Jan 232009
 
Merry Christmas Happy New Year

Image by kajvin via Flickr

I was reflecting recently on the Christmas and New Year break.

Over the holidays I took some time off, like lots of people, but as well as taking time off work, I also found myself paying little attention to the various blogs I look after (this one included). Family, friends, children and the like took precedence… which is only right and proper.

So why did I find myself feeling guilty for not blogging?

As I pondered this question I had to ask whether a line been crossed somewhere in my subconscious. When had blogging taken on such a level of gravity in my life. How could I possibly feel even the tiniest twinge of guilt for choosing to spend time with my family instead of posting stuff online?

It’s a fine line… and while it’s obviously important to keep a steady stream of content flowing on the blog(s) there are many, many things in life that are far more important.

Sometimes I look at the flood of posts from prolific Irish bloggers like Damien Mulley, Alexia Golez, and others in my feed reader and despair. Between work, family and other commitments I don’t have time to read all this stuff, let alone write my own.

But then I realised that it doesn’t really matter… not in the grand scheme of things. Different people have different priorities, are at different stages in their lives and are blogging under vastly different circumstances. A missed post here, a sparse week there… so what!

I enjoy writing the blog – that’s why I do it – but feeling guilty for not posting isn’t an acceptable part of the equation.

I purposely didn’t make a new year’s resolution this year… but in hindsight I think I probably will take up a belated one: I WILL NOT FEEL GUILTY FOR NOT BLOGGING!

In 2009 I’ll post here and elsewhere when I can, when I want to and as time allows… without any guilt, remorse or regret for failing to maintaining a punishing posting schedule.

What about you?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Technorati Tags: ,,,
Jan 212009
 
Skype Limited

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve noticed lots of people around the web having trouble installing Skype on their Linux based Acer Aspire One netbook computers.

Advice on the net varies, but tends to involve going to the terminal and typing on the command line to install the Skype distribution for Linux, then manually editing XML files to add the Skype icon to the Apire One’s uber-simple desktop.

This is do-able, but daunting for Linux newbies, myself included :-).

So, I thought, surely there has to be an easier way… and there is!

1. Go to www.acer.com/aspireone/updates on your Acer Aspire One

image

2. Click on the “Skype” link and then click on “download Skype” to download the file Skype.sh.zip to your machine’s hard drive.

3. Navigate to your downloads folder (or wherever you saved the file) and double click on it to open up the ZIP file in Xarchiver.

4. Click on “Extract” and select “Extract All” to copy the contents of the ZIP file to a new folder in your Downloads directory.

5. Navigate to the resulting folder and double click on the file skype.sh

6. Click OK to confirm you want to install the update patch.

That’s it – the next time you reboot you’ll find a Skype icon sitting in your connect menu. Just launch it, log in and use Skype as usual. Simple

You’ll find a selection of other popular open source software titles like the Gimp image editor, FileZilla FTP client and lots more under the Connect, Work, Fun and Files categories.

I found this totally by accident while browsing the Aspire One site. Why Acer don’t do more to publicise this for Aspire One owners I’ll never know (and why they don’t have Skype installed on the Aspire One by default is another mystery).

The Acer Aspire One is a superb little machine… and with the addition of some of these extra software titles it will help you to be even more productive on the go.

Enjoy!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Jan 102009
 
Internet Addict
Image by husin.sani via Flickr

Always on internet should come with a Government Health Warning.

No, seriously, it should!

I’m sitting here at daft o’ clock in the morning writing this blog post wondering where the time went to.

My wife is away for a couple of nights, the kids went to bed almost eight hours ago and are sound asleep, and I should be too… but I’m not.

Why? Because we have always on internet, that’s why. I’m not going to call it broadband… because to do so would give it delusions of grandeur, but it is, demonstrably, always on.

And that means I’m always on. On the laptop, on the netbook, on the WiFi enabled mobile.

…must sleep. Kids will wake up early regardless and I won’t be able to cope if I don’t get four or five hours in. Will finish up tomorrow :-)

Rightmorning all!

Woken up at 7:30 by the little one. Don’t even want to reflect on how little sleep I’ve actually had. Looks like I’m running on caffeine today folks!

Now… where was I… oh yes, always on internet.

It’s like heroin… only worse, because while getting your fix online might make you look a bit geeky, it doesn’t have the same stigma attached to it as hard narcotics. At least not yet. But it is addictive, and if it’s suddenly taken away you do go into a kind of withdrawal.

But wait, you cry, while it might be an insidious habit, unlike a drug addiction it won’t lead you down a spiral of deceit and criminal activity to get your next virtual-hit, will it? I’m not so sure. Hands up how many people out there have casually hooked up to a conveniently unsecured wireless network “just to check e-mail”, or a profile page, or twitter or whatever?

It’s a slippery slope.

So, I’m thinking of starting a new group — perhaps on facebook (lol) — welcome to Internet Addicts Anonymous (IAA). To kick things off, I’ll go first:

My name is Calvin Jones and I’m a always-on-internet-oholic.

Admitting it is the hardest part — go on, try it for yourself in the comments below, it’s cathartic. I feel better already :-).

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Dec 302008
 
The Acer Aspire One: a seriously impressive little computer for connectivity on the go

The netbook space is getting a bit crowded these days.

What began with ASUS and its iconic EeePC now includes offerings from a host of major and not-so-major manufacturers like Acer, Dell, Samsung, Lenovo, HP, Medion and others eager to tap into the burgeoning popularity of the tiny, lightweight laptop.

Latest figures show that the netbook market overall grew by more than 160% in the third quarter of this year, bucking an overall dismal trend in the general PC market. With it’s Aspire One, Acer has leapfrogged ASUS to take the market leader’s position in this lucrative space, with a third quarter market share of 38.3%. So how does this most diminutive of laptops shape up? Lets take a closer look. Continue reading »

Dec 152008
 

Google reader recommendations

This is what greeted me when I logged into my Google Reader account this morning.

Now, quite where Google got the idea that I’d be the remotest bit interested in vegan food I really can’t imagine. The concept of veganism is complete anathema to me. I’m a carnivore through and through – even took the pet ferrets after rabbits recently in the hope of securing some fresh wild meat for the pot (with no luck, unfortunately, but will try again soon).

It’s pretty hard to think of anything that would interest me less than a blog touting purely vegan fare.

I’m thinking that perhaps Google’s recommendation algorithm could do with a bit of fine tuning here and there….

Nov 242008
 
Three 45 Mbit/s wireless dishes on top of 307 W.

Image via Wikipedia

I sat watching the depressingly slow advance of the little blue progress bar on my laptop screen. Downloading the 150 odd e-mails that had accrued in my mailboxes over the last 24 hours was taking an age… and as for checking the various websites that help keep me connected and up-to-date… forget it.

On Friday evening we unexpectedly lost our fixed wireless broadband connection. One minute it was there, the next it was gone. Like most broadband connections in Ireland it was an overpriced and under-performing beast – but it also put a wonderful world of information and connectivity at our fingertips. Now it was gone, and we were back to the excruciating crawl of a dial-up connection.

You don’t realise how much you’ve come to rely on something until it’s taken away. I can’t count how many times a day I’d look up a website, do a quick Google search to double check a fact, go online to communicate with friends, family and business contacts and to generally stay connected with the world around me. Going back to dial-up was like stepping back into the dark ages… I had to remind myself that this was, in fact, still the reality for a rediculously high number of households in rural Ireland.

No broadband… it took a while for the implications to sink in. My first instinct was to go online, do some research and explore other options, but of course I couldn’t. That’s when it hit me – how could we run our home-based businesses without internet access? The answer: not very well at all!

Everything about the businesses depends on the internet: the websites, e-mail, payments, banking, accounts. Even the business phone line is delivered online. Dial-up simply isn’t an option for us any more.

Unfortunately we live in what can only be described as Europe’s digital backwater. While Ireland has made great strides to improve broadband availability over recent years, we typically pay through the nose for much slower connections than our European peers, and an unacceptable proportion of Irish households still can’t get a broadband connection at all.

It’s curious that we find ourselves in this position as Europe’s digital poor-relations. To listen to our government you’d swear we were ahead of the curve in the technology stakes. They talk about Ireland leading the charge towards a knowledge based global economy, but while they pimp Ireland as the technology hub of Europe on the global stage, small businesses at home are struggling to compete because they don’t have access to the bandwidth they need. It’s a shambles!

And it’s not just small businesses that are suffering in this impoverished digital environment. The internet, and the suite of communication and information technologies it enables, is a vital educational resource for our children. They’re growing up in a technology centric world; to thrive and succeed tomorrow they need to engage with that technology today. Without a decent internet connection at home and at school they simply can’t do that.

The next day I rang our telephone provider, praying that our local exchange had finally been “broadband enabled”. Luckily it had! I breathed a huge sigh of relief, and signed up straight away. It’s going to take three long weeks for us to get connected, and because we’re a long way from the exchange, there is no guarantee we’ll get the connection speeds we need.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see. It’s going to be a long three weeks.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Nov 202008
 

Flip Video Mino

I recently reviewed the Flip Video Mino over on the Gadget Republic website.

While I’m much more of a still photographer kind of guy, the small size, ease of use and sheer convenience of the Flip was great. And shooting at 640×480 @ 30 frames per second, the video quality was surprisingly good from such a tiny device.

I gave the Flip Video 4 out of 5 stars. Here’s a very brief summary of the review:

Rating: 4/5

We liked: Compact size, competitive price, ease of use
We didn’t like: Touch sensitive controls occasionally stick, software glitch on review model, USB attachment can be awkward, no image stabilising
Summary: The “must-have” gadget for social networking videophiles….

Don’t forget to check out the full review over on Gadget Republic.

.

Nov 192008
 

image

I Like: Sleek design, intuitive interface, ease of use, WiFi, third party applications, price.

I Don’t Like: Slightly ropey video, mediocre camera (but hey, this is telephone), doesn’t charge through the USB connector.

Verdict: A very capable business phone ideal for busy people who still believe cameras are the best tools for taking photographs.

I finally did it: I upgraded my phone….

After bricking my HP iPAQ by putting it through the washing machine (my fault… allegedly… for not emptying my pockets :-(), I decided to use a back-up phone (… trust me, you don’t want to know) until my contract with O2 ran out.

My plan: to switch to Meteor and avail of the great offer they had on the Nokia N95 8GB.

In the end the switch from O2 to Meteor was a painless, even pleasant experience… which I guess is something of of a novelty when you’re dealing with a mobile phone operator. If the service so far from Meteor is anything to go by it’s a switch I should have made a long time ago.

But enough about networks… this is a phone review.

Anyway – after uhmming and ahing about the Nokia N95 8GB for what seemed an eternity, I finally decided that I didn’t really need to pay a premium for all that memory and a fancy camera, when all I really wanted was something with WiFi that would run third party business applications, could access the internet and e-mail. I also wanted something that’s often overlooked when examining the whiz-bang feature sets of contemporary phones: a unit that would work well as an ordinary telephone.

So I opted for the N51 – a smartphone running the same Symbian operating system as the N95, but just… wait for it… €49 on Meteor’s cheapest €20/month contract.

It’s a sleek, slim phone with a metal chassis that feels solid and business like in your hands. It seems to do pretty much everything an N95 can do, just without the huge memory (soon remedied by slipping the MicroSD card from the dead HP iPaq into my new phone), and the 5 Megapixal camera (but, hey, I have a camera for taking photographs).

To date the phone has been superb, performing everything I’ve asked of it admirably. For me the killer feature has to be the ability to take Skype calls over WiFi using Fring (I use a SkypeIn number for business calls, and can now pick them up even when I’m not on my computer).

I also love the fact I can monitor and update my Twitter account from the phone either on the web, or, much more user friendly, via an assortment of mobile apps… my current favourite being Twibble.

All in all the E51 is a streamlined business phone that still offers plenty of bells and whistles in a really sleek and compact package. Crucially, it performs the fundamentals extremely well, and the Symbian operating system seems a lot more stable than Windows Mobile 6, which was running on the HP iPaq.

Would I recommend this phone… you bet I would!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Nov 112008
 

GadgetRepublic.com, a new tech-review site, and sister-site to the excellent technology news site SiliconRepublic.com, launched yesterday and I have to say that it looks very promising.

image

Gadget Republic is edited by award winning technology journalist Marie Boran of Siliconrepublic.com, so the standard of the reviews on the site, as you would expect, is very high. They’re well written, insightful and hit that elusive balance between personal opinion and technical expertise perfectly.

This is a great resource for anyone looking to keep abreast of what’s hot and what’s not on the tech-gadget front; if you’re anything like me you’ll be adding Gadget Republic to your feed reader pronto.

Congratulations to Marie and the team at SiliconRepublic.com on a job well done… I look forward to reading many a great review on the site.

Oct 252008
 

Just spotted these Kronomy timelines after following links from Guy Kawasaki’s “How to Change the World” blog.

As a Welshman living in the South West of Ireland, I have to say I’m paying only cursory attention to the US election antics, but I wanted to share these timelines here because I think they give those of us who are distant from the front-line of the campaign a quick, convenient and entertaining snapshot of both candidates’ backgrounds.

Here’s Obama’s timeline:

And here’s McCains:

This is the first time I’ve encountered Kronomy… and I have to say it’s pretty cool, and looks incredibly slick. I haven’t played around with setting up a timeline of my own yet… if you have let me know what you think in the comments.