Monthly Archives: February, 2008

La Bamba

Had forgotten about this until a friend’s mention of Weird Al Yankovic brought it back from the murky depths of my memory. About 20 years since I last heard this… which means, now that I think of it, that I had never heard of the web, and certainly had no idea that YouTube would come along…

Should older Quentins be forgot?

Since Michael has been brave and put some of his GarageBand creations up for public appreciation, here’s one of my sillier ones from a couple of years back.

Tabloid travel

I’ve just been comparing the web pages of a few airlines. See if you can tell, even without looking closely, which are the budget ones.

BA capture Lufthansa capture

Quality magazines?
BA capture

BA capture

The last one – RyanAir – is, I’m sure you’ll agree, quite ghastly. It’s the only major site that makes the early days of MySpace look good. So my question is:

  • Do people who work for RyanAir have no taste? or
  • Do they assume that customers for their services have no taste? or
  • Is adrenalin more important than aesthetics when making a budget purchase? or
  • Do you have to look cheap to persuade people that you are cheap?

Your thoughts welcomed….

Achilles’ Insignia

It’s nice to think that if Paris had just taken a few photos of Helen back to Troy, rather than the girl herself, the city might have been spared a great deal of inconvenience.

If, however, he had also chosen to jump into his chariot and pop off to the nearest Best Buy to get a digital photo frame (onto which he could load the photos from his Olympus), things might not have gone so well. Last month, customers started hectoring the store – am I pushing this too far? – when it was reported that the USB-connecting Insignia frames came pre-installed with a nasty ‘trojan horse’ virus.

Now it appears that some of these frames have several other nasties on them… or at least remnants which would indicate that PCs used in their manufacture needed much better quarantining.

The ease with which USB storage can be embedded into almost anything these days allows for some wonderful things to be done. But we shouldn’t forget that something that we don’t even think of as a storage device may look completely harmless, yet may be concealing something rather less so.

I’m just wondering what nasty surprises could be in store if they ever make a USB-configurable My Little Pony

Watching your favourite magazine

A great post by Michael Rosenblum about how print journalists are rather good at becoming video journalists.

Thanks to John for the link, both to this and to Sean Smith’s amazing “Inside the Surge” footage from Iraq

Eject All

Every day I unplug my MacBook Pro from a set of disks and other peripherals at home, take it into the office and plug it into a new set there. In the evening, I do the same going home.

One thing that makes this much less painful than it might otherwise be is a keystroke shortcut I set up a long time ago, based on this hint. Now I just type Cmd-F1, and all my external disks are unmounted. This is exceedingly handy!

To do this, create an AppleScript containing the following:

tell application "Finder"
	set bootDisk to name of startup disk
	set otherDisks to every disk whose (name is not bootDisk)
	repeat with myDisk in otherDisks
			eject myDisk
		end try
	end repeat
end tell

Save it somewhere and configure your favourite utility to run it. I use QuickSilver and set it up as a trigger.

It won’t work, of course, if you have an application running using one of the disks, so it’s good to check the Finder window before actually unplugging them.


On the one occasion, many years ago, when I tried to fly a radio-controlled plane, I found it extremely difficult. It was OK when the plane was flying away from me, but when I wanted to bring it back towards me, the left/right controls were reversed. It was most counter-intuitive and the landing was far from elegant.

Recently, though, I’ve been thinking that it ought to be straightforward to mount a wireless camera on a small plane. A view of the transmitted video signal ought to let you fly the thing as if you were sitting in the cockpit of a real plane, something I know how to do.

I haven’t, alas, had a chance to try it, but it turns out that lots of other people have. It’s called FPV (for ‘First-Person View) and there’s lots more about it on this site. Here’s a nice example:


Can you guess what this is?

Large pixels

It’s a display. Rather a big one, from Palami, and these are a few of the pixels. If you stand up close to it, I found, your eyes go squiffy.

Here it is from a bit further away, with Michael and Sarah being the squiffy ones:

Palami display with Michael Dales and Sarah McKeon

Quite cool.

Sad news…

…for me, at least. My friends Pierre and Linda are moving from their beautiful house in the mountains above Martigny. It’s for sale at Pierre is the only person I know who commuted to work by funicular railway.

Go on, you know you’d like a house like this… why not treat yourself?

(I’m really hoping somebody else I know will buy it, so I can visit it again!)

The blushful Hippocrene?

One of my favourite local restaurants has come up with a good way to decorate their ceiling. If you put a camera on the table pointing upwards, this is what you get:

Backstreet Bistro wine-bottle ceiling

iPod/iTouch bling

One thing I love about the new iPod/iTouch software is the ability to put links to web pages, and even to bits of web pages, directly on the front screen.

This hint makes it even better, by telling you how to add a webclip icon. I have a link to our CODA system on mine, and it now has a shiny new icon (bottom left):

iTouch icons

Isn’t it nice…

…when your wishes are granted?

In September I wrote about how I wanted my 3G phone to become a wifi router so it could provide internet access to surrounding devices like my iTouch.

Today I discovered Joikuspot, which, if you have the right phone, is well on the way to being there, though it’s strictly HTTP-only at present. But it does mean that I can use the wonderful browser on my iPod Touch when I’m not near a wifi connection. And I can do so over 3G. Which in some ways makes it better than an iPhone…

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser