Monthly Archives: September, 2007

Would you like a courier’s career?

My statistic for the day comes from this week’s Economist:

An average day for a UPS driver in America involves 150 destinations

Avast there, me hearties!

Arrrh! How many of you landlubbers knew that it was International Talk Like A Pirate Day, then?

Of course, I learned everything I needed to know about pirates from Captain Pugwash, a wonderful children’s TV series written and drawn by my (distant) cousin, John Ryan. If you were unlucky enough to have missed it your youth in the 50s, 60s, or early 70s, you can enjoy it again today through the magic of YouTube…

I have a couple of the original drawings used in the Pugwash series at home somewhere. They were a bit like a pop-up book – the movement of the characters’ arms etc was done by moving cardboard tabs which emerged at the side of the drawing, and it was an unusual technique when first done because it was filmed ‘live’ rather than using stop-frame animation. I must get them framed…

More about John Ryan on Wikipedia.


Cool! There’s a VNC viewer for the iPhone, and, presumably, the iPod Touch.

Thanks to Steve Talbott for the link.

iPhone UK

Coming in just under two months. I love the iPhone – more so since having played with it – but I think I’ll probably wait for a 3G one.

More info from the Beeb.

Of Mice and Men

mighty mouseI’m quite a fan of Apple’s Mighty Mouse – I have a few of the wired ones and miss them when I’m on a machine that doesn’t have them. They do have a downside, though, which is that it’s fairly easy for the scrollball to get a bit gunked up, and cleaning it is not trivial.

If you suffer from this, you need this page, which has a range of different remedies that have got people out of trouble, and I’ve just added my method to the list. Basically it involves stretching out a piece of Scotch Tape/Sellotape sticky side up and running the ball up and down on it… Not the easiest manouveur, but the results were splendid!

Anyway, all of this reminds me of a great story I read many many years ago, in a book about the Atari ST, back when mice were still a novelty, and they still had their balls on their underside… as it were. So you needed a mousemat, and these were also a novelty and rather expensive.

The author of the book – whose name I forget, sorry – said that you didn’t need to buy one of these expensive things because wetsuit material worked very well, and he told the story of going into his local watersports supplier, where they normally sold the stuff by the foot or the yard, and asking for a piece about 6 inches square.

When they asked why he wanted such a small piece of wetsuit material, he said, quite seriously:
“Oh, it’s for my mouse…”

Radio silence

I’d like to apologise to regular readers for the slightly lower rate of posting here recently. I’m in the middle of raising an angel funding round for my new startup and, as anyone who’s tried this before will know, it can be quite time-consuming, especially if you’re trying to run the business at the same time!

But never fear, Status-Q is alive and well, even if the status of Q is ‘a little more frazzled than usual’!

Oh, and if you might be interested in investing in the latest exciting new Cambridge venture then do let me know. 🙂 Things are going well, but we may still have a slot or two open…

Watch this space…

Google Chocks Away!

I’ve just been flying around the English Lake District.

Not in reality, sadly, but using a cool new flight simulator which is hidden in the latest version of Google Earth. It leaves something to be desired in terms of the realism of the flight controls, but it’s not bad, and I don’t know of any others that will let me fly over Catbells, across Derwent Water and up over Ashness Bridge.

I crashed somewhere near Watendlath. Mind you, if you have to come to a sticky end, I can’t think of a nicer place to do it…

Shadow puppets

My brother Simon sent me a link to this splendid short performance by Raymond Crowe (who describes himself as an ‘unusualist’).

3G iPod?

Here’s a thought…

My Nokia E61 can be used as a 3G modem via its Bluetooth connection. The very popular Nokia N95 does the same. But they also have WiFi. I wonder if it would be possible to create software that would allow them to become WiFi routers? I don’t know enough about the radio hardware involved to know whether this is viable. I fear not, or somebody would have done it by now.

Lots of interesting devices now have WiFi – the iPhone, the iPod Touch, the Nintendo DS… Just imagine if I could just switch on my pocket WiFi basestation and give them all 3G connectivity. That would be exceedingly cool.

What’s the nearest I can get to this – anybody know?

England’s Green and Pleasant Big Blue

HursleyI was invited to give a talk on Ndiyo, CamVine and DisplayLink at IBM Hursley yesterday. It was a first for me – I hadn’t been there before – but it must be a nice spot to work.

Just outside a picturesque Hampshire village you turn off the road and go up a long drive through beautiful grounds to the campus. It’s centred around a magnificent 18th-century house, and though this is rather dwarfed now by the extensive modern buildings which are home to the nearly three thousand IBM employees there, it must be very pleasant to stroll through the gardens at lunchtime. And I doubt many other technology campuses have their own cricket pitch.

It was also the first time I’ve given a technology talk in a former ballroom! I met some great people and had good discussions. But we stopped short of dancing.

When is an iPhone not an iPhone?

When it’s an iPod touch. Announced yesterday.

The first iPod with wifi, and a nice web browser. This is very cool.

iPod Touch

It’s interesting that they decided not to include an email app. Perhaps to keep more clear water between it and the iPhone?

Also, quite intriguing, is the new partnership with Starbucks which lets you buy the track currently playing (and anything else on the iTunes Music store) in a Starbucks outlet using their wifi network. A new icon appears on the iPod when you’re in range. Howard Schultz says that he hopes Starbucks will become a key place for music discovery. Mmm. Is this what will replace the traditional high-street music stores?

The iPhone has also dropped significantly in price – now only $399 for the 8GB model, not including the contract of course – but that just makes the various unlocking projects look even more significant.

Steve Jobs keynote is here.

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser