If you’re going to San Francisco…

Well, I’d like to be there today anyway!


MacWorld San Francisco 2006 of course!!!

It’s that time of year when every MacGeek get’s all excited wondering what new stuff Apple will announce! You know it’s ominous when you try to access the Apple Store UK and you get this screen:

Apple Store UK Splash screen

So what’s new?

I’m just keeping an eye on Macrumorslive.com where there are up to the moment text updates about Steve Jobs keynote talk, this is where all the goodies get announced, so far there’s a new remote control with FM tuner for the iPod, I’ll update this post in a little while with some more info!!!

Ok, another update, New iMac’s running intel processors, and also a new laptop now called the ‘MacBook’ running on intel too! ooh, baby!

If you’ve ver thought about buying a Mac then now is a good time!


Happy Birthday Natalie!

Today is my daughter Natalie’s 3rd birthday, last night we had a party and invited a few people over. Here’s a few photo highlights:

One happy Snow White...
Natalie was (and still is!) L O V I N G this dress! She really wanted to go to bed with it on, but I managed to persuade her it wasn’t a good idea!

Angels gotta eat...

Even Angels gotta eat! I think this is her ‘grumpy’ face, another Snow White vertically challenged character reference.

Ooh, candles!
Cake! Pink! Just as she requested! (‘Happy’)

Cinderella dress
Ooh, a Cinderella dress too! There were more costume changes than a Christmas pantomime!

Jemima, Natalie and Jay
A group shot: Jemima, Natalie and Jay. You can see Jay ‘helping’ Natalie open a present by operating her hand for her!

Thank you to everyone who bought Natalie a gift, she was deluged with pressies and had a great party!


What’s in a name?

I’ve just been doing some work revamping my blogging app and I’ve decided that I’d like to give it a name and brand it. So, what to call it? There’s so many applications out there, so many websites, how do you come up with a good name?

After doing a bit of googling for names I found this interesting article over on the Firewheel Design site, ‘Four Concentric Circles of a Web 2.0 Name‘.
Josh from Firewheel has come up with four categories of names used in applications:

  1. The Literal Name (DropSend, Meetup etc…)
  2. The Metaphor (Mint, Digg, Flock etc…)
  3. The Pseudo Abstract (Del.icio.us, Flickr, Odeo etc…)
  4. The Cab Calloway (Squidoo, Meebo, Rojo etc…)

It’s an interesting article, so it got me to thinking about names, in this particular case it’s for a blogging tool so it needs to ‘say’ something.

A couple of ideas…

A couple of names came to mind:

The word ‘Logorrhea’ is defined in Wikipedia as an “excessive flow of words” and, when used medically, refers to incoherent talkativeness that occurs in certain kinds of mental illness, such as mania.

Examples of logorrhoea might include talking or mumbling monotonously either to others or more likely oneself. This may include the repetition of particular words of phrases, often incoherently.

I actually quite liked this one, but it just sounds a bit too much like ‘diarrhoea’ though. Fair enough as I guess logorrhea is a bit like verbal diarrhoea. So, close but not quite appropriate ;)

Captain’s Blog:
Mmm, what more needs to be said?

This last one was promptly discarded as an idea for obvious reasons! The two names I’m considering are simply, Blurb and ‘Blah‘. I like them because they’re short, simple and are obviously related to writing or speaking, which is what blogging is about I guess. They both fall into the Metaphor circle in Firewheel Design’s article.

Anyone got any other ideas?

I’d be pleased to hear anybody else’s thoughts / suggestions of names. I’ll try and come up with some kind of prize for the best suggestion.


Inspired design?

Sorry, poor title for this blog post! I just wanted to put an evangelistic web post up, by evangelistic in this case I’m meaning for both ‘standards based’ web design and also just good quality design.

If you’re involved in running a church website, or a site for any kind of Christian organisation or are involved with any kind of graphic design etc for church etc then you really should check out the next couple of websites.

The Godbit Project

Firstly, the Godbit Project, the mission statement of this site is:

The purpose of this site is to help the Church catch up with the rest of the world in adherence to standards given by the World Wide Web Consortium, the governing body of best-practices on the Internet. The majority of Christian web design agencies are using outmoded methods of coding to create websites that the rest of the world would scoff at. Basically, they are stuck in the 1990?s.

That kind of says it all really, and it’s why I’m posting it here. A bit of a call for Christians to be at the cutting edge of things. Hey, I know we’re all ‘followers’ but sometimes we gotta lead too! ;) Go checkout the site, there’s some interesting stuff, I hope you’ll ‘catch the fire’ of standards based design.

Church Marketing Sucks

This next site is one I found linked from Godbit.com, ‘Church Marketing Sucks.com‘ has a broader overall focus of marketing, their mission statement says:

Our mission is to frustrate, educate and motivate the church to communicate, with uncompromising clarity, the truth of Jesus Christ…

…We love the church, but it needs some help. Typos, cheesy logos, and bad clip art aren’t helping the cause. But snazzy marketing won’t save this ship, either. It’s not about being perfect, but there’s a better way to communicate. It’s authentic, it’s loving, and it knows how to spell.

A lot of food for thought here whether you’re a designer, editor, writer, blogger, publisher, PR dude, whatever. Go check out the site, be challenged, surprised and inspired.

Oh yeah, thanks to those who visited this site recently after visiting Alyn’s blog, glad you could make it!


My wife can no longer be referred to as a ‘MacWidow’…

UrbanDictionary.com defines a MacWidow as:

This is what you call the wife of an Apple Macintosh user. He ends up spending much more time on his Mac than with her!

Well, we recently gave away our PC to some friends so I have been keeping my now slightly ageing powerbook at home. Since then Annie has been getting into using it more and more, once she realised that you could do a lot more in GarageBand than just loop a few sounds together she’s been producing quite a lot of songs with it.

Now, the final evidence that Annie’s no longer a ‘MacWidow’ is that she went to an Apple Seminar called ‘Guitarists and the Mac‘. She came home all excited telling me that she found out:

“How the Mac and Apple?s audio creation software along with some amazing third-party products gives you access to thousands of amplifier emulations and pro-quality effects for rehearsals, studio and stage…”

and also:

“How recent developments in guitar technology turn your favourite axe into a virtual orchestra by giving you access to thousands of sampled sounds, virtual instruments and synthesizers…”

Mmm, if you ask me, she sounds like she’s getting a little bit fanatical about this Mac stuff, next thing she’ll be telling me how “she can’t wait until January for Macworld San Francisco as ThinkSecret says that there will be a new Mac Mini – the first to run on Intel chips – and that it will be part of Apple’s move for the Mac to be the center(sic) of the digital hub in people’s homes…

I guess I shouldn’t have gotten her that iPod shuffle, seems like I’ve started something… ;)


Turning Japanese…

I just read some interesting stuff on an Italian Mobile phone blog:

Japan is the world’s #1 in the mobile business with over 90 million mobile subscribers, of which 78 million are using mobile Internet services and 40 million 3G users, with DoCoMo and KDDI increasing at a rate of 1 million a month each. The 3G has services with speeds up to 2,4 Mbps and next year, the 3,5G services will be live with speeds up to 14 Mbps.

It’s interesting because 02 have just launched their ‘i-mode’ service over here in the UK and it’s something I’ve looked into for a while due to the fact that you can use Flash to build applications for it.

Read the whole article on MobileMonday.it

Essential Reading for Web Designers

I’ve been busy finishing a few projects so I haven’t blogged much recently I know but I’m going to try and pick up the pace a little bit.

I just got a couple of new books from Amazon this week and I’ve now found that I have four books that I look to for cool solutions for the challenges presented by Standards Compliant website design. So I’m putting a little mini-review here of them, despite the fact that I’ve only just started reading one of the books I got this week, it’s just I can tell it’s worth recommending them!

Designing with Web Standards
By Jeffrey Zeldman

Picture of Designing with Web Standards book jacketThis book is the one to read if you don’t know anything about Web Standards at all, it’s intended more to explain the benefits of Standards compliant web design rather than being a how-to manual with extensive code.

It does have some code examples but it doesn’t go too deep so it serves as a great primer for those beginning to get a feel for CSS and XHTML.
It’s written well and is not a dry technical manual but interesting to read.

Web Standards Solutions: The Markup and Style Handbook
by Dan Cederholm

Picture of Web Standards Solutions book jacketFor those who’ve read the first book and have gotten hooked then this next book is a great way to move forwards. There’s lot’s of practical code examples which relate to real world usage, it gives solutions that can be applied to give great results.

Like the book above it’s well written and fun to read with simple explanations, perfect for extending your Web Standards knowledge.

Bulletproof Web Design: Improving Flexibility and Protecting Against Worst-Case Scenarios with XHTML and CSS
by Dan Cederholm

Picture of Bulletproof Web Design book jacket The next book follows on from the previous book and focuses on ‘bulletproof’ techniques to use in building your sites.

Lot’s of clear code examples that compare traditional methods of site design with the benefits of creating the same layout using Standards compliant techniques. It’s written well like Dan’s first book and really gives a great overview of some brilliant techniques to apply to the website that you build.

DOM Scripting: Web Design with JavaScript and the Document Object Model
by J.Keith

Picture of DOM Scripting book jacketThe title of this book might sound a little ominous, maybe all of them do?!?! This book is a great companion to the rest in that as the other books deal more with Standards Compliant CSS and XHTML this book focuses on Standards Compliant Javascript coding.

It’s a great book aimed at web designers rather than programmers so it’s an excellent way to get into the power that the DOM and Javascript can offer.

These are all great books that I regularly dip in and out of, they’ve really helped me get a better understanding of all the benefits of Standards Compliant website design as well as how to practically put it into practice.


“It was like totally random!”

Yep, we’re back from our holiday, well, we got back on the 23rd of October but I’ve just been busy this last week and hadn’t had an opportunity to post a new blog entry.

We had a great holiday down in Wales, we stayed in a really nice cottage called Tyddyn Cottage (pronounced ‘tithin’) near a place called Builth Wells. It was nice just being in the middle of countryside and not having to work!

Here’s a few photos from the holiday with some comments:

Our rental car was a Ford Focus Zetec. Nice!

Tyddyn Cottage

Natalie and her favourite tree.

Natalie listening to rain falling on the roof of my Auntie’s barn.

Natalie smiling for the camera.

Natalie and her Grandad.

Natalie kissing one of my Auntie’s goats!

Inside Cardiff Castle.

The ‘flamily’ in the ball pool at ‘Quackers‘!!!

Left to right: My cousin Melanie, her son James, my Auntie (in the red), Natalie, Annie, me, my Dad, my brother and his wife Maureen’s knee!

Four Generations of the Curran family!!!

That’s just a few pictures from our holiday, we all had a really nice time away.

Geeky stuff:

Well, what can I write for my geeky bit? Mmm, well, today I got a chance to play around with one of the new iPods, the ones which can play video it’s so thin compared to my iPod, a very nice piece of kit.

Oh, a really cool thing was that someone gave me a Canon 10D digital SLR camera and two lenses, I was pretty blown away, I’ve really wanted a digital SLR but couldn’t afford one. I’m really looking forward to getting back into photography again, I haven’t used my film-based 35mm SLR for years, once you use digital it’s hard to go back!

What else? umm, oh yeah, Annie and I made a song, well, more Annie really but we both had fun! I’d describe it as being a mixture of Jefferson Airplane meets Madonna and the ‘Lost’ polar bear!!! Also, once you listen to it the title of this blog post will make sense, well kind of!

Download ‘Selah’ in MP3 format…

Lastly, thanks to Annie’s Mom for sending us ‘Lost‘ Series One on DVD in the mail, without this we’d be just like the rest of the UK having to wait another 10 weeks to find out what happens!!!

So, what’s it worth to people for me not to post what happens??!!!!!


Going on holiday, yay!

Yep, going on holiday for a week on Saturday. I’m really looking forwards to it. We’ve got a hire car and are driving down to Wales to visit family, my Dad is over from Australia and my brother Alistair and his wife Maureen will be there too, it’ll be the first big family get together for a long time. Also it will be the first time Annie and Natalie meet my Grandparents and my Aunt & Uncle, so lot’s going on there.

My Dad has booked a holiday cottage for my brother & his wife and Annie, Natalie and myself which looks reaaly nice. So, looking forward to a nice break.

Essential Gadgets

Of course, going away means you have to be prepared so I’ve got a whole range of gadgets to keep me amused and also to help us not get lost driving there. The list so far is:

  • Canon MV600i Digital Video Camera
  • Canon 10D Digital SLR Camera (Borrowed from my friend Dave!)
  • 2.5gb CF card storage capacity
  • Powerbook Laptop
  • 120gb External hard drive
  • Nokia NGage Gaming phone
  • Tom-Tom Satellite Navigation System (Borrowed from my friend Dave!)
  • 40gb iPod (Mine!)
  • 512mb iPod Shuffle (Annie’s!)
  • Various Cables, firewire, USB, AV etc…

Well, that’s the stuff I’ve remembered so far. All completely essential of course! The most annoying thing is that the hire car comes with a CD player and not a tape deck so I can’t plug in my iPod to listen to music!!! A hassle as we keep all our CD’s stored away as we only play music from our iPods nowadays. How archaic having to use CDs!!! ;)

“It was black and about the size of labrador…”

Another little project I’ve started working on is a little Google Maps mashup. Oh, what’s a ‘mashup’ you ask? well, it’s where you take the function of the Google Maps service and link in your own data or functionality to it. So I’ve made my own little mashup.

Over the years there’s been sightings in the local area, and indeed throughout the rest of Scotland and the UK, of ‘Big Cats’, these are not just domestic cats gone wild but cats of descriptions varying from Puma to Lynx, and also paw-prints and animals killed. Recently there was a few sightings of a big black cat in the West End of Dundee, someone even feared their pet had been eaten by it. I came across the site of a charity called Scottish Big Cat Trust and they track sightings of these animals.

So, my Google maps Mashup is a ‘Cat Map’, have a look here, https://qreate.co.uk/maps/. Please note that the first sighting is of course fake! We haven’t spotted anything ourselves! The data for 2004 is real though. There’s over 1300 sightings in the Big Cat Trust database so it’ll take time to add all those but you’ll get the idea hopefully.

Well, Annie’s here to pick me up from work so now I am on holiday!!!