Stopped by the Police
March 25, 2007, 4:48 pm
Filed under: bittbox, grunge, photography, police

As some of you may know, I’m a keen photographer, and in my new job I do a bit of design too. I read this tutorial on Bittbox about creating vector grunge images, and thought I’d give it a try.

brickI was walking home and saw a wall with some interesting tool marks on the stone, which I thought would be perfect to give it a try on, so I crouched down and took a few snaps of the stone. As I stood up to walk off, a couple of police men in a car stopped and asked what I was doing.

I know what your thinking, this is where they get all shirty and demand that I delete the photos and want to look at the rest of my images, but that’s not what happened at all, I explained why I was taking pictures of a single brick, they looked a bit bemused and thought I was a bit weird, but they were nice enough and let me go, no hassle.

Just thought I’d share that, considering the stories some people tell.


Yes, I was right to be concerned about
March 17, 2007, 8:56 pm
Filed under: fon, opinion

Since sites like Orkut and Facebook ploughed an early furrow in social networking, and Web2.0 was just a twinkle in Tom O’Reilley’s eye, people have been concerned with matters of privacy on the internet. More recently people have voiced concerns that the explosion of social networking sites like MySpace, Flickr & the like, but I fear that this may be falling on deaf ears.

I love social networks, I have a very healthy Flickr account, I’m a member of LinkenIn, I use MyBlogLog to see who’s been reading my blog, and recently I thought I’d give a go.

They were giving away a free wireless router, so I signed up and submitted my details, thinking nothing of the fact that they’d asked for my name and address, after all, they needed to know where to send my router. The router arrived a while later, and sat in it’s box till I got time to set it up properly.

Imagine my surprise when I logged in and went to look at a map of my local area to see my full address published, and printed on a map. To make matters worse the page they provide to alter what information is displayed on the screen is broken, and results in a blank page when you try and save any new, less revealing info.

If there was a warning that my info was going to be published like that, the warning certainly wasn’t obvious enough because I don’t remember it. I feel like this is partly my fault, I rushed into signing up for this service without reading the Privacy Policy properly, because in the last section it does say what they will do with your data, and if I’d done a search of my area on the map before signing up, I would have seen what data they publish, but I still feel new users should be given more of a warning when signing up.

I sent a support ticket to Fon on March 5th, and another on March 14th after the first received no reply. I was amazed at the response I got to the 2nd ticket:

Dear Customer,

It´s a bug and we are trying to fix it.
If you want, tell me your e-mail address and password, and the information you would like to update.

Fon Customer Care

Frankly, I’m amazed that I was even asked for my password. Even the least savvy of internet users (like say, my Dad) wouldn’t email someone their password. I suppose I should thank small miracles that my password isn’t stored in plain text, and “Sergio” couldn’t just look it up.

So I think I was right to be worried about, and so should you.

Update (23/03/07): You can now edit your details, and I have made mine a little more fuzzy, if your address is listed in full, I suggest you do the same.

Create glass effect buttons with XaraLX (Part 1)
March 14, 2007, 10:50 pm
Filed under: art, buttons, gel, glass, howto, tutorial, xara, xaralx

It’s actually pretty simple using Xara, and using it’s ability to link colours, you can easily create a whole range of coloured buttons in a very short amount of time.

To start, open the Layers gallery (F10), and add 2 new layers. Then rename all 3 to Base, Inner Glow & Reflection, with reflection being the topmost.

Glass Buttons tutorial, step 1First of all, create the shape of your button, if you’re going for rounded corners do those too. Just right click on the object and choose “Change Curvature”, then use the new handles to drag the corners to the size required. I’ve chosen a crimson red for this tutorial. We’ll use the link feature later to create more colours.

You may notice in the images I’m creating two buttons, the circular one only varies very slightly from rectangular ones, and don’t worry, I’ll make sure I tell you when it does.

It’s also worth saving the colour if you went for something non-standard because we’re going to need it later on.

Glass Buttons tutorial, step 2Next, we’ll create the colour highlight (or lowlight, if you prefer. ). Clone your first object and move it to the “Inner Glow” layer, this is where we take advantage of the “Link to another colour” feature, and the saved colour from earlier. Adjust the colour of the glow until it suits, I have made mine lighter, but you can also get some good effects going for a darker shade too.

Once you are happy you’ll need to feather the edges of the object, I set mine to about 23pix for this example. You get a much better glass effect if you adjust the transparency of the glow too.Use the transparency tool and use a linear fade from the bottom, over half the height of the underlying base object. I found it best to keep the line vertical, but go wild, try a slight angle too.

For circular buttons, try moving the glow object off center a little, you also don’t need to alter the transparency, the feathering is sufficient effect.

That’s it for part 1, the button just needs the reflection now, but it’s not as easy as it sounds, so I’ll leave it for part 2, which is now online.

Have Nintendo dropped the ball already?
March 12, 2007, 11:44 pm
Filed under: frustration, nintendo, opinion, rant, wii

All the figures show that Nintendo’s Wii console is currently the hottest of the 3, with units selling out almost as soon as they hit the shops, and plenty of places still have queues even though the console was launched almost 6 months ago. The console is still new enough to be generating plenty on buzz on the’net (wii gets more mentions amongst bloggers than the xbox 360 or ps3)and most people seem pretty happy with theirs.

But is the honeymoon period over for Nintendo? People will only try so many times before they get pissed off at missing out on a console because there aren’t enough being made, and the buzz will die down once the novelty wears off. Once this period of initial hype slows, it’s the games that make or break a console.

Games are what let down the Gamecube, there were some great games, but most of the sucked. The gaps in between great games was also too large.Many of the great games at the moment for the Wii are just the latest franchise from the old hits, perhaps with the exception of Sports, there isn’t an original game amongst them. Sure there are original control systems, but they’re not one and the same.

I saw Nintendo’s lineup for Q1 & 2 the other day, and that’s really what sparked this post, I really expected some more cracking games to keep the momentum going:

  • April 9 – Super Paper Mario – Nintendo
  • April – Prince of Persia Rival Swords – Ubisoft
  • April – Bust-A-Move Bash – Majesco
  • April – Bioncle Heroes – Eidos
  • May 15 – Mortal Kombat: Armageddon – Midway
  • May 29 – Mario Party 8 – Nintendo
  • May – Tamagotchi Party On – Namco Bandai
  • May – Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End – Disney Interactive
  • May – Escape from Bug Island – Eidos
  • May – Spider-Man The Movie 3 – Activision
  • June 11 – Big Brain Academy – Nintendo
  • June 25 – Pokemon Battle Revolution – Nintendo
  • June – Cosmic Family – Ubisoft
  • Spring – Heatseeker – Codemasters
  • Q2 – Legend of the Dragon – American Game Factory
  • Summer – Shrek the Third – Activision
  • Summer – Transformers the Game – Activision

[Via Nintendo Wii Fanboy]
Mario is the only one that kind of tweaks my interest, and that’s kind of next out. Prince of Persia might be worth a look, and the control system will make or break that game. Even then they’re both rehashes of tried and tested games, with little to make them different from their Gamecube incarnations than a new controller. (You know, perhaps there are no origional games any more, all we’re going to get is the same tried and tested games with better graphics, this is why 3rd party content is vital for the Wii Channels)

Don’t even get me started on the lack of anything remotely like online play.

Ok, so just as I was thinking about this post, Sony go and realease their “Sony Home” which is a bit like the Mii plaza except it actually appears to DO SOMETHING!! It’s exactly what I was hoping the Mii Plaze would be. How many of you go to your Mii Parade only to be told there’s nothing there? Why doesn’t it list all my contacts (that have jumped through the right hoops to see me as a contact) and what games they are playing? Why can’t I chat to them? Why can’t I play them online at any of the Wii Sports games?

Nintendo have reacted by saying that it’s a case of “Mii too” … Wii wish

Then I read that Miyamoto is creating a channel for the Wii too, great that should be good. A popularity channel? Just what the internet needs, another pissing contest. As if the “Everybody Votes” channel wasn’t bad enough. I only hope that there’s something I’m missing about this.

Ok, now if you’ve read this far, first of, thanks! but second, don’t be fooled into thinking I’m a Wii hater, I’m not. I certainly won’t be making the same mistake I made with my Gamecube and trading it in for a PS3, I just hope Nintendo don’t fuck things up. themes up the swanny?
March 9, 2007, 12:46 am
Filed under: brainfart, themes, wordpress

Is it just me, or are the wordpress themes having a bit of a brainfart at the moment?

All the styling for this theme (and others I’ve tried) seems to be a bit skewiff, with missing images, and seemingly broken CSS.

Hopefully it wont last long.

Update: Yes, there is. I’ve switched to a simpler theme till it’s fixed.

Update2.0: All seems back to normal now.

Holy Crap!! BT announce Web21C API
March 9, 2007, 12:31 am
Filed under: api, bt, web21c

British Telecom have announced an API, called Web21C (catchy!) that grants you access to some of their network services, SMS, VOICE CALLS!! and, well pretty much every service BT offer. If they don’t get it all tangled in the usual BT beurocracy, this is just awsome news, if I’d been drinking milk at the time, some would have come out of my nose.

I have a couple of ideas for sites that would require SMS messages, and any simple & cheap method for sending them would be a great bonus. Imagine an online store that sent you a text when your order had been shipped, or when there was a problem with the order, that’d be awesome. I know that’s possible now, I just wish I’d thought of it while I was at Ebuyer. I also wish I had the time to play with this right now too.

I can’t count the number of ways this could rock. There’s an API for getting location info out of a mobile phone, subject to “agreed industry code of conduct for passive location services.” whatever that might be (I think it stops dirty old men tracking little boys, and other such nastyness)

There’s no mention of any price structure, the whole thing is in beta at the moment, but at the end of it all,no matter how cool it might be, if it is to be used by the masses and not just the large corporates then pricing needs to be comparable to existing methods of using these services. After all, the idea behind it must be to drive revenue from these services, why restrict that by pricing it out of the hands of the man on the street.

Testing from IMified
March 8, 2007, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

This is a quick test, adding a blog entry from IMified.