Monthly Archives: April, 2010

Gateway to Heaven

The view from Crishall churchyard

The Foggy, Foggy Dew

As seen last week by the doggy, doggy few.

The Cam at Grantchester

The Face and Tripod

I met Brian Robinson at a local function a little while ago and enjoyed talking to him. Originally an actor, he’s now a coach of speaking and communications skills.

Brian’s written a book, called The Face & Tripod. No, it’s not the name of a pub. You’ll need to read it to know why it’s called that. This book, ‘A simple guide to making The Business Speech’, is full of useful thoughts and comes recommended.

Only sixty-something pages long, it may seem rather pricey for such a slim volume. But it’s wonderfully compact… you could pay the same for something which said less, was less enjoyable to read, and had a lot more padding. And he’ll give you a nice discount if you mention my name…

Info about Brian and the book can be found here. Definitely recommended.

Disclaimer: I have no interest in this other than as an impressed and happy reader. I admit, though, that I didn’t pay for my copy… but I plan to buy the sequel should it ever appear.

Xauth Overload

The Story Of X:

  • In the beginning was xauth, a command-line utility that let you set which machines and users had authority to connect to your X windows display.
  • Then there was XAUTH, part of the authentication mechanism in IPSec secure connections.
  • xAuth, on the other hand, is variation on the OAuth protocol. It’s being proposed by Twitter as a more convenient way for apps to authenticate with online services.
  • And now we have XAuth, a platform developed by Meebo to allow one website to see which other online services you might be logged into.

Come on guys! It’s time to start using some other letters!

Otherwise, we’ll have to think of a way of pronouncing the different capitalisations, so that when geeks say to each other over coffee, “Why don’t we just use x-auth?”, they don’t then all go and implement incompatible things…

Ex-books and eBooks

Two rambling thoughts this morning about ebooks.

Mmm… an aside, before I’ve even started: How should I capitalise or hyphenate e-book? Quentin’s Law of Technological Pervasiveness says that a (non-proprietary) technology has been truly successful when it’s no longer capitalised. There are those who insist that ‘internet’ should still be ‘Internet’ but I don’t tend to bother, any more than I would talk about the Electricity Grid… now, where were we? Ah yes…

  1. Unlike their predecessors, e-books have no real reason to go out of print. This is encouraging if you’re an author who has poured years of your life into a work and can now take comfort in the idea that it will always be accessible, even if only a few continue to read it.
  2. Many publishers have made downloadable versions of their books freely available, confident in the knowledge that most people, if they like more than a chapter or so, will splash out for the paper version because it’s so much nicer than reading on screen. Will the advent of the iPad and similar, really rather nice, portable PDF viewers put an end to this practice?

The tracks of my tyres

On the slopes of Mt Rainier.

Early multitouch input device

A couple of days ago I had the pleasure of meeting Walter Taucher. Among other things in his Seattle office, he has a card-punch machine from the thirties.

Yes, kids, the connection between your keyboard and your computer used to be, not a USB cable, but a stack of cards that you’d carry across the campus to the computer building. This was the thing that punched the cards. Part of the intrigue for me was that this came from a company we know well, but which now has a rather different logo.

The machine still works, apparently…

The Times, they are a-fellin’

There’s a widely quoted trivia fact on the web: that the publication of a typical Sunday edition of the New York Times takes 63,000 trees.

Wow. That’s pretty striking number, if it’s right. But does anyone have a source for it?

There are about 1.5M subscribers to the Sunday edition, so I’m guessing they sell about 2M copies in all. That means a single tree gives you only about 32 copies. Does that sound right? The paper is pretty bulky on a Sunday, but still… I don’t think the economics would work out if that were the case. How much does a tree cost?

Of course, they may be very small trees…

Coffee Table Computing

Coffee Table computing

Apple has created a new kind of device – the coffee-table computer. This is not to say that it isn’t an incredibly valuable tool for day-to-day life, but some of the early apps which are appearing for the iPad are simply capitalising on the fact that it is just a beautiful medium for displaying content, in its full-screen, uncluttered simplicity.

The Elements is a perfect example (and yes, it does include Tom Lehrer’s song), as is the Guardian Eyewitness app which is a glorious showcase of the paper’s photographers’ work. They’re both examples of things that would previously have been attempted using large-format hardback books (which wouldn’t have included music and video).

I have no doubt that there will be many more to come…

Ihad a little iPad…

This post is here to tell you little more than:

  • I’m in Seattle
  • I have an iPad
  • It’s lovely
  • I’m using it to write this post

Things that I’ve found particularly pleasing in the very brief time I’ve had it include the fact that the keyboard, in landscape mode, is very much better than I would have imagined: I’ve brought a Bluetooth keyboard over with me but I think I may not use it much. Rose’s books are available on the iBooks store. And the Kindle app is already iPad enabled.

Lots of fun but I’m jet lagged and need to go to bed. I’ll try not to take it with me…

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser