• My Apple Experience

    Jun 28, 2010

    Well firstly, I'm not a fanboy of anything (at the moment). If I see something I like I'll like it. But I won't fight a company's corner for them if it gets to that. If they do something I feel should be done better I'll say so.

    Now for the scenario; Doing a bit of work and a track you don't like comes on. So you change it, right? Well for me that was the last time with that Hard Drive. After clicking the next track I was greeted with a cringe inducing crunch and click from my Hard Drive. Frustrated I tried moving the mouse. Still moved, as soon as it clicked nothing happened. Lovely experience. Knowing now I had 0 chance of getting a more recent backup (yep, I already had a copy). I was frustrated. Being at uni and not in a position to go running to an apple store with it.

    I found an article online by Apple stating that this was a relatively common issue with the generation of MacBooks that mine belongs to. Confirming that the Hard Drive was dead.

    I took it back home and there it sat. PC World weren't forgoing with a fix. Apparently it was foolish of me to assume that as they sold apple products they would also provide service from them.

    After finishing my first year at Uni I phoned Apple to see what could happen. I knew the repair would be free, just how I could go about getting it. They were very helpful and arranged for it to be picked up and taken away for repair.

    Within a week I heard back from the company Apple use to fix it asking about a cosmetic issue. Not covered by Apple. Now I realise for some it may be an issue, but for me it wasn't and isn't. If it had been free I'd have snapped it up, naturally. However for an issue so small. £120+ meant there was no chance I would do it. For a bit of plastic no less.

    I have now begun to restore it to the point at which I left it. I wanted to do a clean install of OS 10.6. I have a 900mb download waiting until the download limit seems safe. Would like the newest Xcode too. But that's not a nice size either. May do that at uni.

    A nice speedy repair, which really shouldn't have been needed. Along with a bonus of a 160GB hard drive which seems to have mistakenly been installed to replace my previous 120, but I'm far from complaining.

  • Microsoft Fun, Free Friday Part 2

    Jun 14, 2010

    Deep Zoom

    This piece of software enables you to create a Silverlight application which allows you to make, essentially, an extremely large image containing smaller images within it. By extremely large I mean 4 billion pixels. Pictures can be ‘hidden’ at first until you zoom into a level where you can make out that there’s another picture there. This can continue through a number of other images. Quite a cool bit of software really. At just 5mb to download it’s far from large.

    One very good example is the Hard Rock Cafe Memorabilia collection.

    Community Clips

    If you’ve ever seen a screencast but not managed to be able to reproduce something of quite the same quality then this is for you. You could use this to have as a demo within a presentation. Eliminating technical hitches, however I much prefer the on-the-fly style at MSFFF.

    It seems a fast, easy to use, way of making a screen cast. Just a couple of clicks and you’re away. The video’s produced are small but still retain their quality. They can then be edited within Windows Live Movie Maker.

    You can check out my first use of it recording some ‘gameplay’ in the beginnings of my first XNA project with @Daniel_Parker. (sorry for poor intruding sound).


    Internet Explorer Accelerators

    This is something cool. You know when you’re browsing the internet and you see an event and think that you’ll have to look up where that is on a map? Well this revolutionises that. Simply by highlighting text you’re a click away from being able to look the text up in numerous ways ranging from finding a product for sale on Ebay or even an in-window mini map of an address!

    It certainly accelerates the browsing experience. I think I’ll give it a try next time I have to research something online. If the default accelerators don’t quite have what you’re looking for its easy to add more from the Gallery.

  • Microsoft Fun, Free Friday

    Jun 11, 2010

    Yes there is a comma there a bit of ambiguity without it. Perhaps Free, Fun Friday would have been clearer, though I can see they wanted alliteration. It wasn’t Fun Free, in fact far from it! IMG00013-20100611-1102
    After meeting and chatting to @bennuk I was invited to go to this event at Microsoft in Reading, along with @Daniel_Parker. We were both intrigued about the possibility of stepping foot on the Microsoft site. I would have been happy with just that, however the draw to come along was added to by the promise of food and giveaways. Being a student means both of these are a way to the heart! I didn’t even mind losing a lie in!


    Microsoft Campus on Bing maps

    Many, and I mean many, Microsoft products were presented and demoed at this event (saw a quick blog update after my comment). This event was in a unique format; varying timeslots from 5 to 15 minutes were allotted to each presenter for them to deliver their presentation in. This really added entertainment to the day. Not only drawing attention, but also the addition of a horn blast to say that a presenter had run out of time certainly prompted some laughter.


    List of Demos

    • Bing Maps
    • Photosynth
    • Community Clips
    • Worldwide Telescope
    • Pivot
    • DeepZoom
    • Live @ edu
    • Office Web Apps
    • Windows Live Messenger
    • Bing Translate
    • Windows Live Writer (beta, using an older version for this blog post!)
    • Windows Live Photo Gallery
    • Windows Live Movie Maker
    • Maths Worksheet Generator (exactly what it says on the tin)
    • Songsmith
    • Photostory 3
    • Office Moodle Add-In (saving and opening to/from Moodle)
    • Autocollage
    • Kodu
    • DreamSpark
    • Digital Literacy Curriculum
    • Office Ribbon Hero
    • Mouse Mischief (hilarious audience participation)
    • Flashcards
    • Internet Explorer Accelerators
    • PPTPlex
    • XNA Game Studio
    • Partners in Learning and Innovids


      The presentations were all a small number of slides along with demos of the products, with a few even causing spontaneous clapping! Some of the software did things I would think only a high powered computer could do, not to mention cost money, but my computer can handle them fine too. To easily be able to embed some aspects of these onto a website or in day to day use means that you not only get a slick and easy to use product, but it can be shown off too, all for free!

      Naturally a presentation day wouldn’t be a presentation day if it didn’t have a few technical hitches. These were well covered for and the momentum didn’t stop while things were sorted.

      I thoroughly enjoyed the day. I quickly realised my misconceptions about what Microsoft’s campus was like were wrong. It was an extremely friendly and efficient atmosphere. Everything seemed to tick along nicely. Never with a dull moment.

      I will blog about a selection of these products soon. But some of the products aren’t quite available yet, so I will have to wait until I can get my hands on them.

    • Energy Saving

      Jun 9, 2010

      Now. First off, I know that it takes more than one person to have an impact on energy consumption.

      Upon reading Nick Gurr's blog post I decided to try out Granola, a power limiting program for Windows and Linux. It adjusts active parts power consumption and adds CPU limitation. It seems to do this all dynamically and adjusts with you as you use your computer more or less. These adjustments aren't immediate but you notice they take place.

      It also calculates how much of a saving you would make at this rate for a year or more. Turns out mine is about £20. And around 3 trees. Really worthwhile for the first year paying for electricity. Especially with 5 people in the house. That's a saving of £100. Quite substantial.

      I have yet to test it's effect on my laptop's battery life due to an issue I have with the power supply on my laptop. I hear it is very good for Linux based netbooks.

      Let me know your projected savings! Would be quite interested to know if you plan on using it too, and your experiences with it.