5 year Plan

Somewhat inspired by Ian Robinson’s declaration of his 5 year plan. I can’t really separate things like Home/Work (which is probably a bad thing) but here’s some things I hope for:

  • learn to program. Seriously. Find a mentor who has infinite time and patience. Learn some cocoa and get something out there so someone other than me will run some code that I’ve written.
  • lose weight and keep it off. I used to be a lean, mean fighting machine but I’ve definitely gotten a little fuzzy around the edges. But now getting to age where I feel like I’ll have to be careful.
  • take up photography. Properly. By watching the blogs and tweets of others, I know what I’m meant to be looking for but the step of getting into Aperture/Lightroom and working with HDR and the other acronyms seems like a big step.
  • convert the garage, the basement and the attic. Maybe not me personally. But get them all done. And plan the extension. Yes. And keep one of them for my geek crap.
  • retire. Not seriously. But wouldn’t it be nice…

So, go on. Make it a meme.


Image credited to Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore’s seminal work, Watchmen.

Wikipedia says:

Watchmen remains the only graphic novel to win a Hugo Award, and is also the only graphic novel to appear on Time’s 2005 list of “the 100 best English-language novels”, an annual feature of the magazine since it was founded in 1923.

Vivendi Games Mobile out the door?

PocketGamer writes:

It’s an open secret that Vivendi Games Mobile isn’t long for this world, at least in its current form. Newly-merged parent company Activision Blizzard recently described it as a “non-strategic business unit” after all.

With Activision Blizzard now the world’s largest games publisher, it’s hardly a resounding vote of confidence in mobile that it sees no need to have an in-house mobile division. Vivendi Games Mobile has recently seen big success with its Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D game for iPhone.

Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D was really successful but you have to ask what is success for a mobile game?

Desktop games these days are built with a huge budget and command huge profits. A mobile game would, in theory, be built with a smaller budget and due to the lower prices command much lower profits.

Is the mobile division unprofitable or just not profitable enough?

Anyone got cool technology?

…and fancy demoing to four universities in Northern Ireland?

The dates are from the 3rd to the 12th of September.

We’ve got a couple of cool things, in the areas of 3D visualisation, biological monitoring and games but we could do with a few more. The idea is to demo technology and science to kids who are currently doing their A-Levels. Whether you work in hardware or software, you must have something cool to show off.

In the clouds…

Ian Landsman tweeted:

I have a feeling many business iphone apps my come full circle back to just iphone optimized web apps.

My reply:

The USEFUL data is either in the cloud or being collected and SENT to the cloud.

This is why apps like Google Docs are not going away. They’ll morph and change and become even more capable and sophisticated but in essence, the cloud is where the storage, the processing and the real bandwidth is.

Look at some of the cornerstone Web 2.0 apps. Youtube for instance is a player which relies on a powerful automated postproduction workflow. Docs is a lightweight web client for some powerful processing behind the scenes. More and more we need to keep our data safe and as can be seen recently, data on devices is non-secure. Keep your data locked up. Keep records so you can revoke access. And increase bandwidth and coverage to mobile devices so that there’s less need for aggressive caching.

And don’t design crap UIs

More on battery power.

I get about 2/3 of a day out of my iPhone battery.

Guy Kawasaki recently explained how to lengthen your iPhone battery. Turn off a load of stuff.

Balls to that.

I have two phones. An iPhone 3G which lasts about 8 hours. And a Nokia 6300 which lasts about 3 days.

Strike one for Nokia. Er, no. Because the only thing the Nokia actually does is sit there and do nothing. The iPhone is constantly downloading twinkles, grabbing email every 15 minutes (and receiving email pushes constantly) and footering with the GPS.

So it lasts 8 hours. Buy a PowerMonkey and get over it.

Nomadic Power

One half of the issues of being ‘Bedouin’ is the relative scarcity of net access. There’s heaps of WiFi out there, 3G and EDGE connections but every now and then you find yourself bereft of networks to attach to, for instance, in the middle of the North Sea. You can still work especially if you have a laptop with you and even if you’ve just got your iPhone or other ‘relatively smart’ phone, you can hammer out some ideas, prepare some emails to be sent when the network returns or do those boring jobs which you’ve been putting off.

Power, on the other hand, is a must. It’s not usually a problem at home or in the office but what do you do when out and about. First thing is to look for any power sockets you can find – it’s worthwhile noting where they are in cafés (and on the Ferry/HSS). Not surprisingly, most vendors take a dim view of plugging in even if you’re a paying customer.

So what do we do to deal with that? I’d blogged previously about The FreeLoader but I’ve added to this with a third party battery booster (which provides ONE good charge for an iPhone) and also a PowerMonkey eXplorer.

Check this out. A charger that can harvest enough motion from walking to replenish cell phones or other small gadgets, like GPS devices. It says that six hours of cumulative motion can add 30 to 60 minutes of talk time to a cell phone. The idea is to place the charger inside a purse or backpack and let it charge in the background

Dreigit, from Craic Design

Bit of a shout-out to John Kennedy of Craic Design, a software company producing games for the iPhone which so far has a single game on the App Store, Dreigit and an opportunity to highlight some of the work being done by local software developers.

It’s an asteroids clone with updated graphics and some neat features of John’s own making. As well as being one of the guys who pushed to get XCake on the map, John is on record on the Belfast Open Coffee Club mailing list for:

Once you have the knowledge and some experience, you will be surprised
what you can do. I (apparently) have started a successful company
using my laptop and my spare time on the Dublin – Belfast railway.

Available from the App Store.

Murderdrome BANNED by Apple

From the InfuriousComics web site:

By now, you might have heard that Murderdrome has been banned by Apple. This is due to the part of the sdk that suggests content must NOT offend anyone in ‘apple’s reasonable’ opinion. Here at infurious, we would love to work with Apple to ensure a content rating system can be put in place to allow material that is no more offensive than many of the R rated films available to download on iTunes.

As a result, PJ has put all of the frames of MURDERDROME on the Infurious web site so people can get a chance to read it. Now, hark back to the post I made a few days ago of films without ratings on the iTunes Movie Store.

It’s also been covered on the “Lying in the Gutters” blog by Rich Johnston (the most popular and longest running comics column on the internet):

A remarkable plan.

Slightly scuppered by Apple telling the creators that “Murderdrome cannot be posted to the App Store because it contains content that does not comply with Community Standards” and “Applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple’s reasonable judgement may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users.”

Please give your opinion on the InfuriousComics web site.

I think it’s a shame that it has to come to this but it’s notable that there is no content guideline for applications on the App Store. For “Games” there is a guideline for suitability that is used by some and not all and, as we have seen, Apple is inconsistent in the use of the ratings system for their film content. How many books on there might be said to have explicit content – would you consider Candide (with it’s religious, political and intellectual views), or Dracula (with it’s Victorian examination of sexuality) or Tales of Terror and Mystery by Arthur Conan Doyle (It’s horror!) – don’t you think these are as effective as the visualisations possible through comic art?

Might be useful to note that AMERICAN PSYCHO is available WITH A PREVIEW, without a rating. Is it that writing (or the spoken word of writing) is less effective? Less able to rile the emotions?

Apple Store Belfast: I must be missing something

Twitter and some members of the Norn Iron Blogosphere are wittering on about the imminent opening of the Apple Store in Belfast’s Victoria Centre.

People in the province have wanted an Apple Store for a very long time. Back in the nineties, Mac users needs were serviced by a company called CEM which sold itself to another company which subsequently stopped fixing Macs. There were a few misguided attempts to start up a Mac store again in the province (CompuB, Only Solutions, Office Overload, Macinni, Octagon) but all of them had some sort of difficulty with keeping the doors open – partly because the profit margin on a Mac went from 40%+ around the time of CEM to a measly 5-10%. You had to sell a LOT of Mac machines in order to make any money at it and Apple’s pattern of secrecy meant that at any moment they could launch a special Apple Event and make all of the stock you had utterly obsolete – let’s face it – who would want to buy the last revision of a Mac when there was a new and shiny one available ESPECIALLY if the vendor could only afford to give a 5% discount in order to prevent themselves from losing money on the Mac. And every Mac you kept in stock – that had to be paid for. Who wanted storage shelves with £1000 notes sitting there waiting to expire? That’s not to say that there weren’t other problems caused by personalities within those companies.

You’d almost think it was planned.

So, here were are in 2008 and Apple’s own store is about to open in Belfast. The NIMUG discussion boards were alive with people discussing whether or not they got the job or comparing notes on what they saw and who they saw (followed by a flurry of deleting the content when they realised they had broken the terms of employment by talking about the interview process).

eg. NIMUG Link:

That was quite intense, but I got through to the next round. She asked me technical stuff about the OS and hardware troubleshooting etc, was rather nervous. I have to meet the glasgow manager in Belfast in a few weeks then if that goes well I have to go to London for 8 weeks of Apple training. There will be around 5 mac geniuses in total. She said possibly end of summer for opening but it could be later than that and she cannot give a precise date.

I was in the Regent Street store at the start of August and found myself wondering why I was there. I mean – the first time it was all new and shiny but over the last while I’ve become less than enamoured by the glitz of it all. It’s a store. They’ll sell things. They’ll have stock of most things. And the people working there will be a combination of people who know nothing about the Mac other than their basic training from Apple and the people who were Mac diehards and obnoxious with it. It’s spoken about like it’s a cool new place to hang out. No, my friends, it’s a shop. And I believe you’ll find it managed in a very traditional way. Apple, despite the fact that they make the coolest computing-based and consumer-electronics products in the world, are still a company, a company that makes a lot of money. And, in the end, when you’ve been to a couple of Apple Stores, having one close to your house isn’t a big deal.

I can’t get myself worked up about this – there must be something wrong with me.