Monthly Archives: September, 2003

Overheard yesterday

“It may not be focussed on me. If I’m blurry, it’s because it’s still focussed on the Buddha.”

And this morning I’m back in Cambridge. Autumn has started in the two weeks I’ve been away, and I’m rather enjoying the change in temperature.

Images of Hong Kong

I like this place.

Images of Taiwan

Last night I sat in an Irish pub, listening to U2 and The Corrs coming from the loudspeakers, and drinking a pint of Kilkenny. Nothing too unusual about that. The strange part was that I was in Taipei, surrounded by mildly inebriated ex-pats who were telling me about the best places to buy property in Beijing.

I’m over here for various business meetings and to visit Computex – the Taiwanese equivalent of Comdex. Huge numbers of booths in three halls – I only saw a small fraction of them. Though some belong to people like Microsoft, the majority are small organisations trying to find people who will re-badge or re-sell their particular gadgets. Some are as dull as front panels for CDROM drives. Others are more interesting; the massage ball powered from the USB port, for example, is something no self-respecting geek should be without.

There are huge numbers of USB flash drives in every colour and shape you can imagine, as jewellery, as key-rings, or with built-in MP3 players. Buying small numbers here is hard. Arranging to import them in large numbers into Europe with your branding on them is easy.

It can be hard to know who actually makes what. I would admire some device at a booth, and ask whether the company made the electronics inside it, or just the case. Sometimes it would turn out that they only made the label on the front.

Breaking the WordProcessor curve

[Original Link] “ Writer isn’t a replacement for anything; it’s simply a better piece of software.”

I agree with Bruce Byfield on this – many of the OpenOffice components are superior to their Microsoft counterparts. The only real thing they lack is familiarity. Looking forward to when it runs natively on my Mac (ie. without needing X-windows).

Microsoft security

[Original Link] The holes live on…

Fame vs fortune

[Original Link] Discussions about micropayments from John Naughton’s weblog:

…now comes a terrific essay by Clay Shirky, one of the most thoughtful commentators on the Net, arguing that the cent-a-day scenario is untenable, and explaining why.

The most public Public Enquiry?

[Original Link] John Naughton discusses the significance of the Hutton enquiry web site.

Portrait of a Lady

The only thing that has been stopping me from replacing Rose’s elderly PC with a Mac has been her rotatable LCD display which lives permanently in portrait mode. For somebody who does as much writing as she does, the ability to see a whole A4 page at a time is an amazing benefit and one which, sadly, has not been available under OS X. The chief providers of ‘screen-pivoting’ software, Portrait, stopped supporting the Mac after OS 9.

I was thrilled to hear, therefore, that there may now be an alternative, at least for some Macs. If you buy the new ATI Radeon 9800 Pro graphics card, which is really designed for heavy-duty gaming rather than word-processing, it has a feature called VERSAVISION, which is hardware-supported screen rotation. The Radeon is also available as a factory-build option on the new PowerMac G5, but that seems overkill for what Rose needs. I’m going to try and get a G4 and try this out.

Anyway, the strange thing about all this was the ridiculous feeling of elation I felt as I walked to the office yesterday thinking about how I might finally get Windows out of the house…

SMTP through firewalls

[Original Link]

[Geeks only!] Here’s a very nice tip from MacOSXHints.

I’ve used SSH tunnels back to home before to allow me to send Mail via my home SMTP server even when travelling. But the idea of starting and stopping the connection under the control of inetd is very cute.

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser