Monthly Archives: December, 2008


Don’t you just love the way people like to declare that this is the ‘International Year of X’, where X might be almost anything? Walking in the Jardin des Plantes yesterday I came across this:

2008 is the International Year of Planet Earth, apparently. That’s no doubt been a constant reminder for those of you who have been tempted to spend too much of the last 12 months thinking about Jupiter. And it should have made anybody on Jupiter sit up and take notice, too. Though, of course, they would have different years… Anyway, I’m glad I heard about it on Dec 29th or I could have missed out altogether! This concern led me to do some research, and discover that 2008 is also The International Year Of

  • Sanitation
  • Languages
  • The Potato

And that’s just from the UN. I kid you not. Other organisations have declared 2008 to be The International Year Of

  • The Organ
  • The Reef
  • The Frog

…to name a few. And those are just the international ones. I’m looking for an imaginative way to combine all of these in the next two days. There must be something fun you can do by combining Frogs, Potatoes and Organ pipes…

Cynique? Moi? Not at all! And to prove it, I am hearby making an important announcement, which Status-Q readers are privileged to know before anybody else…

2009 has been declared

Yes, this coming year is the time when we can celebrate all of those other International Years, and, finally, give due recognition to those that nobody else noticed at the time.

I think this could be big…

Images de Paris II




Clicking on any of these will get you larger versions.

The road already travelled

A nice feature of Google maps:

  • Take a GPS log file
  • Convert it into the .KML format used by Google Earth.
    (You can make these with GPSbabel, amongst other utilities.)
  • Put it on a web server somewhere
  • Go to Google Maps, and search for the URL of the .KML file

You’ll get a nice map of your track. And you’ll even get information about how to link to it and how to embed it in your site. Here’s a section of the route I walked today, for example:

View Larger Map

Images de Paris





2008-12-27_11-44-58_9_8 (1)_tonemapped




Watery grave

After a slightly hectic journey by Eurostar and Metro from a decidedly grey London this morning, we staggered up a final set of stairs and emerged, blinking, into bright Paris sunlight. The first thing we saw, quite literally, was Notre Dame looking as spectacular as ever. I leaned over the wall to take a photo, and my camera slipped out of my hand and bounced merrily down into the Seine.

Fortunately, it was only my backup camera – my little Ixus 750. I was rather fond of it – it has literally travelled everywhere with me for three years – but I was starting to think that it might need replacing before too long. It definitely needs replacing now!

Later, I took this photo quite close to its final resting place.

The Seine

Drop it in the box

I’ve only just started playing with Dropbox, but it looks very cool.

It’s what iDisk should have been. Software for Windows, Linux and Mac will create a Dropbox folder on your machine. Anything you drop on that folder is efficiently and securely synchronised to all other machines connected to the same account. It keeps past versions of updated files for you. The storage behind the scenes is Amazon’s S3 service. And if you’re using less than 2GB, Dropbox is free.

Here’s a more detailed write-up by Ryan Paul.

Cast your screens…

In early January, we’re launching version 2.0 of our CODA platform, and Michael’s done a short screencast which shows the fabulous new user interface that he, Thomas and Garry have been working on for the last few months. (We’ve also got a short video clip that’ll show you the basics if you aren’t familiar with CODA.)

The screencasts are really intended to show the new interface to our existing users rather than to sell it to new ones, but I know several of you are following what’s happening with CODA, so I thought they’d be worth posting.

Can’t wait to get version 2 out there…

Things to do today

Why not teach your squirrel to water-ski?

Sony BDP-S350 region-free

I last bought a DVD player at about the time the Java programming language was invented. Finally it gave up the ghost so I’ve just got another – and this one runs Java. How times change.

When I got my first one, I paid quite a lot for the vendor to do some soldering to make it region-free, and that was so long ago that I’d almost forgotten the ridiculous DVD region system. But back then, when I started buying DVDs, they were more plentiful and noticeably cheaper in the States, so I have a few region 1 discs.

Fortunately, it turns out that there’s a relatively straightforward hack for the Sony BDP-S350 to disable the region checking. So, to help make sure the details remain widely available, here’s a copy of what worked for me.
Continue Reading

Losing my innocence – Trading Places pt II

One thing that has shocked me in the last couple of months – since we registered as an exhibitor at a major trade show – has been the number of calls we’ve had from trade publications and websites. These are typically called something like ‘Enterprise Technology Management’, and their salespeople can talk for half an hour without taking a breath about the merits of their publications, how all of their writers are drawn from ‘the analyst community’, and how influential they are in whichever world they claim to serve.

As they wind down, they tell you that they have a special opportunity in this quarter’s issue for an editorial/whitepaper/article/review focusing on your company – they would love to ‘work with you’ on this and it will typically cost you somewhere from £3000-6000. Oh, and it would be very helpful if you could make the decision now because the editor is waiting by their desk.

Now, I wouldn’t mind if a publication that I had actually heard of had called up, said they had advertising space, told me their circulation numbers, and asked if I wanted to buy half a page. And I’ve always known that reviewers of products – for example in HiFi magazines – are offered luxury skiing holidays and suchlike by the vendors of those products. But in my naïvety I hadn’t realised just how blatantly editorial inches were offered for sale, especially in the trade press. This has happened to us several times now.

So, gentle reader, in the unlikely event that you should be as innocent as I was, please don’t trust anything in any magazine or trade publication that might drop through your door. At least, don’t take it at face value. If you are unlucky enough to have to read these things, don’t assume that because an article doesn’t say ‘advertisement feature’ in the corner, that somebody hasn’t paid for it to be there. It could have been me.

This post was brought to you with the help of Readership Weekly, the premier journal of the journal-reading community. Ask your newsagent for a free copy today!

Trading places

The Mac fansites are buzzing:

Apple has announced that Steve Jobs will not deliver the opening keynote presentation at the upcoming Macworld Expo in San Francisco on January 6th, 2009. Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, will take the stage in Jobs’ place. In addition, Apple announced that this is the final year in which Apple will exhibit at the Macworld Expo, pointing to the decreasing relevance of trade shows as Apple has expanded its direct contact with customers via retail stores and the company’s website.

MacWorld is one of the biggest Mac-related trade shows and the Steve Jobs keynote has always been the highlight. Many new Apple products have been announced here in the past. This is a significant press release, but not just for Apple enthusiasts. Many others have commented on the declining relevance of the trade show/expo format, and having endured quite a number of them on a variety of subjects – albeit never an Apple one – I certainly wouldn’t mourn their passing.

And that was when I was only a visitor. In January, though, we’ll have a stand at BETT – the big UK jamboree for education-related technologies. The charges for our small stand are ludicrous – £120 per power socket, for example, and over £300 for the most basic internet connection. The plentiful spam, junk mail and telesales calls we’ve received since registering as an exhibitor are another disincentive ever to do this again. And that’s just the start. Big companies like Apple spend many millions on attending such events.

So perhaps the trade shows are not long for this world. But, in the short term, it’s still deemed to be an important way to communicate with existing customers and to reach new ones. We’ll soon find out whether that’s the case. Please do come along and see us at BETT. Remember how we suffer to be there for you!

Besides, you should visit these shows while they still last, so you can tell your children about them…


A few months back I wrote about the importance of Google’s new support for CalDav, which allows you to edit and share your Google calendars in apps such as Apple’s iCal. At Camvine, since then, we’ve been managing our company calendars that way, and it’s worked very nicely, though it took a couple of minutes to set up iCal on each new machine because you had to enter complex URLs.

Now, I discover, there’s a utility called Calaboration to do it for you; much more convenient.

If you’re an iPhone/iTouch user… you can sync the calendars to the iPhone but it’s one-way only – you can’ t update them from there using the standard iPhone calendar app. However, you can of course use the web browser on the phone, which works quite nicely, or a third-party calendar utility like SaiSuke.

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser