Entries Tagged as ''

Free Wifi….

Now I am sure that most of you will have heard that McDonalds Australia is about to switch its wifi from the WAY WAY OVER PRICED Telstra model to the “Free” model. This I have to say is one very smart move from them and is a good way to keep those kiddies coming back for more. Of course it might actually get me near the stores as well.

I have been known to park in the carpark and surf for weather information when driving up in the Hills of Melbourne, but if I can go into a store and get a coffee (a real one not that crap hot water stuff) I might just do that to check emails (or even twitter) whilst I am out having a drive.

http://www.freewifi.com.au/listing_mcdonalds_summary.php has a great list of what stores have free wifi and what stores don’t.

Now before you all think I have turned into another mcdonalds advertising agent… lets look at this from a differenet prespective.  Firstly, it shows that the Telstra pricing model didn’t work!.. If it had macca’s wouldn’t be making it free!  Secondly the “free wifi” with your Iphone for telstra users also wasn’t working, and for the same reason….  Perhaps despite all the hype there were just not enough Iphone users going to maccas for a burger and wifi.

See I am not a Telstra users (I have a back 3g sim that I use on long road trips) and I am not an Iphone user, so the Wifi at maccas cost 20c a minute for me.  That starts to add up quickly when you think about out.  Now of course this all new all free maccas does come with a caveat… Internet sessions are not time-constrained but do have a 50MB limit applied. Which is the equivilent of using the Sydney morning Hearld home page for under an hour (the page weight is over a meg and it auto refreshes!)  But if you are smart and use the mobile friendly pages you can stretch that out for a bit of surfing…

Would you like wifi with that...Take this photo for example.. Maccas wifi on Swanston Street was turned off during renovations.. and so they put aup  sorry sign.  The reason for the sign is expectation.  Even for the paid model.  But soon it will be free. What that means now also is that FREE Wifi is starting to be seen as something fast food and cafes need to have. I know that I make decisions on where to go for a relaxing coffee based on who has wifi and who doesn’t, and I know that once kids work out that Maccas has free wifi and hungry jacks doesn’t the kids with their iphones and nokias are netbooks e.t.c are going to hang around up the front.

Gen C makes content, Gen C shares content, and now maccas has acutally become an enabler in this.

Road Trip….. Stage 1 Plan where..

So I have a lot more leave up my sleeve that Cat does… so to give me something to do and to get me out of her hair.. she suggested a road trip. Heading to Adelaide Via Broken Hill was her idea….

So here is what I am thinking… I pack some camping gear in the Subaru Forester, a couple of computers, a couple of GPS’s (a new camera if I can afford it before I go), my Vodfone N95 +my backup Telstra prepaid phone, and head out on the road for 7/8 days. I have to be in Adelaide on the 23rd of December at 10:30am… but the rest of the trip is fairly flexible.

The trip has been mulling in my head, and partly due to the Roadtrip to Cowra done by Stilgherrian which showed how crowd sourcing a trip can result in some unpredictable outcomes which are make the journey itself fun, I have decided to pre-blog the trip 2 months out before I leave. (Also given that for me the Journey is the point of the holiday and the destination is just somewhere I have to be for Xmas, opening it up may just work)

So below is what I have roughly planned… thanks to my good friends at google maps… (well o.k, they are not my actual friends) and a copy of the Camping Guide to new South Wales I have managed to work out an approximate route and timetable. Cat has also “suggested” that I could buy something Opal for her at Whitecliffs as well.

So what I want is people to suggest things that are must sees/do’s along the way.

So here is the route day by day…

Melbourne to Echuca: 237 km (There are a lot of camp grounds just pass Echuca so hole up there for one night)

View Larger Map

Day 2: Echuca to the Willandra National Park: 379 km (Just south of Ivanhoe)

View Larger Map

Day 3: Willandra National Park to White Cliffs, via Ivanhoe and Wilcannia: 348 km

View Larger Map

Day 4: Broken Hill 274 km (Depending on Weather and Road conditions which I can work out at White Cliffs, there is another route to Broken Hill, by travelling back to Wilcannia as well)

View Larger Map

Day 5: Have a whole day in Broken Hill (IE 2 Nights…)

Day 6: Broken Hill to Burra: 356 km (Remembering to be in Bura before Thorougoods Cellar Door Closes to stock up on some of the best Cider in Australia)

View Larger Map

Day 7: Bura to Adelaide: 155 km. Most important thing to be at the Airport before Cat arrives from Melbourne.

View Larger Map

Total Distance of trip will be 1,794 km – Will over 2k by the time you do all those other running around bits e.t.c… but a holiday I am very much looking forward to.

Flash 10 Plugin….is out

Adobe have released the shipping version of Flash Player 10 (Mac, Windows and Linux) (good to finally see a simultaneous release across all three platforms)

You can download the player for Mac, Windows and Linux players from http://www.adobe.com/go/getflash.

Apart from some security updates to deal with Clickjacking… (thus making this an update you need to get….) it does include such neat new things as…

(which you can see here..  http://www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer/features/)

and real world examples of the cool stuff here..  http://www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer/action/

3D effects
Create more intuitive, engaging interfaces using built-in support for 3D effects. Get started quickly without being a 3D master by designing in 2D and easily transforming and animating in 3D. Fast, extremely lightweight, and simple-to-use APIs, along with 3D tools in Adobe® Flash® CS4 Professional software, make motion that was previously accessible only to expert users via ActionScript® language or custom third-party libraries available to everyone.

Custom filters and effects
Create high-performance, real-time effects for cinematic experiences that quickly engage users. With new Adobe Pixel Bender™, the same technology behind many filters and effects in Adobe After Effects® software, these dynamic and interactive effects can be used both in production with After Effects CS4 and live with Flash Player 10. The Pixel Bender just-in- time (JIT) compiler can also be used to process other types of data, such as sound or mathematical functions, asynchronously in a separate thread.

Advanced text support
Take advantage of a new, flexible text layout engine that brings print-quality publishing to the web, building on more than 25 years of Adobe expertise in typography. Gain more control over text layout using an extensible library of ActionScript 3.0 text components to flow text and sophisticated typographic elements such as ligatures across multiple columns, around inline images, bidirectionally, vertically, or chained together. Create multilingual rich Internet applications (RIAs) using device fonts that can now be anti-aliased, rotated, and styled, or build your own unique text components.

Dynamic sound generation
Use enhanced sound APIs to dynamically generate audio and create new types of audio applications such as music mixers and sequencers, real-time audio for games, and even audio visualizers. Work with loaded MP3 audio at a lower level by extracting audio data and supplying it to the sound buffer. Process, filter, and mix audio in real time through the Pixel Bender JIT compiler to extend creative freedom beyond the visual experience.

Drawing API
Perform runtime drawing more easily with restyleable properties, 3D APIs, and a new way of drawing sophisticated shapes without having to code them line by line. Developers can tweak parts of curves, change styling, replace parts, and use custom filters and effects, delivering improved throughput, creative control, and greater productivity. Enhancements to the Drawing API add the z dimension, real perspective, textured meshes in 3D space, a retained graphics model, read/write rendering, and triangle drawing with UV coordinates, while adding memory and improving performance.

Hardware acceleration
Use the hardware processing power of the graphics card to paint SWF files into the browser and accelerate compositing calculations of bitmaps, filters, blend modes, and video overlays faster than would be performed in software.

Vector data type
Use the new typed array class for better performance, efficiency, and error checking of data.

Dynamic Streaming
Show exceptional video with streams that automatically adjust to changing network conditions. Leverage new quality-of-service metrics to provide a better streaming experience.

Speex audio codec
Take advantage of the new, high-fidelity and open source Speex voice codec, which offers a low-latency alternative for voice encoding. Flash Player also supports ADPCM, HE-AAC, MP3, and Nellymoser audio.

File upload and download APIs
Bring users into the experience by letting them load and save files from your web application. New file reference runtime access allows local processing of data without roundtripping to the server.

Ah for a Decent Camera…

You know those moments when you see something and you think, wow I wish I had a camera. I get those moments all the time… (of course I still want a real camera) but having my Nokia N95 with its 5meg camera on me all the time means I can get those photos that I have always wanted to.

Tonight was no exception. I caught up with an old friend over a glass of wine in town to discuss how to build some web presence for a friend of hers and ended up catching the train home at dusk.

So here are the best 4 of the photos that I took…..

Flinders Street 1

Flinders Street 2

Flinders Street 3

Flinders Street 4

But instead of just saying here are the photos, I thought I would add a few more comments.  Firstly, 70% of the photos I took worked… that is to say what I saw on the screen of the phone was what I saw on the screen of my computer.  But of course that leave 30%.  One of the reasons I don’t often load images straight to Flickr or Ovi from my phone is that on the 320×240 screen they look great.  But take that 5mg image and see it 1:1 on a big 24″ monitor and it looks utter crap.  There is still a big fail of expectation between what you see and what you get.  Sure some of it is me but a lot isn’t.

The other catch is that controlling the colour is an interesting experiment most of the time.  Of course what I see in the camera is what I get, but it is often not what I actually see 🙂 But notice that, I did refer to it as a camera. Not my phone.  When I am calling some one my nokia is my phone, but it is now my camera as well.  And depending on when I am using the device and for what is often how I refer to that device.  Perhaps for me at least convergence of technology has reached a threshold.  For a truly convergent device is one that does many things with out you thinking about it.  This has become such a device.

Of course I still don’t have my real camera.  I know which one I want however (and for the record I have my heart set on the Nikon D90), and whilst my heart it set on it, my wallet is not able to stretch that far.  But maybe next year I will get the camera I want.  But then even when I do get it, I will still have my phone on me the rest of the time… and then that will be my camera, or was it my phone.

Strange Car Noise – Any ideas people?

OK… now I am left to one strange car noise to fix before my big Xmas driving holiday….

I’d like to go to the mechanic with at least something useful…. so does anyone have ideas what this is.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

(you are listening for the deep vibration sound)

The Car is a 2000 Forester GX with 145k on the clock.

Details of the noise are…

1- the car needs to be warmed up for it to occur really noticeably.
2 – The Car needs to be doing at least 50kph or so.
3 – it seems to be only when the car is under acceleration.
4 – Seems to come up from underneath the passenger area.

The car has just had a service and the noise is still there, but given when it occurs I am not suprised they missed it.  So it is going in on Thursday to try and find out what the cause is.

Please leave comments.

Car Service and Trust…

O.k… well I have been having some drama’s with my beloved car (Subaru Forester 2000 GX) over the last year. Yes my beloved Subaru has been giving me a drama. But most of the drama has not been with the car itself but with who to trust to get it fixed.

Firstly last year we had a clutch issue which meant that it needed to be replaced. Sigh, and a shit load of money later it was fixed.   But once it was fixed it took 2 more services and 1 slightly cranky letter to get it sorted. And yes on Friday the issue was correctly resolved by the people that did the original install.

I will rewind a bit now and name the two companies involved. Firstly I have been taking my car to Ultratune for over 5 years now and have not had any issues until this clutch problem arose. The problem was a chirp when you depressed the clutch pedal. Now, I know a lot about a lot of things… to the point that it annoys most of my friends when I drop information into most conversations. However the one thing I know very little about is cars. Yes, that is one of those boys things that I never got.

Anyway back on track… we took it back to Ultratune twice to try and get the issue fixed, and both times it would seem to be o.k for a while and then the noise would come back. So in frustration we took the car on its next service to Subaru and paid for the service with them and asked them to look at the clutch.

This they did, charging me $150 for looking at the clutch noise and told me that I needed a new clutch and fly wheel, and it was going to cost me around the $1500 mark. Oh FUCK I thought at which point I wrote to Ultratune. Now hat tip to them they were very apologetic on the phone and said bring it back in and we will have a look at it.

Now this is where it gets confusing to me. They fixed it… (and for FREE).. turns out it was the springs on the Thrust bearing thingy. Now this is the problem… Subaru were quite happy to bag Ultratune and would have been quite happy to fix my clutch. But see now they had made a diagnosis that was wrong. One that would have seen them replace the clutch and fly wheel. One that would have seen them fix everything and as a result would have most probably fixed the source of the noise. Of course for a fuck load more money that I would have had to paid, being none the wiser to the original problem.

So the question of trust is who. Do I trust Subaru who got it very wrong or do I trust Ultratune who only got it a little bit wrong, and managed to fix it.

I’ve got to go back for something else before I big driving trip at Xmas and it will be to Ultratune.

Macro on the Sun

Macro on the Sun

Originally uploaded by wolfcat_aus

Two reasons for this blog post… 1.. seriously this is one of my better photos for a while. It is a photo that I am happy with both on a technical and an aesthetic value as well.

This is a photo taken on a phone. I do think people need to stop and think about that for a while. We all rush to get the latest tech all the time. I remember the first digital camera I purchased in 1997 (yes I am an early adopter) it had a resolution of 320×240 (and yes I was a poor early adopter) . Now my phone (yes my trusty Nokia n95) has a 5mg camera with an amazing lens that captures photos like this. The other thing to notice is that this photo is geotagged. My phone has my GPS as well. First time I got to play with a hand held GPS was a Magellen Unit back in 2001. Now I am lost (not figuratively) with out one. I used the GPS on my phone to find this particular object that I have photographed here.

So I do think we all need to stop and think what really interesting times we live in.  Now I am reflecting on less than 10 years of tech in the above paragraphs…. consider what we are going to have in another 10!.

And the second point, is the subject.

Artist Chris Lansell has created a 1.1billion scale model of the sun. Not only that but now has been now laid out from St Kilda to Port Melbourne in the same scale the rest of the solar system. From the model of the sun to Mercury is 58 metres, then other 100 or so to Venus, then Earth. Saturn in scale is nearly 2 kilometres away from the St Kilda marina. Poor old Pluto is 5.9km. (all controversies about it status aside :-))

for more info on the project go here. http://www.melbournesolarsystem.com.au/ .

But for getting a sense of scale of our place on the planet you should go and visit the St Kilda foreshore.

Qr Codes – Nokia Style

Nokia have expanded their QR Code Generator to now give you the ability to create Business card barcodes.  More than just a URL, it will embed all the standard business card info.

(See the funny red square of to the side… that is what I am talking about)

Watch the video to see how to do it 🙂

more here… Nokia Beta Labs

and now there is a downloadable version of the QR code reader as well…. http://mobilecodes.nokia.com/scan.htm if you don’t already have it..

In case you are wondering if you do… Nokia N82, N93, N93i, N95, N95 8GB, E66, E71, E90 or 6220 Classic should all have it preinstalled.. but you can get the Nokia version for the Nokia N78, 6210 Navigator, N96by clicking on this installer file  Nokia_Barcode_Reader_S60_32.sis

Plus you can find readers for other phones here… http://mobilecodes.nokia.com/scan.htm