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Archive for June, 2010

What Harm Could there Be?

So you think giving kids your personal views on religion is harmless? Stopping them seeing too much TV a good thing? Think again.  Perhaps after watching this – some parents may re-think what and how they teach kids. If the Taliban can convince ordinary kids to blow themselves to bits voluntarily AND ENTHUSIASTICALLY based on a clearly ridiculous premise of a an afterlife with virgins on tap, that pretty much shows how delicate and easily manipulated young brains are and what a CRIME it is to abuse that knowledge. The sooner our armies eradicate these evil men the better.  The best thing you can do for your kids is avoid religion OR give ALL major religions AND atheism equal coverage without bias…  and make sure they get subjected to as wide a range of international TV and publications so they are fully informed without being brainwashed, for adult life.

THIS is frightening! Watch how easy it is to program kids into robots.

Incidentally, TED is BRILLIANT – there are some fabulous interviews up there. See Craig Venter’s video on creating life – or the various arguments about nuclear versus other renewable resources – excellent stuff and usually thought provoking.

Sad Departure

Sadly it looks as if Rosie our cat managed to get run over by truck or similar in Wark. So if you’re looking in and remember running over a long-haired ginger cat recently – here’s a wish for a lifelong and painful curse upon you and all your relatives!

Rosie was still under a year old and carrying kittens… thankfully they were her second attempt and from the first lot we have young Ollie who’s turned out to be a winner.

Ollie Scargill

Scargill Movement

The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of AtheismJust in case anyone wanders across something called the Scargill Movement, which appears to be a religious group of some description – I just wanted to confirm that I am absolutely in no way whatsoever associated with this. Just keeping the record absolutely straight!

Do YOU need an iPAD?

A lot hot air is circulating about the iPad, often by folks who have never laid eyes on the machine never mind made extensive hand-on use of them. I’ve seen reviews talking about reliability, about it being unsuitable for business… the list goes on – and mostly from those lacking any experience of the product.

Why listen to me? well firstly you need to know I would not touch a MAC with a bargepole so don’t peg me as an anti-Microsoft type. When the iPAD was released in the USA I had one shipped across almost immediately, despite lack of iTunes support in the UK. It looked ideal for reading agendas and other company paperwork, being the first supposedly long-life battery, thin almost A4 pad on the market… and I wasn’t prepared to take the word of others… I wanted to see for myself if this was going to be useful to see if there was a future for reducing or eliminating paperwork.  So, here it is, based on daily use of the iPad since its launch in the USA (and by that I mean used almost every day since then, sometimes all day), here is some information which may be of use to those of you thinking of using the iPad in a business environment.

Firstly the issue of WIFI. The only issue I am aware of is that the iPad occasionally forgets the login password and does not seem to track the best signal if you move from signal area to signal area within a building. It is a minor issue, does not really cause me any problems and the assurance is that this will be fixed. I can see no reason to doubt this as it’s little sister the iPhone does not suffer the same issue. 

Secondly business use – you hear “It’s all games” – no it isn’t – though some of the games are excellent – no doubt about it but with 200,000 apps you’d expect a lot of games.  I have asked our head office who normally send me reams and reams of paper to simply stop – and all my papers now go onto the company extranet  (Sharepoint).  I receive automatic email notification of the availability of documents and as long as I’m within range of a WIFI signal I can download using the likes of the GoodReader program (a bargain at 59p) and store the docs locally on the iPad. The largest document I’ve had the pleasure of using was 95 megabytes comprising over 400 pages of scanned documents – just about the worse combination…. No problem. I also use another package which cost peanuts to let me scribble on PDFs and open multiple documents at once.

Thirdly multitasking – after extensive use I have to say I do not miss the ability to do umpteen jobs at once – the ONE thing I’d like is to run SKYPE constantly in the background – and that of course will come in the autumn update. Most programs start up where they left off so they may as well be multitasking – but without the overhead.

“They say” iPad is not compatible with Microsoft… rubbish – I regularly open the latest DOCX files from Office 2007 as well as spread-sheets and other documents. At least one program can SAVE in these formats.

Specifically for use in meetings, the (realistically achieved) 10 hour battery life (including watching video) makes it possible to do an all-day meeting without a cable in sight. Those who lug around heavy bags full of laptops, power supplies and endless paperwork look on with envy. Armed with properly bookmarked PDF files I can view and search through large documents more quickly than with paper.

What about FLASH – well, I’d MUCH prefer if the iPad could handle flash, but not at any price and Flash does tend to be jerky on mobiles… considering that YouTube, Blip and others now offer iPad compatibility and even the BBC iPlayer is now iPad compatible, it hopefully won’t be long before that issue goes out of the window. You can watch a good number of the freeview channels including BBC News 24, for free on the iPad given a free program to do so, not to mention most radio stations.

When in Spain, as they say… I have a (small) place in Spain and last week I was other there. The iPad can’t handle dongles but I have a 3G dongle and I simply put the Sim into a phone which has WIFI and using a cheap program made the phone look like a WIFI access point – others may prefer to get the 3G version of the iPad itself  – as I already have a phone I didn’t fancy 2 subscriptions and annoying Apple won’t let you tether an iPhone to an iPad.   Skype and GotoMeeting work well – saving a fortune in calls when overseas as long as there is WIFI available. Emails using Microsoft Exchange, Google mail and others work absolutely fine as indeed do Exchange calendars and contacts. For streaming podcasts, I generally keep them on my PC and use STREAMTOME to listen to them on the iPAD (saves filling it up with audio and video).

Do I have any issues with the product? Of course I do – why on EARTH didn’t Apple put a forward-facing camera in for Skype etc. But them the iPhone 4 has that… Also being able to read memory sticks would have been nice but why not go the whole hog and put in Windows? Erm, no! The fact is that Apple have a great niche product on their hands which is, if you believe the hype selling very well thank you. Almost everyone I know who I’ve shown it to in business and otherwise wants one – I should have been a salesman but I’m NOT.

Of course, if something else comes along that’s better and cheaper I‘m a ruthless consumer with no brand loyalty… but from what I’ve seen, hands on reviews of what would appear to be alternatives have fallen apart due to poor video or other issues. For now, Apple are onto a winner – their shares don’t look too bad either (I don’t have any of those either).

A Day

Roof Damage in GaleraI gave this entry such a bad title because that’s about all I can say about today… Maureen’s dad has taken ill and so she had to cut short our holiday in Spain to go and visit him. We had guests with us so I stopped over in Spain with them – we had a nice time visiting Granada but not quite the same when you know you’re father in law is in trouble and your wife is over there worried stiff!! We’ve quite a bit of damp and roof damage to sort after a particularly bad winter over there – meanwhile back in England things are not much better, our cat Rosie is still missing (probably for good now) and the weather is AWFUL. After a week of clear skies at 30-40 degrees in Galera, it’s damp and wet in Wark – it’s amazing what a difference the weather makes. What on EARTH made our ancestors stay here when there are so many sunny countries in this world is beyond me.. anyway, I’m here and taking the opportunity to update my blogs and get everything ready for various business trips. I’ve discovered free books on the iPAD – countless thousands of them in various forms and the iPAD is the ideal tool for reading this stuff, though I’ve decided I need to hunt Ebay for a case that will prop up the device when reading it. About the only really good thing about the day was watching the pen-ultimate episode of 24 on the Sky recorder – and what a CRACKING episode that was.

Solar Lighting in SpainThe photo on the right shows some solar lighting I picked up from B&Q and fitted in Spain – the picture doesn’t really do them justice, a set of what look almost like normal light bulbs but which are colour-changing solar with a separate solar cell. Here they’d be ok, but in Spain they get enough sun to keep them going all night long. Great for sitting having a quiet drink under the Pergola at night.  Back to the present, there is nothing nice I can say about today except that now I’m back after a week’s absence, our youngest cat is treating me as his best friend.  There’s no food in the house and I’ve lots of work to do in this house and on the rental property in between endless meetings coming up – too much to do, too little time.  Marvelous.