Sunday, 28 September 2008


International Harvester 454, originally uploaded by Me (?).

I have been pretty busy for the past month or so with "stuff". I have managed to make my Flickr breadcrumb trail web test a little better. It is now called "TrackTour" and can be found at the link below. Let me know what you think...

TrackTour, originally uploaded by Me (?).

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Photo Breadcrumbs

Lake Welch HDR, originally uploaded by Me (?).

I have started geotagging my Flickr photos when appropriate. It got me wondering if I could use the geotags to act as a breadcrumb trail to see where I had been.

So last night I knocked up a quick mashup between Flickr and Google maps to put markers on the map for each photo and then draw a line between each photo in order of date taken. You can then browse the trail to see where I have been. Great for virtual stalkers.

My [non-existent] javascript skills have failed me to do anything more advanced but maybe when I get some time I will be able to add 'next' and 'previous' buttons so you can 'walk' the path of photos.

See the breadcrumb trail.

Has anyone does this properly anywhere?

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Create a Flickr Tag Cloud in PHP

Sunset over Pewley Down, originally uploaded by Me (?).

Here is a very basic way of creating a Flickr tag cloud in PHP. To make the Flickr API calls simple I have used phpFlickr.

The what and the why are listed below but there is a worked example available also.

I am going to use these variables in the code:
$reqtags = 150; // Number of tags to display
$user = "xrrr"; // Flickr user to search for tags
$min_font = "10"; // Font size to start drawing tags
$max_font = "30"; // The maximum font size tags can get

First of all we need to convert the username string into a Flickr User ID. To do this use the flickr.people.findByUsername API function:
$ns = $f->people_findByUsername($user);
$nsid = $ns[nsid];

Then we obtain the tags from Flickr using the flickr.tags.getListUserPopular API function which returns an array of tags. The phpFlickr object will return an array of arrays. Each array contains the tag value and the count of the number of times the tag is used. We store the number of tags by counting the size of the array and sort the array by the tag count value:
$tags = $f->tags_getListUserPopular ($nsid, $reqtags);
$numtags = count ($tags);
sort ($tags);

We now calculate the number of tags that should be displayed at each font size. To do this we just divide the number of tags by the number of font sizes available (maximum font minus the minimum font) and round it down to the nearest whole number. Note if there are more font sizes than tags (in this example the user has less than 20 tags) then the interval will be zero. This is ok.
$increment = intval($numtags/($max_font-$min_font));

In order to calculate the font sizes we loop though the tag list (which is in tag count order) and create an associative array of "tag_name => font_size". This code is basic so does not attempt to calculate the font size from the tag count. It just loops through the array and every time the interval value is reached it increments the font size. If the interval value is zero then it just increments the font size for every tag.
$size = $min_font ;
for ($i=0; $i < $numtags; $i++) {
$output[$tags[$i][_content]] = $size ;
if ($increment == 0 || $i % $increment == 0 )

We now have an associative array of tag and font size ordered by tag frequency. Tag clouds tend to be in alphabetical order so we sort by the associative array keys using the PHP function ksort:

Finally we print out the HTML to build the tag cloud and link back to Flickr:
$url = "$user/tags/" ;
echo "<div id='TagCloud'>";
foreach ($output as $tg => $sz) {
echo "&nbsp;<a href='".$url.$tg."' style='font-size: ".$sz."px;'>".$tg."</a> &nbsp; \n" ;
echo "</div>";

The resultant HTML can be styled with the following style sheet to make it look like Flickr:
body {

#TagCloud {
background:#F5F5F5 none repeat scroll 0%;
border:1px solid #EEEEEE;

#TagCloud a {

#TagCloud a:link {

#TagCloud a:visited {

#TagCloud a:hover {
background:#0063DC none repeat scroll 0% 0%;

I have created a working example to demonstrate the code and make it easier to reuse.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Groopy Search by Group Update

Groopy v3, originally uploaded by Me (?).

Today I have created a new 'advanced' search page that allows you to search for your photos in a particular group.

Click the 'advanced search' link on the front page or bookmark this link.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Groopy Performance Update

Streaky Bus, originally uploaded by Me (?).

I released version 0.2 of Flickr Groopy today. Aside from some code tidy ups the main updates are:
  • I found out that you can obtain the number of views of a photo from the search meaning that I can bypass one of the slow API calls. It now takes half the time to render a screen of images. Simply add 'extras=>views' into the request for and it means that the call can be missed out entirely
  • I have changed the sort order to sort by 'relevance' rather than 'interestingness-desc' - I will be making the sort order a user option at some point
Link to Groopy:

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Flickr Groopy

The Groupie Look, originally uploaded by Me (?).

I have released the first cut of my pet mini-project that I have called Flickr Groopy.

Flickr Groopy exists because of a set of Flickr Groups called Views 25 through to Views 25000. The idea is that once one of your photos reaches 25 views you can add it into the Views 25 group. As soon as your photo reaches 50 views you remove it from the Views 25 group and add it into the Views 50 group and so on.

The group rules state that a single photo should only ever be in one Views nn group at a time. The Flickr GUI is a bit clunky for swapping pictures between groups quickly so I decided to learn PHP, CSS and the Flickr API to create a tool for viewing your photos, highlighting the photos that are eligible for promotion into the next group and providing a one click update of the groups that the photo is in.

The result was Flickr Groopy:

Flickr Groopy, originally uploaded by Me (?).

How it works:
Based on a search string the code uses the API call to get a list of the user's photos that match the search criteria.

For each photo in the response:
  • Call to get the number of views
  • Call to get the groups the photo is in
  • Find out if the photo is already in a Views nn group
  • Using the number of views and group list work out if the photo is in the correct group
  • If the photo could be added to a Views nn group then highlight the photo
If the user clicks on a highlighted photo that kicks off an Ajax call to a PHP script to switch the photo into the correct group.

It is all implemented with HTML DIV elements and some CSS fun powered by PHP and phpFlickr behind the scenes.

Current features:
  • Text search for a user's photos
  • Grid display (restricted to 16 pics for performance) of the output
  • Colour coded highlighting of pictures eligible for moving groups
  • One click group update for eligible pictures

Planned features:
  • Search for user's photos already in a Views group
  • Tag cloud to inspire searches
  • Search by Flickr set
  • Notification of photos existing in more than one group with one click fix
  • Support for the sister Faves set of groups

Known problems with the current version:

  • Internet Explorer does not render CSS the same as Firefox and Safari so I need to work out how to get the CSS to look the same on all three browsers
  • The drawing is quite slow - I have added some timing trace to the code and it shows that almost 0.6 seconds per picture is taken up with two Flickr API calls. There is not much I can do about this I am afraid. I am investigating whether I can make the calls in parallel to speed things up a bit but that involves Ajax threading and is a bit scary!
  • The page should draw before it attempts to do the lengthy photo processing - working on a prototype Ajax version of the grid rendering
  • There is a 1 second pause between clicking on an image and anything happening - also clicking on multiple pictures breaks the UI slightly as update responses get lost - need a wait icon and a way to disable additional clicks whilst a response is pending

Flickr Groopy is here:

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Driving in the US

Cat's Eye, originally uploaded by xrrr.

I suppose spending 99.99999% of my driving life driving in Europe I have been spoilt. Here are some reasons why driving in the US sucks for me:

  • No cat's eyes - I have just driven 30 mins from Chappaqua, NY to White Plains, NY in the dark in the pouring rain and had absolutely no idea where the road was going 50% of the time. No wonder the speed limit is 55mph you would be mad to do more than that in this weather!
  • Bumpy road surfaces - you think Surrey's roads are bad, just travel up Highway 22 near Armonk, NY it is like it is peppered with mole hills. With nearly 4,000,000 miles of road in the US it is no wonder it is hard to keep them up to scratch but I now know why US cars have got such soft suspension!
  • Valet parking - I just tipped a guy $2 to fetch my car for me when it was parked outside the restaurant about 10 steps away from where I was standing - I had left my laptop and camera in the boot of the car and spent most of the night worrying about them because I had given the keys to some random chappie!
  • American cars - the middle to lower range cars are basically shit compared to EU cars. Poor spec, poor styling and all with automatic gear boxes.
Maybe I am in a bad mood because of the rain!

Monday, 28 April 2008


Adapted, originally uploaded by Me (?).

Is it me or is auto-translation of Russian far far better than French, Italian, etc? We got teflon and WD-40 from the space race; is usable Russian computer translation a product of the Cold War?

This is what got me thinking:
Google translated iPhone blog

Sunday, 20 April 2008

The Beast 2.0

2008 BMW 330i M Sport Coupe, originally uploaded by Me (?).

For the past 18 months I have been 'almost' buying a new car. My E46 BMW 330i (a.k.a. "The Beast") was fantastic but I always intended it to be an interim car whilst I waited for the new shape Coupe M Sport model to come out. The sport model came out and I ummed and ahhed about changing for about 12 months and then eventually in March I ordered one.

After lots of phone calls and messing about with LeasePlan I eventually got a call 2 weeks ago from the dealer telling me the car would be delivered on the afternoon of Friday 18 April. w00t!
That was almost a month quicker than I had been led to believe what the lead time was. w00t!
That also presented a problem...

I live in a street with permit parking and we are limited to two permits per house. If I did not sell The Beast before I got my new car that would mean having three cars. And three cars would be a pain. Here starts the problem...

It turns out that 3 litre sports cars are not exactly hot sellers at the moment. I have come up with the following factors that made selling a problem:
  • Global Credit Crunch - who wants to buy an expensive second hand car when the news is all doom and gloom about the economy
  • Petrol Prices - with petrol at 111p a litre large engined cars are not popular
  • Old shape - The Beast was the old E46 shape BMW and the new shape has been around for about 18 months meaning there are some new shape second handers for not much more than I was asking
  • No Sat Nav - I rang around a number of garages to see if they wanted to buy it and all but 2 said they were not interested because the car did not have sat nav
So regardless of those factors I needed to sell in a hurry.

First step Autotrader. I spent £50 on an advert for the magazine and internet for three weeks of advertising. I put it on at £500 more than the guide price I had bought (£3.50). After a week I had had one phone call from a chap from Scotland who never called me back. A week later I dropped the price by £1000. Not a sniff of interest.

Next step eBay. I spent £15 on an advert for eBay. Took lots of new pictures and gave a very detailed summary of the car. I put a reserve on of £1000 less than the new lower Autotrader price. I had some minor interest but the car did not sell, it got within £400 of the reserve but none of the bidders I emailed got in touch.

Getting a bit worried now. Contingency plans involved leaving the old car at work so as to avoid parking permit problems but that was going to be a faff.

Next step second hand car dealers. I rang around and had a few low offers over the phone. Hampshire Sports and Prestige Cars offered me the same amount as the eBay reserve but wanted to see the car to discuss formal price. When I went over there the chap spotted I had two very worn tyres and was concerned about the proximity of a service. We agreed on a price and I sold. It was a bit lower than I was hoping but the hassle of selling was over and I was finally car-less two days before the new one.

Friday. Afternoon. Working from home. Waiting for the phone to ring to be told about delivery time. 13:00 get call from Darren the delivery driver. Darren says he does not think he will get up my street in his 65 foot long car transporter so can I meet him somewhere in an hour. Oh yes!

2008 BMW 330i M Sport Coupe, originally uploaded by Me (?).

I meet up with Darren and he hands over the car to me. Worryingly I did not have to show any ID but then I guess who else would be hanging around outside Vines Mini in Guildford waiting for a 65 foot car transporter.

2008 BMW 330i M Sport Coupe, originally uploaded by Me (?).

Got the car and drove home. Now I had been planning this day for a long time, the idea was to take the afternoon off work and go somewhere picturesque and take some photos of the new car. Problem was the weather was rubbish. I went for a drive but it ended up being school chucking out traffic and so I got hacked off being stuck in traffic so I went home.

BMW Remote Control, originally uploaded by Me (?).

Eventually the weather was dry this morning so Alison and I popped over to Farnborough to go somewhere I had scoped out already. We went to Farnborough Air Sciences Museum where they have a load of historic aircraft that fortunately you can park right next to. I parked up next to a Harrier jet and set up my tripod etc. Within a few minutes a chap comes out and politely asks me what I am doing. I apologised and assured him I was doing non-commercial photography and I am just an amateur with a new car that I want to take some interesting pictures of. I made a donation of £5 to cover the fact that we were not going into the museum but were still making use of the outdoor parts. The guy was very friendly and introduced himself as Brian.

2008 BMW 330i M Sport Coupe, originally uploaded by Me (?).

After a load of 'photofaffing' around the Harrier, Brian pops out and asks me if I want to take some pictures through the barriers and with a load of additional planes - i.e. special access. Of course I said yes and spent another 30 mins photofaffing around an ex-Red Arrows plane whilst Brian's colleague Malcolm supervised. Excellent stuff :-)

2008 BMW 330i M Sport Coupe, originally uploaded by Me (?).

So I have the car, it is filthy already from the rubbish weather but the car is FANTASTIC! Well worth the wait (and money!). I am looking forward to a driving holiday to Reims in May and then another driving holiday to the Pembrokeshire coast in Wales in July. This is all practice for another European Grand Tour in 2009 or 2010. Can't wait!

I have created a PictoBrowser gallery below. Click on the image to move to the next picture and move the mouse over the bar at the bottom where it says PictoBrowser to select other images.

Saturday, 19 April 2008


Poppy, originally uploaded by Me (?).

We wanted to brighten up our hall and stairs and so decided to get a canvas print of one of my recent photos. Anyone who has seen my Flickr stream will know that there are quite a few to choose from!

We narrowed it down to the poppy picture above and ended up choosing a company called Photobloc for the printing. Photobloc's website looked the most professional and their prices seemed to be quite reasonable. I liked the way they offer a free photo tidy up and proofing service so that (if required) their in-house photoshoppers can sort out problems with pictures like removal of timestamps and the like.

We ordered Sunday, had the proof on Monday and the canvas on Thursday. That is pretty good service I think.

I put the picture on the wall this morning and I think it looks rather good :-)

Canvas Print, originally uploaded by Me (?).

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Social Networn

Networn, originally uploaded by Me (?).

I invented a new word last week (technically 2 words but run with it):

so·cial net·worn
- adjective
1. Diminished in enthusiasm for participating in online social networking websites;

1. social netweary (adj.); Fatigued by social network site participation.
2. social netwear (verb); The apathy about keeping your multiple social networking site profiles up to date.

Is it just me that is feeling like this? Not a month goes by without an invite from another newly discovered networking site from one of my friends. It also seems to go in phases. A few years ago it was Friends Reunited, then MySpace, then Flickr, then Facebook and now LinkedIn. Don't get me wrong, I love my friends but I actually like to see them in real life and talk to them in person rather than via a proxy website.

Wikipedia lists 116 social networking websites and I am a member of about 5 of them and a lapsed member of another 3 or so. This does not count the 3 different social networking sites we have on our company intranet.

Of all those sites, the only one I actually participate in any more is Flickr. This is mostly because I consider Flickr to be best place to backup, share and discover photos and not a social networking site. Flickr's social networking is secondary to having somewhere to put my photos and share them with the world and long may it stay that way!

Am I the only social netweary person out there?

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Gateway to the Summer

Pewley Down, originally uploaded by Me (?).

It was my birthday last week and in the past few years I have been calling my birthday "The Gateway to the Summer". This is because the clocks change to British Summer Time usually a few days before my birthday and spring normally starts springing around this time of year.

Spring is in the air!?, originally uploaded by Me (?).

Imagine my surprise to wake up this morning to find a blizzard going on outside the house! We had a good 6cm or so of snow this morning and it was a great morning for a walk out onto Pewley Down. Lots of other people had the same idea and were out walking in the 'winter' wonderland, having snowball fights, sledging and building snowmen.

Pewley Down in the Spring, originally uploaded by Me (?).

It is now gone 2 in the afternoon and most of the snow has melted in the sunshine but it was fun whilst it lasted :-)

The Thaw, originally uploaded by Me (?).

Thursday, 20 March 2008


A New Toy, originally uploaded by Me (?).
I went to the camera shop today to buy a new camera bag. I had been considering the Lowepro Slingshot 200AW or 300AW but wanted to know if it would fit the camera and a 70-200 f/4 lens that I don't own yet. I posted a question on a Flickr forum and decided to just do what one poster suggested and go and look at a real bag. Imagine that! So rather than doing what I normally do and ordering off the internet I ventured into my local camera shop, Photo Optix in Guildford.

In the camera shop, originally uploaded by Me (?).

I was impressed by the staff as they were very helpful and let me mount a lens from the shop to make sure the bag was big enough. The Slingshot 200 was too small so I opted for the Slingshot 300.

As we were testing the kit fitted into the bag I asked when the new Canon 450D is going to be launched as I had been planning to upgrade my 400D if the reviews were any good.

The girl in the shop asked why I did not not want a 40D. I said that I almost bought one a few months ago but could not justify it because of the price. She then told me that the 40D had just been reduced by £100 and that there was a further £100 cash back from Canon, making a total of £200 less than the price of the body if I had bought one 2 weeks ago.

Doing the sums showed that the 40D was only £50 more than the 450D and available now. Well, the rest is history...

I now have to relearn how to photograph again so don't expect any good pictures for a while whilst I work out how to get the camera to do what I want it to!

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Ski Extreme Team!

La Thuile Ski Extreme Black 3, originally uploaded by Me (?).

I have just come back from an excellent skiing holiday in La Thuile, Italy. A great range of slopes and for the most part of the holiday great snow.

One of the highlights of La Thuile is two black runs that come down the right hand side of the mountain. The imaginatively named "Black 2" and "Black 3". We spent most of the week going down Black 2 a few times a day as it was challenging enough but not too hard. One highlight of Black 2 was the last stretch that we dubbed "the ski jump" as it was very steep and if you got there early enough in the day you can schuss all the way down from the top.

I actually invented a new style of skiing on Black 2 ski jump, I call it "back surfing". It was not technically skiing as such as it involved going down the slope head first on my back with my skis in the air! I had decided to put in one last turn before schussing and lost my balance. I ended up on my back going down the steep slope, in order that I did not have to face a walk back up to retrieve any skis that came off I put my feet in the air to stop the skis catching and coming off. This had the interesting effect of stopping all braking and I ended up coming all the way down on my back. When I stopped laughing I stood up and carried on!

Whilst we did Black 2 quite a few times we were put off by Black 3 by the sign at the top that indicated the steepest part was 73% and that the run featured in world cup skiing events. Eventually we plucked up courage on our last day and Chris, Pat and I headed down Black 3. It was steep but not as steep as we had imagined it would be.

When we got back, Pat pointed out that a 100% gradient was only 45 degrees and so therefore a 73% gradient was only 36 degree slope. So there started the mystery: Just how steep is a 73% slope...?

Theory 1 – Height change by vertical distance

A 73% slope implies a drop of 73 meters every 100 meters. Going back to basic trigonometry the angle of the slope is the arctan of the opposite over the adjacent. So this makes the angle of the slope a mere 36 degrees. Hardly “ski extreme” is it?!

Theory 2 – Vertical distance by height change

In desperation I decided they must have measured it wrong and so decided to swap the lengths over. This makes the angle of the slope 56 degrees. This is certainly more "ski extreme" but I cannot find any evidence of anyone ever measuring a slope this way round.

Theory 3 – Height change by distance travelled

Looking for additional help I remembered about the UK La Thuile fan site On the site it says:
"If you have any questions about La Thuile then email and we'll see if we can help."

So I thought it is worth a go and sent an email off. A few days later I got an excellent email from Woody the site owner with some text from a site about road gradients for cyclists. The site took a bit of time to get my head round it, but it says that road gradients are sometimes measured by the distance travelled by the height change. How you tell the difference I don't know!

Using the sohcahtoa mnemonic from school the angle of the slope is the arcsine of the opposite over the hypotenuse. So this makes our angle 47 degrees.

Looking at the scale diagram that looks more realistic but it does not look that steep either.

So, I am still none the wiser - I suspect that theory 3 is correct though it still does not look as steep as I remember it. I have emailed off to the La Thuile visitor information people but am still waiting for a reply.

I know this, next time I go skiing I am taking some sort of GPS with me!

Here is the Black 3 subset of the extreme ski team: Chris, me & Pat.

Black 3, originally uploaded by Me (?).

Monday, 3 March 2008

PicLens: Cool Internet Picture Browser

PicLens, originally uploaded by Me (?).

I was genuinely wowed this morning when I stumbled across PicLens. It is a full screen picture reader that works with Flickr, Google Images, Yahoo! Image Search, etc, etc.

In one line it is: Cover Flow for Internet images.

It is also bloody cool!

Once installed (into Firefox, IE or Safari) you get a little arrow icon in the bottom left of your pictures when you mouse over them. Click on the arrow and you are presented with the interactive 3D wall of photos:

PicLens, originally uploaded by Me (?).

You can scroll in and out with the mouse wheel and use the mouse to scroll to the left or right. Everything is smooth and intuitive. If you point it at a Flickr photo stream then it will go on forever without having to page through multiple pages to get the picture you want.

Click on an image and it is centered and make slightly larger:

PicLens, originally uploaded by Me (?).

Double click and the image is brought up full screen in something similar to the Flickr slideshow:

PicLens, originally uploaded by Me (?).

Unfortunately the full screen slide show does not have a cover flow style transition but you could always zoom into the 3D wall and view it that way.

Click on the little arrow at the top left and you are taken to the original page. I have found the PicLens is great for browsing Google Images in a much more fluid way than using the browser:

PicLens, originally uploaded by Me (?).

Clicking on the images will take you to Flickr where you can see them full size.

Excellent stuff!

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Licenced to Shoot

Triple Barrelled, originally uploaded by Me (?).

That is not a shotgun, that is my tripod. It looks worryingly like a shotgun at first glance I am slightly worried that I might get 'taken out' whilst wondering the streets. Lets face it, the time I am most likely to be using the tripod is when the light is poor, and the most likely time for the weapon based mistake to occur.

The reason for this post is not to moan about my triple barrelled shooting stick but rather to show off a few pictures I took the other night whilst wandering Pewley Down at sunset.

I have been reading Scott Kelby's The Digital Photography Book and that gave me a few tips and a few ideas:

1) Become married to your tripod because you never know when you need it. I am seriously tempted to take my tripod with me whenever I go out in the car and have my camera with me.

Moon, originally uploaded by Me (?).

2) If you have image stabilisation on the lens, when using with a tripod, turn it off to get a sharper image.

Moonlighting, originally uploaded by Me (?).

3) If you are taking sunset shots, make them more interesting by adding silhouettes.

Alison and I, originally uploaded by Me (?).

4) Use the flash to bring out any foreground objects.

Pewley Down, originally uploaded by Me (?).

5) And an extra tip from me. Don't do what I *always* forget to do and give the lens a good clean before taking greater than f/11 shots. I spend ages cleaning off all the dust spots!

Potty about Orange, originally uploaded by Me (?).

This was my first proper attempt at sunset, tripod based shooting and I think the results are rather good.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Taking the iPod Touch Upgrade Plunge

iPod Touch Upgrade, originally uploaded by Me (?).

I took the plunge last week and opted to pay the £12.99 ($20) that Apple are asking to upgrade the iPod Touch to the new software.

I was initially frustrated by the charge but in the end figured that £13 these days is not a huge amount of money so went for it anyway.

So what do I think....?

FeatureCommentAny good?
Movable iconsHolding your finger down on one of the icons on the home page allows you to move icons around and also move them onto additional pages that are accessed by swiping the home page.Handy but not a killer app
Web bookmark iconsIn safari you can now save links to web pages as new home page icons. If the site is iPod/iPhone aware then they will have created a nice icon for you otherwise you get a mini screen shot of the web page.Handy but not a killer app
Weather WidgetNeeds Wifi. You can set up the weather widget to show the 5 day weather report for a number of different cities. you can have multiple cities that are accessed via a swipe to the left or right.Handy but not a killer app
Stock WidgetNeeds Wifi. You can set up the stock widget to show the latest stock price and history graph for any number of stocks.Handy but not a killer app
NotesA small application that lets you type some notes which you can read or email (see below). for some reason it only works in portrait orientation so I find it hard to type on.Handy but not a killer app
Mail ClientNeeds Wifi. A full on mail client. It works with all major internet mail providers (I have mine hooked up to gmail) and works really well. You can set it up to auto sync periodically so even when the iPod is in sleep mode it still seems to replicate my mail. Also you can sent emails offline and it seems to auto send the email the next time the iPod happens to be in range of a Wifi hotspot it is registered for.

Apple have also upgraded the Safari and YouTube apps to allow the emailing of links to webpages and YouTube videos. Also notes written in the Notes application can also send emails. Like the Notes application it only works in portrait mode and therefore long email messages for me are too much of a faff.
The #1 reason that this is worth the £13 for me
Google MapsNeeds Wifi. A full Google Maps client just like the iPhone version. I have been having a play and the interface is really useful. I can see it being more use on the iPhone because (a) you tend to always have your phone and (b) the iPhone gets free Wifi or EDGE access - neither that the iPod Touch can take advantage of.

I really like the feature where you can type a business type (e.g. "cafe") and it detects that you are not searching for an address and puts pins on the map view that you are currently looking at.

There is also the "Location Finder" feature. The app partners with Skyhook Wireless to try and work out your location based on the Skyhook database. Coverage is not in my area yet but they seem to be expanding very quickly.
The #2 reason that this is worth the £13 for me

Now I have all this Wifi capability I am tempted to sign up for TheCloud's £4 a month unlimited Wifi offer. I'll wait and see on that one.

So all in, is it worth £13? It is silly that you have to pay but then you could argue that it is a software upgrade. Mail is the killer app for me, Google maps would be useful if I had a Wifi subscription so I could use it outside the house.

However £13 is nowt these days when two drinks in a Guildford pub comes to £9 :-)

Of course the other reason to upgrade is that the iPhone/iPod SDK is released next month and I assumed you needed the SW Update to make use of the 3rd party apps. I am looking forward to an official version of the iPod Guitar Simulator!

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Infinite Monkeys 2008

The other day I used the "Infinite Monkeys with Typewriter" analogy and it got me thinking...

If we *had* to implement the experiment today and assuming we could clone a limitlessness supply of primates what would we do. Typewriters are obsolete these days and the complete works of Shakespeare is actually a bit of a low aim in the modern world of data that grows in volume as quickly as it does today.

Fortunately I managed to find someone who could supply me with a limitless supply of primates and I have housed them in a secret location. My monkeys have been given Apple Macbooks each (they are trendy monkeys) and I am patiently waiting for one of them to write every book ever printed. Then I will never have to buy a book again. Mwahahahahahaha!

Here is a photo of them in action that I took this morning:

Infinite Monkeys 2008, originally uploaded by Me (?).

Slight problem, with inifinite monkeys who can't read English I am going to struggle to spot the one Monkey who manages to write the book I want to read. Plus I am now worrying how I am going to feed my abundant apes and am trying to find somewhere that can sell me an infinite amount of bananas....

Oi Cheetah#4623432! Stop swinging on that fan and get back to the laptop or you won't get a peanut!

This is harder than I thought. Maybe I should have stuck with Amazon...

Wednesday, 23 January 2008


Greasemonkey, originally uploaded by Me (?).

Today I finally got round to rewriting my one and only Greasemonkey script for Flickr. The script generates the HTML that the "Blog This" button on Flickr will do. I prefer to write my blog directly in blogger rather than use the Flickr page as I can edit and see previews with blogger.

I originally wrote a script last year but that only worked on your own photos. This new version works for any photo that allows you access to the "All Sizes" page.

The script is useful if you want to blog more than one photo or choose different size pictures. It includes the photo credit caption and links back to the original page.


Greasemonkey, originally uploaded by Me (?).

Greasemonkey, originally uploaded by Me (?).

Greasemonkey, originally uploaded by Me (?).

And I can now blog other people's photos. Here is one from my favourites:

big laugh, originally uploaded by blissintothedarkofme (?).

The script requires Firefox with the Greasemonkey addon. My script can be found at

*Edit* Here is a screen shot of what the script does. It adds the final block of text that starts 'To link to this photo from your blog...' and the edit box containing the code to copy. See screenshot to the right.

Friday, 11 January 2008

2007 Photo Summary

2007 Summary, originally uploaded by xrrr.

Here are some of my favourite photos of 2007. Not necessarily the best pictures but the photos that I like or remind me of something I did in 2007. Roll on 2008 :-)

1. Drip Dry, 2. Bournemouth Pier, 3. Cube-a-rific!, 4. Happy Halloween!, 5. Cow, 6. Going Deeper Underground, 7. Postman has been, 8. Golden Bonanza!, 9. Copenhagen by Night, 10. Copenhagen, 11. 2007 Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG, 12. Roller, 13. Joseph Cyril Bamford, 14. Apple Store, 15. Climate Criminal gets New Charges, 16. The grass is always greener, 17. Pattern of 'P's, 18. Champagne Region, 19. Rosengarten - looking down, 20. The Dolomites, 21. Lake Garda, 22. Church near Bellagio, 23. 2007 Porsche Cayenne S, 24. 2007 Lamborghini Murcielago LP640, 25. 2007 Subaru Impreza WRC, 26. The Matrix, 27. The Oxo Tower, 28. Thirty Three Points?, 29. 1952, 30. Now Wash Your Hands, 31. The Mothership, 32. Great with chips, 33. Brooklyn Bridge, 34. IBM Yorktown Heights, 35. Untitled, 36. He can do anything a spider can