technology. social & ethical issues.
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  the more you know.
The Summer Burn. Now this is very cool. A mass swap of summer tunes. Sign up to Funjunkie, burn two CDs of your favourite warm-weather music, get instructions on the first day of summer telling you the two people to send them to, and sit back and wait for yours to arrive through the post from the people who've been selected to send a CD to you. I'm in! (Via the quirky Pick Me Up newsletter).
15 May, 2006 | other stuff | permalink | (0)

Don't think, sleep. You can make simple decisions quickly with your conscious mind, but sleeping on it is the best approach for more complex choices, says this article in the New Scientist. (via Rage on Omnipotent)
22 Feb, 2006 | other stuff | permalink | (0)

Google mobilizer. Make any web page friendly for your mobile device. Works splendidly with my new Blackberry. (via lifehacker).
17 Jan, 2006 | technology | permalink | (1)

Improving Gmail. Not much to improve on the excellent Gmail, which I've recently switched over to, but these Greasemonkey scripts (Firefox 1.5 only) adding extra keyboard shortcuts and saved searches make the experience an even more satisfying one.
03 Jan, 2006 | technology | permalink | (0)

Answers on a text please. Ah, this is one of the best things I've seen in a long while. Text a simple question to Google SMS on 64664 and it sends you an almost instant answer. Works for business listings, driving directions, film times, basic facts, product prices (through Froogle), translations, and currency conversions. Keep it simple though. "broken flowers w1" told me exactly what I needed (ie when the film is showing tonight in the West End), "events tonight barbican" didn't (no results returned). They've got a free online demo and when you use it from your phone the only cost is the cost your mobile provider charges you for sending the text message.
17 Dec, 2005 | technology | permalink | (1)

Back in 10 minutes. One of my favourite clothes shops in London (which, as it happens, is on the same street as my office) has just opened an online store.
17 Dec, 2005 | other stuff | permalink | (0)

Pronto prints. The internet makes things pretty fast these days, but this morning the excellent PhotoBox surpassed even their own usually speedy service. I put in my order for 55 prints at 12.23, get a confirmation email a minute later, and a mere 27 minutes later I get another email saying my order has been dispatched first class. Not bad, huh?
29 Oct, 2005 | photography | permalink | (0)

Pricelessware. Most useful roundup I've seen of the best (PC) freeware on the web. (via Lifehacker).
10 Oct, 2005 | technology | permalink | (0)

Lift up your voices.
My bro and his crew been running their Voices club night for a while now, but with their new venue behind Waterloo and with the amazing DJ Mark Seven on the decks, last night's party (and also, as it happens, my birthday celebration) was by far and away the best yet :-)
02 Oct, 2005 | other stuff | permalink | (0)

Get On Board. The Charity Commission and TimeBank are running a campaign to encourage a wider and more diverse group of people to become charity trustees. I've just signed up.
20 Sep, 2005 | social & ethical issues | permalink | (0)

As simple as. So I was trying to install TWiki on my server last month and failing miserably in a sea of Perl, unix permissions and configuration files. Now I've just come across PeanutButterWiki (via lifehacker), which feels a thousand times easier. Put in your name and email address and 30 seconds later you have a private, fully-hosted wiki, with RSS feed, downloadable .zip backups and no-nonsense interface. The free version only has 1Mb of space, but for the text-based wiki I'm after, that should be plenty to get on with. Nice!
02 Sep, 2005 | technology | permalink | (0)

Fast or not. Useful free internet connection speed test (via
02 Sep, 2005 | technology | permalink | (0)

Photos from my recent trip to Sao Paulo.
01 Sep, 2005 | photography | permalink | (0)

Pixels or grains.
So the news that Dixons are going to stop selling film-based cameras has sparked off some interesting discussions around digital vs film photography on the Guardian's news blog. The points that stood out for me, in no particular order:

* Quality. Quite a lot of disagreement here. Some people are adamant that, resolution-wise, digital can match any positive or negative film. Others disagree. I'd still say slide film, for me, has the greatest depth, resolution and colour saturation that I've seen, but I've never played around with a super high-end digital camera. Interestingly, one person commented that nothing he'd seen in digital could yet match the dynamic tone range of old B&W films. But for most of us, does this level of quality matter? (See also final point).

* Immediacy. The undisputed killer factor for digital photography, whether it's viewing photos ("here's what you looked like 5 seconds ago"), editing them, using them, or sending them around the world.

* Lack of romance? There's no black art in digital photography said one person. The black art remains in knowing how to manipulate photos properly in Photoshop said another. Elements of truth in both statements, I think, but if the black art has acted as a barrier to people being photographers, then a move to digital can only be a good thing. And achieving truly outstanding results will always be an art form, whatever media you're using.

* Slowing down. A comment I particularly liked from one person saying he took better pictures with film cameras. Not because the quality of the film, but more because using a manual camera made him slow down and think about what he was doing. Conversely though, the person clutching a digital camera and firing off 20-30 shots might just get an equally good picture - and enjoy themselves just as much in the process.

* Disposables. Nothing digital has replaced the practicality of a throw-away film camera... yet.

* Soul. The beauty of film lies in its imperfections. Digital is flat and soulless. Yes, perhaps if you just consider the raw materials, but having seen enough great digital photography, I'd say the soul comes from the photo taker and manipulator rather than the tools or materials they use. (See also next point).

* The end product. And, really, the obvious, but all-too-easily forgotten fact, is that all cameras, digital or film-based, are simply tools. It's the end product that matters... the audience couldn't care less what it was shot on. For me, this says it all.
15 Aug, 2005 | photography | permalink | (1)

Parklife. blowup.jpg Watching Blowup at the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park last night. It's the middle of summer, but needed a woolly hat and jumper to keep warm. Only in London, hey?
13 Aug, 2005 | other stuff | permalink | (0)

Pelting Slowly. My good friend Becky has just started a blog, which, in her inimitable style, features tales of giant puffball mushrooms, herbalism, and preparations for her upcoming three weeks' work in a Chinese hospital.
10 Aug, 2005 | other stuff | permalink | (0)

More photo sharing. So, 23 is a new alternative to flickr. It's less polished (no easy tag searching, no contacts, no groups), but it's also less costly. A free account gives you a 1GB monthly upload limit rather than flickr's 20Mb. One to keep an eye on... (via Guardian Online Blog)
07 Aug, 2005 | technology | permalink | (1)

Online musings of Richard Alderson: aspiring social entrepreneur, writer, photography-lover and closet geek.


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