Monthly Archives: March, 2008

Reach Out

Grantchester tree

A tree in Grantchester Meadows this afternoon.

Upgrade to XP

Considering buying a low-end Dell machine this evening, I saw that it comes with a very basic version of Vista by default. But of course, even if you have to get Windows, you’d be daft to get that. For only £30 more, you can get a basic version of XP.

Amusing to see that it’s a pay-extra upgrade…


The UK is being swept by very strong gales today…

When my parents, many years ago, used to fly around northern Kenya in their work with the Flying Doctors, they would occasionally be able to get radio reports from people on the ground as they came into land at some of the remote desert airstrips. Usually it would just be information about wind speed and direction, how many camels were on the runway, etc.

But I remember my mother telling me about an abbreviation they used under certain wind conditions, and it came back to me today: EBAW.

“Even birds are walking!”

Aperture keyword reorganisation

If you use Aperture and you like to organise your keywords hierarchically using the Keywords HUD, then you may find this page at Bagelturf useful, especially the section about moving keywords to the top level. I couldn’t work out how to get keywords which were in folders back to the top level – it turned out to be because I had too many keywords visible. This hint gives you a workaround, and it’s generally useful to remember that search box at the top.

My list of keywords was getting quite long, and I often had duplicates at various places in the hierarchy – ‘Seattle’ came under ‘USA > Washington State’, for example, but it also came under ‘iPhoto’ because many of my photos were originally tagged there. Typing the first few letters of ‘Seattle’ into the search box allowed me to see both and merge them easily.

This is the solution to another problem, by the way – that of getting the same keyword twice at the same level with different capitalisation.
Drag the one you want to change into a different level of the hierarchy – for example into a temporary folder. Then rename it to the right capitalisation, and drag it back to where you want it, using the search box to make life easier if necessary. Aperture will ask if you want to merge the two keywords.

You don’t even need to create a temporary folder, in fact, you can drag the one you want to change inside the correct one – if that doesn’t confuse you – rename the inner one to match, and then drag it to the level above to merge with its parent.

Hope that’s useful for someone!

Space Truckin’

“Europe is set to launch the biggest, most sophisticated spacecraft in its history.”

Oh, and it happens tomorrow. Splendid stuff.


Intelligent Life magazine has a light-hearted article by Will Smith… I liked this:

Football involves a lot of running around and people trying to stamp on your feet. Rugby involves a lot of running around and people trying to stamp on your scrotum. Cricket involves a maniac hurling a piece of red concrete at every part of your anatomy. But golf: I think golf could be the sport for me. There’s no body-contact, and it involves strolling round a large garden.

East Anglian Altitude

Yesterday I visited the Møller Centre here in Cambridge.


Interesting architecture, and a great view from the tower:

Cambridge Skyline

There’s some other quite interesting architecture visible if we zoom in to the right:

View from the Moller Centre tower

The buildings on the right are the Centre for Mathematical Sciences, and the other tower, on the left, is the University Library, designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, who created several other rather Stalinist-looking buildings but redeemed himself by designing the iconic British red telephone box.

Giles was continuing in the family business – his father was also an architect responsible for some notable buildings, and his grandfather designed the Midlands Grand Hotel which formed the front of St Pancras’ Station. Now, that is something to be proud of… take a look!

Oscar nomination

Today’s quotation comes from Oscar Wilde…

To be really mediaeval one should have no body.
To be really modern one should have no soul.
To be really Greek one should have no clothes.


There’s a lot of buzz in the Apple-related blogosphere about ExpanDrive. John Gruber likes it a lot, and so does TUAW. Based on very brief experiments, I have to say I rather like it too.

If there’s a remote server you can connect to with SSH or SFTP, ExpanDrive lets you mount the filespace as a drive. I’ve mentioned MacFusion before, which does the same thing. They share a common heritage:

  • FUSE (Filesystem in Userspace) is a project which originated on Linux. It provides a framework for creating things which look like filesystems in ordinary programs, rather than them having to be part of the operating system. There’s a variety of fun stuff you can do with this.
  • MacFUSE is a Google project which implemented FUSE for the Mac.
  • ExpanDrive and MacFusion provide a nice GUI that implements the ‘remote SSH server as local disk’ in a way that ordinary users can make sense of it

The upshot is that you can open a file in any application just as if it was on your local machine, even if it’s on the far side of the world.

MacFusion is free, ExpanDrive costs money. They both work. But at present, the latter seems to be faster and more reliable, so I’m quite likely to hand over some of my hard-earned pennies.

ASUS joins the USB-enabled monitor crowd

“Hard to go wrong with a little bit of DisplayLink” says Engadget.

Staying Alert

Adrian and Pilgrim

The FT has an article about my pals at AlertMe. (They have a fun product – low-power wireless devices that monitor your home and can report back to you in a variety of ways. We have one of their early kits in the CamVine office.)

The article talks about the benefits for a UK startup of getting US-based funding, something we also did for DisplayLink in the early days. I suspect, though, that the relative speed with which they accomplished it is more down to the nature of the funding round, the particular fund they attracted, and the fact that there was only one investor rather than several, than it was to a real difference between the US and UK.

With CamVine, I decided to go for Angel rather than VC investors for the first round, and even stayed clear of Angel groups. I think dealing with just a few individuals made everything much easier. Perhaps we were just lucky, but we got a great group of investors… from this side of the Atlantic!

The light fantastic

Developments in alternative energy sources are accomplishing some wonderful things. Yes, yes, so they could reduce greenhouse gases and our dependency on polluting fossil fuels. But that’s old news.

More exciting things are in store. Take, for example, these illuminated garden birds.

Solar powered illuminated garden birds

Admit it, you’ve been wanting these for years! Well, now you can have them without the wiring hassles which have plagued installers of illuminated garden birds in the past.

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser