Save typing on URLs with CTRL + ENTER in Firefox

I’ve just seen this tip on Lifehacker, about not typing full URLs in Firefox. Basically, you can type just the keyword of the domain name e.g. “lifehacker”, hit CTRL and ENTER together, and it will add on the http:// and the .com . This then made me curious about how I could alter this for my own needs. I’d prefer it to jump to .co.uk. A bit of searching and digging about came up with a solution:

  • Type about:config into the Firefox address bar.
  • In the Filter bar, type suffix
  • You should get a short list of values (probably just the one). The one we are going to modify is browser.fixup.alternate.suffix
  • Right-click on this value, and select Modify
  • Change the default value of .com to .co.uk and click OK.
  • Close the tab, and try it out. If you don’t like it, repeat the process again and change it back to .com

Obviously you can change this to whatever top or second level domain you like.

Nokia announce Ovi

Today Nokia have announced Ovi, their new internet services brand. Apparently Ovi is Finnish for “The Door”. At the moment, the site is fairly empty, but lists the currently announced areas that it will cover, namely photos, maps, a music store and their reworked version of the N-Gage gaming platform.

With the N-Gage, rather than releasing “gaming” mobiles as they have to hilarious ends in the past, they are now setting it up as a software platform, initially for the N-series of their mobiles (I suspect they will try and get it onto all of them in time). The big change though is that they are going to mimic the Xbox Live system, have downloadable demos of all their games, have online play, and a gamerscore system. All of which can only help improve things for mobile gamers.

There are also promises of more to come in terms of services. It is planned to launch fully in Q4 of 2007, however some of the services in Ovi (such as maps) can be downloaded now, and some may well go into public beta beforehand. So if you’re a Nokia user, it may be worthwhile registering to see what happens over the next few months.

Applications I’m missing at the moment

I was just thinking about the applications that I don’t have, that I would like. So I thought I’d write a quick list, explain them, and then revisit them in a few months time to see if they exist. I was going to put SMS notifications for Google Mail for my phone on there, but a quick check just now revealed they have added that since I last checked, so I’m one up for the evening already!

  • Firefox Mobile – I have to admit, I don’t mind Mobile Opera. However it does seem a bit basic, and I’m not that keen to have to pay for a browser with more features. I’d like to use what I’m so used to using on my computer, and ideally to be able to extend it to do many other things.
  • Decent Nokia software for Linux – I’m lazy, I just want to plug it in, and it to do all that it does in Windows, as that is a rather nice little suite of software. One day.
  • A proper movie file browser and player for Ubuntu – What I want is a self-updating catalog of all my movie files, thumbnails (in a perfect world I’d just hover over the thumbnail for a couple of seconds, and it would start playing in the thumbnail itself, so I could identify it if it wasn’t clear), and proper indexing and searching. I’d love something for video that was the equivalent of Amarok for audio. Kaffeine is almost it, but the index/search side lets it down a bit. This may be down to my knowledge of it though.
  • A way of syncing contacts between Google Mail and my phone – Again, I want an easy life, and I just want them all to keep up to date, rather than having to maintain two lists.
  • An open-source program that edits CSS in a WYSIWYG style – I’ve heard tell that this sort of functionality is creeping into Dreamweaver now. Great, I’d like it for free. Ideally in a way that would plug into Eclipse as well.
  • Something that manages podcasts perfectly – I’ve never found this since I started listening to podcasts. It’s always felt that it’s been tacked onto music programs such as iTunes. Amarok does a better job than most, but it still feels like hard work some times. I’m going to think about this more, try and describe what I’d want.

Well that should do me for starters. How about you, what applications do you want that you don’t have yet?

Applications I’m missing at the moment

I was just thinking about the applications that I don’t have, that I would like. So I thought I’d write a quick list, explain them, and then revisit them in a few months time to see if they exist. I was going to put SMS notifications for Google Mail for my phone on there, but a quick check just now revealed they have added that since I last checked, so I’m one up for the evening already!

  • Firefox Mobile – I have to admit, I don’t mind Mobile Opera. However it does seem a bit basic, and I’m not that keen to have to pay for a browser with more features. I’d like to use what I’m so used to using on my computer, and ideally to be able to extend it to do many other things.
  • Decent Nokia software for Linux – I’m lazy, I just want to plug it in, and it to do all that it does in Windows, as that is a rather nice little suite of software. One day.
  • A proper movie file browser and player for Ubuntu – What I want is a self-updating catalog of all my movie files, thumbnails (in a perfect world I’d just hover over the thumbnail for a couple of seconds, and it would start playing in the thumbnail itself, so I could identify it if it wasn’t clear), and proper indexing and searching. I’d love something for video that was the equivalent of Amarok for audio. Kaffeine is almost it, but the index/search side lets it down a bit. This may be down to my knowledge of it though.
  • A way of syncing contacts between Google Mail and my phone – Again, I want an easy life, and I just want them all to keep up to date, rather than having to maintain two lists.
  • An open-source program that edits CSS in a WYSIWYG style – I’ve heard tell that this sort of functionality is creeping into Dreamweaver now. Great, I’d like it for free. Ideally in a way that would plug into Eclipse as well.
  • Something that manages podcasts perfectly – I’ve never found this since I started listening to podcasts. It’s always felt that it’s been tacked onto music programs such as iTunes. Amarok does a better job than most, but it still feels like hard work some times. I’m going to think about this more, try and describe what I’d want.

Well that should do me for starters. How about you, what applications do you want that you don’t have yet?

Upcoming Gigs in Oxford

Soon we shall be speaking no more of The Zodiac on the Cowley Road, it shall now be the Carling Academy Oxford. It does look like the new owners are going to get it off to a good start. There are a lot of gigs due there over the next few months, but my personal recommendations are:

  • Ska Cubano – Carling Academy Oxford – 27th September 2007
  • Happy Mondays – Carling Academy Oxford – 5th October 2007
  • Super Furry Animals – Carling Academy Oxford – 26th October 2007

Race over.

Well, I survived the go-karting. Actually enjoyed it a lot, although I still ache from it. I managed 35 laps out of 50 before my arms fell off, or as good as. What I was happy with was that I was in control throughout, and was able on occasion to get up a good rate of speed. My cornering sucked though, just seemed to struggle with gettting the line right. It did make me feel more positive about the concept of driving, as that sense of being in control is important. And on real roads you don’t really have a racing line.

What can Facebook do for you, and what you can do for Facebook?

I’ve been looking at the Facebook Developers site, and having thought about it a bit, I can see a lot of potential there. What drew me there in the first place was the Facebook-based game Scrabulous. I’ve been playing it quite a bit, and I was wondering how they might add to it. I was interested in setting up a league of fellow players, and wanted somewhere I could record the results. So I started looking at how this might be possible.

What occurs to me at first is that in terms of games, and possibly other applications as well, it shares several elements with the wonderful Xbox Live Arcade. You have a friends list, you can challenge those friends to games, you can suggest new games they might like to play against you, and you can compare your scores with them, and indeed with the best players out there. The scores in particular are a meta level that wraps around ordinary gaming, drives people to play and use the application more. I’ve seen a whole raft of friends get very involved in Scrabulous, many of whom are not computer “games players” at all.

You then get other possibilities, they have a donation advert built into the game, and there is also a service to listen to music as you play. These are the sort of things that are crying out for other sites, developers and artists to take advantage of. Got an album to promote? Build a small flash game, stick some tracks from the new album in as the soundtrack, and sit back and let Facebook’s users promote it for you. The News Feed that everyone has at the top centre of their home page shows (in the main) when and what applications their friends are using. The applications get spread and popularised in a viral fashion. It is in this way that Scrabulous has built up over 350,000 users.

It’s worth thinking of how your site could use Facebook. Maybe it’s just a Facebook group you want, somewhere your users can talk about you. Or it could be that there is an application that you promote at present you could adapt for Facebook. Or even that you could build one to promote your site in some manner.

What does Facebook get out of this? Well for one, they keep people on their site longer. Another benefit though, is that they are building up a massive body of developers creating ways of interacting with their site. They get all their API code tested on a large scale far beyond what they could ever do internally, and they also get the benefit of being able to mirror for themselves creative and successful uses of their site. For instance, they could choose to license Scrabble directly from its owners, mimic all the work of Scrabulous, and then build it into everyone’s profiles when they are created. Suddenly they cut out the middle man, and can potentially claim more traffic and advertising revenue for themselves.

I’m not suggesting that they would necessarily be this evil, but they do get a great benefit from all the 3rd party creative and development work being done for them. Of course this is a benefit that can come from an API in general, but it is rare you see it being utilised by both developers and users on such a large scale. It will be interesting to see what it produces over the next year.

Read The Next Age of Facebook.

Head full of rubbish tonight.

I don’t seem to be able to think straight tonight. I’ve got too much junk, too many ideas and little geek tasks floating around my head. I’ve thrown myself into them, written a list, knocked them off as best I can. I have actually made quite a dent, but I just can’t get this lack of focus out of my head. It’s not a problem, I’d just like to be a bit clearer. I suspect playing some games in a bit will help me to slow down. Space Giraffe in fact. So hectic and strange, I’ll have to concentrate. Nice game.

EDIT: Playing Space Giraffe was exactly what I needed, far less hazy now. Good old Jeff Minter

How do we stop the Starbucksification of the Cowley Road?

The Cowley Road in Oxford is starting to change shape at the moment. Not in terms of it being dug up and rerouted, as seems to happen every few months, but instead the start of its Starbucksification. There is always a churn of shops on such roads, but it does seem to be the start of something more significant. Several shops have closed recently, some of them citing excessive rent rises. Three of the longer term shops that have gone are Coopers newsagent, The Bead Shop, and Panda Records.

We’ve seen the arrival of a large Subway (with another only a few minutes away in St.Clements), and Costa Coffee is due to open an outlet soon as well.It’s starting to look like more of the larger chains are on their way too. I can’t see it being more than a year before we get our first Starbucks, and then the virus of the chain will really kick in. Not to mention the replacement of The Venue/Zodiac with the Carling Oxford Academy.

By co-incidence, I was listening to an interview with William Gibson today, on the BoingBoing.net podcast. He was asked which he thought was the most futuristic  city in the world, and he felt it was Berlin. One of his reason for this was that the retail space was a lot cheaper than in other cities, and it meant that smaller, innovative and interesting shops were able to set up there and trade successfully. He wondered aloud how this could be achieved in older cities such as New York or London, and one of his suggestions was that on new developments, there should be sets of retail spaces with very small floorspaces. The idea behind this being that chains wouldn’t be attracted to the smaller shops, and they would thus appeal to the smaller retailer.

Interestingly, this is the same solution presently employed to preserve the nature of the Laines in Brighton. Apparently they have a conservation order on the area, which prevents new retail spaces over a certain size, or knocking through into another shop. From my own experience, you do get an interesting mix of shops there.

So perhaps this is what is needed to help Oxford’s Cowley Road maintain some of its sense of character. It would be a shame for it to turn from what it is into yet another high street.