Saturday, 13 December 2008

Byebye computer :(

At some point on Thursday evening during a not-particularly-heavy Warcraft session (I was in Dalaran picking mushrooms) the MacBook started to make an absolutely horrific something-ain't-right whining noise. It sounded like the fan was throwing its toys out of the pram, and as I was starting to feel that the computer might actually take off I shut down WoW and turned off the computer and that seemed to work. Things carried on as normal for a little while, but then it started up again, so I shut it down and went to bed.

Friday afternoon whilst working from home it started again. This time I did some googling, found a problem that it sounded like it might be and did some kind of reset jobby that involved taking the battery out. The computer seemed to get the message and it worked fine all yesterday evening.

Today, however, it started doing it completely randomly, once or twice when I was in Warcraft, once or twice when I was out of it and doing other things, once when all I was trying to do was stream Radio 4 off iPlayer, once when I was backing up the hard drive and a couple of times when I wasn't actually doing anything at all, and once when I wasn't in the room.

I've been checking the exhaust RPM and various temperatures with a handy little widget, but it doesn't seem to be going crazy with any kind of pattern, everything is "within normal parameters". Right now I have Safari and iTunes open and things are running fine, but five minutes down the line it could well have gone shouty crackers again.

The upshot is I'm pretty sure I have a borked fan. The noise is coming from that general area, and when you put your hand on the underside of the main body the casing is vibrating with a frequency that I would find sexually arousing if this thing hadn't cost me about twice as much as a whore.

It's not that this is going - or has - put me off Apple, quite the opposite, but I'd just like to point out that I took delivery of a Dell Inspiron in September 2000 and it was June 2003 before the screen fell off. I've had the Mac barely 15 months.

This fan issue, together with the strange peeling at the bottom corner of the screen, has convinced me it's time to take it into the shop and get it seen to. That'll be seven to ten days without the computer and possibly more as it's a busy time. It's touch and go whether or not I get it back before my two week holiday time starts, or before Christmas. So likely no WoW Christmas achievement for me, and no interwebs and without the TV working 'til Thursday when the nice man is coming to screw in our Freesat dish, no means of intellectual stimulation through the medium of screens.

So unless I blow the Christmas shopping budget on an Asus EEE or something, it's cheerio for now...

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Big new media whore has big new media questions!

So, hi, guys. I thought that as I'm using this blog more instead of my old Livejournal, and because it's linked in to other sites and platforms that I've been using, it's about time to find out who, if anybody, is reading this, what they're getting out of coming here, what they want, and why they're following me around.

I hope, if you're reading this, you might indulge me for a few minutes and have a think about some of the questions I've posed below. For those who are really genuinely new to my blog, I'll throw in a bit of background. In reality I'm a technology industry journalist specialising in networks and communications and how to sell and develop them, and as part of my work I've been following the development of new media platforms and their possible applications for some time. But this interest is also personal, I'm not going to go away and write a hugeass feature right now, I'm just being a nosey parker.

Analytics; the stalker's friend

So, Google Analytics is telling me that more people are coming here and most people are coming off Blogger referrals. A fair few are coming from Twitter since I started tweeting last week, and some of you are coming from other blogs, at least a couple from the very worthwhile Voyagers and some from Well Done Fillet, which is also worthwhile - that's one I started reading when the guy who writes Waiterrant got a publishing deal and stopped being interesting on the internets, although on the plus side I hear he makes a shit-load of money now, so we don't really begrudge this at all.

As the Who sang, who are you?

What I'm really curious to find out is who you are! I'm not planning on stalking anybody, but I really would like to know. I'd imagine some people are here off Livejournal, so I probably know you already, but give me a heads up anyway. Doesn't it suck that I'm duplicating some content still? How would you divide up multiple blogging platforms?

What about the Twitterers then? Some of you must be followers, but I know most of my followers personally, so for you guys, what brings you here now? Hey, newbies, what made you click?

How about the Blogger referrals? Did you just click through randomly? How does that work for you? Do you find anything interesting when you do it, and what made you stop here? The same goes for any other referrals, or if you're coming off a search engine - I know at least four of you have come from Google searches in the past week? How did you get here, where are you headed, and are you at least enjoying your trip?

I wurnt to suck your blood coolness!

And lastly, what am I not using or doing? I want people to stick around and I want to try, if not always with great success, to be entertaining or interesting and not just another lonely voice on the interwebs hollering with no real cause or intent. So what makes you keep reading when you find a blog?

I've really enjoyed blogging on other platforms for the past seven years, but I've found Livejournal - where I used to be and still am from time to time - is increasingly a controlled environment, a bit of a walled garden in some ways, so I'm expanding onto Blogger and Twitter, and obviously I have Facebook and Linkedin (for professional use only). Where else can I go and what can I do when I get there? What platforms are giving you virtual Web 2.0 hard-ons?

Hundreds more channels and nothing to watch

The internal TV aerial we'd been using gave up on the last remaining spot where we could still get a signal, so a nice man is coming to install Freesat for us next week. We get two hundred and forty channels and I don't really want any of them but still, it is free, the nice people assured me ... and what kind of incomparable titmonkey markets a flat without a TV aerial? Seriously.

I took a look at a list of the 240 new channels we'll be getting the other day, and among the delights that await are, and I promise I am not making these up;

The Audi Channel - for cocks who drive Audis.
Horse and Country - for cocks who like huntin', shootin' and bangin' the door of one's Audi at 3am.
Ocean Finance - for people who can't afford Audis.

And yes, that would be Ocean Finance as in 'do you need help consolidating your loans into one easy monthly repayment' Ocean Finance.

There's more. There's WatchmeTV.tv, which appears to be YouTube for idiots, there's Psychic TV, which is pretty self-explanatory, and there's 'pan-Arabian edutainment' network, the Al Jazeera Children's Channel, which claims to make 40% of its own programming and in a Nancy Reaganesque twist is, according to Wikipedia, the pet project of the 'second' wife of the Emir of Qatar.

Mind you, that's the same Wikipedia that has at various times claimed that Robbie Williams made his millions eating domestic pets, Tony Blair had posters of Hitler on his wall, and David Cameron was "a bit of a bitch".

Back to the goggletube, and something for those people for whom Islam seems a bit too much like hard work, there's also a plethora of Christian networks, among them Daystar, which I'm looking forward very much to watching. A drop down menu on their website, right next to an ad for a Christian golf invitational, invites viewers to variously 'Submit a Prayer' and 'Know Jesus.'

All I wanted was BBCs One through Four, and maybe E4 for the Friends reruns...

I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Twitter - how does anyone find anyone else?

So, I've been twittering away for a couple of days now and it seems like good fun - a bit of a time-sink in the way that this sort of thing tends to be - but on balance definitely something worth sticking with.*

However, I'm really having some pretty severe issues with some aspects of the site's design and wondered if anybody else had been irritated by this as well? There seems to be no feature to actively search for someone by username - the only way to add and start following someone appears to be to trawl through other people's lists until you stumble across someone you're looking for, or to go through your email contact books and spam all your friends and relatives. Neither is really satisfactory.

Say, for example, I want to find my LJ pal Jimmyjoebob, who I also know goes by two other handles on Yahoo (Joebobjimmy) and an old Fanfiction.net account (Bobjoejimmy). Twitter has no actual little box that I can type his handles into to see if he's there - I either have to forget about the whole thing, or check my friend EmoDracoluvr15, who I know is on Twitter, to see if she's following him.

Another case to prove the point - I know the Questionable Content characters have fictional Twitter streams that I think it might be a laugh to follow ... but even if EmoDracoluvr15 tells me Dora's fake handle, I can't type it in anywhere to bring up her stream, I still have to search through the Twitter streams she's following until I find Dora or whoever.

It seems like a massive game of chance whether or not you find anybody at all, and this strikes me as a severe design flaw that someone would have developed out of existence by now, so, guys, experienced Twitterers, is there a way round this, or do I have to suck it up?

* The feed's on the right, or imported daily if you read this at my LJ.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Christmas list

X-Factor, the first person shooter video game for PC, Mac and Wii

Louis Walsh has gone rogue and kidnapped tousle-haired Jamie Oliver/foetus lookalike Eoghan Quigg to be his sex slave. Its time for Dermot O'Leary and Same Difference to form an unholy alliance to stop this madness once and for all. Includes zombies, hardcore porn inserted by a bored designer and hidden bonus Abba Tribute Night level. This game got 8 out of 10 from no-one whose opinion counts.

The Brian Paddick Uranium Enrichment Kit

Now you too can create international mayhem and bring the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation with the latest gaudily-coloured shit from the mind of the infamous failed London mayoral candidate. Includes uranium, centrifuge and underpaid Russian physicist with no scruples. Not suitable for under 3s.

The Colbert Carport

Following the runaway success of comic Stephen Colbert on some obscure satellite channel, this piece of corrugated plastic is imported direct from the USA and plays 'America the Beautiful' and 'My Country 'Tis Of Thee' every half hour. Cannot be stopped. Also keeps rain off your car.

Tickle-me-Obama

Does exactly what it says on the box. Includes foreword by Bill Ayers.

Also coming soon from the people that bought you Cowell: The Lowrise Years and Sing-a-longa-News-24 with Huw Edwards, the MMORPG release World of Rosscraft. Playing either a pop star, a paparazzi or a Daily Mail reader, you must save the mystical world of M'han-Wwel from the Demon King Uth'Brand and his army of Dragon Chasers.

Don't let your family go without these amazing gifts!