Sunday, 14 September 2008

I love the smell of bookstores



I walked into the Books Etc the other day and what was I met with? Empty shelves. I know we are in the age of Amazon, but can't society support bookstores any more? Yea I buy off the net, but for me you can't replace the kinaesthetic experience of browsing books. I think it's the smell of books, being able to take books off the shelf, have a quick read, and know you bought just the book you wanted. And having enjoyed the whole experience.




When I lived in L.A. I was within a 10 mile radius there were at least 4 major bookstores plus 3 or more used bookstores. I used to spend my Saturdays browsing used and new books, heaven.

At the Uni I work at there is NO book store. Can you believe that, a campus of 15,000+ students and no book store. Blasphemy if you ask me. They used to have a tiny Waterstones, It had the books for the courses which was good, but beyond that the selection of fiction took up less shelf space than I have in my living room. And the library does not carry enough books for the courses I teach.

Now apparently Waterstones, a big book store in the UK has bought Books etc. Andy they will eventually put a Waterstones where the Books Etc was. But why can't a city like Uxbridge, a city with a University, support 2 bookstores? I would have another place to hang out on the weekend and it would keep my out of trouble (trouble for me is buying pc games).

Don't get the wrong idea about me. I am not a book worm or brainiac. I teach because of my experience in games, 3D and video. I am dyslexic and really did not get into enjoying reading until later (ask any dyslexic about not being able to see the forest for the trees, as far as reading goes). But I do love reading. It takes me a week to read book my wife reads in a day. But I still love reading and I really enjoy bookstores. I like fiction, like Anne Rice, JK Rowling, Patricia Cornwell, Chris Ryan, Andy Mcnab, Tom Clancy etc etc. And of course cool books about tech.

Yes everything is available online, and I don't have a problem buying off Amazon. I have had to buy my last 4 books off of Amazon. I have done so for a long time.. And I could go into central London(1 hour trip, but then I'd be in London). But nothing can replace the smell of a bookstore and the enjoyable experience therein.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

ping fm

Pingfm as I have been going on about is a cool central transmitting point for your blog, facebook and myspace and twitter updates.

Monday, 1 September 2008

My N95

I feel that mobile imaging could be coming to age.  It started with my Nokia N93 cause it had a decent camera. I took a number of ok images.  It had a 3.2megapixel camera and a decent lens.  It did not perform well in low light or challenging focusing condition, but given good condition you could get a very nice image out of the N93.

Now I have a Nokia N95.  It's the older model, not the 8gig model. I have found it to be a reliable phone and the camera now with 5 megapixels works very well.  The best thing I did for the phone was upgrade to the latest firmware.  That really made the phone super stable. But on to the camera.  They have improved not only the size of image that it take but it's less fidegty about non ideal situaltions.  It still suffers in low light but not as bad as the N93.

One of the best part of the mobile imaging package is gps and the ability to geotag your photos.  With geotagged photos, when you upload them to flickr or picasa, you can locate them on a map.

I had a student whose final year project was about geotagging mobile imagerey, I blame him, I am hooked. Have a look at a google map I created and you'll see why I enjoy this so much. 

My N95 Images, geotagged on my google map

So can a mobile phone replace a camera?  Yes it can replace most point and shoot digital cameras. No it could not replace a good digital slr.  I really enjoy photography.  I have had some great cameras in the past.  The biggest problem with proper  slr's or digital slr's is you don't always have your camera with you, but you always  have your phone with you. 

Have a look at the above link.  As you can see  the N95 does a darn good job with the images.  I keep running into cloudy days (welcome to England), but overall you can get a decent image.  Would I liked to have used a Nikon D80? yes probably, but would I have liked to lug it around with the grandkids all around, no.

The n95 has in built gps and i downloaded an application called location tagger.  It does what it says, adds location data to the images in the exif data.  Flickr is dead easy to use. Upload your photos and look on the map, Everything is nicely placed on the map in the correct gps position, go nokia n95!!!!  Picasa also works once you work out how to upload the photos and keep the location data.

The cool thing about picasa is once you organize your photos, go to view map. While your in map view there is a "view in google earth" option.  This exports a kml file.  Then if you want to make a google map, , import the kml file and voila you have your photos correctly geotagged and placed in google maps. 

Mobile imaging will never replace a good digital slr (will I regret saying that?) There are some things you just can't capture even with a good camera phone.  But under the right conditions, you can take interesting, even very good photographs with your camera phone. And if your a nut case like me, enjoy the geotagging side of it
Now that i have spent a few hours using Ping.fm I have to say that it is very very cool. It allows you, from a dashboard interface, to update any number of social networking/blogging sites. I am writing this blog from ping.fm, and it will automatically post to my blog. I can twitter from it, update myspace and facebook. There are more networks you can post to such as AOL, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger and I am sure there are more planned.

I was desperate to get a beta account and a big thanks go out to those that provided it. I feel a bit more connected now.

Whats the future of Ping.fm? widgets, mobile applications etc, I am sure if they are not there they will be.

2 net apps have really tickled me, twitter and ping.fm. I really like twitter. It's short and sweet, but keeps you in touch. I just have a hard time checking facebook and myspace, but now with Ping.fm I can at least send updates and appear to active on other social networks.