Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist

Archive forJune, 2005 | back to home

30 June 2005
Filed under:Humour & Entertainment at9:01 pm

(Or any other book-fanciers). In last week’s News Quiz (a radio comedy programme that features humorous newspaper and other cuttings alongside topical comedy) they read out this gem from an exhibition programme at University Library in Cambridge:

“Never leave books near mice, pigeons, children and other vermin that are likely to damage them.”

26 June 2005

If like me you have a CD collection and a computer with a very large hard disk, do what I am doing and ‘rip’ large parts of your collection to your hard disk then give the CDs away to charity – Oxfam in my case. I have a laptop so I can plug my computer directly into my stereo (and I can’t tell the difference in sound quality between MP3s and my CDs). If you don’t have a laptop though you can get an inexpensive MP3 player (I see they cost as little as £15/$25 these days) and just plug that into your stereo when you want music.

That way you have convenient access to music, you rediscover discs you have probably forgotten about, you have cleared clutter out of your life, and you get to help people lift themselves out of poverty (or whatever charity you prefer). A real win win act!

P.S. If you are worried about how much storage space this would take on your hard disk, I currently have 2730 songs – 7.6 straight days worth of music – in 10Gb of disk space (and you may not need to store every track on every disc – there are probably plenty of tracks you find you don’t want on each one). An external 80Gb drive costs from around £50/$90 these days and would be very useful for backing up as well as music storage (you are backing up regularly, right?)

18 June 2005

I just got an email telling me that my publisher is getting rid of its surplus stock of my book Dealing with Email so I’m guessing it won’t be long before it gets remaindered completely. It’s a small book in the Dorling Kindersley Essential Managers series aimed at non-technical managers giving tips on how to manage their own emails and how to handle email in the office effectively (see my companion site at the link above for a more complete introduction).

However the good news is Dorling Kindersley are offering me copies (as many as I want?) cheap so if you would like a copy for yourself or for a friend let me know and I can send it to you for a measly £3/$5 (signed!) plus postage. It may take a while for me to ship them though as I need to figure out how many I should buy from the publisher then they need to send them to me and I need to send yours to you. If you would like something in particular written on your book (or nothing!) just let me know and I would love to know something about you and how and why you found my site…

12 June 2005
Filed under:Gadgets,Personal at2:10 pm

The contrast between my experiences of owning a Mac for the last five months and recent PC experiences has been instructive.

I recently visited a friend whose PC had become all-but-unusable because of spyware and viruses (not a problem on Macs – at least not for the moment). Now we just acquired a Dell laptop and we’re finding getting it set up to be something of a hassle.

While Bluetooth just works on my Mac, configuring it is a mess on the Dell. XP insists on sticking icons on the desktop that we don’t want, and several of the games I had hoped to run on the Dell (Battlefield 2 and Doom 3 for example) don’t work either, so I’m not even able to profit from the advantage the PC has in availability of games.

And the way XP handles multiple users on the same machine is weirdly inconsistent – sometimes programs are installed for all users – other times they only seem to install for the user who is logged in at the time. Not that I haven’t had a few problems getting to grips with the way Mac users and permissions work, but at least it has seemed more logical in the way it functions.

10 June 2005

My wife just took delivery of her new Dell notebook. She is rightfully afraid that because it is a PC I will be tempted to spend lots of time on it playing games… But when we started filling in the XP setup stuff one of the two example texts given for the computer’s “friendly description” on the network was “David’s Game Machine”. She hadn’t typed my name in… How did they know?! 😉

6 June 2005
Filed under:Personal,Travel,Useful web resources at5:08 pm

I’ve taken a few pictures of our trip to Geneva and uploaded them here. It’s hard to go wrong when taking pictures of the alps…

Flickr would have been a better place to put them (it offers more flexible organization, easy commenting tools, more storage etc) but I have exceeded the meagre 20Mb a month limit on uploading pictures to their free account. If anyone reading would be willing to donate $25 or a reasonable fraction thereof to buy us a year’s Pro subscription as an unbirthday present, I would be grateful…

Filed under:Software reviews at11:11 am

Ever decided to change ‘l337’ to ‘elite’ in a dozen (or a hundred) different documents? As far as I know there is no easy way to do it in Word – and certainly no way I know of to do it across text documents written in several different applications. This Windows program makes it easy – I don’t know if it would work on native Office files as well as plain text and HTML ones but you could try it on some test files and see what happens…
Thanks to “Tales from the Terminal Room”:http://www.rba.co.uk/tfttr/ for the tip.

3 June 2005

A ‘smart bag’ that tells you when you’ve forgotten something. It’s one of several ‘smart fabric’ applications that have been explored in the bYOB (build your own bag) project at the Media Lab. This kind of thing has been discussed for many years now. I hope they stop talking about them and start marketing them soon – I’m always worrying I’ve left stuff behind when I’m packing.