SyncBridge: no new registrations due to system changes

We’re preventing new registrations for the time being as we implement some changes.

We’re not happy with the performance of Ruby with our database queries even on the new server and so we’re going to be doing some extensive back-end changes.

We’ve also extended our free registrations until the end of December 2006 while we work on things.

Second Life: the gateway to 3D UI? Um, no Ted.

On the Ogle Earth blog (about Google Earth), they write:

“3D is the next big thing for computers — even operating systems are going 3D — and I think that this trend will facilitate new ways of navigating.”

which echoes what James was saying in the comments for the last post on Virtual Virtual Offices.

The difference is that hyping Second Life as a way for consumers to get into 3D interfaces is completely unnecessary. Consumers have been investigating 3D interfaces since DOOM in 1993. The difference is:

Second Life Doom in 1993
Flying Running
Adverts Flying flaming skulls
Sex BFG 9000
eCommerce Haha fragged you sucka!
Designer Clothing Heavy Metal Music
Interaction Gameplay
2006 1993

Things have come a long way since 1993 granted, but the basics are the same.

Now, I’m not saying that Second life is a complete waste of time. I was considering using it for game sessions of my main hobby where I think that the flying could really add to a story.

But it’s not going to help people experience new and exciting ways to interact with their computers. At the moment on the desktop we interact with our computers using a single virtual finger – the mouse pointer – if we had a system that used **gasp** TWO MOUSE POINTERS….we would end up with a much more realistic way to interact.

This shows heaps more potential…video embedded here

Okay, there’s heaps less sex…and no advertising… far…

But what about Virtual Virtual Offices?

Okay….so onw of the guys came up to me and asked me if I’d heard of something called “Second Life”.

I sighed. Deeply and with the ennui of someone who reads a lot of blog feeds.

So what is it?

Well, it’s the SIMs with more sex. And advertising. I mean it’s like Las Vegas or something.

Second Life developers are now pulling in more than US$10 million in revenues a year and unsurprisingly it’s filling up with advertising.

Ian Betteridge talks about Second Life Spam:

“It’s been a while since I was on the mainland, and I’d forgotten how horrific that some areas of it are. Apart from the small package of land that was occupied by a tiny office for “CNO Partners” there were rotating ads for just all the usual suspects, and it looked like a nightmare vision of completely untalented, unregulated ad-splurge.

Nicole Simon discussed the difference between Americanocentric media and European media when discussing Second Life.

“Most american articles rarely mention that there is something in Second Life which has to do with Sex whereas the German articles most correctly state that there is also a lot of sex involved. Cheap sex to be precise.”

On GigaOM, Wagner James Au talks about Virtual Sweatshops (which afflicts World of Warcraft as well as Second Life.

“In Second Life, a Hollywood production company is outsourcing its Second Life projects to its Vietnamese branch, where highly-skilled workers can create professional 3D environments for a fraction of the cost, were it done here. It’s easy to see how the Chinese farmers of Warcraft might evolve into the blue collar workers of the 3D Internet.”

Paints a pretty nasty picture eh? Ian Betteridge closes withIf Linden Labs thinks it has a problem with self-replicating objects now, wait until it starts getting the attention of the kinds of people who’ve had years of experience constructing spam-mailing botnets.

My personal opinion. A waste of time.

But if you’re looking for that sort of thing, then go right ahead.

Virtual Office BAAAAAD

James asks Can the virtual office ever emulate a shared physical space?
As a card carrying proponent of Bedouin workspaces, I’d have to say yes.

James mentions Alan O’Rourke who seems to be missing the fag breaks and water cooler chats of the pre-Web 2.0 world.

I’m not a smoker and the last thing I would have done back in the day was join my confederates in the “stinky room of death” allocated to the smokers. By all accounts (thanks to the flunky that I sent to his death several times a day), this was not only where the important decisions were made but it was also where the various PAs were loudly indiscreet.

This problem, of course, is with teleworking and this has nothing to do with Bedouin working (unless you’re unfortunate enough to be Bedouin AND alone). I worked from home for 2 years when I was with Nortel. I cheated perhaps because I could pop into the local site when I was needed but my team were all over Europe. We used IP Softphones, Yahoo Instant Messenger and email. Being on-site all the time wouldn’t have helped me because I didn’t go to the smoke room anyway and to be fair I was never one for smalltalk at the water cooler/photocopier anyway.

Alan’s issue is that these 5 minute scenery changes would often provide the best brainstorming breakthroughs. Bernie Goldbach in James’ comments agrees that “Half of the best thinkers on the staff where I’m assigned smoke and share some of their best ideas while outside in the rain.”

If I was their employer I’d wonder why they can’t have these great thoughts in the workspace I’m paying for by the square metre. And if the great thoughts are out in the smoke room, what the hell are they doing working in the office? They’d be perfect for homeworking.

Obviously we can’t condone a smoking workplace but does it reflect on the workplace or the workers when they can’t “work” effectively in the workplace? I’m inclined to think it’s the workplace and then wonder whether a dedicated Bedouin workspace is going to be better or worse than a normal workspace. It’s going to be non-smoking too…

I don’t know what the answer is. I know I resent the smoke breaks taken by co-workers because frankly every smoker I know has taken the piss[1] with them. I most definitely resent the filth they leave behind in the form of ash piles and discarded butts and I’m not a big fan of the smell of dry, powdery tobacco either.

[1] yeah yeah, I know, you’re the exception yadda yadda….

Thallium Spy dies in hospital

“Alexander Litvinenko, the ex-Russian spy who said he was the victim of a poisoning, has died in hospital.

Litvinenko fell ill on November 1 after a series of meetings in central London. Initial reports from UCH at the weekend said Mr Litvinenko had been poisoned with the heavy metal thallium.

Some of you may know that my father was also poisoned with Thallium, 20 years ago. I was 13. He was taken into hospital the same day he fell ill but it took weeks for his hair to fall out and he spent 6 months in a coma. Litvinenko lost his hair quickly in comparison and I suppose he might have had a much higher dose as a result.

Wikipedia says:
Amongst the distinctive effects of thallium poisoning are loss of hair (which ironically led it to its initial use as a depilatory, before its toxicity was properly appreciated), and damage to peripheral nerves (victims may experience a sensation of walking on hot coals). Thallium was once an effective murder weapon before its effects became understood and an antidote (prussian blue) discovered.

Mobile Phone Operators are shit. All of them.

I got a nice notification about the Vodafone Mobile Connect USB Modem which costs £49 and offers service plans from £25 to £95 a month. It works with the Mac, looks vaguely MacLike (well, it would look okay beside a white MacBook)…

So, the plans,

  • £49 for the modem and £25 per month buys you 250 MB download in the UK every month
  • £0 for the modem and £45 per month buys you unlimited download in the UK every month
  • £0 for the modem and £95 a month buys you unlimited download in the UK and 100MB abroad per month

I blinked at the middle option and started counting on my fingers. With Judicious Use of Skype, I could decrease my current mobile plan and essentially get free broadband…at 1.4 Mbps…everywhere. Sounded beezer…

Then I saw this:

The Vodafone Data Unlimited and Vodafone Data Travel price plans are subject to Vodafone’s fair usage policy. This means that a customer’s UK usage must not exceed 1Gb per user account in a month. We don’t expect customers to go over this limit however if a customer’s usage is in excess of this, we may ask them to moderate their usage.

What. The. Fuck.

1 GB.

One Gigabyte.

In a month!

I’m currently with Orange and, frankly they’ve proved to be a shower of bastards themselves. They won’t give me the PRICE a plan unless I commit to an 18 month contract, buy a new phone and sign over my first born. THEN they want to tell me the price?

Sure. No wonder mobile phone operators are the first thing I think of when I step in something soft when walking along the street.

Orange? You’re shit.
Vodafone? You’re shit.
Want to bet O2 will be any better? I can’t even face going to their web site!

[edit. I went to O2’s web site. They’re worse with the pricing, as draconian with the download limits and their download speed is less than Vodafone. Overall, a typically shit rating.]

Isn’t there ever going to be a disruptive influence in mobile broadband in the UK?

A year late for Universal bitching

It’s nearly a year since Apple released their first Intel machines for consumers and over a year since developers were able to get their hairy mitts on Apple-branded hardware with Intel processors.

We’ve been aware of the structure of Universal Binary applications for ages and we’ve accepted that for ease of use, it’s a good move. It was pioneered at NeXT and Apple did it as well for their hybrid 68k/PowerPC binaries back in the Classic days.

This post at nodepoint whines about the increase in disk space use that both universal binaries and localisations cause. A case made is that Firefox went from 12 MB to 18MB when it went Universal. He makes the case that having two binaries available, one for Intel and one for PowerPC would be more suitable.


In fact, Utter Bollocks.

Another example: Final Cut Pro 5.1

“It’s a Universal binary, which takes up 73.7MB when installed. Removing the excess Intel-based code takes out 16.89MB; and deleting all the non-English language files takes out another 18.01MB, leaving us with a final size of 38.8MB, almost half the size of what we started with.”

The thing is….this is really relevant if you’re stuck using a 10 GB hard disk, then the operating system and components take up a lot of room. But with modern disks, this is a TINY percentage of space. Also…his example of Final Cut Pro is TOTALLY BOGUS because FCP 5.1 requires GIGABYTES of space to install the Libraries required.

Is saving 30 MB worthwhile? Possibly. But if you migrate from a PowerPC machine to an Intel using Migration Assistant then you end up with non-functioning applications.

I’ve talked about universal binaries before and about my excitement that with Leopard we will finally have ONE DISK to install computers whether they are PowerPC or Intel. I’m a fan of Universal Binaries because I deal with Real People. And there’s nothing more annoying than someone who’s used a third party tool to strip out components and help files in order to save a few percentage points of disk space. Just like I rather lose patience with people who use InputManagers, Haxies, APE and all that other crap. I’m not knocking the quality of the code, just the problems they cause.

Nodepoint, an anonymous link blog with a bit of editorial cries out for donations and to be my honest my inclination is to send them absolutely nothing.


Final Cut Studio requires 4 GB of space for applications and a further 42 GB for templates, loops, content, and tutorials. Saving 30 MB of space seems a little pointless.]

“Gateways” not “Gatekeepers”

James at EirePreneur gets a ribbing for posting a list of “Experts” and not including any women on it. A finger was also pointed at Damien Mulley which, to my mind, represents the most ludicrous thing I’ve read this week.

From these posts by Damien and James, Annette infers that “women ain’t allowed in” rather than either “there are few that Damien or James know” or “when they make themselves known, we can add them to the list” or even “We didn’t realise we were going to be ANALysed for posting a list of people”. The very IDEA that a list might be compiled with the idea that we MUST include women on there in case we get rumbled as sexist pigs I find to be actually quite sickening. What next? We can’t post a list of “people” without covering every sexual and ethnic minority just to be politically correct?

Maybe there are female bloggers in Ireland with something to say but there’s few of them on my feed list. And it’s not because I don’t value what women have to say, but just that I have half a dozen Irish blogs (Damien, James, Twenty, Murphy…maybe one or two more) and none of them are men (making an assumption with Twenty admittedly). I do have female bloggers on my reading list, but none of them Irish. Tell a lie, I read Cinematic Endeavours by Gillian Morrison. I’m now going to read Annette’s blog to see if there is any interesting content (and not just finger pointing).

I see popular “A-List Irish bloggers” like Damien and James as Gateways rather than Gatekeepers. They enhance your ranking in the blogosphere rather than limiting it.

It’s not a unique way to gain blog ranking: pointing an accusatory finger at a local A-lister. You’re bound to get some syndication that way though my inclination is “this person is a Political Correctness nut and has nothing INTERESTING to say” rather than “this person has interesting things to say”. What Annette did was gain a few readers. But at what expense?

My blog ranking is crap. Obviously I should have a better blog ranking because I’m a white, male blogger in his thirties.

Would I deserve a better blog ranking if I had tits?

SyncBridge at it’s new home

Man, that was a tough couple of days but SyncBridge is now in it’s new home and the performance load on is soooo much more comfortable. DNS is moved, certificates done and email is receiving and sending fine!

The new hardware, Juggernaut, was so quick that when building the environment we were complaining about the speed of the broadband because compile times were blazingly quick (the main server has 4 bloody-quick processors after all!).

We will be scheduling a bit more downtime in the next month or so to beef up the RAM on the beast but other than that I’ve been running the machine ragged even under load and it’s been hopping, skipping and jumping…


This isn’t about Bedouin, Blogging or Software Development.

I’m angry.

This is regard to a complaint raised against the North and West Belfast Health and Social Services Trust regarding the treatment of one of their patients, a young adult with special needs.

This young man is under the total care of the Trust as he is, judged by their own care professionals, to be incapable of looking after himself. As such, he relies on the Trust to provide the basic care and human dignity that we all would come to expect.

As it happens, this organisation is failing in it’s care of this individual and therefore most likely failing in it’s care of other individuals in his circumstances and these people, our brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers and children, deserve much better.

For example:

  • This young man relies on the Trust for his laundry services. He is active in the Choral group in the institution and the uniform required is a white shirt. He owns a white shirt. For the performance, he was in a creased shirt and was wearing socks and underpants belonging to another individual in care. The Trust, like a 5 year old with jam on their hands, has no explanation for this. His family are upset about his best clothes being destroyed by the hospital laundry service.
  • The young man is incapable of completing his own personal hygiene tasks and is assigned a carer for assistance. He was apparently supervised shaving and yet looked unkempt and had nasty cuts on his face from the disposable razor he was forced to use. He owns an electric shaver for his personal hygiene but again the staff were unable to account for it. Or his electric toothbrush.
  • He was repeatedly struck by other patients in the facility. He informed the staff but despite staff supervision, no-one was a witness and no staff member reported such abuse. But one staff member witnessed him being teased and struck by another patient to the point where his glasses were broken. And nothing was done. He’s had teeth knocked out by other patients and again, nothing is done. I will, for the sake of decency, not go into the multiple claims of sexual abuse and interference he has received while under the care of the Trust.
  • Because of his restrictions on movement outside the facility for his own safety, his family have provided him with a playstation, numerous portable music players and a portable DVD player. I, myself, bought him an iPod last Christmas and marked it with his name in indelible marker. The portable DVD player has gone missing and staff claim there was never such an item in his possession. The staff also claim that he had “an MP3 player but not an iPod” and it too has gone missing. These items were all left for checking by hospital electrical maitenance for safety checking.
  • His lack of access to his family for birthdays, family events and special occassions (for example, to celebrate his religion, to attend the christening of his nephew or his father’s 60th birthday) has been a constant sticking point with his famiy and they have repeatedly brought the point to his incarcerators who refuse him access to these needs.

Is it public policy in the UK National Health Service in Northern Ireland to treat those with special needs worse than we treat the common criminal? Criminals have rights regarding assaults, care of property, laundry service and religious and social needs. Isn’t it the case that if he had killed someone, he’d be out for good behaviour by now? Wouldn’t there have been a public enquiry by now?

These events were investigated by Mrs Eileen McLarnon, a Senior Nurse Manager at the Hospital. It is my supposition that she must be good as a nurse, because she sucks as a private investigator. But I understand the need to cover your own back and the backs of your co-workers.

Frankly, I’m disgusted and this after reading the letter from Paul Ryan, Director of Planning/Deputy Chief Executive on behalf of Professor Richard G Black, OBE, Chief Executive of the Trust. I’m horrified that this is the state of the NHS today. Absolutely disgusted.

You do not deserve the word ‘TRUST’.

North and West Belfast HSS Trust

Email Paul Ryan here Mr Paul Ryan (Deputy Chief Executive)
Email Richard Black here Mr Richard G Black OBE (Chief Executive)

Glendinning House
6 Murray Street

Phone: +44 28 9032 7156
Fax: +44 28 9082 1284