Monthly Archives: October, 2009

Ab Initio

In the beginning there was nothing. God said “Let there be light.” Now there was nothing, but you could see it better.

Seen on Twitter – thanks to @weirdralph

Re-learn some of life’s basics

Now, here’s an interesting challenge: can you re-learn one of your earliest-developed skills in a different way? When you get to my age, those neural pathways are pretty fossilised… but if you want the challenge, to keep your brain supple, why not try a new way of tying your shoelaces?

The Ian Knot gives you the same results as the conventional shoelace-tying method, but faster and more evenly. Something to practise in front of the hearth on those long winter’s nights? Here’s how to do it, and here’s an alternative set of diagrams which may be easier.

Thanks to David Shores for the link.

Would you like free telephony with that?

Today I made my first call with Skype To Go. I’ve no idea how long this has been around, but I was impressed: I made a long call to the States from my mobile, and it was flawless, and free.

Here’s how it works:

  • You apply for a Skype To Go number in the location of your choice. Mine is in London.
  • You call that number. It’s a speed-dial on my phone, and I have more free minutes than I ever use, so it doesn’t cost me anything.
  • You are prompted for the number you want to dial. You can use the Skype website to set up some favourites which can be dialled in a couple of keypresses.
  • The call is routed over the Skype network and charged to your Skype account. From the UK to the USA costs a penny a minute, which is 1% of what O2 would charge me for calling direct.
  • The favourites you set up on the website can include Skype accounts – and calling them is free. Since my friend Hap was sitting at his computer, I used that option, and saved even the 1% I would have paid.

The call quality was very good and there was no noticeable latency.

Now, since I have an iPhone, I could have used Skype directly on the phone. But that would have depended on a good data connection: much harder to find than a reliable voice channel.

Recommended if you call abroad regularly.

And another stocking-filler!

Ah – here’s something for the run-up to Christmas…

The Kindle is now available in the UK (and quite a lot of other countries). You need to order it from the States, but apparently the 3G works here now too.

MiFi in the UK

mifiThe MiFi pocket 3G-to-Wifi gateway has proved pretty popular in the US among the cognoscenti. Now it’s available in the UK, from Three.

Might be tempted when my dongle contract expires…

Longer Leo

Leo Laporte is the host of the TWIT.TV network. He’s an excellent host and his range of podcasts on a variety of topics have been the background for most of my shaving for some time!

The nature of the group discussions on the shows mean, however, that you never get to hear Leo for more than a couple of minutes at a stretch, and he’s a very smart guy with a lot of interesting experience. So it’s great to be able to hear the whole talk he gave at the Online News Association conference.

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser