Asin the uk? I sit here enjoying my pork pie sandwich and watching a line up of hopefulls contend to be the uk eurovision entry, I cast my mind over the days events and think about what I’ve spent my hard-earned cash on.

 

Well, I purchased a second controller for my new wii, resident evil game, two snack sized pork pies and a loaf of bread.  in the uk?

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barcodesBarcodes. How long have they been around? Well since 1952 actually – invented by Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver, but they weren’t commercially used until 1966 and there were no standards in place until 1970. The Universal Product Code (UPC) which we still use today was introduced in 1973, the following year a barcode scanner was introduced and the first product to display the lines we are used to now was a packet of Wrigley’s chewing gum!

But in this day and age where efficiency and speed mean everything in business (time is money!) it’s amazing to think that probably the world’s best time saving process was created so long ago.

Only recently with QRCodes have we seen a new advancement in the area. QRCodes being a 2D image that can contain a whole lot more data than a string of numbers.

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firefox imageI’ve used Firefox for years now and have always reverted back to it even when swayed slightly by Google Chrome or the latest IE. Obviously as a developer I always test in as many browsers as I can, but for my own personal browsing Firefox is the one I hover that pointer over and double click on the most.

Although I feel Firefox has always led in terms of new features which is down to the amazing efforts of an open-source community, for me it boils down to speed and put simply I have always found Firefox that bit faster.
That said, Google Chrome does give it a damn good run for its money which is why I do find myself now and again using Chrome.

The one feature that pulled in the punters for Firefox and set it apart was tabbed browsing. When Firefox introduced this feature way-back-when in 2002 it introduced an easy tabbed interface that helped users browse multiple pages quicker. It wasn’t until IE7 in 2006 Microsoft caught up. For me that’s a long time to react to such a good feature. Safari reacted much faster incorporating tabs in 2003.
Google Chrome launched much later in 2008 and has therefore never known a life without tabs.

So what’s the next big feature in terms of web browsing. Well, un-surprisingly it’s based on the feature that made Firefox one of the worlds favourite browsers… tabs.

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I found myself in John Lewis at the weekend while looking for a digital camera when something caught my eye (as well as my ears!). It was a family cooing over a Sony 3D TV set up which was in the form of a mock-up front room. John Lewis had done well setting up a nice sofa, 46″ Sony 3D TV and surround sound, it was easy to see why the family were initially impressed.

The first thing that struck me was the kids arguing over who had the pleasure of looking stupid by wearing a very large pair of 3D glasses, the second was how the father took charge, said “just wait your turn” then donned the glasses himself and the final thing was how disappointed he looked when he handed over the glasses to the first child.

The previous week I had been at the Sea Life Centre in Birmingham where I had the pleasure of sitting in a small cinema for 4mins while we watched “The voyage of the turtle”. This was in 3D, but also had water that sprayed out the back of the chair in front, rumble pads in the chairs and wind pipes in the head-rest. It was a really good experience, the 3D was excellent and the extra 4D touches really impressed me. That said, 4mins was long enough for me.

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ping1 Maybe saying Facebook’s dead is a little premature, but while everyone has been waiting for Google to release Google Me, Apple have sneaked up on the quiet and revealed what could be a killer blow in terms of social networking.

Apple’s Sept 1st 2010 Keynote was in my opinion even better than their June 7th presentation when they announced the iPhone 4. It may be a case of expectations being so high for the new “king of the smartphones” announcement that Steve Jobs was really in a no-win situation back in June. But I think with the grand reveal of their new iPod range, Apple TV (let’s please stop calling it iTV now!) and the sneaky dip into social networking with the announcement of Ping, this was one hell of a keynote.

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ipods On a recent trip to Vegas I had a connection at Houston airport and after feasting on a fantastic Wendy’s burger (why don’t we have Wendy’s in the UK? Or do we?) I was strolling towards my departure gate when a larger than normal vending machine catches my eye.

At work I visit a vending machine a few times a week when I get a chocolate craving and feel like a double decker; or maybe a sandwich at lunchtime just isn’t enough and the need of a packet of cheese and onion is the only way to go.

The vending machine at Houston airport though had neither of these snacks on offer, if it had I wouldn’t have been bothered, not only had I just had my Wendy’s burger but vending machines that sell crisps and chocolate are two-a-penny; I certainly wouldn’t be blogging about it!

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It’s going to be one of the biggest tech fights we’ve experienced in a long, long time and the winner will be decided by us, the consumer.

It will also change the way the majority of us consume news, music, films, local business info, games and search the web. The fact is, our tv is about to become the central hub of our lives (if it isn’t already), by opening up a portal to the world wide web.

Second-Generation-Apple-TV

Apple TV and Google TV are the reasons why consumers will be using their TV instead of their laptops to update their status’s one minute then stream a movie the next. But the question is, which one is the best choice for the UK public?

First things first, if you want to get into surfing’n’streaming via your TV now then there is only one option and that’s Apple TV. Apple have stolen the lead in terms of this technology through releasing their Apple TV globally first and here in the UK, although it’s not appeared in many stores yet, you can order one online and it will be with you inside two weeks.
Google on the other hand have not officially released a UK launch date as yet, with the only indication of a launch at all coming from Logitech who is building the boxes for Google in the US. They have said we will see “developments” leading to its roll-out in the UK from next January.

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speedy_gonzalesThere’s a new slice of Google code written for Apache called mod_pagespeed which apparently trims the excess fat off your website and makes it a mean lean speedy beast. But better than that it’s also a quick, easy process to make it happen.

A Google exec has said “…any webmasters can use mod_pagespeed to quickly and automatically optimize their sites. It can reduce page load times by up to 50% – in other words, essentially speeding up websites by roughly 2x.”

Considering how much emphasis Google have recently placed on webpage speed this new module will do your website no harm in terms of SEO. I’m not quite sure how much I believe the Google optimiser when I run sites through the webmaster tools and it unveils my pages are faster than 60% of all other sites, meaning 40% are faster than my web page that loads in 1.5 seconds! But there is no doubt that site speed is heavily weighted by Google in terms of website rankings. Even more important for me though, is how there is no doubting users certainly lose patience quickly when it comes to loading web pages. If this mod means just a few % use my site instead of leaving, then it’s a good thing.

So how does mod_pagespeed work? It works by rewriting resources using filters. these filters optimise JavaScript, HTML and CSS, JPEG’s and PNG images to conform with best practices. If you’ve already optimised these files the results will be less dramatic, but may still make a difference.

mod_pagespeed currently only supports Apache 2.2 and is available as a down-loadable binary for i386 and x86-64bit systems and as open-source code.
After instilation it will still take some fine-tuning of the configuration to get the maximum benefit in terms of page performance, but once set up for your website your away.

For full instructions on how to use mod_pagespeed visit http://code.google.com/speed/page-speed/docs/using_mod.html

and to download the necessary binary’s or open-source code visit http://code.google.com/speed/page-speed/docs/module.html

 

broadcastI’ve just realised I’ve developed a new obsession.  It crept up like a sneaky stealth like burgler without me noticing and has started to take over my life.  It’s not eating pies – although I have had a fair few recently, I would have noticed the considerable weight gain.  It’s not buying new gadgets either – although it is closely related.  My obsession is connectivity.  Getting all my gadgets connected over my home network.  Why is this important?  That’s a very good question!

Looking back, I think it started when I bought my Philips stremium WAC7000 back in 2006.  I first of all bought the main centre station for the front room and a sub station forthe dining room  then later went on to buy another sub station for the main bedroom.  I toyed with the idea of one for the bathroom, but thought I was taking things to far.
I loved the fact I could store all of my music in one place and stream it to other rooms with no wires attached.  At the time it felt like pure magic and although in reality I was only human and could therefore only be in one place at once – it didn’t matter.  I would broadcast the music to all three sources and sit back smugly thinking how good that was.  Obviously I would be having several house parties any time soon and therefore this would be worth every penny.  It’s now 2011… still no house parties.

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It’s March 2nd and any Apple fan will tell you that today the iPad2 will be announced. What they can’t tell you is what the latest gadget from the Apple development team will include. There have been rumours of what the second generation iPad will bring to the now over-crowded tablet computer Market since the first iPad was released last year, but until today nobody outside of the apple offices have known for sure.

While many Apple fan-boys will say Apple is cutting edge – leading the way in technology, it’s unlikely this next-gen iPad will bring any major surprises. 3D? No way, front and back interface… Doubt it. But what is for certain is whatever apple announce today, they will tell us it is revolutionary!

I’m writing this blog as the event happens. It’s now 18:20 in the uk and the first big surprise is that steve jobs, after all his health problems, is giving the presentation. It’s good to see. No apple presentation is the same without “The Jobs” at the helm!

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iplayer_ipad_appIt’s funny how sometimes you can easily forgive and then other times you can’t for what is really the same fault.

I downloaded the iPad BBC iPlayer app 2 months ago and while the interface is slick enough with it’s big touch friendly images of the shows and the quality of streaming is very good, in all honesty I wasn’t blown away. It gave me nothing that the iPlayer app on my laptop or even on my Nintento Wii didn’t already provide.
Ok, the app is free and the level of content is impressive. But as I’m a UK TV licence payer I would have been more than a little annoyed if those two boxes hadn’t been ticked.
The EPG style channels listing which fades in smoothly and scrolls effortlessly across the screen is a beautiful thing, but still I had a problem with this app. The ability to save favorites and even have shows recommended for my style of viewing didn’t stop me thinking why oh why have the BBC overlooked just a few features that would have made this app fantastic. A real gem. A contender for the best iPad app available.

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