Saturday, 30 August 2008

Ringtone cashcows

Where are you now, oh mighty crazy frog?  And hands up how many spent £2, buying that particular ringtone when it first came out?

In today's permanently-on-all-you-can-consume menageric society, you can download a quality realtone (as opposed to the nasty plasticy monotones we had to endure up until a couple of years ago) for the pricely sum of £4.50p - a single download.  Or if you take out a subscription, for £4.50p ($8.46c), you can download 3 ringtones of your choice - from one particular website  - per week.

That's just over eight full music track downloads, from the itunes store or two cheese flavoured quarter pounders, for 30 seconds of sound. Or to to indulge in bit of mediocre statistical  shuffling, it would equate to an approximate hourly rate of £540, per hour.  Been paid that would easily put you in a reasonable gross weekly income position of about £21,600 - and you wouldn't even have to worry about been a footballer just getting your boots on the first rung of the ladder.  But don't get me started on the current crop of the national team.

So, at a bare minimum we can say that the most popular operator of this form of media outgassing, gets a minimum of £21,600+ per week by consumers downloading 30 seconds worth of a song or songs. Not bad, for ringtone dealing. 

Are we mad?  Many companies out there obviously think we are.  To the ringtone industry, we are nothing more than gullible "ringtone cashcows!"

And for those out there still not aware of how to go about creating a ringtone, I was going to do a quick brief little piece.  But luckily, swivelled across the splendid article below, on Which needs as much additional explaining as teaching Mr Bean how to be a court jester.

But here's something i cobbled together [cackle]. At the very least it would see if your ears are cleared!

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Firefox 3 surpassed by IE8 beta 2

According to a reviewer on the Cnet website: IE 8 beta gives other browsers a run for their money.


In another feature, known as InPrivate, Microsoft allows the user to suspend caching functions while you surf. The scenarios for using InPrivate include when you're using someone else's computer, like for instance, when you need to buy a gift for a loved one without ruining the surprise, or when you're at an Internet kiosk and don't want the next person to know which Web site you visited. While you can currently clear the browser cache with a mouse click, it's an all-or-nothing action. InPrivate temporarily suspends the automatic caching functions, allowing you to keep the rest of your browsing history intact. Apple Safari has offered this feature for a while, but Mozilla Firefox does not.;snav

Now if the reviewer on the cnet site had done, let's say, 2 seconds worth of digging amongst the extensions available for firefox, he'd have found an extension which incorporates that particular function (and has done so since the first half of 2007), which IE8 beta2 only now includes.

And it's called stealther 1.0.6, by Filip Bozic and was last updated on June 16 2008.

Technically the reviewer is correct.  The stripped down bare bone basics of mozilla firefox doesn't offer that function, in its native form.  But people tend to go with firefox, not only for the extra bit of security, but the freedom to mix and match the perfect add-ons that suit their own set of particular circumstances.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Hotwipes slackmails

A few posts have mentioned that an invisible swagbag has slunk off with some hotmailers mail bags, leaving disgruntled users simmering in its wake! 

Rumours circulated on the 26th August, that  hotmail users (exact numbers unknown), had suddenly lost 100's of emails from their accounts.  In some cases emails they'd kept, that were over 3 years old.  

Sadly anyone who takes msofts claims of security and data loss seriously - for that matter anyone who takes any company's claims for rock-solid security and data safety, has either never used a computer for a lengthy period of time, or been deep sea living and missed all the news about the pieces of data that seems to be shipping out (no pun) on a monthly basis - from public and private concerns alike!

The moral of this is ensure you have at least one back up of all your important messages.  Even if you use an offline email client, à la thunderbird.  Just download and backup those emails in zip form. Burn to a disc that is verified and encrypted - with at least 1024 bit strength encryption.

Opensource and freeware picks - august 2008

Well it's the year of the iphone with people in countries who don't have 3g networks still buying the iphone, because of the kudos. Sweet!

For this month my top ten open source picks, that have kept me happily tickled are:

  1. audacity - audio
  2. inkscape - vector drawing software
  3. gimp - photo/paint software
  4. camstudio - excellent bit of opensource software allowing you to record/capture any part of your screen vidcast
  5. openoffice 3.0 - fully fledged office suite of programs
  6. winmd5sum - cute little freeware utility that checks downloaded program checksums simply by right clicking and sending
  7. Blender 2.47 - animation 3d and game designing software which gives many of the bigger boys an excellent run for their vastly overpriced sums. Don't believe me? Check out the award it's just won
  8. firefox - a browser with so many helpful plug-ins and extensions, a browsing experience on any other computer, just isn't the same
  9. vlc media player - plays most video's, dvd formats without a hiccup
  10. cutepdf - create a pdf from any program without any hassle

That is just a quick snap shot of my current pick of favourites.  The list could go on and on.  But as each month goes by the open source and freeware developer communities, continue to spring remarkable surprises.

I might consider an iphone, once they have one that incorporates radio. Oh yes and a replaceable battery.  But who knows, it might turn out that i'll be far happier with an android.


Every now and then, something comes along that after first viewing and using sends a tingle along the full length of your spine.  Something that has the potential to change the way we've done and used things, and makes you think where have you been all my life!

Welcome ubiquity!

After a quick download, install into FF3 and restart, the first few commands worked instantly. No falling over.  No errors.  It dramatically cut down on the number of clicks, tab openings and browser swapping that one needs to do.

You can see how powerful this small extension will be, once it's combined with a voice application such as dragon naturally speaking or, once computers can accurately monitor them, hand gestures.

For an alpha release, it is - at first use - very impressive.  Ubiquity is one to watch.  If you're not a fan of alpha releases, grab it once it's in beta.

Once downloaded it's a simple case of firing up the ubiquity interface, by pressing Ctrl + Space Bar.  You can then use one of the commands that follows below; with the promise, over time, of many more commands becoming available. So subscribe to a feed or an email list, and be kept up to date with availability.

Ubiquity's like yahoo pipes, but with an added UI layer and way less complex to get decent use out of.  So use as is, or if you enjoy tinkering and trying out, delve as deeply into it as you wish.

List of ubiquity commands:


Adds an event to your calendar. Currently, only works with Google Calendar, so you'll need a Google account to use it. Try issuing "add lunch with dan tomorrow".


Searches Amazon for books matching your words.


Searches for the given words.


Searches for the given words.


If you're in a rich-text-edit area, makes the selected text bold.


Searches Bugzilla for Mozilla bugs matching the given words.


Calculates the value of a mathematical expression. Try it out: issue "calc 22/7 - 1".


Checks what events are on your calendar for a given date. Currently, only works with Google Calendar, so you'll need a Google account to use it. Try issuing "check thursday".


Closes all open tabs that have the given word in common.


Closes the tab that matches the given name.


Takes you to the Ubiquity command editor page.


Takes you to the page you're on right now.


Converts a selection to a PDF, to rich text, or to html.


Gives the meaning of a word. Try issuing "define aglet"


Deletes the selected chunk of HTML from the page.


If not yet submitted, submits the page to Digg. Otherwise, it takes you to the story's Digg page. by Sandro Della Giustina - licensed as MPL,GPL View more information at


Searches EBay for auctions matching the given words.


Puts the web page into a mode where you can edit the contents. In edit mode, you can edit the page like any document: Select text, delete it, add to it, copy and paste it. Issue 'bold', 'italic', or 'underline' commands to add formatting. Issue the 'save' command to save your changes so they persist even when you reload the page. Issue 'stop-editing-page' when you're done to go back to the normal page viewing mode.


Begins composing an email to a person from your contact list. Currently only works with Google Mail, so you'll need a GMail account to use it. Try selecting part of a web page (including links, images, etc) and then issuing "email this". You can also specify the recipient of the email using the word "to" and the name of someone from your contact list. For example, try issuing "email hello to jono" (assuming you have a friend named "jono").


Replaces html entities (<, >, and &) with their escape sequences.


Searches Flickr for pictures matching your words.


Looks up the email address of a person from your contacts list given their name.


Searches Google for your words.


Takes you to the Ubiquity main help page.


Highlights your current selection, like this.


Searches the Internet Movie Database for your words.


If you're in a rich-text-edit area, makes the selected text italic.


Displays your most recent incoming email. Requires a Google Mail account.


Turns a selected phrase into a link to the matching Wikipedia article. Can only be used in a rich text-editing field.


Turns an address or location name into a Google Map. Try issuing "map kalamazoo". You can click on the map in the preview pane to get a larger, interactive map that you can zoom and pan around. You can then click the "insert map in page" (if you're in an editable text area) to insert the map. So you can, for example, type an address in an email, select it, issue "map", click on the preview, and then insert the map.


Maps multiple selected addresses or links onto a single Google Map. (Experimental!)


Searches MSN for the given words.


Redoes your latest style/formatting or page-editing changes.


Resets any annotation changes you've made to this page.


Saves edits you've made to this page in an annotation.


If you used the 'edit page' command to put the page into editable mode, use this command to end that mode and go back to normal page viewing.


Treats your selection as program source code, guesses its language, and colors it based on syntax.


Switches to the tab that matches the given name.


Adds a tag to describe the current page by Dietrich Ayala - licensed as MPL/GPL/LGPL View more information at


Replaces the selected URL with a TinyUrl


Translates from one language to another. You can specify the language to translate to, and the language to translate from. For example, try issuing "translate mother from english to chinese". If you leave out the the languages, Ubiquity will try to guess what you want. It works on selected text in any web page, but there's a limit to how much it can translate at once (a couple of paragraphs.)


Sets your Twitter status to a message of at most 160 characters. You'll need a Twitter account, obviously. If you're not already logged in you'll be asked to log in.


Restores the HTML deleted by the delete command.


If you're in a rich-text-edit area, underlines the selected text.


Undoes your latest style/formatting or page-editing changes.


Shows you the source-code of the web page you're looking at.


Checks the weather for a given location. Try issuing "weather chicago". It works with zip-codes, too.


Searches Wikipedia for your words. by Blair McBride - licensed as MPL. View more information at


Displays the number of words in a selection.


Searches Yahoo for pages matching your words.


Searches Yelp for restaurants matching your words. You can search for restaurants near a certain location using the near modifier. For example, try "yelp pizza near boston".


Searches YouTube for videos matching your words.


Zooms the Firefox window in or out.

One thing, it is javascript based.  As it pulls many elements together, it brings added layers of usability and freedom, but (until it's fully tied down) you will need to keep an eye on potential security issues, if using commands from non-trusted sites.


Tuesday, 19 August 2008

A wee bit of foresight?

Previously to the machine giving up the ghost and requiring yet another fresh installation, I had a few 3d and world design programs which looked rather good, if a bit frustrating to use. As anything new, skewed to the right of complexity invariably is!

I reinstalled the OS and tested (for an hour) to ensure there was nothing underlying possibly causing the problems; i.e. faulty memory cards, hard drives overheating, fan not cooling the processor down sufficiently, stupid operator, electricity spikes.

But the whole thing remained remarkably stable and zipped along nicely. 

Stage one over.

Then went onto stage two. The process of reinstalling all the programs that I deemed necessary, from the DVD I luckily managed to burn, prior to the disaster.

So on this occasion, Instead of suffering a day or two installation woes, everything - which also included SP2 & SP3 as well as the latest drivers for peripherals, components and up to date software packages - were placed into a folder on the windows xp image disc, and it all installed in just under three hours.

With data safely backed up, but more importantly copied to verified disc media, the computer received its late summer cleaning.  Eschewing the necessity of hurling it into the nearest river - which can sometimes bring debilitating consequences to bear, on your computer.

A good basic program, which is also relatively inexpensive, hails from ashampoo called Burning Studio 7. It does everything it says; burns iso's, creates bootable disks, etc., etc, and all for the princely sum of £9.  Although do wish a good open source  alternative comes along, eventually.

Thursday, 14 August 2008


Eight months of listening to the pitfalls and woes my flatmate has undergone since alighting on the good ship Vistanic, has been an experience.

From screaming about dodgy pixels (okay Toshiba's fault), to screaming at the UAC thingy. Having the OS install the same piece of software three even four times, when a gadget's been plugged in. To bits of equipment that work happily with xp and say they're vista compatible or certified - having to be taken back to the shop, because they refuse to work without crashing the system - even with updated, upgraded, uplinked drivers.

A feeling of smug resignation forced me to bite my tongue and not to repeat that well worn mantra of I told you so.  As I kept beavering away on my ancient relic, which has kept trudging along through out it all, quite nicely.

What was that about the Vista experience.... ah yes, best avoided. With windows 7, singularity or black hole 2 on the way; shall avoid getting my hands dirty with the Vistanic, by having absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with it!

I'm happy with linux and happy with xp. Perhaps if something more stable, with an extra helping of rose-tintedness comes along, i'll think about giving it a try. 

It also shows there's a bit of hope for us lemmings, as on this occasion manufactures have been forced into a bit of backtracking, by offering people the old OS over the shiny new one.  Against the wishes of the behemoth .

"All that glitter's isn't gold," holds very true in this case.  If there has ever been a case for a trading standards rap, both knuckles of this organisation should be swiftly done for mass hoodwinking.

"Psst, a quick word.  If it's something pretty you require with more hand holding than granny could give, then go for a mac. For something more stable and more reliable than a mars rover, then head for something linux flavoured or if you're happy with it, stick with XP."