July 18, 2008

Moving again

Filed under: My Life,Technology — Allan @ 7:14 am

New web host, so blog has gone back to is hopefully my permanent home online.


July 11, 2008

My 10 must-have Mac tools

Filed under: Cult of Mac,My Life,Technology — Allan @ 8:57 am

As more and more people I follow on twitter do the only sensible thing and move to Mac, and also since “top list” type posts tend to drive traffic to your blog, here are my must have mac tools.  I originally wrote this up as a wiki so that Dave and Max could contribute and add their 2 cents, but since neither have bothered in the more than 2 months that it’s been up, I decided to move the content here.  I’ve also not bothered sticking the obvious things like Firefox and Skype on here.


I keep going on and on about this program but I really like using it.  Effortless note taking on Mac, PC or Linux, all of which is synced up to a web interface for anytime access.  And they’ve just released an iPhone client.  Hoping it will also work on my iPod Touch :) And speaking of my iPod…


Converts pretty much anything into mp4.  Which is great for sticking onto an iPod or into a presentation.

Office 2008

I used to be a Keynote junkie, but when you work with a team of people (and clients) who don’t all have Mac’s it starts getting messy.  Overall Office 2008 is good but not great, document portability forced the issue here.  I miss the video support of Keynote, especially being able to specify the portion of the video that is played on the slide (as apposed to Powerpoint playing the entire clip) and being able to select the frame that is shown when you first arrive on the slide (as apposed to Powerpoint showing the first frame)


All-in-one instant messaging app. Latest beta tends to crash, which does wonders for productivity.  Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned here, but I’m not seeing it :)


I  no longer have the time nor inclination to compile Apache, MySQL and PHP from source like I always used to insist on doing, so luckily these guys have done it all already and packaged it up in a single neat download.


Nice, lightweight MP3 player.  Random file downloads and audio bits that I need to listen to but don’t want squaloring up my perfect iTunes library get the treatment with Play.  Also, since I haven’t set up the iScrobbler preferences in it, it doesn’t put stuff like voiceover_treatment_sample2.mp3 in my music stream


Sweet GTD style app.  I used to use iGTD, but prefer the workflow of Things.  Early alpha/beta so back your shit up.  Currently free for testing, and testers will receive a discount when it launches. Also, uses XML files for storage which may prove problematic down the line.     iGTD uses an sqlite type database which is damn quick and scalable.  Plus will allow external apps to build off it.  I may be talking myself back to iGTD here :P

There are a few apps that I’m playing with at the moment that, from the look of it, will be making it onto my must-have list soon.


Yep makes finding that elusive PDF a thing of the past.  Search, tag, browse.  It’s like iPhoto, but for PDF’s.  This is one that you have to pay for, but you can get a good deal if you buy it with Leap.


Leap works as a file manager like Yelp, but for all types of files.  Luckily I got a new Mac recently so I was able to continue with the trial version for the moment, but this is something I will be buying in the not too distant future.


Amazing coding environment, brought to you by the same people who created Transmit.  I’m still uncertain whether the amount of coding that I do at the moment warrants forking out the cash for this, but the free alternatives, while powerful, are not nearly as sexy.

July 5, 2008

iPhone SDK

Filed under: iPhone,Mobile,Technology — Allan @ 8:15 am
Tags: , ,

Finally sucked it up and downloaded the 1.2GB iPhone SDK.  Looks like I’ll be buying extra bandwidth this month again.

Nice emulator included, looking forward to playing with the SDK.

June 30, 2008


Filed under: My Life,Technology — Allan @ 7:38 am

Generally, my desktop looks like something exploded all over it.  One of the things I used to save most were text documents with little notes about an idea I had, or something I should build or something I have to get done.  I played with Yojimbo for a little bit and also with Circus Ponies’ Notepbook.  While both of these are excellent pieces of software I never really got to using them properly or with enough effort to see any real benefit.  For about two months now I have been using the beta of Evernote, and I have to admit, it is a damn fine piece of work. (I’m actually writing this up as draft in Evernote)

So, what makes it so much better?

Firstly, the application is cross-platform.  It runs natively on PC and Mac and on selected phones.  For most of the apps that I use I couldn’t care if they don’t run on a PC, but our team are on both PC’s and Mac’s and so here finally is something I can rave on about that they can also use.

Then, the application sync’s to a web version of your notes.  So I can continue to edit my notes when I’m not sitting at my machine.  The changes made on the web sync back to your desktop version.  I know that I could do this through Google docs, but I actually prefer working in a native application.  Web apps are not as responsive as I often need them to be.

You can also enable an Evernote menu item to clip items and screenshots directly into Evernote.

Which neatly brings me to another feature – text recognition.  When you sync new notes up to the server, any notes that contain images are analyzed for text portions and text recognition is done on them.  I’ve just synced this note with a screenshot from Twitter in it, and now when I sync back, the text should have been recognized.

I can now search for text within images in Evernote.  It filters down to only matching posts and text is highlighted.  Sweet.

My one small problem that I had with Evernote was that I couldn’t easily share notes with people.  This has now been added and I can mark a Notebook as public which creates a page for that notebook that anyone can browse.  Of course, if we could share Notebooks with other Evernote users so that we could collaboratively create and edit notes that would be awesome.

Currently Evernote is in beta, but I have 17 15 invites if anyone wants. Leave a comment or let me know on Twitter.

June 6, 2008

plurk…. urk!

Filed under: My Life,Technology — Allan @ 11:31 am

Twitter isn’t stable, let’s all run off to plurk! or not.

Is this the sign of things to come?

Personally, I’m not sold on it yet.  I’m also wondering if that level of functionality will scale when the masses all start signing up.

Update:  just got page unavailable on the home page, and have a look at that code :)

June 5, 2008

My hands may be better than hooker!

Filed under: Technology — Allan @ 9:02 am

What fantastic news.  Received a blackmail attempt this morning because apparently I have been caught on my webcam doing naughty things and logging into dirty sites.

David, here’s some hints before you send your next email:

  1. Learn to spell.  Nothing spoils a blackmail attempt like poor attention to detail.  I’m frankly a little bit hurt that you didn’t make the message up from cut out letters.  That would have shown some real class.
  2. Don’t follow it up immediately with an offer for “children porno” from the same email address, but using a different name.  Poor effort really.

On the plus side, it seems like Iike I’m not the only one to have received this.

June 2, 2008

Adobe Buzzword

Filed under: Technology — Allan @ 11:19 am

Started messing with Adobe Buzzword this morning because UXMagazine suggested it was going head to head with Google Docs.  Google Docs loads fairly snappily as it doesn’t have a massive flash interface, so first impressions weren’t that good.

I was impressed though by their “your session has timed out message”:

Cute.  And not because it’s a baby.  Because it’s not some rude browser timeout dialog thing.

May 2, 2008

A poor man’s ORM – my journey so far

Filed under: Technology — Allan @ 10:31 pm
Tags: , , ,

For a while now I’ve been using Google Alerts and Technorati feeds to let me know when my name, the company I work for or some of our key clients’ names pop up online.  Recently I began wondering how often these terms were cropping up on twitter, and in what context. is a really slick Twitter search engine and has the advantage of providing your search results as an RSS feed – all I needed to get near realtime alerts of my key search terms on twitter.

The problem was that for a search term like Peugeot there is a lot of sales spam kicking about:

I had a quick poke about the documentation, but being easily distracted I soon found myself kludging together a Yahoo Pipe to fix it.

The problem with this was that the RSS feed only returned 10 results to me, and with the Pipe cleaning out the majority of them, the resultant output feed was looking a bit bleak.

An email to feedback at sorted it all out.  Not only did they tell me how to get more than just 10 results back from a query (rpp as a parameter) but that I could negate specific authors by using -from: in the query.  Cunningly all things that I had managed to avoid reading in the documentation on the site.

All’s well that ends well.  I now have a spam-less feed and I know that the support from Summize is excellent.  Not only are they friendly to blind schmucks like me, but they value community feedback – 2 great ways to build a solid, well liked product.

April 2, 2008

Google SA

Filed under: Advertising,Technology — Allan @ 8:57 pm
Tags: , ,

Just got back from the AMASA end of year thing where a talk by Stafford Masie was the main attraction.   Overall he came across well and is certainly passionate about Google.  The bulk of the audience seemed to be somewhat oblivious to what’s happening online (Google Maps street view drew oohs and aahs) so the talk was aimed squarely at them.  All the usual stuff was trotted out about media landscape changing, consumer is in charge of your brand, user generated content – you know the drill.

What was interesting was that he said that South Africa has the most expensive broadband in the world.  OK, I’m with you.  Then he went on to say that in 18 months, South Africa would have the cheapest broadband in the world.  Really?  Where can I sign up….

He mentioned a few things that Google SA would be doing – Google Maps of South Africa in 2008, and GDrive – 20GB of free online storage.  Also demo’d Google Co-op which looks like it could have some awesome applications.

At one point he asked if there were any reporters in the room, but didn’t ask if there were bloggers.  This was after mentioning CNN using citizen journalism a bit earlier.  Little bit of a disconnect there :P

Then, he unfortunately went into demo mode.  I say unfortunately because it’s easy to get caught up in the moment when the audience are easily impressed.   The demos weren’t as focussed as the first part of the talk and as much as the audience were interested and enjoying it, it dragged on a bit.

One thing that did occur to me though.  Stafford was showing street view and saying that they have teams of people out there getting the images.  Imagine if they could combine an image pool like flickr, geotag the images, feed them through a tool like Photosynth and show that as the street view.  Now that would be cool.

February 6, 2008

and here comes ooVoo

Filed under: Advertising,Technology — Allan @ 9:02 pm

In case you haven’t come across it before, ooVoo appears to be Skype on steroids.  With up to 6 people chatting face to face in a video conference it looks like an awesome piece of software.I’ve had it installed for a while now, but haven’t had a chance to get round to actually testing it out.  Until now.  It seems ooVoo are going on a bit of an awareness drive and they’ve taken it straight to the social media space.  My ooVoo Day let’s anyone who wants to, grab ooVoo and sign up to spend some time in a face to face conversation with the bloggers that they read.I’m busy working through my current batch of neglected RSS feeds and so far I’ve come across 3 bloggers that I read who are signed up for the gig.  What an excellent way to generate some buzz and get people actually talking, while at the same time giving something back to the communities that keep the blogs alive.I’m off to sign up, who’s with me? 

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