you to link and clip web sites. Online research tool basically. Download an extension for Firefox to allow easy access to your one or many notebooks from the browser (IE also). From what I’ve used it’s fine – no rss or xml sharing of list though so it’s not yet a del.ici.ous rival. Wasn’t there a Google Bookmarks app as well? There was – which has tagging of sorts but not much sharing. Combine the two and you’ve got a far better app.
  • Google Calendar. Has become my full time calendar replacing 30boxes and Outlook. Easy to use, search and is integrated nicely with Google Mail. There are other more feature rich apps on the web but this meets all my needs.
  • If Google integrates mail, calendar, notebook and some sort of to-do then it would be a perfect online organiser. Hopefully it’s only a matter of time. The apps (apart from to-do) are all there but have the feel of separate applications that are not well integrated. A wee bit of Ajax magic would soon sort that.


BBC HD Sample 1
Someone has recorded Planet Earth from the new BBC HD trial service and uploaded it to the newsgroups. Quality of the broadcast is excellent – I’ve uploaded a few snaps (resolution not quite right of jpg – media player issue).

Can not wait for Sky HD which promises to be this years must have new technology. 13 days to go.

360 News

So…..Microsoft’s announcements. Again the Jostick write-up contains all the details but my thoughts are…


  • Halo 3….but no release date. Trailer on Marketplace and it does look very good especially as all the content is in game and rendered on the 360 although there is a bit of Sony style ‘should’ make it to final game in the Bungie announcement.
  • Forza 2 for Christmas, Gears of War this year, Pro Evo next gen debut is the 360
  • Grand Theft Auto releases same day for PS3 & 360 so good in that there is no wait…whether the 360 is the best platform for it (Xbox GTA was far better than PS2 GTA) remains to be seen
  • New hardware – Wireless headset, wheel and the camera – all in the run up to Christmas. HD-DVD too but not much said. IGN have some great shots of the hardware. The headset will be a purchase.
  • Live Arcade getting lot’s of new content but a lot of it is in the shape of arcade classics
  • Live Anywhere – voice chat between Vista and 360. Play game on 360 and/or PC or Windows Mobile. Smart. Use same gamertag on ANY (MS) platform


  • Marketplace can’t cope with the demand – downloads are verrrrry slow
  • Need background download update – pity this wasn’t available for this week
  • Lot’s of talk about Xbox Arcade but little or no additional content for the last few months
  • There’s a hungry market out there looking for games – how do I know? See image below – never have I seen the friends list busier with no one playing games.
  • No killer blow, no shock announcement, nothing to dent the Sony hype.

Overall a good amount of announcements of hardware and software but I can’t wait to see how big a lead the 360 has with regards user base this November…and what it will be like on Nov 2007.

Live list - who's gaming?

PS3 Thoughts

PS3 - Front with the Spidey fontSony finally gave up some real details of the PS3, first hyped about in E3 2005 with some additional stretching of truths round about the 360 launch at the end of the year. The specifications and announcements are covered well at Joystick so I’ll jot down my initial thoughts.


  • Blu-Ray – this is my number one reason for getting a PS3 – an affordable way of getting a Blu-Ray player while at the same time picking up a next generation console
  • Hardware looks to be very capable and everyone will have a hard disk – no mention of Linux or the PS3’s multimedia capabilities in the networked home
  • There will be a central online network which I’m guessing will have all the features of Xbox Live (still not clear whether it’s free for just basic features or the whole thing). While Sony will say more people play online with PS2’s the service is appalling compared to Xbox Live.
  • The controller. Finally that boomerang has gone to be replaced with the old faithful dualshock. However it’s now wireless (Bluetooth) and it no longer rumbles but instead has six degrees of movement. You can pitch and yaw the pad to control a character or vehicle on screen and it also understands acceleration. Think Nintendo Wii but in a clunkier form.
  • PSP linkage although cost will be the biggest factor as there looks to be a service to play old PS1 classics – Live Arcade however is one of the better aspects of the 360 so there is a market
  • Released this year and like the 360 worldwide at the same time give a week or two. Roll on November 17th – remember to get those preorders in

Gran Tursimo HD


  • 2 sku’s (2 different price points for two different PS3). Not good. Unlike the 360 where you could upgrade the core to the premium pack, there will be no upgrade path for the PS3. Surprisingly the cheaper PS3 will have no HDMI socket, no wi-fi, no memory stick slots and a reduced hard disk. The lack of HDMI seems surprising as surely it will limit Hi-Def playback from the Blu-Ray player?
  • Cost – a lot more expensive than the 360 – factor in second pads and a couple of launch titles and your looking at £600 or more
  • Will Blu-Ray playback be as good from the PS3 as it would from a dedicated player? DVD playback on the 360 is shit compared to an average DVD player so there is a niggling doubt about how good the HD content will look
  • Sony hype – emotion engine, 2 HDMI ports, 1080p gaming – what do you believe?
  • Where’s the original content? Looking at the list of games at E3 there’s precious little that is unique to the PS3 – Gran Turismo, Metal Gear Solid? Not enough to justify a new console on it’s own.

So it’s a mixed bag – the E3 presentation didn’t contain any wow factor and in many ways backed up the ‘hype’ accusation that can be easily thrown Sony’s way. I don’t like the arrogance that the next generation of gaming doesn’t arrive until the PS3 is launched and that they are the only party in town. If it wasn’t for Nintendo and Microsoft I’m sure we wouldn’t see network gaming and motion detecting pads in the PS3. Competition is good and ultimately should deliver a better end product. Saying that I’ll be ordering as soon as I can. If worst comes to worst EBay will deliver a pre christmas profit but I doubt it…unless I order 2.

Early E3 Snippets

  • HD-DVD add-on for the 360 will link via the USB ports. No word on price or launch (maybe tomorrow after PS3 details tonight)
  • Unreal Tournament 2007 and Virtua Fighter 5 (both PS3) developers confirm they are targeting 720p and not 1080p. Interesting but need to see other E3 announcements before laughing at Phil Harrison’s 1080p quote which could still be argued for Blu-Ray movies and indeed looking at the quote again he doesn’t specifically mention 1080p games.
  • Lots of new content on the 360 Marketplace. Test Drive Unlimited demo and loads of trailers – details here. Well done MS for getting the E3 content out to the masses – shame the download service is as slow as a day in Barrow which makes getting the content a pain.

Denon 2910 Firmware

Bitten with the firmware update bug I hunted around for an update to my DVD player – the Denon 2910. The player has been excellent but I remember reading that there was a firmware update that improved picture quality (especially blacks) over HDMI.

A search on AV Forums produced the answer. There have been several firmware updates issued since last year, the most recent and multi region from December 05. Visit the (unofficial) Denon 2910 firmware page and download the version required. Follow the instructions on the site or on the thread and you’ll have a lovely up to date multi region player. There were notable improvements in the picture quality over HDMI so it’s a worthwhile upgrade.

ABC – TV for Free

ABC has launched it’s full episode TV streaming servicee. For free. Users can watch advert supported episodes from the comfort of their PC. When I first heard about this I thought the adverts would be more intrusive than on TV but they break at the same time and are no different to a normal viewing. Finally a broadcaster wakes up to the modern day requirements of TV watchers and provides a credible alternative to pirating.

Note that this is only available to US viewers although I’ve had joy with Tor. Charon is another alternative as described here.

Holiday Weekend

Busy in the garden for the last couple of days as can be seen below.
Raised Bed
This bed previously had bricks all round it and the rockery had been damaged during the fence install last year. Lots of work on Saturday and a trip to the garden centre on Sunday has rescued it. Enjoyed being out and doing work – the weather was great although it’s a sure sign of turning into an old man. Flickr set here. First full grass cut of the year and some weeding too although there is less to do than last year which is a good sign.

Today was finishing off the painting in the hall. Taken longer than I thought and I’ve still some cornice painting to do. That’s this weekends little task. Hope your weekend was as fulfilling.