Monthly Archives: April, 2005

More pictures from our recent trip

Fountains Abbey – the cellarium

Our noisy neighbours

Storm damage


A distant Rose. Not too crowded up here…

Very peaceful. Sheep are good lawnmowers.

Macromedia and Adobe

Wow – so Macromedia and Adobe are going to merge. This makes a lot of sense from their point of view, but I think it’s a pity – they’re both good companies in a similar space, with enough overlap to allow healthy competition but sufficient differences to allow them both to survive.

I fear a merger, if it happens, will not be such a good thing for the customer. There’s not enough other competition in this space. We’ll see..

Roaming with Bluetooth

Well, almost! We’ve been spending the last week in this rather sweet, early-18th-century cottage in the Lake District:

Church Cottage, Far Sawrey

There is, of course, no such thing as broadband here, and almost no phone line. There is cellphone coverage outside in places, but the walls, which are nearly three feet thick, stop it penetrating into the house. I found, however, that I could get a phone signal if I sat on one of the window-sills, which are quite nice spots for telephoning but a little cramped for using a laptop.

Fortunately, of course, with Bluetooth, I don’t have to be right beside the phone. So I’m typing this while sitting on the sofa in front of a blazing fire, and uploading it via a phone which is perched in the window just to the right of the door.


I’m constantly amazed at how slow my phone is at downloading and rendering web pages, even when I have all the images turned off. I though GPRS speeds were meant to be measured in kbps, but the Orange service, at least, seems to trickle the bytes through one at a time when it feels like it…

Still, I only really use it when I’m waiting for someone or something and need to pass the time. And usually, I want to read blogs. So this service could be rather handy…

Billy, Don’t You Lose My Number

In the past, if you wanted to call Directory Enquiries (Information) from any British telephone, you would dial 192 and you’d get the service that your operator provided. Until 18 months ago, that is, when the system was opened up to competition, requiring users to dial a 6-digit number instead of three in exchange for being able to choose the information service they preferred. (Or in the majority of cases, I rather suspect, the one with the most memorable phone number).

Normally I’m in favour of such market-based selection, but I think it was clear from day one that this wasn’t really going to work in practice. This Telegraph article suggests that might be the case.

I wonder how much in the way of user studies was done beforehand. I mean, the last thing you want to have to do is remember the number to dial when you can’t remember the number to dial. What they should have done, I think, is to have left the 192 number in place but given users the opportunity to redirect it to the service of their choice if they didn’t like the default provided by their service operator.

One wonders how far this might go…
“Got a fire in your kitchen? Don’t panic! Just dial 999-3232 for Fires ‘R’ Us. 80% of customers reported improved response times over other emergency services. Switch to Fires ‘R’ Us today!”

My quote of the day…

…is from Gore Vidal:

Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.

The truth about the IRA

Ruth Dudley Edwards’ piece in the FT is linked to on John’s blog. A great article.

Software Steadicam

Here’s a lovely example of the kind of software people can produce when you expose the API for a nice system like QuickTime. iStabilize is an app which removes camera shake from video by analysing the motion and then moving the image around to counterbalance the vibrations. It does a very nice job, too – have a look at their demo movies.

You lose resolution, of course, because it has to trim the edges, but I tried it on some clips that we’d taken while running(!) and it did a very nice job. If you’ve got footage which is a bit bumpy, this may be the app for you… It’s $60, but it’s fun to play with in demo mode. And re-shooting your footage might be a lot more expensive…

Return of the Mac

I recommended Paul Graham’s article “How to Start a Startup” a few days ago. Here’s another good one on the Return of the Mac

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser