Play TV

Sony’s announcement last week of a TV Tuner for the PS3 was pretty uneventful for me. However this video of the interface has changed my opinion.

The menu’s look excellent and far slicker than normal Freeview boxes. The ability to view recorded content and also live TV on your PSP being streamed from your PS3 was also very impressive. Twin tuners, hard disk recording and HD to 1080p (let’s hope Freeview gets a couple of HD channels) makes for an impressive package when teamed with the PS3.

With the digital switch off almost upon us this could be a big seller for Sony.

Apple comes to Glasgow

08:10 – Myself, Graham and Roy meet-up and head towards the Apple store. The plan was to get a breakfast, get to the store before 9, enjoy the opening and for Roy to buy one of the new iMacs. We walked down and could see around 100 folk queued up already. Looks like it was going to be popular. We strolled around looking for food like desperado’s. Central station came to the rescue. Tasty (but expensive) bacon rolls later we headed back to the queue.

08:35 – Back in the queue we start to look around and notice…geeks. Obviously quite passionate and loyal to the Apple brand but the geek quotient per square yard must have been higher than even Maplins during a new catalogue launch. The most ardent fanboys could be spotted quite easily. The queue had also grown to around 300 odd people with more arriving thick and fast.

08:45 – A cheer goes up as the doors to the store are finally opened. Seemingly they were left closed even during last nights friends and family invite – they had to use the side door – as they wanted the doors to be opened for the first time this morning.

08:53 – All the staff come out to cheer the folk in the queue. The queue cheers back. A nice if slightly cheesy touch. You could see that the staff were pretty pumped up for the opening as were some of the people in the queue who looked visibly excited.

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09:00 – Doors open, massive cheering and the people at the front start to enter. As the queue starts to move we get our first view into the store. As people enter they are cheered on by two rows of staff handing out free t-shirts. The cheering continued for everyone entering while we were in the store as well. Lot’s of energy and built up quite a good atmosphere.

09:15 – We’re in. I feel a bit embarrassed at the cheering but no matter – we’re here – lets get buying.

09:15-09:45 – The store is very nicely modernised. It feels a bit basic in some areas especially when you walk in and see the basic display tables with lot’s of iPods. However it feels spacious and the glass staircase is a triumph. I’m sure on a normal day the store will feel a lot less cramped than it did today. Roy did pick up his iMac and myself and Graham bought one of the new keyboards.

09:45 – Leaving the store and the queue still has at least a couple of hundred people in it with more still joining. Roy gets congratulated by members of the queue for his purchase. is there any other brand that attracts this loyalty? Looking around at the the trendy clothing stores what must they be wondering? Why didn’t their opening attract hundreds on a damp and dreary Saturday morning? Imagine how busy the iPhone launch will be!

Roy leaving with new toys

So a great store and I’m glad there’s now one in Glasgow. It will make buying far too easy though. Although I was at first put off by the whooping and cheering it’s actually nice to see something a bit different and also to see such a passionate user community get a store to match their enthusiasm. Can’t see the same happening at a PC World launch for example. The staff themselves seemed helpful although understandably busy. I also liked the mobile till units that the staff used – makes purchasing a lot easier. Damn 😉

As for the keyboard, it’s a lot comfier to use than the existing one that came with the older iMac. It’s also helps accuracy, I guess as the keys actually have more space between them. I also prefer the shorter throw each key has. Not a bad way to spend £30 seeing as it’s the primary interface to the iMac. I’ve lost the wireless keyboard but gained two fast USB 2.0 ports that are easy to get to. I can understand why people were concerned initially about the keyboard but after spending a couple of hours with it I’m convinced that it’s a better design. Hopefully it won’t show the keyboard fluff as badly as the last design.

Almost forgot, full set of pictures from this morning available on Flickr.

Tasty curry...now what about breakfast?

So it was a catch up night tonight with Henry, Roy and Graham. The curry at Mother India was excellent as was the banter. We really need to do this more often although the bill was pretty hefty – not all my doing!!

Three of us are Mac users and Roy is planning on joining us by picking up an iMac from the new Apple store this weekend. In fact we plan to be there for the opening but not queuing up in advance. We are hoping to meet for breakfast somewhere close by to the new shop…we just don’t know where yet. Any recommendations greatly appreciated.

I’m also trying to work out if the switch amongst my friends to Mac is down to any one reason or a combination. We’re all quite geeky, iPods are everywhere, some people have made the move and enjoying it, we’re getting older and our needs are changing? A few years ago and upgrading a pc was the norm and the PC was an essential gaming platform. Now most people I know no longer game on the PC and upgrading is a thing of the past (for us anyway). Is it as we get older, simplicity and reliability (the promise of certainly rather than any guaranteed delivery) is more appealing than reduced costs? Who knows. Be interesting to see who the guys get on with their new toys when they finally get hold of them.

One final mention from the meal – the singer at the restaurant. We were there for almost three hours and he never stopped once. His hands must be raw as he played the guitar as well. I thought he was excellent although fairly loud if you were sitting close by. His song choice was also good if a little depressive. Tracks from Del Amitri, Radiohead, Deacon Blue, Snow Patrol, and REM to name a few. Right up my street.

A bit more than a tweak

So while looking around for inspiration and trying to hack together my idea’s into a new theme, I found IAMWW w2 which did everything I wanted to do but with more style. So after some hacking to take out bit’s I didn’t like and adding support for a few plugins I do like it’s now here and live on the website.

As it’s late and I’m absolutely stuffed (mmm….Mother India) there may be a few rough edges and there’s still a few tweaks to make and some changes to the archives and about pages but it’s essentially threre and slightly less sparse than the last theme which as Graham pointed out tonight…any more minimalist and it would be invisible.

Tweaks and stuff

I’ll be doing some site tweaks over the next few days, might even get most done today while waiting for Sky. I hate waiting. Anyway, tweaks? Where?

Well, if all goes well the feeds should now be re-directing to Feedburner. I’ve been meaning to do it for a while but never really found the time. I’m tempted to splice in Digg and del.icio.us links but that will probably be in a separate full fat feed. Aplogies for the one or two that pick up the blog via the feeds – things may be a bit screwy or old posts will be re-posted.

In fact that full feed would end up looking like my tumblelog. Which itself has a feed. More and more I’m thinking of moving to something solely like that rather than having the blog and a separate aggregator elsewhere. I’ve seen some posts recently on turning WordPress into a tumblelog – I may hack some more this week than I anticipated.

So that should remove some duplication. I’m also going to reign in the different websites I post/use/talk on. First to go is Twitter. Account was deleted this morning, blog plugins removed, Twitterrific removed. If blogs are all about boring and mundane topics then what does that make Twitter? It may just be that the service isn’t for me but it was just another website I was subscribed to that held my content and everyone else’s rather boring twitters, including the new fad of twitting when they had blog posted. Nothing like a bit of self promotion. There will be a few others dropped over the coming days (Linked In and a couple of other similar sites – that’s why I never responded to your invite Roy – I knew I would get round to removing myself).

It’s been niggling me since my account was defrauded that there’s probably too much info on the web about me. Annoyingly thanks to Google and other search providers it can be difficult to remove once it’s been spidered. So thats probably the main reason for removing. Paranoia is spreading.

Speaking of identity theft, I see on the latest electoral roll that there is a tick box to remove yourself from the edited electoral roll. This is the roll that is bought by companies. Great idea I thought and another small step in protecting identities. Pity the letter all my personal details came in regarding the electoral roll was not delivered to us but put through the wrong door. Fools. Irony. Someone, somewhere is having a laugh.

Bioshock Demo

It came out yesterday but I only managed to finish the download today. Fantastic graphics and sound but most important is an environment dripping with atmosphere. The demo scratches the surface and actually promises so much more with some cutscenes at the end of the demo that really wet the appetite. A must have purchase for the 360…again. I wonder when the PS3 will finally get a killer title? It’s out next week, single player only and here’s hoping it really matches up to the hype of system shock successor.

The graphics while not only great are also very stylish and totally different to anything out there at the moment. Ok, a bit of an exaggeration, but they are very good. The developers have now released a PDF celebrating the visuals within the game. The post warns of spoilers so I’ve not read the text within the PDF yet, but the images are superb. A great freebie and well worth a look even if your not buying the game.

.Mac Web Galleries

After all the hype I decided to try out the new Apple web galleries so I uploaded my first album. The upload speed seemed pretty sluggish as did the loading of the actual album on visiting the web page. Presentation on the website is superb though and it’s a great way of showing off your photo’s.

First .Mac Web Gallery

One of the nicest ways of viewing the album is using the carousel. This is like coverflow in iTunes and allows you to scroll through the pictures. Only annoyance is it takes a while for pictures later in the album to get the high res sharper version of the photo so you can spend a while looking at fairly fuzzy pictures. Another feature I like is that as you move the mouse over the album photo in the gallery page it flicks through the images in the album – very slick and mirrors the functionality seen in iPhoto.

While many have seen this as a Flickr competitor for me they are two different beasts. .Mac Web Galleries allow you to easily upload albums of photo’s (and also video’s) and let your friends view or download them. Flickr lets you do the same but with far more disk space and has a whole community supporting it with forums, groups and commenting. It also has far stronger tools for editing sets, albums and also supporting geo-tagging. One feature that .mac has got is photo uploading – letting people upload photo’s to your album which then sync back to iPhoto. I find that pretty odd as thats something I don’t think I would ever use. Due to space and speed alone I’ll be sticking with Flickr – be nice to see them up their game when it comes to presenting albums though.

Mac Announcements

Initial thoughts…

  • New iMacs. I don’t like them. The design isn’t as clean as the iMac’s of old. Not convinced by black surround or by glossy screen. Love the size of the new keyboards but would need to try them first as the key’s look close to the style of the Macbook. Fine for laptop – not so sure for desktop. Good options on hard disk size though.
  • iLife – some nice improvements here on photo management and also video creation. Not much else for me
  • iWork – Numbers look very interesting. Tried Keynote over the last few days and it is very impressive. Must try Pages to see how good/bad it is especially as Office is delayed until next year.
  • .Mac. Some improvements at last. Disk space upped to 10Gb which is nice. Was also impressed with the new picture and video albums – .Mac Web Gallery. Very clean presentation and it reallt does feel like an app on the web. Sharing options were also nice to see with friends able to upload photo’s with them sync’d back to your mac. A nice upgrade to .mac but still feel they could do so much more.

More meh than yeah for me but some nice changes all the same. If you commit to everything Apple I can see why it makes sense but with sites like Flickr and so many other websites established with communities it’s hard to see many people moving over to the web albums. Good for one off’s more than a whole set of albums for me.

Mac Rumours

So, my thoughts on Tuesdays announcements? We’ll see an iMac replacement. This was my worry when I first bought a Mac almost a year ago. It wasn’t the switch or the initial purchase. It was the upgrades the following year to lovely new hardware. However the iMac still feels new to me so I’m not too fussed. I guess we’ll see how true this is later in the week.

I expect something on iLife as well although that might come later on with Leopard. The one product I’d liek to see change is .mac. I bought it earlier this year and it’s been great for keeping the mac’s in sync. However the access over the web is lame compared to other Web 2.0 apps and the tiny 1Gb disk space makes a mockery of taking docs anywhere. Increased disk space, an improved range of apps and more than the ‘Back to mac’ functionality announced at a previous Leopard demo. How about a nice wrapper around the Google suite of tools coupled with the web disk. That would really make a portable office accessible from anywhere.

So that was much of the draft I wrote at the weekend. Now there’s speculation that there really could be some .mac announcements as there’s downtime scheduled on the .mac service during the keynote. I still have my doubts. Hey ho – we’ll all know this time tomorrow.