Quick Links after a meeting with friends

July 15, 2013

Last week I was fortunate enough to catch up with some very good friends back in Sydney. This is a really smart bunch – we’ve known each other since university. The conversation was fantastic, ranging over many topics. At some point I realised a collection of links to some of these might be useful.

Speaking of encryption, online safety and such

There’s no party like a Cryptoparty 🙂

TrueCrypt is PC’s favourite encryption tool – “Free open-source disk encryption software for Windows 7/Vista/XP, Mac OS X, and Linux”

My password tool of choice is 1Password ( Mac / Win / iOS / Android ) – makes it easy to generate secure passwords and use them in the major browsers. Quick links to 1Password for OS,1Password Mac App (1Password keeps all my devices in sync using DropBox)

Other password tools :

  • Keepass is an Open Source tool
  • LastPass is free to start, subscribe for advanced tools (including group management?)

Just plain Useful

DropBox is just amazing. They provide 2Gb free storage (subscribe for more) across platforms and seamlessly syncs. My affiliate link gives us both 500Mb extra storage. Direct link https://www.dropbox.com


Tard the grumpy cat is grumpy. Source for Mel’s character in a Melbourne Fringe show in 2013.

Rush – is the F1 movie by Ron Howard about Niki Lauda

Hackerspaces in Sydney : Hackerspaces are community places to hack, program, tinker and make cool stuff. There’s now three in Sydney! I’ve written about the idea before.

Holiday by MooresCloud :  Mark Pesce’s smart lighting startup. Follow along at the blog. Note both the hardware & software is Open!

Remember the Curiosity Show?  Episodes are appearing on YouTube

The Aeropress is how I make coffee these days (especially at work.) Where to buy Aeropress  in Australia, here’s a GizMag review.
I use a Porlex hand grinder from Japan to grind my bones, err, beans.

That VPN plugin is called Media Hint (for FireFox & Chrome) to watch NetFlix (movies) or Hulu.com (US TV)

Sir Hubert Wilkins

Australian-born adventurer Sir Hubert Wilkins was the first to use a submarine to cross the Arctic Ocean by way of the North Pole. In 1931. In a rusty de-commissioned bucket of bolts called Nautilus.

That was just one of his many adventures. Wilkins is truly Australia’s unknown hero.

Third monitor on your MacBook Pro? Sure!

March 16, 2012

This morning I had a sudden urge to find out about adding a third (or fourth) external monitor to my MacBook Pro. I’ve been a multiple monitor user off and on since the early 1990’s – I do find the extra screen real estate very useful.

I’ll assume you can add a second monitor – that just requires the appropriate dongle (cable) from Apple for your model.

All of this will be dramatically simpler once more Thunderbolt devices are around – the latest Macs now hav this super high speed port to connect multiple monitors, external drives and so on. For the rest of us slumming it with slightly older gear :

Here’s a few notes on what’s happening with multiple monitor setups these days:

Now I just need a spare monitor or two and a long weekend to try some of these out!

Note: some of these links are affiliate links and could result in me being paid.

Vale Steve Jobs (1955 – 2011)

October 6, 2011

A very sad day. Strangely personal.

Thanks for it all Steve.

Starting my musical mourning with ‘Leader of the Pack’ from the Top 5 Songs About Death.

Tonight there will be a wake :

I’ll be there.

Dalek Cupcakes – You WILL BAKE!

April 30, 2011

To celebrate the return of Doctor Who to Australian TV tonight the geeky among us are considering hiding out:

or making Dalek Cupcakes:

Somehow I’d never seen a Dalek cupcake before – I love it! Naturally I go searching for recipes as find a couple of good leads :

Taste.com.au has a recipe based on chocolate muffins and topped with a chocolate biscuit, while cut out + keep double up on cupcakes to build a dalek army.

There’s plenty of styles, here is a Dalek built with swiss rolls!
Mini Dalek cake

How to group people on a web service without a login?

March 5, 2011

Thinking out loud here. A favourite boardgame in our family is “Stockmarket” – a classic from the 1960’s that is fun all (yadda yadda.) We have a game underway at the moment (well, on hold since last night anyway 😉

Here’s my train of thought:

Wouldn’t it be great to have an iPhone app to keep track of your cash, stocks and give you a running total net wealth as you play? Of course it would.

Then the marketing brain comes on : but the market would likely be too small to justify the development. But if you made a web app, it could be usable no matter the client and upgrades for new games would be instant!

Then geek brain comes back in : how would you sync a web app’s users (i.e. people sitting at a table playing a board game) easily? Without a registation process?

To restate the problem: I’m wondering how to associate players in web browsers to the same game.

What is you were to create an alpha-numeric key out of the players first initials and their ages (or the hour the game started)? This would create a (most likely) low-collision key (along with the game chosen) so the web app could link the various users together in tracking the actual game that they have on the table in front of them.

That’s pretty much it. Imagine a key for the game stockmarket : m37m33j14a11 for example. Plenty of room there for multiple games running at once without many collisions on a lookup table, wouldn’t you say?

The Spice of Life

November 20, 2010

We are told often enough, usually by our mothers, that variety is the spice of life. It is also true online – without variety in your sources, all you have are people who agree with you. Fun for a while perhaps, but ultimately lacking in stimulation.

This struck me particulary when this morning I saw the following two tweets in my tweet-stream:

It’s my blog and I’ll whine if I want to (or why the end of the Harry Potter movies isn’t all that)

November 16, 2010

The Guardian newspaper has an article from the charmingly named Jemima Owen about how the last Harry Potter film coming out is like an end to childhood.

Break out the violins.

“When the film of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was released on 4 November 2001, I was 11 and in my final year of primary school … Nine years later, I find myself again nervously glancing at my watch on Friday night as I make my way towards the Leicester Square Odeon in London”

It isn’t even ten years. Not a whole decade.

Try this :

1977 : I am in the middle of primary school, in the fourth class. We take a class (school?) excursion into the city of Sydney, to the Hoyts Entertainment Centre (majority owned at the time by 20th Century Fox) which had opened only one year earlier. This is truly one of the formative experiences of my childhood – we saw the movie “Star Wars” on the big screen. Really big. Really loud. I was nine years old.

The scale of the place amazed me. The glamour of the cinema itself, and the city it resided in fired my imagination for years to come. For some pictures of the cinema at that time, here’s what the National Library of Australia has : (I’d love to copy them in here but who has time to fill out the request forms?)

For many years afterwards my dreams were haunted by, as I discovered in my twenties, this image of the exterior of Hoyts from across the road. Really. I dreamt that picture, in colour, at night, lights blazing and the names of movies up on the boards out front for all to see. Is it any wonder I held a soft spot for another movie that I saw there over four hundred times through the nineties? But I digress …

All this was the setting for the mind blowing experience that was Star Wars.

Fast forward now to 2005. The release of the final installment in the Star Wars saga. The mouth of the snake chewing on its own tail that is Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. That, people, is a wait of [sound of gears grinding in brain…] TWENTY EIGHT YEARS.

So take your Generation Y (or whoever-the-marketing-department-thinks-you-are) whining about waiting nine whole years for a cycle to end and suck on it. I waited three times longer and was so completely devasted by the experience of it all coming to an end that, frankly, I’m not sure I have recovered from. Perhaps I shouldn’t have seen it. I certainly came home, lay on the couch and was, in all seriousness, depressed for some time that it had really ended.

For so much of my life there had been the promise of three more episodes. An ending and a beginning all tied up neatly. When it was done, so was I.

Take this as a warning. Prepare yourselves, come the ides of 2011 don’t come crawling back here saying that I didn’t warn you.