There’s no such things as a free lunch…

February 3, 2013 · Posted in Reviews... · Comment 

I’ve just got home from the new Cambridge Brew House after a free lunch I won this morning on Twitter…they aren’t actually open until Feb 6th but today they wanted a few people in to act as a pre opening dry run, just to check everything is going OK, and from what I saw the answer is an emphatic yes.

The building has gone through several refers over the past few years and this incarnation is a shabby chic distressed mix ‘n’ match Grandmas house style. Don’t let my poor description put you off though, I think it works really well together, from the old fashioned bone handled style knives to the 50s style lampshades to the desserts served in patterned saucers.

Of the 4 of use who went 3 were vegetarian (at least temporarily in one case). Two went for the Sunday Nut Roast and the third for the stuffed roast Butternut Squash and I had the Sea Bream (or was it sea bass, my memory isn’t what it was after a couple of pints). Everyone agreed the food was very nice indeed with the only complaint, if you can call it that, being that with the roast squash there was perhaps too much food!

The beer on tap was worth of some of the other Cambridge real ale pubs, and whilst its not ready yet they will be brewing some of their own beer on site, hopefully as soon as March. One of the beers was a bit cold and did have something of a haze to it and they admitted that they’re still getting this right cellar wise but from the talk we had with them after dinner I have no doubt this minor issue will be rectified quickly.

The English Tapas menu that I was somewhat derisive about earlier in the week on Twitter (Pork Scratchings & chips maybe) looks really rather nice, the highlight of which may turn out to be the braised pigs cheeks…I suspect we’ll find out next Sunday when its fully open to watch the England vs Ireland 6 Nations rugby.

This free lunch was most enjoyable and I look forward to going back for more, even if I have to pay for it next time 🙂

My Top 5 iPad Apps…

January 23, 2013 · Posted in tehInterweb · Comment 

Following on from a post by @whatleydude (, here are my top 5 iPad apps…

1. Tweetbot (£1.99)
iPadYeah, I’m kinda one of those oversharey types on Twitter and Tweetbot is the first thing I launch every morning so it has to be my No.1.

Tweetbot allow me to manage lists and hashtags and to follow conversations easily. Whenever someone says, “why won’t Twitter let me X”, or “my Twitter client won’t let me Y”, I usually think, well Tweetbot can do that. The fact that there’s also a really nice OSX app out that syncs across iOS and OSX devices is also a cracking feature.

2. Newsify (69p)
Get up, read Twitter, cycle to the station, sit on a train for just under an hour, read stuff collected on Google Reader using Newsify.

Newsify can sync up to 5000 articles, download posts and their images, share posts just about everywhere and has a really nice looking newspaper layout that allows you to skim over lots of articles very quickly. I’ve tried several other apps but I keep coming back to Newsify.

3. Evernote (free, Premium subscription £4/month or £35/year)
Work time now! I probably couldn’t live without Evernote now. It’s often referred to as a spare brain and that’s certainly how I treat it. Meeting notes go into it, records of phone conversations go into it, clippings of web pages, restaurant menus, ideas, booking references, pretty much everything including starting recently all of my letters and bills scanned in as PDFs.

It’s all tagable and because the Evernote servers run OCR through the PDFs the entire library is searchable. I’ve got Evernote installed on 2 laptops, 1 desktop and 2 mobile devices so that wherever I am I’ve got it all with me.

4. OmniFocus (£13.99)
Another work app and another one that syncs across multiple devices so I probably use this one as much on my laptop as I do on my iPad (or phone). OmniFocus is task management and project organisation. To be honest it can do way more than I use it for and my workflow would probably benefit from learning how to use it better but for the moment it’s great at keeping everything me and my team need to do all together to allow me to sort and reorganise them easily.

5. TV Anywhere (Free)
OK, so the Virginmedia iPad app doesn’t allow you to watch TV on the go but it does allow you to fully manage your TiVo box from anywhere, including adding new recordings and series links, as well as deleting existing recordings and seeing what the box is going to record in the future.

If you’re at home and have your TiVo connected to the same network your iPad is on you can even use it as a remote. To be honest, using the iPad app for the TiVo is better than using the remote and on-screen guide!

6. Honourable mentions
iThoughtsHD (£6.99) – a cracking Mindmapping app that can export to almost anything
Outliner (£2.99) – an outliner app that can take in the output from iThoughts HD to allow you to do some reorganisation before exporting the whole thing as text ready to deliver as a project/email/presentation??
Textastic (£5.99) – brilliant editor, multiple language syntax highlighting and what a brilliant addition the the keyboard…Apple, tale note!
Netflix (free, subscription required) – you really need me to explain this one? OK, so the film content may not be great but the TV series they’ve got loaded up on here certainly is.
Letterpress (free, paid upgrade) – I’m rubbish at Scrabble and most other word games but I will gladly hand you your ass on this, I’m jodrell2000 on Game Center is you need a lesson 😉
Enscripted (69p) – a simple game where film quotes and titles are scrambled by transposing letters…all you have to do is unscramble them. You only get 1 film a day and damn is it addictive!
MyFitnessPal (free) – I’m currently on a diet, and I mean it this time, and this app is helping hugely! Simply a calorie and exercise logging app but one that’s very nicely put together.

Apparently I pay for a lot more Apps than I thought I did! I’m pretty sure that a lot of these Apps are available for free in some cut down form, I guess I found them to be good enough to pay for in the end 🙂

Everybody Jump

August 21, 2012 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

What would happen if everyone on earth stood as close to each other as they could and jumped, everyone landing on the ground at the same instant?

—Thomas Bennett (and many others)

This is one of the most popular questions submitted to this blog. It’s been examined before, including by a ScienceBlogs post and a Straight Dope article. They cover the kinematics pretty well. However, they don’t tell the whole story.

Let’s take a closer look.

At the start of the scenario, the entire Earth’s population has been magically transported together into one place.

several stick figure characters standing aroundThis crowd takes up an area the size of Rhode Island. But there’s no reason to use the vague phrase “an area the size of Rhode Island”. This is our scenario; we can be specific. They’re actually in Rhode Island.

map showing Rhode Island and with a outlined section labeled 'crowd'

At the stroke of noon, everyone jumps.

the stick figure characters, who had been standing, now jumping in a variety of poses

As discussed elsewhere, it doesn’t really affect the planet. Earth outweighs us by a factor of over ten trillion. On average, we humna can vertically jump maybe half a meter on a good day. Even if the Earth were rigid and responded instantly, it would be pushed down by less than an atom’s width.

Next, everyone falls back to the ground.

all the stick figure characters now standing again

Technically, this delivers a lot of energy into the Earth, but it’s spread out over a large enough area that it doesn’t do much more than leave footprints in a lot of gardens. A slight pulse of pressure spreads through the North American continental crust and dissipates with little effect. The sound of all those feet hitting the ground creates a loud, drawn-out roar which lasts many seconds.

Eventually, the air grows quiet.

Seconds pass. Everyone looks around.

the stick figure characters standing around. one says 'why did we do that?', another says ' this rhode island?

There are a lot of uncomfortable glances. Someone coughs.

same standing stick figure characters. one says 'I should get back to Dublin', one says, in Hindi, 'Where's the airport?'

A cell phone comes out of a pocket. Within seconds, the rest of the world’s five billion phones follow. All of them—even those compatible with the region’s towers—are displaying some version of “NO SIGNAL”. The cell networks have all collapsed under the unprecedented load.

Outside Rhode Island, abandoned machinery begins grinding to a halt.

The T. F. Green airport in Providence, Rhode Island handles a few thousand passengers a day. Assuming they got things organized (including sending out scouting missions to retrieve fuel), they could run at 500% capacity for years without making a dent in the crowd.

the map of Rhode Island where the crowd was outlined with arrows signifying everyone trying to leave

The addition of all the nearby airports doesn’t change the equation much. Nor does the region’s light rail system. Crowds climb on board container ships in the deepwater port of Providence, but stocking sufficient food and water for a long sea voyage proves a challenge.

Rhode Island’s half-million cars are commandeered. Moments later, I-95, I-195, and I-295 become the sites of the largest traffic jam in the history of the planet. Most of the cars are engulfed by the crowds, but a lucky few get out and begin wandering the abandoned road network.

Some make it past New York or Boston before running out of fuel. Since the electricity is probably not on at this point, rather than find a working gas pump, it’s easier to just abandon the car and steal the new one. Who can stop you? All the cops are in Rhode Island.

The edge of the crowd spreads outward into southern Massachusetts and Connecticut. Any two people who meet are unlikely to have a language in common, and almost nobody knows the area. The state becomes a patchwork chaos of coalescing and collapsing social hierarchies. Violence is common. Everybody is hungry and thirsty. Grocery stores are emptied. Fresh water is hard to come by and there’s no efficient system for distributing it.

Within weeks, Rhode Island is a graveyard of billions.

The survivors spread out across the face of the world and struggle to build a new civilization atop the pristine ruins of the old. Our species staggers on, but our population has been greatly reduced. Earth’s orbit is completely unaffected—it spins along exactly as it did before our species-wide jump.

But at least now we know.

You did, this, Brandon.

from What If?

Publisher Angry Robot Bundles Free Ebook With Physical Copies And Triples Sales

August 21, 2012 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

Bundling. It works in other industries. Many AAA game titles are released in Collector’s Editions, packaging physical goods with the digital product. Nearly every band releasing on vinyl packages a digital download code with the album. DVDs aimed at kids do it all the time, adding stuffed animals or Christmas ornaments to the package as an incentive to buy. Your new razor comes with two “free” refills. Trial size bottles of new healthcare products are bundled with the stuff you usually buy. Facebook gives you a crappy email address you’ll never use, free of charge.

But for books, not so much. At least not here in the US. But elsewhere, bundling ebooks with physical copies is showing some promising returns.

The Digital Reader details a trial run by publishing imprint Angry Robot, which hands out a free ebook download for every physical book purchased:

FutureBook yesterday featured a piece on an experiment in the UK between Osprey publishing imprint Angry Robot and independent bookshop Mostly Books to bundle a free electronic edition of an Angry Robot novel with each print copy of it sold. After just two weeks, Osprey’s CEO revealed that the bundling initiative had tripled the publisher’s sales at that store, and plans are in the offing to expand it to other independent bookstores.

It’s a clever way to bump up flagging brick-and-mortar sales. Get them in the bookstore before giving them a digital bonus. It plays to the strengths of the indie bookstore: personal interaction and expertise. Even the ebook transaction has a personal touch.

The premise is simple. You buy an Angry Robot book, write down your email address at the till, and receive a free ebook edition of the book you bought, DRM free, by email.

It makes sense. Other publishers have experimented with this, but no one seems ready to make it the rule, rather than the exception. Angry Robot looks at this as win-win: it brings people back into indie bookstores and provides them with the convenience of a easily-transported ebook. Considering the costs are already sunk into the production of the physical product, bundling a digital file adds nothing (or close enough) to the overall cost. So far, the experiment (currently limited to one bookstore) seems to be a success.

At the beginning of July Osprey imprint Angry Robot launched a bundling experiment, Clonefiles, through the independent bookshop Mostly Books. The scheme offered the digital version of Angry Robot novels free to customers when they bought the physical paperback. Two weeks later Osprey chief executive Rebecca Smart told The Bookseller, that the initiative had trebled sales of the publisher’s titles at the trial store. The scheme has been supported in-store with a window display and signs explaining how it works. There is now an intention to roll it out in other independent bookshops.

Sales manager Roland Briscoe points out why this is working so well in this venue:

First and foremost, it allows us to leapfrog the competition in the value stakes. By offering dual-format, we suddenly have a hugely attractive offering that changes the focus from price and ‘paper v digital’ (for which there will only ever be a single winner, no prizes for guessing who) to added value.

Suddenly indies are able to take their traditional strengths – edited and curated choice, personal service and recommends – and stick a ‘plus digital’ on the end. It is genuinely a game-changer.

Clonefiles allows us to start a conversation with them, and it is amazing how customer have responded. From a slightly-embarrassed “let’s all pretend eReaders don’t exist” awkwardness, customers have opened up to us about their eReading experience – and in the process are actually telling us what we need to offer to stay relevant – and survive.

Part of what’s holding this back from being offered by mainstream publishers is the feeling that bundling leaves money on the table. As Chris Meadows points out, major publishers are still hung up on monetizing every single iteration of a product:

Publishers have long had a problem getting over the mindset that every individual “copy” has to be paid for individually. (I remember, in the good old days when they were allowed to talk to people, the Pendergrasts of Fictionwise and eReader bemoaned the fact that publishers insisted that each different encrypted format of e-book sold in their store had to be sold separately.) And yet, given that Angry Robot’s experiment sold three times as many books as normal, that means they took in as much money as they would have if they’d gotten paid for the normal number of print books, that many e-books, plus the same amount extra.

Judging from the success of this experiment, it could certainly be argued that keeping the products separate is leaving a bit of money on the table as well. Considering the ubiquity of tablets, e-readers and smartphones, it just makes sense to reward someone who’s willing to purchase physical items with a convenient copy to take on the move. This sort of bundling becoming more prevalent (especially among major publishing houses) may hinge on the Department of Justice decsions. Meadows points out that one of the stated goals of this settlement is to make this sort of experimentation easier and far more common.

In addition to the insistence that every version be paid in full, this lack of bundling may also be a perception problem, one that views physical purchasers as completely distinct from ebook purchasers. The overlap is probably more pronounced than most publishers realize. The most voracious readers do both. Even if the person buying the physical book has no use for the digital version, they can always hand it off to someone who does, thus introducing these books to new readers. This activity might rub some publishers the wrong way, but Angry Robot not only realizes this sort of thing will happen, but is completely cool with it:

We therefore believe (and I’m sure that we are only echoing the opinion of the majority here) that there is a place for both, and in actual fact having both formats is of benefit to everyone. So our bundling project, Clonefiles, is an attempt to give our readers what they tell us they want – the beautiful physical copy that they can give as a gift, swap with a friend or keep in their collection, together with the convenience of the digital file that they can read on the commute or family holiday.

It’s not as if bundling hasn’t worked in other artistic arenas. Most, if not all, albums offered on vinyl come with a digital download code for easier portability. Real life CIP: my brother is a bit of an audiophile and buys vinyl whenever possible. All of his bundled digital download codes end up in my hands, introducing me to bands he likes. (And not to sound like the guy who discovers the Rolling Stone’s Exile on Main Street in 1985 and won’t shut the hell up about it, but have you listened to Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea? Amazing.)

Additionally, the bundled ebook could push the on-the-fence reader towards a purchase of an e-reader, turning them into a customer for digital offerings. How many fans have bought multiple copies of the same thing on multiple formats? (Yeah, that’s all of us.) I have no doubt this happens with ebooks as well. Experimenting with price points and bundling has the potential to greatly increase a publisher’s customer base, and if they can just get over the hang-up of keeping these products separate (although I would imagine royalty payments on different formats complicates the issue), they might find it easier to sell the physical books they’d obviously much rather be selling.

Last, but certainly not least, it pays to remember that people like getting stuff for free. They may never use the digital book, but they like feeling like they’ve gotten a deal. Simple psychology. More sales will go to the item that offers extra value, even if the bundled component is never used.

While the majors sort it out (with the help of the DOJ), the smaller publishers and bookstores can start reaping the benefits now. Angry Robot’s experiment shows that is can work and as it expands its offerings, it should be able to provide better data on what works best for both the publisher and the bookstore. Either way, the readers will come out ahead.

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from Techdirt.

Man survives metal rod piercing his head

August 21, 2012 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

Eduardo Leite is recovering after a six-foot steel rod fell 5 stories at a Rio de Janeiro construction site and went right through his head. According to the Miguel Couto hospital chief of staff, Leite was awake when he arrived and communicated directly with the physicians. From the BBC:

 Media Images 62362000 Jpg  62362111 Jex 1495009 De27-1

“He was taken to the operating room, his skull was opened, they examined the brain and the surgeon decided to pull the metal bar out from the front in the same direction it entered the brain,” (chief of staff Luiz Alexandre Essinger) said.

Mr Leite had “few complaints” after the surgery, Mr Essinger added, saying “it really was a miracle” that he survived.

Brazil man survives steel rod through head


from Boing Boing

SOPA…wtf America, seriously?

December 16, 2011 · Posted in Rants . . . · Comment 

Damn fixed width columns…click to view the image so you can see it full size and read the txt, k? Source here btw…

Heads-Up Display Contact Lenses Are One Step Closer After Passing Safety Tests [Science]

November 22, 2011 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

Click here to read Heads-Up Display Contact Lenses Are One Step Closer After Passing Safety Tests

The days of traditional screens could be numbered if the news coming out of Washington University is anything to go by. It’s testing contact lenses that could project information into the wearers eyes and initial safety tests look promising. More »

from Gizmodo

Tuesday’s F1 gossip column

November 22, 2011 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

Massa told to prove himself in 2012, Senna targets new contract, plus more

from BBC Sport | Motorsport | Formula 1 | UK Edition

OW Ow ow…Legal advice wanted!

April 27, 2011 · Posted in Rants . . . · 2 Comments 

Brief background info: I have Arthritis, particularly affecting my right wrist at the moment (I can’t play golf or lift kettles without serious pain) and I cycle to and from Cambridge station 4 days a week (which also hurts until my painkillers have kicked in).

This morning about half a mile from home a white van started to slowly pull out from where it was parked. I was parked on the opposite side of the road from me but heading in my direction. I assumed, perhaps foolishly, that he was pulling out slowly to wait for me to pass…apparently not.

He continued to pull out whilst gradually speeding up and moving over to my side of the road to the extent that there was no room for me to pass between him and the parked cars on my side of the road. At this point I was forced to make an emergency stop (which hurt) and then in frustration and anger, and a hope to attract the drivers attention and alert him to what he’d done to hopefully make him more attentive in the future, punched the side of the van.

I am now in even more pain than normal and the van didn’t even stop. Aside from the punching I’d estimate that I have what I could describe as ‘near miss’ incidents at least twice a week.

Having seen several videos on youTube I’m left asking a legal question. If I buy one of the helmet, or handlebar, mounted ActionCams would I be able to submit videos of incidents like this mornings to the police and at least get these idiots fined?

Brammo Empulse RR electric race bike goes screaming by at Thunderhill test (video)

February 1, 2011 · Posted in foundFings . . . · Comment 

Brammo Empulse RR electric race bike goes screaming by at Thunderhill test (video):

Shared by jodrell
hey, I like the idea of electric vehicles, and I’d be buying a Mitsubishi iMiev now if I could afford it, but there’s something about this, undoubtedly quick, bike whizzing past…

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