Archive for August 2005

Why I was grumpy last night…

(originally a comment on an LJ; reproduced here because it was a good little rant)

Partially (mostly) lack of sleep

Partially the fact that there were people there I didn’t want to talk to… but the people I did want to talk to were talking to the people I didn’t want to talk to, leaving me out in the cold.

Partially the annoying fact that, more and more, the guys I’m attracted to physically don’t interest me in any other way – to the extreme that, last night, there were a few guys there I’d love to put on a pedestal and look at, but even touching them doesn’t interest me, let alone smelling them, tasting them, talking to them..

Also, partially the annoying fact that there were one or two people there who *are* interesting on many levels, who i’d love to get to know.. but I was too grumpy to feel like talking to them and getting to know them, so I was just left with a whelming (like overwhelming, except that it didn’t actually overwhelm me, it just came close) urge to shag them…

Clutter – must go!

My life at present is too cluttered.

There are a few core things that I want to focus on, but I’m allowing myself to be distracted and getting lost.

It’s like I have all the materials needed to lay the foundations of a fantasticly strong and stable building, but rather than assembling anything, they’re just lying all over my yard.

I really need to do that which I’ve been on the verge of doing all year: trim back some of the excesses and focus on the core goals.

It’s symptomatic of the clutteredness of my life that any time I went to plan a social engagement, I need at least two weeks lead time – I’m trying to weave too many threads into my life, and the result is just a mess.

Gmail invites no longer being topped up?

Hrm.

Contrary to what I said a few days ago, it looks like gmail invites might be getting scarcer after all.

If you’re in the US, anyone can now sign up after first providing Google with your mobile number; but those of us in the real world have no such avenue just yet. So I’ve heard, anyway – from here in Australia, I can’t even see the option to register.

However, as a counterpoint to this, my gmail invites (which used to be topped back up to 50 on a nightly basis) don’t seem to be being refreshed any more. I’ve given out two over the last few days to people who have resisted gmail, but now want a login to use gTalk. My invites, 4-5 days later, are still only at 48, not back up to 50.

Has anyone else noticed their invite count not being topped up?

(Incidentally, if you do happen to be in the US and want a login without providing your cellphone to google, let me know – I’ve still got 48 invites 😉

Google Talk Done Got FUDded..

So… I was cruising around the net this morning, as I am wont to do when I have more important things I should be working on.

I happened to stumble on this critique of this article from the Times in the UK.

I have to agree with i386 that the article is a “freaking crack pipe enduced P.O.S.”, but i386 missed some of the more blatant factual errors.

Take, for instance, the third paragraph, which states:

if you have a VoIP handset (which start at around £10)

That’s not true. Almost all PCs today have speakers. Most laptops, and even some desktops have built-in microphones. If you’ve got these, you don’t need to spend a cent to start using any kind of VoIP (including Google Talk).

Even if you’re lacking a built-in mic, there’s no neccessity to buy a “VoIP handset”. A simple desktop stand mic will suffice to get you started – and these start at around $5AUD at any electronics store (about £1.5). Even if you do want to go all out, what you need is not a “VoIP handset” but any standard headset with a mic and headphones – these start from about $20AUD (about £7).

Sign-ups to GMail have been restricted so far to a “by invitation only” basis, so they are the fashionable thing to have, but they remain quite uncommon.

Well, that’s partially true. They have been invitation-only, but I’d hardly call them “restricted”. In the early days, sure – it took me almost a week of begging from friends for me to get an invite! For the last 6 months or so though, I’ve had 50 invites spare and no-one to offer them to. If I did manage to give them away, I’d have another 50 invites 24 hours later.. that’s a pretty generous “restriction”. I could outfit the entirety of the company I work for in less than three days!

Google claims that this may be their unique selling point, as they are going to make their Google Talk product opensource, which means that other providers can utilise their software and network to allow their users to be able to keep in touch with more of their friends

Really? I doubt that. I’ve not seen any press from Google which would indicate that they want to make their Google Talk product “opensource”. I highly doubt they ever would consider that.

What they have done is used an open standard, which allows other people to create clients that can connect to Google Talk’s servers. Even more, Google have had, right from the launch, a list of third-party clients that work, and instructions on how to configure them. This contrasts with MSN, AOL, and Yahoo, who frequently change their protocols in an (always vain) attempt to stop third-party clients from connecting.

What Google have also said is this:

We hope to change that. We want to work with other willing service providers to enable their users to communicate directly with Google Talk users..

This still doesn’t amount to open-sourcing their Google Talk product.

The factual errors aren’t just in relation to Google Talk either. In comparing SipGate with Skype, the article says:

SipGate, a European based VoIP service, goes one better, giving you a landline number in either the UK or Germany that your non-VoIP friends and collegues can call you on.

Skype also has landline numbers available in the UK.

The best part of this article, as i386 recognised, really comes in the last paragraph:

However, it is likely to come at some cost to the consumer: their privacy. I can foresee Google using voice recognition technology to analyse their users’ conversations and provide sponsored links that are relevant to the words and phrases just spoken. Thus Google Talk may be just another step towards world domination by Google.

There’s really no response I can make to that; it’s just idle sensationalist speculation. It might be interesting if the writer of the article knew anything about the subject matter, but as he’s demonstrated he has no idea at all.. well.

I’m going to go away and do something serious now, and then get lunch. bye!

Google done got cool mail!

Google mail is now even cooler!

I just discovered that if you go Settings->Accounts, you can choose to add other “From” addresses to send mail from!

This is fantastic – if you have another address that forwards to your gmail, you can now respond from that address – completely transparently! No advertising, no google branding *anywhere*.

Even if you don’t – you can set gmail to pull your mail from elsewhere, then respond to it from that address – great for a temporary solution while you’re on the road…

I’m in love.

Google done got chat!

As the next step in fighting the Yahoos and Microsofts of the world, Google have released their own IM solution, Google Talk

Apparently it includes voice chat capabilites as well as traditional IM.

The client is currently windows-only, but as Google have chosen to implement Jabber, there’s plenty of ways for everyone to connect. Google even provide a list of other applications that will work, and walkthroughs showing how to set them up.

Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to log in as yet – talk.google.com isn’t responding to me on port 4223 🙁

Full marks to Google for using something that’s open, and for being so forward about listing ‘unofficial’ clients that will work.

Exercise and gain weight

It’s been bout 6 months since I’ve last weighed myself. At that time, I was gymming fairly frequently, had lost most of my spare tyre, and had some muscle mass. I weighed 74kg.

A few days ago, I found a set of scales and weighed myself again. In the ensuing 6 months, my gymming has been very irregular, my eating habits have gown downhill. I’ve put in perhaps 4-6 inches of girth around my stomach (although only 1-2″ around my waist, so I’m still essentially the same pants size – damn this body shape i’ve inherited from my father). Scarily, although my girth has increased, my weight has decreased.

I’m now in a renewed much-exercise-needed mood. It’s slightly ironic, or at least it seems so to me, that an outcome of my exercise is not going to be that I lose weight- but that I gain weight by getting rid of fat. Who else do you know who gets lighter as they get fatter?

The Twice-as-Good rule

Go read James Kew’s post about the twice-as-good rule.

Go now. stop reading here, just go.

Opera, anyone?

Hurrah!

My copy of Opera Australia’s program for next year has been received, and unlike the program for this year, there is much in the Youth Subscription package that is of interest

Full details are available in a carefully hidden spot, but I’m sure you’ll be able to guess where easily enough.

I’m planning on taking the full package of 6 operas for $312. Is anyone interested in joining me for the year? I might go to one or two others that aren’t in the package as well..

I’m also thinking of going to the New Years Eve concert and and the party – anyone interested in coming to that?

*casts glances at a certain person who has previously expressed interest* *subtly expresses fervent hope said person is still interested*

Updates to the site

Okay, a couple of changes have been made to the site.

Firstly, I’ve manually patched the captcha module and installed the captcharith patch; this means that rather than crappy broken captchas with half the text invisible outside the box, you now get asked a simple mathematical question in order to prove you’re not a spambot.

Unfortunately, I’ve noticed at least once that the question is broken – “What is divided by four” doesn’t make much sense. However, until I get around to debugging this, the workaround is to just hit “preview” if this affects you.

Second, I’ve created a more formal fixed taxonomy to accompany the free-tagging folksonomy. While free-tagging is useful, it’s hard to remember if I’m filing microsoft posts as MS, Microsoft, microsoft, MicroSoft.. yes, Drupal’s taxonomies are case sensitive. So, by having a more formal predefined structure, I know where to slot this. However, I’m still using free-tagging as well. All posts are required to be assigned to one or more topics from the fixed vocabulary, but may not have any extra tags added.

A side-effect of this is to make some of Drupal’s features more powerful. If, for instance, you’re one of my Livejournal buddies, you probably only want to get posts from the Personal News category, and don’t want to see me ranting on about Scoble, especially when I’m being a rotten strawberry.

If you have a look on the left navbar (unless you’re using IE – I really must get that fixed), you’ll see a “Category Browser” link. Click on that, choose “Personal Posts” from the categories list on the left, and click Search. On the bottom of the resulting page, you’ll find an XML button, which has a link to the feed for that specific topic. Add that link to your aggregator.. and viola, you only see the posts you’re interested in!

Scoble, the link you’re looking for is here 🙂

(Unfortunately, if you actually are an LJ buddy, you are, at present, stuck reading every post I make – but I should be able to fix that soon)

You can get trickier too, combining topics, choosing to have all posts that match any of a set of topics.. go nuts!

Oh, and I’ve also had to move the site to a new server due to increased traffic. It should be rather snappier to respond now. Unfortunately, there’s a few things not yet transferred – eg, there’s currently no webstats on this new server. However, this should all be fixed on the weekend.