John Peel

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:38 am by Toby

I’d like to add my voice to those who have been saddened by the death of John Peel.

I was a Home Truths listener on BBC radio 4 rather than a listener to his Radio 1 stuff, but his voice will be missed.

I always had a love hate relationship with Home truths, I was always a bit pissed off on a saturday morning to find it on, but his voice was so nice you’d listen to it anyway, he always made it sound more interesting than it was.

Now I’ll miss his voice every saturday morning.

Listen to a tribute program on BBC Radio 4 site


Teaching Kids how to program.

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:00 am by Toby

anyone out there know of a good set of lessons for teaching kids 6 -10 years how to program computers? Is it possible? With computers now an essential part of our lives, I’m interested in teaching my kids as soon as I can how to use them as effectively as possible.


Google Desktop

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:47 am by Toby

Today while listening to another chat with the Gillmor gang on the excellent itConversations, about the Google Desktop application, I went and downloaded it.

So far I think its great. There is a certain amount of controversy from the privacy weirdo’s about whether or not it is a good thing for google to be able to get information about what, how often and how long you look for specific things on your own machine. But boy is it fast, its google on your desktop (Doh!!).

But the reason I’m writing this is because of something that was said in the gillmor gang conversation. Part of the discussion was about why microsoft hadnt done something like this, and various options were gone through – privacy, problem with removing the dominance of the office product. But in my opinion the main reason is because Microsoft just dont get search.

In the early days of dos, we had the “dir *.doc” command, that would show you all the doc files in a certain directory. It was very fast. With a few extra / you could refine or increase the number of files returned. Yes you needed specialist knowledge from the dos world, and it was superceeded by the open or save dialog box, but it was still fast.

In Office 97 (possibly 95) if I remember correctly Microsoft introducted their first attempt at indexing and searching, and the only thing I remember about it, is that it made the open dialog box really, really slow. And to my knowledge that has been the trend every time that microsoft have tried to create some kind of search engine built into windows or office. The search function in Windows XP is a bit of an improvement, but is still fairly slow considering that its supposed to be indexed. Maybe it uses Jet!

I am looking forward to being able to search my machine in a simple and quick way using Google Desktop, and I think as with many things microsoft have noone to blam but themselves for not being the defacto standard for search.

ps. Lets hope they dont buy google.


Not technology, furniture.

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:11 am by Toby

I live out in the sticks, not quite the middle of nowhere Ireland. The only broadband up until now we have been able to get is satelite. Given the fact that we were happy to have any kind of broadband at all when we got it (primarily to reduce our ludicrously huge ISDN phone and rental bills) I cant give out about it too much. However it just doesn’t have ZING.

The speed on the satelite is fine – want to download a 2Meg file no problem. 12 seconds later its on your hard disk, but want to check your email on yahoo! Thats a completly different story. As anyone who’s ever heard about or used satelite broadband knows – Latency kills. Now the companies that sell satelite broadband have tried very hard to improve this, and a properly configured satelite connection works reasonably well (a lot better than our ‘never quite set up properly’ connection we have here), but it doesnt have the WOW factor or Zing that real broadband has. I was in a friends office in a town not 10 miles from where I live which is DSL enabled and check my yahoo mail was not a chore, no waiting for 5-8-12 seconds to see the next email, just click and view, click and view. It has ZING.

Eircom (Irelands main (real) telecom provider) is doing an achingly slow rollout of DSL across the country, and are trying hard to get people to sign up. I have nearly broken several radios and a television in anger and frustration at Eircom ads that tell me to ‘Try out broadband you’ll love it’ – as I scream at the television to tell me when I’M going to have it. I’m so frustrated with them at this point that even if they did connect my local exchange, I might just not take it to spite them.

But all is soon to change, my life is soon to be reborn with the coming of wireless broadband to my area – a 512k (i was going to say line but that’s not right – what is the right work for 512k of wireless broadband connection) will be mine for the taking in a few short weeks.

What I’ve found since I learnt that this momentous event was going to be happening, is that I have begun to think seriously about a wired (or I suppose wireless ) existence. Start a blog, I can update it at home sitting in front of the telly (it was never really a viable idea with a dialup modem), I recently bought myself a laptop, and ticked the box beside wireless router on the website, in anticipation of having my very own 512k pipe to the rest of the world. I even went looking for FM transmitters, so when I was doing the washing up, I could be listening to bbc archived programs or the latest great chat on http://www.itconversations.com . In this new frame of mind I also began to see how important it was that we are all connected via broadband to the rest of the world.

Broadband provides two things it provides speed which is a big plus and makes digital life all the more pleasant, but more importantly is it provides a permanent, always on , single charge connection to the web. For anyone reading this in a country where you dont get charged for local calls and therefore are not used to extortionate phone bills being attached to an interest to things online, this last issue may not seem so important. But for those of us cursed with ‘pay as you go’ internet access, the availability of single charge connection to the internet is huge. It moves the internet one step closer to the television. Not technology, furniture.

I dont have my broadband connection yet, and the way things go I might not get it for another two years, but I’m hoping it will be switched on in the next few months. I will keep interested parties updated on the deteriorating state of my family life as I disolve into a puddle of bits and bytes.

Hello World 2

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:32 am by Toby

Welcome to my blog.

I wrote a nice lucid introductory paragraph a few moments ago, but I lost my connection, and now my first post rather than being a welcome and hello has already turned into a unwelcome reminder of the small frustrations of Satelite connections to the outside world.

Never the less my online identity has been asserted, and I am now on my way to participating in the flow of personal opinions that is deluging the web as we speak.


ps. Before I posted this I noticed, I had not infact lost my first post, which you see above, but decided to post this anyway.

Hello World

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:31 am by Toby

Welcome to the land of blog.

In true online style, I’ve finally created a proper blog, and a proper suitably ridiculous online identity to differentiate the random musings of the Intellectual Mollusc from the more sane advice my real self provides on a day to day basis.