Tuesday, June 15, 2010

10 ways to know you have reached the future

At the beginning of every year, decade, century or millennium people feel the need to make predictions for the future. Things that will happen over the next months and years. Often a year later you look back and laugh. Predicting the future is hard, if it were easy I would have won the lottery many times over.

So instead of making some prediction for what is going to happen over the next 12 months I am going to do the opposite. I am going to list 10 things any one of which happening will mean we have reached the future. Each of these things would cause a significant upturn in our world view and would disrupt all life as we know it.

When I started thinking of this post I was going to do it all in one post, but there are two problems:
  1. I haven't thought of 10 yet.
  2. Each one I think of I want to write too much on, so the blog post would be huge.
So instead I'm going to write each thing as a separate blog post, some will be longer some shorter. Also in case you don't know I'm a bit of a Sci-Fi geek, so some of these ideas may appear to have a common source.


What have I been doing?

Wow, I just noticed I have not blogged for four months. I was never very good at blogging frequently, but I hoped I was better than this.

So where have I been? Well nowhere it turns out. I get a lot of my "rant" and spotted this cool video stuff out via twitter and I've been pretty busy at work, the product I've been working on for the last 18 months shipped in May, so you can guess how busy I have been this year.

Oh, and I didn't do a good job of tracking my time, but I haven't felt that I have been wasting time in the same way. I've been very busy. I was in Las Vegas in May for work, and in San Francisco for holiday too.

My brother works in the video games industry. He also blogs and tweets. I always get jealous when I go to visit him because he is in such an obviously creative industry (most industries are creative, but in different ways). He has been able to meet and work with amazing people over the years and my highpoint of this trip was getting to meet one of the animators from one of my favourite Disney movies of all time (Lilo and Stitch). I'm a bit in awe I have to admit.

So that is pretty much where I have been since February. I have some blog posts queued up, I just need to write them up, so watch this space.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Where has all the time gone

I'm sitting in my brothers living room babysitting my (almost) 2 year old nephew. It is a Friday night and there is nothing on TV, so a pretty normal Friday evening, so all I have to do is surf the web until my laptop battery dies and wait for my brother to return from his night out. Such evenings often lead to thinking and all I can think of is, where does all the time go. Here are some shocking facts:

  1. My nephew is almost 2, that means it has been a year since his first birthday, 2 years since he was born and about 30 months since I found out his mum was pregnant.
  2. I'm 30
  3. Austin Powers was released 13 years ago.
  4. I've worked for IBM for 8 years, double my original plan.
This isn't me complaining, just realising that I don't know where the time has gone. When I was young a week was a long time, now I blink and it has gone. To make things worse I'm constantly struggling time to do things like, check my emails (210 unread emails this year), surf the web, go to the cinema, meet friends and so on. As you can see I can't even find the time to regularly blog, and when I do I ramble on wondering where my time goes.

So what to do about this? Well it seems to be common that when you want to do something better you spend time measuring. You know the kind of thing, your project is behind schedule so you have daily one hour long meetings with the whole team asking why you are behind until you are back on schedule, or not. So starting tomorrow I'm going to start recording what I do. I bet I discover that rather than being hugely busy I spend too much time at work, watching TV and basically not doing anything when I could be doing these things I'm interested in.

I'll see how it goes.

Twitter: notatibm

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Inspirational video

I'm not sure what it is but I really like this video.

Monday, November 02, 2009

MacBook Pro battery

I have had my MacBook Pro for just over 2 years now (2 years and about 3 months) and I just started getting a warning sign for my battery. I went to the apple store and they told me that my battery had expired. It has had its 300 charge cycles and needs to be replaced.

Now don't get me wrong I am very happy with my MacBook Pro and based on my experience 2 years is about right for a laptop battery. This is my laptop and I'm not planning on replacing it until June/July next year (I'm on a minimum of a 3 year replacement cycle). I see no need to replace my MacBook Pro right now I have a 2.4Gh Core 2 Duo processor with 4Gb of RAM and nice as the new MacBook Pros are, they aren't enough better; maybe when quad core ones come along.

So I have to ask myself do I spend £97 on a new battery now, or do I wait. So far although the apple store says my battery is at 60% of capacity and needs replacing I can still get 1-2 hours of usage from it, which is good enough for me generally. So right now I wont be buying a replacement battery. I'm guessing in 9 months time I may reconsider and if the quad core MacBook Pros are out I may go for a replacement computer, otherwise I guess I'll be buying a new battery then.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Verified by Visa

I have considered for a while writing up my thoughts on Verified by Visa, in fact I have started and thrown several blog posts away. So here goes what I hope will be my last attempt.

Verified by Visa is a "new" scheme introduced by Visa to help combat internet credit card fraud. The system is "voluntary" although many banks are forcing their customers to enrol. The scheme essentially works like this:

  1. You enter your details onto a website to make a purchase.
  2. The website either redirects you to a website owned by your bank, or it does an include of the website owned by your bank. The include looks like it is part of the retailers website and while the content is generated by the bank it looks like part of the retailer website and you cannot see the banks certificate information.
  3. The new website presents some secret information you have previously agreed with your bank, to identify itself to you.
  4. You enter a "password" you previously agreed to use.
  5. You are redirected back to the retailed and the transaction goes through.
So having seen this program I had to ask myself "what problem is it trying to solve?". It took me a while to come up with an answer, and it is a little underwhelming. It "solves" the problem of you loosing your card and someone picking it up in the street and using it online; it also solves the problem of someone copying the information on your card down. These people will not have access to your password (assuming you did not choose "password1").

As far as I can tell so far it does not help alleviate the problems of unscrupulous retailers, or man in the middle attacks.

Although I describe the problem being solved as underwhelming I would still, in theory, use it, defence in depth is important and it is an extra layer in the defence.

In a future post I will explain why I refuse to use Verified by Visa as implemented by my bank.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Snow Leopard experiences

So I've been using Snow Leopard for a while now, so I thought I would detail some first impressions. First the good things:

  1. Cisco VPN support built in. The Cisco VPN client on the mac caused me many problems, and frequently caused kernel panics. Snow Leopard has a built in client so I've uninstalled the Cisco software and my system is far more stable.
  2. It is smaller. I got hard drive space back. This is great.
  3. Faster. It feels much more responsive.
There are some things I want to try out, but haven't had a chance to. I have a mac and an iPhone and keeping my email, contacts and calendar in synch is not as easy as I would like. Snow Leopard has added Microsoft Active Sync support, and the iPhone has it, so I want to try that out and see if I get a better solution. The only problem is that I need to get an email provider that has ActiveSync.

Finally the not so good:

  1. Wireless is less reliable. I turn my wireless network off when I'm not using it. If my mac is turned on when I turn the wireless network on then it doesn't pick up the wireless network. I suspect this might be related to my wireless network not broadcasting its network name, but it is still not good.
  2. 1Password does not work with Safari 4 very well. I have it working now (I had to make Safari 4 run in 32-bit mode), but each 1Password update has a habit of breaking things
So generally I'm very happy, other than a few minor niggles