Major Tom cover version — official free download available

You’ve likely heard it in the Lin­coln MKZ com­mer­cials, but last night I finally paid atten­tion to the ad and listened… and heard this awe­some ver­sion inbetwixt shows. So obvi­ously I had to find it some­where.

After scour­ing Google videos and all, I’d finally resigned myself to hav­ing to listen to it through this blip.fm track.

Then, good friend and über-track­er-out­door-dude Ranger Bob found the offi­cial down­load of Shiny Toy Guns cov­er ver­sion of Peter Shilling’s Major Tom (Com­ing Home).

Update: Embed­ding the Blip.fm flash play­er ver­sion here for instant listen­ing grat­i­fic­a­tion.

Give it a listen, then check out the ori­gin­al in the Peter Shil­ling You­Tube videos. Who wins? I like the new one 🙂

5 favourite iPhone & iPod Touch applications

I recently bought an iPod Touch to replace my very cool, yet aging Palm T|X. The iPod Touch doesn’t yet ‘fit me like a glove’ but I’m sure after time it will, and I’ll doc­u­ment my exper­i­ences with it here.

Pre­vi­ously I’d writ­ten that I was rather unim­pressed with the ‘WiPod’ as I called it then. The fea­ture set looked lim­ited and the price was rather high.

My how much dif­fer­ence a year and a half makes. This is a very func­tion­al device that I’m begin­ning to really appre­ci­ate.

But today, I thought I’d share my five favour­ite iPhone / iPod Touch applic­a­tions. Even though I’ve had mine under a month, be assured that I’ve been scour­ing the iTunes Applic­a­tions store over that month. You may not agree with me, or maybe I’ve missed YOUR must-have applic­a­tion; please let me know in the com­ments below.

But, since I found that app store so handy, it has to be the first applic­a­tion on my list:

  1. The iTunes Applic­a­tion Store: Here’s where you pur­chase your iPhone & iPod Touch applic­a­tions. The store is search­able, and breaks the avail­able applic­a­tions down by cat­egor­ies, as well as rank­ing them by pop­ular­ity and ‘new-ness’. But you don’t have to spend a lot to get more func­tion­al­ity on your device; many applic­a­tions are only $0.99 (in your loc­al cur­rency!). And, there are often ‘lite’ free ver­sions avail­able too. A must have applic­a­tion, and since it’s shipped with your device, you’ve no reas­on to not explore it fur­ther.
  2. Flight Con­trol: Cur­rently one of the hot­test cas­u­al games for the iPhone & Touch. Decept­ively simple…aircraft appear at the edge of your screen; simply touch them and drag a ‘flight path’ to guide them to a safe land­ing on the appro­pri­ate run­way. But wait,another plane has appeared, and now anoth­er! As you can guess, your air­space quickly gets com­plex. A very simple game to play, but much more dif­fi­cult to mas­ter. Well worth the $0.99 it’s cur­rently priced at.
  3. Ever­note: A very cool applic­a­tion that mates up with the PC/Mac part­ners. Basic­ally, Ever­note lets you clip any­thing to an online stor­age vault. You can then view your docs via any browser, or through OS spe­cif­ic desktop applic­a­tions. Unlike social book­mark­ing sites such as Del.icio.us, Ever­note actu­ally clips the web page, pre­serving the state of the page at the time it was clipped. A rather gen­er­ous free account is avail­able, as well as a paid one offer­ing more stor­age capa­city.
  4. Google Apps: Since I tend to do a lot of my work ‘in the cloud’ Google Apps is the applic­a­tion suite for me. The iPhone / iPod Touch imple­ment­a­tion is quite effect­ive at get­ting me access to my ‘office suite’ of tools. Mostly I use it to dis­play and review doc­u­ments I’ve cre­ated and stored there. Since it’s browser based, it uses Safari, which is great for dis­play­ing and manip­u­lat­ing text, but is a pain for text entry.
  5. Safari: The default browser. For me this is an essen­tial tool, for what is the point of being con­nec­ted and not being able to surf the web? The browser works as expec­ted. Depend­ing on which ori­ent­a­tion you hold the device on, pages can be rather tiny, but a simple multi-touch zoom makes them eas­ily read­able. But don’t get me star­ted on key­board entry for pass­words and oth­er logins…I must have fat fin­gers as I’m always mis-typ­ing my logins. For text entry, it’s barely func­tion­al. I hope the recently announced 3.0 OS upgrade will address this.

Giv­en that I’ve got over 70 apps cur­rently installed, and I appear to have a vora­cious appet­ite to down­load and try out new ones, I’m sure I’ll be mak­ing anoth­er post like this one in the future.

Now these are just my cur­rent top five. What have I missed? What are your favour­ite iPhone apps? Please add yours in the com­ments section…I’m always look­ing for some­thing new to down­load and play with 🙂

Best music player ever. Songbird 1.1.1 now with watched folders.

I’ve writ­ten before about Song­bird, the free, open-source music play­er based on the Moz­illa / Fire­Fox plat­form.

Basic­ally Song­bird rocks.

Well, now there’s extra-new-and-improved Song­bird good­ness as the update was released this even­ing, with the one sig­ni­fic­ant fea­ture it’s been lack­ing up ’till now — the ‘Watched Folder’ fea­ture.

To quote from the song­bird release email:

Watch Folders
You can choose to watch a folder hier­archy for changes and the con­tent will auto-magic­ally be impor­ted in your lib­rary. If a file is removed from the watched folder, the cor­res­pond­ing track will be deleted from your Lib­rary.

Of course, this isn’t the only new fea­ture in Song­bird, but for me, it’s the most import­ant.

If you’ve not tried Song­bird as an iTunes replace­ment, give it a go…it’s really worth the invest­ment, for Mac, PC and Linux.

Wondering why people follow me on Twitter?

About 6 months ago I got curi­ous as to why people were fol­low­ing me on Twit­ter. Basic­ally I asked them… and then found out some rather inter­est­ing things, both about why they were fol­low­ing me and also about the evolving etiquette around Twit­ter inter­ac­tions.

This has turned into a two-part post. Ini­tially I was going to address both the pro­cess I used, and the res­ults, but once I writ­ing about the pro­cess, I real­ized the post was  too long to digest at once. So, I’ll get to the num­bers in the next post.

On to the pro­cess.

How do I know when someone’s fol­low­ing me?
If you look under the Notices tab on your Twit­ter Set­tings page you’ll see the check­box beside ‘New Fol­low­er Emails:’. Check it and you’ll be auto­ma­gic­ally emailed every time someone starts fol­low­ing. Simple ‘eh? Without this fea­ture, know­ing when someone star­ted fol­low­ing me would have been much more dif­fi­cult.

Ask­ing the question…it’s all in the ques­tion.

Ini­tially, I thought a simple DM (Twit­ter Dir­ect Mes­sage) along the lines of ‘hey, thanks for fol­low­ing me, how’d you find me?’ would suf­fice. But no, it’s too simple, and didn’t really get much of a response. I think it ten­ded to put people off by it’s brev­ity, and it was gen­er­ic; it looked like the DM could have been gen­er­ated by an Auto-DM script.

Auto-DM is cur­rently con­sidered bad form as many people inter­pret the Twit­ter to be at its best with live inter­ac­tion, and the DM chan­nel to be reserved for inter­ac­tion that may not be of interest to all of  your fol­low­ers.

So, I settled on this pro­cess to review can­did­ates to sur­vey:

  • Click on the link to the new follower’s pro­file in the New Fol­low­er Email.
  • Check out the fol­low­ers details: loc­a­tion (if any), interests, web page, tweet­ing his­tory and con­tent to see if they’re inter­est­ing to me.
  • Look for a ‘mes­sage fol­low­er’ link under the Actions sec­tion of their pro­file. If it’s not there,  they don’t want to be soci­able, so I won’t both­er them by fol­low­ing them back. In my case, when I fol­low you, it’ll say ‘mes­sage bgri­er’ as indic­ated in the image to the right.
  • If the pro­file or a quick review of recent tweets reveals that all this fol­low­er is writ­ing about is a ‘new money­mak­ing sys­tem’ or ‘SEO secrets’, then I’ll use the link on the line below it and block them from receiv­ing my updates. I effect­ively van­ish from their ‘fol­low­ing’ list. I have no time for these type of spam accounts.

Over the peri­od of my inform­al sur­vey, both my ‘tweet’ fre­quency and my fol­low­er counts have increased. I don’t think one is a sig­ni­fic­ant res­ult of the oth­er, as dur­ing this peri­od, Twit­ter has gained a lot more pub­li­city, and spam-fol­low­er activ­ity has increased. The tweet fre­quency may have had a small impact.

Regard­less, it’s inter­est­ing data and is dis­played in cool charts 🙂 As you can see in the Tweet­Stats chart below, I have been increas­ing my online activ­ity.

And my fol­low­er count has also grown, as indic­ated in this Twit­ter­Counter chart.

All right. I’ve seen sig­ni­fic­ant growth of fol­low­ers over the last few months, and of those, a pretty good seg­ment of people have taken a moment or two to explain why they fol­lowed me. Dig­ging into those details will be the sub­ject of my next post, but in the mean­time, let me ask you a ques­tion.

Why do you think people are fol­low­ing YOU on Twit­ter? Post your answeres in the com­ments below.

Logitech G15 Keyboard upgrade (v1 — v2)

Logitech G15 Keyboard (version 1) After a lengthy email exchange with Logit­ech cus­tom­er sup­port (star­ted Octo­ber 22, 2007), I’ve just received my replace­ment Logit­ech G15 key­board (affil­i­ate link).

The key prob­lem (par­don the pun) was that the black paint on a few of the keys was wear­ing off, allow­ing the back­light­ing to shine through obscur­ing any key let­ter­ing. This key­board was around a year old..maybe less.

Now, since I’d star­ted the pro­cess, Logit­ech updated and revised the G15 with:

  • Logitech G15 Keyboard (version 2)Reportedly improved key­board paint
  • Orange back­lit key­board (the first one was blue)
  • Reduced the num­ber of pro­gram­mable Gkeys from 18 to 6(!)
  • Reduced the size of the LCD dis­play by appx. 40% though keep­ing the num­ber of pixels HxW
  • Removed the abil­ity of the LDC dis­play to swiv­el
  • Removed the volume con­trol wheel

Frankly, I was hop­ing for them to send me anoth­er v1 G15. I was com­fort­able with the desktop foot­print it had (huge), I liked the avail­ab­il­ity of all those pro­gram­mable keys, and I liked the size of the LCD dis­play.

But now I’ve got a v2, and here are my ini­tial impres­sions:

  • Key depress feel is soft…maybe mushy?
  • Key­board sits dif­fer­ently on my desktop…I have to hunt ini­tially to place my fin­gers on the home row prop­erly
  • Key­board foot­print is smal­ler. I like this. I now have more desktop space for my mouse and Wacom Bam­boo tab­let.
  • LCD Dis­play is very slightly out of align­ment in it’s hous­ing. Not too notice­able, but when I do it’s a minor annoy­ance.
  • The key­board drivers and soft­ware were easy to install and setup
  • Logit­ech main­tained com­pat­ib­il­ity with LCD­Stu­dio, so my cus­tom dis­plays run prop­erly
  • Not sure I like the smal­ler LCD display…we’ll see how it goes.
  • I *think* I’ll like the orange back­light. It seems to glare less.
  • The volume but­tons work ‘ok’, but the wheel seemed nicer — like the wheel on an iPod. Upside is I can still use the wheel/spot on the Wacom Bam­boo 🙂
  • Mar­ket­ing: the Box and some online lit­er­at­ure do NOT men­tion that the key­board has 2 USB ports. I was wor­ried because the v1 G15 does have these, and I didn’t want to lose the abil­ity to plug in thumb drives..etc.
  • Am I miss­ing the extra 12 macro keys? I’m not sure yet. The key­board lay­out is dif­fer­ent, but since I also have a Nos­tromo n52 key­board, I’m sure I can map any miss­ing func­tion­al­ity over to it.

Con­clu­sion: For now I’d say I’m sat­is­fied. The pro­cess took a while, I’m not con­vinced the paint on this key­board will last bet­ter than the last. The reduced LCD dis­play size could be an issue…but I’ll reserve judge­ment on it for now…and I think I like the orange back­light.

Modding my Xbox…

[ This item ori­gin­ated at my pre­vi­ous (now defunct) blog bradblog.info — copy retrieved from the Inter­net Archive]

A while ago I man­aged to lay my hands on a refur­bished Xbox for a fairly reas­on­able price. Great, methinks. A game con­sole and a DVD play­er, all rolled into one. And hey, it’ll even play music from the built in hard drive too¦ but not stock from the fact­ory. No, my friend, you have to void the Microsoft war­ranty and mess with the happy tech­no­logy that lies bur­ied with­in your game con­sole. Once you do that, you then have unlocked the power of your Xbox, and cre­ated a Monster¦here’s how I did mine¦ Con­tin­ue read­ing “Mod­ding my Xbox…”