Monthly Archives: May, 2006

Travel Time Maps

Car/Rail travel times from Cambridg
When I was playing with in-car systems at the AT&T Labs, we always wanted to do maps which were coloured according to the time it took you to get to a certain location, or distorted to show time rather than distance. We never got around to it, sadly. Fortunately, Chris Lightfoot and Tom Steinberg did.

They have all sorts of nice variations on the theme, too. The fact that much of it is based around Cambridge makes it particularly interesting for me.

Imagine a collaborative project where everybody is feeding their road speed into a central database and you can get this sort of data in real time, centred on your location, wherever you are. That would be a fun project for somebody…

And has anybody done this for the airlines, I wonder?

Thanks to John for the link.

Subversion screencast

Mike Zornek has produced a very nice screencast which introduces you to version control in general, and the Subversion system in particular.

Little Miss Muffet

My brother sent me a birthday card recently with a picture of a spider on it. Inside he had written:

Little Miss Muffet,
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her
And said, “What’s a tuffet?”

The chicken or the egg?

If you thought the solving of Fermat’s Last Theorem was a great achievement for British science, then how about this?

Professor John Brookfield of the University of Nottingham has answered the question of Which came first, the chicken or the egg?.

Win95 on the wing

Ever wondered why your bags take so long to come through the baggage claim at Heathrow? Well, now we know!

Windows on the carousel

I took this a couple of days ago while waiting for mine. The screen proudly announced that this carousel came with Microsoft Internet Explorer. Well, that’s good to know.

The Teenager Repellent

Now come on, this must be a joke, surely? A high-frequency sound, audible only to teenagers, which keeps them away? It’s an attractive idea…

Presumably it’s audible to anybody younger than that as well, so if you’re wondering why your baby is crying in the supermarket, or why your dog seems particularly restless outside, here’s another possible reason!

Anyway, the teenagers are apparently getting their own back.

I think they’re probably both hoaxes…

Sir Tim enters the fray on net neutrality

Tim Berners-Lee warns of the dangers of a two-tier internet.

The telecoms companies don’t really have a leg to stand on here, I don’t think. I’ve heard them complain that companies like Google and Skype are making lots of money from customers on their networks, and they’re not getting a share of it. But they are, of course. The whole reason people want to buy their broadband services is that there are companies like Google and Skype out there.

And that’s not counting the fact that those companies are already paying for their bandwidth at the other end. A recent estimate put YouTube‘s connection costs at $1M/month. So if service provider X is concerned, for example, that they failed to win YouTube’s contract, but they’re handling lots of traffic to and from YouTube’s site, they should sort it out with the other service providers concerned, not simply try and aim at the people for whom they feel the most jealousy.

Fast user switching?

Hah! That’s nothing. See Giles Turnbull’s post on ‘Fast OS Switching’. “Until very recently, this sort of thing was just a daydream…”

I’ve also been doing some fun experiments with virtual machines.

Shuperb Shuttle

What do you get if you take a 5-minute exposure of the space shuttle launch?

Keen Screen

You probably thought your monitor/TV was pretty cool. But I think you’ll agree that it was only because you hadn’t seen these…

Cool Monitors

Big bus

I reserved an economy/compact car from Avis, but when I arrived at SFO yesterday, this was waiting for me:

Big Bus

I don’t know what it is. A Chevy of some sort. But it’s even bigger than it looks here – those are large wheels and large wing mirrors, so you don’t get the sense of scale from the photo. Parking it is a bit of a pain, and as I cruise down El Camino Real it proudly tells me that I’m averaging 18.1 MPG. OK, so that would be nearly 23 miles per British gallon, but still….

Not quite what one had in mind.

Going underground

What’s this?

It’s the entrance to a shop. Seen from below. It’s part of an nice set of photos of Apple’s new retail outlet on 5th Avenue, taken by Neil Epstein.

I also went to a Mac store today, in Palo Alto, to have a look at the new MacBook.

Black MacBook

Much to my surprise, I found myself definitely drawn towards the black version, though not, I think, enough that I would pay the extra $150 Apple charges for black. I heard Tom Standage comment a couple of days ago that only Apple could charge for the colour that everyone else was using anyway!

The case has a slightly matt finish, so it’s probably a different material designed not to show the scratches in the way that the black iPods did, and it may cost a bit more. Probably about $2 more.

But if the case is now matt, the screens are now glossy, in the style beloved of Sony and others. They make photos look very nice (unless you have fingerprints on your screen) but in general I’m not a fan because they reflect too much. Remember the old days of CRT screens when you had to position your computer so your back wasn’t towards a window?

Otherwise, I think this is a lovely design at a reasonable price and deserves to do well. Anyone who’s had to replace the hard disk inside one of Apple’s other recent laptops will also really appreciate how easy it is on these in comparison.

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser