iPod touch!

Why have you got one when you’ve already got an iPod Shuffle you ask? Ah, well, that’s easy an one:


See Don Hertzfeldt’s classic, Rejected for the reference :)

There’s no other reason than that. So, here is the little monkey:


I bought an 8GB model off eBay earlier in week. I didn’t go for the 16GB mainly due to cost but also one thing I realised from having a Shuffle was that you don’t need to have all your music to hand. Yeah I know, I’m a bit late to game on that one when it comes to playlists, but I’m getting the hang of them now.

Anyhoo, I got a bargain at £150 (+ 13 quid P&P) versus the RRP of £199. I was a bit annoyed with the eBay seller since they’d listed it as one of the new models which has Mail, Maps, Notes, Stocks, editable Calender, etc, aka the January Software Upgrade, but wasn’t. So I coughed up £13 quid for it and the total wasn’t much different from what Amazon are selling them for (£175) (and they’re the pre-update too). With the software upgrade it makes like a mini PDA. Using iTunes I’ve been able to sync up all my contacts and notes, which is nice.

Initial thoughts are that the battery life with wifi enabled is lousy. I haven’t tried running it until its flat but I reckon it would be less than 4 hours if you were constantly web browsing. However with wifi off, its much better. Again, I’m not sure how long it would last in total, but I used it a few days at work now (so say about 3 to 4 hours a day) and the battery indicator has hardly moved!

Web browsing with Safari is pretty good. You can have multiple windows open at once and switch between them relatively quickly, however I don’t recommend having lots open since it can make the poor thing chug! I thought perhaps the lack of flash support would be a problem, but it’s not. It’s actually been great because most sites now have no adverts appearing!

Thanks to the Accelerometer you can switch between landscape and portrait views. Some web pages work better in landscape and some the opposite. The Times for example is much better in portrait since its still perfectly readable and you get more on screen. Most apps seem to be in portrait mode whereas videos and cover flow mode for music are in landscape.

Of course the thing about the iPod touch is the touch interface to it, which I just love, its incredibly intuitive and there’s a wonderful tactile sensation to stroking it :D You’ve got two buttons. The home button, which is the white square you can see on the photos, and the power / lock button at the top left of the device. That’s it. Everything else is controlled by the screen. Thing is I now want everything to have a touch screen interface! Damn you Apple!

MacBook Air and Time Capsule

Mmmmmm MacBook Air. Just watched the full Macworld 2008 keynote, pretty impressive stuff.


The Air is a really cool piece of kit and pretty well specced for an ultra portable. What gets me is how dinky it is. At it thickest, at 0.76”, it’s still smaller than the thinnest part of a Sony TZ Series! There are a couple of things that aren’t so good such as only 1 USB port and the lack of a removal battery, but I could probably live with that!

I was also impressed by the Time Capsule. A wireless n network hub + 500GB hard drive isn’t bad for £200. I remember reading up on home NAS style devices in PC Pro not so long back and they were more expensive than that.


The user reviews on Amazon for the NAS stuff listed in PC Pro came back with some real horror stories of them just been generally useless and a pain to connect too. I’d hope with the Time Capsule it’d be a doodle to setup and use!

It’s very tempting… Damn you Apple and your shiny new products!

Ars Technica has the full beef on it.

Free upgrade to Leopard?

When the official release date for Leopard was announced (26th October) I thought “Great! I should be able to get a free upgrade to it since I bought my iMac recently.”


Oh how silly of me, in Microsoft land I’d come to expect automagic, free upgrades, but not so in an Apple world. I should have been more suspicious at the time of buying my iMac when the chap in the Apple store sheepishly said “Erm, well for Tiger there was like a three week upgrade period…”.

Well it seems history is repeating itself, because I went to take a gander at the Mac OS X Leopard Up-To-Date programme and noticed this gem in the Terms and Conditions:

This programme entitles the purchaser of a qualifying Macintosh computer purchased between October 1st, 2007, and December 29th, 2007, to upgrade to Mac OS X v10.5 Leopard.

When did I buy my iMac? Erm… September the 8th. Oh cock. After much swearing and profanity at my shiny iMac, I apologised to it since that’s not the sort of behaviour it expects and pre-ordered Leopard direct from Apple for £85. I’m giddy with excitement!

Google Browser Sync – Forgotten your password?

I wanted to try out Google Browser Sync again but I had a bit of a problem when installing since it asked for a PIN Number. I couldn’t remember what it was. I tried so many times it kicked me out and told me to come back in a day! So I did, and I still couldn’t remember it. Cue Google with the following advice:

I forgot my PIN, what should I do?

You can recover your PIN quickly and easily. Just log on to a computer where you’ve installed Google Browser Sync, then follow these steps:

   1. Open a Firefox window.
   2. Open the “Settings…” menu under your username in the upper-right corner of the page.
   3. Click the “Show” button in the “Security settings” section of the page.

Hmmm… yes, that’s great but what do you do when one of your previous machines have been ditched for an iMac, has had it’s internals cannibalised and now acts as a foot rest under your desk (and very comfortable it is too) whilst the other has been replaced and then subsequently destroyed? Google…? Anyone…?

Well let me be of assistance, if like me, you’re not particularly bothered about what was stored in your account many moons ago, you can do the following:


  • Agree to it’s demands and hey presto, account nuked:


Wonderful. Now you can restart Firefox and recreate your Google Browser Sync account as per this Lifehacker guide.

When did captchas become a pain in the arse?

A recent post on Signal vs Noise made this interesting point:


And it’s very true, captchas are getting harder to work out. I was on the Steam forums the other day searching for info on S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl. I’d installed it on my old machine and obviously since I’d now switched to my iMac I wanted to run it (via my Vista installation under Boot Camp) but was having no such luck. So I wanted to check the forums for any answers. Thing is, there’s a captcha there, and could I get it right? Nope. Here’s what it looks like in situ:


And here’s a few more of them, see if you can work them out!

  • SteamCaptcha1 – PXREMM?
  • SteamCaptcha2 – 6CTYJX?
  • SteamCaptcha3 – aWQTSY?
  • SteamCaptcha4 – hXAGQp?
  • SteamCaptcha5 – gGH828?

I think I’ve got the answers on these right, but they’re not easy to read and you have to really concentrate! Funny thing is that I didn’t manage to get any right on the Steam forums…

Is this just the result of the spammers getting better at writing software to decipher them now? The entry on Wikipedia certainly seems to agree and it’s a sad state of affairs because all is does is inconvenience those of us who just want to use a system.

What to do when your Xbox 360 fails

Okay dokay, so this post is a tad late in that I now have my Xbox back, but lets just pretend it was posted just over two weeks ago on the 28th August.


As I mentioned on Saturday my 360 decided it had had enough and wanted to join the queue at Microsoft’s European Repair Centre down near Portsmouth (ironically where Kate and I had just spent two weeks on holiday, if only it had failed earlier, I’d have thrown it at delivered it to them in person).

So what do you do when your Xbox 360 gives you the old three red lights. First of all, pop over to Xbox.com and check out the Xbox 360 Support section. The second link down in the hardware section is to the Three red lights flash on the Ring of Light, which links to a Microsoft Knowledge Base article. In my case it was off no use since my power supply had a green light, so my only course of action was to ring Xbox support.


Before ringing I suggest trying your Xbox with all peripherals removed, e.g. wireless wotsit, hard drive and any USB connected devices. It will save you some time on the phone since they will ask you to do this. For me the symptoms were the same regardless of connected gadgets, which was either the red ring of death or it just locking up fairly quickly with a distorted picture.

My first attempt at ringing up was not so lucky. I was amused to hear that whilst waiting they’d gone to the trouble of putting in an announcement to say how long the average repair time was (20 days). When I got through I explained my problem and was immediately told that their “system” was having trouble and to ring back in two hours.

So four hours later I rang back. And success! The chap tried to get me to go through the aforementioned knowledge base article and the remove all hardware steps, but I’d already done this, so he resigned himself to having another Xbox shipped off for repair. I did confuse matters slightly by asking for it to be picked up from work instead of home address. My boss is very good when it comes to letting me work at home, but asking if I could do that so I could get my Xbox repaired is going a bit far.

Within a few hours I received an email from UPS detailing what to do. Pack your Xbox up in a normal shipping box (don’t use your original Xbox packaging, you’ll not get it back… not that it matters for me, I threw mine out the day I got my Xbox) without anything connected. You can even remove the face plate if you like. Pack it well, bubble rap, screwed up newspapers for padding, etc. Then attach the UPS shipping label (which is valid for 10 days) so it’s clearly visible.


Next ring up UPS when you’re ready to arrange collection. Given it was a bank holiday on Monday, I didn’t do this until I was back at work on Tuesday. I had to repeat my address details again, but this was a good thing since as I thought, they weren’t correct. A couple of hours later said UPS man was at the door ready to toss my Xbox into oblivion. The UPS chap just took one look at my aura of geekyness and asked before even looking at the label, “Is it an Xbox?”. A knowing nod was the reply. And off he and it went.


In the four hours since I first rang support on the Saturday, a few thousand more machines must have gone through since I was told the average wait would now be 25 days. Assuming that’s working days, it’ll be all sorted by the 1st October… a week after Halo 3 is released! Gaaaaaaaah…

First Impressions – iMac

IMac-24inSo I decided to go over to the dark side… or should that be light side? Anyhoo, for a variety of reasons, which I’ll blog about later, I decided to replace my aging Athlon XP 3200+ with a shiny new iMac:

  • 24–inch screen
  • Intel Core 2 Duo @ 2.4Ghz
  • 1GB ram (2GB more on order from Crucial)
  • 320GB hard drive
  • ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO with 256MB

Ok, so from a PC perspective the video card isn’t brilliant and the hard drive space isn’t massive but they’re more than good enough. It’s certainly a heavy beast since I had to lug it from the Apple shop back through the Trafford Centre and out through the car park.

The out of the box experience is great. The keyboard, mouse, drivers, manuals and other gubbins are all packed together in a really neatly laid out long, thin white cardboard box. The iMac itself is very well protected and packaged as well.

Connecting it up is dead easy. You have all of three cables to fiddle with. The power cable into the back through a hole in it’s stand. The USB keyboard again into the back of the iMac and then the mouse into the keyboard (which has two USB ports, one either side). Actually, one of the many things that really sold me on the iMac, was this image:


That just says it all to me about the comparison of Mac’s versus PC’s!

Anyhoo, It took less than 10 minutes to have it booted up and on the interweb. I hit a slight snag with the wireless connection initially since it didn’t seem to want to connect and it gave no options to tweak. So to start with I hard wired it into my router via it’s ethernet port. I fixed it later and it turned out to be a simple matter of picking the correct encryption method.

First impressions of Mac OS X? Pretty cool, I like how stable it is and how it does a damn sight better with 1GB memory than Vista does. The screen is fantastic, the picture is really bright and rich in colour. You’d think that at that size it’d be too big to work with, but it’s not the case.

The new thin aluminium keyboard is excellent. The keys have a good, responsive feel to them and I like the inclusion of the media controls along the top (play, pause, volume, etc). In that respect, it’s just like my trusty old Microsoft keyboard.

The Mighty Mouse is pretty good too. It’s weird not having any mouse buttons on it and one of the first things I did in Mac OS was enable right click. It’s equivalent of the mouse wheel is strange too, in terms of size and feel (it’s dinky), but it works well.

I have given some Mac alternative apps a try, like for example:

But unfortunately neither of the Mac alternatives in this case quite live up to standards of their Windows counterparts (I’ll explain why in another post), which is where VMWare Fusion comes in!


There’s nothing new with VMWare and virtual machines but the really cool thing with this Mac OS version is a mode called Unity, whereby you start up your VM and then you can open Windows apps and they just appear as if they’re running on Mac OS. So, amusingly, this post is being written in Mac OS X, but with good old BlogJet!

Of course there is one other important thing I have to mention, otherwise Vondur will hunt me down, which is how well World of Warcraft runs… which is not bad ;). It runs natively (I was surprised that the discs I had for it had both Windows and Mac versions) at 1920×1200 at 50+ fps with pretty much everything on high.

There seems to be some issues with the shader affects and apparently this is a known issue with the ATI graphics drivers. But anyway, a picture says a thousand words (ok, so it’s not the most interesting of places, but there are Orcs!!!):


First impressions of me iMac, it’s not a bad piece of kit at all :) Why the hell didn’t I buy one earlier!

My Xbox 360 returns!

Two weeks to the day I shipped it off, my Xbox 360 arrived back at work via UPS. I’m an utter crap bastard when it comes to blogging since I do have an almost finished post on “Shipping your fooked 360 to Microsoft” which I should have posted earlier, but I’ll do that tomorrow.

Anyhoo, here it is in all it’s boxed glory (a different box from what I sent it in):



Neato! There’s a cracking letter explaining what was broken, which in this case was the motherboard. So nothing major then…


And I like how I’m an Xbox Enthusiast, I’d have preferred Paying Customer who doesn’t like faulty hardware, but then I’d have never have bought a 360 if that was really the case.

They’ve given me a 1 month Xbox Live Gold Subscription Card which is cool. Unfortunately they don’t seem to have put the case on properly since I had trouble connecting the hard drive and the power supply especially. For the latter it looks like the case is slightly off to the left, but some brute force sorted that out.

I checked the serial number and it is indeed my Xbox 360, not a refurbished one like they seem to be doing over in the U.S. So I should have no issues playing all my Xbox Live Arcade games offline. It’s still as noisy as ever and it had forgotten it’s wireless network settings, but that’s not really an issue.

Other than that though, it all seems to be OK! I’m pretty impressed by the turnaround Microsoft did on it since I was told it would be 25 days, so I wasn’t expecting it back until October at the earliest!

So it was nice surprise and at least now I can have a proper go playing that Bioshock demo!