Thursday, 29 May 2008

The National Part 1

I won't be posting for a few days due to me heading off to the Discovery Owners Club's third national event. Hopefully I'll be back next week with some good pictures and videos.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Greshlet Auction Update

I told you recently about an auction that was to be held at the LRO Spring Adventure at Driffield. It was in memory of The Greshlets. I thought I should post an update on how it went.

As my friend and father to the children wrote...

One thing you come to realise in circumstances like this, is that the emrgency services do a fantastic, extremely difficult, job. Also, the Air Ambulance is a vital service, especially in rural areas like Lincolnshire. As the Air Ambulance is not Government funded, we figured that trying to help raise money would be an ideal way to say thank you.

To that end, a bike ride, a fishing match and an charity auction have all been organised and run. The final total for the bike ride is not in yet, the fishing match raised around about £1500 and the auction, to date, has raised £6500.

I'm sure you'll agree a truly superb outcome. Well done to Gresh for all his hard work. For a full report and a list of contributors click here.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Adobe CS4 Betas

Adobe is releasing public beta versions of it's Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Soundbooth applications. Creative Suite 4 is not planned to be released until late this year or in early 2009, but in anticipation the betas are available to anyone wanting to test the products. It appears that they will only work for 48 hours after you download them and after that only CS3 customers will be able to continue using them, but it should give you enough time to try out some of the new features.

More information and download instructions can be found at Adobe Labs.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Double Sided TV

SID2008 saw LG Display Co Ltd announce a new double sided LCD panel. As reported by Techon, a new reflective layer is arranged within the screen. This allows incoming light to be reflected back when viewed from the "wrong" side. When viewed from the side of the colour filter as in the case of the existing LCD panels, the light is reflected by the reflection electrode formed on the TFT array as would happen normally.

The panel can eliminate the need for a backlight and provide a higher outdoor visibility. Thus, it is intended for use in mobile devices, such as phones and PDA's. For example, the new LCD panel can simultaneously function as the main and sub displays on a mobile phone, the company said. They have reportedly prototyped 2.2" and 15" LCD panels with the new structure.

I can't really see the application in television as it would not be practical but perhaps in phones and office displays.

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Thursday, 22 May 2008


From the same nice folks that brought you I Can Has Cheezburger? and others I'd like to introduce you to another called GraphJam.

This time you are invited to submit funny graphs based on something in the news, in a song or a movie etc. You can create them using an Excel template they provide or on your own using whatever software you choose. As long as they're funny you might get yours to appear.

Here are some of my favourite examples so far.

song chart memes
more song chart memes

song chart memes
more song chart memes

song chart memes
more song chart memes

song chart memes
more song chart memes

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Little Brother Tour

I recently posted about the book "Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow. If you haven't got yourself a copy yet, I recommend you do as it really is a good read. The story is set in San Francisco, a city that has fascinated me for a long time, due to it's history with regard to not just technology but other events that have affected the whole world.

Whenever I read a good novel, I often try to picture the places that are described in the scenes. With much fiction that isn't always easy as the places are often fictitious as well as the plot. But as Cory used to live in the city he was able to describe specific areas. I thought it might be fun therefore to go and look some of them up in Google Earth.

Unfortunately this was not as easy as it sounds. The fact I have never been there, combined with the likelihood that Cory allowed himself a generous dollop of artistic licence with the geography means that I may well be quite inaccurate in places.

Judge for yourself by downloading the KMZ file I made and feel free to correct me.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Firefox 3 RC1

Mozilla has announced the first release candidate for Firefox 3 is now available for download. Preview releases are published to collect feedback from Web developers and the testing community before advancing to the next stage in the release process.

Firefox 3 is based on the Gecko 1.9 Web rendering platform, which has been under development for several years and Mozilla say that it has made more than 14,000 updates to the platform. Improvements include better performance, stability, rendering correctness, memory usage, code simplification and sustainability.

There has been some speculation that Firefox 3 contains some hidden usage tracking elements but these rumours appear to be false at this time.

Release notes giving details of the new features can be found here and download instructions for all platforms can be found here.

New Domain

Well as the blog has been going a while now I thought I should really take the plunge and buy a custom domain for it. So as of now the blog can be reached by using If you are subscribed to my feed via RSS, no changes will be necessary, but please update your bookmarks if you visit it via a browser.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Severn Valley Celebration

This weekend saw a Land Rover 60th anniversary celebration take place at the Severn Valley Railway. Each station along the line featured a display of one or two models of Land Rover. I attended with some other members of the Discovery Owners Club who were at the Bridgnorth station. Good company, Land Rovers and steam locomotives, it really doesn't get much better for me.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008


A gentleman by the name of Mattthew Johnston has started a collection of pictures, and is uploading them to Flickr, of a comparison between, the buildings and sights of Liberty City in Grand Theft Auto IV and those of New York.

Some comparisons are closer than others but it certainly highlights the effort that Rockstar has gone to make the new GTA feel as real as possible.

The complete set can be seen here.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Centennial Light

I have been fascinated with history for as long as I can remember, but I find it very frustrating. This is because we haven't yet discovered time travel. I would like nothing more than to travel back in time and actually experience what I have studied in books and in documentaries etc. Even very recent history would suffice. A strong sense of nostalgia means I'd enjoy a trip back to life as it was in my childhood. But sadly it is not possible.

I think this is why something like the Centennial Light is somewhat of a double-edged sword in my eyes. On the one hand it is truly fascinating to me that an electric light bulb has been lit for over 107 years and is still going. Imagine the history, people and events that it has illuminated; and yet for the same reasons I actually envy it.

My envy not withstanding, this really is a remarkable thing. A bulb that was first screwed in and switched on before the invention of the automobile. It's long life is attributed to many things. The fact that it has only been turned off a handful of times, that it is low powered (4 watts), a freak of engineering or the fact that it is now guarded with a surge protector and has a diesel generator and a battery as backups.

Whatever the reason, I think it embodies something positive. The best part of course is that, even though I am a confirmed technophile of the highest order, I think there is a delicious irony in the fact that at the time of writing this, the website that is dedicated to the light... is down.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Little Brother

There's two purposes to this post. The first is to tell you about a book that although it is aimed at young adults is a cracking good read for the older generation as well. It's called Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. In the author's words...
Marcus, a.k.a “w1n5t0n,” is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works–and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school’s intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems.

But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison where they’re mercilessly interrogated for days.

When the DHS finally releases them, Marcus discovers that his city has become a police state where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: to take down the DHS himself.

The book is available as a free download under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike license from here.

The second part of the post is to draw your attention to the fact that the guys at Instructables are coming up with a set of tutorials that have been inspired by the book. From how to detect pinhole cameras to how to block RFID chips. You can find them here.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Ye Olde GPS

Imagine you are a motorist driving through an area that is unfamiliar to you. Wouldn't it be great if there was some way that you could have access to local maps that update depending on your position without you having to pull over and leaf through an atlas. The device would have to be portable and have the ability to utilise a number of different maps. Surely we have such a device I hear you say, the GPS? Ah but what if I told you that the year was 1927?

Enter the Plus Four Wristlet Route Indicator. Snazzy name, I know. This piece of motoring history has recently gone on display at the National Trust's Curious Contraptions exhibition of eccentric inventions from the Victorian and Edwardian eras, at Standen House in East Grinstead, East Sussex.

Worn like a wrist-watch, it is loaded with a tiny paper road map that is rolled across the face by adjusting two small black knobs. It comes with set route maps, such as London to Bournemouth and London to Edinburgh, and the driver winds the knobs to move the map on as their car travels further. When motorists wish to turn off the road, they have to pull over to replace the map with another map that corresponds to a number on the junction.

It struck me that there are more than the obvious similarities with this and a GPS device. You can bet that that it was relatively cheap to buy but they stung you when you purchased the additional maps. :-)

I know it's a bizarre invention but it really appeals to me. You can read more in this Daily Mail article.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

The Greshlets Charity Auction

As I have posted here before, a very good friend of mine lost his four youngest children in a tragic accident last September. In memory of The Greshlets there is to be charity auction in aid of the Notts and Lincs Air Ambulance that attended the scene. The auction is to be held at the LRO Spring Adventure Show at Driffield on the Sunday at 1pm in the LRO marquee.

For an up to date list of lots and other news, click on the image below.

Please, if you are attending Driffield, save some of your money for the Auction and bid. "Auction Fever" is both allowed and encouraged!

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Up & Down

There is a video that has been doing the rounds on Youtube and the like, depicting the ordeal of one Nicholas White. It began at around eleven o’clock on a Friday night in October 1999 when White left his office for a smoke break. He took the lift from his office on the the forty-third floor to street level. When he returned the lift got stuck and White ended up being stranded for a staggering forty one hours. The video is from the lift's CCTV footage, sped up so the entire proceedings are shortened to three minutes eleven seconds. You can see the video below and read a recent "New Yorker" article about the incident here.

Max Silvestri of has recently released a spoof video that is not only very funny, but also makes me realise that I'd have very quickly lost it also and not been as cool as Mr White.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Gaydon 2008

This year is Land Rover's 60th birthday celebration. Yesterday I returned from my first Land Rover event of the year, the Land Rover Heritage show at Gaydon in Warwickshire. Held within the grounds of the British Motor Heritage Centre, this show is popular every year. However with the added dimension of the anniversary it was set to be a much bigger event than usual.

Although there were some complaints about the inadequate facilities, it was a good event. Our club stand was small but we had an excellent turnout for the "feature", with a very large collection of G-WACS. Our club also took part in the Inter-Club Challenge coming second. This was a bit disappointing after last year's win, but was better than we expected.

The two processions that ran from Lode Lane to the museum saw an excellent turnout with some rare and treasured vehicles. I'm looking forward to rest of the shows now. The Winter months are long and it's great to get out and socialise in Land Rover circles again.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Leave Me Alone Box

Firstly my apologies on the delay to this post. Work is a little hectic at the moment as we are in the process of moving offices.

I came across an excellent gadget this week. OK, so it serves no purpose other than to bring a smile to your face but I think that makes it a "must have". The LeaveMeAloneBox was created after reading an article about Claude Shannon and Marvin Minksy wanting to build the "Ultimate Machine". Basically a plain box with a switch on the top. When you flip the switch, a hand comes out of the box and flips the switch off. That's it. Brilliant! Luckily Michael's creation has been so popular he is looking at mass producing them so you can soon own your own.

I love that some people not only have the skills to create something like this but also have the sense of humour to realise it's not a waste of time. Check out his AutoGuitarHero as another great example.
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