Category Archives: Techno-joy

The Fry Effect

Thanks to Kate Smurthwaite and Stephen Fry, my new blog (God and Son) has had a very good first couple of weeks.

Today was spectacular, thanks to ‘The Fry Effect‘… A  single retweet by Stephen Fry and God & Son went ballistic… Within a couple of minutes over 2,500 people had visited the blog…. This quieted down to about 1 hit a second for the next 3 hours….

I don’t expect to keep up such incredible numbers, but the initial publicity is fantastic!

This is the link he re-tweeted: http://wp.me/p2mtvw-2N (Pop Goes Your Head)

And this is the effect after 3 hours….

During typing this blog entry, another 1000 hits have taken place….

Crazy….

I figure (and this works quite well on ‘celebs’…)

  • 25% of a Twitterers followers are active (the rest just add them as a friend and don’t really interact).
  • 1% of them would click a link the Tweeter posts.
  • 1% of them will be repeat site visitors.
  • This worked out pretty accurate when Wossy re-tweeted my Twitter Guide.

So.. for Mr Fry:

Over 4,200,000 followers… my theory says 1,050,000 active…. so 10,500 people will click the link and 105 will be repeat visitors.
So far, 14,000 people have hit my site today, so I’m a little out, but that is down to how many ‘ripple effect‘ re-tweets.

The ‘ripple effect‘ re-tweets work out just the same as the initial re-tweeting. Someone re-tweets the initial re-tweet…. Fry re-tweets me, someone re-tweets Fry…. someone re-tweets the person who re-tweeted Fry… etc

The percentage breakdown of those ripple tweeters followers now add to the hits my site gets… which explains the additional 4,000 hits above the theorised 10,000 initial hits from Stephen Fry.

At 10,000 hits I did notice a drop in hits per minute…. from 75 per minute to 50 per minute… which would suggest the initial Fry effect was now being passed over to the effect that HIS re-tweeters were giving me.

It all works out somehow….

Anyway, as a rule of thumb, it’s not too bad…

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Playstation PS3 YLOD recovery & Hard Drive upgrade.

We purchased our PS3 on release date around 6 years ago.

It has been faultless. 100% faultless….. Until the other day.

I took it from its rack to upgrade the hard drive (HDD) to 640GB as the original 60GB was full, so carried out my first ever FULL data back up, then swapped in the new drive.

To do this:

  • Carry out a system update on your PS3.
  • Back up your PS3 onto a removable hard drive or memory stick.
  • Remove the old hard drive.
  • Put in the new hard drive.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions and format the new drive.
  • Restore from the back up you made.

You can even buy a case for the removed drive and use it as a stand alone storage drive.

This was no problem…. but…

… a day later and ‘BEEP BEEP BEEP‘… power off. Nothing to do with the new hard drive, but I was lucky to have carried out the back up!

To be honest, I was expecting this to happen at some point. Maybe my moving it around to swap the hard drive didn’t help – but either way, it’s 6 years old and this early model fault was waiting to happen.

It suffered the fate of quite a few other ‘fat‘ PS3’s….Yellow Light of Death (the yellow light only blinks very quickly on then off).

What generally happens is over time the paste that joins the cooling part of the PS3 to the ‘brain’ goes hard over time and the two parts lose contact causing the brain to over heat.

This can cause a problem anyway, and the PS3 will shut down to save itself. The thing is, when the connection between the cooling and the brain (actually two processing units… not really a brain) starts to separate, it puts some strain on tiny soldered connections, and one or more might disconnect…. BEEP BEEP BEEP.

This problem occurs mostly with people who move their PS3’s around a lot, as the continued joggling accelerates the problem.

Anyway, the solution to the problem is to either:

  1. Pay Sony to repair it – and that generally means they just send you a refurbished unit and you lose all of your data – and it takes weeks.
  2. You could give it to someone else to repair – and pay them upwards of £40 (from what I have seen)
  3. You could buy a new PS3….
  4. You could fix it yourself…. OH NO!!! DIFFICULT!!!

Actually… fixing it yourself is really very easy. Just stay calm, have enough room to lay all the bits out, buy or borrow a heat gun (get one for about £15 on Amazon) and buy some Arctic Silver 5 3.5g Thermal Paste from Amazon.

Simply put: Take PS3 apart. Clean old paste off. Heat up board*. Put on new paste. Put PS3 back together.

*The heating of the board 're-flows' the solder and fixes the broken contacts.

A search on YouTube came up with some great tutorials, but by far the best one that I found was by a guy called DAX79. His video was instructive, not preachy, and not over complicated. As an engineer myself (not electronics!), and having written manuals, I know the importance of making something as simple as possible – and this guy does a fantastic job.

After watching the video through once, I then put it back to the start and slowly worked through the process. There are some top tips to help you out:

  • Use the correct tools. Anything else can cause you problems.
  • Take your time.
  • Lay all the parts out neatly as you take it apart. You’ll appreciate this when it comes to reassembly!
  • Don’t Panic.
  • Try and keep all of the screws you take out in a bag or tub along with the bit that they secured to the PS3.
  • Don’t Panic.
  • When you heat the board, keep the heat gun moving. Do it for about 10 minutes. Let it cool for a good 30 minutes before even trying to move it. I recommend repeating this operation as some people find that one heating doesn’t work. So… Heat for 10 minutes, cool for at least 30 minutes, heat for another 10 minutes, let cool for at least 30 minutes.
  • Make sure you clean the old paste off thoroughly.
  • Don’t Panic.
  • Once working, make sure you update your PS3 and fully back it up as soon as possible. Some people say the repair might only hold for a month, two months… a year…. Either way, you almost lost EVERYTHING… so DO A BACK UP this time…. It might not go wrong again… but you’ve just had a lucky break and saved all of your data – and you might not be so lucky next time.

A picturesque addition

Well, if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook then you’ll know I like my photography. Not in the in-depth way, although I’d love an expensive bag of equipment… I just use a few simple cameras and an iPhone4… and software.

I use many different apps in a mix to get my resulting images – sometimes putting the photo’s through the apps several times. Below is an montage of a few of the apps currently in use.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Recently I have been putting my work up on to Instagram. It’s free to join, but currently you have to join to see all of the photo’s in any usable way. As such, If you don’t want to post photo’s to Instagram, then I suggest you use Webstagram as a viewer. You don’t have to join and you can search all the photo’s.

To see my filtered images, either click on the photo below, or click the Instagram link in the right hand menu bar – – – – >


Why Apple Users Sing & Dance

Why Apple is king.

I lost a chunk (around 600) iTunes tracks (through my error), they helped me out. (I had order numbers and records).

You are hard pushed to find companies that will help you out if the problem is THEIR fault, let alone if the error was all down to the customer!

They did everything they could to replace the tracks I had lost – even though it isn’t really what they are meant to do.

They did say that I should make sure I back up fully, as replacing this many tracks is really a one time thing – and then they gave me advice on back up solutions. A class act!

Some tracks were over 60 days old, and their system wouldn’t allow them to be resent to me (they shouldn’t send things out again anyway – it’s not contractually what they do!), so they gave me a work around and said if I re-purchase, then they’ll refund!

The guy I was dealing with (based in the USA & all done quickly by email) was very positive, very friendly and 110% customer focused… and once it was all sorted he ended the final email conversation with:

“Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you”

Buying Apple doesn’t just end with the product on your table – They really care about their customers.

What does this “above and beyond” treatment of their customers get them in return? – Simple…. It gets them very happy customers who go on and tell people about their positive experience with Apple!

Go buy a PC and get service like that!

(I didn’t even get a reply from Amazon for the tracks I purchased there!)

I’ve dealt with Apple a few times, and each time it is so refreshing & hassle free!

Now you know why Apple users are some of the most loyal customers around!

UPDATE:

Tidying up the final purchases/refunds today & Apple did it again!

I thought I couldn’t be more impressed by their service until an email I recieved today. Let’s just say it could be compared to buying a car, having a crash, and then the insurers giving you the full value of that car at todays price… not the depreciated value & not the old price. Yup… one happy customer!

The only way they could top this would be an iPhone 4, iPad WiFi/3g & Macbook Pro gift basket & fruit!

Damn they’re good!


Improving on perfect

BMW, Audi, Jaguar, Mercedes… they all make superb saloon cars. They are well made, refined, smooth and drive well.

So when these top marques then bring out a sport model (be it an AMG, S, M etc), then they improve on the already great basic saloon car model.

They improve the handling, they tighten up the feedback, driver involvement, road holding. They tweak the chassis, engine and suspension. They end up with the same saloon car… but different – better – each part honed to a higher level.

What they don’t do is stick on some gaudy graphics, a big exhaust pipe and a huge spoiler and then try to palm it off as a sports car…

Where is this leading then?

For the past 2 weeks I have had the pleasure of test driving an aluminium bodied (hand finished in the UK no less), tweaked and more responsive version of an engineering marvel that I have blogged about before.

Will King (King of Shaves) hasn’t sat on his backside and let the already great award winning Azor (and Azor S – Sensitive) blow away the competition, oh no, he’s been working on improving perfection.

Well, that’s a bit strong. Azor had it’s bad points for some users, and a few quirks that first time users weren’t ready for… so maybe not improving on perfection, but most definitely improving on the Azor, the best multiblade shaving hardware since the Gillette Mach 3.

The trouble some people had with the Azor is they expected it to be the same as any previous razor – but it isn’t. For one it is sharper and more responsive.

Like all things different you need to get used to it – so a couple of shaves really won’t give you the real benefit of the Azors great shave. Try it, stick with it for a month and then see how you feel. You wouldn’t expect to get into a new car and have everything be in just the right place straight away, as each driver adjusts and gets used to their new car – so you should adjust and get used to the Azor.

So anyway today, the official launch of the Azor M…. I wasn’t expecting a great improvement leap, as the first Azor was already a benchmark product.

The NEW King of Shaves AZOR M

For the two weeks prior to today’s launch I have been a tester using the Azor M and the new slimline blade cartridge. The M stands for metal – an aluminium body hand finished in the UK. The slimline cartridge is an improved version of the original, already incredible Azor blade.

The heft is good – this is down to the extra weight of the metal over the previous Azor models. It feels more controlled & has a certain quality feel about it  (Azor 1 & S have great quality & design, but to some people a light razor is seen as cheap & tatty). Azor M nicely addresses that & more.

The 3 colour look… it sounds a bit dicey, but when I saw it I was immediately impressed. No tarty chrome look like Gillette use. A subtle, almost Audi-ish brushed Aluminium that wasn’t pretending to be anything else, because it is what it is. Very stylish.

The shave… Okay, I was surprised at how different it was. Doing my head really showed the improvements. That weight made for more control & a smoother glide.

Better still – and this shocked me….the blade life is longer! I thought the first Azor blade was good, but this is still as blisteringly sharp now after two weeks of full head and beard shaves as when I first used it. This surely is the KoS standard now – Cheaper, longer lasting and far, far sharper blades.

Azor M - Perfection squared

The new cartridge design seems to be more than meets the eye. The trimmed & squared off lube section made for a more accurate trim around my goatee. Now there is a definitive squared end across the head of the cartridge that is parallel to the blades, which actually gave more confidence around the beard and that just worked better – I didn’t need to think about it so much as I knew exactly where I was shaving.

I managed to shave several areas around my ears that the previous cartridge wouldn’t touch due to the old larger cartridge – so a marked improvement there.

The reduced top end section also appeared to pull/tighten my skin slightly more than the Azor S (not in a bad way). It felt taut & controlled – referring back to my car analogy I’d say the Azor M is the sports saloon of the range – tweaked to give a firmer, more accurate & closer ride. It’s all a bit more “together”, which is amazing, seeing as the previous Azor danced over the competition without bothering to even take it’s shoes off!

The distinct but minimal packaging of the Azor

Even though Azor has one of the narrower side walls on the cartridge than other brands, I personally would like to see even thinner side walls with the blades as close to the edge as possible – but that’s a wish list thing & no complaint against any Azor.

I don’t know how many of the above improvements were intentional or just a by product of the new M design, but I can say that King of Shaves have improved on something that was near perfect anyway, and improved it more than I could imagine!

As for Gillette and the Fusion range…. remember the comment about sticking on a big spoiler (more blades) a big exhaust (shove a battery in it) and gaudy graphics (oranges, blues, greens, and chrome)……Well… there’s an old saying…

You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig

Gillette were great in the Mach 3 days, in the same way the old 1980’s BMW M3 series was great… but times have moved on and things have improved.

Look at the modern designs we are seeing in cars, mobile phones, computers etc…. it’s all smooth, simple, no fuss, functional and thought out (much like the early days or race cars, aircraft etc… smooth and flowing).

Gone are the days of angular brash and loud designs that were definitely more show than go… It’s easy to see which of the two camps the Azor and the Mach 3 belong to.

Gillette Fusion yesterday

The King of Shaves press release for Azor M is HERE.


From Guns to the X-Factor to Augmented Reality

Flickr reorganised my photo’s & broke picture links….

So… let’s try again – and this time with an update & more pictures!

I was on the lookout for some captioned t-shirts recently and just couldn’t find what I wanted. In the end I found a place that allows you to design your own… and sell them if you want.

Well, I purchased the one I wanted (after designing it…) – and once it arrived I was impressed by the print quality and the actual quality of the t-shirt. I then went back to the store and looked into how to sell my designs, after all, why not?

Since then I have added several designs – including a mug and notebook case to go with all the shirts…

If you like any of them, go to http://sometimespace.spreadshirt.co.uk/ and have a shop around… if you can’t find what you want, I might be able to sort something out for you (if you don’t want to do it yourself!).

I started out with some shooting orientated ones and then added a few more various others…These are a few of the designs…

SOMETIMESPACE – THE SHOP

Click the shop link above to buy any of the items below! These designs are on shirts, bags, mugs, bumper stickers…. Go for it! Alex needs new shoes!


Screen shot 2009-12-20 at 15.21.38

Screen shot 2009-12-20 at 15.21.07

RIFLE2

Screen shot 2009-12-20 at 15.24.26

Screen shot 2009-12-20 at 15.22.32

Cant

Ducking Autocorrect

Screen shot 2009-12-20 at 15.22.10

Smelly Punt

Potter No

Screen shot 2009-12-20 at 15.23.45

Tiger Would

Monkey Butt front

Monkey butt back

iHat

Screen shot 2009-12-10 at 21.42.45

Screen shot 2009-12-10 at 21.43.03

Screen shot 2009-12-10 at 21.42.09


Twitter is a DJ

A few Twitter users will have noticed some users are posting tweets from something called Blip.fm.

Quite simply, it’s a free web page that allows users to post songs and videos to various social media sites – such as Facebook and Twitter.

It’s really pretty good – I didn’t really get into at first – but after giving it a fair try I’m getting into it now!

You can just tune in to favourite DJ’s (or rather people who also use Blip.fm). Other users select songs and their playlist builds up, and you can just select to listen to it.

To be more involved you can start to create your own playlists. This allows other people to then go to your list to listen to your chosen and growing selection of songs.

It’s quite simple – and a top way of finding long time forgotten songs, and discovering new ones you wouldn’t have otherwise thought about.

I particularly like searching through the “Mash Up” selections – song mixes such as Lady Gaga vs. Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas.

For iPhone users there is currently an app called “Boombox Pro” which allows use of Blip.fm via the iPhone. It is a bit temperamental, but there are fixes for it. I have found that it failed totally after my first tries, but by resetting my application key in my Blip.fm settings/password section, Boombox started working again. It’s not faultless yet, as some of the playlist doesn’t update – but the search and Blip function works fine.

Hopefully, Blip.fm will bring out their own app soon… or Boombox will pull their finger out and sort out their bugs.

UPDATE: Received an email from Boombox designers today – They are working on fixes along with Blip.Fm. As that is the case I would recommend Boombox to anyone, simply because the app is a great idea, it almost works and the people working on it offer quick customer support. Good customer support is a must for me.

Anyway, I just thought I’d share a little bit more of what is out there on the web for those who hadn’t heard of it yet!


Awesome Space Shuttle footage

Not often I post something for the pure Hell of it… BUT….This is the best footage I have ever seen of a Shuttle launch. Views from various cameras…. first one, then starting again from another…etc…. fascinating!

NASA STS-127 Endevour Launch – Solid Rocket Booster Cameras – As talked about on SPEEDWAY SQUAD and highlighted by Toren Atkinson.


Save cash on fuel

EDITED – See end of text for latest figures!

Since getting my old Audi A4 (1996 Saloon) I have covered over 6000 miles in under 3 months.

I drive over 100 miles a day – and that works out as an average of 76.1 miles a day including my none driving days!

That also works out at £8.04 a day on average…. and 659.8 miles per fill up.

So… I have the perfect chance to try several ways to save fuel.

I didn’t want to do anything over the top. I wanted to make slight changes to see what would happen. The type of changes you could do quite easily without altering your driving style so much.

Firstly I did a few journeys at my normal style. I’m no racer – I keep up with the traffic and drive as the traffic around me drives – so pretty average.

The table below shows a few statistics on my trips. I purchased the car with 113816 miles on the clock – so that is why the first line shows 0mpg – I hadn’t got anything to judge it against.

By the 27/08/09 I had covered 638 miles filling up with 57.63 litres – I had covered those 638 miles at 50.33mpg – a good starting point, as when I chose the car I was looking for 50mpg or more at the very least.

Screen shot 2009-11-09 at 20.36.37

The next entry and I only got 47.03mpg! I knew why though. I was a bit heavier on the throttle and harder on the brakes. I even went around a track which gave the impact of driving the car like a “boy racer” – although that was only for 3 miles…. ONLY 3 miles like an idiot racer and it hammered my economy.

The following fill up gave me 55.66mph – and that was by far gentler driving… but nothing major!

I still drove at the same speeds on the roads as I had done on the previous tests, but this time I didn’t floor the throttle to get to those speeds, and I didn’t use harsh braking to slow down.

I simply put enough throttle down to get the car moving, then as it gathered speed I’d change up a gear – but a little earlier than usual. The time it took to get up to my usual top speeds was a little slower, but it was there that most of the fuel savings took place.

When it came to driving I simply left a bigger gap between me and the car ahead. If I saw the cars ahead start to slow I would come off of the throttle straight away instead of catching up and having to brake.

This way I wasn’t wasting fuel by braking and accelerating all the time – I was just using the throttle to keep me gently at my cruising speed – which was the same cruising speed I had used from the beginning of the test.

As you can see – between harsh driving and gentle driving I had a change in mpg of 8.63 mpg… or 299 miles per tank – at the time that was £6.84 per tank saved. For me that is over £350 a year… which  covers MoT & Tax.

The thing is, the journey to and from work is not taking any longer. Just driving calmly, pre-empting what other cars were doing, having a feather weight foot rather than a lead one… it all added up.

I use the iPhone App – Road Trip to measure all of this. Since using it I have taken a greater interest in my economy – I even have all my expenses set up on it so I can see the true daily cost of my car once insurance, fuel, tax, MoT, services etc are taken into account. Currently it costs £12.21 a day – which is less than half the price of a return train ticket for my work!

Annoyingly the M3 then had months of road works – and the reduced speed took the car out of an economic cruise, so I lost the high mileage economy for a while. Still, I managed to keep the average up over 50mpg.

photo

Yellow: Price per Litre / White: MPG / Blue: Average

I am now trying to hone my driving style to reduce the fuel cost even more. I mentioned that I would simply come off of the throttle if I was catching up with traffic. If I caught up too fast (nothing dangerous)  then I was using the brake. This isn’t the best way to save fuel…. You see modern cars that are aiming at giving better economy are now using engine braking to help save fuel. One way you can do this with older cars is to come off of the throttle, put the clutch in so the revs drop off, then slowly let the clutch out again. The speed of the car will then try to spin the engine revs back up again, and as this happens the energy used to spin the engine up is lost in speed. I am finding I can slow down quite smoothly this way – and in fact don’t need to use the brake unless I am coming to a dead stop, or if there is an event that requires faster stopping.

I also don’t sit on the clutch at traffic lights or on hills. I go into neutral and put the hand brake on. It doesn’t seem like much, but it all adds up. Correctly servicing the car, keeping the tyres to the correct pressure (an important safety check in its own right) – it’s all important in the fight to save fuel bills – and none of it is difficult to achieve.

It’s all about being calm – and it is true to a point, driving faster doesn’t get you there any quicker – but driving there with a bit more thought will save a lot of money.

UPDATE!

Even though I spent some time stuck in traffic due to a huge problem on the M27, the results from clutch braking are showing through. I have just returned my best MPG to date at 56.18mpg – giving my daily running cost (including all bills etc) of just over 15 pence!). If I carried on driving hard, that would go up to £1.15!!! That’s a heck of a difference.

One person pointed out that this may wear the clutch out more… BUT… I am using less brakes and less fuel – which more than makes up for any additional clutch wear. Also. the clutch is gently slipping within a small speed & rev range, so the wear is much less than you would get when changing gear. So clutch wear is a mute point here.

fuel


Time Travel Hasn’t, isn’t and won’t happening…

Okay… hold tight…

Time travel hasn’t happened yet… isn’t happening now, and will not happen in the future.

We will not even meet aliens who have the technology. Not even Dr Who.

Remember the 70’s? Even the 80’s? The technology we had then was limited. No one even dreamed of owning a mobile phone… in fact if you go back a few more years, even the cutting edge scientists and sci-fi writers hadn’t even thought of the idea… and yet pretty much everyone has a mobile phone now… and access to the internet… which is another thing that 50 years ago could not even be thought about – It was beyond imagination!

Go back 100 years and no-one would believe we could video talk by a small hand held digital device to someone across the World… I’ve even Twittered to the International Space Station… Technology that was once not even imaginable is now common place.

What has this got to do with time travel?

Spooky Balls!

Well, it has to do with rebels and kids with too much time on their hands if I am to cut to the chase.

Like previous technologies any new technology is generally very expensive and owned by a Government, Research laboratory, Institute etc… The technology is hugely expensive and prone to going wrong…. but over time the technology improves and more lower level groups get hold of it… and eventually a few well off “normal” folk get hold of it… and then we all have it… A bit like mobile phones and the internet.

The thing is, once it is common place (as all technology is eventually), it becomes a plaything for the idle and deviant.

The internet! A thing of knowledge, research and communication to start with…. but now it’s also a thing of silly videos, hacking, chat rooms, and pornography…

Time travel would eventually go the same way… It’ll start as a special project, it’ll develop into a more widely available technology… and eventually all the kids will be able to do it…. If they mix it with the internet I am not looking forward to receiving spam from the future

DEAR: L Blick – In the future everyone has a bigger penis.. YOU COULD HAVE ONE TOO!!! VIAGRA 3012! Don’t miss out!!! By the way… our King (your future King) has died and left you £129,432,345,322:00 and we need your credit card details & a DNA sample so we can send you the money….

With such a widely available technology there will be those who abuse it… hackers, kids with too much time on their hands, terrorists etc… and as such it wouldn’t be long before someone went back in time and left proof that time travel was possible. We would have been visited by now.

Even if it is/was discovered when (if) we finally meet extraterrestrial life, then the same rule applies. Sure, it may take 100 years to creep out of the secure Government facility, it may take 1000 years…. 10,000 years…. but it’ll still follow the same path and become common place and be a thing that can (and will) be abused.

Sure, manufacturers of your pocket “iTime™” transporter will build in infinite anti-paradoxical time protective features (∞APTP-f ©), but as with all things, some clever folk will hack and jail break these features eventually… and we are back at square one – ANYONE can travel back and mess with the past.

The thing is….. they haven’t….. and they won’t….. because it isn’t possible then, now or ever.

We’d know about it by now if it ever happened at sometime… but it hasn’t…. & that’s what I’m getting at.

It’s not a far fetched thing really. Back in WW2 there were top secret RADAR research programs going on… and now most people have at least one item developed from this system in their house. A once top secret thing that a few years prior wasn’t even a figment of someone’s imagination is now, less than 100 years later, a common place thing.

So there you go, Time travel hascannotwon’t happen…. and if you just skipped to this last line, that isn’t time travel, that’s just cheating!


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