Geek travel guide

My latest project is a geek travel guide. It's currently kinda limited to the UK because the Openguides software doesn't quite handle coordinates outside the UK, well not in an ideal way.

The idea is that we geeks and engineers like seeing interesting engineering hacks, the bigger the better, when we're travelling. That means things like Nuclear power stations, big dams, the sites of engineering accidents, spy stations and the like. I'd be curious what fellow geeks and engineers think of the idea. And, of course, it's a Wiki so get in there and add some stuff!

The address is temporary and will change, but I'll remember to update it to point to the new location so this blog entry shouldn't get out-of-date.

Bookmark manager solution?

Steve points out an interesting use of Firefox's new "Live Bookmark" feature. Point it at the RSS of your del.icio.us account and you've got instant synchronised bookmarks. This is a problem I've talked about before.

Only problem with this approach is you just get them in chronological order, losing all of del.icio.us's categorisation features. You can painstakingly go and add each category, but there needs to be a nicer solution.

Thin client

I recently bought an IBM thin client machine on eBay. Very nice piece of kit. The plan is to stick the jet engine-sounding machine in a cupboard and use the thin client as the actual desktop. Depends on the video playback performance though, really.

So I bought a USB keyboard and mouse adapter, because this beastie only has USB. Works a charm.

Next step is to install an OS on the CF card and attempt to boot it.

Converting to Maildir

Well I've finally decided to take the plunge. I'm going to convert to Maildir for my mailboxes tonight. The impetus has been Squirrelmail, which Holly uses for her email. It needs an IMAP server and I've now been through UW and Dovecot IMAP servers, and both of them are now silently failing after upgrades. No errors given in logs, no reason given.

So tonight, armed with mb2md I'm gonna make the big switch, then install Courier IMAP. Hopefully it'll work, and hopefully it'll be a bit faster too.

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Playing with Friendster

I know it's perhaps a little old news now, but I finally got around to playing with Friendster. It's an interesting concept, and the implications are pretty huge.

In case you don't know, Friendster is a site that maps social networks of people. You start by filling in your profile and then attempting to find and link with friends you actually know already. Once your real-world network of mates is hooked up with you, your "Personal Network" includes those friends, and their friends, and their friends etc etc. You can search within this huge friends-of-friends network and find people with similar interests, mabye ask someone in between you on the network to introduce you.

Of course the main application here is dating, and that seems to be the main driver for its popularity. But it's also an interesting social experiment. The six-degrees-of-separation experiment mapped online.

This shit could get really interesting when you start looking at the interests of your "Personal Network" of people. I already get a lot of tips about films, music, gigs and the like from my mates. I know my mates' interests, they know mine, so we tip each other off on things we think they might like all the time.

Now imagine we start listing the kinda music we're liking, or perhaps even have that fed in automagically, and you start getting another interesting axis on which to make recommendations. Friendster, hooked in with the Ringo/HOMR/Firefly concept, could get very interesting!

Anyway, if you have a Friendster account and you're a mate of mine, add me into yer list then eh? I'd go and invite loads of my mates except I don't like that myself. Too much like the spam-producing greeting card scam. Give the gift of spam: the giift that keeps on giving!

Annoying ads are avoidable

It always amazes me what the average Internet user puts up with when browsing the web. Adverts flashing beside content, the throbbing making the content unreadable. Pop-ups in the hundreds, closing them causing more to open. Yeesh!

I was showing a mate how to use Bit Torrent recently, and pointed him to Suprnova. To my surprise, a whole swag of pop-ups, pop-unders and assorted undesirables over took the screen.

You see, I've had protection from ads for years. It was when they started animating them that I decided to find a solution, because they made the web annoyingly hard to use. More recent ideas like pop-ups have just confirmed in my mind the lack of value added by banner advertising. You see, for much of my career I've worked for companies that, directly or indirectly, are funded by advertising. But where advertising becomes so intrusive that it gets in the way of the content, something's got to give.

You see, I've had protection from ads for years. It was when they started animating them that I decided to find a solution, because they made the web annoyingly hard to use. More recent ideas like pop-ups have just confirmed in my mind the lack of value added by banner advertising. You see, for much of my career I've worked for companies that, directly or indirectly, are funded by advertising. But where advertising becomes so intrusive that it gets in the way of the content, something's got to give.

If you're a Windows user, try the Proxomitron. It's pretty damn effective at dumping all of them. For somewhat adept Linux users, try Craig's squid filter, though there are probably nicer and more cleanly designed ones out there.

Start blocking ads today. You'll be amazed at what a difference it makes to your browsing experience.