It’s name is Flock – and it’s a new type of web browser…..apparently?

Posted by Chris Green on Friday October 28 @ 4:44 pm

Flock
And so this sleepy Friday has drawn me to Flock, a new spin on the web browser that tries to integrate your blog with your everyday web browsing – a sort of poor man’s web development suite.

To re-use a very tired line: “We’ve started to use the web to share information instead of just consuming it”. Well ho-fucking ray! People are finally working out what the web was supposed to be all about – the active exchange and dissemination of information rather than millions of people just staring aimlessly at pages and sites like zombies and downloading porn, without bothering to contribute any material, no matter how irrelevant, to the global web themselves.

Assuming this Flock browser ever gets beyond its very basic present developer preview stage, then there might be some serious take-up of it. You have the power of the respected Mozilla engine, combined with integration with online photo archive Flickr, blog directory Technorati and other similar services that enable the publishing and sharing of creative material and data.

Flock represents one of the first coherent attempts to write a web browser or similar application that brings together all the important elements of content publishing and distribution within the core program, as fully integrated features of the browser rather than as external bolt-ons and plug-ins.

This is another example of Web 2.0 – a bullshit term if ever there was one, but at least the underlying explanation of what this horrid buzzterm is meant to mean makes some sense.

Translated back into English, Web 2.0 refers to the perceived ongoing transition of the web from a collection of web sites to a full-fledged computing platform in its own right, serving up both content and applications to end users. Things like blogging are at the forefront of this shift.

Only time will tell whether Flock has any future, or any business even existing, but for now if you are curious to see how Mozilla would have looked if it had been developed by somebody else, wander over to flock.com.

And yes – I wrote this with and posted it from a Flock borwser!

Rosa Parks: 1913-2005

Posted by Chris Green on Wednesday October 26 @ 8:16 pm



Rosa Parks defies segregation on Alabama bus

Originally uploaded by Chris Green.


Apple revived its groundbreaking Think Different advertising campaign, which featured images of great people and creative thinkers of our time, for one day only on October 26 2005 to mark the passing of Rosa Parks, the black woman who in 1955 refused to give up her seat for a white bus passenger. This action started a chain of events that brought about the end of legally enforced segregation of blacks and whites in the US.

Identity theft

Posted by Chris Green on Tuesday October 25 @ 9:30 pm

Had a bit of a shock this morning when I received a letter from Mint, one of my credit card providers.

It would appear that I have been the victim of attempted identity fraud, as someone tried, unsuccessfully, to obtain a credit card in my name, using my correct bank details. However they got a few things wrong including my first name and my date of birth. Coupled with the fact that I am already a customer was enough to set off the alarm bells at Mint.

It may be a case of shutting the door after the horse has bolted, but suffice to say I will be investing in a shredder for destroying all correspondence that is due for the bin from now on, and I have a meeting with my bank on Saturday to arrange for all my cards and bank details to be changed.

Be warned: Identity Theft, failed or otherwise, is a pain in the arse!

Web design guru in Geek Dinner appearance shocker!

Posted by Chris Green on Thursday October 20 @ 5:11 pm

Yep, thought that would get your attention!

Molly Holzschlag, author of some 30+ books related to web design and development will be the guest of honour at the next Geek Dinner, taking place on Thursday 24th November. Should make for a very interesting evening.

When: Thursday 24th November 2005

Where: Hogs Head, 11 Dering Street, London, W1S 1AR

Nearest Underground: Oxford Circus, Bond Street

Time: 7-11pm

Special Guest: Molly Holzschlag

Cost: £ 1 finger buffet [payable on the door]

Go to www.geekdinner.co.uk to sign up.

All about Molly Holzschlag
An author, instructor, and Web designer, Molly E. Holzschlag has authored over 30 books related to Web design and development. She’s been coined “one of the greatest digerati” and deemed one of the Top 25 Most Influential Women on the Web. There is little doubt that in the world of Web design and development, Molly is one of the most fun and vibrant Web characters around.

As a steering committee member for the Web Standards Project (WaSP), Molly works along with a group of other dedicated Web developers and designers to promote W3C recommendations. She also teaches Webmaster courses.

Holy logo Batman, it’s the Apple Symbol!

Posted by Chris Green on Saturday October 15 @ 12:45 am



Holy logo’s Batman, it’s the Apple Symbol!

Originally uploaded by Chris Green.


Report from last night’s Geek Dinner!

Posted by Chris Green on Friday October 14 @ 5:33 pm

Spent a very pleasant evening at the Hogshead pub in Dering Street, attending a Geek Dinner. Special guest for the evening was Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media – the publisher of thousands of excellent computing and technology books, as well as the book-like Make Magazine.

Many thanks to everyone who took time out to engage me in the various off-the-wall conversations I was having. Particular thanks and a big hello to the chap from Flickr/Yahoo – the one lone Flickr developer in the UK at this time. It was great meeting you, and I hope we can chat again once you have settled in at Yahoo.

Tim O’Reilly was exceptionally good value for money (hey – the event only cost £1, which itself was just to cover the rather good finger buffet) and the various conversations he was involved in were extremely interesting.

I for one am looking forward to the next event, which I believe will be some time next month.

Apple launches video iPod, new iMacs and home media centre software

Posted by Chris Green on Friday October 14 @ 5:15 pm

This past Wednesday night I spent the evening in Studio 4 at BBC Television Centre in White City, West London. This was the venue hired by Apple for the evening to allow the press and various other invited guests to view the live satellite feed of the Apple product launch event that took place in California.

Speculation was rife as to what the new product would be, with everything from a video-enabled iPod to the first Intel-based Powerbooks suggested.

In fact, a video-based iPod was indeed one of several announced new products, along with one I had been tipping for over a week.

Lets get the iPod out of the way first. Two new hard disk-based models were announced, replacing the existing 20GB and 60GB iPod Photo models currently on sale.

Apple's new video-enabled iPod

The two models, a 30GB and 60GB will sell for £219 and £299 respectively in the UK ($299 and $399, plus tax, in the US) and are both slightly thinner than the models they have replaced, although both are use traditional hard drive technology, not on Toshiba’s new perpendicular magnetic storage technology, as had been widely expected.

The screen is sharper, and is slightly larger (2.5 inch diagonal) than a conventional non-video colour iPod (2 inch diagonal), and can display video and images at a reasonable 320×240 resolution, which is half VGA resolution.

Battery life has also improved, with the 30GB offering up to 14 hours run time, and the 60GB offering up to 20 hours run time off a full charge. However, continuous video playback reduces this to two and three hours respectively.

However, the whole device leaves me disappointed. Rather than embracing the medium Apple really has just stuffed the functionality into an existing iPod form factor. To give it due, the playback quality of the demo units and their example episodes of Desperate Housewives and Lost were very impressive. However, it is still too small to watch for an hour at a time. I’ll be saving my pennies for the next version, which will hopefully have a slightly larger, 16×9 ration display on it.

Also announced alongside the iPod was a whole new version of iTunes, version 6.0, which to be perfectly honest doesn’t really look any different to version 5.01, except for an extra menu option for your video library, and subsequent driver support for the new iPod models, along with support for downloading, playback and transferring video to the device itself.

But the main event was in fact the first item announced by Apple chief exec Steve Jobs – the new iMac. Cosmetically the same as the previous G5 iMac, the new model is half an inch thinner, features faster G5 chips, bigger, faster hard drives, faster memory and an integrated iSight camera that is also of a better specification than the standalone iSight.

Now I have seen inside the previous iMac G5 model, and I can right now that it didn’t exactly have bags of unused space inside the case. In fact, it was the most densely packed computer I have ever seen, with ever inch of space put to use and devices and fans strategically placed to ensure maximum cooling amid the few conduits for airflow that existed. Therefore, shaving another half an inch off an already slim machine is a technical marvel.

Integrating the iSight camera is a masterstroke. The iSight is easily the best webcam with integrated mic on the market. However, it is painfully underutilised within MacOS – only iChat AV uses it, and as such it does not sell nearly as well as it should. Fitting the iSight into the actual iMac display not only ensures that people will have a powerful videoconferencing platform at their disposal whether they like it or not (and they will eventually use it), but it will be a catalyst for increased use of iChat AV and sales of standalone iSight cameras.

In addition to the new iMac, Apple announced two new pieces of software, which for now will be exclusively bundled on the new slimmer iMac (though expect them to appear in the next release of the paid-for iLife suite, expected in January).

First is Photobooth, a very silly, but very fun tool for taking still images using your iSight webcam. AS well as taking conventional pictures, you can apply a number of different effects to them, including fisheye and x-ray – all demonstrated with great hilarity by Jobs.

But the big one is Front Row – Apple’s very impressive first attempt at a home media interface to rival Microsoft’s Windows Media Centre operating system.

Using the newly launched and bundled 6-button remote control (which looks like, and is no bigger than an iPod Shuffle), users can switch their iMac into Front Row mode, whereby the MacOS desktop disappears and is replaced with four icons, providing easy access to your stored music, videos, photos and your DVD drive. All very simple and very minimalist – a user interface not too far detached from the iPod itself. The remote even has a weak magnet in it so you can stick it to the side of your iMac for safekeeping.

Apple remote

While Front Row is just a playback mechanism so far, I’m sure that over time it will take on more Media Centre-like features such as the ability to control TV cards and record TV and radio straight to the hard drive for playback later and time shifting. Either way – for a first stab at a completely new medium, I was very, very impressed. I was very surprised that they have opted to bundle it with the iMac, and not something a bit more living room-friendly such as the Mac Mini (which in turn could be easily plumbed into a TV) or an entirely new TV-friendly device. I have a strong feeling that such a plan is already in the works at Apple for the not too distant future.

One last thing – Apple also announced the universal iPod dock. Purchasers of the recently launched iPod Nano will have noticed that the pack included a dock adapter, which the Apple web site explains away as being for future products. That future product has arrived – one dock to fit them all. The dock, which is very similar to the Kensington Stereo Dock, except that it also connects to your computer for synching as well as to a hifi, ships with inserts for all legacy dock-connector iPods from the 3rd generation iPod to the present models. The Nano and the video iPods include their respective inserts in the box with the iPod itself. You simply snap in the insert for your model. The dock has an integrated infrared receiver, and is compatible with the new Apple remote, which is available separately as well as bundled with iMac. The Apple remote can control the play, pause, fast forward, rewind and skip controls – the same as the now discontinued wired remote.

Apple Universal Dock

The video iPods, the universal docks, remote controls and the new iMacs will be available from Apple Stores and online in around a week, while iTunes 6 is available for download now.

Nokia releases three new ‘business’ handsets

Posted by Chris Green on Friday October 14 @ 3:50 pm

In the first of three posts today about new technology announced this week, we start with a look at the latest crop of handsets from Nokia.

The company has announced three new devices aimed at the business user, including its first proper foray into the Blackberry/Treo/Keyboard-enabled PDA space.

Nokia E-Series handsets

The E60, E61, and E70 3G phones all run the third version of its Series 60 Symbian-based operating system, and have a selection of different hardware features.

The E61 is more PDA than phone, with a full QWERTY keyboard and colour wide display. It features a folder-based user interface, and supports Blackberry server integration as well as conventional mail send/receive support. However while the screen is of excellent quality and the device is nice and light, the keyboard is horrid. Square keys with no play or responsiveness make the device difficult to use, while the current iteration of the operating system and firmware is far from reliable. In my early use of the device at the launch, held at London’s Cafe Royal, the device crashed in less than 20 seconds.

The E70 is a conventional phone, but another of Nokia’s disastrous designs based on the split QWERTY keyboard layout. The entire front of the device lifts up and folds over to reveal a keyboard divided by the screen in the centre. As a phone, it is a fine device, but the keyboard does not lend itself to comfortable use. I am surprised that Nokia has not learned from the awful Nokia 6820, the first of its phones to feature this terrible keyboard design.

Finally, we have the E60 – by far the most interesting of the three phones. A conventional candy bar design, and looking very similar to the Sony Ericsson T630, the E61 has the usual array of phone features as well as 3G support. It also has integrated WiFi and a Voice-over-IP client, making it the first mass-market phone from a major manufacturer to entertain the concept of dynamic switching between cellular and WiFi services as signal and cost dictates. The Nokia representatives at the launch were quick to play down the potential impact this might have on traditional phone revenues for operators offering it. They also failed to present any details of operators that were prepared to carry the handset, suggesting this one might end up being a SIM-Free specialist offering by virtue of being blacklisted by the major network operators.

Hats off to britishairways.co.uk

Posted by Chris Green on Tuesday October 11 @ 5:20 pm

Just popped onto the British Airways web site today to price up some flights, and was extremely pleased to see that they have changed the way they display the price of their flights.

The price now quoted for each leg of the trip is the all inclusive price, and thus reflects things like airport taxes, fuel surcharges etc etc. This is in contrast to as recent as two weeks ago, when the price quoted would go up by a hefty amount at the point of payment, when things like fuel surcharges and the various, often unexplained ‘taxes’ would be added to the final cost of your flight booking.

Come get some Geek Dinner

Posted by Chris Green on Friday October 7 @ 6:43 pm

Yep, it’s time again for London’s geek glitterati to descend on another restaurant/drinking den in the name of social networking and showing off the latest gadgets.

This time round the fabulous people at geekdinner.co.uk have organised an evening with Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Networks in what should be a thoroughly interesting and well-attended event.

When: Thursday 13th October 2005

Where: Hogs Head, 11 Dering Street, London, W1S 1AR

Nearest Underground: Oxford Circus, Bond Street

Time: 7-11pm

Special Guest: Tim O’Reilly

Cost: £ 1 finger buffet [payable on the door]

Go to www.geekdinner.co.uk to sign up.

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