Titanium nostalgia

May 4th, 2015

Just over 14 years ago, in one of my first blog posts on Status-Q, I referred to the amazing fact that Apple, with the impending launch of OS X, was about to become, overnight, the largest vendor of Unix operating systems.

Unix was, up to that point, beloved of those of us working in universities and other scientific institutions, but was notoriously unfriendly to anyone not familiar with its highly-abbreviated command language. It sold in small quantities on expensive workstations, and the idea that the creator of the cuddly Macintosh was about to start deploying it on ordinary desktops seemed astonishing. In a little over a decade it would have evolved to be not only at the core of their mobile phones, but even on their watches!

Today, I fired up the Titanium Powerbook G4, the machine I was just starting to use at about that time.

For nostalgia reasons, I was revisiting the classic Mac OS, but back then I had been playing with the developer preview of OS X for a while, and when it was officially released I switched to the Mac and never looked back. I didn’t realise that I had made quite such a transition at the time, but a few months later I wrote:

At CNET there’s a comparison of Windows 2000 vs Mac OS X which comes out in favour of OS X. I’m a bit dubious about the higher OS X score for hardware compatibility, but it’s pleasing none the less. I currently use 3 machines on a regular basis. One runs Win2K, one runs Linux, and one runs Mac OS X. They all have their pros and cons, but if I could keep just one, I think it would be the Mac. I find myself pining for it when I’m using the others and, for all its current limitations, the reverse is seldom true.

P.S. I noticed a couple of other things from those early posts. The first is that they are both called ‘[untitled]’, because the convention of putting a title on blog posts hadn’t been established back then. The second is that neither of the URLs I linked to still work now. Never assume the web is going to be a long-term reference archive unless you control the site yourself!

“If you’ve got a browser connected to the Internet, I can show you…”

November 9th, 2014

For the sake of posterity, I’ve uploaded the original VNC video that we made back in 1998.

Lots of nostalgia in here – remember the JavaStation? The WebTV? And the days when we made movies in 4:3 ratios?

A great deal has changed in the last 16 years, but VNC goes from strength to strength!

Starring, in order of appearance:

  • Quentin Stafford-Fraser
  • Andy Harter
  • Ken Wood
  • Tristan Richardson
  • Paul Webster
  • Frazer Bennett
  • James Weatherall
  • Daisy Sadleir

Also available on YouTube. Thanks to Andy Fisher for doing the original transfer from VHS to DVD some years ago.

Make your corporate video stand out!

March 29th, 2014

It could be something awesome like this:

Thanks to Mark Littlewood for the link

A peek at Pico

December 22nd, 2013

Many of you will know that I’m currently spending one day a week in the University Computer Lab helping my pal Frank Stajano with a project called ‘Pico’. We’ve been making a little introduction movie, which has been a great opportunity for me to get some more practice shooting video with my Canon 6D, and learning the new version of Final Cut Pro.

We plan to refine it a bit in the New Year, but here it is for anyone who’s curious about what we’re doing:

Understanding your DSLR

August 11th, 2013

I always enjoy Jeff Cable’s photography tutorials. Here’s a good talk to recommend if you know somebody who has just got a DSLR, or is wondering about getting one. What kind of things can you do with it, and what do you need to know about it, if you’re used to a fully-automatic point-and-shoot?

Remember that these days you may need to click the ‘YouTube’ logo and watch it there if you want to do so in full-screen mode.

A passionate Patrick Stewart

June 1st, 2013

This is all over the social networks this morning, and for good reason. Patrick Stewart is asked what he’s most proud of outside his acting career… Worth watching through to the end.

Link here if the embedded version doesn’t show for you!

Wait a minute, Mr Postman

April 14th, 2013

My friend Rob Berwick sent me a kind gift of a Blinkstick. Here‘s an example of what you can do with it, in this case, by plugging it into a Raspberry Pi.



You can get the Blinkstick as a kit, and solder it together yourself (which isn’t difficult) or, for a few quid more, get it ready-assembled.

Some links to other things mentioned in the video:

Low-friction paperless workflow

March 3rd, 2013

I’ve been trying to shift much more of the paperwork in my life into the digital world, but I was very keen that filing a bit of paper electronically should be as easy as putting it in a folder in the filing cabinet. “Wouldn’t it be nice”, I thought, “if the only thing I had to do was type a name or a few keywords and everything else happened automatically?” So I built a system which did just that.

This video describes in some detail how the script is set up. You may want to use the full-screen and HD options to make things more readable. If you’re less interested in the details and would just like to see it in action, watch the first couple of minutes and then skip to about 13:30.

One thing I don’t talk about in the video is the fact that Hazel rules can also look at the contents of the file. So, once the document has been OCRed, the automatic filing can happen based on words that actually occur on the paper — it might detect your car’s registration number (licence plate), for example, in a document and know to file that under ‘car stuff’ — which I think is very cool.

Some further links:

Inventing on Principle

February 24th, 2013

This is an interesting and unusual talk, given about a year ago at a Canadian software engineering conference. I’d seen it before, but a friend reminded me of it recently (thanks, Aideen!) so I’ve just watched it again.

Bret Victor starts by talking about new ways to design software, and finishes with some suggestions on how to live your life. This is dangerous, because you may only find him credible on one of these points, and one could perhaps argue that the one-hour talk would be better delivered as two half-hour talks. And the first couple of minutes, delivered in his slow, careful style in a badly-lit brown room, don’t jump out and grab you. However, I think he pulls it off, and it certainly has the merit of being very different from your typical software-engineering talk.

Recommended.

No Troubled Thoughts

January 9th, 2013

One of the records that was regularly played in my childhood home was a collection of sketches by the wonderful Joyce Grenfell. This was a favourite, and though I only ever knew it as audio, the place to find such things nowadays is of course YouTube.

 

 

 

An Italian telling people not to talk so much?

December 3rd, 2012

It’s almost too easy to find inspiring TED talks, so I don’t often post them here now, but this one particularly attracted me.

Ernesto Sirolli manages to give some great advice on aid (which is also relevant in the developed world) and on high-tech entrepreneurship (which is also relevant in the developing world). To do both of these in such an amusing and impassioned way, in just 15 mins, is sheer brilliance.

(Very nicely filmed, too)

The New Pointillism?

October 1st, 2012

How can you take a year and a half to make a 3-minute music video? Like this:

It’s even more amazing when you know how they made it. There are no green-screens here, and every frame is created by hand…

This has been out for a while, of course, but old people like me have just discovered it. (Old people like me might also be reminded of Peter Gabriel’s ‘Sledgehammer’ video, which was pretty amazing a quarter of a century ago…)