Category Archives: Technology


From the Financial Times:

Carly Fiorina will be paid a $21.4m severance package after being fired as chief executive of Hewlett-Packard last week. She will also be able to keep her computer and receive free tech support for three months.

Only three months? It’s a good thing she got the cash.

Music in the Kitchen

Music in the Kitchen? Sure, I can play that game; despite not being much of a chef.

A photograph of a BT Voyager Internet radio.
The BT Voyager

In fact, music has recently been rejuvenated in our kitchen with the arrival of a BT Voyager Digital Music Player. Sitting simply in the corner, it allows us to listen to anything our computer can play on CD, MP3, or stream via the Internet. Consequently, I’ve been listening to NPR and the CBC a lot recently.

  1. What is the total number of music files on your computer?
    • No idea. Does it matter? It’s quality that counts.
  2. The last CD you bought?
    • Shortly after Christmas I heard a discussion on CBC Radio about the best Canadian albums of 2004. One of those mentioned was My Favorite Distraction by Coral Egan. Think Sarah McLachlan crossed with Joni Mitchell.
  3. What is the song you last listened to before reading this message?
    • Trouble from the album of the same name by Ray LaMontagne.
  4. Write down 5 songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.
    1. Jack Reardon and Sacha Distel’s The Good Life as performed by Betty Carter on Look What I Got!
    2. Al Jarreau’s interpretation of Lennon and McCartney’s She’s Leaving Home is a marvel, as I’ve said before.
    3. Corcovado as performed by Astrud Gilberto, João Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Tommy Williams, Milton Banana and Stan Getz. It’s the epitome of cool.
    4. Once in a Lifetime by Aretha Franklin from the album Yeah! Aretha Franklin in Person — a great preformance recorded live at a nightclub in 1965. The crowd obviously doesn’t realize that the young Aretha will become the undisputed Queen of Soul. At one point you can clearly hear a young woman let out an indignant “ouch!” as if she’s just been pinched, and during the next song a man whistles the theme music to the Twilight Zone. Philistines!
    5. Softly, William, Softly from the album Concord on a Summer Night by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. A magical song-without-words on an atmospheric live recording.
  5. Who are you going to pass this stick to and why?
    • Anyone who reads this post and cares enough to reciprocate; because they obviously care.

Mobile madness

A photograph of the outside of a Vodafone shop.
Where have all the customers gone?

Apparently, the UK has more mobile phones than people these days.

On one hand, that’s not surprising when you consider that Vodafone, O2, Orange, and T-mobile all have shops within 200 meters of one another on my local high street. Strangely however, the biggest of them, Vodafone, hardly ever has any customers in it.

People must be buying their phones some other way.


We had spinach for dinner this evening (among other things), and not for the first time I found myself wondering: Why does cooked spinach leave a film that you can feel on your teeth?

Well it seems it’s all down to those annoying oxalate crystals.

Isn’t the Internet simply amazing?

My links

I’m experimenting with, a “social bookmarks manager”.

So here are links to some of the web pages that I found interesting recently (the annotations are mine):

An October evening in Provence

I’ve been experimenting with a new digital camera while on holiday, and I must admit I’m very impressed with its potential. Who’d have thought images such as the one below could be produced so well digitally?

Le Moulin, Correns, France

Le Moulin, Correns, France

In fact, digital photography comes into its own at night time. The camera captures light in a way that film just doesn’t seem to record and that even the human eye has a hard time perceiving. Consequently, it becomes important to take a series of photographs at different exposures (aka bracketing) to ensure that you capture the scene as you envision it; but the beauty of digital photography is that you can take as many shots as you like without incurring any extra cost.

Of course, the ability to view the results of your work immediately is probably the single biggest benefit of digital photography. It takes a long time to learn from your mistakes with conventional film because of the time-consuming need to process and print each roll. Digital cameras provide feedback straight away, and that shortens the learning curve considerably.

In addition, the personal computer is an infinitely flexible digital darkroom. It allows you to manipulate your images in a myriad of new ways, some of which are in questionable taste I must admit.

Nevertheless, I’ve been coming to this part of France for many years now, and yet I’ve produced my best photographs of the place during this visit. It’s not a coincidence. Digital photography has allowed me to see with a fresh pair of eyes. Long may it continue.

Heat sensing soft-tipped weaning spoons

I’m learning so much now that I’m a responsible parent. Who’d have thought anyone needed these?

Tommee Tippee Heat Sensing Weaning Spoons

They’re heat sensing, soft-tipped weaning spoons.

Apparently, the red bowl of the spoon turns bright yellow if the food is too hot for young mouths (wouldn’t yellow turning red be a more intuitive signal?), and being “soft-tipped” you can accidentally stab your bundle of joy with one and it won’t hurt.

I wonder who thinks these things up?

Anyway, thanks to the wonder of the Internet you can read at least three reviews of these spoons on the Ciao! Shopping Intelligence web site. If after that you’re still interested, Boots has them on sale for £1.24. That’s 50% off! Better get them while they’re hot.

Speedy Passport Service

The UK Passport Service now accepts passport applications online, and I began the process of applying for my new daughter’s first passport on Monday around midday. At 10 AM the next day the postman dropped the typewritten application through our letter box!ukps.gif

All that remains is for me to sign the form, organise the necessary photographs and countersignature, pay the fee and post it back to the Passport Service — most of the work in other words.

Of course you have to start somewhere, and saving me that initial trip to the Post Office in order to pick up the application form is a very welcome improvement. The speed with which it all happened was simply a pleasant and impressive surprise.