30 April, 2010

HTC Hero Review

So, I've had a busy couple of days playing with my new 'phone, and if you are interested, I'm going to offer my first impressions...was I right not to get an iphone? Looks like it, while 3G drops in and out a *bit* here in the Wharf, it's generally strong, I've been able to upload pictures to flickr and download 4-5Mb applications sat at my desk (at lunchtime I might add), so that's one worry out the way...second worry was battery life, as I said, it merrily charges from USB (took about 4 hours for a full charge on my PC - not all USB ports are equal), and this means we can charge up in the car (if needs be) from our USB/cigarette lighter thingy, web browsing works amazingly well (both the iphone browser and the Android browsers are children from the same technology and they both work equally well) Android flip to horizontal is just slightly quicker than the iphone, but not much in it, touch keyboard is intuitive and accurate, auto-complete is obviously aimed at geeks (I'm getting suggestions of things like "Mbps" as I'm typing...and even with everything turned on (GPS/Bluetooth/Wifi/GPRS/running apps) after 24 hours I'm still at 80% juice...you can buy bigger batteries though, if you like (and you can't do that with an iphone either)... ;)

One very cool thing about the Android marketplace (although searching it is admittedly a bit confusing) is that every purchase (if you make one, most things are free that I have found) is fully refundable in the first 24 hours, so you really are free to try *everything* out... ;)

Apps I've installed so far (apart from *lots* of games - Robot tower defence is *ACE*, not to mention "almost miss your stop" addictive) are as follows -

Locale - allows you to set power settings based on your GPS location - i.e. automatically turn on wifi at home, or at known hotspots, don't waste energy searching while on the train (that sort of thing), it does the same with other phone settings, so set normal ringtone at home, set it to loud on the train, set it to vibrate in the office (etc)...

Google Skymap - an "augmented reality" app where, when looking at the night sky through the camera it overlays the view with planets, star and constellations (incredible)! Even links to the latest sweet hubble shots of what you are observing!

Wikitude - another "augmented reality" app, wave the phone around using the camera and find related wikipedia articles/restaurant reviews/facebook events/youtube video/flickr shots of what you are looking at! There are about 50 different wikis you can choose to overlay on reality, it's truly amazing!

Dolphin - a different web browser - absolutely pin sharp rendering - super fast

Skyfire - an amazing web browser that plays flash videos and games even with hardly any signal (incredible)!

Shopsavvy - a barcode/QT scanner (combined with a quick search to price comparison websites) - also scans QT codes on websites (just point the camera at the screen or bit of paper) to auto download content or quickly get to a linked site

Geobeagle - a geocaching app (not tried it out yet, will do when I get some downtime)

The most impressive things about it so far? Turning it on for the first time and it asking me to log in to gmail/flickr/twitter/facebook etc. and them just all suddenly springing to life - that was amazingly impressive...Watching yourself zooming along on Google maps on the train, and being able to say "find me the nearest x" and the phone give you directions (does the same job as a TomTom in the car too - out of the box)...'phone making a noise and you want it suddenly to be silent (like when your headphones fall out on the train) - just turn it upside down and everything is automatically muted...All websites - including Flash sites - just working (well, that I have tried so far)...want to watch youtube? Just go there and hit the video...true multi-tasking (run everything you want all at once) - be downloading apps while listening to music while browsing the web...

The least impressive - the camera - although apparently there is an app you can download that greatly improves it (but it costs a quid so I haven't downloaded it yet)..I can honestly say the one on the Nokia N73 was twice as good...still, it's not the end of the world, it's just time to go back to bracing the phone against things to get blur free shots...

Overall - Very happy indeed... ;)


Looks like normal Blogger just works on the dolphin browser! ;) I'll write some more when I'm at a proper keyboard, but that's certainly nice to know!

27 April, 2010

Time for a new telephone...

So, while changing my Orange contract to get a slightly better rate (down to £19) I also noticed that my handset was *well* overdue for an upgrade, even better than that - I had accumulated so much "loyalty" that almost any telephone was being offered to me for free (including iphones)...however, I didn't want an iphone, and I'll explain why...firstly, and most importantly, iphones use a lot of bandwidth, and while they will probably work just fine in most of the country, I work in Canary Wharf where (as you can imagine) there are quite a few iphones...all I hear all day long is people complaining that (while they appear to have a signal) they get missed calls, delayed text messages, network busy, slow internet connection (etc. etc.), it's probably not *so* bad on Orange (as they only recently adopted the iphone), but the older iphone networks around here are pretty swamped (apparently it's just as bad in New York City)...secondly, the battery life is extremely poor on iphones, the few charging cables in the office are traded *constantly* and I've got used to week-long battery life with my little Nokia...thirdly, the iphone (unless you risk your warranty) is highly restrictive, people worry about even plugging it in to charge it in case itunes wipes off all their music, and (actually) I really don't like itunes, I don't want to have to manage all my media via itunes, I want to drag and drop files in file manager (and have them just work without itunes converting them to some other format)...so, I decided to take a look at the latest HTC devices (loved my C500 running Windows mobile), and I noticed with no little amount of interest, they run Android - the operating system made by Google (which is completely open source - much more my sort of thing - as I'm an "under the hood" sort of fellow)...

iphone=locked/idiot proof, Android=open/flexible (nothing against all those millions of iphone users, it's just not for me - how can 8.5 million iphone sheeple users be wrong)...? Baa... ;)

After a little reading, I settled on the HTC Hero (the review is a little old, the latest software eliminates the lag they talk about - and apparently Android 2.1 is due any day now - so I've avoided the "ironing out" phase)...it's got all the flashy things the iphone does - digital compass, gps, multi-touch screen, wifi, accelerometer, ambient light detection, 3.5mm headphone jack (yes!), and just a few very nice things the iphone doesn't - it connects via standard USB (mounting itself as a drive), takes up to 16Gb MicroSD expanded storage, connects you up to all the Google services right out of the box (email, RSS reader, calendar etc.) as well as things like twitter/facebook etc...even does augmented reality through the camera and (purportedly) voice to text (so less fiddling with little keyboards on the screen), so I'll tell you tomorrow (when it is due to arrive), if it is as good as it looks and if I find any good apps to install (all the decent ones from the iphone have already been ported apparently)...!

26 April, 2010

Walkers Flavour Cup - German Bratwurst vs American Cheeseburger

Walkers Flavour Cup
How terribly disappointing - German Bratwurst = normal Beef and Onion, but with just a *hint* of creaminess...pah!

American Cheeseburger - TRY THEM, you are going to taste perfectly char grilled beef, you are going to taste American plastic cheese you even (and I may be making this up) get a hint of "special sauce" and salad, it's *extraordinary*...however, a bit like Builders Breakfast, while being *spookily* authentic, they just sort of leave you fancying a bit of the real thing... ;)

(Clear) Winner - American Cheeseburger

OMG...10 more flavours to go!


Happy Birthday Uncle Scammell...

The big 60... does this mean you now get a free bus pass?!?

Lots of Love,

Fink, Flyingpops and Thomas


23 April, 2010

Finks Links #93

Friday! Just a few links this week...been too busy reading Facebook (or something)... ;)

In Dubai, Spiderman is a window cleaner...!

The first commercial microwaves were 6 feet tall and cost $22000...!

Weta Legs!

An actually quite cool optical illusion made from tea lights...!


...and finally some "Lets just turn around"... ;0

More next week...! Have a lovely weekend, *definitely* going to be BBQ weather... ;D ;) :P

22 April, 2010

Peter Randall-Page - One Canada Square

One Canada Square Reception
Well, that's my best guess anyway, it's appearance certainly seems to have coincided with the start of his exhibition of sculpture, and the "new, temporary work made especially for Canary Wharf" could well be what we are looking at...while they were installing it though, a number of theories were heard in the lift up from reception, including that someone was drawing a giant poo or that perhaps One Canada Square was going to be transformed into a giant model giraffe...I'm still not entirely sure what we're looking it (even now it is finished), but it's much better having these random installations than not, just to keep things interesting... ;)

21 April, 2010

Expensive Crisps at London Bridge

How much???
OMG...couldn't believe this when I saw it...since when did a bag of crisps cost 80 pence?? I mean, I thought Canary Wharf was bad, the same bag of McCoys here setting you back 55p...I mean, I know these bags are *slightly* bigger than the multipack ones, but you get *six* bags for a pound in the supermarket, or about 18p each, in comparison this just seems like daylight robbery!

Anyway, now I've calmed down and swept up the crisps I spilled all over the carpet, in other snack news, Mr X pointed out to me (the other day, thank you Mr X) that Walkers have launched another crisp competition along the lines of do us a flavour...going to have to get me some of that Flavour World cup action! Mmmm...German Bratwurst... ;)

20 April, 2010

Thomas Talking - "Dada"

RHS Wisley - Glasshouse
Just over this last weekend Thomas has *really* started "talking"...had we thought he was being vocal before, oh boy were we mistaken...We've now (a couple of times) suddenly found ourselves turning around because we *haven't* heard him saying anything for 60 seconds, wondering what on earth can be the matter...yep, he's noisy... ;)

Sunday we started off with (after fussing in his cot enough to drive me out of bed - he's got rather good at that game now) an equal number of "Ah Goo"'s and raspberries (for about ten minutes), by the time I had finished my quick "Daddy Bath" and made our way downstairs, the favorite was "Ag" (the duck was an "Ag", the ball was an "Ag" etc.)...just as I finished making his Shredded Wheat(tm) and went to put him into his high chair it transformed to (perfectly pronounced) "Egg" (giving me a shocked moments pause) after breakfast (which was largely silent apart from "ARGH!!!" - which we have established means "More please Daddy") we proceeded to a dribbly "Ffffff", while I changed his nappy (which involved two nappy bag fulls of wipes, both of us going back upstairs to have *another* bath, a load of washing going on and then me disinfecting the entire play mat) we had moved onto "Ba" and "Da" followed finally by "Dadadadada"...which, while not (demonstrably) directed solely at me, did make me very proud of him indeed...and also, interestingly, it gave me my very first distant flicker of panic at the thought of him (one day) leaving home (no idea why, perhaps it's a "rite of passage" of sorts)...of course by that stage I may very well be packing his stuff for him and helping him pay his deposit just for a bit of peace and quiet, but at this stage it's definitely - Miss you, baby boy - whenever I can't be there... :(

19 April, 2010

Long queue at Earlswood Station

Foggy day
So I get to the station this morning, thirteen minutes to go, to be honest a bit later than I would have liked thanks to both of us being in a bit of a flap (a busy day to come for reasons too numerous to go into) and Thomas (little blighter!) not wanting to wake up this morning, even though whenever we have plenty of time (Saturday and Sunday for example) he seems to be ready to be up and bouncing at about half past five...I turn and jog down the hill from where Flyingpops and Thomas have waved me off and (sh1tsh1tsh1tsh1t) find myself at the end of a queue of ten people waiting for tickets *face+palm*...

I check the time - eleven minutes to go - the odds are not good, but it's not impossible...the queue, keeping me hopeful, moved fairly quickly - five minutes to go and only three people ahead - three minutes to go, two people...I shuffle uncomfortably, clutching ticket and bank card in hand...

Then *finally* the very last (very old) guy in front of me steps up to the window and (to my horror) in a thick Eastern European accent begins a very long, and almost impossible to understand sentence about something that happened in 1988 (Why??? Why me!) - the train is announced on the tannoy system, I glace at my 'phone - less than one minute remaining...!

The ticket lady answers the conclusion to the old gentleman's question with "Sorry love?" (rather than something useful like "that'll be eleven fifty please") and it is at this precise moment, as the train pulls up on the platform (and I almost explode with frustration) that I remember I had last Monday off as holiday, flick open my ticket (like Kirk from Star Trek opening his communicator) and realise it's still valid today!

Where I was previously standing, a swirling dust cloud and the sound of a banging ticket office door are all that remains...


17 April, 2010

So amazing...

So amazing...
Originally uploaded by finkangel.

...sat watching planes land at redhill aerodrome, Thomas laughing his head off at Vivaldi on the mp3 player on my phone :)

16 April, 2010

Volcanic Sunset

Volcanic Sunset
So last night, with the promise of a spectacular sunset on offer (thanks to all the particles of sulphur in the atmosphere) I ran out with the camera to see if I could get a snap...and while the sunset wasn't actually much more impressive than a normal one, I did get a couple of shots I was pleased with...apart from that I also managed to attract rather a lot of attention (sat, where I was on top of the sign at the entrance to our estate)...namely one curious footballer, two suspicious traffic policemen in a patrol car and two neighbours kids (to be precise), all of whom (thankfully) were satisfied by my reasonable explaination...
Flight Radar 24
It's actually affected me slightly personally, this volcanic event, as two colleagues from the bank of desks next door to mine are trapped in Madrid (having flown there for a meeting with not even a change of clothes - whoops!), so I felt inclined to do a bit of research...apparently the last time this happened (about 200 years ago) the eruption continued for over a year and 23,000 people in Great Britain died from inhaling deadly poison gas...so a couple of days of disruption is actually not so bad, in the great scheme of things... ;)
Flight Radar 24 2
Oh and that first screen grab was about half past two yesterday (showing all flights actual positions) the one just above here was taken this morning...

Now that's not the sort of thing you see every day... ;)

Finks Links #92

Friday! Important Internets have happened! <:0

15 April, 2010

Thomas' first word?

Thomas with Duck
So the other week, Thomas and I were letting Mummy have a (well deserved) lazy morning - we are still occasionally having the odd disturbed night, and this had been a bad example - I took Thomas in to play with his waterproof toys and gurgle while I had a very quick "Daddy bath" and then we went downstairs together, pausing to quietly pull items of washing off the banisters and giggle together (a game of infinite amusement) so Flyingpops could (gratefully) catch up on some lost sleep...

No sooner had I settled him on his colourful foam play mat and turned to start preparing his ham and scrambled eggs for breakfast than he started making a never-heard-before-noise, over and over again - "K" "K" "K" "K" - I turned from the stove and peered over with a quizzical smile on my face and noticed with some astonishment that he had gone into his toy box and had found his little rubber duck and was staring at it, repeating the sound...

Now I'm not saying it wasn't co-incidence, and despite many subsequent "What's this Thomas?" attempts, we haven't had a convincing repeat performance...but I like to think that it is *just* possible that what I witnessed was his first faltering attempts at assigning a recognisable word to an object...

Clever Thomas..."Duck"... ;)

14 April, 2010

Strange behaviour in the Office Toilet

Office Toilet
(Should get some exciting referrals from the search engines for that subject line)...!

Anyway - Okay, fair enough...I can (just about) understand the habit (to quote "Carry on Abroad") of "And don't forget, if you have to use any strange whatsits" (etc)...But surely, once you have "done your business", wouldn't the natural thing to do be to collect your carefully crafted little paper shield, and flush it, with whatever else you have deposited in there, around the u-bend?

One day last week, Friday I think, these little paper constructions were blocking off two of the cubicles (I was pretty far from desperate enough to think of a way to get rid of them without using my hands), and a major blockage ruled out the only other one (so apparently not even the person doing it is prepared to move their own mess, leaving it to the cleaning guys - quite what they do at home is a mystery)...it's created quite the stir on my floor, people even starting to watch who comes and goes from the smallest room, it must be someone fairly new, as it's only been happening for just a very few short weeks but the culprit, unfortunately, avoids detection... :S

Very strange, and very inconvenient, especially when you don't see any of that sort of thing taking place in the most unsanitary part of the office environment, not the (extremely) regularly disinfected toilets, but the *never* cleaned keyboard/mouse and telephone on every desk...

11 April, 2010

Happy Christening Thomas


A magical day welcoming Thomas into the church, celebrated with close friends and family at St.Mary's, Oxted. Followed by a wonderful celebration with lots of yummy food and glorious sunshine. I'm sure Fink will write everything up soon, but for now just a few photos to celebrate the day.

09 April, 2010

08 April, 2010

Happy 8 month Birthday Thomas

How quickly time has flown... Thomas is 8 months old today. He is changing daily, sitting up independently, then dive bombing forwards onto his tummy, kicking like crazy, then crying in frustration!

He simply loves food.. anything and everything and this morning after 2 shredded wheat and half a pear for breakfast he dive bombed onto his tummy, found the tissue box and I've had to pull a wet soggy tissue out of his mouth (nice!) Maybe that's why he now weighs 20lb 4oz!!!!

The giggles and laughs are infectious, smiles not just from the mouth, but the eyes too and life without him is a distant memory. ;o)

07 April, 2010

Thomas blowing a kiss

Thomas doing a kiss
We'll have to see if we can get this on video (although I've been trying to get a snap for about 3 weeks so I don't rate our chances much)...Thomas has got this adorable new trick where he purses his lips and then sucks all the air out of his mouth, the initial result (as you can see in the picture) is that he looks a bit like a surprised duck, the second is (as the air rushes back in to fill the vacuum) is that he makes a noise a bit like he is blowing a kiss... ;)

Cue much cooing, smiling and adoring glances from all the other Mums at "Bumps and Babes" and Flyingpops looking all smug cuddling the cutest baby in the room... ;)

06 April, 2010

Lucky Tower Bridge Day

Tower Bridge from the Train Window
We used to play this silly little game, Flyingpops and I, on our way into London Bridge each morning...if the zooming/waiting trains rushing in and out of the station aligned themselves absolutely perfectly *just* as our carriage hit the rail bridge over Tower Bridge Road it was, albeit extremely rarely, just possible to catch a glimpse of the uninterrupted view all the way over the Thames through Tower Bridge...

If we were that fortunate we used to exchange cheeky grins and smirk, and that day then became a "Lucky Tower Bridge Day"...like a "find a penny, pick it up and all day you'll have good luck" sort-of-thing... ;)

Of course, with my new journey, I go into London Bridge and then come straight back out again, heading almost exactly back the way I came, and thanks to the fact that the line to Lewisham comes out of platform one, there are, of course, no lines in that direction for trains to interrupt my view...which basically means every day is now a "Lucky Tower Bridge Day" - which sort of feels like cheating...(in fact, it's usually twice, once in the morning and usually in the evening on my way back - as that train comes in on platform 3)...

I always wanted to try and take the shot, but it was just too distant to have worked from the "normal" train (as it's a platform 9 affair), this shot I took with my 'phone as a proof of concept (yeah, sort of worked, sorta)...I'll try and remember to bring my proper camera in and have a go at doing it some justice...would be nice to capture those happy memories as an image...

Did learn one thing though, through doing this, the shop on the corner down there is called the "Cat and Cucumber" (had never noticed before)...which conjures all sorts of strange mental images, none of them particularly appealing... ;)

05 April, 2010

Mossad Agents in our Midst?

Cafe Nero at London Bridge
Since the assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, I've not been able to get the thought out of my head that this sort of "James Bond" shit is actually very real...I read a good bit of background shortly after the news broke which really made me think...especially the comments from author Gordon Thomas, who wrote a book about Mossad agents, specifically the "Kidon" called Gideon's Spies...The kidon, he says, are hand-picked when taking part in compulsory national service, sent into military intelligence and from there receive further training as Mossad agents. They work in big teams, but don't work in isolation, a system of "Sayanim" (support agents) provide help on the ground - a quote again now - "The sayanim can be anywhere around the world. They can rent you a car or own a fast food stall. A sayan will rent a car or pass money to a kidon with no questions asked. Every country has a network of sayanim built from the Jewish community"...

So whenever I pass one of these little stalls now (and they *litter* London), I can't help but wonder...is the person running it just another mild-mannered economic migrant, or are they a highly skilled, ruthless Jewish Sayan (trained in handgun marksmanship, improvised bomb making, poison fabrication and delivery, seduction techniques and methods of killing without leaving a trace)...sitting there, waiting...patiently serving coffee...until the proper order arrives...

"One special latte with extra banana froth and sprinkles please"...*prolonged sinister wink*...

04 April, 2010

Happy Easter! :)

Happy Easter
Originally uploaded by finkangel.

Heading over to my folks for a big family lunch in a little while, Thomas just having his morning nap first, so these Easter chicks could play on his mat for a while (as he wasn't using it)... ;)

Happy Easter!

02 April, 2010

Finks Links #90

"Hey / Put a smile on your face / Things are coming your way / Out there somewhere tonight"...la la la... ;)

Anyway, now we are all in the mood for some Friday fun... ;)

Lets begin with a little reminder, just in case you weren't clear (requires some familiarity with the work of QT)...

The wonderfully silly Alien vs Pooh (I kid you not)!!

"Youdunnit" where gameplay involves a series of "levels" that are each one hour further back into the past...if you do anything in a level that "violates causality," you are "caught in a lie" (for example, if you give someone a cat in hour -1, and fail to pick up the cat in a previous hour, you lose)...

Maths class magic, the short film "nature by numbers"... (video)

The actually rather corporate Somali pirate business model...

Archaeologists find "door to the afterlife"...

...and finally, a great clothing display fail and a classic shut down fail...

Bon weekend toute la classe!

01 April, 2010

No more free milk... :(

Our canteen has banned us from having free milk...there are these two huge dispensing machines up there, each now sporting a sign forbidding us from taking any, unless we have first spent £1.20 buying a tea bag, and as you may be aware, I have my own in my desk pedistal...On the first day, I didn't realise, I got over to the worktop where they live and spotted that there weren't any cups, and thinking myself being very helpful, I walked to the water chiller, grabbed a load and deposited them, where they usually live, on top of the milk machines...earning me (oddly, I thought, at the time) looks of absolute horror from the (probably Eastern European) Canteen folk...of course the next morning when (half way through filling up my cup) I spotted the sign, it was abundantly clear why...whoops! :S

So anyway, not wishing to cause high blood pressure (and burnt toast) in the kitchen by acting like I am above the "law" (they buzzed around furiously on day two, but didn't actually *do* anything), I have taken to bringing in milk from home...the choice of container seemed quite natural when Flyingpops suggested it (she has long since stopped expressing milk for baby Thomas, leaving these bottles with very little -current- purpose in life)...however, everyone that spotted it on my desk (and has had anything to do with babies) did an immediate double take, follwed by a "that's not...?" sort of question or comment...I'm going to have to hide it in my desk drawer... ;)