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Australian Top Gear…. My Thoughts.

So last night was the first ever episode of Top Gear Australia brought to you by the kind folks at SBS (http://www.sbs.com.au/topgearaustralia/) and it was a show that had some very big boots to fill.

Now before I start I must say I am a HUGE fan of the UK version of the show.  As it is I don’t watch it on SBS as they are to far behind and have adds…. 🙂

So it was with much I admit trepidation that I watch the first episode of Top Gear Australia last night.

So the above show real shows all the slick stuff from the show… but not the show itself.   I guess I’ll spit out my conclusion first which is… “I will watch a few more eps”.  But now the reasoning…

The show is o.k but only o.k.  I never expected it to be great… re watch the first eps of the new format top gear and they are in fact a lot more stilted and forced than what we had last night.  That is the rub.  We are used to a format from a bunch of guys that have done 10 seasons (first season didn’t have Captain Slow) together.

They do seem to have some chemistry on screen and I think the producers have done o.k.  But it felt forced and there are major issues with timing.  Firstly the whole show felt rushed.  Not just a little, but a lot rushed.  The soft-roader challange had no real conclusion and it should have.  At the end of the day Top Gear does still review cars and they could have said Forester was better than X-Trail or the Toyota.

Overcoming Australia’s perceived lamelessness is another issue.  The “track” that was used for the Hot Laps was crap actually…  I didn’t see an overview of it and there are where not aerial shots of it to put it into perspective either.

Of all the presenters I think Charlie Cox was actually the weakest and Warren Brown was the strongest.  Charlie is meant to be the lynch pin that holds the group together and he failed in that. Plus him saying there is an add break now is beyond annoying.  The show is not broadcast live, so drop the pretence the audience is not that stupid.

But the show has potential.  They do need to find their own voice whilst upholding the production values of the orginal.  It could have been a lot worse and it wasn’t.

Cuckoo Junk Mail

Cuckoo Junk Mail

Originally uploaded by wolfcat_aus

Once again I get home to a pile of junk mail. Yes I could put a no junk mail sticker on the box, but hey when you get 99% bills junk mail can make a difference 🙂

And even the sticker doesn’t do much to stop the flow anyway. But this, as you can see by the photo, really gets up my nose.

There is not enough room in the mail box for the junk mail, so instead of going… hey it is full… our junk mail does a Cuckoo and pushes out the other junk mail so that it is dominate. And often it is. The stuff that was pushed out today for example was wet and ended up straight in the recycling bin never to be read.

I think the people delivering this junk mail should take a moment, consider what it would be like to be pushed out into the rain because some one else came along. Because if they don’t stop doing it I am going to track them down and push them out into the rain so I can stand in there house nice and dry.

Nokia Photos 1.5

Nokia Photos has hit 1.5 (Beta that is) …. (which is kind of amusing as I didn’t realise there was a 1.  But I digress with my lack of knowledge….)

  • Better integration with Share on Ovi
  • Maps view and geotagging: your photos and videos on the map
  • More supported devices
  • Import pictures from also from your digital camera
  • Ovi look and feel

Fully supported: N70, N71, N72, N73, N75, N76, N77, N78, N80, N81, N81 8GB, N82, N90, N91, N91 8GB, N92, N93, N93i, N95, N95 8GB, N96

Partially supported: all Nokia S60 devices and most digital cameras (import pictures/videos only).

PC system requirements:

  • Operating system: Windows® XP (Home and Professional, Service Pack 2 or later), Windows® Vista”

Important! If you are a Windows XP user, you must first update your computer with the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0 from here. This update is not necessary if you are using Windows Vista


So that is the standard hype… here is what I think…

It does things that lots of other things do for my photos already…  yet for me this is the big and very nice kicker… the maps.

And by using the Navtec maps it means I can zoom in nice and close (unlike Flickr) on street level to see where to place a photo that did not get geotagged correctly.  Once you have opened a photo you can move its geodata as well. The one thing that is missing from the Navtec Maps however is a Satellite view.  So what most people would say… but if you have a photo that is not correctly tag and you took the photo in say a wilderness area that is easy to recongnise from Satellite imagery then you can easily tag it, this you can’t do.  I have actually got quite good at this, but that is mainly due to flickr using yahoo maps for Australia which basically suck big time.

The software is not without it bugs mind you.  I am having trouble navigating between images in map mode for example. Also it says it can intergrate with other hosting sites, but it does default to OVI.

Perhaps, just perhaps I will shift a bit more to OVI for my photos as well.  Yet this is a bit of software I think I am about to become very accustomed to.

But if you want to set up Nokia Photos with flickr (and I do)

here are the instructions… (care of http://europe.nokia.com/support/nokiaphotos)

Settings for Flickr:
Note: Flickr requires Nokia Photos to use a special login that is different from your normal Flickr/Yahoo! login. Get your special Flickr login here.

  • Server address: http://www.flickr.com/services/atom/
  • Username: get your special username here
  • Password: get your special password here

I am going to set it up at home simply to use it as the primary way of accessing my photos at home.  The geotagging and maps feature alone mean that I will want to use this over anything else.  The maps are not another application that has to be launched and then data passed back and forth.  They are a tab.

Now I must go and start geotagging 10 years of digital photos….

Help me win something :-) (or enter yourself)

I have entered a Sony-Ericsson competition to win a trip :-)…

So please click the link below…

vote for my photo

to vote for the photo below… (this is one of my favs taken with my N95)…

Nighttime at Flinders Street Station

The global Expert’s Choice winner will receive a trip of a lifetime to one of five destinations worth approximately £10,000/12,500 EUR.

The global People’s Choice winner will receive a trip of a lifetime to one of five destinations worth approximately £5,000/6,250 EUR.

The rules just want a camera phone photo only, taken in 2008….  All the rules are available here– and you can enter the World View photo competition here.

The competition runs from now until the end of October.

Twitter is Democracy

Well who would have thought 12 months ago that I would be writing a post about the US Elections and Twitter. (see this post as a primer on what Twitter is all about)

But here I am. A lot has been written about Sarah Palin, the DNC and RNC and the keynote speeches from both of them and what people are thinking at the time.

But now Twitter and MSM(main stream media) to a degree are combining for the next stage. For Australian readers who are familiar with the Worm, twitter is the worm with a thousand voices. What people think and feel is no longer just a turn of a dial, but a short sharp statement of text. Now people can see not only that people agree or disagree with something, but why they think the way they do.

Yeah, yeah all the twitterati know this, but was is new in this.

From Yahoo “Current TV to broadcast `tweets’ during debates

“During the debates, the network bent on viewer-created content will broadcast Twitter messages — or “tweets” — from viewers. In close to real time, Current will display comments on the screen while Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama face off.”

Now what is interesting also is that the conversation is already happening, but now it will be expanded to those that are not taking part already.  The “in-crowd” of twitter as it were will no longer have the debate to themselves but it will be open for all to see. (all that is in America that have access to Current TV)

For the “in-crowd” and those of us outside the US who can find the debates online (someone is going to stream them aren’t they??? well the comment from Current.com says they will be streaming the debate as well) we will also be able to join in the conversation simply by added #current to any discussions.

So the US Presidential debates will become a global conversation that people can watch listen and interact.  Perhaps even some of us outside the USA might even get to influence a swinging voter or two.

The election will effect us out here in the rest of the world.  We may not get a vote, but now we at least can have a voice.

Six Monthly Inspection…

Ah the joys of being a tenant. We just had our six monthly inspection to make sure the house hadn’t been converted in an Asian brothel and meth house. (That should bring up some interesting Google Ad-Words :-))

We could have done thisBut it got me thinking. Now we are tenants and have to put up with what feels like a parental inspection to make sure our room is tidy. Now last time I checked I was a grown up (yes my wife and a number of my friends my strongly disagree) and yet we have to put up with this.

Now the financial income to the landlord/lady on our property is around a low mortgage repayment. So of course the landlord/lady has a vested interest in the property being maintained.

Now consider this… image if we had a 105% loan on this house and the bank was owed a shit load of $$$ with the risk that we are trashing the place and dramatically reducing its value.  At this point the bank could be seriously out of pocket and with the credit crunch that is happening you’d think they might give a flying toss as to what is happening. But no.

This is what we have done in the houseBanks go “here is your mortgage please pay on time we need never speak to you again”.  For me there in lies the rub.  We are going to put less money into the house, for all we know it is being negatively geared what ever that means, than the landlord is.  Yet we have to put up with having our bathroom checked for mould.

Now our Agent was all very nice and was in and out in 5 min and took notes on something that we would like fixed, but what is the bank that lends 105% doing about their investment… nothing.  This is one of the reasons that tenants feel like second class citizens.


Updating Firmware – 20.0.016 to 30.0.018

O.k, well the firmware hit version 30 for the n95-8gb over night as well, and I have just finished installing it.   But for those that are uncomfortable about doing such a radical thing as updating your firmware, I thought I would put together a series of screenshots to show what you have to do and how easy it can be.

But one small catch, if you have your phone heavily customised it may not look the same when it reboots and not all of your apps may be where you think they are.  The process is still far from perfect in my opinion but the benefits of a more stable OS on your phone more than outweigh having to spend some time moving a few things around.

Stage 1 – Make a backup….   Just in case things go wrong 🙂 (and to put your phone back to how it was…!)

To create the backup choose the backup option in Nokia PC Suite.

Stage 2 Click on the Update Phone software button in Nokia Pc Suite.  (yes Mac people you will need to find a PC to use… don’t nark on me!)

Follow the instructions:-) Also make sure you phone is on power or at least has a full battery if the power goes out whilst you are doing the upgrade all sorts of bad things could happen!

Now, if you phone can find the update this is what you will see.  Not all phones will see this update, phones that are closely tied to a phone company for their firmware may not see this update at all.

Now it will download over 100 meg of stuff 🙂

Then it will Flash the phone and start installing the software.  At this point your phone will turn off and on a few times.  Your computer will also go through a couple of found new hardware devices as well.

Now all going well your Firmware is up to date.

Now comes the fun part.  Putting your phone back together.  Not all of your apps will be installed correctly.  You will need to go to Applications, App.mgr. and look through the list to see what is not installed.  At this point you can reinstall some of your applications by choosing install.

Now the final stage is to put things back…. the easiest way to do this is to go back to Stage 1, the backup you made… rememember that…  it was Stage 1.  Go to the Back Up in Nokia PC Suite and choose restore backup.

Now go outside and enjoy the day.

Google Maps Update

No, not the all singing all dancing Google Earth, but the one I use everyday kind of Google Maps.

In Melbourne they have finally added two roads… one a small one being the South Road Extension.

And the other being that small road… Eastlink.

The interesting thing is also they are playing catch up with my Nokia.  The Maps on my phone had both of these roads already)…

However Google still have one advantage over my phone and thus why I use them primarily to work out routes to and from places… the large web interface.

I can drag and drop routes and get a quick print out.  Now I know that Nokia have something in the pipeline to do this then transfer that to your phone and when that comes I may stop using google maps as much.  But until then I will.

But unlike a paper map, I have the update, but disappointingly like some things there is no change log or notification of these updates.

Of course there are still glaring errors.  One of the biggest things about driving in Melbourne is the trams…  for starters they don’t get out the way and secondly the will sit behind you and ding the bell if you are trying to do a legal right hand turn because they feel like it.  So when trying to work out where I am going I do tend to avoid roads with trams…..

And Google Maps seems to not have a lot of them…  Hawthorn Road, Caulfield for example has a tram running its entire length…

Sometimes it would be handy to know when the mapping data is from when trying to plan a route.   But then it just could be that I am a mapping nut and no one else actually cares 🙂

Ironic Mobile Advert Fail

Ironic Mobile Advert Fail

Originally uploaded by wolfcat_aus

One of Eye Corps’s wizbang signs (the portrait plamsa tv’s) at Southlands had a modem failure 😉

It was even more ironic given that the add was for a mobile phone. of course it was for my mobile phone, so that adds to the whole circular nature of the experience, an Nokia taken a photo of a Nokia kind of thing.. all very deep and profound I am sure.

I always suspected that these adds were basically simple flash animations just running on a windows box. And the windows error message just proves it. Seriously what a waste of computer just to show some simple animations, but I guess some one is a paying a lot for these adverts that cost nothing to build and nothing to run.

Yep, I am definitely in the wrong business.

Firmware time of the Month….

The Nokia N95 1 (or as I like to call it the Nokia n95 Silver) has had a big firmware update..

  • Nokia Maps 2.0 built-in
  • Full N-Gage client
  • Nokia Search 4.0 with Google plug-in
  • Share online 3.0
  • Enablers for Comes With Music
  • Download! application updated (v 3.1.50)
  • Upgrade to Music Player
  • Update for Flash Lite 3 (improved viewing of sites like YouTube)
  • Current consumption improvements (for e.g. WLAN scanning)
  • New baseline for VoIP (with significant error corrections)

(thanks to All About Symbian) for the pointer….

and they also say that the 8gb version of this update should be out in the next few days as well.  I will let you know when it pops up.

Certainly I am looking forward to the NGage only being installed once 🙂  Expect a report on the firmware as soon as it comes out for the N95-8gb version.

And I think Nokia owes me money as well…. since I got my I know of 5 of these phones being sold to my friends and co-workers.  I really should get a cut 🙂