Anything Can Happen At A Tweetup

And the answer is...

And the answer is...

You’ll never guess what happened last night! Okay, maybe you will, considering it was all over Twitter and Facebook within minutes.

Last night, surrounded by friends, Sara and I took one more step on the road of being together that we have been traveling for so long now.

We still have a long way to go. Visa’s need to be applied for and moves have to be made, but with both of our divorces over the time was right to move one step closer to being together permanently. To take a step that we have both been waiting so long to make a reality.

Surrounded by friends armed with cellphones, last night I stuttered and stumbled my way through and asked Sara to marry me.

You can watch the video below (captured by Alli)  to see Sara’s reaction and her answer :)

Picture taken by Ke4mur.

The Twinkie (Video)

Creamy Goodness?

Creamy Goodness?

I never had a Twinkie before last night. Seriously.

As far as I was concerned they were some weird American item of confectionery that only made it’s presence felt in my universe when they appeared on TV or in such  awesomeness as Zombieland.

Needless to say when everybody found out that I’d never had one, Twinkies were purchased and my first bite of that preservative filled chemical cake was captured by Alli Flowers for posterity.

Was I impressed or not? Guess you’ll have to watch the video below to find out!

Dear Mandy. An open letter to Lord Mandelson

This open letter by Dan Bull to Lord Mandelson about the proposed Digital Economy Bill may appear more relevant, current and important to our English friends but don’t forget that laws passed in a the places like the United Kingdom often become a precedent or template for other countries.

An open letter to Peter Mandelson regarding the newly announced Digital Economy Bill.

If you disapprove of the Bill, sign the petition at http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/dont…

Chromium OS First Impression: The 90′s Set-top Box of 2010?

An Opeating System. Supposedly.

An Operating System. Supposedly.

As most of you are aware I am a huge Google fan but…

If Google’s Chrome browser went to the office Christmas party and had a one night stand with Linux behind the bar, then Chromium OS would be the resultant bastard child.

Unfortunately for this particular bastard child it would share none of the looks, speed or intelligence which makes either of its parents great.  In the chromosomal world of this coupling all of the good genes have been invited to a party and headed off to get pissed and enjoy themselves, leaving only the crud of the genetic pool to great baby Chromium.

Normally I take a great deal of geeky pleasure in testing a new operating system so today I enthusiastically followed Jorge Sierras quick post about how to run Google Chrome OS from a USB drive, edited my bios settings to allow booting from USB and in next to no time was looking a a big blue login screen. That was where the fun and excitement stopped.

Chromium (or Chrome OS) is supposed to be an operating system for connected folk. In fact about all you can do with the operating system is be online. Want to do something offline? Forget it, better go back to your Windows or Mac laptop, Chrome OS is not for you baby!

So being the connected chappy that I am I was surprised when asked to log in with my Google account but wasn’t presented with a place to enter the network password for my Wi-Fi.

I had to log in with the default username (chronos – no password) and then go about finding out where the network settings were. After clicking enable wi-fi a few times it still wouldn’t connect and never asked my for my password even though my wi-fi light was glowing happily away at the front of my laptop.

In the end I was forced to whip out an ethernet cable and connect that way (irony or what?).

Windows 95?

Windows 95?

Inside the operating system wasn’t much of a better experience. The UI felt slow and very underdeveloped (although the browser itself was fast but that’s to be expected, it’s Chrome after all) and moving through the options menu felt like I was back in Windows 95 or NT.

To be fair, part of the slowness I felt could have been attributable to the fact that I was running the Chromium from a USB key but I have run other linux distros (and that’s what Chromium is under the hood) from USB keys before, as well as tested a lot of portable apps and none of them felt quite this slow.

It wasn’t terribly slow, just slow. Hard to quantify although as I said earlier the browser felt snappy enough actually surfing.

Chromium comes with a few “preinstalled” applications which are actually all shortcuts to web based apps such as Gmail, Pandora etc. There is actually nothing installed in the operating system. I suppose if living exclusively online is your thing then this won’t bother you but my love/hate affair with the cloud is well known and I don’t really want an operating system that is practically useless if  you don’t have access to web.

Everything about Chromium feels unfinished and even not particularly well thought out. It’s as if the guys at Google had a collective brain fart, decided to prototype an operating system, gave up a fifth of the way through the prototype to go for beers and decided to release it when they came back a full six sheets to wind.

Just won't open!

Just won't open!

Take saving an image you find on the web as an example.

I visited the gallery on this blog and attempted to save an image. In order to find my saved image I had to go to the downloads section of Chrome where I could see that it was downloaded. Clicking on the link to display the file or open the folder didn’t work.

It didn’t matter how many times I clicked that link, it wouldn’t open and to top it off, the preview image didn’t display either.

Now, for someone like me that is not the end all of trying to access the file. The more tech savvy of you are aware that in most (all?) browsers you can get to the file system of the computer.

Browsing files

Browsing files

In Chromium this can be achieved by typing “file://” and hitting enter in the address bar. This results in a listing of directories and files much the same as you get when you visit an open directory on the web in your browser.

If you are familiar with Linux it’s easy to find the file image you’ve saved, once you’re prepared to click on “mnt” and then find “chronos” all the way to the “downloads” folder. Easy simple. No seriously, everyone will be doing it soon so you might as well get used to it!

Chromium isn’t finished. Not by a long shot. It’s shitty even for a Linux distribution of the incredibly lame ‘made by a 1st time learner’ variety. It has no file explorer, the interface is crap, finding saved files is a nightmare and even simple things like logging on and off or even just properly shutting down your machine are lacking UI menus and buttons.

Chromium may have a place in internet cafes and libraries where a locked down environment without much functionality is required, but even there it may have problems. Printing is not supported at the moment and for those of you intending to use it at home you can forget about hooking up your portable hard drive or that nice mouse you’ve got.

If you have a laptop or even a netbook and you install Chromium then you are cutting the functionality and usefulness of that device by about 50% (90% for a decent laptop) and that’s a best case scenario. If you do eventually buy a device that is Chromium only then I’d consider getting your head examined because there are better things to spend money on, like a descent coffee machine while you save for a real laptop that can actually do things beyond just surf the web.

Back in the 90′s we had set top boxes for your TV that allowed you access the internet and had about as much functionality as Chromium. They were a gimmick. Cheap, cheerful and useless.

Do we really want to go back to that?

Who is Actually Live Streaming? Does Justin.tv Survive on Piracy?

Is this where the users are?

Pirated sports. Bringing in the viewers?

Last week the announcement was made that CNN Live was laying off its four CNN.com Live anchors as well as “several production staffers,” and was shifting it’s focus to on streaming major live events, producing video packages especially for CNN.com.

Mark ‘Rizzin’ Hopkins asked “Is live video streaming dead?” and in his attempt to figure out where CNN is going wrong noted the fact that Justin.tv and Ustream.tv each have between 1.2 and 1.6 million uniques a month.

Those numbers are pretty respectable but a quick mental count of who is actually live streaming revealed that I know about less regular live streamers than I have fingers on my left hand (which is of course a pretty standard left hand with 4 fingers and thumb, although Sara says my fingers are magic).

This got me thinking about those 1.6 million uniques and I quickly realized that the vast majority of viewers on Justin.tv and similar platforms are there to watch pirated TV and sports events.

Just this week I was on Justin.tv twice to watch Ireland get robbed by France in the World Cup Qualifiers. I can’t access RTEs (Irish national broadcaster) streaming service when I am away but can usually find the matches on Justin.tv or Ustream.

I took the above screenshot during the first Ireland Vs France game. As you can see, when I took the screenshot there were over 5,204 viewers to that one channel alone. At one point there was well over 6100 simultaneous viewers of the stream and that was just one stream.

There were multiple streams covering the Ireland match, all with large numbers of viewers, not to mention a plethora of other streams covering the other matches that were underway at the time or any of the other sports events and live TV coverage that was being shown.

Chances are that if a sporting event is being shown and you can’t access it, or if a pay per view event is happening and you don’t want to pay for it, you’ll find somebody streaming it on sites like these.

Finding these streams, which are quite obviously displaying illegal content as the people doing the streaming do not hold the rights to the content, is a relatively easy and trivial thing to do.

If I can find the game I want simply by clicking on the sports section and scrolling down, then you can be sure that an administrator could do the same thing and shut down streams.

Yet, they don’t do it!

Why not? The only reason I can think of is that the vast majority of their viewers come for the pirated content and if they were to eliminate that then their numbers (and advertising revenue) would fall away to nothing.

The Cloud isn’t Everything

Which one?

Which one?

John Gruber (Daring Fireball) has been arguing the case for PC manufacturers to build their own operating systems.

The essential argument being that with everything that we use every day already existing in the cloud it shouldn’t matter what OS we are running.

Apple has separated themselves from the crowd by developing their own OS and hardware, other PC manufacturers should be doing the same thing or just give up and die.

If Palm can create WebOS for pocket-sized computers — replete with an email client, calendaring app, web browser, and SDK — why couldn’t these companies make something equivalent for full-size computers?

If Apple and Palm can do it (and now Google) then why aren’t Dell, Sony, HP and the rest of the big gin PC manufacturers?

These PC makers are lacking in neither financial resources nor opportunity. What they’re lacking is ambition, gumption, and passion for great software and new frontiers. They’re busy dying.

Johns logic is sound as long as you are willing to make the assumption that the only reason personal computers are used today is to surf the web and be online.

The web is a great resource and has enriched or lives dramatically but is only of any value if you can actually connect to it. Admittedly, for most of the developed, world it is now easy to connect to the web even while on the move, but even when you do connect the service that you want is not always there.

Your email host may be down. Your web applications host may have server issues or simply shut up shop.

What about graphic designers or people doing audio and video editing? Photoshop on the web? Not likely! Not in a way that offers the power and options of CS4 running on my laptop.

As we’ve already seen most online applications are cut down versions, lacking the feature set and power of the their desktop “big brother”.

Can you imagine editing a high definition video and having to upload gigabytes of data to the cloud before you could begin editing your footage? Not to mention the bandwidth costs to the service providing the editing software.

What of the lowly PC gamer? Will Activision develop a version fo Call of Duty 2 for Sony OS, Google OS, HP OS, Windows, Mac and god knows how many other OS’s?

How about Photoshop, Firefox or iTunes for all these platforms as well?

I think not. It’s just not a practical solution. Most companies have a hard time getting versions of their software out for Windows, Mac and Linux at the moment.

The reason we have so much diversity in software at the moment and so much polished quality software that we rely on, is because the operating system arena is not saturated in the way that John wants is encouraging.

If it was, then talented developers would all be working on incredibly similar projects for a vast number operating systems, their talent and the programs they develop reaching incredibly limited audiences.

As it stands now we have vast armies of developers working for a limited number of platforms which allows them to develop and innovate without having to constantly reinvent the wheel. They can build upon and learn from the work and code of others.

Lets not even bring the issue of software patents into the mix!

Imagine if every time you wrote an application you had to do it for 16 different operating systems with their own file systems, quirks and API’s? A nightmare!

In fact it is that nightmare that would bring us very rapidly back to a situation where we had only a small number of OS’s as developers would develop for the platform which is the most developer friendly.

This is turn would lead to end users choosing that platform as it would have the greatest choice of software and support. That in turn brings more developers to the platform because the money is where the users are.

As John notes this already happened in the early days of personal computing when we had a massive amount of operating system choices and they all whittled away as developers and users moved to the platforms with the most choice and users.

See where I’m going with this? Even if every PC manufacturer released an OS tomorrow, after a while we would end up with the vast majority of people using only 2 or three of those operating systems.

Everything is not in the cloud, nor should it be. The cloud is unreliable. Connections to the cloud are unreliable and the cloud can’t match the convenience or power of software running locally on your home PC or laptop.

Now I Can Move On

They're like me

They're like me!

Cross posted to Paul and Sara.

I just got the call. My divorce is finally over!

It’s been two long years, involved moving from one country to another, changing everything in my life and a lot of trials and tribulations but it is finally over.

It’s less than an hour since I got the call that it is all done and it’s hard to describe what I’m feeling right now.

I’m overwhelmed.

I feel regret that it took so long to get done and that things were so difficult.

There is a massive sense of relief. It’s done. It’s like the elephant that has been sitting on my shoulders for the past two years has finally gone it’s own way.

There is happiness. I’m happy that it is all over. That I am now free to move on. That my now legally ex-wife has moved on with her life and that I won’t have to deal with legalities or the leech on ones soul that is waiting.

Above all I am overjoyed. I can now legally move on and be with Sara. We can push forward with our plans without waiting on courts or papers on my side.

Yes, above all I am overjoyed that everything is finally finished. Now I can build towards my future with Sara without the stress or uncertainties of waiting and not knowing if the courts would had me a decision today, tomorrow, next week or next month.

It’s done. I am happy. We can be happy.

Thank you to everyone who has stood by and shown their support while this has gone on. Friends, family, Sara, thank you! I love you all.

Shunning Convention with Cake

Full Irish Breakfast

Full Irish Breakfast

My mate Brian (@Azhrei) is a funny old sort.

I’ve know him forever, almost 20 years now, and he definitely falls into the category of “über geek” and damn good friend.

This morning we dodged the raindrops to meet in town for coffee’ although what started out as coffee became breakfast and while we were waiting to be seated Brian was telling me about cholesterol and we were talking about how a full Irish breakfast was bad for you.

Even though I was having the “full Irish” Brian decided that it wasn’t for him and that he would take the healthier option!

The picture below is what he chose to have instead of the nasty fry up.

When asked how he justified his “healthy” option, Brian replied with: “It’s got some fruit in it”!

[singlepic id=29 w=320 h=240 float=center]

Thanks mate, for always putting a smile on my face :)