I guess being a U2 devotee is a bit like supporting a top-flight football team. You can’t wait for their next match, and yet there’s always a sense of dread that it won’t come to much. The rumours about a new album(s) have been circulating for years. And then suddenly, there it was. Already in iTunes playlists, without any warning. How bizarre is that?! Nothing if not bold, and perhaps mildly megalomaniacal. The Bono-haters will certainly think so. Read more
While studying and writing talks for our All Souls week away next month, I’ve been getting up out of my chair every 5-10 minutes taking photos of exactly the same view. All day. Slightly bonkers you might think – and some will wonder how I get anything done. Well, fair question I suppose. But actually I’ve got the sort of will-o’-the-wisp mind that constantly needs interaction with different things. So bizarre as it may seem, I work best when juggling different things. Read more
Last month’s Wired UK Carried a host of mini-articles by various techie, business gurus and Apple groupies about the phenomenon that is Steve Jobs. One of the standouts though was Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish, an account of his address at Stanford University in 2005. Read more
- If you’re a fan of J C Ryle’s classic Holiness (or if you’re not yet, you should be!), then you will be very pleased that someone has produced a study guide to the book (HT JCRyle Quotes)
- Pete Sanlon on Steve Jobs’ principled attitude to porn (HT Tim Chester)
- I wanted to post a link to this last month as soon there was an official page from BBC History magazine, but they don’t seem to have put it up. So here is Faith Central’s precis of Natalie Mears’ fascinating article on 10 moments when Britain held National Days of Prayer.
- The Web of Debt: amazing infographic from the New York Times:
- Fascinating – how department websites had to change as soon as the government changed
- This is serious: before it started trying to deal with the problem, here’s a timeline showing Facebook’s eroding privacy commitments since it began. And here is a graphic illustration of this shift:
- Who’d a thought it? Bearskins in Moscow’s Red Square for VE day
- Oops: Time magazine’s LEAST Influential of 2010.
- Fantastic time-saver/waster:crib sheet for bluffing knowledge about movies.
- What is your country best at? Every country is top at something, according to this infographic.
- Some amazing posters for the Football World Cup. Click the one below for the others:
OK now for something a little less serious (and by popular demand) – well a couple of chums have asked for my thoughts on the matter. I’ve been sitting on this for a while and only added to it when i have the odd 5 minutes here and there (in case you’re wondering about misspent time).
As a dedicated Macaddict, I’ve loved using the iPhone and cannot find any fault with it whatsoever. It is the perfect geek-gadget. To be sure, I’ve not succumbed to any hype or propaganda at all; I’ve simply taken hold of some of the apps available, all of which I find very useful and integral into making mine a very happy and fulfilled life. And you can too… just by clicking on the images below:
- Bible – there are loads available, but this one has the simplest name (i.e. ‘Bible’), is free and gives access to the most translations. Mainly for online use, but it can store some stuff offline and is easily searchable, which is the primary advantage of eBibles.
- Skype – having this on my phone has revolutionised being able to call the family when I’m away but can get to a wifi zone (esp. if using SkypeOut when abroad – FAR cheaper). Fab
- Wikipanion – I find myself searching Wikipedia all the time – while always remembering that it is a flawed if brilliant resource. This is a great free app.
- Twitterlator Pro – for Twitter addicts this is just great.
- Traffic UK – in the absence of a Tom-Tom, this is a very handy means of finding out traffic problems – has got us out of one or two tight spots.
- Concise Oxford Thesaurus – much cheaper than the book version – v handy. I’m always looking for the mot juste.
- Shakespeare – how about this – the Bard’s ENTIRE output in one app, and it’s completely free and searchable. Ideal for trying to pin down that elusive quotation
- 2009 World Factbook – if you like the CIA factbook, this is an ideal resource – it downloads the entire thing to your phone, and then updates it every 2 weeks
- Keynote Remote – if you use Keynote (which I do a lot) this is VERY cool – being able to have the presentation, incl next slides and notes on your phone…
Silly but Fun!
- Shazam – I was only introduced to this a month ago – but it is just what I always needed. Can’t place the song you’re listening to? Shazam it, and you’ll find out exactly what it is (and have a link to buy it in iTunes, of course!)
- Morocco – just the old game known as Reversi or Othello. Ideal for those idle moments – not that I ever have them of course.
- Paper Toss – sit in your office and replicate sitting in an office, throwing paper into a bin. Ideal.
- Sheep Launcher – or if you’re bored of throwing paper, try throwing sheep.
- Moron Test – the perfect way of establishing categorically who is a moron.
- Lightsaber Unleashed – turn your iPhone into a lightsaber – complete with sounds and soundtrack.
- ECB Cricket – an incredible app – keep up to date with the scorecard of major county and international matches. Unless it’s England in a 1-day series, that is.
- BlocksClassic – mindless but enthralling fun.
Just for Londoners
- London Tube Deluxe – fabulous for Londoners – include all TfL’s works updates, so you can check before you travel (it has a companion equivalent for Buses as well)
- Tube Exits – ever wondered which was the best tube carriage to get onto for your chosen destination? Some bloke has spent hours figuring it out and put the lot on this app. Awesome.
- London JamCams – be your very own Big Brother – links to the main traffic cameras – it’s not live, but only delayed by 5 mins or so. But hey? It’s free.
I’m a fan of the British Library. I love the sense of being surrounded by books of all ages of all kinds of all levels. I love the general hubbub of study which is itself very conducive to study. But above all, i think it is just the sheer fact of books that I love.
Which is why, to my mind, it seems like a betrayal to have a little display next to the Reading Room I use, exhibiting a few electronic books that are now available: e.g. the Kindle or the Sony Reader. I can see all the arguments in their favour. I could perhaps even be mildly persuasive in using them on other people.
But in the end, I can’t accept them. They’re just wrong. For all kinds of reasons.
- I love the smell of books – there’s something very exciting about the smell of a brand new book, which gives a real sense of expectation and anticipation (akin to the sensation of hearing an Oboe play an ‘A’ at the start of a concert, causing the cacophony of the players’ ostentatious riffs to fall into line).
- I love the feel of books – it is a visceral and irrational thing. I like being able to hold them in my hands; I like the sensation of turning the pages (a virtual page turn on a screen simply isn’t the same).
- WARNING: not everyone will agree with this point: I love the fact that I can mark, abuse and deface my books (which is one reason i don’t like to borrow but have to buy – that’s the result of being a spoilt idolatrous materialist, I know). Purists will hate this, but I LIKE to dog-ear pages, to underline bits i like or don’t like, to write reactions in the margins. I like my books both to be read and to look read. Having written in them, I thus have an easy way of finding the bits I want to find again – I can sort of visualise where they are (in a hemi-semi-photographic way). If there’s an argument going on in the book, I might use the margin to number or split the points. Very useful and instantly findable. Now I know you can add notes and lines and highlights and all kinds of other gizmodified markings to texts on electronic readers etc. But it’s just not the same. OK?
- It’s great to lend books – just because I don’t like to borrow other peoples’ books, doesn’t mean to say i’m stingy with mine. Far from it – it’s just great to be able to suggest and lend. Now, you can’t do that easily with an electronic book.
Now please understand – this is not me at last revealing the colours of the true Luddite. I’m one who gleefully embraces and exposes the inner geek and all things Mac. It’s just that books are different. And my final point is, to my mind, the clincher:
- Books don’t run out; they won’t go blank; they won’t need replacement screens or contract a virus or jumble all the words up. And you can lend books to people who don’t have electronic gizmos.
You see, there were days, when we lived in Uganda, when there would be no power, no water, or no phone. And sometimes, all 3 would be down at the same time. Sometimes, the power would be off for longer than a computer battery lasts for and then back on for too short a time to charge it up again (it played havoc with our freezer). Now, don’t get me wrong, because i’m not complaining. Well not that much. But the saving grace for those dark evenings was the tried and tested combo of BOOK and CANDLE. Fabulous.
PS – love this cartoon – sums everything up really. Haven’t been able to track it’s creator down to give credit where it’s due – anyone out there know?
Well, well – i suppose it was a matter of time – here is the ultimate standout gift for the mac-geek show-off. Real gold, with the mac logo encrusted with diamonds. Just when you thought macs had reached perfection already…
Not that i want to find myself being inadvertently drawn into marketing, but if you actually want one of these things, you can order the gold casing from Computer Choppers, priced from between $1200-1500 depending on the current gold price!
OK – I admit it. I was proud. I used to swear by PCs and would be very rude to Mac users – esp when we lived in Uganda and there were so few of them that they were forced to huddle together in the shadows for fear of reprisals and scorn. We always had the last laugh when their macs actually DID crash for once – or when there was a technical problem, and there simply wasn’t the backup support that PCs had in Kampala. In my smugness, I would ignore the fact that for every crash they had, I’d had 37.3 – and that i lived in fear. Fear of operational instability, fear of standing out from the crowd, fear of feeling incompatible. I muddled through of course – people always do – but it was sheer bravado. Hence the persecution tendencies of those that i suppose i always knew (in my heart of hearts) were in the right.
But then the moment came – a spilled cup of coffee; the sights, sounds and smells of electronics sizzling and frying; and momentary panic. I was frozen at my desk. Off to a conference in a few days when powerpoint was a must and the clock was already ticking frighteningly fast on the prep i had to do for my talks. I was scared – what on earth should i do now?
But you know (and i really mean this) – i now look back on this time with gratitude, even though at the time i wouldn’t quite have seen it that way. But fortunately, i had a friend. We’ll call him John (for that is in fact his name). He was patient with me, he was gentle and careful enough not to foist his opinion on me. But he had some pretty clear ideas about what was best for me – and that’s fair enough. I mean, if you are a doctor, you actually know more about the cause of your patient’s problems than he or she does; so it is only fair that you be allowed to express said expert opinions. And so John took me to a place where he knew i could find help. It was just a short walk; to Oxford Circus in fact, and then on to Regent St. There, to my amazement, was what i’d always actually been searching for, if i’d only realised it before. My previous frustrations I guess had been the result of never really being able to articulate what my search had been for. I’d no idea how many times i must have walked past the place – i suppose i’d never really dared go in before. At the door, there were all these friendly people wearing black t-shirts welcoming people through the doors (which i suppose seemed normal enough) but they didn’t seem my sort – to begin with at least. I thought i could never become like them. But John encouraged me. He didn’t leave me at the door, but actually came IN with me. And this was an act of huge significance.
The place was attractive – some striking architecture, full of space and light pouring through the clear glass – so that was a start i suppose. It wasn’t dingy or intimidating, but inviting – unlike some techie geekholes. Having said that, there were lots of people milling around, all looking as though they knew what they were doing. Some were chatting idly; some were delving deep into the causes of some problem or another; some were browsing the resources centre (perhaps some were doing so out of embarrassment and ignorance of where to begin – who knows – it’s certainly where i’d have drifted if i’d been on my own); others were sitting patiently in an auditorium area while some bloke talked them through the basics of a particular doctrine and its application. And then after a few introductory remarks, i took the plunge. I PINned, formed and signed – and at that moment, my life was changed. I possessed a MacBook Pro and it was actually like being given a brand new chance, a new start, a new life, even.
I can now safely and sincerely say that i have never looked back. The world of PCs seems alien now, foreign even, uncivilised. I suppose i wouldn’t be honest if i denied that the odd PC-only programme (as they like to call them) gave me pangs of regret and nostalgia for the old way – but i suppress them quickly enough by simply bringing to mind what i now had. For all its restrictions (which, quite frankly, are few, especially when one has, as i do, Parallels Desktop for Mac), there is just no going back.Which means i must thank John for his patience with me; i must apologise to Adam & David for all the abuse i heaped on them (“look, I’m sorry, OK, what more do you want me to say?”); and above all i must honour the one who must be honoured: Mr Jobs himself. What can i say? I’m just glad you lived.
in case you’re concerned about what on earth has caused this drivel, its catalyst was the rather extraordinary advert for solutions inc. on the back of this month’s MacFormat magazine (see closeup, up and full ad, right). I knew Macs were good (and i do have to say that i enjoy using mine far more than i ever did my PC) – but i suspect that the claims for their efficacy slightly exceed reality. Perhaps the Advertising Standards Agency should be informed – i mean what evidence can they actually provide that Macs do save souls?
I’m grateful to my brother for pointing this out and he got it from another blog out there. I couldn’t resist joining in.
If you wanted to get from Washington DC (or anywhere else in the USA for that matter) to Marble Arch in the centre of London without using any form of public transport, and you were wondering which route to take, a very natural and reasonable course of action to take would be to check out Google Maps (that handy, ever-useful and soon to be accessible from the Apple iPhone, online tool). Type in your departure and destination details and away you go. Fantastic.
There’s just one hitch. You may smell a rat before checking out the individual steps when you discover that the journey takes nearly a month. When you get to step 21, you will see why – you might get a little more than you bargained for. Click the image below to get it in all its glory.
It is all very logical of course – except for the perverse decision to avoid landfall at Land’s End or at least a port along the south coast. Perhaps it has something to do with the grim traffic (i.e. caravanners) you get all summer on those tiny West Country roads (especially the A303). Though i can’t imagine northern France is much better.