April 28, 2007

links for 2007-04-28

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April 25, 2007

My Screen Debut

Ages ago I "starred" as the secret agent's legs in a friend's short film, Office Devils. At the time I said I'd let you know what happened with it.

It's been a while before going on general release (I got a copy on DVD a couple of months after the shoot, if I remember correctly) but today I happened to find the Office Devils page on Carl's website. He's written a bit of background to the film and even made the whole thing is available to download.

If you do watch it though, I must point out that it isn't indicative of the production team's abilities. You can tell that it was the first-ever project for most of them, and filmed with a minuscule budget. Their more recent work is vastly superior and looking very polished.

Anyway, does this mean I get an IMDB entry...?

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April 23, 2007

Nessun Integrale

Or in English (at least this is what I'm hoping that the title means - my Italian is very much at the beginners level): not one Integrale.

Picture of me jogging on the rooftop

At the start of the month, Rebecca and I spent a long weekend over in Turin, in Northern Italy on the edge of the Alps. For a while now, we've been planning on spending a year in Italy and this visit was part holiday, part fact-finding trip to see if Turin would work as our home.

The initial impressions as we travelled to the hotel from the airport were of a rather industrial city. That isn't too surprising given that Turin is the home of FIAT and Lancia, something that was reinforced when we arrived at our desitnation - Le Meridien Lingotto.

The hotel is part of a complex including restaurants and a shopping mall, converted from an old factory building, but not just any factory building. It's the old FIAT Lingotto factory, still with its mile-long test track on the roof (as featured in the original Italian Job). The picture above shows me on what is now the hotel's unique jogging circuit.

Those initial feelings proved to be too simplistic as we explored the city over the next few days. As with anywhere in Italy, there's a wealth of picturesque piazzas and beautiful architecture. Not to mention the array of restaurants, trattorias and pizzerias; all serving sublime food. We even found the market - stalls piled high with fresh and tasty-looking produce - and a little side street leading towards the river lined with butchers, bakers and delicatessens... looking forward to shopping there for ingredients in our own cooking.

A weekend break has a different vibe if you're wondering whether you could live in the city, rather than just sight-seeing. Trying the city on for size - districts are potential neighbourhoods; bars a potential "local"; restaurants a potential favourite haunt. You can't get a proper feel of the place in just four days, but we didn't find anything to scare us off. All that remains is to get things sorted here in Cambridge so that we can move sometime this summer.

And the title of this entry? Well, in the home of Lancia I was expecting to catch sight of the odd Integrale here and there - but despite seeing a couple of dozen Deltas (evenly split between nuovo and old) the nearest was an HF Turbo. I was torn between being disappointed and secretly pleased that I'll still be driving something a bit different and unusual.


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April 22, 2007

Great Speeches of the 20th Century

They started yesterday, and for the next two weeks the Guardian is featuring a great 20th Century speech each day.

It's a great opportunity to listen to some important moments in history, as they're posting mp3s of each one.

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April 21, 2007

links for 2007-04-21

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April 20, 2007

links for 2007-04-20

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April 16, 2007

A Brave New World

"The future will be context-sensitive. The future will not be interactive.

Magic Ink: Information Software and the Graphical Interface is a long but intriguing take on how software (and in particular how we use software) should evolve.

The paper splits software into three categories: informational (which people use to gain knowledge of something); creative (used to create the information); and communicative (which allows people to communicate with each other).

Bret Victor, the author, suggests that informational software is nearer to graphic design than engineering, given that both are trying to convey information to the user. He goes on to explain how such software could behave differently to today's programs if it were more aware of the context in which it is invoked.

The software would provide its best-guess at what the user wanted, based on factors such as location, the user's current task, the time, and the user's previous behaviour. The user would only have to interact with the program if it had chosen wrongly, but even then the correct choice would be nearer than if the user had to navigate to it from scratch.

It's on the brink of being too revolutionary, but manages to provides just enough examples and references that it might work. It's definitely proposing a paradigm-shift from current practices, which is why it's proving hard to get my head round. It'll take a while for the concepts to sink in, but has already given me a number of avenues to explore for more information and a few ideas of how I can modify the software I work with.

It seems too big a change to work on the desktop, because there's so much existing software to displace. I wonder whether ubiquitous computing could provide its route into the mainstream, providing contextually-aware smart devices?

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April 09, 2007

Other Blogs, Loosely Grouped

I don't know when I last updated the list of blogs that appear down the left of the main page of McFilter, but it must be a couple of years at least. The background task to make the maintenance easier (using MTBlogroll plugin) itself has taken over a year...

In that time, the mix of blogs that I read regularly has changed a bit, and expanded quite a lot. There have been more blogs that I was tracking, but I went through a purge a while back when it became clear that just reading them all was taking too much of my time.

So have a browse. They're all interesting in their own way. I've tried to group them into rough categories, but that's only to help people choose what they might be interested in - individuals just aren't that easy to pigeon-hole.

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April 06, 2007

links for 2007-04-06

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April 05, 2007

links for 2007-04-05

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April 04, 2007

links for 2007-04-04

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