Monthly Archives: September 2008

Lazy day

Today has been a lazy day. I have had a heavy cold since Sunday so haven’t really been on form the last couple of days. Today was no exception. I woke up just before 9am, which is late for me, had breakfast then spent most of the morning in a coffee shop reading my (freshly signed) book.

In the afternoon I got a couple of quotes from the usual high street banks about opening a merchant account for taking credit card payments online. The transaction costs aren’t too bad, it’s all the “extras” that they throw in. For example, here’s a quote I got from one bank based on the volume of transactions that I gave them:

  • 150 GBP joining fee
  • 25 GBP per month
  • 2.43% per transaction cost with a credit card
  • 23p per transaction with a debit card
  • Additional charge of 2% of total turnover per month

Ouch! I am still waiting for a quote from WorldPay but based on the prices on their website, they appear to be even more expensive. Needless to say after doing a bit more poking around it looks like PayPal has the best rates.

I also listened to this episode of The Gillmor Gang where they interviewed some of the Chrome guys; it’s worth listening too.

Oh, and I also managed to free up 3GB of space on my laptop – this was important as I only had just over 2GB available at the time and I’m not buying a new laptop until Apple release the new versions of their laptops, which, if you believe the rumors, should happen in the next couple of weeks. 

I even went to Whole Foods to buy dinner as I couldn’t be bothered to cook anything! I have a cold so that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.

Update: I’m listening to the Arsenal game on Radio 5 and a player has just come for Porto called Hulk! Probably best not to make him angry.

The Day I Met Sir Richard Branson

I was reading Richard Branson’s new book this afternoon in a coffee shop – as one does at 3.30pm on a Monday – when I discovered that he was going to be signing copies of his book at Waterstones in Piccadilly Circus from 5.30pm. I hopped on a bus, arrived there just before 5pm and discovered there was already a rather long queue. I took a ticket and got in line; I didn’t tell the staff at Waterstones that I had actually purchased my copy of his book from Amazon! Anyway, after waiting for about an hour I finally got to meet the man himself. Why I always look half asleep in photographs is beyond me!

Turns out my friend John (who is about 6ft 5in) was also in the queue. After taking a photograph of John with Richard Branson, Sir Richard decided that he would even things up a bit by climbing onto the table next to John.  

Unfortunately I don’t seem to be able to point and click correctly so I didn’t get the table in the shot but, hopefully, it gives you a good enough idea.

Where am I?

Or perhaps a more pertinent question is: where have I been? Well last night I attended a talk at the BCS offices in Covent Garden about mobile location-based services. Overall the talks were quite interesting; ironically the speaker that I thought would be the least interesting turned out to be the most interesting!

There were lots of examples of mobile location services shown throughout the evening – I’m not going to list them as there were too many. One particularly interesting service one was Yahoo!’s Fire Eagle. It was described as a location brokerage service that allows you to update and share your location with services and applications that you have chosen and authorized. An example that was demoed during one of the talks was updating your location from Fire Eagle that was then automatically picked up by blogloc, a service that allows your readers to see where you are; apparently Dopplr also has support for Fire Eagle. I haven’t looked at it yet but OpenStreetMap got a lot of mentions by all of the speakers given that, apparently, the main aggregators of map data, TeleAtlas and NavTeq, have data black holes, e.g. there are some areas on the planet that they just don’t have data for.

What else? Well it turns out that navigation is still the biggest use of mobile location services followed by search. According to a Gartner report the mobile user location space will be worth a cool $8 billion by the year 2011. In terms of actually locating a user the main ways are: cell ID, GPS and – more recently – WiFi network finger printing. Oh, and GPS doesn’t work inside buildings 🙂


Finally, there was an amusing anecdote about one of the founders of Skyhook Wireless who received a message on his mobile saying that it was Steve Jobs and could he call him back; they thought it was a crank call. Well it turns out it really was Steve Jobs – Skyhook provides the “Locate Me” (?) functionality on the iPhone.

Back to ‘work’

It’s been just over a week since I got back from Spain and during that time I have done absolutely nothing, which I have quite enjoyed actually. Anyway, enough relaxing; time to be productive again. Well, that’s the theory anyway! We’ll see just how ‘productive’ I am over the next couple of days. 

First up today I’m going to take a look at the CMIS specification and have a bit of a play with it in Alfresco. The other thing I want to do is make a start on finishing off the Erlang book I bought months ago!!

This evening I am off to a talk being held by the BCS about mobile location-based services. Some of the speakers look interesting so hopefully it will be an interesting talk. We’ll see! If I discover anything worthwhile I’ll mention it on this blog.

More money, more problems

I have just finished reading this post on the blog of Martin Varsavsky. It’s in Spanish, so to summarize (very briefly) he says in the post he receives a lot of criticism from some readers of his blog because he has a lot of money – as an aside I think it’s worth mentioning that if he would like to give me all of his money I’ll happily take criticism from any of his readers 🙂

I don’t understand certain peoples attitude towards those they perceive as better off than themselves. Well, unfortunately, I think I do understand: jealousy. We all complain from time to time – some more than others – about x, y and z but if things are really that bad what are you going to do about it?

The way I see it, if you are not happy with something, change it! Nobody is going to do it for you. It won’t be easy but then what is? If you think you aren’t being paid enough, work harder and get a different job or go start a company. Why shouldn’t those who take risks be rewarded? After all, things could just as easily go horribly wrong! It’s a cliche but the greater the risk, the greater the reward right? Perhaps if those people who choose to criticize put as much energy into something vaguely enterprising then perhaps they wouldn’t have reason to vent their feelings at other people. Besides, money isn’t everything … unless, of course, you want to buy your own plane.

Blackberry vs Nokia

I have been looking to get a new mobile phone for a while and I have finally got it down to two choices: Blackberry Bold and the Nokia E71. I had a play with the Nokia E71 in the Nokia store a few weeks ago and was a bit disappointed with the user interface. Since then I had been waiting to look at the new Blackberry: the Bold. Finally, I got to play with it this morning – I had to ask to see a “real” one and not the dummy handsets most phone stores have on display! My initial impression is that it’s pretty slick. The screen resolution is really good, much better than the Nokia, especially when you play back videos. It’s also not heavy at all, which was surprising as it looks quite chunky. The Nokia has a better camera and has a better finish – it “feels” better.

Having said all of that I still haven’t decided yet, although I am definitely leaning more towards the Blackberry. I’m going to take another look at the Nokia this afternoon and will decide then. Then all I have to do is find the right tariff; it seems you have to pay extra for email access and web access etc. Joy! Why can’t the mobile providers just give you the one price that includes everything? For example, if you have a Blackberry you are going to need to purchase the Blackberry email package (5 GBP extra on top of the base tariff) as why else would you get a Blackberry?

Small steps, big results

I just came across this video post by Lars Pind about how to achieve your goals by taking small steps, one at a time – the Seinfeld productivity secret is particularly interesting. I thought it was worth pointing out because I have come across the technique Lars mentions so many times before that I figure it must be true, so much so that I’m going to try it myself with this blog!

I am not going to blog every day unless I have something to blog about but I am going to shoot for 5 posts every week and take it from there – that’s almost one every day 🙂 I enjoy writing but I never get around to doing any so I figure this blog is a good place to start. All I have to do now is find a giant wall calendar* and I’m good to go.

* check out the Seinfeld productivity tip and you’ll know what I’m referring to

Back from Spain

I just back from 6 days in the south of Spain. I landed at Gatwick’s North terminal so had to get the connecting train to the South terminal only there was a problem with the trains at the time which meant that there were hundreds of people waiting to get on them; I went for a coffee. I then had to wait an age in line waiting to order my coffee because the person who was working there had obviously decided that she couldn’t be bothered today; I got an attitude from her to accompany my coffee. Who says you don’t get anything for free nowadays. I’m not even going to comment on the weather! 

I was going to write that it’s great to be back but it’s not, so I won’t 🙂