Moving my blog – update

Beginning this exercise, you think “What the hell, I want more flexibility – lets move the blog”.  Of course nothing in life is that straight forward.  To export a WordPress.com blog to a hosted account, is not that complex.  If you are remotely interested you can read about it here.

Like all things, you need to get everything into place beforehand.  So, firstly I registered a new domain and with a name like mine there is not a lot of competition for relevant domains that involve the name ‘paul draskovich’ 🙂  I use Namecheap because as the name implies that is exactly what it is.

Next set up a WordPress installation with your hosting provider.  In my case I am beginning to use GVO Hosting because they offer an amazing infrastructure at a really reasonable price.

Then you need to decide on a theme.  There are of course a lot of really good free themes out there but I want a specific look and I want to add some specific functionality.  So last week I spent hours checking out the various WordPress theme providers.  Trust me there are a lot.  What became clear was the need to find a provider that gives you a wide choice of themes, really good support and infrastructure at a realistic price. I chose Woo Themes because they met all of those requirements.

This week I will finalise the structure of the new site, test it and then migrate.  Should be interesting.

I am beginning to hate my Blackberry with a passion

I have had a Blackberry Bold for around 2 years now.  I need to be clear that I didn’t buy it, it is a work phone.  In the beginning I was really happy with it because it was a quantum leap forward from my Samsung, which was the most appalling piece of crap I have ever owned.  To be fair, it wasnt any of the newer Samsung smart phones.  It was one of the earlier ones that had the Windows operating systems and I am not suspect that it was more to do with the OS than the phone.

Anyway, when people asked me what I thought of my Blackberry I would wax lyrical, singing its praises.  About the same time I bought an iPhone as a personal phone, so there has been this unintentional comparison developing as I have used the two.

I can now tell you that from my perspective I think the Blackberry is a piece of shit and I can see why RIM is beginning to slowly fade into obscurity.  Here are just some of the challenges.

It updates and reboots in the middle of the night.  Not often, but when it does you need to the sim passwords for it to register once again on the network.  Any calls or sms’s don’t come through. 

Every now and then for no rational reason the alarm fails to go off in the morning – this morning being an example.  Alarm was correctly set for 6.15am, nothing happens.

I travel a lot.  Often it struggles to find which network to sign onto and this usually requires the removal of the battery, reboot and at least 10 minutes boot up time before it signs on.

Calls drop.  You sit in one place, usually the office and part way through the conversation the call drops.

The frustration I feel when I want to just hurl this piece of crap against a brick wall, and I can’t because I would resent having to pay for it even more.

‘Wild’ broadband technology leap in the UK

I read with wry grin this week the news item that Virgin Media is going to double broadband speeds for approx 4 million of their customers in the UK to a ‘blinding’ 120Mbit/s (download).  This piece of news was of such national importance that it prompted the Prime Minister to comment that “the investment would be a great boost to the UK”. 

Andrew Ferguson, of independent broadband review site thinkbroadband.com added: “The news is good for UK broadband as a whole and should highlight that the UK is not the internet backwater sometimes it is portrayed as.

Accuse me of being cynical but I do feel obliged to remind both Andrew and David (Cameron), that the UK is an internet backwater and this announcement is reflective of the general state of all UK infrastructure, as anyone who transits Heathrow on a regular basis can attest.  The simple fact that the UK ranks around 35th in the world when it comes to average broadband download speeds tends to underscore the reality.

I pondered why this announcement required a statement from someone of no lesser stature than the country’s Prime Minister and I came to the conclusion that it helps to somehow address a national sense of under achievement.  “Paul, that is too harsh you cynical bastard” I hear you say?  Perhaps, however (by sheer coincidence) a card came into my mailbox this week from KPN – the Dutch SP (telephone company) advising that if I switch to them I can have 500Mbit/s internet.  This was of such national importance that not only did the Dutch Prime Minister resist the urge to comment but neither did the local free newspaper.

Oh, and by the way, we don’t have data caps in Holland either!

DragonDictate is so cool

Well this is going to be an experiment. Yesterday I got a copy of Dragon Dictate 11 and decided to install it on this computer. I was extremely curious to understand how this program worked after reading an e-mail sent to a friend of mine that was dictated entirely using this program. At one level it’s extremely easy to use, you just need to talk. However the truth is that the real trick to controlling this program and to become productive, is to understand the command structure. Not only are there commands for controlling punctuation, corrections, editing and formatting text and moving around your document, there are also hundreds of commands for controlling your desktop writing e-mails, sending e-mails, using your address book, using calendars, using the web, searching on the web, copying text, pasting.

What I’m also finding the challenge is that after years and years of using a keyboard input text your brain is wired to actually create sentences in such a way that you can write them quickly and easily.  What I am finding with this program is that you have to learn to create your sentences completely differently, probably using a different part of your brain, and to speak these sentences in away that requires minimal changes, and minimal editing. This is clearly going to be quite a steep learning curve. I have to admit that I really am quite amazed at the accuracy of this program. The amount of spelling errors is really minimal and correcting them is actually quite easy. All you need to do is tell the program to select certain word, which it does really quickly and then it also displays a drop-down list of all the alternative words that you may have meant. Each of the suggestions is numbered and then all you have to do is choose the correct number and it automatically corrects the word.

Within any application you can choose the file commands at the top, you can select the sub commands, and the sub commands below that. I can also switch between open programs on the desktop, take certain actions by voice, and then minimise that program or switch between another one.

All in all, I’m really quite amazed by this program. In truth writing this post would have been a lot faster using a keyboard but I can see that with some practice, learning the commands and knowing how to use them correctly, I think it would be a much faster alternative to using a keyboard. This entire post has been written and corrected just using my voice.

If anyone else is using DragonDictate, I’ll be really interested to hear your feedback, your experience, and how long it took you to become proficient in its use.

Groundbreaking camera lets you shoot now, focus later

This new camera technology  is going to revolutionise the way we take photos.  Spend the time to work through the photo examples and click on new photo areas. 

Lytro allows post-shot refocusing by taking advantage of something that conventional cameras cannot: the light field. The light field consists of all of the light rays in a scene, meaning every single light ray traveling in every direction through every point in space.

Scientists have fantasized about light-field cameras for a century, but previous experiments in creating one required the equivalent of 100 digital cameras connected to a supercomputer.

The Lytro takes that 100-digital-cameras-plus-supercomputer capability and stuffs it into a regular-sized point-and-shoot.

The company does this with an innovative sensor called a light field sensor. The light field sensor takes in three pieces of data about each ray of light: its color, intensity and direction. Conventional camera sensors just add up all the light rays and record them as one amount of light instead of recording information about each ray.

I Love My Kindle

A couple of weeks ago I purchased a new wireless Kindle from Amazon.  All my adult life I have a steady, not prolific reader.  With all of my favourite authors like Neal Asher and Iain M Banks, I have usually ordered the latest hardback editions.  On my last trip to India where I carried with me 3 novels plus 2 travel guides, I suddenly had 6 kilos of books with me.  I also have to admit that up until that point I could never see the point in an e-reader, but on that holiday, I understood.  I did consider for approx 2.5 secs an iPad but then realised I wasn’t that desperate to be cool and frankly I am too tight to spend that much money on a large i-nophone.

So I researched the Kindle and bought one.  Fantastic, it is great.  The the sharpness and definition with the electronic ink pages is much much better than I expected.  It is as easy to read as a book.  Font size, line spacing and page orientation is completely adjustable.  You can browse the library of 400,000 titles, most of the classics are free.  Newspapers, magazines and blogs as well.  Instant delivery, no postage costs.  Light weight and very easy to hold.  Can hold up to 3,500 books (more than enough for a 3 week holiday with the family) and in your books you can bookmark a page, highlight text and save as well as annotate something that you want to reference in the future.  If you install the Kindle application on your iPhone, you can also read you book(s) on your iPhone and the Kindle knows the last page you completed on the iPhone, so you don’t have to search to catch up.

If you enjoy reading, I really recommend the investment.

If you like music

For my recent birthday I was given headphones that have been specifically designed for the ipod/iphone by B&W.  This company has long been a favourite as they produce astonishing speakers.  I bought a pair of B&W speakers 25 years ago, they are still being used and they are still amazing.

If you really, really enjoy listening to music and you want to splash out on state of the art headphones then check out the B&W P5’s.  You will not be disappointed.