Sunday, December 16, 2007

Freecom Musicpal

Over the weekend I bought a Freecom Musicpal internet radio from PC World. In terms of form factor it's light and small enough to fit on your kitchen windowsill. Installation was a breeze - all I had to do was enter my WEP key once - inputted by turning the dials to select letters - and I was onboard.

The Musicpal comes with a lifetimes subscription to Vtuner, and currently has approximately around 4,000 radio stations to choose from, under every genre imaginable. At present only mp3 streams are supported, but Freecom have said that they are currently working on Windows Media (wma) stream support. Expect that to be offered in any future firmware updates. ( In "settings", there's an update option to update the firmware)

Soundwise, the speaker isn't of enormous high quality, but for a kitchen radio its perfectly adequate.

Why go for an internet radio? Well, for starters , you don't need to power up a laptop. Plus the choice of thousands of stations means that you wont be short of choices of even the most eclectic music. This afternoon , for example, while preparing the Sunday dinner, we went from Irish trad to German Schlager, with a dose of Congolese dancehall ,Senegalese guitar-folk and a blast of Austrian classical, plus some cheesy French pop. Your listening habits are definitely changed with such a device, and it's a must-have if you are sick of the usual 24x7 commercial radio. And since it's now residing in our kitchen, and has an extremely easy to use interface, our musical exploration of the world is only starting. And once Freecom offer WMA support in a future update, the stations available will expand to thousands more.

I bought it for £79.99 in PC World , but no doubt it's probably cheaper online. Another thing to bear in mind as well , when it comes to learning a language - once you have one of these radios in your kitchen, it makes it so much easier to tune into a French, German, Spanish etc language station - and just having that in the background is a great aid to getting familiar with how a language is pronounced and spoken.

As part of making the Internet pervasive in consumer devices, the Internet Radio is a very interesting first step - I would expect it to be built-in to hi-fi systems in the future. But for now, to get a taste of the future, get hold of one of these devices. Your listening habits will change forever.

Important sidenote: You MUST have wifi enabled in your home for the Musicpal to work. However, it does have a standard network socket at the back if you prefer to run a network cable to it.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The donut capital of the world found on Google Streetview

Here's the Google Maps link

Hat tip: Tammo in the comments on Googlesighting

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

New StreetView cities and embeddable panoramas

Via Google Lat Long :

Today we're pleased to announce the launch of 8 new cities with Street View. Check out full spherical views of Boston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Detroit, and Providence.

Minneapolis and St.Paul
Forth Worth and Dallas

The Indianapolis and Boston streetviews also encompass several surrounding towns including Worchester, Marlborough,
Danville,Crawfordsville,Muncie, Bloomington, Morgantown and many more.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Ubuntu Gutsy post install script for your laptop

Ubuntu Guide is a valuable source of information on what packages you need to install after installing a base Ubuntu Gutsy system on a laptop.

So instead of manually doing lots of apt-gets based on the Ubuntu I just put all the relevant ones into a single bash script. This will get all the usual multimedia codecs, firefox plugins, and a lot of other stuff. Just chmod 700 postinstall after creating it in your favourite editor.
Then from a terminal type


to run it. If there is a software package that you don't want below, put a # at the start of the line to comment out.

Note: the repository allows you to apt-get skype,googleearth,win32codecs and other packages that cannot be included in the Ubuntu repos for legal reasons. It is not supported by Canonical so use at your own risk.

# postinstall script

#this should be all on one line
sudo wget -O etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list

#this should be all on one line
wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add -

#update your packages database
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install w32codecs libdvdcss2
sudo apt-get install mozilla-mplayer
sudo apt-get install flashplugin-nonfree
sudo apt-get install sun-java6-plugin
sudo apt-get install mozilla-plugin-vlc
sudo apt-get install kaffeine-mozilla
# astronomy programs
sudo apt-get install kstars
sudo apt-get install celestia

# genealogy
sudo apt-get install gramps

# plugin that allows you to type
#"apt:packagename" in the Firefox url bar

sudo apt-get install apturl

# bluetooth
sudo apt-get install gnome-vfs-obexftp

sudo apt-get install googleearth

# rar compressor/decompressor
sudo apt-get install rar unrar

# sticky notes
sudo apt-get install tomboy

#desktop system monitor
sudo apt-get install gkrellm

# allows you to tweak compiz
sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager

# lots of ubuntu tweaks in a handy GUI application
sudo dpkg -i ubuntu-tweak_0.2.0-1_i386.deb

# music player/manager
sudo apt-get install amarok
sudo apt-get install sox
sudo apt-get install lmms

# sound editor
sudo apt-get install audacity

# codecs
sudo apt-get install mencoder avidemux transcode
sudo apt-get install ffmpeg2theora

# video player
sudo apt-get install mplayer

# mysql database server and client
sudo apt-get install mysql-server-5.0

# ssh server so that you can ssh login via terminal to your laptop from another box
sudo apt-get install ssh

# php web development language
sudo apt-get install php5
sudo apt-get install php5-cli
sudo apt-get install php5-gd
sudo apt-get install php5-curl
sudo apt-get install php5-mysql

# more bluetooth stuff
sudo apt-get install bluetooth gnome-bluetooth
sudo apt-get install bluez-gnome bluez-utils

# listen to thousands of internet radio stations
# and be able to rip the streams to mp3 format
sudo apt-get install streamripper
sudo apt-get install streamtuner
sudo apt-get install xmms

sudo apt-get install skype

# more codecs
sudo apt-get install non-free-codecs

# lightweight spreadsheet alternative to OpenOffice
sudo apt-get install gnumeric

# loads MUCH faster than Open Office Writer
sudo apt-get install abiword

# top notch programming editor
sudo apt-get install kate

# KDE office suite
sudo apt-get install koffice

# KDE browser and filemanager
sudo apt-get install konqueror

# allows SoundJuicer to rip to mp3.
sudo apt-get install gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly-multiverse

Friday, December 07, 2007

KDE 4 - Weather Plasmoid

An overview of the progress and beginning implementation of both the Plasma Weather data engine and applet.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


System Rescue is a Gentoo based live CD for recovering from a hard disk crash.

From the website:

SystemRescueCd is a Linux system on a bootable CD-ROM for repairing your system and recovering your data after a crash. It aims to provide an easy way to carry out admin tasks on your computer, such as creating and editing the partitions of the hard disk. It contains a lot of system utilities (parted, partimage, fstools, ...) and basic tools (editors, midnight commander, network tools). It is very easy to use: just boot the CDROM. The kernel supports most of the important file systems (ext2/ext3, reiserfs, reiser4, xfs, jfs, vfat, ntfs, iso9660), as well as network filesystems (samba and nfs).

Sunday, December 02, 2007

An epiphany about the Phantom Menace

I finally figured out Stars Wars 1 - The Phantom Menace

I remember when it came out , it was dismissed by die-hard Star Wars fans as being childish - especially when it came to Jar Jar Binks. A criticism that rose to such an extent that The Phantom Edit was created by one Star Wars fan.

Well, my 5 year old daughter absolutely loves it (just watched it on UK TV today), which lead to my figuring it out :

It's a kids film. Just as the original Star Wars was..

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mr Splashy Pants

Thanks to Boing Boing and Reddit, Mr Splashy Pants is in the lead in a Greenpeace "Name a whale" competition.

Converting Drupal to a social network

In order to convert your Drupal install to something more like a social network, install these modules:

-favorite nodes
-service links
-private message

(via the facebook Drupal discussion group)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Retro Futuristic Soviet space art
Top ten terrible tech products
Posh CSS
Celebs as Star Wars characters
Sony reveals it's all flash notebook
Rex starts it's list of lists for 2007

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Dallas Morning News review the Asus EEE PC

Datagate advert

In the wake of the latest government I.T. fiasco, I spotted this advert on a number of blogs:

Saturday, November 17, 2007

tables versus css

Somebody blogs about 30 popular websites that are still using tables, and the age old debate on tables v css breaks out in the comments. It also breaks out over here on Digg

Friday, November 16, 2007

E8 explained

Via a comment in Slashdot

(I am not a particle physicist or a mathematician of the right sort, but I can kind of follow this sort of thing)

Okay, the context is that you've got particles, and they're fundamentally all the same, but they're "turned" in different ways. Think of a ball with 3-color LEDs inside: you can rotate it around three axes, and move it in three directions, and you can also cycle its color and change its blinking pattern. Particles are like that, except that the topology is weird: it's not back to the same orientation until you turn it around 720 degrees, instead of 360 like normal objects. The "gauge group" is the rules for how you can change things. For example, the total color of the universe is white: if you turn something from red to blue, you have to turn something else from blue to red; but you can also create a pair of a green and a purple (anti-green). They write all these rules up in math, and it's tricky because a lot of the features vary continuously (that is, you can rotate something an arbitrarily small amount). And due to the interaction of the rules for one property with the rules for other properties, there are only certain combinations of properties that you can get. They work out all the combinations that you can have and those are what you see as "different" particles that your experiments show. Of course, we don't know what the rules are, and we're trying to figure that out from what combinations of properties we've seen and which ones we're speculating are impossible. And it's hard and takes a lot of calculation to figure out what a candidate set of rules would even mean as far as results. And people are looking at known results and trying to describe them better than "we've done a billion things, and a billion things happened".

Now, the math of rules for how things can interact turns out to be sort of limited; there are basically 4 normal cases, which are boring, and then there are a few exceptional cases, which are interesting. Of these, the hardest to prove stuff about is E8, and it's just now becoming clear what combinations it allows. It's like one of those puzzles where you press a corner and lights change, and you have to turn off all the lights, but it's got dozens of corners and dozens of lights and every time you press a corner a bunch of things change at once, and there are different kinds of corners and it also matters exactly what angle you're holding it at, so there are hundreds of things you can say about each move.

And the mathematicians working on E8 recently said, "well, you can get positions like this and not like that", where "this" and "that" are big complicated lists. And this physicist read that paper and said, "hey, those lists are familiar; I made similar lists of particle interactions". So the proposal is that particles work like E8 in what kind of rules they follow. And it's a really nice theory, because E8 is essentially the most flexible set of rules you can have without it falling apart into just anything being possible (and some rules or properties just not mattering).

Thursday, November 15, 2007


E8 Theory of Everything

Surfer dude stuns physicists with theory of everything
A headline worthy of the Onion.

Commentary on
Link to PDF of the paper
E8 wiki entry
Blog reaction to the E8 theory

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Asus Eee PC review

Ars Technica has a review of the Linux powered EEe PC mini-laptop.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Linux is "too hard" to use... yeah , right

Feisty Fawn Ubuntu install. On my laptop.

Insert a CD, and this is what I get popping up automatically....

Hint - note the Extract button.


gOS is an Enlightenment 17 flavoured variant of Ubuntu, that was shipping on a Walmart desktop PC before it sold out.

Walmart $200 Linux PC sells out

via slashdot

About a week ago Wal-Mart began selling a $200 Linux machine running on a 1.5 ghz VIA C7 processor and 512 MB of RAM. While the specs are useless for Vista, it works blazingly fast on Ubuntu with the Enlightenment Window Manager. The machine is now officially sold out of their online warehouses (it may still be available in some stores). And the product sales page at is full of glowing reviews from new and old Linux users alike.


Russia-India joint unmanned moon mission
24 - the unaired 1994 pilot
Smoking Gun uncovers a David Bowie 1976 mugshot
Why suddenly everyone wants to go to the moon
Free Linux ebooks
Skeptics Guide - Logical Fallacies
Katamari Damacy scale model

Monday, November 12, 2007

Worst Video Game Ever

Alex Navarro takes us on a perilous journey through the mess that is Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing. Its 1.0 rating, as of April 2007, is still the lowest score ever given to a game on Gamespot.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Linux Time Machine

Google Code has released a Linux version of Apple's Time Machine , called Flyback, written in Python.

Ubuntu Feisty - Desktop effects keys

Here's are the desktop effects shortcut keys for Feisty Fawn (assuming that you've enabled it)



CTRL+ALT+DOWN ARROW = flatten out the cube. use left-right arrows to select a desktop

CTRL+ATL+UP ARROW = expose all windows in the current desktop. while holding down CTRL+ALT use left/right arrow to select a window. This is like Expose on the Mac

Here's a video showing off Compiz on Ubuntu Feisty:

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Captain Obvious

Captain Obvious has moved on to become a reporter (pic)

Friday, November 02, 2007

Google helping McMinnville, Tennessee develop 3D model of itself

Via Google LatLong

"We've all heard that big things come in small packages. Well, in the small town of McMinnville, Tennessee, a group of visionary folks are planning something pretty big: a community-wide effort to develop a 3D model of their town in Google Earth -- the first of its kind in the state. The project, dubbed 3D Downtown, is being led by a non-profit organization called Main Street McMinnville"

"This coming Friday at 9 a.m. sharp, Main Street McMinnville will host a modeling training session to officially kick off the project. Local volunteer modelers have signed on to participate; participants from Google will also be on-site to lead the training of the Google SketchUp Pro and Google Earth Pro software that we've donated to help the effort. We hope this local endeavor will inspire members of other communities to coordinate 3D modeling projects of their own."

Capital Of Italy

The capital of Italy is Rome.
This search term has gone volcanic on Google Trends today for some reason.

Here's the wiki page on Rome which has a lot of information on the city.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I see on Google Trends that people are searching for "".

Well, if you are one of those people click here to go to the ghosthunters website

Gmail 2.0

Google roll out Gmail 2.0 (with screenshots).

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Darth Saudi?

King Abdullah of Saudi is greeted by a rendition of the Darth Vadar "Imperial March" tune.
I thought that maybe, the tune is a classical one that was merely used for the Star Wars film.

Well no it isn't - it was written by John Williams specifically for the Star Wars score!

British sense of humour? Practical joke?


Details Revealed - Google OpenSocial
The Web is Agreement (huge map)
Elton John Gold and Diamond iPhone
Open Social - a new universe of social apps - an online OS
Google Maps Halloween Icon
Google News Gadget
Brijit snippets of articles
Hulu backdoor
Simpsons Video game review
Rotten Neighbor insane Google Maps mashup
Convenience wins , hubris loses, Head of Yahoo Music is sick and tired of DRM
Live365, thousands of online radio stations

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

How to Evolve a Watch

Monday, October 29, 2007

Google's response to Facebook - "Maka Maka"

Via TechCrunch

"Google may have lost the bidding war to invest in Facebook, but it is preparing its own major assault on the social networking scene. It goes by the codename “Maka-Maka” inside the Googleplex (or, perhaps, “Makamaka”).Maka-Maka encompasses Google’s grand plan to build a social layer across all of its applications."

The 13th sign of the zodiac - Ophiuchus

Via Wikipedia

Ophiuchus is a large constellation located around the celestial equator between Aquila, Serpens and Hercules, northwest of the center of the Milky Way. The southern part lies between Scorpius to the west and Sagittarius to the east.

Of the 13 zodiacal constellations (constellations that contain the Sun during the course of the year), Ophiuchus is the only one not counted as an astrological sign.

Further info:
Ancients omitted the 13th sign of the zodiac

Friday, October 26, 2007

Cyriak Animation Mix

new working embed. vid was reuploaded


Google Earth Updates

Google LatLong has a big list of imagery updates to Google Earth/Maps.
New hi-resolution imagery now for the following:

Americas: State of Oregon, State of Nebraska, State of North Carolina,Western Mississippi, Much of Pennsylvania, Yakima County (WA),Benton County (WA), Whistler (BC), San Jose (CA), Imperial County (CA),Steamboat Springs (CO), Calhoun County (FL), Adams County (IL),Washtenaw County (MI), Chemung County (NY), Cortland County (NY),Castilla (Colombia)

Europe, Middle East & Africa:
- France: French Riviera, Avignon
- UK: Exeter, Brighton, Crawley, Essex, Colchester, Chelmsford,Swindon, Cheltenham, Ipswich, Norwich, Peterborough, Leicester,Chesterfield
- Germany: Freiburg, Stuttgart, Waiblingen, Remseck, Kornwestheim,Ludwigsburg, Saarbruecken, Chemnitz, Erfurt, Ratigen,
Munster, Hamburg, Luebeck
Umea (Sweden)
Borger-Odoorn (The Netherlands)

2.5m imagery for the entire countries of: Tunisia, UAE, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Rod Stewart's Model Railway


Laid out at his Beverly Hills mansion, the 1:87-scale version of New York's Grand Central Station in the Forties boasts 100ft of track, period locomotives, skyscrapers, advertisement hoardings and lots of tiny passengers in period hats and coats.

Its appearance on the cover of this month's Model Railroader realises a lifelong ambition for 62-year-old Rod, who has said that such an honour would "mean more to me than the cover of Rolling Stone".

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

California Fires

Satellite photo of fires around San Diego
Google News search

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Meet the Steves

Since the early Twentieth Century, evolution deniers have been fond of creating lists of "scientists" who do not accept evolution. This tactic is an attempt to give the erroneous impression that, among scientists in general, support for evolution is in decline or that evolution is a "theory in crisis."

Project Steve is a parody of these lists conducted by the National Center for Science Education.

More info here
Current Steve-o-meter
Project Steve

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Latin for cloud

In meteorology Nimbus is Latin for "cloud". However "nimbus" means specifically "rain cloud".
Another word in Latin which means cloud is nebula, which in astronomy means an interstellar cloud of gas and dust.

The Eagle Nebula

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Asus launches Linux mini laptop

From the Register
Asus has formally rolled out its Eee PC line of sub-notebook computers, a week after UK supplier RM - formerly Research Machines - spilled the beans on two of the models. The complete line-up comprises four computers.

All four models are based around the same 7in display; 900MHz Intel Celeron processor and chipset; 10/100Mbps Ethernet port and 802.11b/g Wi-Fi for internet access; HD audio; three USB ports; SD card slot; stereo speakers and microphone input; and a version of the Linux open source operating system, Xandros.

The basic model, the 2G Surf has a 2GB of Flash storage and 256MB of DDR 2 memory. The 4G Surf ups the storage to 4GB and the memory to 512MB. The next machine up, the plain 4G model, matches that spec but introduces a 0.3-megapixel webcam into the display's bezel. It also ups the first two machines' 2.8-hour, 4400mAh battery to a 3.5-hour, 5200mAh unit.

The top-of-the-range 8G builds on the 4G and is fitted out with 1GB of DDR 2 and 8GB of Flash in addition to the extras the 4G offers.

Richard Simmons

I have no idea who Richard Simmons is but searching for his name has gone "volcanic" over at Google Trends.

Here's a bunch of links for those of you who know who he is

Richard Simmons on David Letterman
Richard Simmons Hilarious video
Yet another Richard Simmons on Letterman video link

Monday, October 15, 2007

Mallorca Tornado

Photos/videos of the supercell that hit the island of Mallorca and the east coast of Spain.

YouTube 2
YouTube 3
YouTube 4
YouTube 5


Following up on the Mutated Pictures Project
Hive mind
How does it feel to die?
New Scientist article
Vimeo High Def Video
Better quality than YouTube
CNN asks how much you paid for the new Radiohead album
The New Space Race
The Technological Singularity
Amazon could be lost in 40 years
Early Venus had oceans
Scientists lift veil on galactic dust
Family Guy explains Death Star flaw
Microsoft and Facebook deal rumours

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Life Sized X-Wing Launch - What really happened

Friday, October 12, 2007

Moonwalking Mannequin Bird

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Google Streetview cars spotted in other cities

Via Googlified

There has been several sightings of the Google Streetview car in more cities:

St. Paul
Ankeny, Iowa
Evansville, Indiana
Washington D.C.
Salt Lake City
Quebec City
Columbus, Ohio

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Google Streetview Chicago

Chicago Tribune has a blogpost on the first interesting sightings on Google Streetview Chicago.

Google adds six new cities to StreetView

From the Google LatLong blog

"Now you can check out 360-degree views of Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland and Tucson. As an added bonus, the images in Phoenix, Tucson and parts of Chicago are all in high resolution.

But wait! There's more. Ever wish you could pan up to the very top of a 50-story skyscraper using Street View? Well, prepare yourself for some serious sightseeing; we've introduced the ability to pan up in most new cities."

Radiohead In Rainbows Reviews

Here's a bunch of reviews of the latest Radiohead album In Rainbows collected from around the web.

The Times

"For what it’s worth, In Rainbows was sent to me at 6.30am. Three hours later, this insidious index of sonic surprises is stacking up in my mind, like planes waiting to land. The trick, I guess, is to give your fans what they didn’t know they wanted. Radiohead, old hands at this, have been doing it for over a decade now. With In Rainbows, they appear to have done it again."

‘In Rainbows’ is similar to ‘Hail to the Thief’ in its conception of mixing styles and sounds developed during the recording of The Bends, Ok Computer, and Kid A/Amnesiac. From the opening bars of the ‘Idiotequesque’ ‘15 Step’ to the final bars of the majestic ‘Videotape’, there is a vast array of genres and styles to feast upon.

Rolling Stone track by track review
Another track by track review
Dave Allen - a review of sorts
"With that in mind it’s fair to say that Radiohead have delivered access and value for sure. In Rainbow is not the ground-breaking existential, fuck-with-our-heads records that Amnesiac or Kid A were. It doesn’t take me on that helter skelter ride that OK Computer took me; it doesn’t even take me down the dark paths that Thom Yorke’s Eraser explored. Yet still it’s the most enthralling rock album that you’ll hear before the year is out."

Advertise on LinuxNotes!

Click on this graphic to expand

LinuxNotes gets on average around 1,000 visitors per day (see my Google Analytics graphic above). Your site can grab a bit of that traffic (and get more Google goodness since I'll be linking to you) by advertising in my top banner with a 16x16 pixel icon. Look up at the top right - all those "buy" icons. One of them could be yours.


Pounds sterling: 1 month: £10 3 months: £25 12 months: £90

US Dollars: 1 month: $20 3 months $50 12 months: $180

Euros: 1 month 14.50 3 months: 36.25 12 months: 130.50

If you want to advertise just send LinuxNotes an email ( with the following details:

- Your name
- The URL you want to Advertise
- Text you want displayed “on hover”
- What length of time you’re wanting (1,3,12 months)
- Attach the 16×16 pixel icon you want to display.

Payment is by Paypal only, payable to

Once I receive payment your 16x16 icon will be up right anyway.

Not convinced? Here's some more traffic data. LinuxNotes shamelessly engages in traffic baiting , so if there's a volcanic Google Trend happening, I'll blog it.

Here's the traffic in response to this post

And here's the volcano of traffic in response to this post which made it to Digg and Reddit

And here's another traffic rocket , back in May, in response to this post

For only 10 quid for a month, you could get a piece of that traffic for your website.

Radiohead download

If you are looking for the new Radiohead album "In Rainbows" it's at this url:

From the BBC:
"In Rainbows, the seventh studio album by alternative rock group Radiohead, has become available for download from their official website. The band have let fans decide what to pay for the 10 MP3 files - from nothing to £100."

How to embed a Flickr flash slideshow in your blog

If you want to embed a Flickr flash slideshow in your blog just use this:

<div align=center>
<iframe src="" align="middle" frameborder="0" height="500" scrolling="no" width="500"></iframe>

just replace "tags=ubuntu" with a tag of your own choosing.

Here it is in action:

Monday, October 08, 2007

Columbus Day

Columbus Day is a holiday celebrating the anniversary of the October 12, 1492 arrival of Christopher Columbus to the Americas.

Since 1971, the holiday has been commemorated in the U.S. on the second Monday in October, the same day as Thanksgiving in neighboring Canada. It is generally observed today by schools, some banks, the bond market, the U.S. Postal Service, federal offices, and most state government offices; however, most businesses and stock exchanges remain open.

Further reading:
Columbus Day
Christopher Columbus
Google News

Monday Linkdump

A blog about all things buying and selling on ebay
Boris Quote of the Day
A different Boris Johnson quote each day.
Crimean War photos
An investigation
Top Ten mega disasters
The Bumper Book of Government Waste
£100 billion squandered

Friday, October 05, 2007

Ig Nobel Awards 2007

The annual awards for quirky and off-beat science research with handed out by the Annals of Improbable Research at Harvard University.

Some of the winners included:

  • Spanish scientists who found that rats sometimes could not distinguish between Japanese spoken backwards and Dutch spoken backwards.

  • An Australian woman who documented the indexing problems caused by the word "the."

  • A Japanese researcher who extracted vanilla flavoring from cow dung.

  • A Taiwanese man who patented a Batman-like device that drops a net over bank robbers.

Further info:
Google News

Most abundant element in the universe

The most abundant element in the universe is hydrogen , followed by helium and then oxygen.

The top ten most abundant elements are as follows:
1. Hydrogen
2. Helium
3. Oxygen
4. Carbon
5. Neon
6. Iron
7. Nitrogen
8. Silicon
9. Magnesium
10. Sulfur

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sputnik anniversary

Fifty years ago today the Russian satellite Sputnik 1 was launched into orbit, thus beginning the space race. As a result Google has a new doodle today.

Sputnik wikipedia page

SeedyR now in blog format

The Dublin based SeedyR record label (run by my mate Corrugated Tunnel) has moved to blog format for it's website.

You can visit it over here: SeedyR blog

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

BBC interview Corrugated Tunnel

Interview is here

Monday, October 01, 2007


From this Fedora forum thread.
Ubuntu launchpad also refers to it where a poster writes that he has finally got his sound to work

He writes: "I have the NVidia MCP51 High Definition Audio with the Sigmatel STAC 9200 chip on it. It came with my Gateway MT3421 laptop."

Here's the instructions:
1. uninstall every alsa package if you have any
rpm -qa | grep -i alsa - if it shows nothing skip this step
and then
rpm -evv --nodeps alsa-... for every package

2. go to and download these files :

Open a terminal and type : su then make a directory called alsa into /usr/local/src. Copy the files to this directory and unpack them (tar xjvf alsa-... for every file).

3. go to this page and download the file patch_sigmatel.c.patch-1.0.15rc1-simple. Copy the patch to /usr/local/src/alsa.

4. type this :
patch alsa-driver-1.0.15rc1/alsa-kernel/pci/hda/patch_sigmatel.c < patch_sigmatel.c.patch-1.0.15rc1-simple.

5. do this:
cd alsa-lib-1.0.15rc1/
./configure && make && make install
cd ../alsa-utils-1.0.15rc1/
./configure && make && make install
cd ../alsa-driver-1.0.15rc1/
./configure && make && make install

If the configure script complains about missing some libraries yum for them and try again.

6. reboot
7. after rebooting volume may be muted so use kmix or some other mixer to enable it.

Hope it works for you. I have a Gateway MT 3705 laptop and i finally have sound after months of silence

NOTE - on Ubuntu with step 1 you just have to remove alsa-lib and alsa-utils.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


A Fridge for REAL men
Army mutiny in Burma?
Spacecraft begins voyage to the asteroid belt
A robot riding a bicycle

Friday, September 28, 2007

All Hail Technoviking

Via Digg

Technoviking does not dance to the music, the music dances to Technoviking.

Update: The video was uploaded to less than a day ago and already it has had a staggering 1,300,000 views. "TechnoViking" certainly has turned into a bit of an Internet celebrity. This morning "technoviking" was at no.4 on Google Trends.

Update 2: Somebody's put Michael Jackson's "Beat It" on the video..

This is Sparta! (pic)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Russian schools to switch to Linux

Via Cnews

Russian OS is to be installed on every school computer in Russia by 2009. Furthermore, every pupil will get the opportunity to operate the applied software produced in Russia, Leonid Reiman, acting Minister of Communication stated at a press conference.

The Ministry of Communication Press Service explains the Ministry plans to install Russian OS and alternative program package in every Russian school. The dates to carry out tenders for OS development have not been announced yet, but the tenders are to be held in the near future, the Ministry of Communication informs.

“Software distributives, developed on the basis of Linux and tested within 2007-2008 might actually be installed in schools by 2009 end”, - Sergey Shalmanov, CNews Analytics Analyst believes.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Family Guy Star Wars

Friday, September 21, 2007

PHP : Outputting A to Z

for ($i="A";$i<="Z";$i++)

will output A to Z , but it will also output AA, AB, AC until it finishes with ZZ.

To just output A to Z do the following

for ($i="A";$i!="AA";$i++)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is astonishing - it's the Milky Way in the constellation of Scorpius. The clouds that you see aren't clouds of dust and gas - they are actually clouds of stars.

The "bin Laden" trade

Somebody is betting $900 million on the S&P crashing by Sept 21st. It's been dubbed the "bin Laden" trade.
Read more here
The Bin Laden trade
Dispelling the Bin Laden options trades

Talk Like A Pirate Day

Arrrrhhh... today is "Talk Like A Pirate Day".

Pirates are absolute divine beings according to Gospel of the Flying Spagetti Monster.

More info:
Talk Like A Pirate Day
Church of the Flying Spagetti Monster

SCO blames Linux for bankruptcy

Via Slashdot and Information Week

More on Groklaw

"With its cash reserves running out and its legal case against IBM Corp. unraveling, The SCO Group Inc. says there is doubt that it will remain afloat.

SCO made the statement in its most recent quarterly U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission statement, filed today. The company cited its recent motion for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as well as a recent court setback relating to its intellectual-property claims as reasons for worry."

Monday, September 17, 2007

Northern Rock shares plunge

In the UK there's currently a run on a bank - Northern Rock - with worried savers queueing to get their money out. Share trading in Northern Rock shares has been suspended.

"Worried savers have continued to flock to Northern Rock bank branches to withdraw their savings, following similar scenes over the weekend."

Northern Rock share trading suspended
BBC News
Northern Rock Shares plunge
Yahoo Finance Quotes

Update: Via the FT
The European Central Bank offered emergency credit facilities worth €139bn in a midweek auction which was heavily oversubsribed. According to FT Deutschland, 140 banks applied, including “some of the largest British banks” - Barclays among them.

Turning to the Bank of England, as Northern Rock did last night, has a high reputational risk, whereas turning to the ECB has, by and large, allowed UK banks to stay out of the headlines.

2007 Emmy winners

Here is the complete list
Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series
Jeremy Piven - Entourage

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series
Terry O’Quinn - Lost

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series
Jaime Pressly as Joy - My Name Is Earl

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie
Thomas Haden Church - Broken Trail

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series
Katherine Heigl - Grey’s Anatomy

Outstanding Writing For A Variety, Music Or Comedy Program
Late Night With Conan O’Brien

Outstanding Directing For A Variety, Music Or Comedy Program
Rob Marshall - Tony Bennett: An American Classic

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie
Robert Duvall - Broken Trail

Outstanding Miniseries
Broken Trail

Outstanding Directing For A Drama Series
Alan Taylor - The Sopranos

Outstanding Writing For A Drama Series
David Chase - The Sopranos

Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Series
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart

Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Special
Tony Bennett: An American Classic

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie
Judi Davis - The Starter Wife

Outstanding Made For TV Movie
Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie
Helen Mirren - Prime Suspect

Outstanding Directing For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Dramatic Special
Philip Martin - Prime Suspect

Outstanding Writing For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Dramatic Special
Frank Deasy - Prime Suspect

Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Television
Al Gore and Joel Hyatt,

Outstanding Individual Performance In A Variety Or Music Program
Tony Bennett - Tony Bennett: An American Classic

Outstanding Directing For A Comedy Series
Richard Shepard - Ugly Betty

Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series
Greg Daniels - The Office for “Gay Witch Hunt”

Outstanding Reality-competition Program
The Amazing Race

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series
Ricky Gervais - Extras

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series
Sally Field - Brothers & Sisters

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series
America Ferrera - Ugly Betty

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series
James Spader - Boston Legal

Outstanding Comedy Series
30 Rock

Outstanding Drama Series
The Sopranos

Google News
Emmy Awards website

Friday, September 14, 2007

Tropical Storm Ingrid

MIAMI (AFP) — Tropical Storm Ingrid emerged over the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday, becoming the ninth named storm of the 2007 Atlantic season, the US National Hurricane Center said.

With winds of up to 65 kilometers (40 miles) per hour, Ingrid was about 1,350 kilometers (840 miles) east of the Lesser Antilles, a chain of popular tourist islands, the center said.

National Hurricane Center

Thursday, September 13, 2007

10 Totally Stupid Online Business Ideas that made someone rich

Good one this. Nichegeek has an article on 10 totally stupid online business ideas that made someone rich.

My favourite is LaserMonks - real Cistercian monks who will refill your laser cartridge. 2005 sales were $2.5 million.

Richard Stallman - If you want freedom don't follow LInus Torvalds

Full 4 page interview with Richard Stallman on freedom, Linux, Microsoft, software patents and Linus Torvalds.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Vaduz is the capital of the principality of Liechtenstein. The town, located along the Rhine, has about 5,248 inhabitants.

View Larger Map

Google Trends this morning show "vaduz" at number 3.


Bloxorz (web game)
15 Last FM power tweaks
The world's worst credit card
5000+ resources to do just about anything online
Cap Gemini to pitch Google Apps

Monday, September 10, 2007

Photonic thruster may shorten trip to Mars to a WEEK

Not sure about the actual physics behind this, but it is an interesting story nonetheless.
Thruster May Shorten Mars Trip

An amplified photon thruster that could potentially shorten the trip to Mars from six months to a week has reportedly attracted the attention of aerospace agencies and contractors.

Young Bae, founder of the Bae Institute in Tustin, Calif., first demonstrated his photonic laser thruster (PLT), which he built with off-the-shelf components, in December.

The demonstration produced a photon thrust of 35 ┬ÁN and is scalable to achieve much greater thrust for future space missions, the institute said. Applications include highly precise satellite formation flying configurations for building large synthetic apertures in space for earth or space observation, precision contaminant-free spacecraft docking operations, and propelling spacecraft to unprecedented speeds -- faster than 100 km/sec.

“This is the tip of the iceberg," Bae said in a statement from the institute. "PLT has immense potential for the aerospace industry. For example, PLT-powered spacecraft could transit the 100 million km to Mars in less than a week.”

Britney Spears MTV Awards

"Out of shape, out of touch, Britney Spears opened the worse MTV Awards Show ever, an atrocious disaster show inspired by Timbaland that served as a big infomercial for the Palms Hotel. If this is the music business, no wonder albums aren’t selling; they don’t have a clue what they are doing!"

Britney Spears Kicks off MTV Awards
Digg - Britney Spears attempts comeback at MTV Awards
Britney Back from the brink - in a bra

Sunday, September 09, 2007

New blog - Towns of America

I've started a new blog about the lesser known small towns of America. In Google Earth and Maps I've always been fascinated by the small towns of America that I've never heard of before - and there are quite a lot of them. Most Europeans would have heard of Kansas City or Tulsa, but very few , if any, would know about ,Cape Girardeau, Benton or Olney.

The format of the blog is a simple idea - pick out a relatively unknown town in America and post an embedded Google map of it, a Wiki link, links to photo galleries and any other links to websites about that town.

Formula One tracks on Google Maps

Formula 1 Grand Prix circuits Google Maps mashup

Hat tip: Googlemaps Mania

Other Google Earth/Maps links:
Google Earth Flight Simulator tips
Rachael Ray's US Travel mashup
Mendoza, Argentina crime map
UK Flight prices mashup
Discover popular user created maps

Nessun Dorma Lyrics

Luciano Pavarotti
October 12, 1935 – September 6, 2007
Nessun dorma! Nessun dorma!
Tu pure, o, Principessa,
nella tua fredda stanza,
guardi le stelle
che fremono d'amore
e di speranza.

Ma il mio mistero e chiuso in me,
il nome mio nessun sapra!
No, no, sulla tua bocca lo diro
quando la luce splendera!

Ed il mio bacio sciogliera il silenzio
che ti fa mia!

(Il nome suo nessun sapra!...
e noi dovrem, ahime, morir!)

Dilegua, o notte!
Tramontate, stelle!
Tramontate, stelle!
All'alba vincero!
vincero, vincero!

None must sleep! None must sleep!
And you, too, Princess,
in your cold room,
gaze at the stars
which tremble with love
and hope!

But my mystery is locked within me,
no-one shall know my name!
No, no, I shall say it as my mouth
meets yours when the dawn is breaking!

And my kiss will break the silence
which makes you mine!

(No-one shall know his name,
and we, alas, shall die!)

Vanish, o night!
Fade, stars!
At dawn I shall win

Pavarotti , in his own words:
"Pensho che una vita per la musica sia una vita spesa bene ed e a questo che mi son dedicato"

"I think a life in music is a life beautifully spent and this is what I have devoted my life to"

Friday, September 07, 2007

Ubuntu Feisty - sound problems

A bunch of links regarding sound problems with the STAC9200 chipset on Ubuntu Feisty

Launchpad Bug 117246
No sound - Ubuntu Forums
No sound with hda nvidia and sigmatel stac 9200
Comprehensive sound problems guide
Hda Intel Sound HOWTO
Fedora 6 - No sound on Sigmatel - Gateway laptop
ALSA dmix setup
Envy - nvidia driver download python script

Vanessa Hudgens Pictures

This is another pure linkbait experiment after seeing this morning's Google trends. No I don't have them, but you could have a look around
this Google Trends page.

Google Reader adds Search

Google Reader now has a search facility.
Via Matt Cutts

Monday, August 20, 2007

On Vacation

I'm on vacation for the next two weeks, returning September 3rd. Blogging will be light.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Shuttle Launch

Shuttle launches with teacher aboard
Spaceflight Now rolling updates
Real time space shuttle tracking

Wednesday, August 08, 2007 joke


[Snausages] So, an E-flat, a G-flat, and a B-flat walk into a bar.
[Snausages] And the bartender says,
[Snausages] "I'm sorry, we don't serve minors."
[Myke] That struck a chord.
[Snausages] Careful with those puns, you'll get in treble.
[Myke] But they're key to my humour.
[Myke] And very noteworthy.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Minneapolis Bridge Collapse

Star Tribune (local newspaper)
Photos from eyewitnesses
Bridge collapses
Like a movie
Dozens injured, 9 dead

Via Drudge

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Digital Earth Blog

I just came across a newish blog called the Digital Earth Blog which deals with all things Google Earth, Google Maps , Virtual Earth and all things in the digital mapping sphere.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Liveblogging the Floods

The Gray Monk

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Simpsonizer

If you want to turn yourself into a Simpsons character then try out the Simpsonizer
(traffic might be heavy, so if you can't get onto it , try again later)

hat tip: Wired blog

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sims Disco Duck

Friday, July 20, 2007


Well, my blog has been approved by payperpost, and this is my first payperpost, which is an way of doing blog marketing. It's an interesting concept - in that you get paid, with full disclosure, for blogposts. A marketplace exists on payperpost where the higher your Alexa and Google rankings , the most likely you can have higher paying payperpost items. I'll see how this one goes as it sounds quite interesting.

The Payperpost marketplace is explained over here, and it goes on to say that

PayPerPost operates the largest sponsored content marketplace in the world. We help bloggers get paid for creating and publishing advertiser sponsored content. We invented the model and have helped Advertisers and Bloggers (known as "Posties" in our marketplace) successfully complete more than one hundred thousand transactions. Our network is comprised of a tens of thousands of bloggers, from leisure bloggers to professionals that make a living on their blog.

Seems pretty cool - if i'm personally interested in say blue widgets, then i'll do a payperpost for a website that sells a wide range of blue widgets - without necessarily endorsing it or going over the top. A description and links would suffice. And it would be a service to readers of my blog that also like blue widgets.

Here's more explanation about the payperpost marketplace:

Advertisers create "Opportunities" for bloggers to write about their products, services and websites. They range from $5 to several thousands of dollars, depending on the criteria set by the advertiser. Bloggers with high amounts of traffic can expect to earn a significant amount of money for each post they create on behalf of an advertiser.

Advertisers will post all sorts of Opportunities, from simple buzz campaigns to product reviews with pictures or videos. It's up to you to pick the Opportunities that best suit you and your blog. If it doesn't feel right, if you don't own the product, or if you can't be honest we ask you to pass on the Opportunity. Dishonest or completely off-topic posts can ultimately hurt your blog's credibility and traffic, dimishing your earning potential through our marketplace. We strongly encourage you to only take opportunities that relate to you and be judicious in your selections.

I also really like the fact that they have a code of ethics page, emphasising full disclosure. They go on to say

Truth-in-advertising is extremely important to us. It is your responsibility to follow our full disclosure policy and inform your readers about your relationship with our advertisers.

I couldn't agree more.

"It Just Works"

A commenter on Slashdot replies to this article , about Microsoft patenting the ability to insert adware and spyware directly into the Windows kernel. (no , i'm not kidding)

cheros writes:

I wonder if Microsoft is busy abandoning the software business.

First we get Vista, with a reported 20+ services phoning home with enough detail to make what Redmond get personally identifiable, not to mention that the Business version in my experience is an absolute dog to run compared to XP or Linux on the same "Vista approved" hardware. So we have instant privacy and security problems that come with the package, and new code which will take another year to become actually safe and usable (cute visuals do not maketh a usable business OS, especially if you have to retrain everyone - might as well take the plunge and retrain them on Macs or Linux).

Then we get the latest Office, which will work in Microsoft's attempt to create an 'Open' file format. That effort has mainly demonstrated that they (a) don't know what Open means, (b) don't see what their customers are asking for and (c) don't care about the previous two aspects, to the point of not understanding that their effort is alienating their increasingly savvy customers.

What's more, the 'Open' documentation has already given rise to the question if their flawed Excel spreadsheet functions (as documented) are new defects, or simply the first documentation of an already existing flawed interpretation of the laws of mathematics - any calculation done on an Excel spreadsheet to report financial results could now be seen as breaking diligence. In other words, using Excel knowingly may even carry a risk of criminal charges (IMHO, IANAL). Which executive would want that risk, especially with lower cost alternatives at hand that support a file format than can be machine processed and has been accepted at EU level?

However, MS trying to move into other markets hasn't been quite the success they'd hoped for either. Huge repair bills for Xbox, Zune zonked, and a lot of suppliers opting for a less license encumbered OS in their phones - it's all looking a tad shabby for your average clued up investor. Not a stock I'd keep on my portfolio, and following the progression other companies have made I think death by lawyer (suing your customers) cannot be far away.

And now, new idea, they're trying to move ads beyond your control into the core OS. Oh yes, that really will help drive up productivity in an office. And it'll be a primary risk vector if it gets infected.

Oh, yeah, I forgot, any new MS OS is the safest ever. Shame it still gets hacked before it's even launched. Talk about losing credibility..

Sure, I'm probably just a Mac/Linux fanboy. Isn't it irritating that even the less vocal ones in that category get proven right all the time? I don't choose an OS because of its fanbase, I chose it because it works for my business and I can see through the FUD (and OK, we're not a thousand seat business). I've had one office on OO exclusively now for 6 months, and no client has even noticed the difference - they're now switching to Linux completely. All the other offices are busy being switched to all Open Source based software in the next few months (using the holiday season), with the occasional Mac thrown in for graphics work.

And you know the best news? No virus problems, no daily 'reboot now' updates, no Genuine Advantage, no BSA/FAST worries.

It Just Works.

New York Times review of Harry Potter

Contains spoilers - you can read the review here

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The very last sentence in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

All was well.

YouTubed Brady Bunch

This has to be the oddest thing I've seen in ages.
Nine You Tube videos on a single page , arranged to look like the Brady Bunch intro.
(Via Boing Boing)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

As Boing Boing explains electronic copies of the latest Harry Potter book , not due out until Saturday, have leaked online. They aren't proper e-copies but rather photographs of each page of the book.

Piratebay has the torrents to download.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Facebook is the new AOL according to Kottke. He has a point.
Fake book covers, to hide the fact that you are reading Harry Potter. (NSFW)
Photos of a 7-11 set up as a Kwik E-Mart to promo the new Simpsons Film. (via Kottke
echochrome gameplay demo - escher like weirdness.

Screen tutorial

A Quick Tutorial on screen
Screen power tips

Monday, July 16, 2007

BBC quotes me but doesnt give me a backlink

In this BBC article entitled Prince album set free on the internet, the BBC quotes my blog without giving me a backlink , nor even mentioning my blog's name. The quotes above were taken from my blogpost offering the new Prince album to download.

In spite of that, it is kind of cool seeing your writing on such a megasite as the BBC's.

Tech Talk - Linus Torvalds on git

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Nova - Monster of the Milky Way

Nova's Monster of the Milky Way documentary is about the supermassive black hole at the centre of galaxy. You can watch it online - and it's in seven segments (real, quicktime, win media formats).

Friday, July 13, 2007

clipmarks test 1

just trying out the clipmarks extension for firefox.
Astronomers claim to find the most distant known galaxies
Posted: July 12, 2007

PASADENA, Calif. - Using natural "gravitational lenses," an international team of astronomers claim to have found the first traces of a population of the most distant galaxies yet seen-the light we see from them today left more than 13 billion years ago, when the universe was just 500 million years old.

 blog it

Friday the 13th

A Friday occurring on the 13th day of any month is considered to be a day of bad luck in English, German, Polish and Portuguese-speaking cultures around the globe. Similar superstitions exist in some other traditions. In Greece or Spain, for example, Tuesday the 13th takes the same role.

Via Wikipedia

Thursday, July 12, 2007

When NOT to hyphenate your name - the sequel [PICS]

Following on from the highly popular When not to hyphenate your name, which was Dugg to death, here's the sequel.

The Digg Effect

That's me at no.2

Update #1: checked my Google Analytics stats this morning and this is what I see:

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Streamy - a Digg killer?

Link: Streamy - invite only at the moment

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Monitoring changes to a directory tree in Linux

If you are managing a multi-user Linux box , as a sysadmin you'd like to be informed of changes in certain directory trees. Inotify is often suggested as a solution. But that might be overkill if you aren't concerned about file changes and just want to monitor a directory tree - have any dirs been updated, any created, or have any dirs been deleted.

The solution is surprisingly simple. It's rsync. But rsync with a twist.

The steps involved are

1. rsync JUST the directory tree - no files - to another area.
2. pipe the output into a mail to yourself
3. cronjob it.

This is how i rsync the dir tree of a dir that i want to monitor

> pico monitortree

rsync -av --delete --include '*/' --exclude '*' /websites/ /home/jflavin/sitetree/ | mail -s "directory tree report"

my websites folder is rsync'ed across to /home/jflavin/sitetree - but only the directory tree. no files are rsync'ed. its a bash script, so you'll need to chmod it to make it executable.

here's the cronjob entry:

> crontab -e

15 * * * * /cronscripts/monitortree

so my monitoring script kicks off every hour at 15 minutes past. and the output is mailed to me.
note the rsync statement above - it only rsyncs the directory tree. NOT the files. so its very fast. also, if somebody adds a file to a dir, the dir time stamp changes - and that'll be rsync'ed , thus alerting you to a file change - without the file being rsync'ed itself.

When not to hyphenate your name

update: Hello Reddit!. Thanks for upmodding this.

update 2: Hello Diggers. Over 1,500 diggs and rising. Thanks!