A technology blog for The Economist Group IT team

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Way cool Gmail feature 

I've been using Gmail for domains for seven months and it's been a bit like the beginnings of a romance. First of all, every day you find something great about it that you didn't know before. Then every week.

And then this....

You can create pseudo addresses. What's that you ask?

Well it means that you can sign up to services with unique e-mail addresses so that any mail from them still comes into your mailbox. BUT, you now know where any sold-on addresses came from (using Gmail's filters).

So, in the case of my projectrestripe.com account:


will also get to me, but if the address gets harvested I will know where it came from. Now, I'm sure that pretty soon services will start to defeat this, but for now it's fantastic.

See Aaron Lynch's blog entry for the lowdown.
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Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Go anywhere on the web, flickr and amazon work really well then paste this into the URL bar

javascript:R=0; x1=.1; y1=.05; x2=.25; y2=.24; x3=1.6; y3=.24; x4=300; y4=200; x5=300; y5=200; DI=document.images; DIL=DI.length; function A(){for(i=0; i-DIL; i++){DIS=DI[ i ].style; DIS.position='absolute'; DIS.left=Math.sin(R*x1+i*x2+x3)*x4+x5; DIS.top=Math.cos(R*y1+i*y2+y3)*y4+y5}R++}setInterval('A()',5); void(0);
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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Flash Art aceness 

Just watch

this video


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Friday, February 23, 2007

Amazon mockery 

My on time and on target manager book is erm delayed.....

Dear Customer,

We wanted to give you an update on the status of your order.

We are sorry to report that the following items have been delayed.

Kenneth H. Blanchard (Author), Steve Gottry (Author) "The On-time,
On-target Manager (One Minute Manager)" [Hardcover]

We are sorry for any inconvenience this causes.
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Friday, January 26, 2007

Geek sings about CMS (WordPress) 

Just don't go there.

As the name of the site I saw this on says (not quite NSFW).....


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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Diesel home page "hijack" 

Catch it while you can.
Don't you think it all looks like a setup?
Wow, there is a great deal of useful data above!
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Monday, January 22, 2007

the iphone mistake 

I deleted my post last week about the iphone not being amazing as I thought I looked a bit stupid, the post had terrible English and I generally thought I'd spoken too soon.

Mike Elgin from computerworld writes :

Steve Jobs' blockbuster keynote address at last week's Macworld was brilliantly and powerfully delivered -- one of his best ever. It was also a colossal mistake.

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Some of the criticism is a bit harsh, but the points are well made.

One criticism he left out was that when you get mugged for your iPod (same "mug me" ear buds) they get your phone too.
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Thursday, January 18, 2007

No Silver bullets 

I still get annoyed when managers think they can simply throw people at problems. Some problems don't get fixed with numbers. There is no silver bullet
Brook's earlier essay 'The Mythical Man Month' also covers this territory. It was first published in 1975 and clearly still applies over 30 years later.
Ooooh. Who's rattled your cage?
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Charging unit 

I might just make one of these!


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Monday, January 15, 2007


Nuff said...

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

iPhone pricing and avaliability 

4Gb model $499 expected to ship in June in the US in partnership with Cingular (exclusively). Q4 for Europe.

The reasoning given for the exclusivity is that the visual voicemail needs work from the service provider. It remains to be seen how this will impact on sales and how soon it will be before unlocked iPhones become available on the grey market

It wasn't made clear what length contract will be demanded by Cingular during the "multi-year" exclusivity period.

From today Apple is dropping the "Computer" from Apple Computer Inc.

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Macworld - the iPhone 

A widescreen iPod, a phone and a revolutionary internet connectivity device. All in one - the iPhone (using Steve Jobs words there).

"It is smarter and easier to use that anything out there right now."

The keyboard will be a "soft" one one a big screen that you use your finger to drive. It will run OS X. Now, Microsoft have gone down this route, but not on their own hardware.

It will sync via iTunes.

From a design point of view, it has a 3.5" screen (diagonal) and is 11.6mm thin. It has only one button on the front - a home button. It also has an accelerometer built in so that it knows whether to display in landscape or portrait, for example. Plus a proximity sensor (so that it can respond appropriately when you have it close to your ear, for example), and a light sensor.

The iPod works through gestures and taps on the screen and Jobs obviously had had some practice as he used it without problem, but intuitively it looks like it might be fiddly. As an iPod it looks better than any before.

The phone "will make using the contacts really easy", is quad band with wi-fi and Bluetooth plus a 2 megapixel camera.

Jobs showed how easy it was to conference callers in. The voicemail feature shown allowed access to all waiting messages via a list rather than in sequential order but he hinted that this needed some additional service from the service provider.

It looked really impressive as a phone.

For internet connectivity it has an HTML e-mail client, Safari, Google Maps, widgets and will switch seamlessly to wi-fi when a service is detected (some caveats here, surely). For the e-mail service Yahoo! will push e-mail to the iPhone (as a Blackberry does) for free.

Safari load a complete picture of a page on the screen and you can easily zoom in as you need to (my Nokia N73 kinda does this now).

I suppose a question might be how open the device will be for third party apps.

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I wonder how the well the accelerometer will actually work. I have one of those fancy mercury switch type things in my canon ixus/powershot 750 and you can confuse the hell out of it. Will it work in zero g? Will the accelerometer tell the camera which way it's facing to fill in the exif information correctly so that image processors know whether the image is on it's side for display. Flickr is clever with this as are some bits of presentation software.
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Macworld - updates 

iTunes has sold over 2 billion songs; 1.2 bn in 2006.

Paramount will join Disney in selling movies through iTunes.

Appletv was shown - it was previewed in September and is a wi-fi connected device that can store and stream content to you wide screen tv from iTunes including music. Of course, the default encoding on iTunes is not hi-fi....

The way that Jobs presented the features of Appletv seemed to be laying the gauntlet down to MicrosoftTV/MediaCenter - the interface looked like the one I saw for MediaCenter a while ago.

Appletv will be available in March and will retail for $299.


Apple iPhone availabe in the UK in Q4. Disappointing.

Can you please pinch some for Project Redstripe?>

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Job's keynote at MacWorld 

After scrambling up the escalators in what can only be described as a scrum we're here (I, of course, was dignified and walked).


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Monday, January 08, 2007

"Apple is about to touch off a nuclear war" 

From that pillar of objective reporting, the International Herald Tribune, news that Apple will introduce a mobile phone and compete directly with manufacturers such as Nokia and Motorola.

They also speculate that Google and other Internet companies may jump into the mobile telecoms market as a way to strengthen ties to their users. Enter the Googlephone?
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Thursday, December 21, 2006

All I got for Christmas was a Blogger upgrade 

What that means is that of you're a regular poster (hi Audra, Dave, Rob and Stew) you'll need to create a Google account when you next sign in.

Most usefully, you'll also be able to categorise posts...

Which leads me to what to do with this one.


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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

MS Word "ticking timebomb" 

From eWeek: Microsoft has issued a zero-day attack alert for its ubiquitous Word application. The unpatched flaw can be exploited when a user simply opens a maliciously rigged Word document, and there are no pre-patch workarounds available, Microsoft warns. Microsoft says don't open or save Word docs, even from trusted sources
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Friday, December 01, 2006

Spam free signups 

No, not the bugmenot thing, but Spambox. You create a temporary account to sign up to whatever and the account gets deleted after a period you specify so you don't get spammed.
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