James O'Neill's Blog

January 31, 2009

On Geekdom, Windows Live, Twitter and Stephen Fry. Just another weekend post.

Filed under: General musings — jamesone111 @ 8:13 pm

First , a geeky joke which my wife told me after hearing it on BBC Radio 2.

“I bought a book called 1001 things to do with binary. But when I got it home it only had nine in it”.

While we’re with all things Geeky, I always thought that proper developers, guys like Mike Ormond, looked down on PowerShell, so it was a pleasant surprise to see he’s blogging about his experiences with it – starting with some stuff I did , he’s using it to link his blog with twitter.
Staying with twitter – we’re experimenting with projecting interesting stuff from it on the wall in the office. Something I saw on there made me go an have a look at something Long Zheng wrote about Windows 7 (I hope we make changing UAC levels generate a UAC prompt before release). The next post down Long’s blog is about using RSS to populate the pictures on the Windows 7 desk top… that might make another post here when I’ve played a little more, but that post took me one of Jamie Thomson’s , which introduced me to a Windows Live service I was previously aware of named frameIt. Frame it doesn’t store your pictures but it rounds up the stuff you want as a single RSS feed and pushes them down to digital picture frames – or anything else which takes pictures as RSS attachments – like the Windows 7 desktop. I think the digital frame is a great way to share pictures with distant parts of the family and combining a service like frameit with Wireless-equipped frame takes some of the friction out of the process.

Since I mentioned Windows Live: I’m a bit hacked off with it on a couple of counts. First (and staying with photos), I used to have a couple of Albums in a live space, I didn’t want people to have to sign in to see them . I also have my Skydrive presentations folder linked to on the side of this blog. One system for a work persona and the other for a non-work persona, but recently the folks at live decided to put my spaces folders within 1 click of my presentations folder. I need to use different accounts (or services) to keep a gap between them. So I dumped my photo galleries from live spaces. Secondly Skydrive has recently acquired the most annoying and intrusive advertising; I have talked about this whole “Aspergers-Like” issue I have with flash-based Look-at-me Look-at-me animations on web pages: I just can’t focus on the rest of the page with that going on. On Friday, Live was trying to sell me some diet product or other with “before” and “after” shots of a woman in her underwear. I don’t have a problem with pictures of women in their underwear per-se , indeed I think Horst’s Mainbocher Corset is as good a piece of art photography as I’ve seen. These, by contrast, are artless. I don’t want to explain why there is a partially dressed person on my screen at work but it’s the constant hopping from one picture to the other which is the real nuisance.  I’m actually a bit ashamed that Microsoft run such ads on our sites. Normally IE7 pro filters out this kind of junk, but Live uses a twisted combination of files which defeats the filter. IE 8 helped me find the .JS file which perpetrates this ad-crime, and I put that site on “Restricted” (i.e. run no scripts) list. Sorted.

This inability to shut out noise is one of the things which has kept me off Twitter (that and  “how can you develop an idea in 140 characters ?”). I’ve never quite got past Stephen Fry’s initial impression of it as “the weirdest and naffest idea I’d ever come across”. As he puts it “A lot of that is pretty banal and commonplace it’s easy to mock”. Indeed. But Eileen and others have been telling me that with some of the twitter clients out there now, and using some of the methods people have for working with it I might be able to cope, so I might experiment with it in the near future. (I might have a use for that PowerShell script of Mike’s)  Hang it all, Fry has interesting ideas to develop, and yet finds a use for something where you have to live in 140 characters, and copes with having a follower population the size of a decent town (On Thursday he said on his blog that he had 80,000 of them, today his twitter page reports over 94,000) so there’s no way he is reading every last “banal and commonplace” thought they have. 

Stephen Fry’s explanation of his conversion to twitter is more interesting than most reasons given for people use it; and he was talking about it on Jonathan Ross’s TV show recently and apparently Tweeting during it. ( Ross is another user by the way) Fry described the first show of Ross’s new series as his return form the “naughty step”. Ross is supposedly the highest paid personality on British TV, and his suspension following the phone calls he made on BBC Radio 2 must make those some of the most expensive calls in history.

Talking of Radio 2 ….that’s where we came in.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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