Microsoft Surface

I was at the mall today, and saw that a Microsoft Store had opened. My wife was clothes shopping, so I thought what the hell, I’ll go and look at the new Surface tablet. The Microsoft store is obviously modeled on the Apple Store. It’s almost embarrassing how much they want to be Apple; it’s a bit like your dad putting a baseball cap on backwards and pretending to be ‘gangsta’.

Nexus 10 first impressions

It’s significantly lighter than the first gen iPad. The screen is fantastic. Unlike the original ‘iPad with retina display’, there’s no visible wobble when you scroll sideways. The back is firm, with a pleasing rubbery texture, and the edges are rounded enough not to cut into your hands. The glass is Gorilla Glass, so I’m thinking I won’t need any kind of case or protector other than a soft carry case for when I take it out of the house.

The “Oh really?” factor

First of all, this is not an article about why the Republicans lost. The answer to that question is pretty obvious, and they know it; they’ve painted themselves into a corner as the party of angry scared old straight white misogynist guys. That’s a very narrow demographic that’s dying out rapidly. No, this is an article about why the Republicans didn’t realize they were losing, and reacted with such anger and shock when reality hit them on election night.

MP3, AAC, ABCDE

The problem I love music, so I’ve got a lot of CDs. I don’t want to have a lot of CDs, though, because they take up space. While I appreciate cover art and read liner notes, I find that I don’t ever hunt down a CD to gaze at the artwork or read the notes — I’m more likely to look for information about it on the Internet. So, for a while now I’ve been considering ditching the CDs and going digital only.

Amazing Week, Day 7: Quartz timekeeping

My first watch was a Timex. It looked like this: It was crap, to be honest. If I remembered to wind it and set it in the morning when I got up, it would generally be no more than a minute or two wrong by the end of the day. A few years later, watching Tomorrow’s World on TV, I heard about a new technology: quartz crystal watches. In a quartz clock, electrical current is applied to a crystal of quartz.

Amazing Week, Day 6: Digital cameras

My dad was very into photography. He had several SLRs, and even a Mamiya 645 medium format camera for a while. Inevitably I got interested in cameras too, and before long I had one of these: Here I am using it: The big problem with film cameras, from the point of view of learning to take photos, is that it can be weeks between taking the photo and seeing how it turned out.

Amazing Week, Day 5: GPS

I didn’t stay in the Boy Scouts for long. It seemed to mostly be about sleeping in tents, and camping is something I’ve never wanted to do. I did learn to read maps, though. I was fascinated with spies, and I knew that I’d never be the next James Bond if I couldn’t at least navigate to the villain’s secret underground lair. My navigational skills came in useful when I first moved to the US.

Amazing Week, Day 4: Mobile phones

Let me start out by saying that I’m not even going to talk about the fancy things modern phones do, like browse the web and recognize voice commands. I’m just going to talk about how amazing it is that you can wander anywhere in the industrialized world, someone can call your phone number, and somehow that call will find you wherever you happen to be, via a phone that can be as small as a packet of cigarettes.

Amazing Week, Day 3: Video cameras

Part of Amazing Week 2012 Back around 1981 I first got a chance to play with a video camera. It was a Sony HVC-2000P. It was about the size of… well, I can’t think of too many modern items that are that size. A box of cereal, perhaps, with a can of beans glued to one end to represent the lens? It weighed about 2.5kg, so imagine the cereal box had a couple of bricks in it.

Amazing Week, Day 2: Internet shopping

Part of Amazing Week 2012 During my teenage years I developed a taste for electronic music, of the kind that generally didn’t go anywhere near the charts — except for a few years in the early 80s. Several times a year I would travel up to London and trawl around all the big record stores. The Virgin Megastore, the HMV Store, Tower Records in Piccadilly Circus, sometimes more. I’d go through the racks from A to Z, looking for anything on my list of obscure wants.