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We live in litigious times, so I should say that content reflects only my opinions!

Saturday May 28 2005

I have the old PC donkey

faithfully filling up my new toy as fast as I can. I finally cracked and dusted off the wallet in order to buy a Creative Zen Micro today. This audio jukebox is apparently particularly good for audio quality, as well as being small and light and (relatively) inexpensive. I was pleased to note that it comes with a load of accessories, since part of my decision not to buy an iPod Mini was based on the iniquitous prices for bits and pieces; I don't want to pay extra to make a style statement. I've wanted one of these things for some time, and I'm looking forward to getting into listening to podcasts in my car and around the manor. Five gig will do me for now, and I'm going for quality by ripping my own stuff onto it at 192 Kbit. Experiments back in the dim and distant led me to the conclusion that you can get pretty decent quality at this rate.

Doubtless now I have the toy, further experiments will be in order with other rates and formats.

I've saved the icing on the cake until last: this little player has a radio, and will record. Radio 4, you are now my totally-owned bitch :) And the jazz on Radio 2. And there's a little microphone to do low-fi bootlegging with.

All good. And the garden is coming along nicely. Sunny day.


Posted at 9:02 pm by Jim Woods

Wednesday May 25 2005

Had a pleasant

diversion today when I cycled the long way home in order to take in a bit of rowing on the Thames. "Torpids" or something, I believe. Oxford University boat races, loads of commotion and general fun and games. I used to do a bit of rowing myself at school, although rower was generally used as a term of abuse - and pronounced therefore in the desperate-for-a-crap tones which were so much in vogue in the seventies. Probably still are. Anyhow, it's always a pleasure to cycle down the Isis towpath on a sunny afternoon.

Here's a mystery, though. Why the constant wobbling and confusion when passing cyclists coming the other way, particularly the student ones? Is it somehow not obvious to what are presumably some of the best brains in the country that simply keeping to the left is the trick? I notice that more and more of our younger cyclists use their machines to simulate the peripatetic perambulations of the extremely drunk pedestrian. To whit they just prevaricate and meander as I approach, never thinking that my steady course might be the result of my simply doing the obvious thing - driving on the left. Extraordinary. Perhaps the desperate-for-a-crap tones should still be deployed when speaking of the rowing community together with their friends and supporters alike?

Leaving outraged grandfather mode for now, I just bought and watched that there "Shaun of the Dead". Very funny. I recommend it. I am now listening to another of today's purchases, a recent Dave Brubeck concert album. Jury is still out on this one, but hey - he's never bad. I actually saw him at the Bermuda Festival in 1981, and he was great then.

More gardening has been done, and it's getting to the point where I'm actually beginning to look forward to it. Must be all the practice.


Posted at 8:38 pm by Jim Woods

Tuesday May 24 2005


with whom I've had a long and generally fairly satisfactory relationship, have launched a couple of new phones. They launch phones every bloody ten seconds, it seems, but these are different. How so? I quote the Vodafone site: " The Vodafone Simply mobile phones are uniquely and intuitively designed to provide only the functions you really need. The phone shape and user interface have been deconstructed and redesigned to put customers' needs not technology first". Sounds good to me. These phones are designed primarily, it is implied, for the elderly or the simple. That seems to be the marketing angle. I took a look at them and concluded that they were pretty much what I want in a phone.
I wondered if I had become elderly and/or simple while not paying attention. I mean, it happens. My conclusion was not really, on both counts. I just want things that are clear and that work without minimum fuss. Looking at these new phones I decided that there is a point being made here:

Other phones put technology before customers' needs. I'm not arguing with that. Most are rubbish from a usability point of view. Oh, and why is it assumed to be a characteristic of technophobes that they might just want a simple, functional device? Is it really considered necessary for the rest of us to face a challenge in using products ostensibly sold to make our lives easier?

Nice one Vodafone for finally realizing that some people want something they can understand and which just works. But how did it take so long? And does this mean that phone manufacturers are going to clean up their act with regard to interface design?

I couldn't find any details yet on the accompanying simple tariffs, but if they're a good deal I'll eat headgear of anyone's choice. Ideally not my own favourite hat though.


Posted at 3:44 am by Jim Woods

Monday May 23 2005

Came across this lot

here while I was doing a little research into European travel; might be nice to do a little actual travel before too long, I'm thinking, but that's sort of another topic. Anyway, if you have need of using a mobile abroad you probably need to check Textbay's products out. From my cursory examination it seems that they might save you a lot of money. I'm particularly impressed by the idea of not having to pay some enormous amount to receive calls while roaming. And for someone such as I who is in the habit of running several phones the SIM doubler idea is an attractive one.

Posted at 6:00 pm by Jim Woods

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