Garden input

As spotted on the Optimus project blog:

Large concrete Russian keyboard keys on grass

This is a standard Latin and Cyrillic double-layout on a monumental concrete keyboard installed in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg (shot on Sunday).

Visit the blog for a larger image.

How cool is that! Doubly-so that it is in both Russian and English. But then I have a particular fondness for Russia.

I’d love to have one of those in my garden. I’d love to have a garden big enough to have one of those installed.

Quite inspiring.

Google Maps Street View

Have you seen the new feature on Google Maps: Street View? It allows you to see a 360° high-resolution view of certain cities at street level. Currently the only cities available are in the USA (from West to East):

  • San Francisco, CA
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Denver, CO
  • Miami, FL
  • New York, NY

Check out the video (imbedded above) on YouTube of the Google Maps Street View; it’s a very entertaining introduction, created by the fine folks at the Googleplex.

Closer to home

I’d love to see this implemented for St Andrews, so that we could use the information on the university website (will mash-ups be available for Street View too?); we currently use Google Maps on the University maps page.

Unfortunately, at the moment the ‘satellite’ view of St Andrews is very low quality on Google Maps.

Microsoft, however, are one step ahead and can provide Scotland’s oldest university with the following wonderful aerial views of St Andrews at Live Search Maps. (The postcode linked to, by the way, is where my office is.)

Lock – phone – BB

A key

When I got home from work today Jane had had the front door lock changed! To be honest I’m surprised that she’s not done it sooner!

Actually, all was good: there have been some days that I’ve had to leave via the back door as I couldn’t physically unlock the front.

Just in case you were wondering, none of that was a euphemism. I honestly sometimes couldn’t get out the house! Which was somewhat frustrating.

New old phone

Nokia 5140i

In other news: I’m back to using my old-school Nokia 5140i.

My O2 Xda Orbit is now safely packaged up and ready to be returned to the O2 store in Edinburgh tomorrow. Following the hard reset and reinstallation of the other evening within 5 hours of being used after that it crashed … and then a couple of hours later completely froze. Bah!

Big sister?

Big Brother 2007 logo
While reinstalling software on my Psion 7Book I sat watching Big Brother on Channel 4 with Jane. Looks like it’s mostly Big Sister this year: eleven females and not a Y-chromosome in sight.

Until Friday. Poor fella.

Good to see Chris Moyles on Big Brother’s Big Mouth, though.

Obviously not too metal for St Andrews

Terrorizer on the shelves in my local WHSmith
Terrorizer magazine sitting proudly on the shelves of my local metal-luvin’ WHSmith

May the gods of real metalâ„¢ be praised! Look what I spotted on the shelves of my local WHSmith: if it’s not this month’s Terrorizer magazine – the world’s leading extreme music magazine.

And here was I saying to someone just the other day that Terrorizer magazine was too metal for St Andrews. I’m glad to be proved wrong.

When Kerrang! magazine went all nu-metal and emo that left only Metal Hammer to satisfy one’s interest in all things heavy. But now I’ve discovered Terrorizer too. I’ve not felt this excited since reading Mega Metal Kerrang! back in the day, when thrash metal was on the ascendency.

This month’s issue of Terrorizer features a cover shot of Finnish Viking-metal/folk-metal band Turisas as taken by the ever-talented Steve Brown; whose wife Lorna, incidentally, has the most wonderful and charming blog, one of my favourites: Lorna’s Thunks, thoroughly recommended.

Right, I’m off for my tea now. That’s how metal I am!

Mindjet MindManager 7 coming soon

Screenshot of Mindjet MindManager 7

One of my favourite and most-used applications is Mindjet MindManager 2002. I use it for everything, from planning websites and managing complex projects to helping to decide what to buy people for Christmas and reorganising my filing cabinet.

Mindmapping is a fabulous tool and of all the mindmapping applications that I’ve tried Mindjet‘s MindManager family of applications are by far my favourite. They are attractive, powerful and intuitive to use.

New version

The good news is that there is a major new version coming out this week: MindManager 7, which uses the new Microsoft ‘ribbon’ interface, also known as ‘Fluent UI‘.

I’ve said before on this blog that I’m a fan of the new Microsoft interface, as used in Office 2007, so I’m really looking forward to trying it within the context of mindmaps.

If you already have a previous version of MindManager you can buy an upgrade to version 6 (before 30 May) and you’ll automatically receive version 7 free. Needless to say I’ve already upgraded.

Try it

If you’ve never discovered mindmapping I urge you to download the MindManager trial and give it a go. At the university we used MindManager 2002 to manage and plan the migration of about 3,000 webpages very efficiently, and very effectively.

Also available

Other useful mindmapping resources that I’ve discovered recently include:

  • The Mindjet Blog

    This is the official Mindjet blog, which is as you might expect rather MindManager-centric.

  • The Mind Mapping Software Weblog

    It’s a blog. About mindmapping. Who would have thought?! It has a very comprehensive list of mindmapping applications available for all your favourite operating systems, as well as Web 2.0-style web-based applications.

  • Mindomo

    This is one of the few web-based mindmapping applications that I’ve tried, and I have to admit to being impressed. Never has distributed community mindmapping been so simple.

I’ll post a review of MindManager 2007 as soon as I’ve installed it and given it a whirl.

O2 Xda Orbit … nearly a review

O2 XDA Orbit - it's a PDA, a phone, a GPS, a Radio ... everything!

It was my intention this evening to write a review of my O2 Xda Orbit, the mobile/cell phone / PDA / GPS / radio device that I got about a month ago.

But instead I’m spending my evening performing a hard reset and reinstalling everything, for the second time this month. And I’m not even going to say how many times I’ve had to perform a soft reset. A day.

That, I guess, is a review in itself.

Software review: Mp3Tag

Screenshot of Mp3tag software

I’m not ashamed to admit that I am a little obsessive with keeping things in order, neatly categorised and (usually fairly) tidy: books, cassettes, CDs, clothes, files, folders and even MP3 tags. Which is why I love this piece of software: Mp3tag by German programmer Florian Heidenreich.

What it does

Mp3tag is a simple piece of freeware (donations are welcome) software that allows you to simply, and quickly edit the ID3 tag meta-data information contained within your MP3 files. This is the information that stores details about the title, artist, album, year, track, genre and each track.

I would get frustrated that sometimes after ripping a CD to MP3 I’d discover that the CDDB data was wrong, or not up to my (rather particular) standards. (A recent example: I ripped Satchel’s debut album EDC and discovered that the person who’d uploaded that data to CDDB had labelled it as a Brad album.)

Of course, every one of my installed MP3 players (WinAmp, iTunes and Windows Media Player 11) has the ability to edit this information but I wanted a fast standalone application that I could run independently of my media player and after a quick search on the mighty Google I stumbled upon Mp3tag and I’ve been delighted with it for the last couple of months.

Simple to use

Using it is simple:

  1. Start Mp3tag
  2. Select a folder of MP3 files
  3. Select the files you wish to edit the ID3 tag data for
  4. Make your adjustments, eg add a year, correct the spelling of the album title, and change the genre to all the files within your chosen album
  5. Click Save


Of course it also does a lot more including allowing you to choose between ID3v1, ID3v2 or APE metadata, and use data from an online CDDB database, but my favourite facility is the ability to change the filename to match the tag information (Tag – Filename) or vice versa (Filename – Tag). You can also change the case of tag information (lowercase, Mixed Case, Sentence case or UPPER CASE). Fabulous!!

It’s the versatility, usefulness and simplicity of this application that brings me back to it again and again. That and my slightly obsessive-compulsive nature. And my inability to proof-read MP3 tags when I’m ripping them in WinAmp to start with.

In second place…

Incidentally, of the media players I have installed I find the tag information editor in iTunes to be one of my favourites, followed by Windows Media Player 11, and lastly WinAmp. I use WinAmp the most but its tag editing facilities sadly have a long way to go before I’ll stop using the wonderfully useful Mp3tag.