Friday, 30 May 2008

Build your own Sign - Online

I've been looking for a service for quite a while that will design and print signs online. Build A provides exactly what I have been looking for. They have low prices from what I have seen across the web, and a huge range of pre-made signs for such purposes as country flags and real estate signs. I highly recommend you check out this site, especially if you live in America where the postage is cheaper. The prices at this site make it worthwhile for me to purchase signs for home usage, not just business. And the online facility makes this a lot easier than going into town (yes, I know, I'm lazy!). Definitely worth a look.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Google Earth - coming to a browser near you....

Google Earth just met the browser. In one of Google's most exciting new API releases, the Google Maps API is now extended to include support for 3D maps - Sky, 3D Buildings and all. Once you've downloaded and installed the plugin, you're ready to go, with a whole host of Javascript API calls available to tile, pan and manipulate the earth. Check out the samples to give it a test.

Web Hosting Choice

Choosing a web host is a very difficult decision now-days. There are so many hosts out there, it's nearly impossible to decide which one is best. And even worse, most web hosts promote themselves so that it's hard to tell whether you've got an unbiased opinion or not.

So how do you begin to sift through all the web hosting providers? This is where Web Hosting Choice comes in handy. Web Hosting Choice provides an unbiased, and comprehensive list of some of the top web hosting sites available. An easy table compares features, and a link is presented to the details page for each one.

This site is supported by sponsored links. Each web hosting site featured pays Web Hosting Choice for any paying customers sent from their page. You might think this presents an issue, but really it doesn't - no matter which web host you choose, Web Hosting Choice will get paid! If you are really unsure of the details, you can always check what is shown in the tables with the host's website. All the details are easily obtainable, Web Hosting Choice just aggregates all the information in one place.

Web Hosting Choice is certainly a worthwhile service if you're looking for a quick and easy start on choosing a web host. Just remember, there are more options, so if you're not happy with the ones listed, google some more!

This post sponsored by Web Hosting Choice

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Google Adsense Video Ads go Worldwide

When I logged into my Adsense control panel today, I felt an urge to experiment with some new ads. As it turns out, that was a great idea, because I discovered a new option in my Setup tab - Youtube Video Ads.

Google released Video units some time ago, but only for US publishers. I was pretty disappointed at the time, as I live in Australia and was therefore denied access to the network. It seems they've now expanded Adsense for Video to the world though - today I successfully linked my YouTube and Adsense accounts and started publishing video ads.

Here is a sample Adsense for Video unit:
As you can see, the Adsense portion is shown at the top (or overlayed on the video), while user-selectable content (via keyword selection or channel targeting) is playable as normal below. Right now I'm experimenting with the options, and I'll try and post some more info as it comes in.

If you're a non-US Adsense publisher, you might want to log in to your Adsense account today - do you have Adsense for Video yet?

Update: Apparently this is breaking news - nobody else seems to have blogged about it yet! If you want, you can Digg the post.

I signed up for Pay Per Post

pay per post logoToday my application for Pay Per Post was accepted. I know that PPP is a controversial service in the blogosphere, and I certainly don't intend to compromise the quality of my blog's results with advertising. My intention in signing up is to earn a bit of extra cash, while promoting any products which I happen to like already.

So far, PPP looks like being a great success. This post, in fact, stating why I signed up for PPP and what I hope to achieve with it, will earn me $20! It does seem strange, that I would be writing something to be paid. But in reality, I would have written this exact same post whether I was paid or not. It's simply a matter of connections - which is what PPP is all about.

Overall, Pay Per Post will enhance this blog by providing a means of support for items such as hosting and maintenance. I will only post about sites I actually endorse, so have no fear of the posts being biased. If I can't truthfully say anything good about the company, I won't post at all!

If you have any thoughts about the Pay Per Post blog network, or have suggestions for my blogging, please leave a comment. I'm excited about this new opportunity for revenue, and I'd love to hear your thoughts too.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Microsoft Office to Support ODF, but not OOXML

Microsoft has turned in it's tracks today and announced that Office 2007 will be supporting the ODF format. Just a few weeks ago Microsoft was saying that their own format was good enough for everyone, and they didn't need any "competing format". However, it seems they have changed their mind very quickly, preferring the ODF format even to their own ISO standard, OOXML.

What is even more surprising, is that Microsoft has said they will not include OOXML in Office 2007. Users will have to wait for the release of Office 14 to get support for this format. David Worthington reports:
... the company is not quick to embrace its own creation. Mahugh stated that Microsoft would not implement the final ISO version of OOXML until Office 14 ships at an unstated date in the future. This variant of OOXML was designated ISO/IEC 29500 at the time it was certified as an ISO International standard in April.

“One way to look at it is the prioritization of formats,” Mahugh explained. “We reach a point in time where we have to decide whether to continue to invest in a previous version [of Office] or to cut the cord and move forward.”

ODF support was a priority for Microsoft, Mahugh noted, adding that “real world” customers say that there is a pressing need for PDF [AU: ODF?] support. “At this point there are no products using [ISO/IEC 29500] in the marketplace.”
While Microsoft claims to be supporting "open" standards with this latest move, many critics think that this is simply a lock-in trick, designed to keep users on Microsoft Office by introducing propitiatory "extensions" to the standard. This would introduce a perpetual cycle of "Microsoft breaks the standard, the world adapts the standard, and Microsoft breaks it again" But regardless of Microsoft's intent, this is certainly an admission that open standards are having a big impression on Microsoft, and the IT industry in general. They can no longer afford to rely on monopolistic tactics to lock in users, but are being forced to comply (at least partly) with others. Let's hope that this latest move truly does drive innovation and openness in the field.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Google Treasure Hunt - How to solve the second problem

Warning: spoilers contained within!
How to Solve the Second question in the Google Treasure Hunt 2008
question: 2 sums from line 4 in *BCD*.xml, line 2 in *def*.js)
Unlike the previous question (the robot on grid), I was able to solve the second question without too much difficulty. After about 20 minutes spent looking up bash manuals online, I came up with the following script:

for file in $(find . -maxdepth 999 -path '*BCD*' -or -name '*BCD*' | grep ".xml")
tail +4 $file | head -1
echo "----"
for file in $(find . -maxdepth 999 -path '*def*' -or -name '*def*' | grep ".js")
tail +2 $file | head -1

This script basically uses the linux utility "find" coupled with "grep" to locate all files matching the pattern specified. Then, for each file, I piped the contents through "tail" and "head" to obtain the desired line, which is printed to the standard output.

The sharp-eyed among you might have noticed that this script doesn't actually calculate the sum of all the lines, or multiply these sums together. This is because I actually used the lazy-man's calculator, Google, to complete this part of the problem. Simply copy and paste the command line output from this script into Google, insert "+" symbols between each number, and multiply the two outputs using the same method.

I know this code is "spaghetti" code, but I'm too lazy to fix it up. Please post a comment if you're enough of a nerd to format this in intelligible code.

Now, to wait for the next one...... :)

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Google Fights back against Facebook

Google is continuing the fight against Facebook, explaining possible privacy concerns in this blog entry. My bet? Facebook won't give in until it's forced to, and in the meantime will continue to find excuses. While Google OpenSocial grows, Facebook will follow the path of MySpace, and lock in users' data. Over time, though, they will be forced to open up, or users will simply migrate somewhere else.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Mozilla Firefox 3 RC 1 Released

firefox logoMozilla has just announced the immediate availability of Firefox 3 Release Candidate 1. This release is inteded for developers only, and will bring stability improvements from Beta 5. This release also marks the "feature freeze", which means that no new features will be added to Firefox before it's release later this year.
Get Firefox 3 RC 1

Monday, 12 May 2008

MoreNiche - Affiliate Site that Really Works!

MoreNiche LogoRecently I discovered a site called MoreNiche. This is an affiliate site which actually pays you $30 for a sign up, or $20 + 5% of the referrals earnings for life! The great bit is, sign up is absolutely free, so you can really make tons with this program. The only catch as far as I can see is that you can't creat incentive-based sites, so the user has to be really interested to be valid.

I highly recommend that you check out this site. You don't have to pay anything, so really you can't lose. Tell me what your experiences are, I'd love to hear whether anyone else has used MoreNiche, and if so, how you like it.

Sign up for free now.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Google Australia Treasure Hunt

Official Google Australia Blog: Google Treasure Hunt
I'm looking forward to this! The first two clues:

Soon :). 1210550400
didn't make much sense to me, but then the spoilers were there so I didn't have to waste any of my valuable work time figuring it out. I won't ruin the surprise for you - you can check the "links to this post" for the spoilers!

hint: the first clue is related to appengine....

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Running a business on desktop Linux

Check out this excellent article on Desktop Linux. It's essentially unbiased - the author is obviously supportive of Linux (specifically Ubuntu) as better than Windows, but he still admits where Linux is not yet ready for the desktop - file compatibility with Microsoft Office file formats. This of course, is entirely due to Microsoft, and as more people move away from the closed "standards" to the international ISO standards such as ODF, this is getting top be less of an issue.

Anyway, this is an excellent article for anyone to read, whether you are happy with Windows or not (and who is happy with Windows?) Just remember that besides Ubuntu, there is also SuSE, which offers excellent Windows compatability, as well as enterprise support and server editions.
Running a business on desktop Linux

Thursday, 8 May 2008


It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.
- Krishnamurti

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Google discriminating - Google only wants girl geeks?

Official Google Australia Blog: Calling all geek girls
I noticed, when searching for job opportunities with Google recently, that two scholarships are available in Australia - but they are both for women only. There is the Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship, which was established "to honour the legacy of Anita Borg and her efforts to encourage women to pursue careers in computer science and technology," and the Global Community Scholarship for the Grace Hopper Conference.

Now I don't have anything against helping women into technology, and I think it is important to have women in key positions in this industry, but it is dissapointing for me to see that any men who might need some help are left stranded. Today we're seeing too much "reverse-discrimination", where not only are the women given a "fair go", but they're even given more of a go than the men. I think it's time to level the field a bit, and give everyone an equal oppurtunity. Helping girls get into IT is a great idea, and we should see more of it, but without ignoring the guys either.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

KDE 4.1 looking promising

KDE 4.1 alpha 1 was released yesterday. The adoption of Qt 4.4 will bring some significant new features to the Plasma desktop shell, but the bumpy transition has made this release very fragile. Ars looks at alpha 1 and the impressive feature set that is being developed for the final 4.1 release, scheduled for July.

Adobe’s Open Screen Project: Write Once, Flash Everywhere

Adobe is making a big play to make Flash the de facto viewing environment not only for Web apps on your PC, but also on your mobile phone, your TV, and any other screen you can think of. It is announcing the Open Screen Project to make it easier to develop applications across devices—using Flash, of course.

In many ways this effort is a counterweight to what we are seeing with Adobe Air or Google Gears, which are efforts to take browser-based apps offline. With Mesh, Microsoft is in effect reasserting the primacy of client-based applications. . . . Developers can customize their apps for whatever device they originally reside on—whether it is a PC, a smartphone, or a set-top box—and then Webify them by syncing them to other applications across the Web. The more competition we get for ways to bridge applications across devices and screens, the more likely that we'll actually start to see some of our favorite Web apps on something other than our laptops.

Source: TechCrunch

Can we rescue OLPC from Windows?

FSF president Richard Stallman calls on Negroponte and the OLPC project leadership to reject overtures by Microsoft and recognize the importance of free software to its core educational mission. RMS has just started using one as his main machine.