Last chance to see (for almost a year)

The last phase of the Ashmolean museum refurbishment is about to start, and sadly it means a fine Oxford museum is going to be shut from 23rd December 2008 until November 2009. I for one am heading there this weekend to take some pictures of how it is now, to tide me over until then.

It’s well worth a look if you haven’t been before, great mix of ancient artifacts and art from more recent centuries. Will be interesting to see how the work turns out, the rooftop cafe should be particularly interesting, there should be a great view of Oxford from there.

BBC NEWS | England | Oxfordshire | Oldest museum to close for year

Todos – Mac app that will show you everything

I was pointed in the direction of this nice little Mac OSX application by Pete of Bleepshow. It does one job very well, namely show all the applications installed on your Mac in a single pane, displaying all their icons. You can also have it sorted (I use A-Z). It’s both rather handy for finding apps quickly, and also for browsing some of the lesser apps you didn’t necessarily know you had installed in OSX (particularly as a newish Mac user like myself). Well worth a look.

OpenSoft Development: Todos

How I Twitter

I’ve been finding over the past few months I’ve been using Twitter more and more. I have used it for quite a while, but recently I’ve found both more friends and colleagues using Twitter, and have found more people I wanted to follow. There has definitely been a surge in interest over the last six months, and it’s being seen in more surprising places, such as a Twitter joke on the election night Colbert/Stewart show, or on one of the many mobile phones of Stephen Fry.

So I thought I’d write about how I use it, seeing as I’ve been doing so for a while, and found myself a nice set of tools to help me.

First thing in the morning

I like to update both Twitter and Facebook first thing, so to kill two birds with one stone (actually a few other social networks too) I use Ping.fm . This allows me to subscribe to multiple social networks, and post my status to all of them from one place. They did also have a Facebook application I used for a while, however this has been broken since about the time the new version of Facebook launched, and they haven’t updated it to work yet.

On the move

Until recently I used a Nokia N95, and so I tended to use the mobile version of ping.fm from a browser. Now I’m on an iPhone, I’m using that for posting, and the Twitterrific application (link to UK iTunes store) for reading other people’s tweets.

On the desktop

I’ve used twhirl for a little while now, as it is an Adobe Air application, it runs nicely on all platforms including Linux. In an ideal world I’d like something that combined Twitter nicely with IM and other social networks, and although several applications have come close, nothing is quite there on the Mac yet. My only real gripe with twhirl is that I’d like to size the window a bit smaller, other than that, it has a lot of functionality, and displays incoming tweets rather nicely. I’ll post on twitter mostly from there in the day and evening.

Sharing links on Twitter

This may not be the most obvious route, but to post a link on Twitter I use the Mahalo Share Firefox extension. You’ll need an account on Mahalo, which if you haven’t come across it, is trying to be a human version of Google, with user-submitted links reviewed by their staff. Once a member, you can set up the extension properly, and have a single button in Firefox you can click whilst on a page to submit the link to Mahalo, and to many other sites in one go. I mainly use it as a quick way of saving links at Delicious, but I have it set up with several accounts, so I can also post the link on Twitter, Facebook or elsewhere too. A series of checkboxes allows you to choose which service(s) each link is posted to.

Adding tweets to my blog

I had been doing this by a more tiresome method until recently, however I’ve just discovered the Twitter WordPress Sidebar Widget. Don’t be put off by the fact it hasn’t been updated for a long time, it’s nice and simple, and works fine with my WordPress 2.6 installation.

Sites I read about Twitter

There are a couple of Twitter new sites that have started recently, Twitip and Twitterrati. I’m subscribed to the feeds for both, and have found them both useful. In fact this post was inspired by a recent article at Twitip. I’ve also used Twitterlocal and Twitter Grader to see who else is twittering near me, and how I compare to other Twitter users.

So there you have it: a little insight into the various ways I interact with Twitter. How about you?

This is England

I’ve been watching This is England tonight, a 2006 film by director Shane Meadows. Brilliant. One of the best films I’ve seen in a long time. Hilarious and horrifying in different measures. You have to start with the performance of the star, child actor Thomas Turgoose. He’s just incredible in the role. If I remember rightly, he didn’t really have any acting experience before he was picked for the film, which makes it all the more remarkable.

It deals with the story of a young boy being accepted into a gang of older lads in 1983. Everything is faithful, dour and grotty for the time, right down to him being bullied for wearing unfashionable clothes that made him look like a hippy (the worst thing possible in the early 80s, as I remember). I think it may have rung home particularly for me as I’d have been about the same age as the young lad that year. The gang are a group of happy tearaways, a bit violent, dressed as bovver boys, but just really up for a laugh. The leader Woody takes him under his wing, looks after him, gives him a sense of identity, almost a father figure.

Things change when Woody’s older brother Combo returns from prison, determined to get the group to follow his new-found belief in the ways of the National Front. Shaun (Turgoose) leaves the protective friendship of Woody (a surprising appearance from Emmerdale’s Eli Dingle) to follow Combo and his gang. The mood changes somewhat from this point on, and it becomes quite difficult viewing, as Combo leads a series of racists actions and attacks. It’s difficult in part because characters you’ve already become fond of start behaving in an abhorrent way (whilst in keeping with their character, being led along, looking for acceptance by the others.

It is in no way a glorification of their actions at all, it is all the more jarring because of the confused sympathies for the viewer. Overall it finishes as a sad tale, bitter, with hurt and pain. Well told, raises many memories of the eighties, good and bad. Well worth watching, and makes me keen to seek out some of the other Shane Meadows films I’ve yet to see.

A couple of tips for iTunes playlists

So I guess now is the time to mention I’ve got an iMac and an iPhone now. I’m loving both of them, so glad I got them. Having done so, it meant it was time to return to using iTunes, which I hadn’t been for a couple of years, whilst all my computers were mainly running Ubuntu. I found it rather frustrating to use under Windows, particularly when syncing with an iPod. However on the Mac it works fine, and I’m enjoying it again.

So now I can sync playlists to the iPhone, I’ve been playing about with setting up smart playlists for my tastes. I’m quite happy with this one, to work through all the stuff I haven’t listened to:

Unplayed Playlist in iTunes
Unplayed Playlist in iTunes

I’ve set the time of each track to be in the range of 2-20 minutes, so it misses out some samples and short tracks, and also misses out large mixes. The Rating is not 1 star is for another reason. My wife normally has pretty good music taste, but there are a few artists she enjoys that just aren’t my taste. So I’ve arrived at this solution to miss them out: Give them all 1 star. This will still include anything unrated (most of my collection, because I’ve just moved to the Mac). However it also allows me to give her a playlist of her own, ideally for when I’m out of the house:

Partners Playlist in iTunes
Partners Playlist in iTunes

This way everyone is happy! So, how do you set up your playlists in iTunes (or indeed in Amarok or other music software)?

Lewis Hamilton is F1 World Champion

1976 – Last race of the season. Wet race. Late tyre change. World championship won in the last few laps. British World Champion.

2008 – Last race of the season. Wet race. Late tyre change. World championship won in the last few corners. British World Champion.

Just a spectacular race, most exciting end to a season ever. Massa went over the line thinking he was champion. He’d “lost” it by the time he got to turn 3. Amazing stuff, and hopefully this is the first of many titles for Hamilton.

TNA deals with the serious issues of the day

But Seriously, What Does Mick Foley Think About Barack Obama? | Indecision2008 | Comedy Central

It’s been said that people in America are turning to the Daily Show and the Colbert Report for real insight into current events at the moment. But to TNA as well? Possibly one of the strangest things you’ll see on a wrestling show ever, a serious and thoughtful discussion of the upcoming presidential election.

Movember

Welcome to Movember! I, along with several colleagues at work, will be growing a Mo (moustache to the rest of us) during November in aid of the Prostate Cancer Charity. Today I am clean-shaven for the first time in nearly a decade.

The money raised by Movember is used to raise awareness of men’s health issues and donated to The Prostate Cancer Charity which will have an enormous impact on many men’s lives and the awareness will help to fight prostate cancer on every front – through research, support, information and campaigning.

Did you know…

  • Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. 35,000 men are diagnosed every year and one man dies every hour.
  • 1 in 11 UK men will be diagnosed in their lifetime.

If you’d like to support me, please go to my Mospace, where whatever you can spare would be greatly appreciated.