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To Zune or not to Zune November 26, 2006

Posted by jbwan in Technology, TSSG.
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At this stage everyone has heard of the new Zune media device from Microsoft. A bit of a buzz has been generated about yet another device aimed at the iPod generation. However, a greater buzz has surrounded the focus on DRM and the device. Many stories including imcompatibility of already purchased music with the device making end-users suffer have plagued the device’s publicity. The story of Zune points that will be used to purchase music, is a little too detached from reality. It may have worked for Disneyland but consumers these days are far more concerned with actual monetary value. Some even say that you will always have Zune points left over from a purchase encouraging you to buy more, given the way the purchasing system appears to work. It’s all very much set against the end-user. Interesting that I should find a like-minded thinker on this matter through the archives of Boing Boing: Andy Ihnatko, in the Chicago Sun-Times has called Zune a “complete, humiliating failure”. Indeed this is one player that the music industry truly wrote the blueprint for. source: Boing Boing

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No such thing as any lunch? November 22, 2006

Posted by jbwan in General.
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We’ve all heard that there was no such thing as a free lunch but it is starting to look like there will soon be no such thing as lunch. A recent study has shown that the Irish lunch hour has been whittled away to a mere 38 minutes on average. The British are even guiltier suffering a mere 28 minutes of dining freedom. We have to stop and ask ourselves a few questions here.

In Ireland, satisfaction with life is dropping rapidly due to increasing stress levels, property prices, trying to get a job outside of Dublin and many other factors. In response we recognise that we are one of the most efficient workforces in Europe and now we are disposing of our lunch hour for reasons that one can only attribute to increased workload. However, in conflict to this, our country is hemorrhaging jobs in many sectors, supposedly pricing ourselves out of the market. Could this price problem be linked to the unrealistic hours that people are expected to work and the demands made of them outside of 9 to 5? Will Irish employers see that enforcing shorter lunch breaks, longer working hours and shorter weekends, is actually detremental to the compos mentis of their workers? I fear not. As usual too many employers have their heads firmly rooted in the base of their digestive systems, always thinking that the workforce is dispensible. Well, here’s an interesting thought: They took the same attitude in lots of American companies many years ago and soon thereafter the expression “went postal” was born. Nobody wants to see an Irish version of that phrase. Wake up Ireland! Don’t get back to work, get back to life! source: Irish Times

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ESB Hike to be Reviewed November 18, 2006

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The 19% increase granted to the ESB by the energy deregulator earlier this year is set to be reviewed due to a dramatic fall in the price of oil since the grant. However, early words are only indicating that a couple of percentage points will be dropped from the increase rather than abolishing the increase altogether. Sickening really, we may as well not even have a regulator in this country… source: The Irish Times

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Java goes OpenSource under GPL November 14, 2006

Posted by jbwan in Technology, TSSG.
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Looks like Java is set to go opensource under GPL in the near future. Could be very interesting for a language that has already reaped so many benefits from community process. Read more on Jonathan Schwartz’s weblog

New Walkies November 13, 2006

Posted by jbwan in General, Technology.
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Treated myself to a new set of walkies over the weekend. I’m amazed at how much these things offer these days and at low prices. Anyway got a set of Uniden PMR 885 with a 8km range, headsets, vox, channel scanning and a host of other features.

pmr885.jpg

Robot Cheese November 12, 2006

Posted by jbwan in Humour.
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Remember the scene from Pulp Fiction with Samuel L Jackson and John Travolta, the “Royale with cheese” car scene. Well here it is in full robotic glory. link: http://www.glyphjockey.com/2006/08/robot-theatre-royale-with-cheese.html

Take my breath away November 12, 2006

Posted by jbwan in General.
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Last night while driving home I was subjected to my first random breath test. While it was comforting to see Gardaí at midnight on a Saturday, while all hell is probably breaking loose in the city centre, out checking tax and insurance and random breath testing in the suburbs it’s not that nice. Don’t get me wrong now, I’m all for random breath testing, it’s a great idea and if it saves a life or two along the way then it’s worth any effort expended. However, I have a slight doubt about the randomness of my breath test. By the way I should also point out that my last drink previous to the test was over 24 hours ago with dinner that evening, obviously I never had any doubts about passing although I would still have liked to see the reading given the context. Anyway, a stream of four cars were stopped just after a junction so I managed to get a look at them all: One taxi, two female drivers (one small car, one saloon) and me. The taxi was waved on, the first female driver was waved on, the second who actually stalled her car at the checkpoint (no L plates either) was waved on and then there was me, a relatively young male driver. “Excuse me sir, random breath test”. Not so random me thinks…

Things that make me smile November 11, 2006

Posted by jbwan in General, Humour.
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At what is nearly the end of a long day, the mind starts to wander in despondence, toward more loosely coupled topics. That’s how, after many hours in the programming chair in front of two monitors, I discovered that I own the same car that Linus Torvalds does (or at least once did). We may share the same taste in cars and operating systems but sadly I think that Linus is still edging ahead on the success stakes. One day I’ll catch up… 🙂 source: WikiPedia.org

Fowler on Agile November 11, 2006

Posted by jbwan in Technology, TSSG.
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Martin Fowler’s take on agile methods and in particular “pair programming”. As usual I agree with the man (aka the king of software patterns). link: Martin Fowler dot com

Google may be bad for your health November 11, 2006

Posted by jbwan in General, Technology.
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Just picked this up from Boing Boing (Cory Doctorow on the case). Australian medical researchers are suggesting that doctors may be well-advised to consult search engines such as Google when coming up with a diagnosis for a patient’s illness. The content revealed by search engines is increasingly informative and coupled with the expert knowledge of clinical physicians may prove to be a winning solution for tricky assessements. Somehow though, it just doesn’t seem right, paying a doctor fifty quid or so to do a Google search on your behalf… source: Boing Boing